Travel at your own pace and explore Iceland with freedom. The majestic nature in Iceland presents a dramatic show to visitors with its national parks, stunning waterfalls, astonishing glaciers, magnificent volcanoes, and steamy geothermal areas. This 10-day Ring Road self-drive package will take you on a phenomenal road trip to see unique scenery and striking landscapes.
You’ll get to extensively explore the capital city, Reykjavik, and visit the wonders of the Golden Circle. You’ll also pass through the Diamond Circle in the north before taking a detour from the Ring Road to visit the brilliant Snaefellsnes National Park.
We have two exciting activities planned for you: glacier hiking in the south (an optional extra) and whale watching in the north (included). Many other fascinating meet-on-location adventures are also available along the Ring Road to add some extra spice to your road trip.
Key Facts About the Ring Road
After arriving in Iceland, your 10-day Ring Road self-drive adventure will begin immediately when you pick up your rental car at Keflavik International Airport. Then, you’ll head straight to the most popular touring route in Iceland, the epic Golden ...)
After arriving in Iceland, your 10-day Ring Road self-drive adventure will begin immediately when you pick up your rental car at Keflavik International Airport. Then, you’ll head straight to the most popular touring route in Iceland, the epic Golden Circle.
Thingvellir National Park
You’ll travel through absolutely alien scenery as you drive towards the Icelandic capital. The road leads by moss-covered lava fields along the dramatic ocean coastlines. You’ll drive through Reykjavík and then head inland to Iceland’s oldest national park, Thingvellir.
As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Thingvellir represents great historical and geological values. This is the very location where the world’s first democratic parliament was founded in the year 930. Also, Thingvellir is the site where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are slowly edging apart, creating a stunning rift valley that runs right through the park.
Follow the path and walk along this rugged valley between the dramatic cliffs of the continents’ boundaries. Visit the site where the law speaker – the supreme Icelandic chieftain – would stand to proclaim the law. There was no parliament building here. Today, a simple flag marks the law rock (lögberg) where the greatest decisions in the history of Iceland were declared under the open sky.
Geysir Geothermal Area
Next on the agenda is the world-famous Geysir Geothermal Area. It’s located only an hour’s drive from Thingvellir. This is the site where the Great Geysir – which all other geysers were named after – is located. The area is filled with thick steam, bubbling hot springs, and boiling mud pots, along with many other exciting geothermal phenomena.
Even though the Great Geysir is inactive nowadays, you’ll get to see its little brother, Strokkur, which erupts huge volumes of superheated water high into the air every 5 to 10 minutes. These boiling water spouts often reach a height of 65-131 ft. (20-40 m)! Watching a geyser erupt will surely give you that tingly feeling in your stomach!
Only a 10-minute drive from here, your next stop is one of Iceland’s most well-known and most powerful waterfalls, the majestic Gullfoss. The water flowing through Gullfoss originates in Iceland’s second-largest glacier, Langjökull. In good weather, you’ll be able to see the giant ice cap shining in the distance!
In the summertime, the path that leads very close to the waterfall is open. Walking all the way to the water will give you the opportunity to feel the spray in the air as the thundering torrent is forced through the canyon. The water drops 105 ft. (32 m) in two stages, down into a scenic canyon.
In the wintertime, you can still walk pretty close to the waterfall. You’ll have plenty of great photo opportunities from one of the scenic viewing points over the cascade. In sunny weather, you’ll see a pretty rainbow and plenty of golden-hued spray around Gullfoss, which are also known as the Golden Falls!
On your way back to the capital, you can visit another scenic waterfall called Faxafoss or Faxi. This one is not as big and powerful as Gullfoss but it’s very pretty and definitely worth a visit.
After the rich and adventurous day, you’ll spend the night in the Reykjavik area in a pre-booked room with a private bathroom and breakfast included.
After a delicious breakfast at your hotel, you’ll drive through the southern lowlands on the Ring Road. The contrasting topography on the southern rim was created by the constant volcanic activity that has been occurring since the creation of Iceland...)
