12 Day Self Drive Tour | Circle of Iceland & National Parks

12 Day Self Drive Tour | Circle of Iceland & National Parks
Grjótagjá fissure by Lake Mývatn is filled with warm water year round.
The Geysir geothermal area is a treasure trove of geysers, boiling mud pots and hot springs.
Skógafoss waterfall is perhaps the most impressive of South Iceland's natural attractions.
Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is truly a sight to behold when bathed in the light of the midnight sun.
Visit Seljalandsfoss waterfall on Iceland's South Coast and take in the stunning beauty of Icelandic nature.
Enter the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and immerse yourself in natural geothermal water.

Embark on a magical 12-day tour of Iceland. See all the famous attractions, and discover some secret, unspoilt treasures on this self-drive trip of a lifetime.

You'll see the famous Golden Circle, the incredible Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, all three of Iceland's national parks, the Eastfjords, West-Iceland, and so much more.

The beauty of this self-drive is that you are behind the wheel, so there are no tour guides, meeting points, or other groups to worry about. You go wherever you want, decide when you arrive, and when you leave. All the accommodation is set for full comfort, you will have ensuite bathrooms and breakfast is always included.

Many people visit Iceland to experience nature at its best. That's why you will receive a custom-made itinerary, listing places not known to many others, allowing you to truly immerse yourself in Iceland's untouched landscapes. You will receive this plan, sculpted by local experts, after you book.

To add some extra adventure to your trip, you can choose to book additional activities with this package. These include snorkelling in Silfra gorge, boating across Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, hiking on or snowmobiling across a glacier, caving, whale watching and horse-riding—and you can even take a walk inside a glacier or descend into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano. 

Venture on the holiday you have always dreamt of. Enjoy the beautiful summer doing what you love, and explore every region of Iceland with this complete trip! Check the booking availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: May. - Oct.
  • Duration: 12 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Hiking, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Bird watching, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Golden Circle, Reykjavik, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Mývatn, Snæfellsjökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Snæfellsnes, Sólheimajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Höfn, Stykkishólmur, Borgarnes, Langjökull, Egilsstaðir, Hvolsvöllur, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Skaftafellsjökull, Lagarfljót, Hallormsstaðaskógur, 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:
  • 11 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included. More detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 12 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW, SCDW and gravel protection insurance for vehicle

  • GPS system

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

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

  • Fuel

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


What to bring:
  • Warm Clothes

  • Camera

  • Swimsuit

  • Driver's license


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.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland and Exploring Reykjavik


Be sure to visit the beautiful Harpa Concert Hall when you sightsee around Reykjavík.


Welcome to Iceland! Your car will be waiting for you at the airport, ready to go. If you're on an early flight, you will probably have some time to drive around the Reykjanes Peninsula, which is full of geological wonders and visit the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. 

You can add an entrance ticket to the lagoon during the booking process, it is an excellent way to relax after a flight. It can be just as nice, however, as a final goodbye to Iceland, so you could also save it until your last day.

Once in Reykjavík, settle into your accommodation, and start to explore the city on foot. Check out the many boutiques, galleries, museums, restaurants and bars, and see some of the architectural sights, such as Harpa concert hall.

Spend the night in Reykjavík.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 2 - The Golden Circle Attractions


Gullfoss waterfall is a must-see attraction that bejewels the Golden Circle sightseeing route.


Day two brings you to some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland on the Golden Circle route. The first stop is at the Þingvellir National Park.

This incredible location is in the rift valley between two continental plates; you can walk between Europe and North America here. The area is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its history; in 930 AD, early settlers founded what would become the world's longest-running, ongoing representative parliament here. You may opt into a snorkelling tour in the park, within the crystal clear Silfra ravine.

The next stop is the Geysir geothermal area. The famous Geysir is not too active, but amongst the many hot pools and steaming vents, you'll see Strokkur blast water 20 to 40 m (66 to 131 ft) high every few minutes.

A few kilometres away is Iceland's most popular attraction, and the final stop on the Golden Circle, the mighty waterfall Gullfoss. A pathway takes you right to the water's edge, where you can get a real sense of the enormous power of the falls. From Gullfoss waterfall, you have the option to add an adrenaline-filled snowmobile trip on Langjökull glacier. On this day, you can also book a two-hour long horse-ride.

Head south when you are ready; your accommodation for the night will be in the Hvolsvöllur area.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Comfort

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 is included.

Hvolsvöllur Quality

Hotel Rangá is a 4-star hotel situated between the towns Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - South Coast Waterfalls and Black Sands


Dyrhólaey peninsula is home to a large puffin colony in summer time.


Day three is the start of your Ring Road drive, as you head to the south coast. Your first stops are two magnificent waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. You can walk all the way around the former, and hike a staircase for views from the top of the latter.

