14 Day Self Drive Tour | Circle of Iceland & The Westfjords
Book this two-week tour of Iceland’s Ring Road and the Westfjords - the best that Iceland has to offer. Aside from the most popular areas in the country, you will zigzag through the remote regions, and see many charming, lesser known locations most visitors do not get the chance to.
You'll travel in full comfort, even in the remote and wild Westfjords, always with private facilities and breakfast included at your accommodation.
Many visitors come to Iceland to savour time in the fresh air, far from the busy metropolis, and to take in the magnificence of this country's landscapes without the crowds. As such, Guide to Iceland will provide you with a custom itinerary after you book, allowing you to escape back to nature and discover places most have never heard of. With accommodation in the best locations, you can enjoy Iceland to the fullest.
Not only this, however, but you will also see all the famous sights you've heard of; this tour includes a trip around the Golden Circle, along the beautiful South Coast, to the Jökulsárlon glacier lagoon, and a ticket to the Blue Lagoon spa is included within the price. This way, you get to experience a perfect blend of Iceland's most popular destinations, and its least known secrets.
You can add extra activities during booking so that you won't miss any fun during your stay. As you pass through the Golden Circle, you can stop to snorkel on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. If you're captivated by the glaciers, you can take a hike up one, descend into an ice cave on another or snowmobile across their ancient ice. You can spin around the glacier lagoon on a boat, or go sea angling or whale watching in the North. To take it easy, you can trail ride on an Icelandic horse or sail the coast in search of puffins. The opportunities are endless!
Reserve this trip now for a complete experience of the wonders of Iceland. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: May. - Sep.
- Duration: 14 days
- Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Hiking, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Whale Watching, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Bird watching, Ice Caving, Self drive
- Difficulty: Easy
- Highlights: Blue Lagoon,
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and is the single most popular attraction in Iceland.
The water is rich in silica and sulphur that helps make your skin shine like a baby. The Blue Lagoon also operates a Research and Development facility that helps find cures for skin ailments using the mineral-rich water.
The temperature in the bathing and swimming area is very comfortable, and averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). There´s a restaurant there and it´s a truly romantic and beautiful place one should not miss while in Iceland.Golden Circle,
The Golden Circle is a 300 km route to the 3 most popular natural attractions in Iceland. The Golden Circle consists of Geysir, Gullfoss and Thingvellir.
See this for Golden circle tours.
Geysir is a geyser that gives its name to hot springs all over the world. But although Geysir itself is not active anymore the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur (spouting a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, regularly about 15-20 meters into the air), Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
The 'Golden Waterfall', is the second part of the Golden Circle, and one of the most beautiful and powerful waterfalls in Iceland, plummeting 32 meters into the river gorge of the popular rafting river Hvita. It is Iocated about 10 km from Geysir.
Thingvellir national park
The largest attraction of the Golden Circle is Thingvellir National Park. The Icelandic parliament was founded there in 930 and remained until the year 1798.
Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the most important places to visit in Iceland, not just for its historical and cultural values, but for also its magnificent landscape.
Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain and volcano range and is the site of a rift valley, where the tectonic plates meet, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic ridge.
Of particular note at Thingvellir are the magnificent Almannagja gorge, and the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland. The popular Gjabakkahellir lava cave is also in the area.
The fissure Silfra is located by Thingvallavatn, Iceland's largest lake, and is famous for its clear waters and popular for diving and snorkeling, as you can literally swim between continents.Westfjords,
The Westfjords are the westernmost part of Iceland and the whole of Europe. The Westfjords are home to some off the most beautiful natural gems and off the beaten track attractions in Iceland.
The Westfjords are a wide area stretching as a peninsula to the northwest of the mainland. The peninsula is all mountainous with numerous fjords of varying length.
The town Isafjordur in the fjord Skutulsfjordur serves as the capital of the region, with around 3000 inhabitants. There are many fishing villages in the fjords, as good fishing banks are found around the Wesfjords.
The agriculture is very scant, due to the steepness of the mountains and the lowland is limited. Below are some of the best natural attractions you can find in the Westfjords.
Hornstrandir nature reserve
Many places in the Westfjords are now deserted, such as the northernmost part of the peninsula: Hornstrandir. Hornstrandir is a holy place for travelers who seek solitude, wildlife, breathtaking scenery and great hiking trails. Don´t miss it if you´re looking for peacefulness.
Dynjandi ('Thunderous') is one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. This is really a series of waterfalls, seven altogether, with a cumulative hight of 100 meters. The trapezoidal shape of its main uppermost tier is particularly notable (40 m wide at the top, 60 m at the bottom.
Europe’s westernmost part is in The Westfjords, the massive vertical seacliff Latrabjarg, over 400 meters high with millions of seabirds nesting there. In 1947 a British trawler stranded there. Local farmers managed to safe most of the fishermen by heaving them by rope 190 meters up into the air. This heroic deed has been filmed.
Raudisandur Beach & Sjounda
The beach by the cliff is called Raudisandur, rare for its pale red, almost pink sand. Along with many seabirds, the beach also features hundreds of seals.
Innermost of Raudisandur are the remnants of the farm Sjounda. At the beginning of the 19th century it was a site for one of Iceland’s most famous murder cases.
Two farmers lived there with there wives but the one farmer fell in love with the other's wife and she with him and they were later sentenced to death for murdering their spouses. This dramatic event later served as an inspiration for Icelandic author Gunnar Gunnarsson's masterful novel Svartfugl (The Black Cliffs).Reykjavík,
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world.
Despite a small population (120.000 and more than 200.000 in the Greater Reykjavik area), it is a vibrant city that draws an ever increasing number of visitors. It is the financial, cultural and governmental centre of Iceland. It also has a reputation of being one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world.
The city of Reykjavik is located in southwest Iceland by the creek of the same name. Throughout the ages, the landscape has been shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the area is geothermal. Much of the current city area area was subglacial during the Ice Age, with the glacier reaching as far as the Álftanes peninsula, while other areas lay under the sea. After the end of the ice age the land rose as the glaciers drifted away, and it began to take on its present form.
The coastline of Reykjavik is set with peninsulas, coves, straights and islands, most notably the island of Videy, and seabirds and whales frequent the shores. The mountain ring as seen from the shore is particularly beautiful. Mount Esja is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Reykjavik and lends its distinct feature to the whole area. This majestic mountain is also highly popular for climbing. Other notable mountains that can be seen from the seaside are Akrafjall and Skardsheidi and on clear days one may even see as far to the legendary Snaefellsjokull glacier, at the end of the Snafellsnes peninsula.
The largest river to run through the city is Ellidaa in Ellidaardalur valley, which is also one of Iceland‘s best rivers for salmon fishing.
