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Day 1: Arrival and Reykjanes Peninsula

Highlights: Bridge Between Continents Grindavik The Blue Lagoon Krysuvik Geothermal Area Gunnuhver Geothermal Area Kleifarvatn Lake Hveragerdi

Geothermal Lagoon – Flower Village – Geothermal Greenhouses

Once you have landed at Keflavik Airport, please pick up your luggage and head through customs. Collect your 4WD rental car at the airport and proceed to your hotel. Depending on your arrival time in Iceland, we suggest that you take some time to explore the Reykjanes Peninsula (a UNESCO GeoPark site) before you head to Reykjavik.

Reykjanes is a great introduction to Iceland’s unique geology and volcanoes. You’ll see unusual and stunning craters, lava cliffs, fissures and the Mid-Atlantic ridge itself. You can even walk on a bridge that divides Europe and North America. We also recommend a stroll in the surreal Gunnuhver area where you can view quirky colorful mud pools and steam vents bubbling away.

Reykjanes is home to the renowned Blue Lagoon, and you might enjoy the chance to relax in the soothing azure waters. Important: admission to the Blue Lagoon needs to be booked in advance. We can help you with that.

Drive to the charming village of Hveragerdi for your overnight. Hveragerdi is perfect for getting to know typical small-town Icelandic culture, but with a unique twist. Hveragerdi 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.”

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

Approximate distance: 100 km / 62 miles

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Day 2: Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Highlights: Kirkjufell Mountain Eldborg Crater Snaefellsjokull National Park Arnarstapi Stykkisholmur Hellnar Djupalonssandur Beach

Glacier-crowned Volcano – Volcanic Formations – Spectacular Seacoast

Travel northwest via an undersea tunnel through Hvalfjordur (Whale Bay) on your way to the rugged coastline of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Known as “Iceland in a Nutshell,” Snaefellsnes will show you an astonishing variety of natural landscapes that can be seen in Iceland, but all conveniently situated in one area. This is part of Snaefellsjokull National Park, named after the peninsula’s magnificent glacier-crowned volcano (last eruption: 250 AD).

Visit secluded and charming fishing villages as you head along the northern peninsula. View Iceland’s most photographed mountain, Kirkjufell, and its surrounding fjord teeming with herring and orca whales. You might even enjoy a whale watching tour in this area.

Continue along the coastline, making some amazing stops to admire columnar basalt formations and the crashing waves of the North Atlantic. Perhaps you might enjoy a visit to the spectacular Vatnshellir, an 8.000-year-old lava cave located at the foot of the mystical Snaefellsjokull glacier (admission required). Your road then leads to Borgarfjordur, a scenic and historical area of West Iceland.

Overnight in the Borgarfjordur area.

Approximate distance: 400 km / 249 miles

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Day 3: Borgarfjordur and the Golden Circle

Highlights: Hraunfossar Waterfalls Barnafoss Waterfall Snorrastofa Medieval Center Thingvellir National Park Geysir Hot Spring Gullfoss Waterfall Kerid Crater Skalholt

Ancient parliament and Mid-Atlantic Ridge – Golden Waterfall – Lively Geysers

Breakfast at your hotel. Visit the beautiful Hraunfoss falls where water rushes through intriguing lava formations. Get a taste of the highlands with a drive on the Kaldidalur mountain track, where you will travel through a desert-like landscape between Langjokull glacier and the Ok shield volcano. The black barren sands and glaciers provide a surreal backdrop. The landscape turns green again as you descend to the Golden Circle area.

Visit Thingvellir National Park (a UNESCO World Heritage Site), where Viking settlers established an annual assembly in AD 930. This parliament has now become the world’s oldest. Thingvellir is also a geological masterpiece, as it marks the visible site where the North American and Eurasian continental plates meet. You can walk along a path taking you between the canyon marking the location of the ridge.

Head through scenic farmlands to the celebrated Gullfoss waterfall, believed by many to be Iceland’s most beautiful cascade. Nearby is the Geysir hot spring area, alive with boiling mud pits, steam vents, and exploding geysers. The most famous of these is Strokkur, a high-spouting geyser that erupts every ten minutes.

Activities to enjoy today might include snorkeling in Thingvellir National Park‘s Silfra area or whitewater rafting a glacier-fed river.

During the day you might enjoy a stop at the Secret Lagoon or Laugarvatn Fontana steam baths, both a great – and very local – way to relax in Iceland’s geothermal water.

Overnight in the Golden Circle area.

(Note: Kaldidalur is generally open between early June and late September. If the track is closed then you can drive from Borgarfjörður to the Golden Circle along scenic roads.)