After a delicious breakfast at your hotel, you’ll drive through the southern lowlands on the Ring Road. The contrasting topography on the southern rim was created by the constant volcanic activity that has been occurring since the creation of Iceland. On the north side of the Ring Road, you’ll see many mountains dramatically rising up 3280-4921 ft. (1000-1500 m) into the sky.
The first stop will be the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This cascade plummets from a height of 206 ft. (63 m) straight into a pond. The splashing water creates a glistering mist against the sun when you walk in the cave behind the waterfall.
Keep walking north and you’ll see a few streams running down from the same enormous cliff. Walk for 10 minutes and you’ll arrive at the entrance to Gljufrabui waterfall, whose name means “Canyon dweller”. You can even see part of the cascade before you walk inside the small canyon. To visit this cascade, it’s best to have the waterproof gear and rain boots with you.
After no more than a 30-minute drive, you’ll reach Skogafoss waterfall. One of the largest waterfalls in Iceland, its cascade is 49 ft. (15 m) in width and 100 ft. (62 m) in height. This spectacular sight is even more amazing in the right weather conditions when a rainbow is formed in front of the cascade. Upon leaving, the nearby Skogar Museum is also a good place to visit.
The morning hours of Day 2 are filled with the sounds and movements that compose a natural symphony that echoes through the valley. In the afternoon, you’ll have the chance to join a glacier hike on Solheimajokull glacier. (Please note that this is an optional extra. Instructions for booking this tour will be presented in the itinerary after purchase.) Hiking on the ice while listening to the unusual sounds and taking in the sublime view is an unforgettable experience!
The next stop is Dyrholaey, a promontory towering 393 ft. (120 m) over the ocean. This is a summer breeding paradise for birdlife including the famous puffins. On the top is a white lighthouse. From there, you’ll have an unbroken view of glaciers, black sand beaches, the silver tides coming and going, and an enormous lava arch rising alone in the ocean.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
On the east side is the famous Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. The black sand was formed by eroded volcanic rocks. Over countless years, the bigger rocks were fragmentized into tiny ones, eventually becoming grains. Columns of basalt stand dramatically on the beach forming a wall, like a gigantic surreal sculpture.
Later, you can visit Vik. It’s a small fishing village in front of the ocean with remarkable views. You can visit the landmark red-roofed church that sits on the hill overlooking this area.
After that, you’ll drive to your accommodation for the night in either Vik or the Kirkjubaejarklaustur area.
On Day 3, you’ll continue to drive through the southern lowlands where the epic scenery and adventurous activities continue. Fjadrargljufur canyon As you follow the Ring Road east, you’ll enjoy some extraordinary landscapes. You can make an optional ...)
On Day 3, you’ll continue to drive through the southern lowlands where the epic scenery and adventurous activities continue.
As you follow the Ring Road east, you’ll enjoy some extraordinary landscapes. You can make an optional detour to visit the picturesque Fjadrargljufur canyon, which is not far from the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. (Please note that visiting this canyon requires a four-wheel-drive car in the wintertime) The 1.24-mi. (2-km) canyon is about 328 ft. (100 m) deep and looks like it has come straight out of a fairytale, offering epic photo opportunities.
As you continue your journey eastwards, you’ll have plenty of detour options to see some stunning sites like basalt formations and oddly-shaped mountains.
Skaftafell National Park
The next big stop is the beautiful Skaftafell National Park. Now a part of Vatnajokull National Park, this place was once a manor farming area. Skaftafell is also a popular starting point for many exciting activities. If you drive here between November and March, you might want to visit the naturally formed crystal ice cave, which can be a stunning visual diversion. This will allow you to see firsthand what is inside the magnificent glacier!