Next along the way is the glacier Sólheimajökull. Here, you can stop to take a fascinating glacier hike or exhilarating snowmobiling tour; whichever you choose, you will not be disappointed. You can also head straight on to the village of Vík for an optional ice cave tour to Mýrdalsjökull glacier. 

Along the coast near Vík, take a slight detour to stop and admire the black volcanic beach Reynisfjara. Be careful, however, as the waves here are unpredictable and dangerous. From the shore, you can see the dramatic promontory of Dyrhólaey and Reynisdrangar rock formations. At the peak of summer, keep an eye out for puffins and other seabirds, which nest in the area.

More sights along the way include the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the quaint village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Spend the night in the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur or the Skaftafell area.


Preferred accommodation by Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Comfort

Fosshótel Núpar is a 3-star hotel with panoramic views of lava fields, mountains, and the glacier tongues of Vatnajökull glacier. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Quality

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in the Kirkjubæjarklaustur town. Modern private rooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Skaftafell Park - Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach


The Diamond Beach is a must see attraction on Iceland's South Coast.


Spend the day taking in the many sights and optional activities available in the beautiful Skaftafell area of the Vatnajökull National Park, Iceland's largest national park.

If you enjoy hiking, you will find many trails here, tailored for all levels of experience and mobility, including one that leads to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall. You can also choose to go on a guided glacier hike on the nearby Skaftafellsjokull if you like.

Soon after the national park, you'll reach one of Iceland’s most famous attractions and top photo opportunities, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here you can watch icebergs break from a glacier and sail out to the ocean; their beauty is mesmerising. You can opt for a boat tour into the lagoon for a closer look, either on a little zodiac or an amphibious vessel. Be sure to check out Diamond Beach after, where these bergs wash up on the black sands.

Spend the night in Höfn.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3-star hotel centrally located in the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4-star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 5 - Eastern Fjords of Iceland - Egilsstaðir


In East Iceland, you'll be exposed to natural marvels and stunning sceneries everywhere you go.


Spend your fifth day on a zigzagging journey along the East Fjords, passing by tranquil fishing villages and sweeping coastal landscapes. The East Fjords are incredibly beautiful; keep your eye out when you are driving for puffins, seals, and reindeer.

A cousin of the legendary Loch Ness monster is lurking in the milky waters of Lake Lögurinn. This monster serpent was first described in 1345 and has since entered into local legend. Keep an eye out if you stop here. You may also want to visit Iceland's largest forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur, for some hiking and bird-watching.

Spend the night in the Egilsstaðir area.


Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Comfort

Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3-star hotel located within a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir town, by the lake Lagarfljót. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Egilsstaðir Quality

Icelandair Hotel Hérað is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Egilsstaðir town. Bright, private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included, with focus on local ingredients.


Day 6 - Lake Mývatn - Volcanoes, Craters & other Mysteries


Grjótagjá fissure by Lake Mývatn is one of North Iceland's most stunning natural attractions.


Day six takes you north to Lake Mývatn, an area known for its geothermal landscapes and popular hot spring area, the Námaskarð hot springs. Make sure to visit Dimmuborgir, the Dark Fortress, named as such because of the dramatic formations the lava takes here. You'll also enjoy the volcano Krafla with its crater lake called Víti. There's another crater in Iceland with that name, so make sure you don't confuse the two!

The hot spring lava cave of Grjótagjá is also very much worth a visit, and you can test its waters if you like. The highest temperatures recorded were in 1984, when the temperature topped 50 degrees C (122 degrees F). Since then, the temperature has steadily dropped but is still incredibly warm.

If the idea of a hot soak catches your fancy, you may look forward to the nearby Mývatn Nature Baths with their more bearable temperatures and silica-rich waters instead. Afterwards, head even further north and find your accommodation in the town of Akureyri.

Explore this charming town; it has plenty of good shops and museums, as well as one of the world's northernmost botanical gardens.


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Comfort

Hotel Norðurland is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Akureyri town. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Akureyri Quality

Icelandair Hotel Akureyri (Deluxe room) is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Akureyri town, right next to the swimming pool. Private bedroom with a living room area and a private bathroom. Great views from the 5th floor. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 7 - Vatnajökull National Park & Dettifoss Falls


Widely regarded as Europe's most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss stands out amongst Iceland's most stunning natural attractions.


Use the seventh day to explore a little more of the Lake Mývatn area and its unique surroundings. A drive through the Jökulsárgljúfur part of Vatnajökull National Park and a visit to Dettifoss Falls, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, are recommended in this area.

Another great option is to join a whale watching tour at the nearby village of Húsavík, renowned as the whale watching capital of Europe. This tour can also be taken in a RIB to allow you to get close to some puffins. If not, you could enjoy a day in the Eyjafjörður fjord, exploring the beautiful valleys, and hiking to Súlur peak for some amazing views.