There are no trains or trams in Iceland, but most people travel by car. The city also operates a bus system. There are two major harbours in town, the old harbour in the centre and Sundahofn in the east. The domestic Reykjavik Airport is located at Vatnsmyrin, not far from the city centre and close to Oskjuhlid and Perlan. The international Keflavik Airport at Midnesheidi heath then lies around 50 km from the city. Cars, jeeps and bicycles can be readily rented in the city and many organized tours are also being offered.
What to See & Do in Reykjavik
The local arts scene is strong in Iceland, with both annual events and single ones, many of whom have hit the international stage. For the annual ones please check our articles Best Annual Events in Iceland and the Top Ten Festivals in Iceland. Major events taking place in Reykjavik include the Iceland Airwaves, Gay Pride, RIFF (The Reykjavik International Film Festival), The Reykjavik Literature Festival, Cultural Night, the Reykjavik Arts Festival, Food & Fun, the Reykjavik Fashion Festival and the Sónar music festival.
Among famous people from Reykjavik are artists Bjork Gudmundsdottir, Sigur Ros, writers Halldor Laxness (born in Laugavegur) and Arnaldur Indridason and mayor Jon Gnarr. For more well-known and fairly-well known Icelanders, check our article on the subject.
You might also want to check our article on some of the many things to see and do in Reykjavik, such as visiting the city‘s many museums, exhibitions and galleries, checking out live music, visiting the Harpa music hall or the theatres, visiting the lighthouse at Grotta, the main shopping street of Laugavegur, visiting the old harbour and the flea market, going on a bird- and whale watching tour or visiting Videy island. We also have a top ten list of things to do.
Make sure to visit the public square of Austurvollur, one of the city‘s most popular gathering places, where you‘ll also find the national parliament, Althingi, the state church a statue of independence hero Jon Sigurdson, as well as cafés, bars and restaurants. Austurvollur was central in the 2008 protests, along with Laekjargata, home to the House of Government. You are also not likely to miss the great church of Hallgrimskirkja that towers over the city from the hill of Skolavorduholt, wherefrom you‘ll get a great view of the city.
Try a walk by the city pond, greet the many birds that frequent the area and visit the city hall, stationed by its banks. The Hljomaskalagardur is a beautiful park that lies by the pond, it ideal for a nice walk and sometimes concerts get held there. Further off is the campus of the university of Iceland, the Nordic house and the Vatnsmyri wetland, a particularly pleasant place, but be mindful of not disturbing the wildlife there and keep to the pathways.
For a nice swim on a warm day, we particularly recommend Nautholsvik beach.
Visit the Laugardalur valley, home to one of the city‘s best swimming pools, as well as the Asmundarsafn gallery, a beautiful botanical garden and a domestic zoo. A walk by the Aegissida beach, with it‘s old fishing sheds, in the west part of Reykjavik also holds a particular charm. The aforementioned Elllidaardalur valley is also a popular resort.
Another place that offers one of the city‘s best (and free) views is Perlan, up in Oskjuhlid hill. The hill itself is a popular resort, with over 176.000 trees and great opportunities for walking and cycling.
Travel to Alftanes to see the president‘s house at Bessastadir, which is also a historical site in it‘s own right, having been the educational centre of Iceland for centuries. Nearby is a beautiful lava field, Galgahraun, well worth a visit, though there is currently an environmental struggle going on as to it‘s future state.
The city is furthermore a short drive from many of Iceland‘s major attractions, most famously the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. In close vicinity you‘ll also find the Heidmork preservation area, a favourite pastime resort of the people of Reykjavik, as well as the Blue Mountains, one of Iceland‘s most beloved skiing venues.
Check our Best of Reykjavik guide further for tips on the best cheap things to do in Reykjavik, some of the best restaurants in the city, happy hours, the top ten value places to eat and our two articles on the famous Reykjavik nightlife; Nightlife in Reykjavik and Nightlife and mating.
Finally, we‘d like to stress that these are only some suggestions of the many things you might check out in Reykjavik. Whatever you choose to do, we hope you‘ll be able to make the most of your visit and we wish you a pleasant stay in our capital.Akureyri,
Akureyri, ‘The Capital of the North’ is a town in the fjord Eyjafjordur in North Iceland. It lies just 100 km away from the Arctic Circle. It is Iceland’s second-largest urban area with a population of about 17,800.
Akureyri is an important fishing centre and port, but in the last few years tourism, industry, higher education and services have become the fastest growing sectors of the economy.
An international airport is located about 3 km from the center. A large number of cruisers also stop at Akureyri. One of Iceland's best skiing sites is found by Akureyri, at Hlidarfjall.
Traditionally Akureyri has survived on fisheries and some of Iceland’s largest fishing companies, like for example Samherji, have their headquarters there. Other large companies include Brim, Nordurmjolk, and Vifilfell hf, the largest brewery in Iceland.
FSA/Akureyri Hospital is a major employer in the area and is one of two major hospitals in Iceland.
Akureyri has excellent facilities for travelers and is located a short drive from many of Iceland’s top natural, cultural and historical attractions.
Nature & Landscape
Akureyri is surrounded by mountains, the highest one being Kerling (1538 m). The area around it has rich agriculture and a beautiful mountain ring.
The innermost part of the fjord, Pollurinn ('The Pool') further lends the town a special character. The climate in Akureyri is generally very pleasant.
The islands Hrisey in the middle of Eyfjordur and Grimsey, straddling the Artic Circle, both belong to the municipality of Akureyri. Hrisey is often called 'The Pearl of Eyjafjordur' and Grimsey 'The Pearl of the Artic' and these beautiful and peaceful islands are highly popular with travelers.
History & Culture
During World War II the town was an important site for the Allies and the town grew considerably after the war, as people increasingly moved to urban areas.
Akureyri has a strong cultural scene, with several bars and renowned restaurants. Folk culture in general is more prevalent there than in Reykjavik. During the summer there are several notable festivals in Akureyri and its surroundings.
Sites of interest in Akureyri include the brand-new Hof concert hall and Akureyri’s many museums, The Nature Museum, Nonnahus, a.k.a. Jon Sveinsson Memorial Museum, for the writer, David's house or David Stefansson Memorial Museum, for the poet, Akureyri Art Museum.
Akureyri also has several churches, Akureyrarkirkja being the most notable, as well as beautiful botanical gardens. The old town is particularly charming, ideal for a nice walk.Jökulsárlón,
Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Höfn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the circular ring road of the country.
It stands out, however, due to the fact that it also fills with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
These icebergs, other than their scale, are notable for their colouration. Although they are, as expected, largely white, most are also dyed electric blue in part, with black streaks of ash from eruptions centuries past.