With just a short hike in the national park, you can visit the black waterfall, Svartifoss. This unearthly waterfall is the best representation of the Icelandic geographical feature that was formed from intense volcanic activities. The waterfall drops from 65 ft. (20 m) over the basalt columns as a solemn act in the tacit wilderness. It takes a 40-minute walk each way to see the wondrous beauty.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Moving on, the magnificent Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon will be your next stop. This will be the crown jewel of the day. The lagoon was created by Breidamerkurjokull glacier as it retreated over the last century. Today, the depression the glacier left behind has filled up with glacier meltwater, creating the deepest lake in all of Iceland.
With huge icebergs floating on the surface and smaller ice blocks left stranded on the black sand on their way out to the ocean, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon illuminates the unimaginable shades of blue, thereby constructing an awesome vista.
Many seabirds and seals choose to stay here over summer, regardless of the cold glacier water. There are boat tours that can take you to see the giant icebergs up close.
When the sunlight comes through the ice blocks, you can see their iridescence glowing like diamonds. This is why many visitors call this place “Diamond Beach”.
Finally, you’ll drive to Hofn to rest after a day of excitement. It takes about 65 minutes to drive there from Jokulsarlon. The town has become a booming harbor over the years and there are many recreational sites, nice restaurants, shops, and swimming pools. It also hosts a lobster festival every summer.
Your accommodation for the night will be in either the Skaftafell area or near the village of Höfn.
On Day 4, your road trip will switch into fjord mode. You are going to start driving on the mountain roads in the fjord landscapes. Djupivogur Village After 59 mi. (95 km) spent driving along the part of the Ring Road where scenic mountains and mossy...)
On Day 4, your road trip will switch into fjord mode. You are going to start driving on the mountain roads in the fjord landscapes.
After 59 mi. (95 km) spent driving along the part of the Ring Road where scenic mountains and mossy lava fields extend endlessly, you’ll arrive in Djupivogur. This is a friendly little town where you can stop and have some coffee or a bowl of good Icelandic soup at a local restaurant. You may even spot a colony of seals in the harbor.
Not far from Djupivogur is an organic farm, café, hostel, and concert venue in a farm called Havarí. The musician couple Svavar and Berglind (a.k.a. Prins Póló and Skakkamage) are the hosts at the farm, along with their children. The Havarí café offers fresh, homemade food and cakes. Much of it is vegetarian but there is also traditional Icelandic fare. Noteworthy mentions include their currywurst plate made with Bulsur, their homemade vegan sausages, and their homegrown organic potatoes. The coffee is always made from organically grown coffee beans!
Petra’s Stone Mineral Collection
As you follow the curving roads of the Eastfjords, you’ll have the opportunity to make some extra stops in the tiny villages that you pass along the way. We recommend visiting Petra’s Stone Mineral Collection in Stöðvarfjörður. The collector of these beautiful stones was well-known all over Iceland. Petra never gave up on her precious hobby of collecting stones, shells, and minerals until the day of her passing at age 90. Her collection is truly impressive! (Please note that the entrance fee is not included in this tour).
After seeing a diverse collection of Icelandic stones, you’ll continue your drive through Iceland’s mystical Eastfjords and head towards the legendary Lagarfljot lake. According to legend, a giant serpent lives in this lake. Some have even caught it on video – you can look it up on YouTube!
Following the road that runs along the lake towards the ocean, you’ll drive through very remote areas and totally unique landscapes. After a scenic drive, your final stop of the day will be at Borgarfjörður Eystri, a fjord-side village known as a natural paradise in the East.
The town has a population of only about 100 inhabitants. Located in a long and fertile valley surrounded by incredibly sharp and dramatic mountains, Borgarfjörður Eystri is often referred to as one of the most beautiful locations in Iceland.
Your accommodation for the night will be in the Borgarfjörður Eystri area.
On your 5th day, you’ll wake up in the most idyllic Icelandic countryside village. Hafnarhólmi Cape You can start the day by visiting the adorable puffin colony at the edge of town. By the harbor is a tiny island that you can reach via a small bridge...)
On your 5th day, you’ll wake up in the most idyllic Icelandic countryside village.
