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8-Day Summer Self Drive Tour Around the Ring Road | Golden Circle, Glacier Lagoon, Remote East Iceland & Akureyri

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Overview

Travel around Iceland this summer and get in touch with nature while the Midnight Sun shines above. This 8-day self-drive tour is the perfect holiday for those looking to discover the wonders of this little island on their own terms and at their own pace.

Let us make all the arrangements and just enjoy your summer holiday in the land of glaciers, volcanoes, and endless sun. All accommodations and transportation will be booked beforehand, and you will receive a personal itinerary and 24/7 access to a travel planner once in the country.

You can also customise your experience here in Iceland by adding unique adventures to your trip. These include descending into an inactive volcano, relaxing at the Blue Lagoon Spa, visiting an authentic ice cave, and riding the famous Icelandic horse.

See the famous black sand beaches, the glittering waterfalls and the mighty glaciers that make this country so unique this summer.

Included

  • 7 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info in accommodation tab)
  • Vehicle for 8 days (Toyota Yaris 2WD or similar. Upgrades available) with unlimited mileage.
  • CDW and SCDW insurance along gravel protection for car rental
  • GPS System
  • Free Wi-Fi with unlimited data in vehicle
  • Personal itinerary with fun and practical information about Iceland
  • 24/7 helpline and a 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

Your plane will land at Keflavík International Airport, located in the middle of a moss-covered lava field. Pick up your bags and then your rental vehicle at the airport and make your way through this desolate landscape towards Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík.

A short drive from the city is the famous Blue Lagoon Spa where you can unwind after your flight if you reserved a ticket during the booking process. With its warm, mineral-rich waters, soothing atmosphere, and stunning, volcanic scenery, the Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to start your adventure in Iceland.

Once you’ve arrived in the capital, check into your hotel and explore the city if you are not too tired after your travels. A short distance of your accommodations is the downtown area with the famous Laugavegur Shopping Street and Harpa Concert Hall. You can make use of the Midnight Sun and explore until very late in the evening, but keep in mind that you have a busy day on the road tomorrow so make sure to get a good night’s sleep.

Highlights Today:

  • Reykjavík – Iceland’s quirky and colourful capital

Optional Activities:

  • Unwinding at the Blue Lagoon Spa

Erupting Strokkur geyser at sunset

Today, you’ll leave the city behind and head out into the countryside. Your first stop will be the famous Golden Circle route where you’ll visit Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. 

After you’ve completed the Golden Circle, drive the southern coastline towards Vík Village. En-route, visit the stunning waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. 

If you wish to add some excitement to this day, you have a few options from which to choose. You could get to know the Icelandic horse on a riding tour around the beautiful countryside. Icelandic horses are both friendly and intelligent, which makes this the perfect activity for the whole family.

There is also the possibility of snorkelling at Silfra Fissure in Þingvallavatn Lake. Þingvellir National Park is located on the boundaries of the N-American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. At Silfra, you will have the opportunity to snorkel in crystal clear glacial water between the two continents. 

Your last option is a thrilling snowmobile ride on top of Langjökull Glacier. You’ll race across the white ice cap on a powerful snowmobile while the adrenaline surges through your veins. Half-way through, you’ll stop to admire the stunning view on top of this country’s second-largest glacier. 

You’ll end the day at accommodations in or near the village of Vík. 

Highlights Today:

  • Þingvellir National Park – Known for its dramatic beauty and Viking history
  • Geysir Geothermal Area – Home of erupting geysers including Strokkur which goes off every 5-10 minutes.
  • Gullfoss Waterfall – A gorgeous cascade which drops into an ancient canyon.
  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – Falls over a cave which you can enter for a unique view of the waterfall.
  • Skógafoss Waterfall – You can walk right up to the wall of water of this large and powerful cascade.
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach – A hauntingly beautiful beach of jet black sand and powerful waves.

Optional Activities:

  • Snorkelling in crystal clear waters between continents at Silfra Fissure.
  • Snowmobiling on top of Langjökull Glacier.
  • Meet the Icelandic Horse on a Riding Tour.

