Encircle Iceland and witness all of its most spectacular attractions with this 7-day summer self-drive. This itinerary should not be missed by those who want to immerse themselves in the breathtaking landscapes this country has to offer, at their own pace and on their own terms.
Travelling clockwise around the island, against the flow of the regular tourist crowds, you’ll have endless opportunities to marvel over the diverse beauty of Iceland; hot springs, volcanoes, glaciers, glacier lagoons and fascinating geological features are all on your agenda.
You’ll have plenty of time to explore the most famous sites, such as those across the East Fjords, the Golden Circle and the magnificent North, and with the itinerary, you are sent after booking, you’ll also have the resources to seek out some spectacular hidden gems, far from any other guests.
As this is a self-drive tour, you get to spend every day exactly as you like, tailoring your experience to the desires of your group. Those fascinated in culture and folklore will find plenty of mystical sites and villages around the Ring Road; those with a passion for wildlife will be able to look out for puffins, seals and even reindeer; and those seeking relaxation will find hot springs throughout their journey.
The only obligations you have to meet are reaching your countryside hotels each evening, and meeting your guides for any tours you add on while booking. There are plenty of unique and exciting adventures to be had as you travel, such as lava caving, horseback riding, snowmobiling and snorkelling.
As this is a summer tour, you will be able to start your sightseeing early and finish late due to the fact that the sun never sets in Iceland during this season. Considering the freedom of this package, you can thus spend much of your time exploring after most have retired, beneath the light of the Midnight Sun.
After booking your tour, all the details will be organised for you, allowing you to enjoy the build-up to your epic road trip around Iceland without stress.
Don’t miss this incredible 7-day summer self-drive to see the best attractions in Iceland. Check availability by choosing a date and book your Iceland adventure.
You will start your holiday once you land at Keflavik International Airport; after passing through customs, you’ll find your rental car waiting.
To get to your hotel in Reykjavík, you will drive for 40 minutes or so along the spectacular Reykjanes Peninsula. With its conic volcanoes, lunar landscapes and geothermal springs, however, you may want to make several detours for a wonderful introduction to Iceland’s stark nature.
If you elected to do so while booking, you can also head to the most famous site on the peninsula, the luxurious Blue Lagoon spa. Its deep blue waters are said to have many healing qualities, and there are few better ways to unwind after a flight than with a relaxing silica mask, or sweating it out in a steam room or sauna.
You may, however, wish to focus on exploring Reykjavik. Iceland’s capital has a thriving culture and picturesque beauty, with a wealth of attractions that boast appeal to all kinds of travellers.
Of course, as this is a self-drive tour on which your freedom is all but unlimited, you are also welcome to explore some of the gorgeous nature that surrounds the city.
You’ll retire for your first night at a hotel in the capital.
On day two of your week-long Icelandic holiday, you will depart Reykjavik and set out to explore west Iceland on your way to the north. You are welcome to take your time and detour to a wealth of cultural and natural attractions, or to beeline straight to your main destination, Akureyri, to better explore the wonder there.
Cultural sites in west Iceland include the villages of Borgarnes and Reykholt. The former is home to the Settlement Centre, where you can learn all about Iceland in its former days, as well as the country’s best ice cream parlour.
The latter, meanwhile, was once home to Snorri Sturlurson, a legendary writer, historian and chieftain, whose medieval works and dramatic life you can learn about at a local museum.
In terms of natural attractions, your options are nearly endless. The stunning fjord of Hvalfjordur, for example, holds one of the tallest waterfalls in the country, Glymur; inland, you can find Europe’s highest flowing hot spring, Deildartunghver. The twin waterfalls of Barnafoss and Hraunfossar are also well worth a visit, due both to their dramatic contrasts and individual beauty.
Once you reach North Iceland, it is recommended to detour to the Vatnsnes Peninsula. This is Iceland’s premier location for seal watching, and is even home to the Icelandic Seal Centre in the charming village of Hvammstangi. You can also find the elephant-shaped monolith of Hvitserkur off the peninsula’s coast.
Your hotel for the evening is in ‘the Capital of the North’, Akureyri. This charming town boasts many boutiques, restaurants and bars, as well as some stunning architecture and a range of museums. It is also perfectly connected to a range of other attractions in north Iceland, such as the tiny fishing hamlets on the peninsulas to the north.
