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5-Day South Iceland Summer Self-Drive Tour | Golden Circle, Black Sand Beach & Glacier Lagoon

Overview

Experience the wonders of South Iceland, and so much more, with an exciting self-drive tour this summer. Over 5 days, you will visit some of Iceland’s most beloved attractions, including Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Valley, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Don’t hesitate to kick off this breathtaking adventure in Iceland! 

Self-drive tours allow you to craft your perfect holiday in Iceland without having to worry about the difficult practicalities. We will organise a well-suited rental car for the trip, as well as overnight accommodation. Before you depart, you will be provided with a full itinerary that takes you past the country’s favourite attractions. Would you expect anything less of your dream holiday in the land of ice and fire? 

You make all the decisions, from how long to stay at each point of interest to which detours, diversions and extra activities to include as part of your trip. Additional experiences include bathing at the world-famous Blue Lagoon, snowmobiling on Langjökull Glacier or snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of Silfra Fissure. 

Behind every corner, another majestic attraction is just waiting to be discovered. With both the Golden Circle and South Iceland sightseeing routes included, you’ll be in for an unforgettable adventure on this epic 5-day tour. 

Included

  • 5 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info in accommodation tab)
  • Vehicle for 5 days (Toyota Yaris 2WD or similar. Upgrades available)
  • CDW and SCDW insurance along gravel protection for car rental
  • GPS System
  • Free Wi-Fi with unlimited data in vehicle
  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
  • Taxes

Not included

  • Flights to/from Iceland
  • Personal travel insurance
  • Gasoline/Petrol
  • Driving-Related Fees
  • Meals & drinks (unless otherwise stated)
  • Any services not listed as "Included"

Itinerary

Sun Voyager Sculpture on the coastline of Reykjavik

Highlights:

  • Reykjanes Peninsula – An ancient lava field
  • Reykjavík – Iceland’s vibrant capital city

Optional Activities:

  • Visiting the Blue Lagoon Spa

Before landing, you might spot the dramatic lava fields of Reykjanes Peninsula from your airplane window. Keflavík International Airport is located amidst these rocky outcrops, making your very first experiences in Iceland unforgettable from the get-go. Here, you will collect your bags and rental car before making a scenic drive across this volcanic landscape to Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavík. 

Of course, there is always the option to stop at a rejuvenating geothermal spa; The Blue Lagoon. Bathing in the aquamarine waters of Iceland’ premier visitor’s attraction, you will discover relaxation and luxury like never before. Surrounded by billowing white pillars of steam, you’ll be able to shake off the stress of travel with ease. 

Once in Reykjavík, you will drop your bags off the hotel, then be free to explore the capital at your leisure. Why not visit one of Iceland’s many fine-dining establishments, or enjoy a few drinks down at one of the local bars? If you’re in a more reflective mood, you could choose to walk between some of the city’s better-known landmarks, including Hallgrímskirkja Church and Harpa Concert Hall. 

Erupting Strokkur geyser at sunset

Highlights:

  • 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 – Iceland’s most dramatic erupting geyser
  • Gullfoss Waterfall – A stunning 32 m cascade
  • Kerið Crater Lake – A small lake in the heart of a crater
  • Skálholt Historical Site – Rich in history and beauty
  • Efstidalur Farm – A fantastic stop for ice cream and coffee

Optional Activities:

  • Snorkelling in Silfra Fissure
  • Snowmobiling on top of Langjökull Glacier
  • Horse riding in the Icelandic countryside

Today, you will experience Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route, The Golden Circle. Composed of three major attractions—Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Valley and Gullfoss waterfall—this dramatic trail provides brilliant insights into this land’s culture, nature and history. 

Þingvellir National Park is where Iceland’s parliament (Alþingi) was founded, way back in the 10th Century. It also covers a geological anomaly known as the Mid-Atlantic rift; this continental no man’s land is found between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. For the best panoramas, a viewpoint atop the Almannagjá gorge provides compelling views over this entire UNESCO World Heritage site, including Lake Þingvallavatn. 

Þingvellir is also where Silfra Fissure is located. Snorkelling in this cold, crystal clear canyon is one of Iceland’s most popular and exhilarating activities. It is sure to provide you with incredible underwater views while keeping you warm inside a thermal drysuit. Snorkelers will experience what it’s like to swim between two tectonic plates which only adds to the novelty. 

Next up, you will visit a geothermal valley most famous for the geyser, Strokkur. This mighty natural feature erupts every five to ten minutes, shooting a frothy stream of water up to twenty-five metres in the air. After witnessing this spectacle firsthand, you will then pay a trip to the nearby Gullfoss waterfall. This cascading giant can be viewed from two different platforms, both of which show off the raw and beautiful drama of Icelandic nature magnificently. 

If you’re looking to spruce your itinerary up with a little more adventure, you are free to participate in additional activities today. These include riding a purebred Icelandic horse through the stunning countryside of the west, or snowmobiling on the gargantuan glacier, Langjökull. Both of these add-ons reveal different sides of Iceland’s culture and landscapes, all while providing memories that are sure to last a lifetime. 

