9 Day Budget Self Drive Tour | Circle of Iceland & Snaefellsnes Peninsula

A luscious, verdant landscape of moss and grass is broken by a picturesque stream.
Iceland's turf houses have enormous cultural and historical importance.
The Dyrhólaey cliffs are prime for sightseeing and for birdwatching, with panoramic views and nesting puffins in summer.
In south-west Iceland, the best place to unwind in geothermal waters is the healing Blue Lagoon.
The midnight sun casts its cool light over the beautiful southern destination of the Diamond Beach.
Seemingly illuminated from within, this iceberg on the Diamond Beach shows the beautiful effects of the midnight sun.

Experience Iceland to the fullest with this budget self-drive tour, exploring the country’s most popular attractions over 9 action-packed days. Highlights from this affordable package include the famous Golden Circle tour, the sublime Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the crown jewel of the South Coast, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

This low-cost package is perfect for those travellers looking to avoid the hassles associated with larger groups and instead, take their holiday experience into their own hands, all whilst avoiding unnecessary pulls on the purse string. 

To aid your tour around Iceland, you will be provided with a personal itinerary that will direct you to some of the country’s most unique locations. You will also be provided with added extras in regards to what tours you can partake in. Visitors can hop onto a snowmobiling tour on Langjökull glacier, ride horses through the Reykjanes Peninsula, explore the inner caldera of a volcano, bathe in the relaxing waters of the Blue Lagoon or take a windswept whale watching trip. The options are seemingly limitless.

Thanks to this package, you will have plenty of time to decide what activities best suit you at any given location. 9 days is ample time to explore the best Iceland has to offer, as well as leaving enough space to partake in some of the country’s most exciting activities.

So what are you waiting for? Hurry now and you too can experience the eclectic beauty of Iceland, all on a budget! Check booking availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: May. - Oct.
  • Duration: 9 days
  • Activities: Hiking, Sightseeing, Bird watching, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Mývatn, Húsavík, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Þingvellir, Deildartunguhver, Höfn, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Borgarnes, Vík í Mýrdal, Siglufjörður, Blönduós, Hofsós, South Coast, Ring Road
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible

Included:
  • 8 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast not included, shared bathrooms; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 9 days (Toyota Aygo or similar, upgrades available)

  • CDW insurance for vehicle

  • GPS system

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

  • Taxes

  • Blue Lagoon entry ticket (please book online in advance if you plan to visit the Blue Lagoon)

  • Meals

  • Fuel


What to bring:
  • Warm and waterproof clothes

  • Driver's License

  • Swimsuit and towel

  • Camera


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.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland & Downtown Reykjavík


Downtown Reykjavík is a great place for those who love food, culture, music and nightlife.


Welcome to the Land of Ice and Fire! First things first is to pick up your vehicle for the next nine days. You will then make your way to Iceland’s quirky capital city, Reykjavík, only forty-five minutes drive away. 

If your flight happened to arrive earlier than expected, then why not make a stop at the world famous Blue Lagoon before reaching your hotel? After all, nothing can quite beat the perils of jet lag like the soothing heat of geothermal water. Make sure to book tickets in advance, however, as the Blue Lagoon is highly popular and spaces are reserved quickly.

When you finally arrive in the city, the rest of the day is yours to explore the quirks and hidden delights of the capital! Despite its diminutive size, Reykjavík is brimming with fun activities and experiences. You could spend the day ambling the streets, checking out the cultural landmarks such as Perlan and Harpa Concert Hall. Alternatively, you could visit one of the city’s many famous cafes or even hit the bars for a taste of the nightlife.

You will spend your night in a downtown hotel.


Preferred accommodation by Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

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

Reykjavík Budget

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


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Comfort

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

Reykjavík Quality

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


Day 2 - The Golden Circle & Wondrous Waterfalls


In summer, it is easy to walk across the Dyrhólaey cliffs to see the resident puffins and the dramatic archway.


Best to wake up early; it is your second day in Iceland and there is much to fit in! You will begin the day by driving roughly forty-five minutes to Þingvellir National Park, the first stop on the highly popular Golden Circle tour.

Þingvellir is an incredibly important place in Iceland in regards to its history, geology and impact on the country’s culture. It is here that the first democratically elected parliament was established in 930 AD. It is also one of the only places on earth where one can see the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates exposed from the earth. If you can brave the cold, you can add a snorkelling/scuba diving trip here, exploring the beautiful and crystal clear Silfra Fissure.

When your time at Þingvellir is over, you will head straight to the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, home to the world famous hot springs. Though Geysir is largely inactive, its neighbouring hot spring Strokkur consistently erupts every five minutes or so, guaranteeing that you will see this natural spectacle in action.

