Self Drive Iceland vs. Guided Tour
When planning a trip to Iceland many might ask themselves the question: "Should I rent a car?" In this blog, I am trying to help you make up your mind. Here are some pros and cons, enjoy!
Taking a road trip through Iceland is nothing short of extraordinary. Every route is filled with incredible nature, and its main highway, the Ring Road, makes driving in Iceland simple. Many Iceland travelers self-drive the country because of the Ring Road’s easy route, which encircles the entire country.
Iceland road trips are the perfect opportunity for remote travel. Not only do they allow you to reach the most isolated nature on Earth, but they also let you explore the country on your terms. To help you plan the ultimate self-drive, we’ve created a list of the top Iceland road trip routes.
Rev up your engine and prepare for an epic adventure on Iceland's winding roads— but don't hit the gas pedal without checking out this guide to driving in Iceland.
Here are the best self-drive itineraries with Iceland road trip maps.
If you’re only in Iceland for a few days, we highly recommend you make time to explore the Golden Circle, South Coast, and the Reykjanes Peninsula.
From Þingvellir National Park to Snæfellsjökull Glacier, these two areas top the Iceland bucket list. Check out this daily itinerary for a 3 day road trip in Iceland:
On the first day of your Iceland road trip, you’ll have the chance to discover the famous Golden Circle route. The Golden Circle is home to three of Iceland’s most popular natural attractions.
Your first stop of the day is Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO Heritage Site where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. There is plenty to do in the park, including swimming at Silfra Fissure, one of the world’s best dive sites.
After Thingvellir, continue towards Geysir Geothermal Area. Once in the area, check out Strokkur, a famous geyser erupting every 5-10 minutes. The last Golden Circle stop of the day is Gullfoss Waterfall. Gullfoss is so magical that rainbows appear from its waters!
On day two of your road trip, buckle up for a scenic ride along Iceland's magnificent South Coast! Get ready to soak in the beauty of charming villages, towering volcanoes, jagged cliffs, colossal glaciers, moody black sand beaches, and enchanting waterfalls.
Your action-packed itinerary starts with a thrilling guided glacier tour at Sólheimajökull Glacier. As you conquer this icy giant, prepare to be amazed!
Once you've explored the glacier, you will visit Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall that lets you stroll behind its cascading curtain of water—a perfect photo op for the Instagram-savvy explorers among us!
Then your journey will continue to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, the star-studded beach that has witnessed the filming of blockbusters like Game of Thrones and Star Trek.
But wait, there's more! The South Coast has secret treasures waiting to be discovered. Prepare to be enchanted by hidden gems along the way. So keep those eyes wide open!
The final day of your 3-day road trip is for you to decide. If time allows, travelers often plan a visit to the Blue Lagoon, the most famous geothermal spa in Iceland.
Only 15 minutes away from the airport, the lagoon is an incredible way to relax after days filled with adventure. Soak in the healing mineral waters as you enjoy the surrounding nature.
Otherwise, journey to the mystical Reykjanesviti lighthouse, perched dramatically on the rugged coastline, offering panoramic views that will leave you breathless. Don't forget to explore the otherworldly terrain of the Gunnuhver geothermal area, where bubbling mud pools and steaming vents will make you feel like you've landed on another planet. Take a stroll along the dramatic Bridge Between Continents, a symbolic bridge connecting the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates.
As the day draws to a close, catch the mesmerizing sunset in the picturesque coastal town of Grindavik, where the hues of the sky will paint a masterpiece before your eyes.
If you have limited time but crave the best of Iceland, our 3-day guided tour is tailor-made for you. Join a small group of fellow explorers as we dive into the highlights!
If you want to see Iceland’s best geological landscapes in under a week, this 5 day Iceland trip itinerary is made for you. On day 1, we recommend going straight to the Golden Circle from Reykjavik and skipping the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
On days 2, 3, and 4, follow the Ring Road south to explore the Vatnajokull National Park area. From Skaftafell Nature Reserve to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, it’s entirely up to you to decide what adventures are in store!
This road trip in Iceland is 5 days of beautiful South Coast and Golden Circle sights. Take a look at our suggested South Iceland road trip itinerary:
Our adventure begins with the iconic Golden Circle. Get ready to be blown away by the thunderous power of Gullfoss, the mighty waterfall that'll make you question if you're in a Marvel movie. Channel your inner scientist at Geysir, where hot springs erupt with impeccable timing. Then visit Thingvellir National Park, where you can straddle two continents, North America and Europe, like a true explorer. It's a history lesson and a physical feat all rolled into one!
