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Around Iceland Self Drive
Iceland Self Drive Tour
This self-drive favorite explores Iceland's rich natural treasures, including national parks, beautiful waterfalls, striking glaciers, magnificent volcanoes and hot springs.
Plenty of time to cover all the major stunning attractions Iceland has to offer on the Ring Road
Enjoy a leisurely holiday combining driving with plenty time to enjoy sightseeing and activities
Explore all Iceland's main attractions in the Golden Circle and along the South Shore
Take advantage of countryside hotel locations to scout for northern lights (mid-September â€“ October and earlyâ€“mid April-- (Please note: The northern lights are a natural phenomenon and sightings, therefore, cannot be guaranteed.) )
Approximate distance: ca100km / 62miles
Once you have landed at Keflavik Airport, please pick up your luggage and head through customs. Collect your rental car at the airport and proceed to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time in Iceland, we suggest that you take some time to explore the Reykjanes Peninsula (a UNESCO GeoPark site) before you head to Reykjavik.
Reykjanes is a great introduction to Icelandâ€™s unique geology and volcanoes. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge dividing the European and North American tectonic plates cuts through the area. Youâ€™ll see unusual and stunning craters, lava cliffs, fissures and the Mid-Atlantic ridge itself. You can even walk on a bridge that divides Europe and North America. We also recommend a stroll in the surreal Gunnuhver area where you can view quirky colorful mud pools and steam vents bubbling away. If you are a Viking history buff, we recommend the Viking World museum, famous for the ĂŤslendingur, a Viking ship replica that sailed between Iceland and North America in 2000.
Several charming fishing villages and lighthouses dot the peninsula, and the area has a reputation for tasty seafood fresh from the ocean. Reykjanes is home to the renowned Blue Lagoon, and you might enjoy the chance to relax in the soothing azure waters. Important: admission to the Blue Lagoon needs to be booked in advance. We can help you with the booking.
Drive along mystical lava landscapes of the South Coast road to the charming village of Hveragerdi for your overnight. The road takes you past rocky beaches with thundering waves. Hveragerdi is perfect for getting to know typical small-town Icelandic culture, but with a unique twist. Hveragerdi is one of the few sites in the world located directly on top of a geothermal area and, because of its many greenhouses heated by hot water from nearby springs, it is often called the â€śflower village.â€ť
Overnight in the Hveragerdi area.
Please note check-in for most hotels begins at 14:00 â€“ 16:00 (2:00pm-4:00pm
Optional: Blue Lagoon Entrance and Extras |Panorama ATV/Quad tour |Hot Springs Around Hveragerdi Biking Tour (from Hveragerdi)
Approximate distance: ca239km / 149miles
Exploding Geysers â€“ National Park with Geological Wonders (UNESCO) â€“ Gullfoss Waterfall
Breakfast at your hotel. Enjoy a day visiting the natural wonders of the Golden Circle region. Gullfoss is considered by many visitors to be Icelandâ€™s most beautiful waterfalls. Geysir is an active geothermal field with many bubbling steam vents and spouting hot springs, including the famous Strokkur geyser. Visit Thingvellir National Park, site of the ancient Icelandic Viking parliament and a jewel of nature. Here you can see the meeting point between the North American and Europe continents. Many important historical events happened here. Several walking trails and hiking trails take visitors to historical points of interest.
Drive through the scenic area of Hvalfjordur fjord to Borgarfjordur, a region known for its Viking-age history and beautiful glacier-carved landscapes. Borgarfjordur is a popular local getaway for Icelanders from the Reykjavik area. It has been gaining popularity among international visitors for its special focus on home-made local foods and handicrafts. Visitors also enjoy outdoor activities such as caving, hiking and SuperJeep/snowmobile tours on Langjokull glacier.
Travel Suggestion: The areas youâ€™ll explore today are full of geothermal activity, and that means hot spring relaxation! We recommend taking a break during the day to relax in a hot spring pool. In the Golden Circle area, we recommend the Fontana Steam Baths in Laugarvatn or the Secret Lagoon in Fludir.
