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Our self-drive tour along Iceland’s famous Ring Road will take you through the major highlights of the island, exposing you to the majesty of this land teeming with natural beauty – the perfect introduction to the ‘Land of Fire and Ice’.
Upon arriving into Reykjavik, you’ll head straight for the Golden Circle route, what most only see during their time here. However, you have no need to worry. You’ll be able to see and experience the vast expansiveness of the island beyond what most tourists see.
From cascading and majestic waterfalls to towering and imposing glaciers, Mother Nature will always be putting a display on for you. You’ll also be able to dip into the waters of this geothermal region, the perfect end to any day.
Our 8 day itinerary is planned with stops along the way. There’s also a number of optional activities to take part in for when you’re looking for a bit of adventure.
Reykjavik International Airport
3 Hours Before Flight Time
Upon arrival into Reykjavik International Airport, collect your luggage before picking up your car to begin the tour. Where are you headed? On the famed Golden Circle route you’ll visit visit some of Iceland’s most famous landmarks: the cascading and powerful Gullfoss waterfall, the majestic Strokkur geyser and the otherworldly Thingvellir rift valley between the tectonic plates of Europe and America. Enroute to the Golden Circle it is possible to visit the world-famous Blue Lagoon where you can spend a few hours relaxing in the milky geothermal waters. There’s the option to have some time at the spa, so why not treat yourself if you’re feeling fancy.
In the morning, start driving south, towards Vik. Along the way do not miss the duet of Skogarfoss waterfall, where you can walk all the way up and, weather permitting, have the possibility to see the Vestmann Islands off at sea. At Seljalandfoss waterfall you can walk behind the water before strolling along the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara and Dyrholaey basalt arch. Once you reach Vik, take a visit to the Icelandic Lava Show in the evening. The show recreates a volcanic eruption, similar to what Eyjafjallajökull and Katla volcano are famous for, by pouring molten lava into the showroom and over ice. If you’d like, there’s the option for a horse riding tour on the black sand lava beach.
Cross Skaftafell National Park, allowing yourself some time among its natural beauties. Detour off Route 1 to hike along Fjadrargljufur Canyon ,where you can walk along the windy canyon with very strange rock formations or take a hike around the many wonderful trails in the park, including the trail to Svartifoss, surrounded by black basalt columns. At Jokullsarlon, you have the option take a boat ride among the icebergs or explore an ice cave under the biggest glacier of Europe (both tours depending on the season) before visiting nearby Diamond beach where huge pieces of the near lagoon go to die next to the ocean. Sunsets are stunning from its black lava beaches!
Today is dedicated to the Eastfjords, with spectacular driving routes, waterfalls, mountain peaks by the ocean and tiny fishing villages along the way. Your first stop is to the stunning Vestrahorn black sand beach, a photographer’s paradise. If you walk towards the sea, it is possible to get perfect reflections in the wet sand where seals also tend to hang out. Take a lunch break in Hofn, famous for its delicious lobsters before driving towards Djupivogur, which makes a great stop to break up a long drive, where you can walk around the harbor or out to the tiny lighthouse at the point. Next, you can go visit some of these small villages, such as Neskaustadur or Eskifjordur or take a 20-minute detour to get to Hengifoss waterfall, passing Litlanesfoss on the way. These spectacular waterfalls are framed by huge basalt columns, a great activity away from the larger crowds in the south.
Start driving west along one of the most beautiful areas of Iceland. In summer, spend some time in Borgarfjörður Eystri, an isolated community with hiking trails leading from the valley up into the mountains. Spend the rest of the day exploring the volcanic ad geothermal Lake Myvatn area: lava fields, rock formations, geothermal steam vents and mud pits, ice caves, and volcanic craters. Take an easy hike on Hverfjall crater to admire the surroundings before visiting the lava rock field formation of Dimmu Borgir, considered the “Entrance to hell” before driving to Godafoss waterfall. If you are a fan of Games of Thrones, you will recognize many of these sites, as they are the film location of many episodes. End up your day in the relaxing hot waters of Myvatn Nature Baths, the Blue Lagoon of the North.
In the morning, weather permitting, complete your loop of Lake Myvatn with a visit to Selfoss and Dettifoss waterfalls, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. Then drive to Asbyrgi Canyon, a giant horseshoe-shaped canyon, said to be left by Sleipnir, the eight-legged horse of the Norse god Odin before reaching Husavik, where a whale watching boat tour will be waiting for you. In the afternoon, head back to Akureyri and, if time allows, take a detour to visit some beautiful and peaceful fishing villages like Dalvik, Olafsfjordur and the wonderful Siglufjordur, all located among stunning mountains and deep blue ocean. From mid August to mid April, the Lake Myvatn area is a great location for the Northern Lights due to its low light pollution and clear sky!
Travel through the undulating landscapes of the northwest and the lava fields of Borgarfjordur. Take a detour to visit Hvitserkur arch, the “white shirt” basalt troll, who, according to legend, was caught in the sun and turned into stone and Grabrok crater. Rejoin the Ring Road to visit the powerful Deildartunguhver hot spring, take some time to go visiting Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, both regarded as some of the most unique and spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, where clear subterranean water seeps through the lava fields. If you’d like, why not take part in the optional river rafting or horse riding activities to experience the majesty of Iceland beyond the confines of your car.
This morning you’ll head to Reykjavik for a free day in town. Feel free to spend it at your own pace and leisure, enjoying everything that this quaint city has to offer. Depending when your flight is, you may need to head straight to the airport to drop off your car. All good things must come to an end but we hope you have enjoyed your time exploring the very best that the island of Iceland has to offer. The rich natural beauty history and the people that make the country what it is. We hope you have had a memorable trip and wish you pleasant onward travels!