8 Day Summer Self Drive Tour | West & South Coast In-Depth

8 Day Summer Self Drive Tour | West & South Coast In-Depth
Looking through an icy diamond on Iceland's South Coast.
Hallgrímskirkja church in central Reykjavík bathed in the evening sun.
Lupine fields pop up all over Iceland in June, here seen on Snæfellsnes peninsula
The mighty geyser Strokkur erupting at Geysir geothermal area.
Stunning twilight at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Svörtuloft lighthouse at Snæfellsnes peninsula and its impressive cliffs.
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Take your time getting to know all that Iceland's south and west coasts have to offer on this slow-paced self-drive tour. This is the perfect hassle-free vacation for those who want to explore Iceland's attractions in depth.

On this 8-day tour, you'll have ample time to explore the Golden Circle and the attractions of Iceland's South Coast, including the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón, various waterfalls, black sand beaches and picturesque little towns. This itinerary also includes some downtime in Reykjavík and time to enjoy the best of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, often named 'Iceland in miniature' due to its diverse natural attractions.

On your route, you'll visit all three National Parks of Iceland, and you'll want to have plenty of time to enjoy each one, so on this holiday you'll never feel rushed, especially as it never gets fully dark and you can use the lingering days to explore long into the nighttime.

As you are behind the wheel, you are in control of how long you stay at each attraction, but by spending two nights in the same accommodation, you can fully explore the area surrounding you. Instead of rushing through each part of Iceland and only skimming the surface of available attractions you'll have both two nights on the Golden Circle, as well as two nights on the South Coast.

To help you make the most of each location, there are optional add-on tours in each area, as diverse as glacier hiking and exploring ice caves, to relaxing in modern spa retreats. Other options include exploring the depths of Iceland's volcanic lava caves, whale and bird watching, snorkelling in one of the world's best dive sites or pumping up your adrenaline on a snowmobile drive across a glacier!

Don't wait any longer and book this 8-day in-depth tour of west and south Iceland now! Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Apr. - Sep.
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Hiking, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Bird watching, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Minimum age: 2 years.
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Hraunfossar, Deildartunguhver, Strokkur, Snæfellsnes, Sólheimajökull, Skaftafell, Húsafell, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Stykkishólmur, Hellnar, Reykholt, Langjökull, Arnarstapi, Vík í Mýrdal, Fjaðrárgljúfur, Kirkjufell, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Reynisdrangar, Fjallsárlón, Djúpalónssandur, Secret Lagoon, Seljavallalaug, South Coast
Pickup information:

    Please consult your itinerary for further information.

    Included:
    • 7 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included; more detailed info below)

    • Vehicle for 8 days (Toyota Aygo or similar. Upgrades available)

    • CDW insurance for super budget level vehicle; other levels also include SCDW and gravel protection insurance

    • GPS System

    • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

    • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

    • Taxes

    • Blue Lagoon entrance (can be added during the booking process)

    • Lunch and dinner

    • Optional Excursions

    • Fuel

    • Flights


    What to bring:
    • Warm and waterproof clothes

    • Good waterproof shoes

    • Camera

    • Swimsuit and towel

    • Driver's license


    Good to know:

    Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with a one-year long on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time.

    Some optional activities might need either a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkelling.

    It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you.



    Daily itinerary

    Day 1 - Arrival


    The Blue Lagoon is full of surprises, and the perfect place to relax.


    After arrival at Keflavík international airport, you can pick up your rental car and drive through moon-like, moss-covered lava landscape of the Reykjanes Peninsula. If you chose to do so during the booking process, you can head straight to the world famous Blue Lagoon.

    The Blue Lagoon is a spa that's like an opaque milky-blue oasis in the middle of otherwise black and pale green lava landscape. It stays at a comfortable 39 degrees Celsius (102 Fahrenheit) temperature all year round. It's also only a short drive from the airport, making it perfect as a first stop to rejuvenate after your flight.

