Experience the best Iceland has to offer on this 9-day self-drive tour around the country focusing on the South Coast. Witness the natural wonders that have made Iceland one of the most sought-after travel destinations in the world while taking advantage of the long summer days bathed in the midnight sun.
This itinerary is perfect for those who want to take it all in while having the freedom to choose your own adventure.
Your tour will begin as soon as you arrive in Iceland. Your vehicle will be waiting for you at Keflavik International Airport, meaning there is no need to worry about transfers. You will then start an incredible 9-day journey.
Traveling clockwise around Iceland's famous Ring Road, you will see the remarkable landscapes and attractions Iceland is known for. You will begin by leaving the capital of Reykjavik and heading into the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
You will then head towards the Capital of the North, Akureyri, before exploring the geothermally active region of Myvatn.
As you then head eastward, you will get a glimpse into the untouched, remote regions of the country that are home to quintessential Icelandic country life. You will explore places of unmatched beauty, full of history. You will then see the magical South Coast starting with Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon before visiting enchanting places like the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and passing through the ever-changing landscapes of the coast.
You will see some of the most impressive waterfalls in the world, including Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, before making your way to Iceland's famous Golden Circle. After all of this, you will return to Reykjavik to soak up some more of this vibrant Capital City in the North Atlantic.
To add some extra thrill, wonder, and adventure to this package, you will be able to add some additional activities during the booking process. You could hike on a glacier, delve into the depths of a volcano, go whale watching in the north, visit the many incredible natural spas, and so much more.
The icing on the cake with this tour is that your accommodation and itinerary are taken care of in advance, meaning that you can focus on absorbing the life-changing experiences you will have without having to worry about the fine details.
This 9-day self-drive tour is the perfect way to see the best Iceland has to offer in summer while still having room to go at your own pace. See the wonders of the land of fire and ice, dappled in the almost everlasting light of summer.
Don't miss the chance to create lasting memories with a dream Iceland vacation. Pick a date to check availability.
You will pick up your car right here at the airport and start your journey towards the heart of Iceland's capital Reykjavik.
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.
Once you have made your way to Reykjavik and checked into your accommodation, you can spend some time taking in the incredible sights of the city.
Take a walk around town, stop in at one of the many restaurants, bars, and cafes, and get to know the world's northernmost capital city.
There are many places you could explore today and ample time to do it.
Snaefellsnes is home to Snaefellsjokull, a volcano-capped glacier described in Icelandic folklore as a place of great mysticism. It was also the location used at the beginning of the Jules Verne novel 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth.'
While visiting the peninsula, you could choose to visit an 8000-year-old lava cave. This underground tunnel is called Vatnshellir and was formed during a volcanic eruption millennia ago. In this experience, you will travel underground as you follow the lava path formed during a fiery explosion.
Also on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the incredibly photogenic Kirkjufell mountain. This cone-shaped giant stands at 1519 ft (463 m) high and towers over a nearby waterfall and lake, making the surrounding area look as though it belongs in a fairytale. If you think this mountain seems familiar, it could be because it was used in the hit HBO series Game of Thrones. Kirkjufell was used to represent 'The mountain that looks like an Arrow's Head.'
Snaefellsnes is also home to the Ytri-Tunga Beach, a shoreline well-known for its seal colony. Visitors to the area can often see these playful mammals sunning themselves on the coastline.
There are also two charming fishing villages worth checking out, Arnarstapi and Hellnar. These quiet townships are nestled at the foot of mountains, overlooking the ocean. With sweeping plains surrounding them and an abundance of spectacular sea cliffs, they are unmissable attractions.
There are also some incredible rock formations around Djupalonssandur Beach. This arch-shaped bay is marked with black sand and unusual sea stacks. In 1948, the English trawler Epine GY 7 was wrecked not far from the shore, and its remains are still scattered along the black sands.
The gorgeous fjord of Breidafjordur is also worth checking out. The areas here are some of the oldest in the country. The cliffs around the area are a hub for native wildlife in the summer months, including the Atlantic Puffin. While visiting here, you could also choose to go on a Viking Sushi Boat adventure. You will head out into the ocean on this tour. A shellfish plow will scour the depths to unlock some seafood treasures. Some of the catch will be prepared for you to enjoy with wasabi and soy sauce, making it the freshest seafood you will ever taste.
