Immersive 8 Day Summer Self Drive Tour of Iceland’s West & South Coasts with Waterfalls & Glaciers
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. 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, snorkeling between continents, or pumping up your adrenaline on a snowmobile drive across a glacier! All of these come at a discounted price if you book them now.
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.
Day 1 - Arrival
After arrival at Keflavík international airport, you can pick up your rental car and drive through the moon-like, moss-covered lava landscape of the Reykjanes Peninsula.
On your way to Iceland’s capital city, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It is located in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere. If you add the Blue Lagoon, it will be arranged according to your flights. If there is no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added to another day. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you. There is still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula if you have extra free time.
You will then 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.
Day 2 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula
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 cave to learn about 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 days, 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.
Day 3 - West Iceland & Golden Circle
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 would 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.
Day 4 - Golden Circle In-Depth
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 colorful 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 would 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 328 ft (100 m)! It's also very cold, but you're provided with a dry suit 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
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 197 ft (60 m).
Further east lies the cliffs of Dyrhólaey, where you might spot a puffin or two. You can also visit 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 Vik, where you'll find your accommodations for the next night. Don't worry if you don'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.
Day 6 - Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon & Skaftafell Nature Reserve
From Vik, 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 further east towards Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which many consider 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 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
It's time to head back to Reykjavík, which means you'll be traveling 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 another 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 there today, only a spectacular and colorful cave.
You'll then spend your last night in Iceland in Reykjavík city.
Day 8 - Departure
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.
For those who have a later flight and choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today, you will finish off your stay unwinding before you head to the airport. This is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters as you look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice. If your flight is later, there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik.
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 colorful houses, check out the old harbor 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.
If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
What to bring
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 require you to have 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 snorkeling.
It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is canceled. If your chosen activity is canceled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you.
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 other 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).
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.
Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.
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.
Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour.
All our vehicles are new or current models, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP) insurance. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars.
All levels come equipped with free Wi-fi. You can enjoy unlimited data with the Wi-Fi device, which can be connected to up to 10 devices at once. The car rental will provide 24-hour roadside emergency services.
Age requirement for each level can be found below. For all levels, the driver must possess a valid driving license for at least one year before the date of the rental.
We recommend Budget 4X4 level for summer driving and Comfort 4X4 for winter driving.
A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A basic 2WD vehicle, such as a Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A basic 4WD (4X4) jeep or SUV such as a Dacia Duster or similar. Comfortably fit up to 3 travellers with 2 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and decent for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A medium-sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as a Toyota Rav4 (automatic) and Suzuki Vitara (manual), or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travelers with 3 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.
A large 4WD jeep such as a Toyota Land Cruiser or similar. Comfortable for up to 4 travellers with 4 large pieces of luggage. Fit for nearly all travelling. Has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.
A large 9-seater van such as a Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD manual, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travelers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.