Take a road trip around Iceland’s ring road on this 12 day holiday. Start by heading to the south coast, where black sand beaches, tall basalt columns and gushing waterfalls await, before heading east to cruise amongst the blue icebergs in Jokulsarlon Lagoon. Search for the legendary lake monster from the shores of Lagarfljot Lake and look for humpbacks and dolphins from a traditional oak boat in Skjalfandi Bay. Take in the cultural town of Akureyri where hot springs and art galleries abound, before hiking around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula where you’ll find lush valleys and tiny fishing villages. Finish in the capital of Reykjavik where you can try some delicious local dishes, go shopping for handcrafted woollies and toast a glass of craft ale to an exciting self-drive through Iceland!
This self-drive Iceland itinerary can be tailored to suit your requirements please contact one of our consultants to start planning your dream trip.
Depart the UK from your chosen airport. On arrival in Reykjavik, you’ll pick up your hire car at the airport and begin your road trip through Iceland. Drive along the southern coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula towards the charming village of Hveragerdi, often known as the “flower village” due to the many greenhouses heated by hot springs nearby. You’ll check into your hotel here for one night.
Today you’ll hit the highlights of the Golden Circle - passing the three most popular sights to visit in Iceland. Starting in Thingvellir National Park, you can hike through the lush landscape and see the site of the first Althing, the world’s oldest parliament. The unique geology here created a natural amphitheatre, which meant that the leaders could recite the laws of the land to vast crowds and be heard as if they were standing next to you. Aside from this historical interest, Thingvellir is also a rift valley, set where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. Today, the plates are gradually being pulled apart – you can even go snorkelling into the fissures and gorges (not for the faint-hearted!). You’ll also see the gushing waters of the famous Geysir and the cascades of Gullfoss waterfall, all while Mount Hella, Iceland’s most famous volcano, towers above. Afterwards, you'll drive down to South Iceland, where you will check into your hotel for two nights.
You'll explore the south coast of Iceland today, starting with a visit to Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, each with their own unique character. Driving on, you’ll come to Dyrholaey, a rocky headland where thousands of puffins nest in the summer* and end up at Reynisdrangar Beach, where black sand stretches along the shore. Here, you’ll find enormous basalt stacks with the Atlantic Ocean crashing against them – it’s a desolate but beautiful scene. Finish the day in Kirkjubaerjarklaustur, a small village where you can see the Kirkjugolf, a natural basalt pavement similar to the Giant’s Causeway.
*Please note Dyrholaey is closed during nesting season mid-May to late June
Today, you’ll be in the area of Vatnajokull National Park, named after Europe’s largest glacier. Here you can visit Skaftafell, a green oasis nestling below the glacier. Go hiking and drink in the beautiful views before heading over to Jokulsarlon, where huge icebergs float in the massive lagoon. Here, you’ll hop onto an amphibian boat and take a short cruise through the water, learning about the lagoon’s geology and looking out for seals, as well as getting a taste of ice that is over 1,000 years old. In the afternoon, you’ll drive along the rugged coastline of the eastern fjords and arrive in the town of Eglisstadir where you’ll check into your hotel for one night.
Egilsstadir is a remote part of Iceland, where local folklore tells colourful tales of elves and other mythical creatures living in the area. Wander along the shores of Lagarfljot Lake looking out for the Lagarfljotsormur, the legendary lake monster, before exploring the surrounding area, where reindeer roam in the woodlands and fields of lambs and Icelandic horses flank the trees. You can also visit the Wilderness Centre, an innovative concept combining history, nature and local life. Learn about farming in rural Iceland and both the hardship and beauty of this eastern frontier.
Today you’ll drive to Vopnafjordur, a small but beautiful fishing village on a spit in the Eastern fjords. Well known for the salmon rivers, many people come here to fish, but if you want a more relaxed afternoon you can go birdwatching or simply chill out in the local geothermal pool.
