10-Day Ring Road Road Trip | Self-Drive Tour of Golden Circle, South Iceland, Lake Myvatn & Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Grab the wheel and explore the best Iceland has to offer this summer. On this 10-day self-drive tour, you’ll circle the whole island, including Snæfellsnes Peninsula. You’ll stop at stunning locations such as Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Dettifoss Waterfall, and Akureyri town. Those looking for the ultimate road trip in the land of ice and fire need to look no further.
A self-drive tour provides you with the freedom to explore on your own terms. There will be no impatient tour guides, and you can easily avoid all crowds. All accommodations, a rental car and optional activities will be booked for you beforehand, and you’ll receive a personal itinerary guiding you to the most remarkable spots.
During the booking process, you can add a few adventures to make this trip even more memorable. These include unwinding at the Blue Lagoon, stepping inside an ice cave, descending into a volcano, glacier hiking, and riding the Icelandic horse.
Take your time as you circle the whole island, visiting all of Iceland’s national parks, and enjoy the unparalleled natural scenery for which this country is known.
As your plane gets ready to land, you can see the vast lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula out of the window. Here is where Keflavík International Airport is located and where your holiday in Iceland begins.
Once you land, collect your bags and your rental vehicle, and drive across the volcanic landscape towards the city of Reykjavík where you will spend your first night.
En route, you can see white billows rising from the lava field. Don’t worry; this is not a sign of volcanic activity but the steam from the geothermal spa the Blue Lagoon. You can book a ticket to this luxurious spa during the booking process and stop there on the way to the city. It is a fantastic way to rid you of all jet lag you might have.
When you arrive in Reykjavík, check into your hotel and unwind. Alternatively, you can explore the city and, perhaps, take in the vibrant nightlife.
- Reykjanes Peninsula – a vast field of moss-covered lava
- Reykjavík City – Iceland’s lively capital
- Laugavegur Shopping Street – filled with shops, restaurants, bars, and cafes
- Relaxing at the Blue Lagoon Spa
Now your adventure on the road begins. After breakfast, hop in your car and leave the city behind. Make your way to the first stop on the Golden Circle route, Þingvellir National Park, where Viking settlers gathered to lay the law of the land over a thousand years ago.
The park is not only historically significant, but it is a geographical wonder; it is where the Eurasian and the N-American tectonic plates meet. Silfra is fissure filled with crystal-clear glacial water. It is located on the boundaries of these plates, and today, you’ll have the unique opportunity to swim between the continents on a snorkelling tour in Silfra.
After exploring Þingvellir National Park, drive to Geysir Geothermal Area where you can watch the geyser Strokkur erupt in a large column of hot water and steam. From there, make your way to Gullfoss waterfall to see freezing glacial water plummet down 32 metres into an ancient canyon.
If you are looking for an adrenaline rush today, consider joining a snowmobile tour on top of Langjökull, the very glacier that feeds Gullfoss waterfall. Children over the age of six can ride as passengers, making this a great action-packed activity for the entire family.
Another fantastic and family-friendly activity which you can join today is a horse riding tour through the countryside. Icelandic horses are small and friendly creatures, the perfect companions for beginner and expert riders alike.
After exploring the sites of the Golden Circle — perhaps with a detour to Kerið Crater Lake, Skálholt historical site or Efstidalur farm — head to your accommodation which is located in the area.
- Þingvellir National Park – A historical site which marks the boundaries of two continents.
- Geysir Geothermal Area – Home of bubbling mud pools and erupting geysers.
- Strokkur – A geyser that erupts every 5-10 metres, reaching a height of 15-20 metres.
- Gullfoss Waterfall – Iceland’s most beloved cascade.
- Kerið Crater Lake – A stunning body of water inside a red crater.
- Skálholt Historical Site – Steeped in religious history
- Efstidalur Farm – A great place to stop for delicious ice cream
- Snorkel in Silfra Fissure
- Snowmobile on top of Langjökull Glacier
- Horse riding in the Icelandic nature
On today’s journey, you’ll see glittering glaciers, silvery waterfalls and a black sand beach.
You can, however, start your day with a morning hike on top of Sólheimajökull Glacier. You’ll meet your guide at the base of the glacier, and they will lead you up, passing blue crevasses and deep glacier moulins.