When the icebergs finally make it across the lagoon, they either drift out to sea or wash up on the nearby shore. Because of the way they glisten against the black sands of Breiðamerkursandur, this area has been nicknamed ‘the Diamond Beach’.
In spite of being a rather recent formation, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in the country, with depths reaching 248 metres. With a surface area of 18 square kilometres, it is also growing to be one of the largest.
Jökulsárlón has not been around since Iceland’s settlement; it only formed around 1935. This was due to rapidly rising temperatures in the country from the turn of the twentieth century; since 1920, Breiðamerkurjökull has been shrinking at a dramatic rate, and the lagoon has begun to fill its space.
Today, the expansion of Jökulsárlón is accelerating. As recently as 1975, it was just 8 square kilometres, and now that size has more than doubled.
In the relatively near future, it is expected that the lagoon will continue to grow until it becomes a large, deep fjord.
Though a dark omen for Iceland’s glaciers and ice caps in general, the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökull has resulted in an incredibly beautiful, if temporary, site. This has not been overlooked by Hollywood.
Jökulsárlón has been featured in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
In 2017, Jökulsárlón was enveloped into the Vatnajökull National Park, thus it is now fully protected by Icelandic law.
Because of the wealth of herring and capelin that the tides bring into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón is somewhat of a hot-spot for Iceland’s wildlife.
In summer, it is a nesting site for Arctic Terns; stay well away from this area, as these birds are notorious for the fierceness with which they protect their eggs, dive-bombing the heads of any they see as a threat. Skuas also nest on the lake’s shores in this season.
Seals can be reliably spotted here throughout the year, swimming amongst or else hauling out on the icebergs. Jökulsárlón provides them with a safe haven to rest and socialise, especially considering the waters of southeast Iceland are renowned for their population of orcas.Vatnajökull,
Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland and the third largest glacier in Europe, covering 8% of the island's landmass. Vatnajökull Glacier can be found in the south west of Iceland and is a popular spot for glacier hiking and ice caving tours.
Facts about Vatnajökull
- Surface: 8,100 km2
- Average thickness: 400 - 600 m
- Maximum thickness: 1,000 m
- Height: 1,400 - 1,800 m
- Highest peak: 2,200 m (Hvannadalshnjúkur)
Information about Vatnajökull
Vatnajökull Glacier belongs to the greater Vatnajökull National Park, which encompasses the former national parks Skaftafell, in the southwest, and Jökulsárgljúfur, in the north. Vatnajökull's highest summit is Hvannadalshnjúkur which rests on top of a stratovolcano known as Öræfajökull.
Underneath the glacier rests some of the most active volcanoes in the country, the most notable being Grímsvötn, Öræfajökull and Bárðabunga. Volcanic activity in the region has occurred on and off throughout the centuries, and many geologists believe that such a period is overdue for immediate future. If their calculations are correct, it would mean significant volcanic activity for Vatnajökull over the scope of the next half century.
The glacier boasts of over 30 outlet glaciers, which are channels of ice that flow out of ice caps but remain constrained on the sides of the valley. The major outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull include Dyngjujökull in the north, Breiðamerkurjökull and Skeiðarárjökull to the south. To the west, one can find the outlet glaciers Síðujökull, Skaftárjökull and Tungnaárjökull.
Glaciers are in constant motion underneath their weight; as they form over the centuries, the accession of snow exceeds its melting, creating a constant "push" on the ice cap. Each year, due to the melting ice water, new ice caves form that disappear come spring.
- Click here for a selection of Ice Cave tours
Numerous rivers run out of Vatnajökull, making up some of the greatest glacial rivers in Iceland:
- Tungnaá (west)
- Köldukvísl (west)
- Þjórsá (west)
- Jökulsá á Fjöllum (north)
- Skjálfandafljót (north)
- Jökulsá á Brú (north east)
- Jökulsá í Fljótsdal (north east)
- Jökulsá í Lóni (south)
- Hornafjarðarfljót (south)
- Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi (south)
- Skeiðará (south)
- Núpsvötn (south)
- Hverfisfljót (south)
- Skaftá (south)
Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park, in its current state, was established in June 2008. The park now covers an area of 14.141 km2, making it the second largest national park in Europe. Vatnajökull National Park has 14% coverage over the whole island of Iceland.
Rivers divide the highland plateau to the north of the park; an area that sees massive glacial flows in the summertime. The volcanic table mountain Herðubreið towers over this particular region, along with volcanoes Askja, Snæfell and Kverkfjöll.
The canyon Jökulsárgljúfur was carved out by glacial floods centuries ago. At the upper end of the canyon, you'll find Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Further north, the horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi is believed to have formed when Óðinn's horse, Sleipnir, stepped his foot down from the heavens.
East around Snæfell, one can find wetlands and ranges, home to roaming herds of wild reindeer and abundant birdlife. Steep mountain ridges make up the south side of Vatnajökull, where outlet glaciers crawl in between the ridges onto the lowlands. The sandy plains of Skeiðarársandur also lie to the south as they reach out to sea. The glacial river Skeiðará runs through this vast desert.
One of Iceland's most visited landmarks is the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which sits at the head of outlet glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. There, large icebergs that have broken off the glacier gather to float in the lake before ending up in the Atlantic Ocean, or on the nearby Diamond Beach.
- Click here for a selection of Jökulsárlón tours
The Future of Vatnajökull
The volume of Vatnajökull reached its peak around 1930 but has since been in a steady process of decline. Because of rising levels of global temperature, approximately over the last 15 years, Vatnajökull has on average lost about a metre of its thickness annually.
If temperature levels continue to rise, the glacier could be all but gone nearing the end of the next century, leaving only small ice caps on top of the highest mountain summits.
Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón in Popular Culture
- HBO's Game of Thrones (season 2, 2012)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- James Bond: Die Another Day (2002)
- James Bond: A View to a Kill (1985)
Myvatn is a beautiful lake with many small islands in the north of Iceland, the fourth largest lake in the country. Along with its surrounding area, the lake is one of Iceland's most amazing natural attractions.
Some of the islands in Myvatn are pseudocraters, formed by steam explosions. The lake has rich birdlife and more species of ducks than anywhere else in the world. As for vegetation, it is one of the few places in the world that grows Marimo, also known as Cladophora ball, Lake ball, or Moss Balls in English, a species of filamentous green algae (Chlorophyta).
The Myvatn nature baths are also renowned throughout the world, a perfect place to relax, surrounded by breathtaking landscape.
Close to the lake is Dimmuborgir, a fascinating area of dramatic and chaotic lava. Norwegian symphonic metal band Dimmu Borgir takes its name from the the lava field, and it continues to inspire travellers from all over the world.