    After a good soak in the spa, continue on your way to Reykjavík, the northernmost capital of the world. Here you can choose to simply relax at your accommodations, dine in one of the modern restaurants the city holds or spend your time strolling the streets of downtown and checking out the main sights, such as Hallgrímskirkja church, City Hall and Harpa concert hall.


    Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

    Reykjavík Super Budget

    Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

    Reykjavík Budget

    Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

    Reykjavík Comfort

    The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

    Reykjavík Quality

    Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


    Day 2 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula


    Snæfellsnes peninsula is a place of contrasts, fields of purple flowers seen around a glacier under the midnight sun.


    Today you'll head towards Snæfellsnes peninsula, also known as 'Iceland in miniature' due to its diverse natural attractions.

    Expect a scenic drive along the west coast, taking in views of mountains, waterfalls, lava fields, fjords and charming villages on your way to Snæfellsjökull glacier and volcano, and its surrounding National Park.

    Today you can opt for a tour where you'll visit Vatnshellir cave, located in the lava field surrounding the volcano. There, you'll descend into the lava to learn about the formation of the cave and the trolls that are said to live there.

    If you'd rather be spending your time exploring the coastline and the wildlife, then you can join a whale watching tour from the town of Ólafsvík for a chance to see the playful whales and puffins that reside in Breiðafjörður Bay.

    On the peninsula, you'll find plenty of attractions to fill your day, such as the black pebble beach of Djúpalónssandur and the white sand beach at Ytri-Tunga, the hexagonal cliffs at Gerðuberg and the black church at Búðir.

    You can go hiking from the rock arch at Arnarstapi to nearby Hellnar village where you can enjoy the views with a cup of coffee from their cute beach-side café.

    Spend your night at Snæfellsnes peninsula.


    Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes

    Snæfellsnes Super Budget

    Grundafjörður Hostel is located in Grundarfjörður village. Dormitory accommodation with shared bathrooms. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

    Snæfellsnes Budget

    Hof Guesthouse is situated on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, just a few hundred metres from the beach. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, living room and kitchen. Free access to a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

    Snæfellsnes Comfort

    Fosshotel Stykkishólmur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Stykkishólmur. Spacious hotel with a view towards the bay. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

    Snæfellsnes Quality

    Hotel Búðir is a 4 star hotel on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, with a view towards Snæfellsjökull glacier and to the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


    Day 3 - West Iceland & Golden Circle


    Hraunfossar waterfalls in West Iceland appear from underneath the lava!


    From Snæfellsnes peninsula, head south towards the Golden Circle where you'll find your accommodations for the next two nights. On the way, you can visit the stunning Hraunfossar waterfalls, the historic Reykholt village and the bubbling Deildartunguhver hot spring.

    You can spice up your journey today with a variety of tours, such as an excursion to the largest cave in Iceland, Víðgelmir lava tube, or explore the man-made ice cave tunnels inside Iceland's second largest glacier, Langjökull. 

    If you rather take it easy and relax, a trip to Krauma Spa is highly recommended. There, hot water from Deildartunguhver hot spring is mixed with cold water from the glacier Ok to create the perfect bathing temperature.

    Continue towards Þingvellir National Park, your first stop on the Golden Circle and the birthplace of Iceland's parliament, Alþingi. The park is located between two tectonic plates that are drifting apart, creating a stunning landscape of canyons and fissures.

    Stroll around the park to see the consequences of this tectonic shift before retiring at your accommodations in the area.


    Preferred accommodation by the Golden Circle

    Golden Circle Super Budget

    Héraðsskólinn Boutique Hostel is centrally located within Laugarvatn village. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

    Golden Circle Budget

    Héraðsskólinn Boutique Hostel is centrally located within Laugarvatn village. Private rooms with private or shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

    Golden Circle Comfort

    Hotel Litli Geysir is a 3-star hotel located right across from Geysir geothermal area. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

    Golden Circle Quality

    ION Adventure Hotel is a 4-star hotel which is located a short distance from Þingvellir National Park. It has private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


    Day 4 - Golden Circle In-Depth


    Crystal clear water at Þingvellir National Park in late summer.


