Are you looking for a self-drive holiday where you can visit special corners of a country that give you a closer connection to the people, culture and landscape? Do you want to visit places where you can try regional cusine, see local farming and hidden secrets of history? Our Arctic Iceland itinerary is designed to let you visit charming coastal communities tucked away along scenic roads in the country’s northern, eastern and western corners. Discover friendly towns where people live close to nature and continue family traditions in fishing and farming. A variety of unique restaurants, museums and outdoor activities puts you in touch with great local experiences.
Geothermal Lagoon – Flower village – Geothermal Greenhouses
Approximate mileage: ca. 100 km / 62 miles
Pick up the car at the airport and start your Iceland experience.
From Keflavík International Airport we recommend driving the southern coast of the Reykjanes peninsula towards your first overnight stay in the charming village of Hveragerði. The village is one of the few sites in the world located directly on top of a geothermal area and because of its many greenhouses heated by hot water from nearby springs it is often called the flower village.
Depending on your arrival time in Iceland it is ideal to visit the renowned Blue Lagoon to relax in the geothermal water.
National Park with Geological Wonders (UNESCO) – Exploding Geysers – Massive Waterfall – Hekla Volcano
Approximate distance: ca 334km / 208miles
Visit Thingvellir National Park, site of the ancient Icelandic Viking parliament and a jewel of nature. Here you can see the meeting point between the North American and Europe continents. Many important historical events happened here. Several walking trails and hiking trails take visitors to historical points of interest.
Continue to the amazing sites of Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir hot spring area. Gullfoss is considered by many visitors to be Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. Geysir is an active geothermal field with many bubbling steam vents and spouting hot springs, including the famous Strokkur geyser. If you enjoy history, visit Laugarvatnshellir, a cave cleverly converted into a home for two Icelandic families in the early 20th century.
Explore Thjorsardalur valley and its ever-changing landscapes of birch woods, sandy lava fields, rivers and waterfalls. During the summer you can visit the excavated site of a Viking age farm that was covered by lava from one of Hekla‘s eruptions. A replica shows you how the longhouse looked (admission not included).
Drive along the scenic South Shore and the area near the infamous Eyjafjallajokullvolcano. This is the volcano whose massive 2010 eruption caused air traffic around the world to be cancelled. If the skies are clear you can see both this volcano and Iceland’s most frequently erupting volcano, Hekla.
You‘ll definitely want to make stops at the beautiful Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls (each one worth visiting). Both waterfalls have trails that give you great views of the falls. Your route will take you past Myrdalsjokull glacier. You can opt for a fun snowmobiling trip on the glacier and (if the weather is clear) a splendid view over southern Iceland. Stop by the seafront village of Vik to explore a dramatic stretch of coastline poised between glacier-topped mountains, rugged sea cliffs and black- sand beaches. Dyrholaey* is a rocky headland famous in photos for its black lava arch. During the summer, thousands of sea birds and puffins nest here (puffins are generally in Iceland between mid-May and early August).
*Important: Please note that Dyrholaey is closed during nesting season, from about the middle of May until late June.
Head over lava fields and vast black sand plains created by floods from glaciers. You‘ll also see Eldhraun, a surreal and beautiful lava field that was created by a single lava flow from an eruption occurring between 1783-1784. The lava flow was one of the largest in recorded history, and the ash from it tempoorarily blocked the sunlight in both Iceland and Europe. The road will take you to Kirkjubaejarklaustur, a town named after a Medieval convent.
Overnight in South-east Iceland
Optional: Snowmobiling on Myrdalsjokull Glacier (from Basecamp)
Glacier-Ringed Oasis - Glacial Lagoon with Icebergs - Europe's Largest Glacier
Today you’ll be in the area of Vatnajokull National Park, named after Europe’s largest glacier. Visit the awe-inspiring Skaftafell area of the park, a lovely oasis is set between glaciers. There are several excellent hiking trails including one to the basalt-lined Svartifoss Falls. You can also hike to the old turf house, Sel, which was inhabited until 1946 and has been restoried by the National Museum. If you are up for some glacier adventure, we highly recommend taking a guided hike on one of the park’s glaciers. You’ll see amazing glacier features and learn from the guides about how glaciers are formed.
Continue to the shimmering icebergs of Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon and enjoy the amazing view. If you’re lucky you might glimpse a few sunbathing seals.
