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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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Perfect travel plan
Fully customizable
Car & accommodation
Starting time
9 days
May. - Aug.
Minimum age

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.

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


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


Bird watching
Self drive

Daily itinerary

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

Arrival in Iceland & Downtown Reykjavík

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.

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 colours 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 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.

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

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 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.

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

Hiking Day in Skaftafell Nature Reserve

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.

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

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, 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.

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

Lake Myvatn and Akureyri

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.

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.

Explore the Arctic Coast of Iceland

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.

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

Sightseeing in the Snaefellsnes 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,

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

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 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!

Undoubtedly the most unique and of-the-moment option for today is to witness the Fagradalsfjall volcanic eruption first-hand from a helicopter! This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity will have you enjoy a spectacular take-off from Reykjavik’s domestic airport, where you can watch the beautiful city shrink beneath you before you sail over the rugged landscapes of the Reykjanes Peninsula. You’ll then marvel over the fiery fountains, frothing craters and lava rivers both from the sky and ground, as this 1-hour excursion includes a dramatic landing!

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

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

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. This is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters as you look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice. If your flight is later there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik. If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.

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.

What to bring

Warm and waterproof clothes
Driver's License
Swimsuit and towel

Good to know

Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with a one-year long on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time.

Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing.


See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. 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, 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, or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travellers 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.


A large 9-seater van such as a Renault Trafic (2WD manual), Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD automatic, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travellers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.


Are you looking to try some of the best dishes Iceland’s top restaurants have to offer? You can now add delicious meals to your booking without having to research where to find them. Select this option to include dinner every night as an extra, and we’ll provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We’ll choose the top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you. Your server will offer you a set menu of two to three courses at the restaurant, from which you can choose meat, fish, or vegetarian options. If you prefer to try a different dish, the meal voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu. Save time and effort during your vacation, and let us take care of your meals for you. Choose the meal option today so you’ll be guaranteed to eat well on your forthcoming trip. Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.

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