    Today, you'll explore the rest of the Golden Circle and visit some off the beaten path locations.

    Start with a visit to Geysir geothermal area to watch the geyser Strokkur erupt high in the air. Dotted around are numerous colourful mud pools and steaming fumaroles. 

    A short drive away is the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, which is fed by the glacier Langjökull. If you opted to during the booking process, you will board a modified Super Jeep at Gullfoss, head into the highlands and up to Langjökull, where you can drive a snowmobile across the white glacier plains.

    You can also visit Þingvellir National Park again to snorkel in Silfra, a crystal clear dive site located in Þingvallavatn Lake. The water here has been filtered through the lava coming from Langjökull and has visibility for more than 100 metres! It's also very cold, but you're provided with a drysuit to keep you warm.

    Those who'd rather spend the day relaxing can visit the small town of Flúðir for a soak in the geothermal waters of the Secret Lagoon. You can also learn about Iceland's history at the Skálholt Cathedral before grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many greenhouse farms in the area.

    Return to your accommodation from the previous night for another good night's sleep after a busy day.


    Day 5 - The Glaciers & Waterfalls of the South Coast


    Puffins are often spotted around Dyrhólaey cliffs in south Iceland.


    There is oh-so-much to see on the South Coast of Iceland, so it's a good thing you've got two days here. 

    Start the day driving towards the glaciers Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull. If you wish to get better acquainted with these ice caps, you can choose to go glacier hiking or explore a black, natural ice cave, the only one accessible all year round.

    Underneath these ice caps are some of the country's most spectacular waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss is a unique cascade that falls over a concaved cliff, allowing visitors to encircle the falling springwater; Gljúfrabúi waterfall is a little-known gem, hidden behind large rocks; and the mighty cascade Skógafoss plunges down from a height of 60-metres.

    Further east lies the cliffs of Dyrhólaey, where you might spot a puffin or two; the abandoned place wreck on Sólheimasandur sands; and the black sand beach Reynisfjara where you can admire the massive Reynisdrangar rock stacks that rise out of the ocean.

    Head to the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur where you'll find your accommodations for the next two nights. Don't worry if you didn't have time to explore all these beautiful sights; you'll get another chance when you head back to Reykjavík in a couple of days.


    Preferred accommodation by Kirkjubæjarklaustur

    Kirkjubæjarklaustur Super Budget

    Vagnstaðir Hostel is located within walking distance from the beach and has a great view of the sea and surrounding mountains. Dorm accommodation with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

    Kirkjubæjarklaustur Budget

    Klausturhof Guesthouse is centrally located in Kirkjubæjarklaustur town. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

    Kirkjubæjarklaustur Comfort

    Fosshótel Núpar is a 3-star hotel with panoramic views of lava fields, mountains, and the glacier tongues of Vatnajökull glacier. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

    Kirkjubæjarklaustur Quality

    Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in the Kirkjubæjarklaustur town. Modern private rooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


    Day 6 - Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon & Skaftafell Nature Reserve


    Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is by many considered Iceland's best attraction!


    From Kirkjubæjarklaustur, head east for today's exploration. You're making your way towards your third National Park, the one that surrounds Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajökull. 

    Make a stop in Skaftafell Nature Reserve, located at the roots of Vatnajökull, and see the beautiful but contrasting scenery of black sand, lush flora and white glacier. The area is renowned for its many hiking trails and tracks, leading to stunning locations such as the 'black waterfall' Svartifoss. If you are feeling adventurous, you can even take a glacier hiking tour from here.

    After enjoying the outdoors at Skaftafell, head even further east towards Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon which is considered by many to be the crown jewel of Iceland's nature. 

    Towering icebergs break off the glacier and float in the water before drifting off to sea, and you can sometimes spot seals lazing about on the ice. You can take a highly recommended boat ride on the lagoon to get a better appreciation of its beauty. You can choose between going on a slower Amphibian boat ride or a Zodiac speedboat.