Mid-June through Mid-September: If you have a 4WD vehicle (we recommend category 5.0 or higher), you can also take the scenic highland wilderness track, Kaldidalur, alongside Langjokull glacier to Borgarfjordur. The road generally is open between mid-June and mid-September.
Overnight in the Borgarfjordur area.
Optional: Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Baths - Entrance fee |Meet Us at Gullfoss Basecamp: Glacier Snowmobiling
Approximate distance: ca415km / 248miles
Picturesque Waterfalls â€“ Europe's Most Powerful Hot Spring â€“ Heritage Fjord
Breakfast at your hotel. Spend part of the day exploring enjoyable activities In Borgarfjordur. This is one of our favorite areas to find local handicrafts and taste treats. Visit the beautiful Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, and the enormous Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot springs in Europe. Nearby is the lovely Krauma Natural Geothermal Spa where you can relax in a variety of hot pools and take in the beautiful views. Enjoy adventure with a visit to the multi-colored Vidgelmir cave or take a guided trip up Langjokull glacier to the fascinating, educational â€śInto the Glacierâ€ť ice cave. Walk in the footsteps of the Medieval chieftain and Saga author Snorri Sturluson at his home in Reykholt. Nearby is the friendly Sturlu Reykir horse farm, where you can tour the farm, meet Icelandic horses and enjoy a short introduction to the breed. (We also recommend trying the farmâ€™s excellent steam-baked rye bread at their cafe- they bake it in their farmâ€™s own hot spring area!). You can also try a horseback riding tour through the pretty countryside.
Drive north and pass Hunafloi bay, a great area for seal watching. If youâ€™re interested in learning more about seals, we suggest a visit to the Seal Center in Hvammstangi. You can learn about these enchanting sea mammals and also book a guided seal watching excursion.
The scenery changes to towering mountains and fertile valleys as you head into Skagafjordur, an area known for horse breeding and some of Icelandâ€™s best- preserved historical buildings. One of these is Glaumbaer (Skagafjordur Heritage Museum), where you can visit a turf manor farm dating back to the 18th century and two charming 19th century timber houses. Australian author Hannah Kent used the design of the turf manor farm as a model for her description of the farm depicted in her best-selling novel Burial Rites (now in production as a movie). Continue to Akureyri, the capital of the north.
Overnight in the Akureyri area.
Optional: Krauma Nature Baths |Seal and Nature Watching (from Hvammstangi)
Approximate distance: ca85km / 53miles
Botanical Gardens â€“ Quality Museums â€“ Waterfall of the Gods
Breakfast at your hotel. Spend the morning exploring the town of Akureyri. The town has some of the finest timber buildings in the country, beautifully restored to their original glory. If youâ€™re interested in culture, check out the trendy Listagil area, the â€śArt Canyon.â€ť You can stroll the street here, browsing art galleries and stopping in at one of the friendly cafes or pubs for delicious, locally sourced food. Several museums are worth a visit, including the Akureyri Art Museum and Nonnahus, the childhood home of a 19th century Icelandic author who enchanted European children with his stores about growing up in Iceland. You can also visit the symbol of the town, Akureyri Church. It was designed by the same architect who designed Reykjavikâ€™s Hallgrimskirkja Church. The botanical garden is open year-round; many visitors find it interesting that a garden so close to the Arctic Circle has such a large variety of plants. Akureyri also has one of the best swimming pools in the country. Itâ€™s a great way to enjoy both hot spring relaxation and check out the daily life in Akureyri.
In the afternoon, continue your journey along Eyjafjordur, taking in spectacular views of the sea and fjord. The road leads towards Myvatn, but first youâ€™ll stop to view the beautiful Godafoss waterfalls, which has a unique connection to Icelandâ€™s Viking Age.
Overnight in the Lake Myvatn area.
Please Note: The Ring Road route today contains a toll tunnel. More information on the tunnel and fees is here.