You can also join an afternoon hike at Skaftafell, a nature reserve in south-east Iceland. There, you’ll get a fantastic view of Iceland’s tallest peaks, the stunning flora of Sólheimajökull and the surrounding black sand deserts.
Another option today is to visit an ice cave. Ice caves usually flood in the springtime, making them inaccessible in the summer. Still, the Katla ice cave stays frozen throughout the year. On an ice cave tour, you can enter the cave with a professional guide, seeing the blue ice which is streaked with black ash from past volcanic eruptions.
You will then reach the stunning Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the nearby Diamond Beach. At the lagoon, enormous icebergs float on a bright blue lake while seals swim around them. The bergs sometimes wash up on shore at a nearby black sand beach where they glisten like diamonds in the sunlight.
If you wish to get a better look at the icebergs and the seals, you can opt for a boat ride on the lagoon. You have two boat options: a speedy Zodiac boat tour, perfect for thrill-seekers and those who want to get really close to the bergs, and a slower amphibian boat tour; great for families and photographers.
You’ll end the day at a countryside hotel nestled under Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier.
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – A high but narrow cascade which falls over a cave in which you can enter.
- Skógafoss Waterfall – Much wider and more powerful than its cousin Seljalandsfoss but equally as beautiful.
- Eyjafjallajökull Glacier – One of Iceland’s smaller ice caps but it covers an active volcano
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach – A gorgeous volcanic beach
- Vík Village – Located by Reynisfjara beach, a great place to stop for lunch
- Skaftafell Nature Reserve – A luscious area, nestled under Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier.
- Svartifoss Waterfall – A stunning cascade surrounded by cliffs of black basalt columns.
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – A stunning, blue water filled with enormous icebergs which have broken off a nearby glacier.
- Diamond Beach – A black sand beach where icebergs that have washed up on shore glisten like precious stones.
- Morning glacier hike on Sólheimajökull ice cap
- Exploring Katla Ice Cave
- Afternoon glacier hike in Skaftafell Nature Reserve
- Zodiac boat tour on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- Amphibian boat tour on Jökulsárlón
Start your day by visiting the beautiful Stokksnes Peninsula where the mighty Mt. Vestrahorn watches over the surrounding black sand beaches.
You will then drive the winding roads of East Iceland, stopping at one or two of the charming villages found there. You can also stop at Vök Baths, a new spa which sits on the banks of Urriðavatn Lake. There you can soak in the geothermal water and admire the beautiful scenery of East Iceland.
Another adventure possible in East Iceland is a thrilling ATV ride through Hallormsstaðaskógur, Iceland’s largest forest. While traversing rough tracks, crossing small streams and dirt puddles, you’ll get to see some of the East’s most stunning landscapes, including the beautiful Lake Lagarfljót.
Before finding your accommodation in or near the town of Egilsstaðir, you can visit the beautiful Hengifoss Waterfall. The cliffs of this stunning cascade are made of black basalt rocks and layers of red clay which are sandwiched between, giving the waterfall its unusual look.
- Stokksnes Peninsula where black sand beaches make for a perfect photography subject along with Mt. Vestrahorn
- Djúpivogur – A charming village in East Iceland over which the majestic Mt. Búlandstindur looms.
- Hallormsstaðaskógur Forrest – Sits on the banks of Lake Lagarfljót
- Egilsstaðir – East Iceland’s largest settlement and the area’s nerve centre
- Hengifoss Waterfall – One of Iceland’s tallest waterfalls at 128 metres high
- Unwinding at the Vök Nature Baths
- Racing through a forest on an ATV Tour
Today, you’ll head North, and visit three of the attractions that make up the Diamond Circle, North-Iceland’s answer to the Golden Circle. You will start by visiting the stunning Dettifoss Waterfall, made famous in the opening shot of the Ridley Scott movie, Prometheus. Then it is off to the beautiful canyon Ásbyrgi, believed by Vikings to have been created by Odin’s horse, Sleipnir.
The third attraction today is the charming town of Húsavík. This small settlement is known as the ‘Whale Watching Capital of Iceland’, and today, you can have your very own adventures searching for the gentle giants of the sea.
