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Complete Iceland Round Trip

Overview

This 9-day complete Iceland round trip is a classic self drive circuit around Iceland and includes all the major sights and landmarks along the ring road with the addition of the beautiful Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Over the course of your journey, you will come across such highlights as the Golden Circle, Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, Lake Mývatn, Goðafoss and Dettifoss Waterfalls, one of the most charming towns in the country – Akureyri and many more. This tour is a best-seller for a good reason: travelling at an even pace gives you the chance to enjoy the serenity of Icelandic nature and plenty of options each day to fit your interests.

Highlights

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Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavík | ~50 km

Arrival in Iceland. Pick up the rental car at Keflavík international airport and drive to your hotel in Reykjavík.

Day 2: ReykjavíkThe Golden Circle – Hvolsvöllur  | ~320 km

Start the drive around the country by visiting three of Iceland’s best-known sights in the Golden Circle: Þingvellir national park, the site of the first parliament, a UNESCO World Heritage site and a place of great geological interest; the Geysir geothermal area where the geyser Strokkur spouts a column of water into the air every 5-10 minutes; the Gullfoss waterfall which drops in two cascades deep into the deep gorge of Hvítá glacial river. Continue towards the southern coast and end the day in the area of Hvolsvöllur.

Day 3: Seljalandsfoss – Skógar – Reynisfjara – Vík – Kirkjubæjarklaustur | ~200 km

Drive east along the south coast of Iceland with possibilities to stop at the waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Driving along the Eyjafjöll mountains reveals good views of Eyjafjallajökull glacier, under which rests the infamous volcano of the same name that caused disruption in air traffic all over Europe in 2010. Continuing east you can stop for an easy short hike at Reynisfjara black beach with a view of the cliffs of Dyrhólaey. Drive on to the village of Vík with its black sandy beach stretching as far as the eye can see, and with impressive views of the Reynisdrangar cliffs rising out of the ocean. Continue across the sand and moss-covered lava fields towards Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Accommodation in the Kirkjubæjarklaustur/Skaftafell area.

Day 4: Skaftafell – Jökulsárlón – Eastfjords | ~400 km

The drive to Skaftafell National Park crosses the volcanic sands of glacier rivers. Skaftafell is a green oasis surrounded by glacial outlets where you can take a walk through the park to Svartifoss waterfall or go on a glacier hike. Driving further east along the ring road with a view of Iceland’s largest glacier Vatnajökull will bring you to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon where you can take an optional amphibian boat tour among the icebergs. If you get lucky, you might spot a seal near the Diamond Beach shore or even in the lagoon itself. Drive further towards Höfn and continue along the Eastfjords towards Djúpivogur / Breiðdalsvík for the next overnight.

Day 5: Egilsstaðir – Dettifoss – Húsavík | ~480 km

Drive further along the Eastfjords to Egilsstaðir – the largest municipality in East Iceland. The route then passes through the green Jökuldalur valley with numerous waterfalls dropping from the top of the hills alongside the road and crosses the desert land of Möðrudalsöræfi. Take the road to Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall in the gorge of Jökulsárgljúfur National Park and continue north towards Ásbyrgi – the horseshoe-shaped canyon. Finally, drive around the Tjörnes Peninsula to Húsavík for the next overnight.

Day 6: Mývatn – Goðafoss – Akureyri | ~200 km

Before leaving Husavik, we recommend visiting either the Whale Center or the Exploration Museum in the morning or going on a whale and/or puffin watching tour. Then start the drive to Lake Mývatn where you spend the day exploring the numerous natural wonders of the Mývatn volcanic area with several possibilities for short hikes and a chance for a relaxing bath in the Nature Baths geothermal lagoon. Late afternoon drive to Goðafoss waterfall, then cross the Víkurskard mountain pass and along the eastern coastal road in Eyjafjörður you reach Akureyri where you stay overnight.

Day 7: Akureyri – Skagafjörður – Borgarfjörður | ~400 km

Drive north along the western coastal road of Eyjafjörður with panoramas of the alpine landscape with high mountains, glacial valleys and Hrísey Island. Driving through Dalvík, Ólafsfjörður and three tunnels, you reach the charming fishing village of Siglufjörður where we recommend a visit to the award-winning Herring Era Museum. Continue to Skagafjörður with views of the Islands of Málmey, Drangey, then to Blönduós and further south along the fjords and across the Holtavörðuheiði heath towards Borgarfjörður. Accommodation in Borgarfjörður area.