Given that this is a self-drive tour, you are also free to make a detour to other nearby attractions like Kerið Crater Lake, Efstidalur farm or the Skálholt historical site. At the end of your day, you will retire to your accommodation in the area. 

Skogafoss waterfall Iceland

Highlights:

  • Seljalandsfoss – A waterfall with a cave behind the cascade
  • Skógafoss – A wide and beautiful waterfall, viewable from above and below
  • Eyjafjallajökull Glacier – A stunning ice cap hiding a volcano beneath it
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach – Iceland’s most famous shoreline
  • Vík Village – A quaint village that’s excellent for a lunch stop

Optional Activities:

  • Glacier hiking on Sólheimajökull ice cap
  • Ice caving in Katla
  • ATV Riding across black sands beaches towards the DC-3 Plane Wreck

On your third day in the country, you will be travelling down Iceland’s south coast. En route, you will discover beautiful promenades, fantastic waterfalls and stunning coastlines. 

The more adventurous among you can begin your day with an invigorating hike on one of the country’s prettiest ice caps, Sólheimajökull Glacier. Hiking across the vast ice gives you time to appreciate the exquisite moulins and crevasses that dot the glacier.

Another way to get your adrenaline pumping today is with an ATV ride across the black sand beaches of South Iceland. You’ll speed across rivers towards your destination; a wreck of a navy plane which crashed on the beach in 1973 (don’t worry, nobody was hurt). 

You will be paying a visit to two of South Iceland’s most famous natural features, the waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Afterwards, you will make a stop at the sublime Reynisfjara black sand beach, where the dramatic rock stacks Reynisdranagar poke up out of the ocean. 

While you’re in the Vík village area, you could choose to partake in a tour of the nearby Katla Ice Caves. Under the leadership of a professional guide, you will explore these vivid and glassy cave networks by climbing through narrow crevasses and tunnels, ever on the lookout for intricate and naturally-formed ice sculptures. 

After a hard day’s adventuring, you will spend the night at a country hotel in the Vatnajökull area. 

Diamond beach with glacier ice blocks on black sand close to Jökulsárlon in Iceland.

Highlights:

  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – An aquamarine water body filled with floating icebergs
  • Diamond Beach – A black sand beach nearby to Jökulsárlón where icebergs wash ashore
  • Skaftafell – A beautiful nature reserve beneath Vatnajökull Glacier
  • Svartifoss Waterfall – A gorgeous waterfall enclosed by black basalt columns
  • Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon – a twisted canyon of green cliff sides
  • Dyrhólaey Promenade – Famous for its lighthouse, rock arch and puffins

Optional Activities:

  • Amphibian boat tour on Jökulsárlón
  • Glacier Hiking in Skaftafell

Start the day by visiting one of the most beautiful places in Iceland, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Surrounded by the mighty Vatnajökull glacier, Jökulsárlón is famed for its floating icebergs, ethereal ambience and happy seal population. Nothing beats following the icebergs on their journey from the lagoon down to the black shorelines of the Diamond Beach. 

Before heading back west, you will have an opportunity to take a boat tour on Jökulsárlón. Aboard an amphibious vessel, you will be taken right up next to the icebergs, allowing for fantastic photography opportunities. Alternatively, you could choose to go hiking in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. With its steep cliff sides, lush vegetation and panoramic views over South Iceland, Skaftafell has the well-deserved reputation as one of the country’s prettiest locations.  

You will now be making the return journey back to Reykjavík, though there’s still plenty of time left en route to see more of Iceland’s natural wonders such as Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon and Dyrhólaey Promenade.

Finally, you will arrive back to Iceland’s capital city where you are free to enjoy the rest of your evening. Tonight is a wonderful opportunity to visit one of Iceland’s many downtown pools, or instead, catch a live show at one of the many venues found across the city.

Women in the silky blue waters of the blue lagoon in Iceland with smoke in the background

Highlights:

  • Hallgrímskirkja Church – Reykjavík’s most iconic landmark
  • Laugavegur Shopping Street – Home to Reykjavík’s shops and nightlife
  • Harpa Concert Hall – An architectural marvel in Reykjavík 
  • Perlan Museum & Observation Deck – A great place to learn about Iceland’s nature and get a panoramic view of the city

Optional Activities:

  • Taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon

Alas, your final day in Iceland has drawn in. Depending on the time of your flight, there may still be room for you to explore Reykjavík a little more in the morning. You could stroll through the city’s downtown parks, visit a local cafe or walk up the forested Öskjuhlíð Hill to Perlan Observation Deck for a final panoramic over the city. 

Alternatively, you still have time to visit the Blue Lagoon if you chose not to do so on your arrival day. Making the Blue Lagoon your last stop has several advantages; it leaves with you an incredible last experience in the country, and also makes you nice and relaxed for your travels ahead. 

