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9 Day Budget Self Drive Tour of the Complete Ring Road of Iceland & Snaefellsnes Peninsula

The waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss, on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, surges in the foreground of the iconic peak, Kirkjufell.
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Description

Details

Tour starts
Keflavík Airport
Starting time
Flexible
Duration
9 days
Ending place
Keflavík Airport
Difficulty
Easy
Available
May. - Aug.
Ending time
Flexible
Minimum age
None

Description

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

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

To aid your trip around Iceland, Guide to Iceland will provide you with a personal itinerary that will direct you to some of the country's most unique locations. You will also have plenty of time to decide what activities best suit you at any given site, as nine days is ample time to explore Iceland and go on some adventures. 

During the booking process, you can add on tours where you'll hop onto a snowmobile at Langjokull 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.

Hurry now, and you too can experience the eclectic beauty of Iceland, all on a budget! Check availability by choosing a date.

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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 super budget level vehicle; other levels also include SCDW and gravel protection insurance
GPS system
Detailed itinerary
Taxes
Travelers who book with Guide to Iceland may have a PCR or rapid antigen COVID-19 test prearranged prior to their departure from Iceland, if needed.

Activities

Sightseeing
Bird watching
Self drive

Daily itinerary

Day 1
Downtown Reykjavík is a great place for those who love food, culture, music and nightlife.

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland & Downtown Reykjavík

Welcome to the land of ice and fire! First, you will pick up your vehicle for the next nine days. You will then make your way to Iceland's quirky capital city, Reykjavik, only a 45-minute drive away. 

On your way to Iceland's capital city, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It is located in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere. If you add the Blue Lagoon, it will be arranged according to your flights. If there is no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added to another day. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you. There is still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula if you have extra free time.

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 size, Reykjavik is brimming with fun activities and experiences. You could spend the day strolling 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.

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Day 2
In summer, it is easy to walk across the Dyrhólaey cliffs to see the resident puffins and the dramatic archway.

Day 2 - The Golden Circle & Wondrous Waterfalls

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 to Thingvellir National Park, the first stop on the highly popular Golden Circle tour. 

Thingvellir is an important place in Iceland regarding its history, geology, and impact on its culture. It is here where Vikings established Iceland's parliament in 930 AD. It is also one of the only places on earth to see the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates exposed above the earth.

When your time at Thingvellir is over, you will head straight to the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, home to world-famous hot springs. Here you can see the geyser of Strokkur erupting 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 105 ft (32 m) over two tiers, this glacial waterfall is one of Iceland's most beautiful and dramatic attractions.

If you wish to add some adventures to your day, you have three options available to you. The first one is riding an Icelandic horse through the countryside. Icelandic horses are highly intelligent and gentle, making this perfect for beginners and expert riders alike. 

Your second option is at Thingvellir National Park, where you can snorkel between the continents. Silfra is a fissure filled with glacial meltwater from Langjokull glacier. Snorkeling in this crystal-clear water is not only great fun but also one of the most unique things you can do in Iceland.

Finally, if you love speed, you can take a snowmobiling tour on top of Langjokull glacier. You'll be transported from Gullfoss waterfall in a massive super jeep to the ice cap, where you will zoom across the ancient ice on a snowmobile.

After completing 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 Skogafoss. Afterward, you will continue on your way to the small but charming fishing village of Vik, where you will spend the night.

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Day 3
Glacier hiking in south-east Iceland is usually conducted upon Svínafellsjökull, a tongue of the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull.

Day 3 - Hiking Day in Skaftafell Nature Reserve

Your third day in Iceland begins driving towards Skaftafell Nature Reserve, a fantastic area found in Vatnajokull National Park. Before you leave Vik, however, you can check out the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, located only a short drive away.

You can also opt to join a tour where you visit an authentic ice cave inside Myrdalsjokull glacier, the only one in the country accessible in the summer. The glacier is situated on top of the volcano Katla, making this experience one of the more unique ones available.

It is recommended that you utilize the hiking trails in Skaftafell as they boast incredible sights. One path leads directly to the stunning Svartifoss waterfall. Skaftafell is also an excellent spot to take in a glacier hike, pacing the icy hillsides of Iceland's tallest mountain, Hvannadalshnjukur.

After you are satisfied with your time at Skaftafell, you will head straight to one of Iceland's most photogenic attractions, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Here, visitors will be in awe of the giant icebergs breaking away from the adjacent glacier, floating and glistening atop the still, pale blue lake.