You will spend the night at your accommodation on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
One of the first stops you might want to make is at two incredible waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Although they are relatively close to each other, each is unique. Hraunfossar, or 'Lava Falls' in Icelandic, looks like it was taken from the pages of a fantasy novel. The neighboring Barnafoss' name translates to children's falls and is the product of a powerful flow of water that pushes through lava rocks, creating rapids.
The next stop is one of the most photographed sites in Iceland, Hvitserkur. This intriguing rock formation sits in the sea. Local tales tell that it was once a troll who was up to no good. The troll ventured into the waters of the Atlantic to attempt to sink a ship but lost track of time and was turned to stone by the sun's rays. Today Hvitserkur is a favorite stop for photographers of all levels.
Another stop you might want to make on this adventure to the north is the quaint town of Siglufjordur. This is the most northern part of mainland Iceland. Siglufjordur is surrounded by mountains and is home to a Herring Era Museum dedicated to the silver of the sea that once fueled the local area's economy. This is a great chance to stretch your legs and take in the sights and sounds of idyllic Icelandic country life.
There are a couple of other activities you could choose to participate in today, depending on what you are feeling.
If you would like to do some relaxation, you could choose to visit the Bjorbodin Beer Spa. This unique concept combines a traditional day spa with the centuries-old tradition of beer brewing. At Bjorbodin, you can take a warm bath in a live young beer. The composition of this amber liquid is said to have incredible effects on the skin. While you soak, you will also have access to a personal beer tap, so you can sip on a cold one as you bathe.
If you would like some nautical adventure, you could choose to go on a whale watching tour. In this activity, you will board a boat and head into the waters of the north to spot the gentle giants of the sea. The ocean around Northern Iceland is well-known for its abundance of whales, dolphins, and other sea mammals as they make their regular migration.
At the end of the day, you will head to the Capital of the north, Akureyri, where you will be able to unwind and prepare for another day.
Heading away from Akureyri, you will come to a waterfall that holds a special place in the history of Iceland. Godafoss, or 'The waterfall of the Gods' in English, was the place where Icelanders officially adopted Christianity in 1000 AD.
Another spectacular waterfall is Dettifoss, which is said to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Its roar can be felt as it dramatically cascades down a drop of 131n ft (40 m). Dettifoss inspired the director Ridley Scott to include it in the opening scene of his hit 2012 science fiction film, Prometheus.
From here you could choose to make a detour and visit the seaside village of Husavik. This town is credited as the unofficial whale watching capital of Europe. Many species travel through the waters off the coast of Husavik, and many whale-watching tour companies can boast a 100% success rate.
If you would like to take a whale-watching tour from Husavik, there are two different ones you can choose from. You can take a traditional whale watching tour, which, like the one in Akureyri, takes you out into the waters in a regular boat. You could also opt for a rib boat tour, which will allow you to get closer to these gentle giants of the sea.
Husavik is also home to the GeoSea Baths, a spa concept that is a little different from the traditional geothermal pools in Iceland. The warm waters of GeoSea are from the sea. Here you will be able to soak in the warm, salty water as you look out at the incredible natural surroundings of the area.
If you choose to skip Husavik, you will head straight through to the Lake Myvatn area. This part of the country is a hotbed of geothermal activity. The name 'Myvatn' means 'fly' and comes from the small flies found around the area.
Some enticing areas of interest in the area include; Krafla, Dimmuborgir, and Asbyrgi Canyon.
Krafla is just north of Lake Myvatn. It is a caldera that is part of an extensive volcanic system. The system is part of one of the most active in the country. In the nearby Namafjall Geothermal Area, you can witness mud pots as they boil while smoke from fumaroles gently wafting from the landscape, which is littered with sulfur crystals of greens, blues, yellows, and whites.
There is also a fascinating rock structure in the area called Dimmuborgir. This is often called 'The Black Fortress' because some say it looks like a medieval castle. According to Icelandic folklore, this is the home of Gryla, the mother of the 13 Icelandic Santas.
If you still want some relaxing but missed Husavik, you can still treat yourself in Myvatn. The Myvatn Nature Baths are a luxury spa facility known as 'The Blue Lagoon of the North.'
At the end of your day, you will arrive at your accommodation in the eastern township of Egilsstadir.
