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Discover the rich history and beautiful natural scenery of Iceland on this 8-day self-drive tour around the Ring Road and Golden Circle!
This fully customisable road trip will take you to the best locations all across Iceland’s South Coast, Eastfjords, north and west as you make your way around the spectacular Ring Road. Immerse yourself in ancient sagas and explore some of Iceland’s most stunning landscapes with this incredible travel itinerary, covering everything from the most popular destinations to hidden gems located well and truly off the beaten path.
Summer is a wonderful time in Iceland, when long hours of daylight give way to stunning sunsets that melt seamlessly into sunrise. During the Midnight Sun season, it barely gets dark, meaning that you’ll have all the more time up your sleeve to explore the wild beauty that is so characteristic of the Land of Fire and Ice. Prepare to witness dramatic coastlines, majestic mountain peaks, volcanoes, glaciers, mossy lava fields, breathtaking waterfalls and more!
This tour itinerary is ideal for independent travellers seeking to embark upon the trip of a lifetime. You’ll have the flexibility to choose what you want to do and how long you spend at each location, with plenty of time to see the sights from Reykjavík to Reynisfjara black sand beach, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Lake Mývatn and the remotest fjords on this 8-day journey. Follow the structured plan down to a tee or wander off-course and linger for longer at a place that inspires you; depending on your own travelling style, you can take it easy or pack in as much as you can.
For those who are feeling more adventurous, there is the option of adding extra activities during the booking process. Glide across Langjökull glacier on the back of a snowmobile, see the countryside on an Icelandic horse riding tour, bathe in the mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon, go for a glacier hike and descend into an ice cave, or weave your way between icebergs on an amphibious boat – the choices are endless!
Once you have completed your booking, you’ll receive a personalised itinerary to use as a guide, containing all the information you need for an amazing adventure. Your package will include a rental car, prearranged accommodation, maps and more for the duration of your time in Iceland. All you’ll need to do is to choose the music that you’ll play in the car.
Enjoy the treasures of Iceland at your own pace on this tailor-made 8-day self-drive tour of the Ring Road and Golden Circle. Check availability by choosing a date.
You’ll arrive at Keflavík International Airport, where you will pick up your rental car at a prearranged location. Thereafter, you’ll begin the drive towards Reykjavík, through the rugged Reykjanes Peninsula.
If your flight arrives early in the day, then there is the possibility of stopping off at the Blue Lagoon for a relaxing dip in warm geothermal pools. It’s the perfect way to unwind after a long journey. Otherwise, there are a lot of places to wander along the Reykjanes Peninsula; step foot into steaming hot geothermal areas, stand on a bridge between two continents, and explore stunning geological formations all along the coast.
Upon reaching Reykjavík, you’ll check in to your accommodation before being free to stroll through the city streets at your leisure. Take a walk by the old harbour, do a spot of shopping in the local boutiques, immerse yourself in the city’s museums and grab a bite to eat at one of the many cafés and restaurants. In the evening, you can sample the vibrant nightlife or take a stroll on the iconic path along the shore to the Harpa Concert Hall.
You will spend the night in downtown Reykjavík.
The adventure truly begins! You’ll set off on your journey to Iceland’s famous Golden Circle route, home to three spectacular landmarks – Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area and Gullfoss waterfall.
Renowned as the mainland’s only UNESCO World Heritage Listed site, Þingvellir National Park is a melting pot of historical, cultural and geological significance. It is the location where Iceland’s parliament, the oldest parliament in the world, first convened in the year 930 AD. Situated within a rift valley of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, it bears the evidence of thousands of years of continental drift. Fissures may be found throughout the area, of which Silfra is the most well-known. Filled with crystal clear freshwater, it is one of the best places for snorkelling in the world. You can opt to dive here on a guided snorkelling tour for a unique, once-in-a-lifetime experience.
Continuing onwards, you’ll head into the Haukadalur valley to Geysir with its many bubbling hot springs, spluttering mud pots and steaming fumaroles. The highlight here is Strokkur, a magnificent fountain geyser which erupts every 5-10 minutes, spewing hot water almost 20 metres high into the air!
A short trip away is Gullfoss, one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. Cascading over two tiers, this mighty waterfall glistens gold in the sun as it flows into a deep crevasse. There are a number of vantage points from which to view this waterfall, including one which will take you right to the water’s edge. Be prepared to be drenched in spray if you’re game enough to get this close!