You can start the day by visiting the adorable puffin colony at the edge of town. By the harbor is a tiny island that you can reach via a small bridge. Puffins are abundant here and can be observed from very close up. These silly looking birds are not afraid of humans at all!
If the weather is nice, you’ll have the opportunity to take a nice hike through the Dyrfjöll mountains. The natural scenery around Borgarfjordur Eystri is matchless. It is no wonder this place is a favored holiday destination for Icelanders. Dyrfjöll mountain is one of the most impressive mountains in all of Iceland as it is famously wild and beautiful from four directions.
The hike to the most illustrious spot in the area takes you to Stórurð (the “giant boulders”). This consists of gigantic tuff boulders, charming meadows, and attractive turquoise-colored ponds. The hike starts higher from the road on the mountain pass over the village. There are plenty of other scenic hiking options to choose from. No matter where you go, you are very likely to encounter some reindeer on your hike!
After the fantastic day spent in the mountains, your accommodation for the night will be in the Borgarfjörður Eystri area.
Waking up in East Iceland on Day 6, you’ll head north. Rjúkandi Waterfall On your way from Egilsstadir to Akureyri, many roadside waterfalls run down the slopes. Rjúkandi is one of the most beautiful of all, so make sure to plan a short stop there.)
Waking up in East Iceland on Day 6, you’ll head north.
On your way from Egilsstadir to Akureyri, many roadside waterfalls run down the slopes. Rjúkandi is one of the most beautiful of all, so make sure to plan a short stop there.
The magnificent Dettifoss waterfall will be the next stop. The most voluminous waterfall in Europe has a cascade that extends over 328 ft. (100 m), plunging down 147 ft. (45 m) into the canyon. The flow generates considerable mist that shrouds the valley in mystery as it moves up from the dry cliff. The sheer force of these falls dwarfs many of the other waterfalls in the world.
The Diamond Circle
Moving from Dettifoss, you’ll head to the most stunning part of Iceland. People often refer to this as the Diamond Circle. This area has impeccable landscapes with remarkable volcanic and geothermal features.
Hverarond and Namafjall
Hverarond and Namafjall will be the first sites to visit. Surrounded by immensely infertile land, this area resembles the surface of Mars. The mind-blowingly hot ground emits strong sulfur smells from the boiling mud pots and steaming cracks.
Myvatn Nature Baths
You’ll pass the Myvatn Nature Baths, also known as the “northern Blue Lagoon,” on your way to visit the Lake Myvatn area. You can choose to take a dip for total relaxation in the middle of the natural quintessence.
Lake Myvatn Area
Looking over to the horizon, Lake Myvatn is surrounded by a small group of craters. The beautiful lake was created by the repeated intense volcanic activities of 2300 years ago.
After a thorough visit around the lake, you can visit the Dimmuborgir rocks. This is a place filled with peculiar-shaped rocks in the middle of the subarctic fauna. In the area, you can visit a spectacular lava-sculpture garden called Dimmuborgir (the “dark fortress”) and a cave that hides a hot spring named Grotagja!
Godafoss waterfall will be a perfect finale for a day full of intense visual treats. This elegant waterfall with an astonishingly symmetrical cascade proves the formidable power of almighty nature. Although it is only 39 ft. (12 m) high and 98 ft. (30 m) wide, it’s considered the dreamiest waterfall in Iceland.
Later, you’ll drive to Akureyri. This city has a great nightlife vibe and there are various attractions and activities for you to explore. Your accommodation for the night will be in either Akureyri or the Eyjafjordur area.
Embrace your morning on Day 7 in the capital of the north, as you’ll be smacking your lips when you see the vibrant life and lively people hugging the near-arctic weather with passion and love. Akureyri City You can fully understand the tough Iceland...)
Embrace your morning on Day 7 in the capital of the north, as you’ll be smacking your lips when you see the vibrant life and lively people hugging the near-arctic weather with passion and love.