If you want to add some adventure to your sightseeing journey, there are 4 equally appealing tours on offer. When in west Iceland, for example, you are welcome to head to the winding lava cave of Vidgelmir, to explore its daunting yet beautiful depths. Alternatively, you could arrange for a monstrous super jeep to guide you up the slopes of Langjokull glacier to enter its ice tunnel.
This man-made cave into the ice cap is the only one of its kind in the world, making this a particularly unique opportunity.
In North Iceland, you could otherwise elect to take a horseback ride through the spectacular countryside outside of Akureyri; Icelandic horses are an intelligent and friendly breed, making this a great option for all travellers. Finally, you could head to the village of Dalvik to experience the unusual Beer Spa, where you can enjoy a pint as you bask in warm, young ale.
On the third day of your week-long summer vacation to Iceland, you will explore the many wonders of the incredible north. Though, of course, you can seek out whatever attractions appeal to you, independently embarking on the ‘Diamond Circle’ sightseeing route is highly recommended due to the diversity and beauty of its sites.
This route focuses on the magnificent Lake Myvatn, a region of serene bodies of water, abundant flora and fauna, and spectacular geology. Rows of craters and incredible lava fortresses, such as Dimmuborgir, stand in stark contrast to the blooming colours of life that this area boasts.
In spite of being such a verdant oasis, Myvatn is surrounded by dramatic, barren landscapes and features. Namaskard Pass is a perfect example, being a lifeless plateau littered with furious steam vents, belching out columns of volcanic poison.
En route to Myvatn, it is recommended to stop at another feature of the Diamond Circle, the beautiful and historic waterfall of Godafoss. Detouring north before Myvatn, meanwhile, will take you to the serene village of Husavik, renowned for being one of the world’s best whale-watching locations.
The last sites of the Diamond Circle are a little further east. Dettifoss is a stark waterfall which pours into an ancient valley with more force than any other falls in Europe. Asbyrgi, meanwhile, is a forested canyon formed into a perfect horseshoe shape, and a paradise for hikers.
After you have explored the sites on your agenda for north Iceland, you will follow the Ring Road through the spectacular scenery of Vatnajokull National Park before reaching the largest town in east Iceland, Egilsstadir.
To break up your sightseeing, there are 2 incredible geothermal spas you have the choice of visiting today. The Myvatn Nature Baths have a wealth of facilities, and its waters boast a reputation for healing qualities akin to the Blue Lagoon. The Vok Baths, meanwhile, are immersed in a beautiful lake in East Iceland, and provide the perfect place to end your day.
Your hotel for the night will be in Egilsstadir.
Day four of your week in Iceland will be spent traversing a region of Iceland very few guests to the country manage to reach: the remote and breathtaking East Fjords.
Though the Ring Road will take you winding around the magnificent bays, you are welcome to detour from Egilsstadir to witness some that are even further off-the-beaten track, such as at the beautiful Borgarfjordur Eystri.
There are also some incredible attractions around the town you may want to check out before heading to the coast, such as Iceland’s largest forest, Hallormstadasskogar, and the mysterious Lake Lagarfljot.
As you drive over mountain passes and on narrow coastal roads, you will no doubt be overwhelmed by the sheer majesty of this region; the sparkling bays, dramatic peaks, miniscule villages and sparsity of other guests all add to its appeal. Furthermore, you are likely to see an abundance of wildlife as you travel, with many seabirds nesting in the cliffs and seals on the beaches.
This is also the only part of Iceland where herds of wild reindeer roam free.
As you come to the end of the East Fjords, be sure to admire the striking mountains of Eystrahorn and Vestrahorn. You will retire after a breathtaking day of sightseeing at a hotel in the country’s south-east.
On day five, you will travel across the magnificent South Coast, a region lined with countless sites of natural wonder. There could be no better introduction to this area than the first attraction, the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.
Located between one of the many tongues of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajokull, and the ocean, this lake is filled with breathtakingly beautiful icebergs. Coloured vivid blues, gleaming whites and streaked with black ash from historic eruptions, many are as large as multistorey buildings.
To get a more intimate experience at this unbelievable place, you can take a boat tour into the lagoon, either on an amphibious vessel or a zodiac.
When the icebergs break up small enough that they can pass through a narrow channel to the sea, they wash onto the adjacent black sand shoreline. Nicknamed the Diamond Beach for the mesmerising way they glitter, you are highly recommended to take a walk here before continuing along the South Coast.