There are two excursions available; the former one is a classic whale watching tour, perfect for the entire family. The second one is a tour on a rib boat which also includes a spot of puffin watching. These adorable birds make Iceland their home in the summer before departing the country in the autumn.
You can also visit the Geosea Baths in Húsavík. This luxurious spa uses geothermal heat to warm up seawater, which is said to do wonders to your skin. You will have an amazing view of the ocean where you might spot a whale or two.
You will then spend the night in or near Húsavík.
- Dettifoss Waterfall – Europe’s most powerful waterfall
- Selfoss Waterfall – Smaller than its neighbour Dettifoss but surrounded by beautiful basalt columns
- Ásbyrgi Canyon – A dramatic, horseshoe-shaped canyon
- Húsavík Town – Whale watching capital of Iceland
- Traditional whale watching in Húsavík
- Whale and puffin watching in a rib boat
- Unwinding at the Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths.
After breakfast, you will explore the otherworldly area of Lake Mývatn. Here, you’ll find a stunning hot spring inside a cave, a natural maze of lava pillars, a geothermal region filled with steam vents and bubbling mud pools, and Lake Mývatn itself.
Lake Mývatn and its surroundings were created in a series of volcanic eruptions some 2,300 years ago. You can see remnants of these eruptions in the free-standing lava pillars and pseudocraters around the lake. This time of year, the wetlands around the lake are also teeming with birds, and you can spot up to 15 different species there.
After exploring the region to the fullest, you can unwind at the Mývatn Nature Baths. This geothermal spa is a great way to relax after days on the road, and it provides you with a fantastic view of the surrounding volcanic landscape.
Make your way to Akureyri where you will spend the night. We recommend stopping at the stunning waterfall, Goðafoss, which is en route.
- Lake Mývatn – A beautiful lake with pseudocraters, lava pillars, and rich birdlife
- Grjótagjá Cave – A bright blue hot spring inside a cave that was used as the love nest of Jon Snow and Ygritte in Game of Thrones
- Námaskarð Pass – A geothermal area filled with steam vents and bubbling mud pools.
- Dimmuborgir – A natural labyrinth of lava pillars
- Goðafoss – A beautiful waterfall which falls down arch-shaped cliffs.
- Taking a dip in the Mývatn Nature Baths
Today, you’ll explore the wonders of North Iceland in-depth by driving the mountainous Tröllaskagi peninsula. Here, you’ll find charming fishing villages with an award-winning museum and a stunning infinity pool.
Before you leave Akureyri behind, you will have an opportunity to have one last adventure in this vibrant town. There are two options available; the first is a whale watching tour, perfect for those who missed out on this wonderful experience yesterday.
The second option is a horse riding tour. Icelandic horses can trace its ancestry from ponies taken to Iceland by Viking settlers, which also explains their small stature. However, they have a large personality which makes all who meet them fall in love with their spirited temperament.
As you travel around the Tröllaskagi region, which is also known as the “Troll Peninsula”, you will have the option to stop by a local brewery and take a bath. Yes, at the Beer Spa, visitors can relax in a tub filled with that amber liquid, while the hops and yeast make your skin silky smooth. It is an experience you won’t soon forget.
At the end of the day, you’ll head to the town of Blönduós where you will spend the night.
- Tröllaskagi Peninsula – A beautiful area filled with mountains and fjords
- Siglufjörður – A charming town known for the award-winning Herring Era Museum
- Hofsós – Small fishing village where you’ll find a stunning, infinity swimming pool with an amazing view
- Whale watching in Akureyri
- Horse riding around the countryside of Akureyri
- Relaxing at the Beer Spa
Now it is time to explore the magical Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Watching over your journey today is the mighty Snæfellsjökull, a glacier topped volcano which is believed by many to be a great source of mystical energy.
The area is characterised by desolate lava strewn fields, tall mountains, and countless streams and waterfalls. You will also see some wildlife there; horses and sheep roam the grounds, and the coast is teeming with birds which make the jagged, volcanic rocks their home.
If you wish to get a closer look at the birdlife of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you can join a Viking Sushi Boat Tour from Stykkishólmur town. Kittiwakes, fulmars, shags, and adorable puffins can all be found around the small island which dot the ocean just offshore. The highlight of the tour, however, is when the bounty of the sea is brought up, and guests get to try fresh scallops and sea urchins straight from the ocean.
