9 Day Self Drive Tour | Circle 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 travellers 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 onto your trip during booking. Jump on a snowmobile tour on Langjökull glacier; glacier hike on the South Coast; descend into an ice cave, take a boat trip on the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon; whale watch while you are in Húsavík; 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 in which to explore Iceland, giving you the opportunity to fit in these experiences while still being able to reach 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.
- Available: May. - Oct.
- Duration: 9 days
- Activities: Hiking, Sightseeing, Bird watching, Self drive
- Difficulty: Easy
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and is the single most popular attraction in Iceland.
The water is rich in silica and sulphur that helps make your skin shine like a baby. The Blue Lagoon also operates a Research and Development facility that helps find cures for skin ailments using the mineral-rich water.
The temperature in the bathing and swimming area is very comfortable, and averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). There´s a restaurant there and it´s a truly romantic and beautiful place one should not miss while in Iceland.
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world.
Despite a small population (120.000 and more than 200.000 in the Greater Reykjavik area), it is a vibrant city that draws an ever increasing number of visitors. It is the financial, cultural and governmental centre of Iceland. It also has a reputation of being one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world.
The city of Reykjavik is located in southwest Iceland by the creek of the same name. Throughout the ages, the landscape has been shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the area is geothermal. Much of the current city area area was subglacial during the Ice Age, with the glacier reaching as far as the Álftanes peninsula, while other areas lay under the sea. After the end of the ice age the land rose as the glaciers drifted away, and it began to take on its present form.
The coastline of Reykjavik is set with peninsulas, coves, straights and islands, most notably the island of Videy, and seabirds and whales frequent the shores. The mountain ring as seen from the shore is particularly beautiful. Mount Esja is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Reykjavik and lends its distinct feature to the whole area. This majestic mountain is also highly popular for climbing. Other notable mountains that can be seen from the seaside are Akrafjall and Skardsheidi and on clear days one may even see as far to the legendary Snaefellsjokull glacier, at the end of the Snafellsnes peninsula.
The largest river to run through the city is Ellidaa in Ellidaardalur valley, which is also one of Iceland‘s best rivers for salmon fishing.
There are no trains or trams in Iceland, but most people travel by car. The city also operates a bus system. There are two major harbours in town, the old harbour in the centre and Sundahofn in the east. The domestic Reykjavik Airport is located at Vatnsmyrin, not far from the city centre and close to Oskjuhlid and Perlan. The international Keflavik Airport at Midnesheidi heath then lies around 50 km from the city. Cars, jeeps and bicycles can be readily rented in the city and many organized tours are also being offered.
What to See & Do in Reykjavik
The local arts scene is strong in Iceland, with both annual events and single ones, many of whom have hit the international stage. For the annual ones please check our articles Best Annual Events in Iceland and the Top Ten Festivals in Iceland. Major events taking place in Reykjavik include the Iceland Airwaves, Gay Pride, RIFF (The Reykjavik International Film Festival), The Reykjavik Literature Festival, Cultural Night, the Reykjavik Arts Festival, Food & Fun, the Reykjavik Fashion Festival and the Sónar music festival.
Among famous people from Reykjavik are artists Bjork Gudmundsdottir, Sigur Ros, writers Halldor Laxness (born in Laugavegur) and Arnaldur Indridason and mayor Jon Gnarr. For more well-known and fairly-well known Icelanders, check our article on the subject.
You might also want to check our article on some of the many things to see and do in Reykjavik, such as visiting the city‘s many museums, exhibitions and galleries, checking out live music, visiting the Harpa music hall or the theatres, visiting the lighthouse at Grotta, the main shopping street of Laugavegur, visiting the old harbour and the flea market, going on a bird- and whale watching tour or visiting Videy island. We also have a top ten list of things to do.
Make sure to visit the public square of Austurvollur, one of the city‘s most popular gathering places, where you‘ll also find the national parliament, Althingi, the state church a statue of independence hero Jon Sigurdson, as well as cafés, bars and restaurants. Austurvollur was central in the 2008 protests, along with Laekjargata, home to the House of Government. You are also not likely to miss the great church of Hallgrimskirkja that towers over the city from the hill of Skolavorduholt, wherefrom you‘ll get a great view of the city.
Try a walk by the city pond, greet the many birds that frequent the area and visit the city hall, stationed by its banks. The Hljomaskalagardur is a beautiful park that lies by the pond, it ideal for a nice walk and sometimes concerts get held there. Further off is the campus of the university of Iceland, the Nordic house and the Vatnsmyri wetland, a particularly pleasant place, but be mindful of not disturbing the wildlife there and keep to the pathways.
For a nice swim on a warm day, we particularly recommend Nautholsvik beach.