Today is an exciting, adventure-filled day along Iceland's South Coast. Start by standing in awe of the legendary Eyjafjallajökull volcano, feeling like world conquerors. Prepare to be captivated by the ethereal beauty of Seljalandsfoss waterfall, where you can stroll behind the cascading water. Then, brace yourself for the thunderous roar of Skogafoss waterfall, where you can unleash your inner Viking and witness nature's grand power. You will continue your journey to Solheimajokull glacier, exploring a frozen wonderland with shimmering blue hues and towering ice formations.
Lastly, immerse yourself in the charm of the coastal village of Vik, where black sand beaches, dramatic cliffs, and puffins await. It's a day of natural marvels, Viking spirit, and unforgettable experiences along Iceland's magnificent South Coast.
Today, we'll head south, chasing epic sights and natural wonders. Brace yourself for the jaw-dropping beauty of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, where icebergs drift like a royal parade on an icy red carpet. Prepare to have your mind frozen with awe as you explore Vatnajokull Glacier. During the winter season, you might even take a tour into an ice cave worthy of a Game of Thrones set. Just remember to leave your White Walker costume at home and dress according to Icelandic weather.
Today, get ready to uncover the hidden treasures of Iceland's South Coast. Your first stop will be Kirkjugólf, a mesmerizing natural wonder that resembles a paved church floor, providing a surreal backdrop for your photos. Next, marvel at the cascading beauty of Fossálar, where multiple waterfalls weave their way through lush green landscapes.
Prepare to be enchanted by Dverghamrar, an extraordinary formation of basalt columns that will transport you to a mystical realm inhabited by Icelandic dwarves. And let's not forget Fjaðrárgljúfur, a jaw-dropping canyon that stretches as far as the eye can see, offering breathtaking views and photo opportunities.
Prepare for a day filled with natural wonders, hidden gems, and unforgettable moments as you explore the lesser-known but equally spectacular sites along Iceland's South Coast.
Your road trip nears its end, but not without a grand finale on the Reykjanes Peninsula. One excellent way to spend your final day of the journey is to stop at Reykjadalur Hot Spring River.
Near Ring Road, Reykjadalur River is a top spot to enjoy Iceland’s unique geothermal activity as you soak in warm running water. An hour-long hike is required to reach the river. So take your time and enjoy this authentic and less crowded alternative to the famous Blue Lagoon!
As an alternative, join our guided 5-day tour and prepare for an adventure of a lifetime! This trip is designed to showcase the best of Iceland's attractions, including glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, and the mesmerizing Northern Lights in winter! Let us take care of the details while you focus on creating memories.
Who needs a theme park when you've got a 1332-kilometer rollercoaster of natural wonders and mind-blowing landscapes? Learn all about Iceland’s most popular road trip from this ultimate Ring Road guide by a local. And if you’re wondering whether it’s possible to drive the entire Ring Road in under a week, the answer is yes! This 6 day itinerary around Route 1 is made for people who want a high-speed version of the 10 day route.
The 6 day road trip route is very similar to the 10 day trip. The only difference is that you need to take fewer stops along the way and skip the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
If you’re on a time crunch and want to make a quick Ring Road road trip, it’s strongly advised to constantly check the weather and road conditions. Keeping safe on the roads is very important, especially if you’re planning an Iceland winter road trip.
Kick off your road trip with a visit to the iconic Golden Circle, where you'll witness the powerful geysers of Geysir and marvel at the majestic beauty of the Gullfoss waterfall.
As you venture further, stop at Seljalandsfoss, the waterfall that lets you walk behind its cascades like a secret agent on a mission. Finally, arrive in Vík, a charming village nestled amidst black sand beaches and dramatic cliffs. Watch for mischievous puffins—they might be plotting to steal your snacks.
Explore the otherworldly beauty of Skaftafell National Park, where glaciers and lush greenery collide in a harmonious display. Channel your inner explorer and embark on a thrilling glacier hike—just remember to bring your best "cool as ice" attitude!
Continuing east, you'll encounter the mesmerizing Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, where shimmering icebergs float gracefully, making it the perfect spot to take a boat trip around the icebergs. End the day in Höfn, a fishing village famous for its delicious langoustine (lobster) feast.
Today, prepare for some seriously stunning landscapes as you journey through the Eastfjords. Be ready for a scenic overload as you navigate winding roads that hug the coastline, offering breathtaking views of rugged mountains and picturesque fishing villages.Look for hidden elf houses—they might grant you three wishes if you're lucky. Arriving in Egilsstaðir, the largest town in the east, recharge with a hearty Icelandic meal and perhaps try deciphering the notoriously difficult Icelandic language.