Another ocean-option available today is a whale watching tour from Ólafsjörður. Breiðafjörður bay offers the best chance in Iceland to see two of the sea’s top predators: sperm whales and orcas, also known as killer whales.
You will end the day at accommodations on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
- Stykkishólmur – A charming town and a great stop for lunch breaks
- Kirkjufell Mountain – A pyramid-shaped mountain, used as a backdrop in the popular TV show Game of Thrones.
- Djúpalónssandur Black Pebble Beach – To get to this hauntingly beautiful beach, you have to walk through a natural maze of lava rocks.
- Lóndrangar – A pair of rock stacks which protrude from the ocean, a great place to go birdwatching.
- Arnarstapi – A tiny village with a stunning pier and coastline. A path from there leads to another town, Hellnar, and the route makes for a great hiking trip.
- Búðarkirkja Church – This jet-black church makes for a fantastic photographic stop with the Snæfellsjökull Glacier in the background.
- Ytri Tunga – A white sand beach (a rarity in Iceland) known for its massive seal colony.
- Birdwatching and sightseeing on a Viking Sushi Boat Tour.
- Whale Watching from the town of Ólafsvík
Now it is time to head back to Reykjavík. However, you will first explore the wonders of West Iceland before you reach the capital. You’ll see geometric cliffs, stunning waterfalls, and the most powerful hot spring in Europe.
If you wish, you can pepper the day with an underground adventure. There are three unique options available today; the first one is a visit to one of the largest lava caves in the world, Víðgelmir. There, you’ll get to follow the path hot magma created a thousand years ago to see the bright colours found deep underground.
The second option is to explore inside a glacier. The Ice Cave Tunnels in Langjökull effortlessly combine a man-made structure with the beauty of the Icelandic nature. The tunnels lead to several different rooms, including a chapel, and provide visitors with a unique opportunity to explore deep inside a glacier, something which is usually only reserved for scientists.
Your last option begins in Reykjavík city. There, you will board a bus which will take you to Þríhnjúkagígur, an inactive volcano in which you will descend. Strapped in a harness and equipped with a helmet, you’ll be lowered into the caldera in an open lift. The journey down will take around five minutes. Afterwards, you get to roam around inside the volcano before being hoisted up again.
You will then head to your hotel in Reykjavík. The midnight sun keeps the city alive well into the night, so make use of it and enjoy your last night in Iceland exploring the capital’s active nightlife.
- Gerðuberg Cliffs – A large, natural wall made of hexagonal basalt cliffs
- Reykholt Village – Perfect for those wanting to learn about Norse mythology and Icelandic history.
- Hraunfossar & Barnafoss – Two stunning but vastly different waterfalls
- Deildartunguhver – Europe’s most powerful hot spring
- Exploring Víðgelmir Lava Cave
- Learning about glaciers in the Ice Cave Tunnels
- Stepping Inside The Volcano
Now it is time to pack your bags and return to Keflavík Airport.
If your flight leaves in the afternoon or evening, you will have some time to explore Reykjavík before you go. On top of Skólavörðuhæð hill stands the Reykjavík landmark, Hallgrímskirkja Church. After snapping a few photos of the beautiful building — and perhaps even going to the top — you can walk across the street to the Einar Jónsson sculpture garden. There, you can explore (for free) the works of this famous artist.
If you didn’t have time on your arrival day, you could fit a trip to the Blue Lagoon in before you depart. It is a great way to unwind after days on the road and you’ll arrive at the airport relaxed and well-rested.
Once it’s time to leave, you’ll drive through the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula, return your car at the airport and check in.
Have a great flight home and come back soon!
- Hallgrímskirkja Church – A beautiful church whose design was inspired by Svartifoss Waterfall.
- Einar Jónsson Museum & Garden – Many of Einar’s sculptures can be found in the garden, and the entrance to that is free. However, there is a fee for the museum which is located inside Iceland’s first art museum.
- Laugavegur Shopping Street – Filled with boutiques, restaurants, cafes, and bars.
- Harpa Concert Hall – A stunning glass building which sits by the ocean
- Taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon
You’ll have a choice of two accommodations levels. See details about each one in the boxes below. All accommodations for this tour have been hand-picked by our local travel experts.