Perhaps you’ll visit the wild and beautiful beach area of Hornastrand, a favorite with photographers. The Thorbergur Center is a great place to stop near the Glacier Lagoon, both for its unique architecture (it resembles a huge shelf of books) and its restaurant using local farm produce.
Road One takes you along the side of Vatnajokull, giving you great views of the glacier the whole way.
Today’s destination is Hofn, a town located within view of the glacier. It’s a nice idea to visit the harbour and watch the fishing boats. The town is famous for the quality of its langoustines (Norwegian lobsters), which you can enjoy at a local restaurant.
Drive through the spectacular East Fjords with towering mountains and charming fishing villages to the fertile Egilsstadir area. The town of Djupivogur is the “gateway” to East Iceland. This is one Iceland’s oldest regions, with rugged fjords carved by glaciers during the Ice Age. This also means the East Fjords has a huge variety of stones and minerals; geology buffs might enjoy visiting Petra’s stone collection at Stodvarfjordur.
Drive by Hallormsstadur the largest forest in Iceland set along Lake Lagarfljot. According to local legend a friendly monster lives in the lake. Visit the award-winning Wilderness Center, a living history farm located at the edge of the hauntingly beautiful eastern highlands. Here you can discover Iceland’s settlement history and highland nature in an interactive way. This is a great place to stop for coffee and cakes and a chat with the hosts in the farmhouse’s old fashioned kitchen.
Head to Egilsstadir, one of Iceland’s youngest towns. The town has a nice variety of restaurants and shops. One of the local specialities is reindeer since East Iceland has the country’s only wild reindeer herd.
Overnight in the Egilsstadir area
Optionals: Dinner with the Locals (from Egilsstadir, East Iceland): Eastern Landscapes and Legends (from Egilsstadir)
Northernmost Point in Iceland – The Arctic Henge – Glacial Canyon
Pass by Vopnafjordur village, with its spectacular coastline and natural hot springs. Continue to Thorshofn village, which is situated on Langanes peninsulaIf you have a 4WD vehicle you can take unpaved coastal roads up to Skoruvikurbjarg, a cleverly-designed viewing platform suspended over the sea. Here you can feel the power of the waves and watch the seabirds in the nearby cliffs.
Raufarhofn village is Iceland’s northernmost town and home to the picturesque Arctic Henge, an enormous sun calendar based on Norse mythology. There are also several easy walking trails to the beach and the lighthouse. Drive across the exotic Melrakkasletta the “Arctic Fox plain”, Iceland’s most isolated region. You will hear little more than the waves, birds and the wind. It’s a special way to enjoy some digital detox and to connect with nature. The naturally stacked driftwood and old ruins of farmhouses are a great
Visit Asbyrgi, a magnificent horseshoe-shaped canyon in the northern part of Vatnajokull National Park. Local legend says this was formed by the hoofprints from Odins’s magical horse. Drive along Tjornes peninsula at the edge of the Arctic Circle en route to the fishing port of charming Husavik where you will be spending the night.
If you like soaking in natural hot pools check out the new Geosea baths in Húsavík before heading off to the next adventure. The view over the ocean is simply breath-taking.
Explore the highlights of Lake Myvatn and surrounding area with unique attractions such as Dimmuborgir, the pseudo craters at Skutustadir, the colorful sulfurous slopes of Namaskard and Krafla volcanic area. The extra drive to the mighty Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe is well worth the while. A relaxing dip in Myvatns Nature baths is a perfect way to end a full day of exploring.
Waterfall of the Gods – Iceland´s “Capital of the North” - Botanical Gardens
Start by visiting areas around Myvatn you might have not seen yesterday. Stop at Godafoss waterfall, a legendary cascade said to contain the statues of Norse gods tossed there in 1000 AD. Head onwards to the scenic Eyjafjordur fjord and Akureyri, Iceland's "Capital of the North." The day is open to enjoy this town of beautifully preserved historical buildings. Though relatively small in size, Akureyri has a vibrant cultural scene, including a street dedicated to art galleries. It also boasts one of the best geothermal swimming pools in Iceland.
