Stunning 9 Day Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road of Iceland & Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Embark on a grand adventure encircling Iceland on this amazing self-drive tour. You'll be sure to see all the most popular sites, such as the world-famous Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
You will have the opportunity to take your time at each place, choosing when to arrive and when to leave, as there are no tour guides, departure times, or other groups to worry about on this vacation. Your travel will be in full comfort, always lodging with an ensuite bathroom, and, naturally, breakfast is included.
Not only will you get to experience these incredible, popular places, but you will receive a custom itinerary after you book that will direct you to the more unique locations. For many travelers to Iceland, being alone in the untouched landscape is a huge part of this country's appeal; and by referencing this guide, you will be able to immerse yourself in the solitary landscape as much as you desire.
If all this is not enough, you have the option to add a multitude of exciting adventures to your trip during booking at a discounted price. Ride a snowmobile on Langjökull glacier, hike a glacier on the South Coast, descend into an ice cave, take a boat trip on the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, go whale watching in Húsavík town, or a horseback ride in the North. The opportunities are endless and allow for a perfect balance between sightseeing and activities.
Nine days is a great amount of time to explore Iceland, allowing you to fit in these experiences while still reaching your destinations in good time. There is no need to rush - unless, of course, you want to. As has been said, on this tour, it's all up to you.
Leave no part of Iceland undiscovered on this complete tour package. Check booking availability now by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland & Downtown Reykjavík
Pick up your car at the airport in Keflavík before driving to your accommodation in downtown Reykjavík.
En route, you can stop at the world-renowned Blue Lagoon, a geothermal spa on the Reykjanes Peninsula. This site is recognizable by its vivid blue waters, healing minerals, and many therapy treatments.
Furthermore, it is surrounded by mossy lava fields and cone-shaped volcanoes, providing the perfect introduction to Iceland's unique and beautiful landscapes.
If you have a late arrival, other plans for day one, or would rather get straight to the city, your travel agent can book you into the Blue Lagoon another day. This spa has to be organized in advance, but your agent will ensure it is arranged around your flight.
After making yourself comfortable at your accommodation, spend the rest of the day exploring the vibrant city center. There are many museums, galleries, restaurants, and bars to catch your interest.
Spend the night in quirky Reykjavík.
Day 2 - The Golden Circle & Wondrous Waterfalls
Day two sees you travel to some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland on the Golden Circle route.
The first stop on the Golden Circle is Þingvellir National Park. Here, you can walk between the rift valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, snorkel in the Silfra fissure, and explore an area that played a huge role in Iceland's heritage. It was, after all, the original site of the world's longest-running representative parliament. You can opt for a snorkeling tour here.
Next is the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, where you can see the geysers Strokkur and Geysir. Geysir is largely inactive now, but Strokkur erupts every ten minutes or so to heights of 66 ft (20 m). Finally, a few miles away is Iceland's most popular attraction, the mighty waterfall of Gullfoss. A pathway takes you right to the water's edge, where you can get a real sense of the enormous, natural power of the falls.
After seeing Gullfoss, you could take a snowmobiling tour on the amazing Langjökull glacier. If this isn't for you, you can opt for a horse-riding tour instead.
A sight often missed in this area is the crater of Kerið, which has a beautiful azure pool at its bottom. After taking some photos here, head to the south coast, visiting the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall and the equally breathtaking Skógafoss waterfall.
Along the coast near Vík, take a slight detour to stop and admire the black volcanic beach and the dramatic Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar rock formations. Another sight along the way is the magnificent Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Spend the night in the village of Vík.
Day 3 - Hiking Day in Skaftafell Nature Reserve
Spend the third day taking in the many sights and optional activities available in the beautiful Skaftafell area of the Vatnajökull National Park. You'll find many trails there tailored for all abilities, including one that leads to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall. Before you head on out to Skaftafell, you can opt for an exciting ice cave tour that departs from Vík, where you'll visit a unique cave in Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
Doing a glacier hike in the Skaftafell area is highly recommended, where you could pace the glacier tongue in the hillsides of Iceland's tallest mountain: Hvannadalshnjúkur in Öræfajökull glacier.