Optional: Akureyri Food Walk
Day 5 Lake MyvatnMeals: Breakfast
Distance is variable
Bizarre Lava Formations â€“ Geothermal Activity â€“ Rich Birdlife
Distance is variable
Today you are in for a treat: you have a wonderland of fantastical volcanic features you can explore in Myvatn nature reserve. The Mid-Atlantic Ridge you saw earlier in the Reykjanes Peninsula and in Thingvellir also runs through Myvatn, but itâ€™s resulted in a completely different type of landscape. Stroll along footpaths circling the mystical lava formations at Dimmuborgir. Visit the surreal area surrounding Krafla, the volcano whose natural forces provide geothermal power to the area. Check out the otherworldly setting and colorful sulphurous slopes of Namaskard pass â€” itâ€™s almost as though you are walking on the surface of Mars! Explore the Skutustadir â€śpseudoâ€ťcraters and the strange lava columns rising out of the lake itself. This area was used in filming several seasons of the HBO series Game of Thrones, as well as other film productions. If you enjoy birdwatching, Myvatn is a popular resting spot for migrating birds from Europe and North America. May and June are the best months for birdwatching, but there are water birds in the lake throughout the spring, summer and fall.
Myvatn also offers outdoor adventure. You can rent out bikes and follow trails along the lake (summertime) or take a guided horseback ride through lava-lined paths. SuperJeeps can take you into the wild majesty of the highland wilderness. And, after a day of exploration and fun, why not relax with a soak in the Myvatn Nature Baths? Here you can join area locals and enjoy the pools and the natural steam baths in a spectacular setting. The area also has several great restaurants that feature a local taste treat: Lake Myvatn smoked arctic char on steam-baked rye bread.
Travel Tip: Many visitors find it helpful to bring a fly head net during the summer months because of midges around Lake Myvatn. (The midges are harmless, but having a face net can make your visit more comfortable.)
Overnight in the Lake Myvatn area.
Approximate distance: ca309km / 192miles
Whale watching center â€“ Vatnajokull National Park â€“ Vast Eastern Highlands
Breakfast at your accommodation. Remember to make sure you have a full tank of gas and some snacks to eat, as travel services are more limited on todayâ€™s route. Drive north to the charming fishing port of Husavik, where we suggest you stop to enjoy a whale watching boat tour (available Mar. â€“ Nov.). The Whale Museum should be on your list. Husavik was featured in the 2020 Netflix movie Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. You can take guided walking tours of filming locations in the town. If you want to indulge in some hot spring relaxation, we definitely recommend the unique geothermal sea bathing at the new GeoSea Natural Baths.
Head around the fossil rich Tjornes peninsula on the edge of the Arctic Circle to the northern entrance of Vatnajokull National Park. The visitorâ€™s center has helpful information on the wildlife and geology and trail conditions. Check out Asbyrgi, a magnificent horseshoe shaped canyon in the park. Trails lead through peaceful forested areas to a hidden canyon lake. The national park roads take you through dramatic canyonlands created by a river flowing from Vatnajokull glacier. The crown jewel of the area is surely Dettifoss waterfall, the most powerful one in Europe.* Continue across the vast highland plateau to Egilsstadir in the east.
*If you are traveling between May and September, roads should be open for visiting Dettifoss.
Please note Roads 864, 862 and therefore, Road 85 are usually closed during the fall, winter and spring until the end of May. (Road opening dates are dependent on the weather conditions.) Please note that Roads 864 and 862 are gravel roads,and you must heed warning signs in the area if road conditions are not good for driving.
October and April: Please note that it is not possible to visit Dettifoss between October and April, as the roads to the waterfall are not safe for winter travel. We recommend following Ring Road 1 from Myvatn to Egilsstadir.
Overnight in the Eastfjords.