For comfort-level, single rooms will be allocated to bookings for one person. Shared twin/double or triple room(s) will be arranged for two or more people. Groups with an odd number of participants will be allotted a single room in quality-level. Children and teenagers will be arranged in the same room as their parents. Additional cost may occur if additional room(s) is needed.
Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies between regions and that not all locations offer quality-level accommodations. At those particular locations, comfort level accommodations will be arranged, which has already been calculated in the upgraded price. We do our best to accommodate special requests, but additional costs may incur.
Rooms in three-star hotels or quality guesthouses, very close to popular attractions. Private bathroom and breakfast included.
You’ll have a choice of three options for your rental car. See details for each option in the boxes below.
The vehicles for all levels are current models, no older than two years. They all come with standard CDW insurance, Gravel Protection (GP), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. They also come equipped with a GPS and free Wi-Fi with unlimited data, to which you can connect up to 10 devices. You will also get 24-hour roadside emergency services from the car rental agency. In the wintertime, all cars have winter tyres.
The driver must hold a valid driving licence which they have had for at least 12 months before the date of the rental. Age requirement varies for each level, and you can find more information on that in the boxes below.
Please note that off-road driving is illegal in Iceland.
Basic 2WD vehicle such as a Toyota Yaris, good for city driving and shorter trips. Fits 2 travellers & light luggage. No Highland capabilities. Driver must be at least 20 year old.
Blue Lagoon Comfort Entrance
Blue Lagoon Premium Entrance
Snorkeling in Silfra
Snowmobiling on Langjökull
Katla Ice Cave
Jökulsárlón Amphibian Boat Tour
Jökulsárlón Zodiac Boat Tour
Vök Nature Baths
Vök Nature Baths are surrounded by nothing but the untouched nature of East Iceland. Ticket includes entry to the baths and a tisane brewed from the spring water and local herbs at the infusion bar. Bring with you a swimsuit and a towel but those can also be rented onsite. No minimum age.
ATV Tour in East Iceland
Race through Hallormsstaðaskógur Forest on a 4×4 ATV. Traverse on rugged tracks while taking in the exceptional views of East Iceland. Warm overalls, helmets, balaclavas and gloves are provided, but please wear warm base layers as well as good shoes. Minimum age is 17 for riders, and they must hold a valid driving licence. However, children over the age of 8 can ride as passengers.
Whale Watching Tour
Whale and Puffin Watching RIB Boat Tour
Unwind and enjoy the stunning view at GeoSea Geothermal Sea Baths in the town of Húsavík. GeoSea limits the number of guests, allowing for a more peaceful and relaxing experience for those who visit. Bring with you a swimsuit and a towel but those can also be rented onsite. No minimum age.
Whale Watching tour from Akureyri
Head to sea to search for the gentle whales which make the waters around Akureyri their home. Included is a professionally guided tour and warm, floatable overalls for your safety and comfort. Also included is a second try in case of no sightings. No age limit
Whale Watching Tour – Ólafsvík
Two of the ocean’s top predators, sperm whales and orcas (also known as killer whales), make the waters around Snæfellsnes Peninsula their home. That means this your best chance to spot them while in Iceland. Dress warmly and bring a hat, scarf and gloves.
Viking Sushi Boat Tour
Head to sea on a Viking adventure! From Stykkishólmur town, you’ll board a boat which will take you around the countless islands found in Breiðafjörður Bay. Keep an eye out for birds such as fulmars and adorable puffins. The highlight of the tour is when the crew pull up the nets and allow guests to try out fresh scallops and sea urchins. Bring warm clothes. No minimum age.
Langjökull Ice Cave Tunnels
Viðgelmir Lava Cave
Inside the Volcano
Whales of Iceland
Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe. The display features life-size models of 23 whale species found in Icelandic waters, as well as interactive information stands that help enhance the experience and educate visitors. Suitable for all ages.
Fly over Iceland
Soar over the entire island, seeing Iceland’s most spectacular sceneries with the latest in simulated flight ride technology. FlyOver Iceland will allow you to virtually soar over Iceland’s most iconic landscapes, while special effects — including wind, mist, scent and motion — help create the illusion of flight. Children need to be at least 102 cm (3’4″) to participate.