You can fully understand the tough Icelandic personality after spending some time in this town of 18,000 souls. There is plenty to see on the streets and in the alleyways. The Akureyrarkirkja church has a completely different style compared to Hallgrimskirkja in Reykjavik, even though they are the children of the same father: the architect Gudjon Samuelsson. The northernmost botanical garden, Lystigardurinn, is the perfect site for a pleasant walk to take in the floral delights on a good sunny day.
Whale Watching in Dalvík Village
You’ll be driving to Dalvik for your pre-booked whale watching tour which boards at 1 p.m. Heading offshore with an exciting group, you’ll get to see these giant mammals thrashing in the blue ocean against the backdrop of the white mountains and the azure sky. The harbor view is also splendid with many colorful houses and boats in the frame.
Driving along the Skagafjordur, you can see a 700,000-year-old volcano remnant standing alone in the ocean. Drangey island has impressively steep cliffs that host rich birdlife.
Hvitserkur Sea Stack
After many turns and curves through the farmlands of North Iceland, you’ll finally arrive at Hvitserkur, a 49-foot (15-meter) dragon-shaped basalt stack standing on the eastern shore of Vatnsnes. (Please note that the road leading to Hvítserkur has no winter service and can sometimes be closed for short periods of time in the deep winter months from November to February).
Later in the evening, you’ll stay in the Vatnsnes area in a comfortable room we have pre-booked for you. Vatnsnes is a beautiful town that is also home to many wild creatures like seals and seabirds. It’s worth taking a wonderful night walk under the glow of the midnight sun or the Northern Lights.
Leaving North Iceland on Day 8, you’ll head to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Kolugljufur canyon Passing by the rolling mountains and stony shores, the first stop you’ll see is a secretive canyon named Kolugljufur. The Kolufossar waterfall flows over th...)
Leaving North Iceland on Day 8, you’ll head to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Passing by the rolling mountains and stony shores, the first stop you’ll see is a secretive canyon named Kolugljufur. The Kolufossar waterfall flows over the rugged hill where the streams are diverted into small creeks and continue to flow forcefully in the gorge.
Next, you can visit Grabrok crater. It sits near the neck of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, right on the Ring Road. Standing on the rim of the crater, the view from the height of 557 ft. (170 m) is marvelous. The flourishing vicinity beautifully embellishes the sterile volcanic crater with Icelandic fauna in unsaturated colors.
On your way to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, you’ll encounter bridges and rivers interweaving on the wide plains. The first site we recommend visiting is Stykkisholmur, a town on the north side of the peninsula with diverse birdlife. There are a lot of terrific things to experience when you are there.
Kirkjufell Mountain and the Kirfjufellsfossar Waterfalls
The next sight on this refreshing route is Kirkjufell, one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland. The landmark is famous for its singular posture, standing 1519 ft. (463 m) above the sea. This isolation is compensated by the nearby Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall. The composition of the two makes an epic scene, especially in winter the Northern Lights dance over the mountain top. When this happens, the entire area will be brightened and colored under the greenish bliss.
Snaefellsjokull National Park
The climax of the day will be touring Snaefellsjokull National Park. Among all of the outstanding scenery, Snaefellsjokull glacier stands 4744 ft. (1446 m) high, like the most precious stone in a crown. The nearby Djupalonssandur and Dritvik cove give a mysterious feeling at the glacier’s foot.
Londrangar Sea Stacks
In the south, a pair of rock pinnacles called Londrangar overlook the North Atlantic as the waves crash back and forth on the beach. Moving east, Hellnar and Arnarstapi are two charming towns that offer countless sights to see.
You’ll stay in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula for the night in a cozy accommodation we have chosen just for you.
Ytri Tunga Seal Colony Getting back on the Ring Road on Day 9, your journey will take to Ytri Tunga, a beautiful beach where colonies of seals choose to reside. Following this route, you’ll drive to explore the west part of Iceland.)
Ytri Tunga Seal Colony
Getting back on the Ring Road on Day 9, your journey will take to Ytri Tunga, a beautiful beach where colonies of seals choose to reside. Following this route, you’ll drive to explore the west part of Iceland.
