The 11 day Arctic Iceland self driving holiday is perfect for those wanting to circle around Iceland at a comfortable pace and enjoy the unique and diverse scenery that make Iceland such an amazing destination.

You also get a chance to visit the peaceful Snaefellsnes peninsula with the Snaefellsnes Glacier as the crowning jewel. Also explore Melrakkasletta, the northernmost point of the mainland, abundant with arctic wild foxes and birdlife.

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.

You will also visit Iceland’s best known natural wonders since the trip also follows the Ring Road.  In a word:  you can combine the best of famous wonders and off-the-beaten path local experiences.

One of the highlights of this trip is the chance to explore the new Arctic Coast Way.  This beautiful route is Iceland’s first official scenic byway, perfectly designed for people who want to take their time getting to know North Iceland’s special heritage.

This road trip covers the entire country except the mighty Westfjords. If you’d rather include them in your Icelandic holiday, take a look at our Majestic Fjords road trip.

What’s in it for you?

  • Worry free traveling
  • Digital itinerary with the Iceland Travel Companion.
  • Electronic version of Iceland Travel Road Guide. Prior to your arrival we will send you an electronic version of our Iceland Travel Road Guide. You can start preparing yourself for your upcoming Iceland trip and be prepared for your Iceland adventure!
  • Flexibility. With comprehensive maps and your own vehicle, drive at your own pace. Choose your preferred stops during the day and hunt for northern lights in the evening.

Highlights

  • Visit all the well-known attractions along the Ring Road.
  • Take in amazing sites on the edges of Iceland not typically visited by travelers.
  • Explore the new Arctic Coast Way, abundant with bird-life and Arctic foxes.
  • View the unique Arctic Henge solar calendar, located in Iceland‘s northernmost town
  • Take a trip back in time at the award-winning Wilderness Centre, a unique living history experience
  • Visit the peaceful and mystical Snaefellsnes Peninsula with Snaefellsjokull National Park.

**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.

Included

  • Accommodation for 10  nights including breakfast (except arrival day)
  • Rental car for 10 days with CDW, theft protection, unlimited mileage, VAT (Types of Car recommended: 2.0 or higher).
  • FREE GPS system and no charges for an additional driver
  • Car pick up/drop off at Keflavik International Airport
  • Emergency phone line available 24/7
  • Service fee and taxes
  • Tablet with a new travel app called Iceland Travel Companion. The app includes:• Thousands of points of nature sites, historic places, and road side services
    • Safety guidelines and the apps of the Icelandic Meteorological Office and The Icelandic Road Administration
    •  Useful information about your booking, including detailed descriptions of confirmed hotels,  and  a GPS road guide to each hotel
    • A map view of the Iceland road trip
    • Detailed pdf travel book about Iceland in English, Spanish, Italian, Dutch and French

 

Not included

  • Breakfast on arrival day
  • International airfare
  • Personal travel insurance (highly recommended)
  • Gasoline/petrol
  • Admissions and activities
  • Beverages, snacks, lunches, dinners unless otherwise noted in itinerary
  • Guaranteed early check-in (check-in time for most hotels in Iceland is 1400 (2:00 pm)
  • Guaranteed late check-out
  • Any service not specifically listed under “included”

 

Important

  • You must be 21 years of age to rent a car, 23 years of age to rent car category 5.0 or higher.
  • We recommend a car category 2.0 or higher
  • Our road trip packages are designed by our team of travel experts. They are created for people like you who want to experience the very best of what Iceland has to offer. To get the best value Iceland Travel has to offer, book our road trips online. Please note that changes to the packages will incur a service fee.
  • With our exclusive road trip app you don´t have to worry about missing out and you will always find your way to your hotel after a full day of traveling. It is easy to book day tours and activities in the app when you are on the road.
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Day 1

Arrival

Geothermal Lagoon – Flower village – Geothermal Greenhouses

Approximate distance: ca100km / 62miles

Once you have landed at Keflavik Airport in Iceland, please pick up your luggage and head through customs. Collect your rental car at the airport, make sure you receive a tablet with protective case and chargers, and start your Iceland experience.

