10 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | The Ring Road with Snaefellsnes Peninsula

10 Day Self Drive Tour on a Budget | The Ring Road with Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The mighty Kirkjufell mountain on Snæfellsnes Peninsula mirrored in a serene lake.
The sun shining on the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall which falls over a concaved cliff face.
The striking ink-black houses in Hellnar hamlet on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
As with all turf houses, the roof of Hofkirkja church in south-east Iceland turns green in the summer months.
The majestic Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell was the inspiration for Reykjavík's landmark church, Hallgrímskirkja.
On a self-drive tour, there are no impatient tour guides, so you'll be able to enjoy the beauty of Gullfoss waterfall for as long as you wish.

Explore the best Iceland has to offer on this extensive ten-day self-drive tour. Travel the complete circle around Iceland, including the Snæfellsnes peninsula and the Golden Circle, and do so on a budget. This tour is perfect for all free-spirited travellers who want to see the country’s most famous sights and still save a buck.

Those planning on visiting Iceland in the summer of 2019, can make this fantastic self-drive even better by utilising the Early Bird Special currently on offer. With it, you’ll receive an added 20% discount off the base price of this already great deal.

Using the ring road as you guide, you will travel across the country, past countless natural wonders such as the stunning waterfalls of the South, the charming fishing villages of the East, the otherworldly nature of the North and the legendary glaciers in the West.

The best part is, you are behind the wheel, so you get to decide where to go and when to leave. There are no tour guides to rush you past incredible places in a hurry to get to the next site. You are free to spend as much time as you like at each spot.

During booking, you can add on some exciting adventures to spice up your holiday. You can snorkel between two continents in Þingvellir National Park, sail amongst icebergs at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, venture inside a volcano, and ride an Icelandic horse through the scenic countryside, all at a discounted price if you book them alongside this self-drive.

So don’t hesitate any longer. Travel the country in a wallet-friendly way and create your perfect holiday on this 10-day self-drive tour. Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: May. - Oct.
  • Duration: 10 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Bird watching, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, West Iceland , Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Mývatn, Dimmuborgir, Húsavík, Ásbyrgi, Dettifoss, Snæfellsjökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Þingvellir, Deildartunguhver, Snæfellsnes, Reykjanes, Sólheimajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Þríhnúkagígur, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Jökulsárgljúfur, Hellnar, Langjökull, Arnarstapi, Vík í Mýrdal, Svartifoss, Egilsstaðir, Siglufjörður, Hofsós, Kirkjufell, Mývatn Nature Baths, Djúpalónssandur, Tröllaskagi, Víðgelmir, South Coast, Diamond Beach, Ring Road, Eastfjords
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.
Included:
  • 9 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast not included, shared bathrooms; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 10 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

  • Fuel

  • Meals

  • Blue Lagoon entry ticket (can be added during booking process)


What to bring:
  • Driver's License

  • Warm and waterproof clothes

  • Swimsuit and towel

  • Hiking shoes


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.

Please note that all optional excursions are not included in the Early Bird offer, but you will enjoy a special discount on all optional activities if you book a self-drive tour with us. Don't miss the chance to spice up your trip with those bargain options.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival


Hallgrímskirkja church, under the rainbow in Reykjavík city


Pick up your car at Keflavík International Airport and make your way towards Iceland’s capital Reykjavík. Along the way, you’ll drive past the vast fields of black lava and moss-covered rocks of the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Located in this barren area is the world famous Blue Lagoon and you can start your Icelandic adventure by unwinding after the long flight in the azure waters of the spa. You'll have to book a ticket in advance though, and we recommend doing so as soon as you can.

If you prefer, you can skip the lagoon and head straight to the capital. After settling in your accommodation, you are free to explore the city. You could check out a museum, go shopping or visit one of Reykjavík’s many restaurants and bars. You'll spend your night in the city.


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


Iceland's most famous water feature, Strokkur geyser in Geysir geothermal area


On day two, you’ll visit the iconic Golden Circle. This route includes the historically and geographically significant Þingvellir National Park, the erupting hot springs of Geysir geothermal area and the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall.

Þingvellir is your first stop of the day. This national park is where Iceland’s parliament, Alþingi, was founded over a thousand years ago, making it the oldest still-running parliament in the world.

The park is located in a rift valley between two tectonic plates that are drifting apart, tearing up the landscape around it in the process. Traversing the region are numerous cracks and fissures, which are a direct result of this continental drift.

One of those fissures, Silfra, is in Þingvallavatn lake and you can opt for a snorkelling tour of the crystal clear waters of this underwater canyon. There you will have the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to swim between two continents.

