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

9 Day Budget Self Drive Tour | Circle of Iceland & Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Drive the circle around Iceland on the ring road and explore the fantastic Snæfellsnes 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.
Based on 4 traveller reviews

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 trip 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 have plenty of time to decide what activities best suit you at any given location as 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. 

During the booking process, you can add on tours where you'll hop onto a snowmobile at 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 and if you book now, you'll receive a special discount on these excursions.

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: Sightseeing, Bird watching, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Attractions: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, West Iceland , Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Mývatn, Dimmuborgir, Húsavík, Dettifoss, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Þingvellir, Hraunfossar, Deildartunguhver, Strokkur, Skagafjörður, Snæfellsnes, Reykjanes, Sólheimajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Þríhnúkagígur, Höfn, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Stykkishólmur, Borgarnes, Barnafoss, Langjökull, Grjótagjá, Vík í Mýrdal, Svartifoss, Egilsstaðir, Siglufjörður, Blönduós, Námafjall Geothermal Area, Kerið, Hofsós, Kirkjufell, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Haukadalur, Mývatn Nature Baths, Námaskarð, Tröllaskagi, Hallormsstaðaskógur, Víðgelmir, South Coast, Diamond Beach, Ring Road, East Fjords
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible.

Your car will await you at Keflavík International Airport when you arrive. You will drop it off at Keflavík airport, too, when you depart from Iceland.
  • 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 (can be added during booking process)

  • 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 in 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 out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not 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 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 where Iceland's parliament was established by Vikings 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.

When your time at Þingvellir is over, you will head straight to the geothermal valley of Haukadalur, home to the world famous hot springs. Here you can see the hot spring 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 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. 

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 both highly intelligent and gentle, making this perfect for both beginners and expert riders alike. 

Your second option is at Þingvellir National Park where you can snorkel between the continents. Silfra is a fissure filled with glacial meltwater from Langjökull glacier. Snorkelling 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 have the need for speed, you can take a snowmobiling tour on top of Langjökull glacier. You'll be transported from Gullfoss waterfall in a massive super jeep to the glacier where you will zoom across the ancient ice on a snowmobile.

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 Vík where you will spend the night.

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. 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. Before you leave Vík, 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 Mýrdalsjökull 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 highly recommended that you utilise the hiking trails in Skaftafell 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.

While 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 Höfn.

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

Guesthouse Hvammur is located in the centre of Höfn town and a short drive from Vatnjökull National Park. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is 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 a family run guesthouse centrally located in Egilsstaðir town. Access to terrace and garden. Private rooms with shared facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Egilsstaðir Budget

Guesthouse Birta is family run guesthouse centrally located in the town of Egilsstaðir. Access to terrace and garden. Private rooms with shared facilities. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Day 5 - Lake Myvatn and Akureyri

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

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

At the Mývatn region, 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.

You can, however, take a little detour to Húsavík, where you can join a 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 a short walk from Akureyri's town centre. Dormitory accommodation with shared bathrooms. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Akureyri Budget

Hrafinn Guesthouse is located in the centre of Akureyri town. Guests have access to a fully equipped kitchen and fully furnished terrace. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. 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. 

Before you leave Akureyri you can choose to join a whale watching tour where you'll sail onto Eyjafjörður 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 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

Mikligarður Guesthouse is located in the old center of Sauðárkrókur town. Private Bedroom with shared bathroom and a communal kitchenette. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Blönduós Budget

Mikligarður Guesthouse is located in the old center of Sauðárkrókur town. Free Wi-Fi. Private Bedroom with private bathroom and a communal kitchenette. Breakfast not included.

Day 7 - Sightseeing in the Snaefellsnes 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. 

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

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 bathroom, 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 in 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 out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not 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. 


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.


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


Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models. Super budget 2WD vehicles are maximum 5 years of age, and come equipped with a GPS and standard CDW insurance. Budget 2WD and Comfort 4x4 level vehicles are maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model.

Super Budget

A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities.


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

Comfort 4X4

A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. Fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities. Recommended.


You can now add meals to your booking.
Select to include dinner on every night as an optional extra, and we will provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We will choose from top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you.
At the restaurant, you will be offered a set menu, from which you can choose from meat, fish or vegetarian options. If you would prefer something else, the voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu.
Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements.
Vouchers are non-refundable.

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.


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As a busy mom who works full time I didn't have the time to research and prepare adequately for our mother-daughter Icelandic adventure, so I turned to Guide to Iceland to help me out. I found the selection of options to be ideal for the length of our stay and my budget. The car rental went smoothly and we were able to navigate the roads with ease thanks to the always-reliable wifi provided by the rental company & our cell phones (Google Maps). I opted to purchase the daily insurance just in case, and although we didn't encounter any problems, we did experience the very high winds, and the highways that suddenly turn to gravel. In the Easter Fjords I imagined the possibility of rockslides but the land remained stable! We met another group of travellers whose car door was unfortunately broken by the wind (yes, they also purchased insurance). All of our hostel accommodations were comfortable, tidy and well-appointed for the budget traveller. Most nights we had our own room and simply shared the bathroom but there was never a line-up. It was all very easy and the hostel staff were all very friendly. Our excursions were amazing on every level - from the ease of organization, the knowledge & friendliness of guides, and of course the absolutely incredible nature. Getting seasick while whale watching wasn't a highlight but it added to the overall experience - yes, we both got seasick! Since returning home, I've been talking about Iceland and how I organized the trip with all of your help - actually you organized the whole thing and deserve all the credit. You have a wonderful country that I will definitely visit again; in fact, when my daughter is old enough she wants to live/work there on a farm to learn the language! Tips - get car insurance; pack a sleeping mask; pack layers of clothing for sudden changes in temperature; respect the rules of the pools; eat skyr; fill your tank before it's half-empty (long stretches between gas stations); pack sunglasses; try the famous hotdogs; buy an Icelandic sweater; visit Drangey Island (we added that excursion ourselves); respect the nature and the local people by being a conscientious traveller. As a side note I want to mention a podcast called "All Things Iceland" - we tuned into it on the long drives and learned so much about the country covering language, culture, politics, celebrations, writers, history, and more. I recommend it to others who take to the road. That as well as the music of Asgeir Trausti in Icelandic! Takk fyrir, Kim & Tula, CANADA
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The guide was kind and always availabile to answer and help! The tour great, well organized and distributed, ok if you follow the suggested activities and don’t spend time reaching different and additional location otherwise 9 days comes tight and you have to drive all day long! Ok if you do it only a couple of days, then one or two days little more relaxed. However I suggest ice climb, horse riding and blue lagoon even if so expensive! Only thing not good was the rental car, for a windshield damaged you’ll be overcharged the price without justification...enjoy beautiful wild Iceland!
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This was an amazing trip!! I felt like we made all of the highlights without missing anything. I didn’t feel too rushed and there were so many options along the route to stop at. I would go back to Iceland in a heartbeat and I would definitely book with Guide to Iceland again!
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Hello, I took this trip in Iceland & it was good. The overall selection of the Hotels, Locations was good. But why I am not rating it as amazing is that, out Katla Caves trip which was selected & paid for during our selection was missed because of complete non communication from Guide to Iceland. There was a change of Guide as the person who booked for us left when we reached Iceland. There is no office of this company physically in the city. Also when we asked them to meet up personally to understand the itinerary they said that follow things as given in their list which did not have the Katla Caves Adventure. Laters all the blame for missing this was put on us instead of the agent understanding & we couldn't do activity of 1,300 USD because of this.
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