Visit the Laugardalur valley, home to one of the city‘s best swimming pools, as well as the Asmundarsafn gallery, a beautiful botanical garden and a domestic zoo. A walk by the Aegissida beach, with it‘s old fishing sheds, in the west part of Reykjavik also holds a particular charm. The aforementioned Elllidaardalur valley is also a popular resort.
Another place that offers one of the city‘s best (and free) views is Perlan, up in Oskjuhlid hill. The hill itself is a popular resort, with over 176.000 trees and great opportunities for walking and cycling.
Travel to Alftanes to see the president‘s house at Bessastadir, which is also a historical site in it‘s own right, having been the educational centre of Iceland for centuries. Nearby is a beautiful lava field, Galgahraun, well worth a visit, though there is currently an environmental struggle going on as to it‘s future state.
The city is furthermore a short drive from many of Iceland‘s major attractions, most famously the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. In close vicinity you‘ll also find the Heidmork preservation area, a favourite pastime resort of the people of Reykjavik, as well as the Blue Mountains, one of Iceland‘s most beloved skiing venues.
Check our Best of Reykjavik guide further for tips on the best cheap things to do in Reykjavik, some of the best restaurants in the city, happy hours, the top ten value places to eat and our two articles on the famous Reykjavik nightlife; Nightlife in Reykjavik and Nightlife and mating.
Finally, we‘d like to stress that these are only some suggestions of the many things you might check out in Reykjavik. Whatever you choose to do, we hope you‘ll be able to make the most of your visit and we wish you a pleasant stay in our capital.
Akureyri, ‘The Capital of the North’ is a town in the fjord Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. It lies just 100 km away from the Arctic Circle. It is Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of about 17,800.
Akureyri is an important fishing centre and port, but in the last few years tourism, industry, higher education and services have become the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
An international airport is located about 3 km from the center. A large number of cruisers also stop at Akureyri. One of Iceland's best skiing sites is found by Akureyri, at Hlidarfjall.
Traditionally Akureyri has survived on fisheries and some of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, like for example Samherji, have their headquarters there. Other large companies include Brim, Nordurmjolk, and Vifilfell hf, the largest brewery in Iceland.
FSA/Akureyri Hospital is a major employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Akureyri has excellent facilities for travelers and is located a short drive from many of Iceland’s top natural, cultural and historical attractions.
Nature & Landscape
Akureyri is surrounded by mountains, the highest one being Kerling (1538 m). The area around it has rich agriculture and a beautiful mountain ring.
The innermost part of the fjord, Pollurinn ('The Pool') further lends the town a special character. The climate in Akureyri is generally very pleasant.
The islands Hrisey in the middle of Eyfjordur and Grimsey, straddling the Artic Circle, both belong to the municipality of Akureyri. Hrisey is often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur' and Grimsey 'The Pearl of the Artic' and these beautiful and peaceful islands are highly popular with travelers.
History & Culture
During World War II the town was an important site for the Allies and the town grew considerably after the war, as people increasingly moved to urban areas.
Akureyri has a strong cultural scene, with several bars and renowned restaurants. Folk culture in general is more prevalent there than in Reykjavik. During the summer there are several notable festivals in Akureyri and its surroundings.
Sites of interest in Akureyri include the brand-new Hof concert hall and Akureyri’s many museums, The Nature Museum, Nonnahus, a.k.a. Jon Sveinsson Memorial Museum, for the writer, David's house or David Stefansson Memorial Museum, for the poet, Akureyri Art Museum.
Akureyri also has several churches, Akureyrarkirkja being the most notable, as well as beautiful botanical gardens. The old town is particularly charming, ideal for a nice walk.
Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Höfn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the circular ring road of the country.
It stands out, however, due to the fact that it also fills with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
These icebergs, other than their scale, are notable for their colouration. Although they are, as expected, largely white, most are also dyed electric blue in part, with black streaks of ash from eruptions centuries past.
When the icebergs finally make it across the lagoon, they either drift out to sea or wash up on the nearby shore. Because of the way they glisten against the black sands of Breiðamerkursandur, this area has been nicknamed ‘the Diamond Beach’.
In spite of being a rather recent formation, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in the country, with depths reaching 248 metres. With a surface area of 18 square kilometres, it is also growing to be one of the largest.
Jökulsárlón has not been around since Iceland’s settlement; it only formed around 1935. This was due to rapidly rising temperatures in the country from the turn of the twentieth century; since 1920, Breiðamerkurjökull has been shrinking at a dramatic rate, and the lagoon has begun to fill its space.
Today, the expansion of Jökulsárlón is accelerating. As recently as 1975, it was just 8 square kilometres, and now that size has more than doubled.
In the relatively near future, it is expected that the lagoon will continue to grow until it becomes a large, deep fjord.
Though a dark omen for Iceland’s glaciers and ice caps in general, the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökull has resulted in an incredibly beautiful, if temporary, site. This has not been overlooked by Hollywood.