From Akureyri, continue over the Oxnadalur pass to the historical region of Skagafjordur, renowned for horse breeding. This is a great part of Iceland to try a horseback riding tour on one of the popular Icelandic horses. If you want to meet locals, the Farm Animals of Iceland is a collection of three family farms where you can meet Icelandic horses, sheep and goats. Visit the old farmstead at Glaumbaer with its turf-roofed manor home. It is a great example of Icelandic architecture from the last few centuries and also was the inspiration for Hannah Kent’s best-selling novel, Burial Rites. You can also visit the beautiful Vatnses Peninsula where events from the story took place. This is a great area for seal watching. Discover a natural citadel at Borgarvirki, believed to have been used as a fortress by Vikings.
Head into West Iceland, stopping to visit Eiriksstadir, the place where the famous explorer-Vikings Erik the Red and Leif Eiriksson lived. A replica of a Viking longhouse gives an idea of what their home might have looked like. Nearby, the modern dairy farm of Erpsstaðir is a great place to visit to get some home-made ice cream.
The roads lead to Snaefellsnes Peninsula where you’ll overnight in the eco-friendly town of Stykkisholmur.
Overnight in west Iceland
Optional: Seal and Nature Watching (from Hvammstangi)
Circle around the legendary Snæfellsjökull peninsula passing the small fishing villages of Hellissandur and Grundarfjörður. Don't miss the striking columnar basalt rock formations at Arnarstapi. Make a stop at the rocky beach of Djúpalónssandur. Pass Eldborg crater on route to the agricultural region of Borgarfjörður before returning to Reykjavík.
Optionals: Viking Sushi Boat Tour - Short Version (from Stykkishólmur)
Drive back to Keflavik International Airport.** We recommend departing your hotel in Reykjavik no later than at least 3 hours before your flight departure. It takes approximately 1 hour to drive to the airport, and check-in will start 2 hours before your departure.
If you did not visit the Blue Lagoon on your way to the city on your first day but have some free time today, you might want to use the opportunity en route to the airport. For this detour, please be sure to allow for at least 2-2,5 hours extra so you’ll have ample time at the lagoon. Your rental car should be returned to the airport service area, which is located only 2 minutes from the airport building. A shuttle will then transport you to the departure hall.
**Please note that the package price is based on 10 x 24-hour rental days starting at the time of rental. If your flight arrives early on day 1 and departs late on day 11 an additional supplement will be necessary unless you choose to return the car in Reykjavik when the 10 day rental is up and use our FlyBus departure transfer.
Price in USD per person in double room with private facilities with recommended Compact Car (cat 2): Inquire for rates on other car categories.
LATE ARRIVAL SUPPLEMENT FOR PASSENGERS ARRIVING LATE EVENING/NIGHT. YOU STAY THE FIRST NIGHT AT AIRPORT HOTEL SMARI AT KEFLAVIK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT INSTEAD OF HOTEL IN HVERAGERDI.
Please note that the package price is based on 10 x 24-hour rental days starting at the time of rental. If your flight arrives early on day 1 and departs late on day 5 an additional supplement will be necessary unless you choose to return the car in Reykjavik when the 4 day rental is up and use our flybus departure transfer.
Grp 1.0 Economy 2wd Toyota Yaris or similar
Grp 1.1 Economy 2wd Toyota Yaris Automatic or similar
Grp 2.0 Compact 2wd Toyota Auris or similar
Grp 2.6 Compact 2wd Toyota Auris Automatic or similar
Grp 3.0 Intermediate 2wd Toyota Avensis Sedan or similar
Grp 3.1 Intermediate 2wd Toyota Avensis Sedan Automatic or similar
Grp 4.0 Intermediate 4wd Station Skoda Octavia 4wd Station or similar
Grp 4.1 Intermediate 4wd Station Skoda Octavia 4wd Station Automatic or similar
Grp 5.0 Medium 4wd Toyota RAV4 4wd or similar
Grp 5.1 Medium 4wd Toyota RAV4 4wd Automatic or similar
Grp 5.2 Medium 4wd Dacia Duster or similar
Grp 5.6 Medium 4wd Kia Sorento Automatic or similar
Grp 7.1 Large 4wd Toyota Land Cruiser GX 4WD Automatic or similar
Grp 9.9 Full size 4wd passenger van VW Caravelle 9 seater or simila
Daily Breakfast Hotel Accommodations Use of a Tablet With Detailed Itinerary, and Road Maps Rental Car, Cat. 2, Gps, Unlimited Miles, Cdw, Tp & 2 Drivers