The final part of the Golden Circle tour is the mighty Gullfoss waterfall, found only a short drive away from Haukadalur. Dropping 30m over two tiers, this glacial waterfall is one of Iceland’s most beautiful and dramatic attractions. This is no place to forget your camera! From this location, you can join a snowmobiling tour at the amazing Langjökull glacier, one of the most adrenaline-fuelled activities on offer in Iceland.

After you have completed the three attractions along the Golden Circle route, you will head south down the coast toward two more beautiful waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and the equally breathtaking Skógafoss. Afterwards, you will continue on your way to the small but charming fishing village of Vik, taking a short diversion to explore the black sand beach, Reynisfjara. You will spend the evening at accommodation in Vik.


Preferred accommodation by Vík

Vík Super Budget

Puffin Hostel is centrally located in Vík. Dorm accommodation with shared bathrooms and a common lounge area. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Vík Budget

Puffin Hostel is centrally located in Vík. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and a common lounge area. Access to kitchen facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.


Day 3 - Hiking Day in Skaftafell Nature Reserve


Glacier hiking in south-east Iceland is usually conducted upon Svínafellsjökull, a tongue of the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull.


Your third day in Iceland begins driving towards Skaftafell Nature Reserve, a particularly beautiful area found in Vatnajökull National Park. It is highly recommended that you utilise the hiking trails around here as they boast incredible sights; one trail leads directly to the stunning Svartifoss waterfall. This is also an excellent spot to take in a glacier hike, pacing the hillsides of Iceland’s tallest mountain, Hvannadalshnjúkur.

After you are fully satisfied with your time at Skaftafell, you will head straight to one of Iceland’s most photogenic attractions, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here, visitors will be in awe of the large icebergs breaking away from the adjacent glacier, floating and glistening atop the still, pale blue lagoon. Whilst here, visitors could take a boat trip onto the lagoon itself or, alternatively, take a short stroll down to Diamond Beach, the shoreline where the icebergs flow out towards the open ocean.

Tonight, you will be sleeping at accommodation in Hofn.


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.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4 star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Super Budget

HI Hostel Höfn is located in Höfn township. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Gerði Guesthouse is located about 13km east of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in main building. Breakfast not included.


Day 4 - Into the East


An Icelandic horse grazes in Iceland, in a field of wildflowers under a blanket of mist.


Today you will leave the black sands of the south, heading instead into the mountains, fjords and meadows of Iceland’s east coast. Keep your eyes peeled as you drive through this landscape; the East is the only region where’ll you find Iceland’s resident wild reindeer! If you happen to visit or pass any cliffsides, also look out for the puffins who call the Eastern region their home. 

On your journey, you will pass through Iceland’s largest forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur, providing surroundings that are fairly unique to this island. You will also pass by the charming Lagarfljót lake where, according to urban legend, a monster resides in the depths.

At night, you can enjoy some of the local seafood cuisine before a spending a night at Egilsstaðir or a village nearby.


Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Super Budget

Guesthouse Olga is family run guesthouse located in central Egilsstaðir. Access to terrace and garden. Private rooms with shared facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Egilsstaðir Budget

Grái Hundurinn Guesthouse is located in a forested area 25km south of Egilsstaðir, 15-minute's walk from Atlavík bay. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi available in nearby sister hotel. Breakfast not included.


Day 5 - Lake Mývatn and Akureyri


North Iceland has a canyon called Ásbyrgi, said to have been formed by the stomping hoof of the god Oðin's horse.


On Day 5, you will be travelling north to Lake Mývatn, an area famous for its dark and twisted volcanic landscapes. Here, you are free to explore the steaming vents of Námaskarð Pass, the Skútustaðagígar pseudo-crater and the stunning Mt. Krafla, one of Iceland’s most visited volcanoes.

Of particular note in this area is the lava cave, Grjótagjá, and "The Dark Fortress", a naturally formed area of dramatic rock formations called Dimmuborgir. 

When you have finished exploring the area, it might be a nice idea to pay a visit to the relaxing Mývatn Nature Baths. The silica-rich water here is sure to soothe your tired muscles after a few days of exertion! Afterwards, you will head for the capital of the North, Akureyri, passing first through the Jökulsárgljúfur region of Vatnajökull National Park. In this area, you can find Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, and Ásbyrgi canyon.

Whilst detouring through Husavík, you might want to add an extra tour, either taking a boat trip to see some of the local whale species, or a tour to see puffins up close. When you are finished with the day, you will spend the night in Akureyri. 