From Gullfoss, you’ll be able to undertake some adventurous activities, including snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier or horse riding in the Icelandic countryside. Otherwise, you can continue on your journey to the South Coast, making a stop by the Kerið volcanic crater along the way.
As you meander along the winding coast, you’ll pass by sprawling lava fields, black sandy outwash plains leftover from glacial floods and charming turf houses nestled into farmland. Very soon, you’ll reach two awe-inspiring waterfalls – Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss – both of which are beautiful in their own right. You’ll then have the chance to stop by the Dyrhólaey cliffs where puffins often nest, before making your way onwards to the Reynisfjara black sand beach. If the tide is low, you’ll be able to wander closer to the Reynisdrangar sea stacks that stand just offshore.
Eventually, you’ll reach the small village of Vík, where you will spend the night.
On day three, you’ll make the drive from Vík to the breathtaking surroundings of the Vatnajökull National Park. Your first stop will be at the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, an area teeming with hiking trails that will take you through verdant green forests, mountainous scenery and many hidden waterfalls. If you only have time for one, then be sure to visit Svartifoss waterfall. The tall basalt columns here are truly breathtaking; resembling organ pipes, they inspired the design of the famous Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavík.
Aside from exploring the nature reserve itself, there are a number of activities that you may choose to undertake from Skaftafell. For a unique adventure, take a guided glacier hike upon an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, which will take you by incredible ice formations, moulins and deep crevasses. Otherwise, descend into the depths of a natural ice cave within Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the only one that is accessible during the summer season.
Afterwards, make your way to the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, where enormous icebergs float serenely upon a mirror-like surface. Having calved from the nearby Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, these icebergs drift gently with the tides, making excellent resting places for seals and birdlife. If you’d like to get closer to the action, then opt to take a cruise in an amphibious boat or zodiac, which will have you weaving between the icebergs!
A short walk away from Jökulsárlón, you’ll find a long stretch of black sand known affectionately in Iceland as the ‘Diamond Beach’. Icebergs that have floated out of the glacier lagoon are soon deposited back ashore here by the ocean waves. The icebergs truly do resemble jewels glistening in the light of the sun!
You’ll spend the night in the nearby town of Höfn.
Day four will take you on a breathtaking drive from Vatnajökull National Park to the remote wilderness of the Eastfjords. This part of Iceland is teeming with wildlife and you’ll have many opportunities to spot a variety of birds, Arctic foxes, herds of reindeer and seals bobbing about along the coastline. Meet puffins face-to-face at Borgarfjörður Eystri, visit the charming seaside villages that dot the shores, discover the colourful houses of Seyðisfjörður and make a stop at Hallormsstaðaskógur, the largest forest in Iceland.
If you have some time, be sure to visit Mjóifjörður for its enchanting, fairytale atmosphere. Here, you’ll find spectacular waterfalls as well as the oldest lighthouse in Iceland. For those who are keen to do a bit of hiking, venture up to Hengifoss, the third highest waterfall in Iceland. Surrounded by tall grey basalt columns with unusual deep red striations of clay upon the cliff face, this waterfall stands out from the rest and is well worth the hike.
Eventually, you’ll arrive at Egilsstaðir, where you will stay overnight.
On day five, you’ll make the journey from the Eastfjords to the incredible Lake Mývatn area in the north. Along the way, take a detour through the northernmost part of Vatnajökull National Park to the magnificent Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. It is here that you will find the horseshoe-shaped Ásbyrgi canyon, swathed in summer wildflowers. A short hike will take you by Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe.
As you near the geothermal landscapes of Lake Mývatn, you’ll notice the landscape becoming less barren and increasingly more vibrant. Be sure to make some time to visit Námaskarð Pass, where steaming fumaroles and bubbling mud pots rise forth from the ground, painting an ethereal scene.
The area bears rich evidence of the region’s volcanic history, with the Dimmuborgir lava field and Krafla volcano looming in the distance. Take a walk around Lake Mývatn, where you’ll find fascinating lava formations amidst a flurry of birdlife. On the southern end of the lake, the Skútustaðagígar pseudo-craters will have you feeling as though you’ve ventured onto another planet. If you’re in need of a little relaxation, head to the Mývatn Nature Baths to bathe in the warm, mineral-rich geothermal waters and unwind with a glass of wine.
In the afternoon, head north to Húsavík, the whale-watching capital of Europe. Here, you’ll find a whale museum, turf houses and seaside restaurants. If you have some time for activities, take a RIB boat tour out upon Skjalfandi bay to a puffin island or join a whale-watching safari to catch sight of Humpbacks, dolphins and porpoises!