Day 8: Snæfellsnes Peninsula – Reykjavík | ~420 km

Drive to one of the most beautiful parts of Iceland, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Here we can observe most of the natural phenomena that can be found around Iceland – only on a much smaller scale: lava fields, volcanic craters, Snæfellsjökull glacier, waterfalls, sandy beaches, charming fishing towns, bird cliffs and more. One of the landmarks you pass is Mt. Kirkjufell – one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland; another spot not to be missed is Arnarstapi. From Snæfellsnes continue through Borgarnes and via Hvalfjörður submarine tunnel to Reykjavík for overnight.

Day 9: Departure | ~50 km

Drive to Keflavik airport in time for check-in for your international flight. Drop the car off at the airport.

What to Expect

Accommodation

The accommodation on this complete Iceland round trip is in standard rooms with private facilities at 3-star hotels. All places have been carefully hand-picked by us, and their quality is regularly monitored. We have tried to choose accommodations that offer friendly service, clean and comfortable rooms and local flavour, and have a great location.

Click to view our default hotels for this trip

*Hotels are subject to availability. In case a hotel is fully booked for your desired dates, we will replace it with a property of equal standard. We will provide full accommodation details upon booking confirmation.

Meals

Breakfast is included in the price. There are options for lunch along the way each day, or you can buy some provisions from the towns where you overnight. Dinner is available at the restaurants of the hotels or in nearby towns.

Difficulty & terrain

This is an easy discovery tour, accessible to all people in good health (read more about difficulty grades).

When to go

This tour can start on any day from 15 April to 23 October. The climate of Iceland’s coast is subarctic. The warm North Atlantic Current ensures generally higher annual temperatures than in most places of similar latitude in the world. The south coast is warmer, wetter, and windier than the north. The average daily temperatures in June – August are 11°C – 13°C, and in the night – 6°C – 7°C.

Driving in Iceland

Always fasten your seat belt. Before you start your day check road.is or safetravel.is for the latest updates on weather and road conditions. Observe the speed limit – 90 km/h for paved roads and 80 km/h for gravel roads! Look out for the signs that tell you when the road is about to change from tarmac to gravel – if you don’t slow down, you can lose control of the car. Most of the roads in Iceland are not designed for higher speeds, so exceeding the speed limit is very dangerous, and loose rocks can chip your windscreen. Always stay on the roads. Driving off-road can damage nature, it is illegal, and you will get a fine of up to 3500 EUR. Find a safe place to park the car before getting out to take a picture. Watch out for sheep on the roads!

Getting there

FCO up-to-date travel advice

Our recommended airport for this tour is Reykjavík. Keflavík International Airport (KEF) is located about 50 km southwest of the capital. It is a 45-minute drive to Reykjavík.

Inclusions

Included

  • 8-night accommodation in private rooms with ensuite facilities
  • 8 breakfasts
  • 9-day car rental with unlimited mileage, tax, CDW, GP, TP, SCDW, pick up/drop off at Keflavík airport: Cat. B Suzuki Swift or similar in the period June-September; Cat. FG Toyota RAV4 – 4WD-Auto with incl. GPS in April-May and October (It is possible to rent cat. B and cat. N in April-May and October, but the price is the same as for cat. FG)
  • A detailed itinerary with multiple daily options based on pre-booked accommodation

Excluded

  • Airfare
  • Lunches, dinners, drinks and snacks
  • Travel insurance (required – get a quote online)
  • Personal expenses
  • Local tourist taxes, optional tours and entry fees (payable on-site)
  • Any items not specifically mentioned as included in the programme

Options, extras & supplements

  • Single room supplement for members of a group (note that this itinerary is not available for solo travellers)
  • Car upgrade in the period June-September to Cat. N KIA Ceed Sportwagon – Auto or to Cat. FG Toyota RAV4 – 4WD-Auto with included GPS
  • Extra nights in Reykjavik

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