Get ready to dive into the geothermal wonders of North Iceland. Start your day at Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, and feel the raw force of nature reverberate through your bones.
Embrace your inner detective as you follow the trail of mysterious volcanic formations at the Námaskarð geothermal area, where boiling mud pots and hissing steam vents will make you feel like you've landed in a fantasy realm. Finally, relax in the soothing waters of Mývatn Nature Baths, Iceland's version of a natural spa.
Onwards to Akureyri, the vibrant "Capital of the North." En route, stop at Goðafoss, the "Waterfall of the Gods," where the cascade is said to have been divinely blessed by the ancient Icelandic gods. Arriving in Akureyri, explore its charming streets lined with colorful houses and indulge in some retail therapy—those fluffy Icelandic sweaters are practically irresistible. For the wildlife enthusiasts, there's also the option of going whale watching from Dalvík and pretending to be Moby Dick for a day. It's a whale of a time, we promise!
As your road trip ends, bid farewell to the North and journey back to Reykjavík. Stop at Hvalfjörður, the "Whale Fjord," and hike to Glymur, Iceland's second-highest waterfall. Finally, return to Reykjavík, pat yourself on the back for conquering the Ring Road, and celebrate with a well-deserved Viking feast. Skál to an epic adventure!
Excited to see more? Let go of logistics and stress and let our guides take care of everything, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in Iceland's landscapes. Answer the call of the Ring Road and embark on a 6 day Ring Road guided tour.
Want to spend a week driving to the best places in Iceland? Then this 7 day Iceland road trip is made for you!
Explore the top Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the Golden Circle sights, then hit the South Coast along the famous Ring Road. Here’s the best route for a one-week road trip in Iceland:
On day 1, kick things off on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with a visit to the iconic Old Akranes Lighthouse, where you can channel your inner lighthouse enthusiast and capture some epic selfies. Next up, prepare to be enchanted by the cascading beauty of Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, where nature's artwork flows gracefully through the lava fields.
And finally, visit Deildartunguhver, the geothermal wonder that will make you question if you've accidentally stumbled into a giant's kettle.
Get ready for a day filled with Viking legends and dramatic cliffs! Visit Ytri Tunga beach, where you might just spot some friendly seals basking in the sun.
Then it's off to the charming villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar, where you can soak in the coastal charm and maybe even stumble upon hidden elf dwellings. Prepare to be awestruck by the towering cliffs of Londrangar and the black sand beauty of Djupalonssandur beach. And last but certainly not least, make your way to Mt. Kirkjufell, the mountain that looks like it jumped straight out of a fairy tale.
Brace yourself for an epic day of exploration on the legendary Golden Circle route! Your first stop is Glymur, Iceland's second-highest waterfall, where you'll be greeted by the roaring power of nature in a stunning canyon setting.
Next, make your way to the historic Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, where you can walk between continents and relive the ancient gatherings of parliament. Then it's time for the geothermal wonders of Geysir, where you'll witness the thrilling spectacle of Strokkur shooting boiling water into the sky.
And finally, end the day at the magnificent Gullfoss Waterfall, where powerful cascades of water will leave you breathless.
Day 4 of your road trip is a drive along the Ring Road, Route 1, towards Iceland's South Coast. The day’s route will lead you through quaint villages and gorgeous Icelandic waterfalls such as Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.
As you continue south, check out the jet-black sands of Reynisfjara Beach and the neighboring Reynisdrangar Basalt Columns. Take time to enjoy Reynisdrangar’s unique marks of coastal erosion.
Continue driving along the Ring Road until you reach the Vik area, where plenty of amenities await you to recharge.
Today you will get to experience the best glacier landscapes in the world. Before you drive into Iceland’s icy wonderland, you can plan a short hike to the Sólheimasandur area, where a lonely plane wreckage sits beside the ocean.
As you continue on the Ring Road, you’ll eventually reach the edges of the largest ice cap in Europe, Vatnajökull Glacier. There are few places in the world where you can find a better view from your car seat than here.
Keep driving until you reach Skaftafell Nature Reserve. This area is a popular place to go ice caving and glacier hiking. Once you’ve finished exploring the area, continue your drive until you reach the world-famous icebergs of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach.
The last full day of your 7 day road trip will be heading back toward Reykjavik. One must-see en route is Fjaðrárgljúfur, a beautiful canyon with a river running through it.
Other spots worth checking out on your way back towards Reykjavik include the small town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Eldhraun lava field. You can also plan stops at places where you didn’t have time to stop beforehand.