Jökulsárlón has been featured in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
In 2017, Jökulsárlón was enveloped into the Vatnajökull National Park, thus it is now fully protected by Icelandic law.
Because of the wealth of herring and capelin that the tides bring into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón is somewhat of a hot-spot for Iceland’s wildlife.
In summer, it is a nesting site for Arctic Terns; stay well away from this area, as these birds are notorious for the fierceness with which they protect their eggs, dive-bombing the heads of any they see as a threat. Skuas also nest on the lake’s shores in this season.
Seals can be reliably spotted here throughout the year, swimming amongst or else hauling out on the icebergs. Jökulsárlón provides them with a safe haven to rest and socialise, especially considering the waters of southeast Iceland are renowned for their population of orcas.
Husavik in Skjalfandi Bay in North Iceland is called the whale watching capital of the world.
Whale watching is highly recommended from Húsavík and visiting the village whale museum. Other places that visitors might like to visit are the wooden Húsavíkurkirkja church, built in 1907, and the civic museum for culture and biology, which amongst other things features a stuffed polar bear and ancient boats, bearing witness to the history of seafaring in Iceland.
In Húsavík you'll find cute cafés and restaurants offering tasty treats, and you'll have a gorgeous view over the Skjálfandi Bay from this small town of about 2,000 inhabitants.
Skógafoss is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters. Due to the amount of spray the cascade produces, a rainbow is present any time the sun emerges from behind the clouds.
Located on the Skógá river, this mighty cascade is clearly visible from Route 1 and is an excellent place to stop and stretch the legs while travelling Iceland’s South Coast. The river below Skógafoss holds a large char and salmon population and is thus a favourite spot for fishermen in the summer.
The land underneath the waterfall is very flat, allowing visitors to walk right up to the wall of water; keep in mind, however, that this will get you drenched. Skógafoss can also be viewed from the top as a steep staircase leads to an observational platform above the cascade.
Skógafoss is located near the small village of Skógar, south of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano. There you’ll find the Skógasafn folk museum, an open-air museum with both old wooden houses and turf houses, as well as a regional museum with various artefacts from this area.
A part of the Skógasafn Regional Museum is the Museum of Transportation, which showcases the history and evolution of transportation, communication and technologies in Iceland. There, you can see how this nation evolved from the age of the working horse to the digital communications of the 21. Century.
The Skógasafn museum also includes a café and a museum shop, and in the village of Skógar, you will find both a hotel and a restaurant.
At the eastern side of Skógafoss, you will find one of Iceland’s most famed hiking routes; the Fimmvörðuháls pass. The 22 km trail leads you along Skógá river, between two glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull, before ending in the beautiful Þórsmörk valley.
A gold ring is on display at the Skógasafn museum. According to legend, the ring is from a chest that was owned by Þrasi Þórólfsson, one of the first Viking settlers in the area. Folklore states that before his death in 900 AD, Þrasi buried a chest filled with gold in a cave behind Skógafoss waterfall.
Many attempts were made to retrieve the chest after Þrasi’s death, and years later, locals managed to grasp a ring on the side of the chest. As they pulled, the ring broke off, and the treasure was lost forever. The ring was then given to the local church before it made its way to the museum.
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.
Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found on the Hvítá river canyon in south Iceland. The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, finally cascading 32m down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate waterfalls. The first, shorter stage of the waterfall is 11m, whilst the second stage is 21m. The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70m, descending into the 2.5km long Gullfossgjúfur canyon (geologists indicate that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.)
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres. With such energy, visitor’s should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray-off.
In the early days of the last century, Gullfoss was at the centre of much controversy regarding foreign investors and their desire to profit off Iceland’s nature. In the year 1907, an English businessman known only as Howells sought to utilise the waterfall’s energy and harboured ambitions to use its energy to fuel a hydroelectric plant.
At the time, Gullfoss was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas declined Howell’s offer to purchase the land, stating famously “I will not sell my friend!” He would, however, go on to lease Howells the land, inadvertently beginning the first chapter of Icelandic environmentalism.
It was Tómas’ daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who would lead the charge. Having grown up on her father’s sheep farm, she sought to get the lease contract nullified, hurriedly saving her own money to hire a lawyer. The ensuing legal battle was an uphill struggle; the case continued for years, forcing Sigríður to travel many times by foot to Reykjavík if only to keep the trial moving. Circumstances became so difficult that Sigríður threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if any construction began.
Thankfully, in 1929, the waterfall fell back into the hands of the Icelandic people. Today, Sigríður is recognised for her perseverance in protecting Gullfoss and is often hailed as Iceland’s first environmentalist. Her contribution is forever marked in stone; a plaque detailing her plight sits at the top of Gullfoss.
Restaurant / Cafe
Besides Gullfoss, visitors can enjoy the views from Gullfoss Cafe, a locally run delicatessen that serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds; hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs.
Thingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Thingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries.Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagja, which marks the eastern boundary of the north American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Oxararfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, and Gjabakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.
Deildartunguhver, by Reykholt, in Borgarfjordur district, has the highest flow rate for a hot spring in Europe.
The flow rate of Deildartunguhver is 180 liters/second and water emerges at 97 °C. The place is also unique for being the only place in the country where the hard fern grows.
Hofn a Hornafirdi, is a fishing town in southeast Iceland, with a population of 1641 (as of 2011). It has a strong harbour and its main industries are fishing and tourism.
Of note are several interesting museums and the annual Humarhatid (lobster festival). The area is also rich and varied birdlife and migratory birds from Scotland land here around April and leave around August/September.
Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal.
With its enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas, Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches. In 1991, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet.
Reynisfjara is found around 180 km from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, and is a popular stop-off for those taking a sightseeing tour along South Coast. Driving to the beach is particularly easy, taking an approximate two and a half hours from the capital.
Upon visiting the beach, travellers will immediately observe rocky sea stacks sitting off the shoreline, known as Reynisdrangar. According to local Icelandic folklore, these large basalt columns were once trolls engaged in trying to pull ships from the ocean. However, as bad luck would have it, the dawn quickly arose, turning the trolls into solid stone.
Another legend tells of a husband whose wife was kidnapped and killed by two trolls. The man followed the trolls down to Reynisfjara where he froze them, ensuring that they would never kill again.
The sea stacks themselves are home to thousands of nesting seabirds. Species that can be found here include Puffins, Fulmars and Guillemots, making it a must-see location for all birdwatchers out there.
Visitors to Reynisfjara must be made well aware of the potential dangers present at the beach. First of all, the rolling, roaring waves of Reynisfjara are particularly violent, often pushing far further up the beach than many would expect.
Visitors are advised to never turn their back on the waves, don't go chasing after them and keep a safe distance of 20-30 metres.
Aside from these sudden and dramatic shifts in tide (known as “sneaker waves”), the currents off the shore are infamous for their strength and ability to drag helpless people out into the freezing cold open ocean. A number of fatal accidents have occurred at Reynisfjara, the last of which occurred in January 2017.
Borgarnes is a town of less than 2000 people, located on a peninsula at the shore of Borgarfjörður. It's a commerce centre for a large part of western Iceland.
Borgarnes' main industry is service and commerce. It is near to many natural attractions and the view over the fjord and its mountains is highly scenic. The river Hvítá runs through this valley but should not be confused with its namesake, which is the home of Gullfoss and one of Iceland's major rafting rivers. Among major cultural attractions of Borgarnes are the Settlement Centre and the Centre for Puppet Arts.
For those with children, or wanting to bring out their inner child, we recommend the Bjössaróló environmental playground which Björn Hjörtur Guðmundsson spent years developing, using salvaged materials for all the play equipment. Here you'll find slides built into the surrounding hillocks, many slings, a jungle gym, spinning top and several lookout points. There's also a castle, an old boat, seesaws and a climbing dome. Courting couples have also been attracted to the place. In short, it's renowned as the best playground in the country, a wonderland of endless fun activities. It further gives an excellent view of the sea, so guests can take in the breathtaking scenery.
Vik in Myrdalur valley is the southernmost village on the Icelandic mainland, located 186 km from the capital Reykjavik.
Vik is important as a service centre for the inhabitants and visitors of the marvellous Reynisfjara beach.
Reynisfjara is widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches on earth (see for example Islands Magazine). This black pebble beach boasts an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns called Gardar, which resembles a rocky step pyramid and out in the sea are the spectaculary shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. The area has rich birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
Siglufjordur is a town of about 1300 people, located it North Iceland. It is the northernmost town of the mainland. Along with its natural beauty, its Herring Era museum, Folk Music Museum and the annual Folk Music Festival attract ever more travelers.
Siglufjordur has one of Iceland's best harbours and the fishing industry has been the mainstay of the economy for a long time, but in recent years services have become and increased part of the economy. Since the tunnels through the fjord Hedinsfjordur opened in 2010 there has been a large increase in visits to the town, as the town indeed has much to offer for travelers.
History & culture
Siglufjordur has an eventful history and saw a steady rise in the 20th century, from being a tiny village in the early 1900s to becoming a town no later than as 1918. In the middle of the 20th century it was one of the largest towns in Iceland. For a long period it was the capital of herring fishing in the North Atlantic, and the town's cod fishing museum bears proud witness to this history. The old houses there are charming and its nice to take a stroll through the town and enjoy the architecture and the surrounding nature.