You will begin your day at your accommodation in Egilsstadir. This is the largest town in the east and a great place to base yourself in the morning. From here, you can travel west and see a few natural gems.
If you haven't had enough of the abundance of geothermal pools in Iceland, you could visit the Vok baths only 5 km northwest of here.
Two the west of Egilsstadir, there are three major attractions. Lake Lagarfljot is a pristine body of water that is said to be the home of Iceland's version of the Loch Ness Monster, the Lagarfljot Worm. Not far from here is the beautiful Hengifoss waterfall. This fall cascades in front of a beautifully colored basalt rock cliff. There is also Hallormsstadarskogur, the largest forest in Iceland.
To the east of Egisstadir is a town steeped in the natural beauty that makes for a perfect lunch stop. Seydisfjordur sits at the mouth of a bay, almost entirely surrounded by mountains and waterfalls. Norwegian fisherman established the town and the architecture of Seydisfjordur still reflects this today with its colorful buildings. The town is a hub of creativity, with many artists living in the area. Each summer, Seydisfjordur plays host to the country's largest youth arts festival known as LungA. The name combines the Icelandic words for art 'lista' and young people' unga.'
In Seydisfjordur, you could grab a bite at one of the local cafes or take a walk around the pristine harbor. The town has a permanent rainbow street that leads to its iconic blue church, which will certainly make for some impressive holiday snapshots.
Heading further south, you will come across even more idyllic country towns. Places that were once hubs of the fishing industry that today reflect the peace and tranquillity of the east.
Faskrudsfjordur is a coastal town that was initially settled by French sailors. After the war, many of these Frenchmen left to serve their country. However, their mark is still in the town. The original French hospital has been restored and now serves as a hotel with a museum attached. Many of the street signs in Faskrusðsfjordur are in both Icelandic and French.
Djupivogur is another fishing village in the east. It sits at the foot of a spectacular pyramid-shaped mountain that plays with the sunlight, casting intricate shadows over the surrounding land. This mountain is called Bulandstindur, and if you are in Djupivogur during the summer solstice, it has been said to grant wishes.
As you continue traveling towards the south, you will see the impressive Vestrahorn Mountain. It stands at an impressive 1490 ft (454 m). Vestrahorn faces the sea and paints the surrounding landscape with its shadows as the sun dapples light over its two distinct peaks.
You will come to a stop at the end of the day in the area near Jokulsarlon Glacier lagoon, a place you can get excited about visiting tomorrow.
You will begin with a visit to 'the crown jewel of Iceland' Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This glacial lake is filled with melt-water from one of the tongues of Vatnajokull Glacier, called Breidamerkjokull. Jokulsarlon is the deepest lagoon in the country. At its deepest, it reaches 820 ft (250 m). What brings people from all over the world here is the immense icebergs that mystically float through its icy waters.
If you want an immersive and thrilling experience of the lagoon, you could choose to take a boat tour of it. There are two different kinds you can pick from. An amphibian boat tour will drive you straight into the water, where you will get a closer look at the icy monoliths as they float gracefully, almost glowing in blues and whites. You can also choose to take a zodiac boat tour. A zodiac tour allows you to get even closer to the massive chunks of ice and even seals that live in the area.
Next to the lagoon is the famous Diamond Beach. This short stretch of black sand is sometimes the final resting place of icebergs as the ocean's waves have worn them down. The thousands of ice pieces resting on the stark black beach look like jewels, which is how it gets its name.
You will then head through the rugged landscapes of the Skaftafell Nature Reserve. This area is part of Vatnajokull National Park and is known for its impressive views and native flora.
If you are a hiker, you may want to start your day early, so you have enough time to hike to Svartifoss, a precious waterfall framed in hexagonal basalt rock. The hiking trails leading up to this waterfall can easily take you through several enjoyable hours of untouched nature.
If you would like some added adventure, you could choose to add a glacier hike to your afternoon. In this extra activity, you will meet at the basecamp at Skaftafell. Here your glacier guides will give you a safety briefing and fit you will all necessary safety gear. You will then head up onto the glacier. The views surrounding you will be like nothing you have ever seen. The feeling of standing on a glacier, like an arctic explorer, will create memories that will stay with you for a lifetime.