Spend another night in the capital of the north.


Day 8 - The Troll Peninsula


Siglufjörður town is an authentic fishing outpost in North Iceland.


Continue towards Skagafjörður, a valley known for its wealth of Icelandic horses and capable riders. You can jump on a horse-riding here too, although if you missed the whale watch yesterday, you could instead opt to stay a little longer in Akureyri to catch one. 

You will also pass through the beautiful, mountainous area of Tröllaskagi (Troll Peninsula), the old herring-fishing village of Siglufjörður, and Hofsós, where you can enjoy the wonderful scenery from the town’s thermal pool.

Nearby you can also find interesting, local, Icelandic handicrafts, in the galleries Alþýðulist or Rúnalist. Spend the night in the area around Blönduós.


Preferred accommodation by Blönduós

Blönduós Comfort

Hótel Mikligarður is a 3-star hotel located in the town of Sauðárkrókur in northern Iceland. The hotel has private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included and served at Hótel Tindastóll.

Blönduós Quality

Hótel Tindastóll is a 3-star hotel located in Sauðárkrókur town; just a short walk from the beach. It has an on-site bar and outdoor geothermal hot tub. Private bedroom with private bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 9 - Kirkjufell - Snæfellsnes Peninsula


Mt. Kirkjufell is a natural oddity in West Iceland that deserves a visit.


On your ninth day, aim to reach the charming village of Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. On the way, you might want to make a little detour and visit the sea stack Hvítserkur, near the town of Blönduós.

The iconic mountain of Kirkjufell is near the village of Grundarfjörður and offers truly impressive photo ops that you may not want to miss; it is situated by a stunning lake and picturesque waterfall. Together, the three make a portrait of Iceland that can't be beaten.

Spend the night in the Snæfellsnes area.


Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes Comfort

Fosshotel Stykkishólmur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Stykkishólmur. Spacious hotel with a view towards the bay. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Snæfellsnes Quality

Hotel Búðir is a 4 star hotel on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, with a view towards Snæfellsjökull glacier and to the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 10 - Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Depth


Gatklettur is a uniquely shaped rock formation off the coast of Snæfellsnes peninsula.


Snæfellsnes peninsula has a plethora of beautiful spots and exciting activities to discover.

The stratovolcano Snæfellsjökull in Snæfellsjökull National Park is located a the tip of the peninsula. Around here you can visit some beautiful stretches of coast, such as at Dritvík cove, and the beach of Djúpalónssandur.

You can take your time in the small, charming hamlets of Arnarstapi, Hellnar, and Búðir and hike along the cliffs. You might also want to visit the lava tube cave Vatnshellir.

Spend another night in Snæfellsnes.


Day 11 - History and Cascades of Hraunfossar


Icelandic horses lazing while Hekla, one of the world's deadliest volcanoes, rests in the background.


On day eleven, explore West Iceland with its diverse attractions. These include the Icelandic Settlement Centre in Borgarnes, which explores the history of the beginning of this nation, and Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe. Further along, be sure to visit the captivating Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls.

History buffs may also enjoy a visit to Snorrastofa, the medieval research institute in Reykholt, where the early settler Snorri Sturluson wrote Saga Heimskringla in the 13th century. He also wrote the bible of old Norse mythology, Edda.

On this day, you can take one of two radically different cave tours. You can go down the more traditional route, and opt into the exploration of the lava tube Viðgelmir; otherwise, you can travel to Langjökull and explore the glacier from the inside, down some incredible man-made channels.

A third option on this day is to take an Into the Volcano tour. On this trip, you descend into a sleeping volcano's spectacular magma chamber.

On the way back to Reykjavik, you could choose to drive along the very scenic Hvalfjörður fjord instead of taking the toll tunnel. At the bottom of the fjord, you can stretch your legs on a 2-hour hike to Iceland's tallest waterfall, Glymur.

Spend the night in the capital.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 12 - Departure and Farewell to Iceland


End your Iceland adventure perfectly with a dip in the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.


Drop off your car at Keflavík airport in time for your departure flight. 

If you booked the Blue Lagoon but didn't go on your arrival day, then a revitalising visit to the world-famous spa is a beautiful way to end your Icelandic adventure. 

We hope this has been the trip of a lifetime, and you'll come back soon.


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Comfort levels 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). For quality level, odd number groups will always be allocated a single room. 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.

Comfort

Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.

Quality

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.


Car

Below you can see the car rental options available for this self drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP, and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model.

Budget

A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4X4

A medium sized jeep or SUV with 4WD (4x4) fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt travel, such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized jeep with 4WD (4x4) such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all traveling. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads.


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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