The Herring Era Museum is one of Iceland's largest seafaring- and industry museums in the country. The museum is split into three houses were one can learn about the fishing and its processing. One can see many ships and boats in the Boathouse, recreating the feel of the 50's. The salting station retains the old look of the place and on good summer days traveleres may observe the salting process in action and there is a dance. The old Grana factory shows how herring was transformed into meals and oil.
The Folk Music Center is located where the reverend Bjarni Thorsteinsson, 'The father of Siglufjordur', lived and brings the old folk songs to life. Here you can here recordings of people singing quint songs or tvisongur, chanting the epic rhymes (rimur), playing langspil (similar to dulcimer, featuring one melody string and one to five (usually two) drone strings), and the old Icelandic (two strings), nursery rhymes, doing folk dances etc. The center also depicts the life of reverend Bjarni.
The Folk Festival
In early July, Siglufjordur hosts it annual Folk Music Festival, introducing the folk music of various nations and ethnic groups, with a special focus on Icelandic folk music. Various events take place, including lectures and courses on music and handicraft aklong with dances, concerts and overall partying.
Siglufjordur is a particularly beautiful fjord, and high and dramatic mountains tower of the town. The birdlife is varied and some 2000 birds of 16-18 species may usually be found in the fjord. Popular hiking trails include the passes Holsskard and Hestsskard, which lead to the beautiful fjord Hedinsjordur, which may also be accessed by boat or car.
The deserted Hedinsfjordur is set by steep and impressive mountains and has a beautiful valley with good trout fishing in the Hedinssfjardarvatn lake. The last farm of Hedinsfjordur was abandoned in 1951. In the 20th century there would on average be five inhabited farms in the fjord. The vegetation is rich and food could be obtained from land and sea, but the winters were hard and saw many avalanches. The fjord was also hard to reach.
Northeast of Hedinsfjordur you'll find the remnants of one of the remote farms in Iceland, Hvanndalir. Hvanndalir can be reached from Hedinsfjordur through the Hvanndalaskridur ('Hvanndalir landslides'), though we would only suggest this to seasoned hikers, accompanied by professional guides.
Blönduós is the largest urban area of Húnaflói bay in northwest Iceland, with a population of around 880 people. It is a service centre for the local area and a common stop for travellers of the ring road.
Economy, accommodation and services
Blönduós’s main economy is acting as a serving centre, particularly for dairy products, as well as fishing and light industy and tourism. A creamery and a butchery are both operated at Blönduós, as well as a hospital and a health service. The town has a hotel and a guesthouse, as well as summerhouses and a camping area and offers general commerce and services.
Attractions and activities
Birdwatching is popular in the area, as well as horse riding tours and the nearby lakes and rivers are some of the best in the country for fishing trout and salmon. Among these is the river Blanda, one of Iceland's longest rivers. In it is the beautiful island Hrútey, rich with vegetation and is a habitat for many bird species, such as geese. The Yndisgarður is a nice park with a variety of beautiful plants. A small golf course is also located in the town. The town is further a good set off point when travelling in Húnaflói bay.
You might also want to check out the handicraft museum, the Sea Ice Exhibition Centre and the textile museum, the only one of its kind in Iceland. The local church, i.e. 'the new church' with its interesting architecture, is also worth a look, inspired by nature and made to resemble a volcanic crater. The older church, built in 1894 is a real beauty, built in Romanesque style from ca. metre thick granite blocks. The ceiling is painted with a thousand stars and the church has a thousand small windowpanes. The altarpiece was made by Jóhannes S. Kjarval, one of Iceland's foremost painters.
Located in the north-west, Hofsós is one of the oldest trading posts in Iceland, dating back to the 1500s. Today, it is a sleepy fishing village, though tourism is now on the rise thanks to the recent addition of a designer swimming pool.
In the 16th century, Hofsós seemed destined to develop into a large and prosperous town. It was built centre-north of the country, there was easy access for boats to land, the fishing was rife and, most importantly, it was a trading port for the Danish Trade Monopoly. Given that Iceland was under Danish crown rule, this trade monopoly ensured the then King of Denmark, Christian IV, that he could both pursue his mercantilist priorities and maintain overseas territories. An old wooden warehouse, Pakkhúsið, still exists in the town dating back to this period, which ended in 1786 following the cessation of the Danish Trade Monopoly. However, Hofsós failed to develop substantially in the 20th Century, and to this day is still a fairly quiet village West of Akureyri.
A number of harbour-side buildings have been converted to the Iceland Emigration Centre, a museum dedicated to the story of Icelandic emigration to North America. Icelander Leif Erikson was, arguably, the first man of European descent to make landfall in North America, estimated at around 1000AD, five centuries before Christopher Columbus. His worthy voyage cowers in comparison to the countries’ later mass exodus. Iceland lost 16,000 residents between 1870 to 1914, all pursuing the dream of a “New Iceland”. Further thousands left after the Second World War, many settling in the Upper Midwest of the United States. The Iceland Emigration Centre’s main exhibition is a collection of letters, photographs and displays called “New Land, New Life”, which brings this story to greater attention.