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

You can start today with a unique adventure: visiting an authentic ice cave. From Vík village, you’ll board a large vehicle, known as a super jeep, which will take you to a nearby glacier. The glacier, Mýrdalsjökull, is located above the volcano Katla. Don’t worry about Katla though; all Icelandic volcanoes are intensely monitored. Once there, you’ll get to step inside the dark but glittering ice cave and take amazing photos. 

You will then continue your journey East, driving past the beautiful Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Here, you’ll have the option to have another ice-adventure: glacier hiking. At Skaftafell, black sands meet white ice and green flora. Accompanied by a trained glacier guide, you’ll hike up the ice cap to admire the breathtaking scenery of this beautiful nature reserve. 

Your destination today is the stunning Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and adjacent Diamond Beach. Here, you’ll have the option to take a boat ride on the lagoon. You can either take a slower amphibian boat ride, perfect for families and photographers, or a speedy Zodiac boat tour. You’ll sail between the massive icebergs, perhaps seeing a seal or two swimming in the icy water.

You’ll spend the night at accommodations in the Jökulsárlón area. 

Highlights Today:

  • Skaftafell Nature Reserve – Known for its scenic landscapes and many hiking trails.
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – A serene lake where enormous icebergs float on their way to the ocean.
  • Diamond Beach – A black sand beach where icebergs from the lagoon wash up on shore and glitter in the sunlight.

Optional Activities:

  • Exploring Katla Ice Cave
  • Glacier Hiking at Skaftafell Nature Reserve
  • Amphibian Boat Tour on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
  • Zodiac Boat Tour on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Berufjörður fjord in the east of Iceland offers breathtaking views

Now it is time to explore the beautiful east fjords of Iceland. You’ll drive winding roads with the glittering ocean on one side and jagged mountains on the other. Your destination today is the East’s largest town, Egilsstaðir. 

The drive is very scenic, and you will pass many charming towns and villages along the way. You will notice how considerably less crowded this part of Iceland is, providing you with a chance to experience the raw Icelandic nature in almost complete isolation. 

You will end your journey in or near the town of Egilsstaðir which sits on the banks of the narrow lake Lagarfljót which is said to hide a terrible monster within its murky waters.

Highlights Today

  • Höfn – A fishing town in South-West Iceland, famous for its langoustine restaurants.
  • Stokksnes – The black sand beach at Stokksnes with the stunning Mt. Vestrahorn is a fantastic photography stop.
  • Djúpivogur – A small town in East Iceland, known for its stunning scenery and beautiful outdoor artwork.
  • Hallormsstaðaskógur Forest – The largest wooded area in a mostly treeless country, great for picnics. 
  • Hengifoss Waterfall – Third largest cascade in Iceland. Surrounded by black, basaltic strata with thin, red layers of clay between them.
  • Lake Lagarfljót – Might contain a terrible wyrm monster, similar to Scotland’s Nessie.
  • Egilsstaðir – Largest settlement in the eastern region with just over 2,000 inhabitants.

The waterfall of the gods known as Godafoss between Myvatn and Akureyri in the north of Iceland

Today, you’ll explore the geothermal regions of northern Iceland. After breakfast, make your way to the Mývatn area where you’ll see smoke billowing out of steam vents, bubbling mud pools, a hot spring inside a cave, and a labyrinth of lava. 

A short drive from the Mývatn area is the town of Húsavík. This quiet, little settlement is known as the ‘Whale Watching capital of Iceland’ as many of the country’s 24 species of whales and dolphins make the ocean just offshore their home. 

Today, you’ll have the option of adding a whale watching tour from Húsavík to your trip. You can either go on a traditional whale watching tour or add on puffin watching as well where you’ll visit an island known as ‘Puffin Island’. 

Another option today is to unwind in the warm waters of Mývatn Nature Baths. Its mineral-rich waters are said to do wonders for your skin, and the view of the surrounding geothermal area only adds to the spa’s allure. 