Once you’re back in the capital city, there are plenty of beautiful places to eat, see, and explore. We suggest taking one of the Reykjavik walking tours to experience the beautiful city through the eyes of a local.
Your final day can be spent however you want. Reykjavik has so much to do that it’s easy to pass your time there before you go on your next adventure.
If you’re heading to the airport on your final day, we suggest stopping at nearby highlights such as the Blue Lagoon and Reykjanesviti Lighthouse.
Want to ensure you don't miss a single breathtaking sight? Join our 7 Day Complete Iceland guided tour and gain new experiences and insights into Icelandic culture that you won't find in any guidebook.
A 10 day road trip around the Ring Road takes you to the best attractions in the country and is simple to navigate. From north to south, you can take time to see all corners of the country if you follow the Ring Road from start to finish.
Before you head out on a complete Iceland road trip on Route 1, there are some great Iceland road trip tips on driving to help you prepare. Here is our suggested 10 day Iceland road trip itinerary:
The first four days of this 10 day trip will be similar to the 6 day road trip. Once you leave Reykjavik, explore the famous Golden Circle route and South Coast before you head to the Easfjords on Day 5.
Plan time to visit Saxa Cliff and Hallormsstaðarskógur, the biggest forest in Iceland. End your day with a trip to see Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss Waterfalls.
On Day 6, you’ll go to North Iceland’s Northeast Highlands. As you're driving, keep your eyes out for more waterfalls, including Rjúkandi and Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Iceland.
Check out the area’s otherworldly sights, such as Grjótagjá Cave, Stóra-Víti Crater, and the mysterious Lake Mývatn region. Take a stroll at Dimmuborgir Lava Field before you cap the day off at Akureyri, the capital of the North.
Day 7 of your 10-day adventure is full of the most isolated nature in the country. Plan a trip to Dalvik, where you can go whale watching off the coast of Iceland. Whale watching is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and an expert-guided tour is highly recommended.
Today will also allow you to spend time with wild Icelandic horses in the Skagafjörður region. Finish the day with a visit to Hvítserkur Sea Stack and Drangey Island.
These two days follow the same route as Days 1 and 2 of the 7 day road trip itinerary. Day 8 of your trip will explore Snaefellsnes Peninsula’s beautiful landscapes.
On Day 9, follow the Ring Road towards Reykjavik. Make sure to plan a stop at Ytri Tunga and Borgarfjordur Fjord.
Like other Iceland road trips, we recommend ending your adventure with a visit to the Blue Lagoon Spa if you’re heading to the airport. Otherwise, we suggest you plan some time to visit Reykjavik. The city has excellent music, food, and culture to explore!
Would 10 days of driving be too much of a hassle? Embark on our guided 9-Day Around Iceland tour in a small group. Let us show you why Iceland is best explored in the company of knowledgeable and hilarious guides!
Driving directions: If you drive to Ring Road 2 from Reykjavik, head North on Ring Road (Route 1) for a little over 100 km (62 miles). After you pass Bifröst, turn off Route 1 and onto Route 60. Keep driving for over 200 km (124 m) until you reach the turn-off for Route 61. This is where Ring Road 2 officially begins. At this point, you’ll have the choice to explore the route counterclockwise via Route 61 or continue northwest along Route 60.
Begin your Westfjords escapade by hitting the road on Ring Road 2. Embrace the stunning Dalir region as you navigate the newly opened Dýrafjarðargöng tunnel. This 950-km (590-mile) route takes you deep into iconic fjord landscapes and Icelandic wildlife.
Start your journey in Holmavik, where history and magic intertwine at the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. Where else can you learn about ancient spells and potions while sipping your morning coffee?
Experience the enchanting charm of Drangsnes, a picturesque Icelandic fishing village, where you can immerse yourself in local culture, indulge in fresh seafood, and unwind in the soothing geothermal hot pots overlooking the stunning ocean views.
Gear up for a day of outdoor adventures as you explore the charming towns along Ring Road 2. Discover the hidden gem of Gvendarlaug í Bjarnarfirði, an Icelandic fishing village, where you can soak in the tranquility of its geothermal pool while surrounded by breathtaking fjord landscapes.
Bonus stop: For those seeking extra adventure, make a detour to Djúpavík, a remote village steeped in industrial history. Explore the eerie abandoned herring factory and indulge in offbeat charm.
Next, venture to Heydalur, where you can soak in natural hot springs while dreaming of elves and hidden treasures.