Next up is Geysir geothermal area, the home of bubbling mud pools and Geysir, a 10,000-year-old erupting hot spring. Although Geysir is mostly dormant now, its neighbour, Strokkur certainly is not. This hot spring erupts every 5-10 minutes, creating a 15-20 metre high water column each time around.

The last stop on the Golden Circle route is the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. Fed by Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull, the river Hvítá rushes southwards before plummeting in two ‘steps’ into a 32-metre gorge, creating this gorgeous cascade of unharnessed power.

At Gullfoss, you can opt for a thrilling snowmobile tour where you’ll race across the icecap of Langjökull glacier. If you prefer something a little less speedy but equally exciting, you can go on a horse riding tour in Reykjadalur valley.

On your way to the town of Hvolsvöllur, where you will be spending the night, you can stop at scenic crater lake Kerið to awe at its sapphire blue water contrasting with red rocks of lava.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Super Budget

Árnes HI Hostel is located close to the village of Hella. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Budget

Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur village. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.


Day 3 - South Coast and Skaftafell Nature Reserve


The sun shining on the black sand beach of Reynisfjara which is edged in by cliffs of hexagonal basalt columns


Today you’ll travel along Iceland’s south coast, famed for its waterfalls, volcanoes, glaciers, and beautiful coastline.

Your first stop of the day is the unique Seljalandsfoss waterfall. A pathway will lead you around the waterfall, even behind the cascading water, so you’ll be able to view the landscape through a curtain of falling spring water.

Next up is Skógafoss; one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls with a width of 25 metres and a 60-metre drop. On sunny days you might see a double rainbow forming in the mist from this majestic cascade. 

As you travel from Seljalandsfoss waterfall to Skógafoss, you’ll be driving by the infamous glacier Eyjafjallajökull. The volcano beneath this glacier caused all air traffic in Europe to halt when it erupted back in 2010. 

If you'd like, you can use this unique opportunity to visit a natural ice cave in Mýrdalsjökull. Departing in the morning from the village of Vík, this tour will take you inside the magnificent glacier to see all its wonders. You could also use the morning and take a refreshing glacier hike on an outlet glacier of Mýrdalsjökull, Sólheimajökull, or a thrilling snowmobile ride.

Vík is located further south of the glaciers. It is a perfect place to stop, relax and refuel before continuing on your journey. Lining the village is the black sand beach Reynisfjara, known for its dark cliffs of hexagonal basalt columns and 66-metre high volcanic stacks that rise directly from the ocean. 

Next up is the Skaftafell area of Vatnajökull National Park. It is a paradise of green fauna growing between black sands and a white glacier. You’ll find numerous hiking trails here that lead to stunning locations such as the waterfall Svartifoss, which was the very inspiration for the architecture of the famous Hallgrímskirkja church in Reykjavík City.

If you didn't opt for the morning glacier hike, you could also end your day with a glacier hike in Skaftafell Nature Reserve before finding you accommodations near Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon (don't worry, you'll have time tomorrow to explore the lagoon).


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 - Jokulsarlon and Diamond Beach


Icebergs on Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon glistening in the last rays of the summer sun


You can start your day exploring one of Iceland’s most sought-after places; Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. There you will witness enormous icebergs that have broken off a nearby glacier, drift peacefully in the aquamarine water. You can opt for a boat ride on the lagoon to get a closer look at the icebergs, and perhaps the seals that call the water their home. 

A stone’s throw away from the lagoon is the dazzling Diamond Beach, where chunks of ice from the lagoon have washed up on shore. As they glisten in the sun on the ebony sand, they resemble diamonds laid out on black satin.

From there you will zig-zag your way through the eastern fjords, past magnificent mountains and tranquil fishing villages before making your way to the town of Egilsstaðir, where you will spend the night. The town is located on the banks of Lagarfljót river, where a serpent-like monster is said to live according to local legends. 


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 - The Myvatn Area


Steam rising from a fumarole vent in a geothermal area near Lake Mývatn in northern Iceland


Today, you’ll make your way to the many natural wonders of the Mývatn area.

Lake Mývatn is Iceland’s fourth largest lake and set with numerous small islets, some of which are pseudocraters. These craters were formed some 2,500 years ago by a steam explosion when the flowing hot lava crossed the wet surface.

Close by rests the area of Dimmuborgir, a vast field of strangely shaped lava formations and mystic caves. According to legend, this is where fallen angel Lucifer landed when he was exiled from heaven.

The options for sightseeing this day are limitless. You can hike to the rim of the tephra cone volcano Hverfjall, and a little further away sits the geothermal area of Námafjall, littered with boiling mud pools and steaming springs.