You will spend the night in the vibrant town of Akureyri, stopping at the beautiful Goðafoss Waterfall on the way there.

Highlights Today:

  • Dettifoss Waterfall – Europe’s most powerful waterfall
  • Lake Mývatn – A beautiful lake where you’ll find freestanding lava pillars and pseudocraters.
  • Hveravellir Geothermal Area – The landscape here resembles more that of Mars than Earth with its bubbling mud pools and steam vents. 
  • Dimmuborgir Lava Field – A natural maze of giant but stunning lava rocks and hills. 
  • Grjótagjá Hot Spring – A bright blue hot spring inside a cave which was also a location used in the popular HBO series Game of Thrones.
  • Húsavík – A small and charming town on the banks of Skjálfandi Bay.
  • Goðafoss Waterfall – A breathtaking arch-shaped cascade with a rich history.

Optional Activities:

  • Whale Watching in Húsavík
  • Whale and Puffin Watching in Húsavík
  • Relax at the Mývatn Nature Baths

Whale feeding with birds flying around

You’ll wake up in Akureyri, the largest settlement outside of the Greater Reykjavík Area. You can start the day by exploring this charismatic town by walking up to its famous Akureyrarkirkja church or explore the town’s famous (and questionable) fast-food culture.

You could also start the day by setting sails in search of the giant whales off the coast of Akureyri. The town sits on the banks of Eyjafjörður which is known for its humpback whale population. However, there are also other species which can be found in the area such as dolphins, porpoises, minke whales and even orcas. 

Alternatively, you can opt for a riding tour through the beautiful and mountainous North-Iceland countryside. Icelandic horses are friendly and intelligent creatures and have a rich history which dates back to the Vikings. 

After bidding farewell to Akureyri, make your way to the ‘Troll Peninsula’, Tröllaskagi. There you’ll find many charming towns and villages worth a stop, such as Siglufjörður and Hofsós. You can also make a stop at the Beer Spa found on the Troll Peninsula where you can unwind in a tub filled with warm beer, said to to wonders for your skin. 

You’ll spend the night in the north-west region, near the town of Hvammstangi. En route, you can stop at the strange looking rock stack Hvítserkur.  Some say it looks like a dragon, others say it looks like an elephant but it is actually a petrified troll.

Highlights Today:

  • Akureyri – A lively and energetic town which is home to around 20,000 people.
  • Siglufjörður – A small town on the Tröllaskagi Peninsula, famous for its award-winning herring-era museum.
  • Hofsós – The infinity pool at this village is a highly recommended stop.
  • Hvítserkur Rock – a large basalt rock protruding from the ocean.
  • Hvammstangi – A charming village known for its Seal Center museum.

Optional Activities

  • Horse Riding in North Iceland
  • Whale Watching in Akureyri
  • Unwinding at the Beer Spa

Hraunfossar waterfall with turquoise glacial water from Langjökull forming the Hvítá river

It is now time to head back to Reykjavík city, but not before having a few adventures in West Iceland first. Make your way through farmlands filled with sheep and horses towards the two stunning but vastly different waterfalls; Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. 

Close by, is Europe’s most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver, and one of the biggest lava caves in the world, Víðgelmir. You can add a tour of Víðgelmir during the booking process and explore the strange colours and stalagmites found within.

Alternatively, you can join a tour to the ice cave tunnels in Langjökull Glacier. You’ll meet your guides at the basecamp or in a nearby town. From there, you’ll be transported in a large vehicle up the glacier where you’ll enter the man-made tunnels which go deep inside the ice cap. Once inside, you’ll see spectacular blue colours of the ice and learn all about the glaciers of Iceland.

Back in the city, you have the day to explore the vibrant downtown area or unwind at your hotel room. If, however, you want to have one last adventure, you can add on a tour where you’ll go inside an inactive volcano. The tour will take you to a volcano outside of Reykjavík where you’ll be lowered down in a lift into the empty magma chamber. 