After a full day of adventure, you’ll continue the journey onwards to Akureyri, the second largest city outside of the greater Reykjavík area, where you will spend the night.
On day six, have breakfast at one of the quirky cafés in Akureyri’s old town before spending a leisurely morning exploring the many restaurants, shops and museums. The beautiful Akureyri Botanical Gardens are quiet enough to be an oasis in the centre of the city. This is the northernmost garden of its kind in the world and contains a wealth of Icelandic flora, making it a great place to roam around and relax.
As you continue your journey further west along the Tröllaskagi peninsula, you’ll pass by majestic mountains lining age-old fjords while the ocean glimmers upon the horizon. This part of northern Iceland is famous for whale watching and if conditions are favourable, you may spot one or more of these gentle giants frolicking in the waves.
You can fit in as many activities as you like today, depending on the number of stops that you want to make. Go horse riding on the back of an Icelandic horse in Skagafjörður, check out the herring museum in Siglufjörður, or take a dip in the scenic thermal eternity pool at the quaint village of Hofsós as you gaze out over the fjord towards the island of Drangey.
After a long day exploring the awe-inspiring natural beauty to be found in this part of north Iceland, you’ll spend the night in the vicinity of Blönduós.
There is plenty to see and do in the west of Iceland. From historical villages and sites to stunning waterfalls, this region is as diverse as it is unique.
Learn all about Icelandic history with a self-guided tour at the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by the rich sagas of yesteryear. The exhibitions here have a focus on the famous Viking and poet, Egill Skalla-Grimson, who was one of the first settlers in Iceland and who lived in Borgarnes. If you’re hungry, then the restaurant onsite serves a delightful lunch buffet and other great food.
Thereafter, head back out into nature with a visit to the spectacular Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls. Originating at the Langjökull glacier, Iceland’s second-largest ice cap, these waterfalls are unique in that they flow forth from the porous rock of a lava field. At Hraunfossar, hundreds of gorgeous rivulets trickle down from a mossy lava rock face into the Hvítá river below. Meanwhile, its neighbour Barnafoss has a little more power, churning electric blue water into a swirl. Both make for stunning pictures and a short, easy walk will take you to a number of good vantage points from where you’ll have spectacular views.
If you have some time in the afternoon, take a detour to Snorrastofa in Reykholt, a living museum dedicated to Iceland’s greatest poet – Snorri Sturlsson. It’s an enchanting feeling to wander the grounds of this archaeological site that dates back to the 13th century.
There is the option today of a few different excursions, which will no doubt satisfy your sense for adventure. Join a snowmobile tour of Langjökull glacier and descend into its fascinating man made ice tunnels, go caving in the Víðgelmir lava tubes, or take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to step inside the magma chamber of the dormant Þríhnúkagígur volcano. Each of these amazing and unique experiences will have you immersed in the geological history of Iceland’s incredible western region.
On your way back to Reykjavík, make a short stop at the picturesque Fossatún waterfalls and enjoy the scenery. There are a few hiking trails that will take you along the water and fun things to do, including a tug-o-war game involving trolls!
You will spend your last evening in the capital city of Reykjavík.
This will be your final day in Iceland. When you are ready, you will make the journey back to Keflavík International Airport, where you will be able to catch your flight home or onwards to your next destination. Be sure to leave enough time to drop your rental car off at the airport and to check-in for your flight.
If your flight is scheduled for later in the day, then there is the possibility of visiting the Blue Lagoon on your way between Reykjavík and the airport. There’s nothing more relaxing than bathing in the sensual, warm geothermal pools at this world-class spa facility. Indulge in a delicious meal at the restaurant onsite or be pampered with a massage treatment. It’s the perfect way to wind down after an action-packed holiday.
For those with a little more time up their sleeves, you can spend the day exploring the many landmarks to be found upon the Reykjanes peninsula or do some last-minute souvenir shopping in Reykjavík.
We hope you’ll have had a wonderful time in Iceland and wish you a safe trip home!
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. 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.
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.
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.
This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost. The cost of your cancellation insurance depends on the duration of your tour or package. A base cost of 5,000 ISK per person is applied to all tours and packages with a duration of 5 days or less. An additional 1,000 ISK per person will be added to the insurance cost for each day after. The cancellation must be made more than 48 hours before the listed starting time on your voucher. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact firstname.lastname@example.org and declare full cancellation. Please note that this insurance covers the cancellation of the whole tour or package. Individual services cannot be cancelled and refunded separately, but are all covered and refunded in case of a full cancellation.