While here, visitors could take a boat trip into the lagoon itself or 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.

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Day 4
An Icelandic horse grazes in Iceland, in a field of wildflowers under a blanket of mist.

Day 4 - Into the East

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, look out for the puffins who call the Eastern region home. 

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

You can enjoy the local seafood cuisine before spending a night at Egilsstadir or a village nearby.

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Day 5
Mother Nature's incredible beauty and awesome power come together and form Dettifoss waterfall.

Day 5 - Lake Myvatn and Akureyri

On Day 5, you will be traveling north to Lake Myvatn, an area famous for its dark and twisted volcanic landscapes. First, you'll pass through the Jokulsargljufur region of Vatnajokull National Park. In this area, you can find Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall.

In the Myvatn region, you are free to explore the steaming vents of Namaskard Pass, the Skutustadagigar pseudo-crater, and the stunning Mt. Krafla, one of Iceland's most visited volcanoes. The lava cave of Grjotagja and the 'dark fortress' of Dimmuborgir are also particularly notable.

When you have finished exploring the area, it might be a nice idea to pay a visit to the relaxing Myvatn Nature Baths. The silica-rich water here is sure to soothe your tired muscles after a few days of exertion! Afterward, you will head for the capital of the North, Akureyri.

You can, however, take a little detour to Husavik, where you can join a boat tour, either to see some local whale species or to see puffins up close. When you are finished with the day, you will spend the night in Akureyri.

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Day 6
In 1000 AD, the lawspeaker of the Icelandic parliament threw icons of the Old Norse Gods into Goðafoss, officially converting the country to Christianity.

Day 6 - Explore the Arctic Coast of Iceland

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

Before you leave Akureyri, you can choose to join a whale watching tour where you'll sail onto Eyjafjordur bay in search of the gentle giants that make these waters their home. Nature lovers would not want to miss this chance of seeing these magnificent creatures in their natural habitat.

You will next be heading Skagafjordur, a valley famous for its wealth of Icelandic horses and thus is an excellent stop to take a horse riding tour.

Eventually, you will reach the fishing villages of Siglufjordur and Hofsos. It is easy to enjoy the fantastic scenery here, all while soaking in the town's geothermal pool. You will spend the night in the area, in or near to the village of Saudarkrokur.

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Day 7
Buðir church is practically all that is left from what was once the trading and fishing hub of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Day 7 - Sightseeing in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

At the beginning of Day 7, you will head out towards the sleepy village of Stykkisholmur, found on the forever gorgeous Snaefellsnes peninsula. The enormous glacier Snaefellsjokull will be an omnipresent sight from the car window throughout your journey in this area. 

One of the area's most famous features, the mountain Kirkjufell, can be found on the peninsula's north side. It is considered the most photographed mountain in Iceland and was even featured in the HBO television show Game of Thrones. 

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is home to many quaint settlements, all worth a visit, including Arnarstapi, Hellnar, and Budir. One should also visit Dritvik cove, where, once again, the rock formations are out of this world. 

You will be spending the night at accommodation in the Snaefellsnes area.

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Day 8
Hraunfossar waterfall streams out of a wide lava field in east Iceland in many serene rivulets.

Day 8 - Waterfalls and History

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 is to visit the Icelandic Settlement Center in Borgarnes. Nowhere else can quite bring Icelandic history alive like the center's informative exhibitions.

History buffs might also enjoy the Snorrastofa Cultural and Medieval Center, 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 Vidgelmir cave, or perhaps the man-made tunnel deep inside Langjokull 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 Reykjavik.

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Day 9
Before flying from Reykjavík, it is wonderful to revitalise at the stunning Blue Lagoon spa.

Day 9 - Departure day

It is the end of your adventure in Iceland. 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. The spa 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.

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

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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.

Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Super budget level accommodations will be arranged in hostel dorm beds. Budget level 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. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.

Super Budget

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 farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Car

Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars. All levels come equipped with a GPS and free Wi-fi. You can enjoy unlimited data with the Wi-Fi device, which can be connected to up to 10 devices at once. The car rental will provide 24-hour roadside emergency services. Age requirement for each level can be found below. For all levels, the driver must possess a valid driving license for at least one year before the date of the rental. We recommend Budget 4X4 level for summer driving and Comfort 4X4 for winter driving.

Super Budget 2WD

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.

Budget 2WD

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.

Budget 4x4

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.

Comfort 4x4

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.

Luxury 4x4

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.

Van

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.

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