The Myvatn area is definitely one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Don´t miss it!Húsavík,
Husavik in Skjalfandi Bay in North Iceland is called the whale watching capital of the world.
Whale watching is highly recommended from Húsavík and visiting the village whale museum. Other places that visitors might like to visit are the wooden Húsavíkurkirkja church, built in 1907, and the civic museum for culture and biology, which amongst other things features a stuffed polar bear and ancient boats, bearing witness to the history of seafaring in Iceland.
In Húsavík you'll find cute cafés and restaurants offering tasty treats, and you'll have a gorgeous view over the Skjálfandi Bay from this small town of about 2,000 inhabitants.Ásbyrgi,
Ásbyrgi Canyon is a horseshoe-shaped depression in the northeast of Iceland, found only fifty miles east of Húsavík along the popular Diamond Circle route.
This beloved natural feature measures approximately 3.5km in length and 1.1km in width, making up only a small part of the extensive and dramatic Vatnajökull National Park. Visitors to Ásbyrgi will quickly take note of the canyon’s 100m high cliff faces, as well as the thick woodland of birch and willow below, creating an area quite unlike that found anywhere else across Iceland. Other tree species include spruce, larch and pine, and there is a small lake called Botnstjörn which visitors can hike to. One of the canyon's most distinctive features is Eyjan ("The Island"), a 25m rock formation that divides Ásbyrgi for almost half its length.
Formation and Folklore
Geologists estimate that Ásbyrgi Canyon began to form roughly 8 - 10,000 years ago, just after the last Ice Age, following a catastrophic glacial flooding of the Jökulsá á Fjöllum river. This flooding likely occurred due to a volcanic eruption beneath the ice-cap, Vatnajökull glacier. Later, only 3000 years ago, this process repeated itself, further sculpting the soul-stirring, spectacular gorge that we know and love today.
With that being said, Icelandic folklore dictates an alternative theory. Given the canyon’s horseshoe shape, legend has it that Odin’s eight-legged steed, Sleipnir, placed one of his feet on the ground here, leaving a deep imprint on the earth. Ever since, a wealth of art and literature has depicted Sleipnir as Ásbyrgi’s true creator. Other myths claim that Ásbyrgi is the capital city and true home to Iceland’s ‘hidden people’, the Huldufólk and elves; self-professed psychics have claimed that they can see and hear these mystical beings living in cracks and ravines of the canyon.
Thankfully, a number of other fascinating attractions are easily accessible from Ásbyrgi Canyon. One could visit Hljóðaklettar, a strange and enchanting cluster of columnar rock formations located in the neighbouring Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. Nearby, there is also Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, a striking and mighty spectacle for any observer; glacial water from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum cascades 44m over the lip of the falls, culminating in a misty, roaring spray.
The video below shows one of Iceland’s most famous post-rock bands, Sigur Ros, who chose to play an outdoor concert at Ásbyrgi in 2006, only adding to the area’s rich and ethereal atmosphere. This and the rest of their performances can be seen in the film Heima (2007).Goðafoss,
Goðafoss waterfall is located the river Skjálfandafljót in north Iceland, the fourth largest river in Iceland. It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, falling from a height of 12 metres over a width of 30 metres.
The fall's name means either waterfall of the gods or of the 'goði' (i.e. priest/ chieftain). It is said that when the lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði declared Christianity the official religion in Iceland, after his own conversion, he threw the statues of the old Norse gods into the waterfall.Dettifoss,
Dettifoss, in the glacier river Jokulsa á Fjollum, flowing from the glacier Vatnajokull, is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
This thunderous fall has an average waterflow of 193 m3 per second. It is 100 meters (330 ft.) wide and plummets 45 meters (150 ft.) down to Jokulsargljufur canyon.Skógafoss,
Skógafoss is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls with an astounding width of 25 meters (82 ft) and a drop of 60 meters (197 ft). Due to the amount of spray the cascade produces, a rainbow is present any time the sun emerges from behind the clouds.
Located on the Skógá river, this mighty cascade is clearly visible from Route 1 and is an excellent place to stop and stretch the legs while travelling Iceland’s South Coast. The river below Skógafoss holds a large char and salmon population and is thus a favourite spot for fishermen in the summer.
The land underneath the waterfall is very flat, allowing visitors to walk right up to the wall of water. Keep in mind, however, that this will get you drenched. Skógafoss can also be viewed from the top as a steep staircase leads to an observational platform above the cascade.
Skógafoss is located near the small village of Skógar, south of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano. There you’ll find the Skógasafn folk museum, an open-air museum with both old wooden houses and turf houses, as well as a regional museum with various artefacts from this area.
A part of the Skógasafn Regional Museum is the Museum of Transportation, which showcases the history and evolution of transportation, communication and technologies in Iceland. There, you can see how this nation evolved from the age of the working horse to the digital communications of the 21st century.
The Skógasafn museum also includes a café and a museum shop, and in the village of Skógar, you will find both a hotel and a restaurant.
At the eastern side of Skógafoss, you will find one of Iceland’s most famed hiking routes; the Fimmvörðuháls pass. The 22 km (14 mi) trail takes you along Skógá river, between two glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull, before ending in the beautiful Þórsmörk valley.
A gold ring is on display at the Skógasafn museum. According to legend, the ring is from a chest that was owned by Þrasi Þórólfsson, one of the first Viking settlers in the area. Folklore states that before his death in 900 AD, Þrasi buried a chest filled with gold in a cave behind Skógafoss waterfall.
Many attempts were made to retrieve the chest after Þrasi’s death, and years later, locals managed to grasp a ring on the side of the chest. As they pulled, the ring broke off, and the treasure was lost forever. The ring was then given to the local church before it made its way to the museum.Seljalandsfoss,
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.Geysir,
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.Gullfoss,
Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found on the Hvítá river canyon in south Iceland. The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, finally cascading 32m down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate waterfalls. The first, shorter stage of the waterfall is 11m, whilst the second stage is 21m. The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70m, descending into the 2.5km long Gullfossgjúfur canyon (geologists indicate that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.)
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres. With such energy, visitor’s should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray-off.
In the early days of the last century, Gullfoss was at the centre of much controversy regarding foreign investors and their desire to profit off Iceland’s nature. In the year 1907, an English businessman known only as Howells sought to utilise the waterfall’s energy and harboured ambitions to use its energy to fuel a hydroelectric plant.
At the time, Gullfoss was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas declined Howell’s offer to purchase the land, stating famously “I will not sell my friend!” He would, however, go on to lease Howells the land, inadvertently beginning the first chapter of Icelandic environmentalism.