Once you've hit the road, you will get the chance to see the quint village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. You will then head over to one of Iceland's top attractions, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, where icebergs break from a glacier and sail serenely towards the ocean. You can enjoy a cruise right alongside the massive icebergs on a zodiac or amphibious boat if you would like.
After absorbing the sights here, meander to the nearby Diamond Beach, where pieces of ice wash ashore and lie glittering on black sands. Spend the night in Höfn.
Day 4 - Into the East
Leave the smooth, black sands of the south and head into the mountains and fjords of the east coast. Trailing the roads up and down, you can enjoy idyllic fishing villages and scattered farms, providing you with an authentic taste of old Iceland.
The area is known for both puffins by the seaside and reindeer in the mountains. So regardless of if you're on a mountaintop or in a fjord, there is always something to look for. You'll pass through Iceland's largest forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur, and Lagarfljót lake, where legends say a monster hides, to reach Egilstaðir town. You'll stay there, or in one of the nearby villages, for the night.
Day 5 - Lake Mývatn and Akureyri
Day five brings you north to the Lake Mývatn area, known for its geothermal landscapes, including the Námaskarð Pass, the Skútustaðagígar pseudo-craters, and Mt. Krafla, one of Iceland's most visited volcanoes.
The hot spring lava cave of Grjótagjá is one of the remarkable beauties of this area. It is also highly recommended that you visit the dramatic lava formations at Dimmuborgir, otherwise known as 'the Dark Fortress'.
You might want to take a dip in the silica waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths, the perfect modern way to relax after a full day of sightseeing before heading to Akureyri. As you head onto there, it's highly recommended to take a drive through the Jökulsárgljúfur part of Vatnajökull National Park, visiting Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
If you wish to opt into a whale watch, detour to Husavík, the whale watching capital of Europe, to enjoy this incredible treat. You can also add a puffin-watching segment to this.
You'll spend the night in Akureyri, the capital of the north.
Day 6 - Explore the Arctic Coast of Iceland
After enjoying the pleasant town of Akureyri, taking an optional whale watch if you wish, you'll head out to the Tröllaskagi peninsula, noted for its deep valleys and high mountains. Continue your drive towards Skagafjörður, a valley known for its abundance of Icelandic horses. You can opt for an hour-long horse ride on this day in the Eyjafjörður area and ride along the seaside overlooking the fjord and Hrísey island.
As you travel on, you will pass through the old herring-fishing village of Siglufjörður and Hofsós, where you can enjoy the fantastic scenery while soaking in the town's thermal pool. You'll then spend the night in the Northwest area, near the village of Sauðárkrókur.
Day 7 - Sightseeing in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
At the start of Day 7, set out for the village of Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
From there, you can explore the area’s unique sights, including the Snæfellsjökull glacier within Snæfellsjökull National Park, the Dritvík cove and the small, charming hamlets of Arnarstapi, Hellnar, and Búðir. There are many beautiful locations to see, whether you are fascinated by geology, history, or bird-watching, so set out early to make the most of them.
Spend the night in the Snæfellsnes area.
Day 8 - Waterfalls and History
Explore West Iceland with its diverse attractions, including the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, and Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe. Further along, be sure to visit the captivating Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.
History buffs may also enjoy visiting Snorrastofa Cultural and Medieval Centre, the medieval research institute in Reykholt, where the early settler Snorri Sturluson wrote the beloved saga Heimskringla in the 13th century.
On this day, you can take a lava tubing tour in Viðgelmir cave or travel down the man-made channels inside the magnificent Langjökull glacier. If neither of these appeals, you can instead take a tour where you descend into the vast, beautiful magma chamber of a dormant volcano. All three excursions are fascinating and exhilarating.
On the way back to Reykjavík, take a short break at Fossatún, a waterfall said to be guarded by a troll woman named Drífa.
Day 9 - Blue Lagoon and Airport
Drop off your car at Keflavík airport in time for your departure flight. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.