Since 2010, Hofsós has boasted an outdoor swimming pool and adjacent hot pot - Sundlaugin á Hofsósi - built fjord side and beautifully integrated into the landscape. Swimmers are privy to truly majestic views of the area. Boat tours are available for bird watching and sightseeing trips to the uninhabited island of Málmey.
The South Coast of Iceland is the country's most visited sightseeing route, along with the Golden Circle.
The famed South Coast shoreline stretches from the greater Reykjavík area and is dotted with natural wonders such as cascading waterfalls, volcanoes both active and dormant, black sand beaches and glacier lagoons.
Geography, Nature & Wildlife
Iceland is divided into eight geographical regions. Out of these, the Southern Region is the largest, as it spans over 24.000 square kilometres with its administrative centre in the municipality of Selfoss.
What is known as the South Coast embodies the shoreline of this particular region. The area consists of a lowland that is mostly composed of marshlands, bays and cultivated pastures that are met by a series of black beaches where the estuaries to the east and west of the district close off the coastal body.
Underneath the soil rests a vast lava field, known as Þjórsárhraun. Its edges reach several hundred metres offshore where the ocean waves crash upon them, thereby protecting the lowland from the invasion of the sea. This results in the South Coast being unusually lacking in the deep fjords that so distinctly characterise the rest of Iceland's shore line.
The region boasts vibrant bird life during all seasons. It is not only rich with both marshland birds and seabirds but also migrating birds such as the North Atlantic puffin. Some species stay throughout the harsh Icelandic winter, including the northern diver, the loom and various species of gulls and ducks.
Highlights of the South Coast
The South Coast offers an unprecedented array of natural wonders that draw thousands of visitors each day. When driving the route from Reykjavík City, the highlights in their correct order are:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Vestmannaeyjar; The Westman Islands
- Eyjafjallajökull Glacier Volcano
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Dyrhólaey Peninsula
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
- Coastal Village Vík í Mýrdal
- Skeiðarársandur Glacial Sand Plain
- Vatnajökull National Park
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
These attractions count for but a fraction of what the South Coast has to offer. The vast sand plains of Sólheimasandur are home to a crashed DC-3 Plane Wreck, and close to Seljavellir by the Skógar Village there's Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland.
- Explore the many wonders of the area on these South Coast Tours
Iceland has one main ring road: Route 1. This ring road goes all around the island and is 1332 km long (828 miles). The road connects the capital, Reykjavík, to the second biggest city in Iceland, Akureyri, in the north of the country. Other notable towns that are connected via the ring road are Borgarnes, Blönduós, Egilsstaðir, Höfn, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Vík, Hella, Hvolsvöllur, Selfoss and Hveragerði.
A number of popular tourist attractions are also found by the ring road, such as Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Lake Mývatn and the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Goðafoss.
The ring road consists mainly of paved two lanes road (one each direction). Some parts of the ring road are still unpaved however. In various places the road contains single lane bridges, especially in the east part of the country. The speed limit is 90km per hour on the paved section of the road (lower when it passes through towns), but 80km per hour on gravel.
The road was only completed in 1974, with the opening of Iceland's longest bridge, that crosses Skeiðará river in southeast Iceland. In 1998 a tunnel below the fjord Hvalfjörður shortened the drive around Iceland by about one hour (or 45km along a winding fjord). Hvalfjörður tunnels are the biggest tunnels in Iceland, 5,8 km and 165m below sea level. The ring road has another tunnel called Almannaskarð in the southeast by Höfn and by 2017 the Vaðlaheiðar tunnels should be open in north Iceland, shortening the distance between Akureyri and Mývatn.
Some sections of the ring road are original 1940's country roads, and a number of sharp curves, blind curves, blind summits as well as single lane bridges mean that people need to drive cautiously. In wintertime most of the ring road is kept open, with the exception of a short passage in the east part of the country that may be closed due to heavy snow (a detour is needed to travel from the north to the east during wintertime).
Guide to Iceland would advise people to drive cautiously on the ring road both in summer and wintertime, but also to explore other roads leading from it to multiple attractions.
Starting time : Flexible
8 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included. More detailed info below)
Vehicle for 9 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)
CDW, SCDW and gravel protection insurance for vehicle
Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available)
Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
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.
Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland & Downtown Reykjavík
Pick up your car at the airport in Keflavík before driving to your accommodation in downtown Reykjavík.
If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you may want to go for a long soak in the luxurious blue waters of the Blue Lagoon, the perfect way to relax after travelling. The healing, azure waters are famous the world round. If you are looking forward to getting to the city instead, however, you may schedule a visit here on the last day.
After making yourself comfortable at your accommodation, use the rest of the day to explore the vibrant city centre. There is an abundance of museums, galleries, restaurants and bars to catch your interest.