After exploring the sights, you can take a relaxing dip in the soothing waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths before heading to your accommodation in the town of 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 - Dettifoss and Husavik


Summer flowers blooming on the edge of Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall


If you’d like to explore the Mývatn area a bit further, now is your chance. You can also drive through Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon to locate Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, and the mythical Ásbyrgi Canyon, where Odin's horse is said to have stepped his hoof down.

When you are ready to move on, head to the town of Húsavík on Skjálfandi bay, known as the whale watching capital of Iceland. There are around 24 species of whales in the bay, so this is the perfect place to discover the country’s rich marine life. You can even add on a puffin watching segment to your whale watching tour.

You could also drive around the Eyjafjörður area and visit the tiny farming and fishing villages around, or hike up the mountain Súlur before getting back to your accommodation in Akureyri, which is where you'll spend another night.


Day 7 - Akureyri and Trollaskagi Peninsula


You might spot a few Icelandic horses grazing in the country on your self-drive tour


On day seven, you’ll have more time to explore the 'Capital of the North' Akureyri. You can visit one of the northernmost botanical gardens in the world or go whale watching, in case you missed your chance in Húsavík.

You’ll then head towards Skagafjörður, a valley favoured by all local riders as it is abounding with horses. There you can get to know the friendly and gentle creature that is the Icelandic horse, on a riding tour around the valley.

You will then travel further north through the mountainous Tröllaskagi area, to the old fishing village of Siglufjörður. This historic and beautiful town is where you’ll find the Herring Era Museum, Iceland’s largest maritime museum.

In the village of Hofsós, you can relax in one of the most beautiful geothermal swimming pools in the country and enjoy the stunning view of the fjord and its islands, before heading to your accommodation at 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 8 - The Snaefellsnes Peninsula


The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is filled with natural wonders like the majestic Kirkjufell mountain and the trickling waterfall in front of it


The Snæfellsnes Peninsula boasts of virtually all the landscapes of Iceland in one spot. You can see the colourful houses of the harbour town Stykkishólmur or drive out to Berserkjahraun lava field where you'll find the beautiful Selvallavatn lake.

From there, you can head further out on the peninsula to see the mighty glacier Snæfellsjökull. Like Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, this glacier’s ice cap covers an active volcano. The volcano was used as the entrance to the legendary subterranean excursion in Jules Verne's classic science fiction novel Journey to the Centre of the Earth.

Close to the glacier lies the black pebble beach Djúpalónssandur, where you will find four ancient ‘measuring stones’. These stones are of different weight and were used as a test for young men to see if they were strong enough to become fishermen.

From there you can visit two tiny hamlets called Hellnar and Arnarstapi before finding your accommodation on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.


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 9 - West Iceland


Flowing between rocks of dark lava, Hraunfossar waterfall is a popular stops on self-drive tours through western Iceland


On day nine you will get to explore West-Iceland some more, and a perfect place to start is the town of Borgarnes, home to the Icelandic settlement exhibition. There, you can learn everything about one of the Icelandic Saga’s best-known heroes, Egill Skallagrímsson.

From Borgarnes, you can travel to Deildartunguhver, the hot spring with the largest flow in Europe, and to the two waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. You can go further inland and take a tour to the colourful underworld of Víðgelmir lava cave, one of Iceland’s largest and grandest caves.

You could also opt for a tour into Langjökull glacier through a manmade ice tunnel. There you can travel through several hundred metres of hallways inside the glacier, while an expert guide tells you everything from how they were formed to the dangers they face.

After getting back to Reykjavík, you can either spend the day exploring the city or, if you are feeling adventurous, you can go on a tour where you descend into the now-empty magma chamber of Þríhnúkagígur Volcano. 

You will spend your last night in Iceland in the capital of 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 10 - Farewell


The mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon are sure to recharge you after days on the road


On your final day, you’ll need to head on out to Keflavík Airport. Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to return your vehicle and catch your departing flight. If you have a late departure, you can use the day to fit in some last few Icelandic experiences.

You can spend the day shopping or sightseeing in Reykjavík City; or by visiting the gems of the Reykjanes peninsula, such as Seltún geothermal area or the Icelandic Museum of Rock ‘n’ Roll in the town of Keflavík.

A good way to end your vacation is with a dip in the mineral-rich waters of the Blue Lagoon Spa. It is the perfect spot to relax and recharge from your adventures - just remember to book tickets in advance.

Have a safe journey home and hurry back to the shores of Iceland. 


Accommodation

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.

Budget

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


Car

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.

Budget

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.


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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