Driving across the Oxafjardarheidi Plateau today, you’ll visit Asbyrgi, a magnificent horseshoe-shaped canyon in Jokulsargljufur National Park. Legends say that it was created by the hoof prints of Odin’s magical horse. Working your way along the Tjornes Peninsula, you’ll arrive in Husavik, a small fishing port where you’ll head out on a whale watching tour in a traditional oak boat. Onboard you’ll learn about the marine life of the Skjalfandi Bay whilst looking out for humpbacks, minkes, orcas and dolphins as well as puffins, razorbills and guillemots.
Stay cosy onboard with a hot chocolate and a kleina (an Icelandic twisted doughnut) before driving on to Lake Mycatn, a geological wonderland sculpted by volcanic eruptions over thousands of years. See the Hverarond mud pits, which are so hot they actually boil, and witness the Eldhraun (fire lava) where the Apollo 11 crew came to train for their moonwalks.
Spend the morning enjoying Lake Myvatn’s natural wonders, including the lava formations of Dimmuborgir, before heading to Godafoss waterfall, a legendary cascade said to contain statues of Norse gods tossed into the water in 1000 AD. Next, head over to Akureyri, the capital of the north, a town of beautiful historical buildings and, despite its small size, a vibrant cultural scene. You’ll find independent cafes, museums and art galleries as well as a late-night buzz – virtually unheard of in small towns outside of Reykjavik. Take a dip in the outdoor swimming pool and immerse yourself in this cultural hotspot, enjoying a delicious meal of local ingredients for dinner.
From Akureyri, drive west over the Oxnadalur Pass into the historical region of Skagafjordur, renowned for its horse breeding. Spend the afternoon exploring this pretty town, enjoying the restored timber houses, some of which date back as far as 1828, and eating local blueberry ice cream by the harbour. There are lots of birdwatching tours and cruises that depart from Stykkisholmur, including a great boat trip that will show you starfish, scallops and urchins pulled up from the ocean. If you want to add a cruise here, just ask!
Spend today exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, passing small fishing villages along the coast and stopping in at the striking basalt rock formations at Arnarstapi. Make sure you take some photos of the beautiful Kirkjufell Mountain, one of the most famous images of Iceland, before hiking around it (or even climbing to the top if you are feeling adventurous!). Look out for puffins as you pass through Borgarfjordur and make your way south to Reykjavik, where you’ll check into your hotel for two nights. You’ll drop off your car this evening.
You’ve got a whole day to enjoy Reykjavik. It’s a cool and quirky city, with 60% of the population of Icelanders living here, in the northernmost capital of the world. Plenty of cultural events take place here, from art exhibitions, theatre, music and literature festivals. There is always something going on! The city is a hive of vibrant museums, galleries and shops selling locally-produced crafts, including the famous Icelandic jumpers and socks. The magnificent Hallgrimskirkja Church is visible from almost everywhere in the city, while Iceland's parliament house is home to the oldest government in the world. Grab a hotdog for lunch before enjoying a plate of seafood for dinner, from langoustines and lobster to cured cod. In the evenings Reykjavik comes alive with an eclectic mix of clubs, wine bars and cosy pubs, so raise a glass of local craft ale to a wonderful holiday exploring Iceland!
Today is your final day in Iceland – you’ll hop on a shuttle back to the airport in time for your onward flight. The shuttle stops at the Blue Lagoon on the way – if you want to head in to enjoy a dip in the geothermal warm water you can do, there is plenty of space to store luggage, we can include entrance fee and towel rental, just ask! You’ll arrive back in the UK later today.
Iceland enjoys a milder climate than many people think. The summers are generally warm and sunny, while winters are as cold as they come. Due to its location - just at the point where the Gulf Stream and Arctic Air meet - the weather is extremely changeable, so make sure you bring a range of clothing, even if you are there in midsummer. The midnight sun shines between late May and August, which means you can maximise your time here by exploring until late at night. In the winter, however, the sun doesn’t rise until 11am and disappears around 3pm, perfect for aurora spotters out to see the northern lights.
This itinerary is purely a suggestion and can be tailor-made to your requirements, so please contact us with your dates and requests and we’ll put together a bespoke quotation for you.
12 nights in 3*/4* standard accommodation.
Outside of Reykjavik, Iceland is made up of small villages and towns. There is a limited amount of accommodation in each area, which means we do not specify hotels until you have booked with us.