Optional: Whale Watching in traditional Oak Boat (from Husavik) |GeoSea Baths in Husavik
Approximate distance: ca299km / 186miles
Narrow Fjords â€“ Steep Mountains â€“ Picturesque Coastline â€“ Unique Mineral Collection
Breakfast at your hotel. A great way to start the day is a refreshing swim in the Vok geothermal baths, where you can relax in unique floating pools set in a beautiful lake. Afterwards, you might enjoy a visit to Hallormsstadur, Icelandâ€™s first reforestation project and its largest woodland. Itâ€™s so peaceful to spend some moments here enjoying the sound of the wind in the trees and that special sense of nature unique to East Iceland.
Drive alongside Lake Lagarfljot, home to a legendary monster. We also recommend a side trip to visit the award-winning Wilderness Center located at the edge of the hauntingly beautiful eastern highlands. The Wilderness Center has picked up quite a following on social media for its unique experiences. You can discover Icelandâ€™s pioneer history and highland nature in a clever interactive way. Wilderness Center guides can take you on a hiking trip around beautiful Hengifoss falls or on a horseback riding trip to the scenic ruins of an old farmhouse. The Center is also famous for its excellent cafe. You can chat with the hosts as they prepare a meal made from historical recipes and with ingredients gathered from the highlands and area farms.
Drive south through the spectacular Eastfjords, where towering mountains plunge vertically into the ocean. Each fjord has its own charm and history. Leave yourself plenty time, both for safe driving and for amazing views of the coast and Vatnajokull glacier. The journey continues to the town of Hofn in Hornafjordur, also known as the lobster capital of northern Europe. Several restaurants offer you the chance to try some of the famous langoustines for yourself.
Overnight in the Hofn area.
Approximate distance: ca209km / 130miles
Europe's Largest Glacier â€“ Glacial Lagoon with Icebergs â€“ Glacier-Ringed Oasis
Breakfast at your hotel. Youâ€™ve already visited the northern part of Vatnajokull National Park; today you visit will the southern area. Youâ€™ll get great views of Vatnajokull glacier from different angles as you drive along the Ring Road. View the shimmering icebergs and the still, milky waters of Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. Many people enjoy the chance to take a boat tour in the lagoon. If you want a different sort of sailing experience you can take the Zodiac boat tours offered on the nearby Iceberg Lagoon. Some icebergs from Vatnajokull glacier have drifted down onto the black sands at the nearby Diamond Beach, a fantastic area for photographs.
Continue to the Vatnajokull National Parkâ€™s Skaftafell area, a beautiful nature area surrounded by glaciers. There are many great hiking trails here, the most famous one leading to the basalt rimmed Svartifossâ€śThe Black Waterfall.â€ť We only recommend taking this trail during the summer months. We suggest stopping at the parkâ€™s Visitor Center to check out which trails are open and recommended for the time of year you are visiting. You can also get closer to the parkâ€™s glaciers with a guided ice hike. Youâ€™ll see amazing ice formations and learn interesting facts about how glaciers are formed.
Head onwards to the picturesque village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, once the site of a medieval convent.
Overnight in Kirkjubaejarklaustur area.
Optional: Amphibian Boat Tour on Glacial Lagoon (from the lagoon) |Zodiac Tour on FjallsĂˇrlĂłn- Iceberg Lagoon |Glacier Wonders (from Skaftafell in Vatnajokull National Park)
Approximate distance: ca289km / 180miles
Lava Fields â€“ Black Sand Beaches â€“ Seabird Colony â€“ Thundering Waterfalls
Breakfast at your hotel. Drive along the spectacular south coast and Katla Geopark, a sweeping landscape of sandy deserts, rocky shores and rolling farmlands sandwiched between snow-capped glaciers, mountains and the ocean. First you will cross over vast black sand plains created by the outwash from glacial floods Drive alongside Eldhraun, a massive and eerily beautiful lava flow covered in moss. It is the largest recorded single flow of lava in world history. Stop to admire the black sand beaches and cliffs at Dyrholaey*. There are also vast bird colonies here, including puffins (generally seen mid-May to early August). If youâ€™re interested in volcanoes, the Icelandic Lava Show in Vik demonstration safely lets you see the impacts when molten lava erupts underneath a glacier-capped volcano, something that has happened frequently in this part of Iceland.