Approximate distance: 240 km / 149 miles

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Day 4: Across Iceland on the Kjolur Wilderness Trail

Highlights: Kjolur Highland Road Hveravellir Geothermal Area Skagafjordur Fjord Akureyri

Wilderness Interior – Highland Geothermal Area – Natural Bathing Pool

Breakfast at your accommodation. Today’s route leads over the historical highland track Kjolur (the route is generally open from mid-June to late September). Expect much of the route today to be on unpaved and bumpy mountain tracks and often a slow pace. It’s part of the adventure of Iceland’s highland wilderness.

As you drive this desert track leading between the Hofsjokull and Langjokull glaciers, you’ll be seeing the same landscapes that Vikings saw in the old days as they rode horseback from North Iceland to Thingvellir for the annual Parliament. It generally takes five to six hours to drive the Kjolur trail, and we recommend that you take your time here and enjoy the vast views and the serene peace in one of Europe’s true wilderness areas. Keep a look out for Kjalfell (Keel Mountain), the mountain resembling an overturned boat. This is the mountain that lent its name to the trail. You’ll also see the vast sand and mossy stones of the ancient Kjaljhraun lava flow.

Midway on the route, stop to visit Hveravellir, an active geothermal field. Easy hiking paths can bring you through multicolored landscapes and steam vents. You can also visit a cave where outlaws hid over the centuries. Hveravellir has a hot spring fed natural pool where you can relax (requires a small admission/service fee, not included).

The Kjolur trail emerges into the valley of Skagafjordur fjord with its flat-topped mountains and glacial rivers. This region is known for its excellent Icelandic horses, and you might enjoy a late afternoon guided riding tour in the area on surefooted and friendly horses. Head to Akuryeri, the pretty town that is known as Iceland’s capital of the north.

Overnight in the Akureyri area.

Approximate distance: 325 km / 202 miles

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Day 5: The Moonscapes of Askja

Highlights: Godafoss Waterfall Askja Volcanic Area

Waterfall of the Gods Trip to another planet Volcanic Crater Lake

Before you begin your journey today:

  • Make sure your car is filled with petrol/gas.
  • Bring a packed lunch and water since there are few travel services in the area.
  • Check the travel and road conditions to see if the mountain roads to Askja and Viti are open/safe to visit.
  • If it is not possible to visit Askja and Viti we suggest visiting the breathtaking “Icelandic Alps” of the Troll Peninsula and Siglufjordur areas.

Breakfast at your hotel. This is an adventurous day where you might feel as though you are walking in the footsteps of astronauts. You’ll be visiting the Askja caldera (sunken crater) located in Vatnajokull National Park’s Odadahraun desert. Askja’s geographic isolation and otherworldly terrain are reasons why NASA leaders used it as a training site for astronauts who went on moon missions in the 1960s and 1970s.

It is a long and bumpy drive to reach Askja, but it is worth the effort. Your four-wheel drive car will come in handy on the rugged wilderness tracks.

Start your day’s adventure with a visit to the beautiful Godafoss, the waterfall of the gods, before you take the mountain roads bringing you into the wilderness around Askja. We recommend taking the F905 and F910 roads to the Askja caldera. The terrain is starkly beautiful, a strange desert of sand, ash and volcanic rocks that inspired tales of supernatural beings. Your route will pass by the spectacular table-shaped mountain of Herdubreid, Iceland’s Queen of Mountains. You will also cross some unbridged rivers, a true Icelandic experience.

Important: We do not recommend driving Road F88 since the river crossings are deeper and are best left to experienced highland drivers.

Make a stop at Drekagil, the Dragon Valley, where you can hike among strangely shaped lava formations. We also advise checking with the Drekagil’s park ranger station about the travel conditions at the Viti Crater.

Next, visit the vast Askja caldera, which was formed by a volcanic eruption during the last Ice Age. You’ll also see Lake Askja, formed in 1875 when a powerful eruption occurred near Askja. The same eruption created an imposing crater called Viti, “the gate to Hell.” Standing at the edge of this crater and viewing its vast size and the brilliantly turquoise water is an amazing experience.

Follow the mountain roads back to Road 1 (The Ring Road) and on to the famous Lake Myvatn.

Overnight in the Lake Myvatn area.

Please Note: The Ring Road route today contains a toll tunnel. More information on the tunnel and fees is here.

Approximate distance: 395 km / 245 miles

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Day 6: Jokulsargljufur’s Canyons and Waterfalls

Highlights: Husavik GeoSea Baths Myvatn Nature Baths Jokulsargljufur National Park Dettifoss Waterfall Asbyrgi Canyon Hljodaklettar Rocks

Whale Watching – Glacier-Carved Gorge – Europe’s Most Powerful Waterfall

Breakfast at your accommodation. Today you will visit the Jokulsargljufur section of Vatnajokull National Park, an area of glacial rivers and canyons.