It was Tómas’ daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who would lead the charge. Having grown up on her father’s sheep farm, she sought to get the lease contract nullified, hurriedly saving her own money to hire a lawyer. The ensuing legal battle was an uphill struggle; the case continued for years, forcing Sigríður to travel many times by foot to Reykjavík if only to keep the trial moving. Circumstances became so difficult that Sigríður threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if any construction began.
Thankfully, in 1929, the waterfall fell back into the hands of the Icelandic people. Today, Sigríður is recognised for her perseverance in protecting Gullfoss and is often hailed as Iceland’s first environmentalist. Her contribution is forever marked in stone; a plaque detailing her plight sits at the top of Gullfoss.
Restaurant / Cafe
Besides Gullfoss, visitors can enjoy the views from Gullfoss Cafe, a locally run delicatessen that serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds; hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs.Þingvellir,
Þingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Þingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries. Þingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagjá, which marks the eastern boundary of the North American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Öxarárfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, Þingvallakirkja Church and Gjábakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.
Hraunfossar in Borgarfjordur district is a series of beautiful waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming from a short distance out of the Hallmundarhraun lava field.
The lava field flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjokull. The waterfalls pour into the Hvita river from ledges of less porous rock in the lava. These are some of the most magnificent falls found in Iceland and not to be missed.Deildartunguhver,
Deildartunguhver, by Reykholt, in Borgarfjordur district, has the highest flow rate for a hot spring in Europe.
The flow rate of Deildartunguhver is 180 liters/second and water emerges at 97 °C. The place is also unique for being the only place in the country where the hard fern grows.Snæfellsnes,
Snaefellsnes is a large peninsula extending to the west from West Iceland ending with a national park, Snaefellsjokull National Park, where the glacier towers over the scenery, as can sometimes be seen from Reykjavik, lending its beauty to the area.
The peninsula stretches over 100 km to the west as a mountain ridge that includes active volcanoes and is unique in the variety of mountains found.
A few small and beautiful villages are located on the south side and a few fishing villages are on the north side: Rif, Hellissandur, Olafsvik, Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur. The last one is highly popular for travelers, featuring a volcano museum and a ferry that takes you across the fascinating Breidafjordur bay to Brjanslaekur on the south border of the Westfjords.
Other museums you might want to check out are the Maritime Museum at Hellissandur, the regional museum Pakkhusid at Olafsvik, and, last but not least, the shark museum at Bjarnarhofn, indeed listed as the nr. 1 Snafellsnes attraction by Lonely Planet Travelers. Also, many of the Icelandic sagas take place at Snaefellsnes.
Snaefellsnes has an abundance of interesting sights. At the national park, you can witness the impressive lava formations of Djupalonssandur creek and test your strength on its four stones, see the two massive lava formations that compries Londrangar, explore the Saxholl volcanic crater and enjoy the echo of 'The Singing Cave', Songhellir. You may also hike on the majestic Snaefellsjokull glacier. The glacier has strong ties with folklore and was the setting for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Other sights we can recommend at Snaefellsnes recommend include Raudfeldsgja canyon, east of the national park and the rugged and colourful Berserkjahraun lava field, near Bjarnarhofn, on the north side of the peninsula.
Last, but not least, Snaefellsnes is one of the main setting for Laxdaela saga. Chieftain Snorri godi, Gudrun Osvifursdottir, Bolli Thorlakssson all lived there as well as his namesake Bolli Bollason, the first West Norse member of the Varangian guard, an elite unit of the Byzantine army. Iceland's most famous mass murderer, Axlar-Bjorn, also lived at Snaefellsnes.Ísafjörður,
The town Isafjordur in the fjord Skutulsfjordur is the capital of the Westfjords, with a population of about 2600 people.
Fishing is the main industry of Isafjordur, along with tourism. The University Center of the Westfjords is located here, and the town also has a cultural museum. The local folk museum is housed in the oldest home in Iceland, built in 1786.
Isafjordur hosts many popular events, its most famous being the highly popular yearly music festival, Aldrei For Eg Sudur ('I Never Went South'), near Easter time.Borgarnes,
Borgarnes is a town of less than 2000 people, located on a peninsula at the shore of Borgarfjörður. It's a commerce centre for a large part of western Iceland.
Borgarnes' main industry is service and commerce. It is near to many natural attractions and the view over the fjord and its mountains is highly scenic. The river Hvítá runs through this valley but should not be confused with its namesake, which is the home of Gullfoss and one of Iceland's major rafting rivers. Among major cultural attractions of Borgarnes are the Settlement Centre and the Centre for Puppet Arts.
For those with children, or wanting to bring out their inner child, we recommend the Bjössaróló environmental playground which Björn Hjörtur Guðmundsson spent years developing, using salvaged materials for all the play equipment. Here you'll find slides built into the surrounding hillocks, many slings, a jungle gym, spinning top and several lookout points. There's also a castle, an old boat, seesaws and a climbing dome. Courting couples have also been attracted to the place. In short, it's renowned as the best playground in the country, a wonderland of endless fun activities. It further gives an excellent view of the sea, so guests can take in the breathtaking scenery.Barnafoss,
Barnafoss ('Children's Waterfall') is a waterfall in Hvita river in Borgarfjordur.
The waterfall runs through a narrow rocky gorge and legend has it that there once was a natural stone arc over the river, that was demolished after two children fell from it to their death. Not far away is the stunning series of waterfalls Hraunfossar, flowing out of a lava field into Hvita.Egilsstaðir,
Egilsstadir is the largest town in East Iceland, with a population of 2257 people as of 2011. It is located on the banks of the river Lagarfljot in the wide valley of the fertile Fljotsdalsherad district.
Egilsstadir is the main center for service, transportation and administration in East Iceland.
The town provides all basic services and features an airport, a college and a health center. Egilsstadir also has an annual jazz festival that we can recommend. The town is furthermore close to many of East Iceland's and indeed Iceland's main attractions and as a center of the area, many East Iceland tours are directed from there.
The area of Fljotsdalsherad has many notable points of interest, whether natural, historical or cultural. Click here for further information about those.Hólmavík,
The small town Holmavik is the largest settlement of Strandir region in the Westfjords. It has a population of about 375 people (as of 2011) and serves as a center of commerce for the region.
Fisheries and tourist services are the mainstay of the economy of Holmavik, as well as farming in the countryside surrounding the town.
n the past, the Strandir region was famous/notorious for witchcraft and the town features the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft, well worth a visit. You might also want to check out the town's oldest house, built in the 19th century and now home to the excellent coffeehouse/bar Café Riis.
About 12 km from Holmavik is a Sheep Farming Museum where travelers can learn about the history of Icelandic sheep farming and enjoy a nice cup of coffee and local bread cakes at the caféteria.