Embrace the wild side of the Westfjords as you make your way to Súðavík, a small village famed for its Arctic Fox Centre. Get acquainted with these cunning creatures through interactive exhibits and learn how to perfect a foxy smile.
Continue your journey to Isafjordur, the capital of the Westfjords, where outdoor adventures abound. Grab a paddle and embark on a sea kayaking tour, navigating the beautiful fjords like a Viking in training. Glide on calm waters as an expert guide takes you to the best and most isolated areas along the Fjord coastline.
Next, catch a ferry to Flateyri and lose yourself in the tranquility of this remote village, where time seems to stand still.
Last, but not least, prepare to be blown away by the grandeur of Dynjandi Waterfall. This colossal cascade, aptly named "the Thunderer," will leave you in awe as it tumbles 100 meters (329 ft) over basalt terraces. Don't forget your camera to capture the epic fjord views that accompany this natural wonder!
As you bid farewell to the Westfjords, venture into the enchanting towns that dot the landscape. Start the day by exploring Bildudalur, a fishing village where tales of the sea and fresh catch fill the air.
In Patreksfjörður, immerse yourself in the charm of the biggest town in the southern Westfjords. Pro tip: Sample the local delicacy of fish and chips!
Watch for majestic sea birds and prepare for the ultimate puffin encounter at Látrabjarg, the bird cliffs that will leave you feeling on top of the world.
Next, continue to Rauðasandur, the magnificent red sand beach worth a slight deviation from Ring Road 2. Marvel at the mesmerizing coastline with hues of yellow, orange, and pink, and soak up the tranquility of this hidden gem.
End your journey in Reykholar, where kelp and rich birdlife create a unique blend of nature and industry. Remember to channel your inner birdwatcher and perfect your cawing skills!
Let us take care of the logistics while you indulge in the beauty of the Westfjords! Escape into the wilderness on our guided 3-day tour of Iceland's Westfjords. Stay in a remote farmhouse and go on hikes, kayak adventures, and wildlife-spotting excursions.
The answer depends on your appetite for adventure and your desire to soak in Iceland's awe-inspiring wonders. Whether you choose speed or serenity, Iceland promises a memorable journey where every twist reveals a new marvel.
For those seeking an intense journey, conquering the entire Ring Road in around 7 days is possible, but it requires a swift pace and a thirst for adventure. However, to truly savor the Icelandic experience and indulge in its breathtaking landscapes, hidden trails, and spontaneous adventures, dedicating a leisurely 10 to 14 days is recommended.
Absolutely! A road trip in Iceland is like embarking on a grand adventure through a land of mythical proportions. Picture yourself cruising along epic landscapes, where volcanoes play hide-and-seek with glaciers and waterfalls put on magnificent displays just for your amusement.
You'll conquer the famous Ring Road like a Viking with a trusty set of wheels and a playlist that would make even the Icelandic elves dance with joy. Take detours to secret hot springs, chase the elusive Northern Lights, and make friends with puffins along the way.
The best month to drive around Iceland depends on your appetite for tricky weather and the desire to witness nature's whimsy firsthand. But generally, the summer months of June, July, and August offer longer daylight hours, milder weather, and easier road conditions, making them popular choices for road trips.
For the brave souls seeking a thrilling adventure, the months of October through March will be rewarded with ice caves and Northern Lights. Just ensure you have your woolly mittens and a taste for adventure, as road conditions can be as unpredictable as a mischievous Icelandic troll!
Iceland's most famous road trip, the Ring Road or Route 1, is an epic adventure that stretches approximately 1,332 kilometers (828 miles), taking travelers through diverse landscapes, charming towns, and breathtaking natural wonders.
Absolutely! Driving around Iceland is an adventure of a lifetime. From majestic waterfalls to bubbling hot springs and black sand beaches to moss-covered lava fields, Iceland will enchant you at every turn.
The Ring Road offers an unrivaled opportunity to experience the raw beauty of Iceland, immerse yourself in its unique culture, and create memories that will last a lifetime. Remember to bring your camera and a healthy appetite for adventure because Iceland is serving up a feast for the senses.
The most stunning drive in Iceland is subjective, as the country boasts countless breathtaking routes. However, the drive along the South Coast (from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon) would surely take the crown. Prepare to be mesmerized by dramatic landscapes featuring cascading waterfalls, towering glaciers, black sand beaches, and picturesque coastal villages. With every mile, you'll discover why Iceland's beauty is unrivaled.
Want to avoid the hassle of car rental and accommodation? Let us take care of it for you! Check out our large selection of self-drive tours – detailed itineraries included.