Start with a visit to the Husavik, the whale watching capital of Iceland. We recommend taking a whale watching tour if time permits.

Drive around Tjornes Peninsula on the edge of the Arctic Circle to Vatnajokull National Park. Explore the enormous horseshoe shaped Asbyrgi canyon. There are several trails here of varying difficulties. You can walk down to the canyon’s lake and view birdlife or hike up high to look down on the canyon area.

Continue onwards to Hljodaklettar or “Echo Rocks”, a distinctive cluster of angular rock columns. The unique shape of the rocks creates interesting acoustics and echoes. Hljodaklettar is near Jokulsargljufur, Iceland’s longest canyon. The canyon was carved by a river flowing from Vatnajokull Glacier.

End your exciting drive with an unforgettable visit to Europe’s mightiest waterfall, Dettifoss, a thundering cascade of glacial water and mist among shattered cliffs. An easy trail leads you down to the waterfall. Afterwards, return to the Lake Myvatn area for your overnight. A visit to the azure waters of the Myvatn Nature Baths (optional) makes a perfect close to the day.

Overnight in the Myvatn area.

Important: Roads 864 and 862 are gravel roads, and you must heed warning signs in the area if road conditions are not good for driving.

Approximate distance: 275 km / 171 miles

Overnight in the Lake Myvatn area.

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Day 7: Lake Myvatn – The Eastfjords

Highlights: Myvatn Lake Myvatn Nature Baths Dimmuborgir Lava Pillars Hverfjall Crater Egilsstadir Hallormsstadur Lagarfljot Lake

Bizarre Lava Formations – Geothermal Activity – Waterfall of the Gods

Breakfast at your accommodation. Spend the morning exploring the natural wonders of Lake Myvatn and the surrounding area. Visit highlights such as the lava citadels at Dimmuborgir, the pseudo craters at Skutustadir, and the Hverfjall volcano crater. Take some time to walk among the hissing steam vents of Namaskard where the red terrain looks like Mars.

Afterwards, travel the Ring Road across the vast Modrudalsoraefi highlands and into the wilderness. You’ll pass Modrudalur farm, which sits at the highest altitude of any Icelandic farm. It has several interesting historical buildings as well as a restaurant serving local specialties.

Head into the region of East Iceland with its farms and fjords. The area is known for the interesting Hallormsstadur national forest and for Lagarfljot lake, home to a legendary monster. The floating geothermal pools of Vok Baths near Egilsstadir town might make a great final activity for the day.

Overnight in the Eastfjords.

Approximate distance: 200 km / 124 miles

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Optional Tours:

Day 8: The Eastfjords

Highlights: Seydisfjordur Eskifjordur Faskrudsfjordur Reydarfjordur Petra’s Minerals Museum Neskaupsstadur Hofn

Narrow Fjords – Steep Mountains – Picturesque Views

Breakfast at your accommodation. Enjoy the dramatic mountain and ocean views of the Eastfjords, one of the oldest regions in Iceland. The natural harbors in the fjords led to the development of fishing villages that have still hung on to a degree of old-world charm. Each village has its own character. Reydarfjordur is known for World War II history. Faskrudsfjordur has a historical connection with France. Geology buffs might enjoy visiting Petra’s Stone Collection at Stodvarfjordur. Djupivogur town has an interesting artwork in its harbor that depicts Icelandic seabird eggs.

Depending on your schedule you might take a detour to the quaint village of Seydisfjordur, where multi-colored wooden houses are sheltered by a jaw-dropping backdrop of snow-capped mountains and tumbling waterfalls. This community has been gaining an international reputation for its excellent focus on art and art education.

The journey continues to the town of Hofn in Hornafjordur, also known as the lobster capital of northern Europe. Several restaurants offer you the chance to try some of the famous langoustines for yourself.

Overnight in the Hofn area.

Approximate distance: 260 km / 162 miles

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Optional Tours:

Day 9: Southern Vatnajokull National Park

Highlights: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon Hvannadalshnjukur Peak Vatnajokull National Park Vatnajokull Glacier Svartifoss Waterfall Eldhraun Lava Field

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

Breakfast at your hotel. You’ve already visited the northern part of Vatnajokull National Park; today you will visit the southern area. You’ll get great views of Vatnajokull, Europe’s largest glacier, from different angles as you drive along the Ring Road. View the shimmering icebergs and the still, milky waters of Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon. Some icebergs from Vatnajokull glacier have drifted down onto the black sands at the nearby Diamond Beach, a fantastic area for photographs.

Many people enjoy the chance to take a boat tour in the Glacier Lagoon. If you want a different sort of sailing experience you can take the Zodiac boat tours offered on the nearby Fjallsarlon lagoon.