Spend the night in quirky Reykjavík.
Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík
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.
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 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 which 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 snorkelling 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 20 m (66 ft). Finally, a few kilometres 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. Other sights along the way include the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the quaint village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Spend the night in the village of Vík.
Preferred accommodation by Vík
Hotel Katla is a 3 star country hotel that's situated 5km to the east of Vík. Comfortable private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a hot tub and a sauna. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
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 Skaftafell area is highly recommended, where you could pace the glacier tongue in the hillsides of the Iceland's tallest mountain: Hvannadalshnjúkur in Öræfajökull glacier.
Once you've hit the road, 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 if you would like, on a zodiac or amphibious boat.
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.
Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn
Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort
Hotel Höfn is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
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.
Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir
Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3 star hotel located in a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir but also right by the lake. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
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 the Ásbyrgi canyon and 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.
Preferred accommodation by Akureyri
Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
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 Blönduós.
Preferred accommodation by Blönduós
Hotel Blanda is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland with a view towards Blanda river and the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast is included.
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 is a wealth of 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.
Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes
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.
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 a visit to 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 else travel down the man-made channels inside the magnificent Langjökull glacier. If neither of these appeal, you can instead take a tour in which 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, before spending the night in the capital.
Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík
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.
Day 9 - Blue Lagoon and Airport
Drop off your car at Keflavík airport in time for your departure flight. If you are taking an afternoon or evening flight, consider fitting in one last authentic Icelandic experience:
A revitalising visit to the world-famous Blue Lagoon spa is a great way to end your Icelandic adventure. The water is rich in silica, and blue-green algae, which gives the lagoon its turquoise tint and reputed healing powers. If you did this on your first day, then explore the Reykjanes peninsula, or spend some more time in Reykjavík! Come back soon!
See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available hotels and guesthouses 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. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. The sooner you reserve the higher quality accommodation we can provide. Press choose a date at the top 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.
Below you can see the car rental options available for this self drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP, and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model, free of charge.
A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.
A medium sized jeep or SUV with 4WD (4x4) fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt travel, such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities.
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 email@example.com 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.
Daniel Alan Nadborny
We went for the Quality Hotels and Comfort Car and were very happy that we did. They cost a lot more but added tremendously to our overall experience. We worked with Embla in planning the trip. Embla listened carefully to our requirements and requests and put together a great string of hotels and a wonderful itinerary. Everything went well with only a few exceptions that I will outline below so that Guide to Iceland can improve on an otherwise wonderful experience. First: The GPS coordinates in the itinerary are not compatible with the Garmin GPS that is given along with the rental car. The coordinates, while accurate, do not have the same number of decimal places as the Garmin GPS so that the coordinates do not deliver you to the exact destination. Luckily for us, I took the time to look at the Kia car's navigation user manual and I found a way to use the car's built in navigation system, using an advanced feature to put in the coordinates and that system accepted the exact coordinates as in the itinerary. I figured it out after only one day of frustration trying to use the Garmin GPS so the rest of the trip went beautifully. Second: We were very impressed with EuropCar rental company and were happy Guide to Iceland booked with them. They were very efficient at both ends of the rental (when we arrived the lines at Avis and Hertz were huge but I just stepped up to the EuropCar counter and was taken right away) and the KIA midsized SUV was very nicely equipped and ran very well. The only short coming is that they did not know how to advise me on the GPS issue above and sent me off with the add on Garmin GPS without letting me know that I could have just used an advanced feature in the KIA's built in navigation system. Third: The itinerary provided by Guide to Iceland was great and very detailed, with all coordinates being accurate and lots of sites to see. However, it needs to be revised for off-season visits starting in October as virtually all the museums and several recommended restaurants that we went out of our way to see were closed for the season. That was a shame and could have been avoided if the itinerary were notated for travel after September 30th (which seemed to be the common date for seasonal closings). Fourth: We loved the choice of Quality Hotels and they were uniformly excellent and the best in each town, with one big exception. Hotel Tindastoll was terrible. The town of Sauoarkrokur was awful, very industrial and looked like a ghost town with almost all its establishments except one restaurant shut down. It is not a town for tourists. On top of that the Hotel itself is not in a nice setting and it is hardly "Old Romantic Style". It smelled of mold or mildew and was understaffed and unaccommodating. The stairs up to our room were so steep and narrow that carrying our luggage up was dangerous. We could not wait to leave the following morning and did so before breakfast, which they were serving too late for us to wait around for. Also, it made no sense having us stay there because there were few Day 6 sites to see (given that anything that could have been visited was closed for the season) and we went through Sauoarkrokur by early afternoon and went on to see Blondius and then had to go all the way back to the hotel for the night. It was a waste of driving and a terrible hotel and place to spend the night. Fifth: It would have also been helpful if the itinerary had given the approximate travel time between sites so that we could have had a better sense of how to time our stops during the day. Also, certain mentioned sites at specific stops were noted in the itinerary but no coordinates or directions were given on how to find these places. We spent time within certain towns going around in circles trying to find certain of those places that were mentioned in the itinerary. I would like to repeat that these comments are offered not as a complaint but rather as constructive criticism so that Guide to Iceland can improve the experience for future travelers and travelers contemplating this trip can be aware of some short-comings. We thoroughly enjoyed our vacation in Iceland. It is a wonderful country and, overall, Guide to Iceland was great to deal with and were responsive. I would recommend using their services and this itinerary in particular. As noted by others, everything is super expensive in Iceland (food and fuel in particular) so be prepared and you will have a wonderful time.