The surrounding area is charming and ideal for hiking. The peaks of Kalfanesborgir in particular give a good view of the area. Well-known people born in Holmavik include poet Stefan fra Hvitadal and musician Gunnar Thordarson (Hljomar, Trubrot).Siglufjörður,
Siglufjordur is a town of about 1300 people, located it North Iceland. It is the northernmost town of the mainland. Along with its natural beauty, its Herring Era museum, Folk Music Museum and the annual Folk Music Festival attract ever more travelers.
Siglufjordur has one of Iceland's best harbours and the fishing industry has been the mainstay of the economy for a long time, but in recent years services have become and increased part of the economy. Since the tunnels through the fjord Hedinsfjordur opened in 2010 there has been a large increase in visits to the town, as the town indeed has much to offer for travelers.
History & culture
Siglufjordur has an eventful history and saw a steady rise in the 20th century, from being a tiny village in the early 1900s to becoming a town no later than as 1918. In the middle of the 20th century it was one of the largest towns in Iceland. For a long period it was the capital of herring fishing in the North Atlantic, and the town's cod fishing museum bears proud witness to this history. The old houses there are charming and its nice to take a stroll through the town and enjoy the architecture and the surrounding nature.
The Herring Era Museum is one of Iceland's largest seafaring- and industry museums in the country. The museum is split into three houses were one can learn about the fishing and its processing. One can see many ships and boats in the Boathouse, recreating the feel of the 50's. The salting station retains the old look of the place and on good summer days traveleres may observe the salting process in action and there is a dance. The old Grana factory shows how herring was transformed into meals and oil.
The Folk Music Center is located where the reverend Bjarni Thorsteinsson, 'The father of Siglufjordur', lived and brings the old folk songs to life. Here you can here recordings of people singing quint songs or tvisongur, chanting the epic rhymes (rimur), playing langspil (similar to dulcimer, featuring one melody string and one to five (usually two) drone strings), and the old Icelandic (two strings), nursery rhymes, doing folk dances etc. The center also depicts the life of reverend Bjarni.
The Folk Festival
In early July, Siglufjordur hosts it annual Folk Music Festival, introducing the folk music of various nations and ethnic groups, with a special focus on Icelandic folk music. Various events take place, including lectures and courses on music and handicraft aklong with dances, concerts and overall partying.
Siglufjordur is a particularly beautiful fjord, and high and dramatic mountains tower of the town. The birdlife is varied and some 2000 birds of 16-18 species may usually be found in the fjord. Popular hiking trails include the passes Holsskard and Hestsskard, which lead to the beautiful fjord Hedinsjordur, which may also be accessed by boat or car.
The deserted Hedinsfjordur is set by steep and impressive mountains and has a beautiful valley with good trout fishing in the Hedinssfjardarvatn lake. The last farm of Hedinsfjordur was abandoned in 1951. In the 20th century there would on average be five inhabited farms in the fjord. The vegetation is rich and food could be obtained from land and sea, but the winters were hard and saw many avalanches. The fjord was also hard to reach.
Northeast of Hedinsfjordur you'll find the remnants of one of the remote farms in Iceland, Hvanndalir. Hvanndalir can be reached from Hedinsfjordur through the Hvanndalaskridur ('Hvanndalir landslides'), though we would only suggest this to seasoned hikers, accompanied by professional guides.Kerið,
Kerið is a volcanic crater lake in Grímsnes in south Iceland. It is a popular stop when traveling the Golden Circle.
It is believed that Kerið was originally a cone volcano that erupted and and emptied its magma reserve. Once the magma was depleted, the weight of the cone collapsed into an empty magma chamber, later to be filled with water.
The Kerið caldera is composed of red volcanic rock and is around 55 m deep, 170 m wide and 270 m across. There is little vegetation in the steep-walled crater, save for one wall with a gentler slope which is covered with deep moss. This wall is fairly easy to descend.
The lake itself is fairly shallow and is striking in its beauty. Opaque and aquamarine, surrounded by the red crater walls, Kerið offers a great contrast of colours and a highly impressive scenery.
The acoustics of the crater are considered to be fairly good, and a number of concerts have been held inside Kerið. There is a small admission fee to visit Kerið, 400 ISK per person (as of 2017).South Coast,
The South Coast of Iceland is the country's most visited sightseeing route, along with the Golden Circle.
The famed South Coast shoreline stretches from the greater Reykjavík area and is dotted with natural wonders such as cascading waterfalls, volcanoes both active and dormant, black sand beaches and glacier lagoons.
Geography, Nature & Wildlife
Iceland is divided into eight geographical regions. Out of these, the Southern Region is the largest, as it spans over 24.000 square kilometres with its administrative centre in the municipality of Selfoss.
What is known as the South Coast embodies the shoreline of this particular region. The area consists of a lowland that is mostly composed of marshlands, bays and cultivated pastures that are met by a series of black beaches where the estuaries to the east and west of the district close off the coastal body.
Underneath the soil rests a vast lava field, known as Þjórsárhraun. Its edges reach several hundred metres offshore where the ocean waves crash upon them, thereby protecting the lowland from the invasion of the sea. This results in the South Coast being unusually lacking in the deep fjords that so distinctly characterise the rest of Iceland's shore line.
The region boasts vibrant bird life during all seasons. It is not only rich with both marshland birds and seabirds but also migrating birds such as the North Atlantic puffin. Some species stay throughout the harsh Icelandic winter, including the northern diver, the loom and various species of gulls and ducks.
Highlights of the South Coast
The South Coast offers an unprecedented array of natural wonders that draw thousands of visitors each day. When driving the route from Reykjavík City, the highlights in their correct order are:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Vestmannaeyjar; The Westman Islands
- Eyjafjallajökull Glacier Volcano
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Dyrhólaey Peninsula
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
- Coastal Village Vík í Mýrdal
- Skeiðarársandur Glacial Sand Plain
- Vatnajökull National Park
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
These attractions count for but a fraction of what the South Coast has to offer. The vast sand plains of Sólheimasandur are home to a crashed DC-3 Plane Wreck, and close to Seljavellir by the Skógar Village there's Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland.
- Explore the many wonders of the area on these South Coast Tours
Iceland has one main ring road: Route 1. This ring road goes all around the island and is 1332 km long (828 miles). The road connects the capital, Reykjavík, to the second biggest city in Iceland, Akureyri, in the north of the country. Other notable towns that are connected via the ring road are Borgarnes, Blönduós, Egilsstaðir, Höfn, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Vík, Hella, Hvolsvöllur, Selfoss and Hveragerði.