Continue to Vatnajokull National Park’s Skaftafell area, a beautiful green oasis surrounded by glaciers and volcanoes. There are many great hiking trails here, the most famous one leading to the basalt rimmed Svartifoss “The Black Waterfall.” You can also get closer to the park’s glaciers with a guided ice hike. You’ll see amazing ice formations and learn interesting facts about how glaciers are formed.

Head onwards to the picturesque village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, once the site of a medieval convent.

Overnight in the Kirkjubaejarklaustur area.

Approximate distance: 210 km / 130 miles

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Day 10: Lakagigar Craters and Fjadrargljufur Canyon

Highlights: Laki & Lakagigar Eldhraun Lava Field

Crater Area – Historic Eruption Site – Spectacular Canyon

Enjoy the day exploring this little-known area, part of the Katla UNESCO GeoPark.

Drive deep into the volcanic wilderness to view the Laki craters in Lakagigar Nature Reserve. The drive takes you over unpaved mountain tracks to the site of a series of catastrophic eruptions in 1783-84. The area includes unforgettable Laki, the largest of the craters, which is 818 meters (2.684 feet) high and has a breathtaking view over the other craters.

The row of craters forms a long scar on the ground. At the southern end of the row stands Hnuta hillock, where the first fissure happened and then, in cataclysmic explosions, additional craters appeared. Today there are 130 giant craters in Lakagigar.

On the way back visit magnificent Fjadrargljufur, one of the most spectacular canyons in Iceland. Please be respectful of the fragile nature in this beautiful nature reserve. Stay on the marked paths, both for your safety and to protect delicate vegetation.

You can also take locally guided hiking or biking day tours from Kirkjubæjarklustur. This is an amazing area to experience close up to nature!

Overnight in the Kirkjubæjarklaustur area.

Approximate distance: variable

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Day 11: Day in Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve

Highlights: Hekla Volcano Landmannalaugar

Hekla Volcano – Brilliantly-Colored Wilderness – Hot Springs

Note: Expect some roads you drive on today to be quite bumpy with areas where you will need to drive slowly. You will also need to drive through some unbridged rivers.

Breakfast at your accommodation. Iceland’s southern highland wilderness sets a surreal stage for today’s adventure. The uninhabited areas of Landmannalaugar and Fjallabak are a geological paradise with volcanic craters, multi-colored rhyolite mountains, steaming lava fields, and the ominous Hekla volcano.

There are many beautiful walking trails in the area. You can find out more information on trails and conditions from Landmannalaugar’s information desk and the mountain hut wardens.

Afterwards, we suggest you enjoy the benefits of this geothermal area with a refreshing swim in Landmannalaugar’s hot spring fed river, one of the most unique natural springs in Iceland. (Not included, entrance paid at Landmannalaugar)

Overnight in Vik.

Approximate driving distance: 225 km / 140 miles

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Optional Tours:

Day 12: Iceland’s South Coast Region

Highlights: Reynisdrangar Cliffs Dyrholaey Promontory Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Skogar Museum Skogafoss Waterfall Myrdalsjokull Glacier Reykjavik

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

Breakfast at your hotel. Start your day admiring the black sand beaches and basalt formations of Reynisfjara beach. Nearby are the cliffs of Dyrholaey with vast bird colonies, including puffins (generally seen mid-May to early August). If you’re interested in volcanoes, the Icelandic Lava Show in Vik demonstration safely lets you see the impacts when molten lava erupts underneath a glacier-capped volcano, something that has happened frequently in this part of Iceland.

You’ll also visit the beautiful waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, each with its own character. Skogafoss is one of Iceland’s most photographed waterfalls and has stairs that take you to the top for an amazing view. Seljalandsfoss has trails that take you behind the waterfall. If the skies are clear, you can also get a glimpse of the mighty Eyjafjallajokull volcano, famous for its 2010 eruption, and Hekla, Iceland’s most frequently erupting volcano. A stop at the interactive LAVA Centre will give you a great (and fun) insight into Icelandic geology. 

Drive to Reykjavik in the late afternoon. The rest of the day is open to explore the colorful capital city.

Overnight in Reykjavik.

Approximate distance: 215 km / 134 miles

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Day 13: Departure

Highlights: The Sun Voyager Hallgrimskirkja Church Harpa Concert Hall Keflavik Duus Hus Cultural Center Viking World Hafnarfjordur The Blue Lagoon

Breakfast at your accommodation. 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 12 x24 hour rental days starting at the time of rental. If your flight arrives early on day 1 and departs late on day 13 an additional supplement will be necessary unless you choose to return the car in Reykjavik when the 12-day rental is up and use our Airport Direct departure transfer.

Approximate distance: 50 km / 30 miles

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