You will then make your way to your accommodation in the quaint village of Vik, ready to see more of the south tomorrow.
From Vik, there are a few extra activities you can enjoy.
You could choose to visit an ice cave, a fascinating natural phenomenon. They are created by the regular melt and freeze cycles of glaciers. Visiting an ice cave is an experience you will remember forever. It's like being inside a crystal castle, the walls shimmering in shades of blue and white. No two ice caves are ever the same, and the one you visit will eventually disappear, making this a genuinely unique experience.
You could also choose to visit the famous DC-3 plane wreck. In 1973 an American Navy Plane crash-landed on the plains of Solheimasandur. There were no casualties, and the aircraft was abandoned. Today it has become a significant attraction on the south coast.
The next point of interest is Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, a great symbol of Iceland's volcanic history. Powerful waves crash against the powder-fine black sand. The beach is framed by a steep cliff face of unusual hexagonal basalt rock columns. These look like they were carved into the cliff face, but they are, in fact, naturally occurring.
Not far from the shore of Reynisfjara are the Reynisdrangar sea stacks. These rock formations stick out from the ocean's crashing waves, and like many of the large rocks in the country, they are said to be petrified trolls.
A little further along the coast is Dyrholaey. This small rocky peninsula offers beautiful panoramic views of the ocean and surrounding landscapes. Dyrholaey is also a favorite nesting spot for many native birds, including the puffin.
You will then move along as you pass Solheimajokull. This is an outlet of the larger Myrdalsjokull. While in this area, you could choose to go on a glacier hike on Solheimajokull.
The next stop is Skogafoss, one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. This impressive fall drops down from a height of 197 ft (60 m) onto almost flat ground. On sunny days, many visitors can witness and photograph a double rainbow through the mist created by Skogafoss.
Not far from Skogafoss is another beautiful yet different waterfall called Seljalandsfoss. This waterfall looks like it belongs in Narnia. Its lush green surroundings frame it perfectly. Its water cascades in front of a cave, meaning that visitors can walk behind the fast-flowing curtain of water if weather conditions are right. If you choose to venture behind the falls, make sure you have waterproof clothing because you will get wet.
You will then spend the night not far from the Golden Circle area.
Today you will experience the famous Golden Circle of Iceland. This is a group of three main attractions that are considered must-sees when coming here.
If you have an early flight home tomorrow, it would be a good idea to start early and focus on the main attractions. This will get you back to Reykjavik in the afternoon, providing more time to take in the capital once more.
The first stop on the Golden Circle is Gullfoss waterfall. Its name translates to 'the golden falls,' and it is easy to see why. The waters off Gullfoss tumble town two steps from a height of 105 ft (32 m). Its powerful flow and staggering size make it an impressive stop.
The next stop is the Geysir Geothermal Area. This part of the Golden Circle is a great representation of the volcanic energy that formed Iceland. Hot pools and steam escaping from fumaroles fill the area. Strokkur, Geysir's most active geyser, erupts almost every 5 minutes. Steaming hot water explodes into the air, sometimes up to 66 ft (20 m). This is almost always accompanied by an impressed gasp from visitors.
The third stop on the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed location is a place of significant beauty and immense cultural significance to Icelanders. Thingvellir is the home of the oldest democratic parliament in the world. It is also the place where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet.
You could choose to go on a snorkeling tour between these tectonic plates. In this experience, you will be fitted with a dry suit and guided into the waters of the Silfra Fissure, an opening between the tectonic plates filled with water. The waters of Silfra have been filtered through lava rock sometimes for up to a century
There are a few other activities you could also choose to add to this day.
You could choose to see the Icelandic countryside in a completely different way, on horseback. In this tour, you will learn all about the unique Icelandic horse. This short, sturdy breed is ideally suited for the country's landscapes and is well-known for being a great horse for people of all riding levels.
If you would love a bit of an adrenaline rush, you could choose to go on a snowmobiling tour. In this experience, you will zip through the icy landscapes of Langjokull Glacier, driving a snowmobile. You will get incredible views as you feel the rush as you glide across the ice and snow.
After you have seen the sights of the Golden Circle, it will be time to head back to Reykjavik, where you can spend the evening taking in Iceland's capital one more time.
If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
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.
Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing.
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), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars. All levels come equipped with a GPS and 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.