A number of popular tourist attractions are also found by the ring road, such as Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Lake Mývatn and the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Goðafoss.
The ring road consists mainly of paved two lanes road (one each direction). Some parts of the ring road are still unpaved however. In various places the road contains single lane bridges, especially in the east part of the country. The speed limit is 90km per hour on the paved section of the road (lower when it passes through towns), but 80km per hour on gravel.
The road was only completed in 1974, with the opening of Iceland's longest bridge, that crosses Skeiðará river in southeast Iceland. In 1998 a tunnel below the fjord Hvalfjörður shortened the drive around Iceland by about one hour (or 45km along a winding fjord). Hvalfjörður tunnels are the biggest tunnels in Iceland, 5,8 km and 165m below sea level. The ring road has another tunnel called Almannaskarð in the southeast by Höfn and by 2017 the Vaðlaheiðar tunnels should be open in north Iceland, shortening the distance between Akureyri and Mývatn.
Some sections of the ring road are original 1940's country roads, and a number of sharp curves, blind curves, blind summits as well as single lane bridges mean that people need to drive cautiously. In wintertime most of the ring road is kept open, with the exception of a short passage in the east part of the country that may be closed due to heavy snow (a detour is needed to travel from the north to the east during wintertime).
Guide to Iceland would advise people to drive cautiously on the ring road both in summer and wintertime, but also to explore other roads leading from it to multiple attractions.
Pickup time : Flexible
13 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included. More detailed info below)
Vehicle for 14 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)
Transfer with the ferry Baldur, including 1 car
CDW, SCDW and gravel protection insurance for vehicle
Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available)
Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
What to bring:
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 the Westfjords area does not offer quality level accommodation. Visitors will thus be placed in the best comfort level accommodation possible in the area during their stay in the Westfjords.
Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland, Car Ready at the Airport
Your adventure starts straight away when you arrive at the airport in Keflavík. Pick up your car at the airport before driving through an otherworldly lava landscape to your accommodation in downtown Reykjavík. You can even decide to start your journey in Iceland by booking a visit to the Blue Lagoon on your arrival day; it's located very close to the airport, and is the perfect way to unwind after a long flight. You can, however, save this part of the trip for your return journey.
After settling in at your centrally located hotel in Reykjavík, make the most of your proximity to the vibrant city centre by exploring the abundance of museums, galleries, restaurants and bars.
When you are tuckered out, spend the night in the beautiful and quirky capital city.
Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík
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.
Day 2 - Thingvellir National Park - Geysers - Gullfoss Falls
On day two, travel to some of the best-known natural phenomena in Iceland on the Golden Circle. The first stop is Þingvellir National Park, which is located right between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates; you can literally walk between them. This is not Þingvellir's only appeal, however; it also played a huge role in Iceland's heritage, being the original site of the world's longest running, ongoing representative parliament, the place where it converted to Christianity in 1000 AD, and where it declared independence from Denmark in 1944. There is plenty to see as you walk around this UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the adventurous can also opt into an exhilarating snorkel here.
The beautiful geothermal valley of Haukadalur is next, where you can see the geysers Strokkur and Geysir, amongst many steaming hot springs. While the more famous Geysir is largely inactive now, Strokkur erupts every ten minutes or so, to heights of over 20 m (66 ft).
The final stop on the Golden Circle tour is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland, the mighty Gullfoss waterfall. A pathway takes you right to the water's edge, where you can get a real sense of the enormous natural power of these 32 m (150 ft) tall falls.
From Gullfoss, you can choose to go on an optional snowmobile tour on the nearby Langjökull glacier. You can also take the opportunity to ride an Icelandic horse, an essential Icelandic experience.
The crater lake of Kerið is also well worth a visit as you traverse the area. Take in the dazzling colours of the red-and-orange lava rock, the azure waters of the deep lake in its centre, and get a few photos before spending the night in the Hvolsvöllur area.
Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur
Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 3 - Waterfalls and Black-Sand Beach
Head to the south coast on today's road trip and visit the majestic and mesmerising Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls. After these, you will see Sólheimajökull glacier, where you have the option to go glacier hiking and ice climbing or take an exhilarating snowmobile tour. From the village Vík, you can opt for an exciting ice cave tour to Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
Along the coast near Vík, is the black volcanic coastline and the dramatic Dyrhólaey peninsula and Reynisdrangar rock formations. Just be sure to be very careful near this beach, as the waves and currents are powerful and unpredictable. This area has a large puffin colony during the summers, so try and spot some.
More sights as you drive ahead include the magnificent Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the quaint, historic village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. You will spend the night in either Kirkjubæjarklaustur or the Skaftafell area.
Preferred accommodation by Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Hotel Geirland is a 3 star hotel located in the countryside 2 kilometres away from Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 4 - Skaftafell Nature Reserve - Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Spend day four taking in the many beautiful vistas of the incredible Skaftafell Nature Reserve, within Vatnajökull National Park.
If you enjoy hiking, you will find many trails here, tailored for all abilities, including one that leads to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall, which cascades down unique, hexagonal basalt columns. You may also opt into an exciting glacier hike on this day on Skaftafellsjökull.
Do not spend all day here, however, as the the stunning Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is the next stop. Here, you can see icebergs break from a glacier tongue and float serenely towards the ocean; it is a magnificent sight. If you wish to get closer, you can enjoy an optional boat ride that will take you right amongst them, with a choice between an amphibious vessel or a little zodiac. If you see any seals, give a whistle, and they may come closer to investigate the noise. They are often as curious about you as you are them.
Don't forget to have a look at the Diamond Beach, just by the ocean next to the lagoon. Chunks of ice in all shapes and sizes decorate the shoreline like a string of beautiful jewels, making for excellent photo opportunities.
Spend the night in Höfn.
Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn
Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort
Hotel Höfn is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 5 - The East Coast
Today you will experience rural Iceland in all its glory, visiting the idyllic villages, breathtaking fjords, and verdant fields of the east coast. Home to some of the most amazing wildlife in Iceland, including puffins, reindeer, foxes, and seals, the fjords invite you to take an up-and-down ride over the mountains as you explore one after the other. Each is incredibly beautiful, and has its own unique charm.
Waterfalls in hillsides and fantastic panoramic views will make your journey unforgettable. In the evening, you'll come to the town of Egilsstaðir, near Lagarflöt lake, which legends say hides a monster beneath its placid surface. Spend the night in Egilsstaðir or a smaller village nearby.
Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir
Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3 star hotel located in a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir but also right by the lake. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 6 - Lake Mývatn Mysteries
On day six, you'll visit Lake Mývatn. The lake itself is serene and beautiful, and its surroundings dramatic and unique. There is a lot to see, but it is recommended that you prioritise the hot spring cave of Grjótagjá, the Dimmuborgir lava fields (known as 'the Dark Fortress'), and the nature baths.