Until next time, we hope you’ve had a fantastic trip to the land of ice and fire.. 

Accommodation

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.

Rooms in four-star hotels or superior rooms in quality three-star hotels at fantastic locations near popular attractions. Private bathroom and breakfast is included.

Car

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.


Basic 4×4 jeep or SUV. Fits up to 3 travellers with 2 large pieces of luggage. Decent for snow and off-asphalt driving. Basic highland capabilities. Driver must be min. 20 years old.

Large 4×4 like a Toyota Land Cruiser. Comfortable up to 4 travellers with 4 large pieces of luggage. Full highland capabilities. Driver must be min. 21 years old.

Map

Optional Activities

Women in the silky blue waters of the blue lagoon in Iceland with smoke in the background
Blue Lagoon Comfort Entrance
Includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask, use of towel and 1st drink of your choice.
 
Blue Lagoon Premium Entrance
Includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask, use of towel, 1st drink of your choice, second mask of choice, slippers, use of bathrobe, table reservation at Lava Restaurant, and sparkling wine if dining.
 

2 snorkelers holding hands in Silfra

Snorkeling in Silfra
Snorkeling between continents in crystal-clear water. Includes a tour with a certified PADI divemaster, all necessary snorkelling gear, Silfra admission fee, and hot chocolate to warm up after the dive. Minimum age 12 years. 
 
snowmobiles under the sun on Langjokull glacier in Iceland
Snowmobiling on Langjökull
An exhilarating tour on top of a glacier, no previous riding experience needed. Included is a one-hour snowmobile ride with a guide and use of overalls. Two people share a snowmobile and the driver needs to bring their driving licence. Age limit for passenger is 8 years.
 
The beautifull and very gentle Icelandic horse
 
2 Hour Horse Riding Tour
Meet the friendly Icelandic Horse. Includes 1-1.5 hour guided horseback ride with a specially trained guide. Use of riding helmets, boots & rain wear. Minimum age is 8 years. 
The Katla Ice Cave with a departure from the town of Vik is available all year around
Katla Ice Cave
Visit an authentic ice cave in a glacier that covers an active volcano! Don’t worry, all volcanoes in Iceland are monitored so this is perfectly safe. Includes a tour with a certified glacier guide and use of all necessary glacier gear such as crampons and helmets. Minimum age is 6 years.
 
Happy group of people on a glacier hike
 
Glacier Hiking on Sólheimajökull Glacier

A fun and easy glacier hike. No previous experience needed. Tour includes an English speaking glacier guide, use of helmet, crampons, ice axe and other necessary safety equipment. Minimum age is 8 years.

two ATV's on a black sand beach in the south of Iceland

Black Sand Beach & Plane Wreck ATV Tour

Hop aboard an ATV and explore the black sand beaches of South Iceland and stop at the hauntingly beautiful DC plane. En route, you’ll cross rivers and get magnificent views of the nearby glaciers. An English-speaking guide will provide you with a helmet, insulated coveralls, and baklavas, but bring with you good shoes. The minimum age for passengers is 8, but drivers need to be at least 17 and hold a valid driver’s license.

 
A fun way to visit the famous jokulsarlon is by doing a boat in the middle of the floating icebergs
Jökulsárlón Amphibian Boat Tour
Sail amongst the enormous icebergs on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This tour is especially suited for families with young children as well as photographers looking for a great shot of the ice. Included is a guided tour in English and use of lifevest. No age limit.
 
If you want to experience the true size of those glaciers then a zodiac boat tour on Jokulsarlon is what you need to do
Jökulsárlón Zodiac Boat Tour
Get a front-row seat to see the giant icebergs at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The small Zodiac boat can get closer to the icebergs than the larger amphibian boat, providing you with a unique perspective over the bergs. Includes use of floatation overalls and lifejackets. Minimum age is 10 and children must also be taller than 130 cm (4’3”).
 
Glacier hiking in Skaftafell national park is a must do when visiting the area
Glacier Hike in Skaftafell
Easy glacier hike, suitable for most people. No previous experience needed. Tour includes an English speaking glacier guide, use of helmet, crampons, ice axe and other necessary safety equipment. Minimum age is 8 years. 

Good to know

  • Note that the itinerary may have to be rearranged to fit your arrival date and time better.
  • The itinerary is dependent upon road and weather conditions and so it may be altered if conditions are not favourable. This includes optional activities as well. If extreme weather affects your travel plans, you will be notified and we will do our best to assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when applicable.
  • Some optional activities may need a valid driving licence, or you may need to send additional information to your travel agent. For snorkelling, you will need to know how to swim and fill out an online medical document.
  • The weather in Iceland is very unpredictable, even in the summertime. Make sure to be prepared and bring both warm and waterproof clothing.

What to bring

  • Warm and waterproof clothes
  • Good walking/hiking shoes
  • Swimsuit and towel
  • Camera
  • Driving licence

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