Youâ€™ll also visit the beautiful waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandafoss, each with its own character. Skogafoss is one of Icelandâ€™s most photographed waterfalls and has stairs that take you to the top for an amazing view. Seljalandsfoss has trails that take you behind the waterfall. (Always check the trail conditions to make sure they are safe). If the skies are clear, you can also get a glimpse of the mighty Eyjafjallajokull volcano, famous for its 2010 eruption, and Hekla, Icelandâ€™s most frequently erupting volcano. The interactive LAVA Centre in the town of Hvollsvollur shows how powerful volcanoes and earthquakes have created Iceland. A stop here will give you a great (and fun) insight into Icelandic geology. We also recommend checking out the LAVA Centreâ€™s beautiful film.
Drive to Reykjavik in the late afternoon. The rest of the day is open to explore the colorful capital city.
*Dyrholaey is closed for the bird nesting season between mid-May and 25 June
Overnight in Reykjavik.
Optional: Snowmobiling on Myrdalsjokull Glacier (from Basecamp) |Kayaking by Solheimajokull Glacier |Fast-track Ice Cave Tour
Arrangements end after breakfast.
Drive back to Keflavik International Airport and even stop at Blue Lagoon as it is on your way to the airport, if you did not have time to do it on your arrival day.*
*Please note that the package price is based on 9 x 24-hour rental days starting at the time of rental. If your flight arrives early on day 1 and departs late on day 10 an additional supplement will be necessary unless you choose to return the car in Reykjavik when the 9 day rental is up and use the Flybus departure transfer.
LATE ARRIVAL SUPPLEMENT FOR PASSENGERS ARRIVING LATE EVENING/NIGHT. YOU STAY THE FIRST NIGHT AT AIRPORT HOTEL SMARI AT KEFLAVIK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT INSTEAD OF HOTEL IN HVERAGERDI.
Please note that the package price is based on 9 x 24-hour rental days starting at the time of rental. If your flight arrives early on day 1 and departs late on day 9 an additional supplement will be necessary unless you choose to return the car in Reykjavik when the 9 day rental is up and use our flybus departure transfer.
Prices quoted include recommended Category 2 car for summer season and Category 1.3 for winter season.
Grp 1.0 Economy 2wd Toyota Yaris or similar
Grp 1.1 Economy 2wd Toyota Yaris Automatic or similar
Grp 2.0 Compact 2wd Toyota Auris or similar
Grp 2.6 Compact 2wd Toyota Auris Automatic or similar
Grp 3.0 Intermediate 2wd Toyota Avensis Sedan or similar
Grp 3.1 Intermediate 2wd Toyota Avensis Sedan Automatic or similar
Grp 4.0 Intermediate 4wd Station Skoda Octavia 4wd Station or similar
Grp 4.1 Intermediate 4wd Station Skoda Octavia 4wd Station Automatic or similar
Grp 5.0 Medium 4wd Toyota RAV4 4wd or similar
Grp 5.1 Medium 4wd Toyota RAV4 4wd Automatic or similar
Grp 5.2 Medium 4wd Dacia Duster or similar
Grp 5.6 Medium 4wd Kia Sorento Automatic or similar
Grp 7.1 Large 4wd Toyota Land Cruiser GX 4WD Automatic or similar
Grp 9.9 Full size 4wd passenger van VW Caravelle 9 seater or similar
Price IncludesAuthorization for Two People to Drive the Rental Car During Your Trip
Accommodation in a Standard Room for 9 Nights
Icelandic Breakfast (except Arrival Day
Rental Car for 9 Days With Unlimited Mileage, Cdw, Theft Protection and Vat
The Iceland Travel Companion App
24-Hour Iceland Travel Emergency Line Assistance While You Are in Iceland
Price Does Not IncludeAir
Breakfast on Arrival Day
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