Depending on your arrival time in Iceland, it may be ideal to stop and visit the renowned Blue Lagoon where you can relax in its geothermal waters.  Important:  admission to the Blue Lagoon needs to be booked in advance.

Drive along the southern coast of the Reykjanes Peninsula to the charming village of Hveragerdi for your overnight.   This 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.” Looking for an interesting introduction to Icelandic life?  Take a walk in the town’s very own hot spring park.  Enjoy views of nature, waterfall and tiny hotsprings.  You can also see the area where locals bake their bread using “hot spring energy.”

Please note check-in for most hotels begins at 14:00 – 16:00 (2:00pm-4:00pm)

Overnight stay in Hveragerdi.

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Day 2

Thingvellir - Gullfoss - Skalholt - Tjorsardalur - Hella

National Park with Geological Wonders (UNESCO) – Exploding Geysers – Massive Waterfall – Hekla Volcano

Approximate distance: ca 334 km / 208 miles

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).

Overnight in South Iceland

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Day 3

Hella - Vik - Kirkjubaejarklaustur

Thundering Waterfalls – Puffin Colony – Black Sand Beaches – Lava Fields

Approximate distance: ca 197 km / 122 miles

Drive along the scenic South Shore and the area near the infamous Eyjafjallajokull volcano. 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.  Both waterfalls have trails that give you great views of the falls.  Your route will take you past  Myrdalsjokull glacier where it is possible to go on a fun snowmobiling trip on the glacier or go on an adventurous ice cave tour.  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 temporarily 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

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Day 4

Skaftafell - Jokulsarlon - Hofn

Glacier-Ringed Oasis – Glacial Lagoon with Icebergs – Europe’s Largest Glacier

Approximate distance: ca 208 km / 129 miles

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 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 restored 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 Fjallsarlon Ice Lagoon and Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon and enjoy the amazing views.  Instagram friendly Diamond Beach is located next to Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, just across the road. 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 final destination is Hofn, a town located within view of the glacier.  It’s a nice idea to visit the harbor 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.

Overnight in the Hofn area

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Day 5

Hofn - Djupivogur - Egilsstadir

Narrow Fjords – Steep Mountains – Picturesque Coastline – Wilderness Center

Approximate distance: ca 370 km / 230 miles

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 of 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

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Day 6

Egilsstadir - Thorshofn - Raufarhofn - Kopasker - Husavik

Northernmost Point in Iceland – The Arctic Henge – Glacial Canyon

Approximate distance: ca 413 km / 256 miles

Pass by Vopnafjordur village, with its spectacular coastline and natural hot springs. Continue to Thorshofn village, which is situated on Langanes peninsula. If 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 photo opportunity.

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 charming fishing port of Husavik where you will be spending the night.

Overnight in Husavik area

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Day 7

Husavik - Myvatn

Whale Watching – Volcanic Area – Geothermal Activity – Rich Birdlife

Approximate distance: ca 222 km / 124 miles

Husavik is sometimes nicknamed the whale watching capital of Iceland. Going on one of their whale watching tours in the morning is an excellent idea for anyone interested in these majestic creatures. If you prefer soaking in natural hot pools then 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 drive.

Overnight in Myvatn area.

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Day 8

Akureyri and Surroundings

Waterfall of the Gods- Capital of the North – Botanical Gardens

Approximate distance: 86 km / 53 miles

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.

Overnight stay in Akureyri area.

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Day 9

Akureyri - Stykkisholmur

Fertile Farmlands – Viking Horses – Quaint Fishing Villages

Approximate distance: 480 km / 298 miles

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 Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

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Day 10

Snaefellsnes - Borgarnes - Reykjavik

Coastal Villages – Sea Cliffs with Birdlife – Volcanic Crater – Picturesque Fjord

Approximate distance: ca200km / 130miles

Circle around the legendary Snaefellsnes peninsula, passing the small fishing villages of Hellissandur and Grundarfjordur. Don’t miss the striking columnar basalt rock formations at Arnarstapi. Make a stop at the rocky beach of Djupalonssandur. Pass Eldborg crater on route to the agricultural region of Borgarfjordur before returning to Reykjavik.

Overnight in Reykjavik.

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Day 11

Departure

Approximate distance: ca 52km / 32 miles

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 Plus departure transfer.

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