You will then spend the night in Reykjavík. 

Highlights Today:

  • Hraunfossar Waterfalls – A series of trickling creeks streaming out of a lava field.
  • Barnafoss Waterfall – A bright blue, rapid waterfall just a short walk away from Hraunfossar.
  • Deildartunguhver Hot Spring – A powerful hot spring with ferociously boiling water and rising steam pillars.
  • Reykholt – A historical settlement, once home to one of the world’s greatest medieval writers.

Optional Activities:

  • Visiting the Ice Cave Tunnel in Langjökull
  • Stepping inside Víðgelmir Lava Cave
  • Exploring Inside the Volcano (May 10th to October 31st)

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

You’ve now encircled the whole Ring Road, and so there is nothing left but to say ‘goodbye’ to Iceland and start planning your next trip to this land of Ice and Fire. 

If your flight leaves in the evening or afternoon, you will have some time to explore Reykjavík a little before you head to the airport. We recommend that you take a stroll down Laugavegur Shopping Street and check out the street art found on the buildings there. 

If you didn’t have time on your arrival day, you could also schedule a visit to the Blue Lagoon on this day. That way, you will arrive at Keflavík Airport feeling relaxed and rested. 

We hope you had a fantastic time in Iceland. “Sjáumst Seinna”.

Highlights Today:

  • Laugavegur Shopping Street – Where you’ll find an array of cafés, restaurants, bars and shops.
  • Harpa Concert Hall – An architectural wonder located near the harbour.
  • Hallgrímskirkja Church – Reykjavík’s iconic landmark building

Optional Activities:

  • Visiting the Blue Lagoon Spa.

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 budget-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.
 
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. 
 
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”).
Tail of a humpback whale coming out of the water
 
Whale Watching Tour
See the whales in their natural habitat. Includes 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 from a RIB boat from Husavik Iceland
Whale and Puffin Watching RIB Boat Tour
Hop aboard a boat and explore the diverse marine life around Iceland. You’ll search for both the mighty whales and the adorable puffins on this tour. Included on this tour is a specialized guide, warm safety overalls and a little surprise from a local winemaker. Minimum age is 7 years.
 
Person floating in the Myvatn Nature baths in the winter
 
Mývatn Nature Baths
Unwind in geothermal water just South of the Arctic Circle.  Please bring a swimsuit and a towel. However, you can also rent a towel if you don’t have one with you. Alcoholic beverages available to purchase for those over 20 years of age.
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. 
 
Whale feeding with birds flying around
 
Whale Watching Tour
See the whales in their natural habitat. Includes 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.
 
Bathing is beer is possible in Iceland
 
Beer Spa

Soak in hops and yeast at the Beer Spa! Single and double tubs available. Bathwater is undrinkable, so there is no age limit but 16 years or younger must be accompanied by adults. Beer on draught at every tub for anybody over the age of 20.

Ice tunnel inside the Langjökull glacier. A person in with a blue Jacket is taking a picture of a person in a red jacket inside the icy tunnel.
Langjökull Ice Cave Tunnels
Step inside Iceland’s second-largest glacier. The man-made tunnels provide visitors with the unique opportunity to explore deep inside the heart of an ice cap. Included is a guided tour, transportation from the base camp up the glacier, and free wifi on the glacier shuttle so you can Instagram your photos right away! No age limit.
 
The vidgelmir lava cave in the west of iceland is one of the biggest that you can visit
 
Viðgelmir Lava Cave
One of the largest caves in Iceland. Tour includes an English speaking guide and use of caving equipment such as a helmet and headlamp. No age limit.
 
View from inside the crater of a volcano in iceland
Inside the Volcano
Descend into the magma chamber of a 4,000 year old volcano. To get to the volcano, you have to be able to hike for 45-50 on uneven surface. All safety gear is provided as well as Icelandic meat soup to warm you up after the trip (vegetarian options available). Minimum age is 12 years. NOTE: Only available in September & October.

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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