    Make sure you don't miss out on the Diamond Beach, located a stone's throw away. There, smaller icebergs wash up on shore and glisten in the sunlight, resembling diamonds on satin fabric. 

    After all of this, it is time to head back to your accommodation in Kirkjubæjarklaustur. If you have any spare time, you could make your way further east, to the town of Höfn where you can enjoy some of the best lobster in Iceland for your dinner and admire the stunning mountains of the Eastfjords, such as Vestrahorn mountain. 

    On your way back you can have the chance to see Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon again, this time under the midnight sun.


    Day 7 - Back to Reykjavik


    Inside the volcano Þríhnúkagígur.


    It's time to head back to Reykjavík, which means you'll be travelling through the South Coast again. You'll be able to make a stop at all the places you didn't manage to visit, or those you feel like visiting again.

    Maybe you left out some waterfalls or the cliffs at Dyrhólaey, perhaps you still haven't had time to visit Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon that's located right by Kirkjubæjarklaustur, or you want to take a dip in Seljavallalaug pool, nestled in a mountainside. Or maybe you just want to get back to Reykjavík early to do some city sightseeing. 

    Once in the city, your adventures in nature don't have to end as you can take one last optional excursion. From Reykjavík, you can board a bus that takes you out to a vast lava field. There, you'll get to descend into an empty magma chamber of Þríhnjúkagígur volcano. Don't worry; there is no hot lava to be found here today, only a spectacular and colourful cave.

    You'll then spend your last night in Iceland in Reykjavík city.


    Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

    Reykjavík Super Budget

    Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

    Reykjavík Budget

    Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

    Reykjavík Comfort

    The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

    Reykjavík Quality

    Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


    Day 8 - Departure


    Summer vibes at Iðnó culture house by Reykjavík City Hall and Reykjavík Pond


    Today is the last day of your trip. Before heading to the airport, you can use this day to make the most out of your stay in Reykjavík. 

    If you have a whole day, be sure to grab lunch at one of the many fish restaurants in the city, then walk the streets of central Reykjavík to admire the street art and colourful houses, check out the old harbour and the up and coming area of Grandi.

    You can also have a final dip in some warm waters by going to one of Reykjavík's many swimming pools. The most central ones are Sundhöll Reykjavíkur, Vesturbæjarlaug and Laugardalslaug. 

    Just make sure you get to the airport in good time to return the vehicle and check in. Have a nice flight and come back soon.


    Accommodation

    See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Super budget level accommodations will be arranged in hostel dorm beds. For budget and comfort levels, bookings for one person will be arranged in single rooms, and bookings for two or more people will share a twin/double or triple room(s). For quality level, odd number groups will always be allocated a single room. Teenagers and children will be arranged in the same room with parents. If additional room(s) is needed, additional costs will incur. Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies among locations and availability is highly limited. If our preferred partners are fully booked at the time of your booking, we will find another suitable accommodation for you of similar level. Please note that not all locations offer quality level accommodation. Comfort level accommodation will be arranged at those particular locations, which is reflected in the quality level upgrade price. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.

    Super Budget

    Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

    Budget

    Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

    Comfort

    Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.

    Quality

    Rooms with a private bathroom in a four star hotel or superior rooms in a quality three star hotel at the best locations in Iceland. Breakfast is included.


    Car

    Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models. Super budget 2WD vehicles are maximum 5 years of age, and come equipped with a GPS and standard CDW insurance. Budget 2WD, Comfort 4x4 and Luxury 4x4 level vehicles are maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model.

    Super Budget 2WD

    A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities.

    Budget 2WD

    A basic 2WD vehicle such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

    Comfort 4x4

    A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. Fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities. Recommended.

    Luxury 4x4

    A large sized 4WD (4x4) jeep such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all travelling. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. Note that off-road driving is illegal.


    Cancellation Insurance

    This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person. The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to info@guidetoiceland.is no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation. Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.


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