Great experience! Everything went like expected.
Stephen Allan Crane
We worked with Jonathan. I thought we'd be low maintenance travelers, but we needed to make several changes to our itinerary to suit our individual needs. Jonathan was quick to make needed changes. Communications were timely and comprehensive. As a first time visitor to Iceland, I didn't know what to expect and booking accommodations only two months ahead of our trip during the high season seemed to daunting for DIY planning. I didn't even think Guide to Iceland could pull it off. I was wrong. Within a week, Jonathan and his team brought my overall vision to reality, booking the perfect accommodations in the ideal locations for our needs (ring road exploration, photography, and day hikes). We skipped the Golden Circle to avoid the heaviest of the tour bus crowds and have no regrets. Our add-ons included a glacial lagoon tour (canceled and refunded due to high winds) and a whale watch tour out of Akureyri (saw six humpbacks). Customer service was outstanding at all booked accommodations and activities. Check-in at all locations was seamless (just hand over your printed voucher e-mailed by Guide to Iceland...we printed back up copies kept in a separate location just in case). If you are a first time visitor to Iceland and want to cut days off of your planning time, I highly recommend Guide to Iceland.
Awesome!!! Everything was perfect.
Wonderful vacation, Iceland's beauty becomes at times almost overwhelming. However, we had no detailed from itinerary from Guide to Iceland. I don't know if I missed an email, or what happened, but we winged it on or own. They did have a rental car ready for us (when we got in close to midnight) and the hotel selection throughout the week was very good. I suppose we could have called and gotten an itinerary, but we're the types who tend to keep to ourselves so we didn't do that. In the morning I'd punch in that evening's hotel coordinates into the GPS and we'd haul out our Lonely Planet book and have at it, which is something we're not unaccustomed to doing anyway. So aside from the lack of an itinerary, the experience was fabulous. Visiting Iceland is an unforgettable experience, as long as you're prepared for the fact that most things in the country are very expensive (tank of fuel, $100+, dinner $100+, light lunch $50, etc. ).
The good: The trip was amazing. So many waterfalls, geysers, springs, lava fields, etc. that we were becoming desensitized to the beauty of the country. Even during the highest tourist season, we were able to find solitude at several attractions off the beaten path. Working through the Guide to Iceland removed much of the planning concerns dealing with an unfamiliar country. They booked the car and all of the hotels for us. As a novice trip planner, I really appreciated that service. The bad: Iceland was very expensive. We passed on all the additional paid tours, but there was still plenty to do. We discovered that we relied on the Guide to Iceland itinerary too much and did not do our own adequate planning - we wanted to be surprised by seeing some of the attractions in the moment as opposed to looking up pictures in advance. We learned we needed to pre-select the attractions we wanted to see and look up appropriate GPS Way Points. The coordinates in the itinerary were often for city centers and not the specific attractions. Also, we discovered that because we requested comfort rooms, the itinerary had us backtracking a couple of hours for our hotel - making it that much more difficult to stay on schedule. Unfortunately, those nights also corresponded with the days with the most stops. I would have liked to be presented with the choice in those instances to forego the comfort room to avoid backtracking. Once we were in the mode of plotting out our travel each night, we were able to catch that the itinerary had us going out of our way for the same town twice - both during the day and then for the hotel. We were able to eliminate the first instance and save some driving time. And of course, there was just not enough time to see everything. Some of what the Guide would recommend would require a half a day or more to hike to and back. We had to pass on those attractions.
Choi Tsz Lung
Guide to Iceland has wrongly booked the date of car rental. In the voucher it stated we can get the car at 22:00 30/6/2017. But when I arrived airport, I cannot see the representative even after I have waited for 1 hour till 23:00. Then I made expensive international call to the car rental company. The car rental company said guide to Iceland has made the booking to 1/7/2017 22:00. I was desperate and furious of this serious mistake. Fortunately, the car rental company tried their best and arranged a car to us on the next day morning. Our trip to Iceland could be completely ruined by this mistake if the car company has not helped us. Disappointed that guide to Iceland made this simple yet serious mistake.