Next, you can stop to visit the Gerduberg Cliffs. This huge wall of geometric patterns was formed by basalt columns standing straight 46 ft. (14 m) out of the earth. The size and style create a solemn ceremonial tone that proves the mighty power of nature.
Deildartunguhver Hot Spring
After observing the sheer beauty of these volcanic creations, you’ll be heading to Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring in Europe. Once at the site, you’ll see a lot of mist floating out of the ground. Underneath it lies the scalding hot spring that can produce 50 gallons (180 liters) of water per second at a piping hot 97°C (200°F). All of the hot water supply for households within a 40-mile (65-km) radius comes from this source.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls
Moving a little bit toward the east, you’ll see Hraunfossar (the “lava waterfall”) and Barnafoss (the “children’s falls”) near each other. On the observation deck near the parking place, you can see the myriad streams of Hraunfossar flow out of the ground before finding their way to the river in the middle of the luxurious lava field.
Especially true when you visit in autumn, the plant coloration reflected in the blue water is extraordinary. Barnafoss is very closeby and its name is derived from folklore. The scenery there is very different as the water flows rapidly through the middle of a small rocky valley with captivating views of its surroundings.
Driving in the direction of Reykjavik, you’ll pass Akranes. We recommend stopping here to see one of the oldest lighthouses. It stands at the tip of the harbor, telling stories about the old marine life. The Ring Road stretches on the east part of the town. If you drive east, you’ll have a good view of Hvalfjordur.
Once you drive through the Hvalfjordur Tunnel, you’ll sense Reykjavik beckoning you with its buzzy urban life. You’ll stay in the Capital Region for the night.
It’s departure day, so you’ll be heading to Keflavik International Airport. Reykjanes Peninsula But before you say “so long” to Iceland, you’ll drive through the Reykjanes Peninsula where endless lava fields stretch near and far with the mountain ran...)
It’s departure day, so you’ll be heading to Keflavik International Airport.
But before you say “so long” to Iceland, you’ll drive through the Reykjanes Peninsula where endless lava fields stretch near and far with the mountain ranges visible in the distance. There is plenty to see in the exotic Reykjanes Peninsula.
The Blue Lagoon
The amazing Blue Lagoon will welcome you with a milky blue hot bath on your way to the airport. This acclaimed 8th Wonder of the World is something you must experience and is just perfect to rinse off the fatigue of driving. You can relish the past 10 amazing days in Iceland while surrounded by its tranquil warmth in a natural setting. Please keep in mind that the entry fee is not included in the self-drive package and we recommend booking your visit in advance at bluelagoon.is.
Hopsnesviti and Reykjanesviti lighthouses
The port town of Grindavik is located nearby on a spit that was formed 2800 years ago. You can drive to Hopsnesviti and Reykjanesviti to see the lighthouses and cliffs where seabirds will hover above you.
The Bridge Between Continents
You can also drive to the Bridge Between Continents where you’ll find yourself between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. These sites will make a small loop of a short day tour on the Reykjanes Peninsula before you drop your rental car off at the airport.
Keflavík International Airport
When your flight departs, we are sure that you’ll miss the land of fire and ice. Iceland will no longer sound like that distant island near the Arctic Circle. Instead, it will be the land where you will have established an emotional bond in a period of just 10 days. You will have been to the mountains and the sea. You will have seen the volcanos and the beaches. You will have even stepped on a glacier and said “hi” to the whales. When you look through the window of the airplane, you’ll think of Iceland from a new perspective.
This 10-day self-drive tour will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that will allow you to see the best of Iceland. With the Golden Circle and Snaefellsnes Peninsula included, this 10-day Ring Road self-drive package gives you abundant time to explore Iceland extensively. It’s designed for those who want a lingering taste of this Nordic metropolis and adventures in the Icelandic wilderness. The dramatic landscapes, incredible waterfalls, and vivid wildlife will set the stage for your personal tale of adventure near the Arctic Circle.