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Super Budget

Akureyri HI Hostel is 10-minute's walk from central Akureyri. Dormitory accommodation with shared bathrooms. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Akureyri Budget

Acco Akureyri is centrally located in Akureyri. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Access to kitchen facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.


Day 6 - Explore the Arctic Coast of Iceland


In 1000 AD, the lawspeaker of the Icelandic parliament threw icons of the Old Norse Gods into Goðafoss, officially converting the country to Christianity.


Today you will be exploring the Arctic coast of Iceland, though you are first free to explore the culture of Akureyri, visiting some of its pleasant cafes, its botanical gardens, churches and museums. Soon, however, you will be driving to the Tröllaskagi peninsula, an area famous for its deep inlet valleys and imposing mountainscapes. 

You will next be heading Skagafjörður, a valley famous for its wealth of Icelandic horses. This is an excellent stop to take a horse riding tour if you haven't done already as it allows you the chance to ride along the shoreline and through the gorgeous fields of Eyjafjörður.  

Eventually, you will reach the fishing villages of Siglufjörður and Hofsós; here, it is easy to enjoy the fantastic scenery, all whilst soaking in the town’s geothermal pool. You will spend the night in the area, in or near to the village of Blönduós.


Preferred accommodation by Blönduós

Blönduós Super Budget

Blanda Hostel is centrally located in Blönduós. Dormitory accommodation with shared bathrooms, lounge and kitchen. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Blönduós Budget

Blanda Hostel is centrally located in Blönduós. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms, lounge and kitchen. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.


Day 7 - Sightseeing in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula


Buðir church is practically all that is left from what was once the trading and fishing hub of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.


At the beginning of Day 7, you will head out towards the sleepy village of Stykkishólmur, found on the forever gorgeous Snæfellsnes peninsula. Throughout your journey in this area, the enormous glacier Snæfellsjökull will be an omnipresent sight from the car window. 

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is home to a number of quaint settlements, all of which are worth a visit, including Arnarstapi, Hellnar, and Búðir. One should also pay a visit to  Dritvík cove where, once again, the rock formations are out of this world. 

You will be spending the night at accommodation in the Snæfellsnes area, 


Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes Super Budget

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

Snæfellsnes Budget

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


Day 8 - Waterfalls and History


Hraunfossar waterfall streams out of a wide lava field in east Iceland in many serene rivulets.


Now firmly situated in the west of the country, it is time to jump headfirst into the wealth of diverse attractions the region offers. An excellent way to begin your time here to visit the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes. Nowhere else can quite bring Icelandic history alive like the centre's informative exhibitions.

History buffs might also enjoy the Snorrastofa Cultural and Medieval Centre, the medieval institute located in Reykholt. This is where the early Icelandic poet, Snorri Sturluson, wrote the Heimskringla saga in the 13th Century. 

You could also take some time to visit Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring found in Europe. Just nearby, one can also visit the cascading waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. 

One opportunity not to miss on this day is a tour into the subterranean world of Iceland. One could enter the underworld of Viðgelmir cave, or perhaps the man-made tunnel deep inside  Langjökull glacier. A third option could be descending into the crater of a dormant volcano - not an experience one does every day! 

Tonight, you will be spending the evening at accommodation in Reykjavík.


Preferred accommodation by Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

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

Reykjavík Budget

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


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Comfort

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

Reykjavík Quality

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


Day 9 - Departure day


Before flying from Reykjavík, it is wonderful to revitalise at the stunning Blue Lagoon spa.


It is the end of your adventure in Iceland, though you still have the day to catch up on some missed experiences should time allow it. If you're not satisfied with your time in the city, spend the morning checking out the charms of Old Harbour or the main shopping street, Laugavegur.

If you haven't had a chance to enter the revitalising waters of Blue Lagoon, today will be your last opportunity to do - just remember to book tickets in advance to avoid disappointment.

Finally, you will drop your car off at the airport two hours prior to your flight. Until next time, we hope you've had an incredible time in our beautiful country. 


Car

Below you can see the car rental options available for this self drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, maximum five years of age, and come equipped with a GPS and CDW insurance. You can also upgrade to an automatic model, free of charge.

Super Budget

A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 or similar. A simple, compact vehicle with very little luggage capacity. Comfortable for up to 2 travellers. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Budget

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

Comfort 4X4

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.


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Single person bookings will be arranged with a dorm bed (super budget) or a single room (budget). Budget bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Super budget bookings are set to twin/double or triple room(s) depending on availability, or placed in dormitories. Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Press choose a date to find availability.

Super Budget

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

Budget

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


Cancellation Insurance

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


Map


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9 Day Budget Self Drive Tour | Circle of Iceland & Snaefellsnes Peninsula

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