A drive through the Jökulsárgljúfur part of Vatnajökull National Park to visit the Ásbyrgi canyon and the impressive Dettifoss waterfall is also highly recommended, and the mud pits at Krafla are a sight to behold.
Another great option is to join a whale watching tour at the nearby village of Húsavík, renowned as the whale-watching capital of Europe. You can upgrade this to include a puffin watching segment as well. After you have finished your activities for the day, you'll cross over to Eyjafjörður fjord to the town of Akureyri, where you will stay the night.
Preferred accommodation by Akureyri
Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 7 - The Troll Peninsula
Start the day in Akureyri, a charming town sporting unique shops and museums, as well as one of the world's northernmost botanical gardens which displays more than 7,000 native and non-native plant species. If you'd like a closer look at the local flora in nature, you could opt into a riding tour along the coast of the fjord on this morning. Otherwise, if you missed the whale watch the day before, you can take one from here.
Continuing towards Skagafjörður, a valley known for its abundance of Icelandic horses, you will also pass through the beautiful, mountainous area of Tröllaskagi. From there, you will see the old herring-fishing village of Siglufjörður, and Hofsós, where you can enjoy the magnificent scenery from the town’s thermal pool.
Spend the night in Blönduós.
Preferred accommodation by Blönduós
Hotel Blanda is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland with a view towards Blanda river and the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast is included.
Day 8 - Westfjords Introduction
Day eight is the beginning of your drive to the breathtaking and remote Westfjords of Iceland. Sights along the way include the many hills of Vatnsdalshólar, the Borgarvirki natural fortress, and the Hvítserkur monolith.
The Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft Museum in Hólmavík and the Sorcerer’s Cottage, in Bjarnarfjörður, only 25 km away from Hólmavík, are well worth a visit, especially for those who love folklore and history. Also, consider taking an extra soak in the natural hot springs at Drangsnes.
Spend the night in the Strandir area.
Day 9 - Deep into the Westfjords
The journey on day nine is characterised by the dramatic fjords you will pass through, as well as the towering mountains that run alongside you on your route to Ísafjörður. Here you will find some of the oldest mountains in Iceland, dating back to 18 million years ago. Be sure to look in the waters as you drive, as this is one of the best places in Iceland to see whales feeding from the shore.
You may also wish to drive to nearby Bolungarvík and visit the Ósvör Maritime Museum - a great way to see what life was like for Iceland’s fishermen in years gone by. When you reach Ísafjörður, enjoy the town's quiet, isolated charm.
Spend the night in the Ísafjarðardjúp area.
Preferred accommodation by the Westfjords
Fosshotel Westfjords is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Patreksfjörður. Close by are the attractions Látrabjarg cliffs, Rauðasandur beach and Dynjandi waterfall. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Mountain or sea view. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Fosshotel Westfjords (Superior rooms) is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Patreksfjörður. Close by are the attractions Látrabjarg cliffs, Rauðasandur beach and Dynjandi waterfall. Spacious private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Mountain or sea view. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.
Day 10 - Westfjords and Dynjandi - Látrabjarg Puffins
At the start of day ten, head to Dýrafjörður fjord, where you can find the trail of the Viking saga hero Gisli Súrsson, as well as the Skrúður botanical garden.
Continuing to Hrafnseyri, you can visit a museum dedicated to another national hero, Jón Sigurðsson, former president of the Althing and leader of the Icelandic independence movement of the 19th century.
Next, stop at the magnificent Dynjandi, a stunning series of fast-moving waterfalls that cascade down the face of a massive cliff. After marvelling at this wonder, head to the spectacular 444 m (1,457 ft) high cliff of Látrabjarg, arguably the westernmost point of Europe. Here, you can get an incredibly close look at some of Iceland’s many species of nesting seabirds, such as puffins and razorbills.
Spend the night in the Vesturbyggð areas, near Patreksfjörður.
Day 11 - By Ferry from Westfjords to Snæfellsnes Peninsula
On day eleven, you will take the Baldur ferry from Brjánslækur across Breiðafjörður Bay to get some rest from driving, over to the village of Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula. The price of the ferry is included in your tour, and you can bring your car at no additional cost!
Stykkishólmur is a charming fishing town, famous for portraying Greenland in the movie 'The Secret Life of Walter Mitty'. It is steeped in folklore and history, and worth a little explore.
From there, you can explore the peninsula’s many unique sights, including the Snæfellsjökull glacier in the beautiful Snæfellsjökull National Park, Dritvík cove, Djúpalónssandur beach, and the small, charming hamlets of Arnarstapi, Hellnar, and Búðir. The area is rich in lava fields and formations, impressive cliffs, dramatic beaches and flourishing birdlife.
Spend the night in the Snæfellsnes area.
Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes
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.
Day 12 - Activities in Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Snæfellsnes Peninsula has a lot of beautiful and exciting locations to explore. Spend another day properly touring the area in depth, seeing anything you missed yesterday. You can opt for hikes in the beautiful nature or explore the rock formations and vast sands near the Djúpalónssandur black beach. There are many hikes to be had in this region, and more than enough activities to fill a day with.
Spend another night in the Snæfellsnes area.
Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes
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.
Day 13 - Hraunfossar and Barnafoss - Deildartunguhver
On day thirteen, explore West Iceland with its many natural attractions, including Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe, and 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 the saga Heimskringla in the 13th century. Snorri is also famed for writing the bible of old Norse mythology, Edda.
On the way back to Reykjavik, you can opt for an incredible tour inside Langjökull glacier, the only place in the world where such a trip is possible, or else take an adventurous caving tour in Viðgelmir lava tubes. You may also opt to descend into a vast beautiful magma chamber on the 'Inside the Volcano' tour. From there, it is recommended that you take a short break at Fossatún, a waterfall said to be guarded by a troll woman named Drífa, before heading back to Reykjavík, either for a well-deserved rest or to hit the restaurants and bars.
Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík
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.
Day 14 - Blue Lagoon & Drop the Car off at the Airport
Drop off your car at Keflavík airport in time for your departure. If you are lucky enough to be taking an afternoon or evening flight, consider fitting in one last fantastic Icelandic experience.
If you didn't visit the Blue Lagoon on your first day, then a revitalising visit to the world famous spa is a great way to end your Icelandic adventure.
We hope you finish with the feeling of having a wonderful 2-week holiday in Iceland, looking forward to coming back someday soon.
See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available hotels and guesthouses 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. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. The sooner you reserve the higher quality accommodation we can provide. Press choose a date at the top 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.
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, free of charge.
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.
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.
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 email@example.com 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.