The next site on the route is Skaftafell, a nature reserve with an abundance of attractions. Many hiking routes connect the sites, which include several glacier tongues and the famous waterfall of Svartifoss.
If you elect to do so while booking, you can enjoy a hike on one of the glacial outlets. Equipped in all safety gear necessary, you will ascend the beautiful Svinafellsjokull, and marvel over its fascinating formations, plunging cravasses and spectacular views.
The next major attraction you will come to on the South Coast is Reynisfjara. Another black sand beach, Reynisfjara is renowned for its haunting beauty, the power of its waves, and its coastal geology. Most notable are the twin sea stacks of Reynisdrangar, which legend says were created when two trolls, pulling a ship to shore, were caught in the sun.
Next to Reynisfjara is another incredible coastal site, the enormous rock arch of Dyrholaey. Though beautiful throughout the year, it is particularly worth visiting in summer due to the fact that thousands of puffins nest in its rocks.
The final 3 major attractions of the South Coast are equally spectacular waterfalls. Skogafoss is the most powerful, falling from a 60m (197 ft) cliff in a spectacular cascade. Seljalandsfoss is just as tall but much more serene, and has a path that fully encircles it.
Gljufrabui is unique in the sense that it is not visible from the Ring Road, and is thus often overlooked. Pouring over a great boulder into a fairytale-like grotto, it requires a short walk through a narrow gorge to reach.
Your accommodation for the evening will be at a hotel in a nearby town.
The sixth day of your week in Iceland will be spent visiting the three spectacular sites that make the Golden Circle the country’s most famous sightseeing route.
The first of these is Gullfoss, a two-tiered waterfall that boasts both awesome power and majestic beauty. It is also a monument to Iceland’s environmental history, having been saved by the daughter of a local farmer from being turned into a power plant. In summer, walkways leading up to its lip, allowing you to feel the spray against your face.
Secondly is the Geysir Geothermal Area, home to the explosive Strokkur geyser. While waiting the 5-10 minutes it takes for Strokkur to erupt, there are many hot springs, fumaroles and mud pots to marvel over.
Finally, you will come to Thingvellir, one of Iceland’s three National Parks. Framed between the edges of 2 clearly visible tectonic plates, this spectacular place has many trails leading to ravines, springs, forests, a small waterfall and some of the country’s most important historic sites.
As you travel around the Golden Circle, you can embark on one of two classic Icelandic adventures. The first of these is a snorkelling tour, which you can take within the crystal clear spring water of the Silfra ravine, in Thingvellir National Park. Equipped with a drysuit, you will explore between the continents in an underwater world of vivid blue.
The second is a snowmobiling excursion; from the car park at Gullfoss, you will board a super jeep that will take you up the slopes of Langjokull glacier. Once on its gleaming surface, you will set off on an adrenaline-pumping adventure that will expose you to some spectacular views.
After following the Golden Circle trail and embarking on a thrilling tour, you can head straight to Reykjavik to explore Iceland’s cultural capital. If you’d rather immerse yourself further in nature, however, there are a wealth of attractions around the sightseeing route that many guests overlook, such as Kerid crater lake and the Secret Lagoon.
You’ll spend the final night of your week-long vacation in Iceland in Reykjavík.
On the final day of your summer holiday in Iceland, you’ll need to return your car to Keflavik International Airport in good time to catch your flight. However, if you have a late departure, you can make the most of Reykjavik, and enjoy its art, architecture and wealth of attractions.
Otherwise, you can use the last hours with your vehicle to visit some of the beautiful natural attractions around the city. The Reykjanes Peninsula, Mount Esjan and the Reykjadalur hot spring valley are all wonderful places that can all be explored in half a day.
If you could not visit the Blue Lagoon on the day that you arrived, you can schedule it just before your departure. Considering how much action you packed into the last week, you’ll be grateful for the rejuvenating qualities of the healing waters and spa facilities.
We hope you enjoy your flight home and visit again soon!
Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavik 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. 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. Please note that not all locations offer quality level accommodation. Comfort level accommodation will be arranged at those particular locations, which is reflected in the quality level upgrade price. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date 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.
Rooms with a private bathroom in a four star hotel or superior rooms in a quality three star hotel at the best locations in Iceland. Breakfast is included.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.