This is the perfect self-drive Golden Circle and South Coast package itinerary for adventure-loving travelers in Iceland. You will receive a detailed itinerary, map, and a self-drive handbook. This self-drive tour is optimized for the best possible experience, visiting all the highlights on the South Coast.
You pick up your rental car and head straight out onto your road trip. Today's itinerary will take you to the Golden Circle sights of Thingvellir national park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall, with optional extra stopping points along...)
You pick up your rental car and head straight out onto your road trip. Today's itinerary will take you to the Golden Circle sights of Thingvellir national park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall, with optional extra stopping points along the way.
Your route takes you to Thingvellir National Park, the birthplace of the ancient Icelandic Parliament, called the Althing (Alþingi), which means ‘assembly’ in English.
This area was formerly called Bláskógar but it was renamed Thingvellir (Þingvellir), meaning ‘Assembly Plains’ when Iceland's supreme legislative and judicial authority was established here in the year 930 CE / AD. During the early Middle Ages, many people of Norse and Celtic origin settled in Iceland, and early on the various chieftains formed district assemblies. However, the population quickly grew and it became clear a general or national assembly was required. Many visitors wonder why this location was chosen? It is probable that the decision was swayed by events that happened around the time when the search for a suitable place was being made. Þórir Kroppinskeggur, who owned and farmed these lands was convicted of the murder of his servant, he was required to pay a fine and his lands were confiscated and placed in public ownership. Þingvellir was, though, quite a suitable location for various reasons.
From Thingvellir, the tour takes you to the hot spring village of Laugarvatn which has Laugarvatn Fontana, a lovely geothermal spa you could visit if you want to. Your route continues to the famous Geysir hot-spring area, you must not miss out on the chance to witness Strokkur erupting, nor, the mighty Gullfoss waterfall which is your final Golden Circle attraction.
After breakfast, your tour route will give you fine views of the central volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, whose glittering icecap, brings a reminder of the volcanic eruption in 2010 which halted air traffic across Europe for a time. Of course, on a self-dr...)
After breakfast, your tour route will give you fine views of the central volcano, Eyjafjallajökull, whose glittering icecap, brings a reminder of the volcanic eruption in 2010 which halted air traffic across Europe for a time. Of course, on a self-drive tour, it is entirely up to you where you stop, but we make a few suggestions to help you on your way.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Skogafoss waterfall are great places to visit before you continue your journey to Solheimajokull glacier, Dyrholaey, the black beach at Reynisdrangar, and the charming village of Vik. Driving across the Sólheimasandur volcanic sand-planes will give you your first glimpse of the lunar-like scenery Iceland is famous for. Other interesting places to visit are the Skógasafnið Museum and Gljúfrabúi, a picturesque waterfall and beautiful hiking areas.
In summer there are a lot of puffins and Arctic terns around Dyrholaey, this is a great spot to visit at any time of year, as well as being a favorite with migratory birds
Your accommodation will be somewhere around the Vík, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, or Skaftafell area.
Early in the day, we will take a glacier hike in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Drive to the meeting point at Skaftafell and meet your expert glacier guide. At Falljökull, we strap on our ice crampons ready for the magic moment – setting foot on the gla...)
Early in the day, we will take a glacier hike in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Drive to the meeting point at Skaftafell and meet your expert glacier guide.
At Falljökull, we strap on our ice crampons ready for the magic moment – setting foot on the glacier! Your guide will explain this unbelievably vibrant, moving, and the living world to you. You will see incredible crevasses which wend their way, twisting and turning through the glacier, these labyrinths are always forming, moving, and changing in tune with the dance of nature. See the great moulins which descend deep into the glacier, and stunning ice falls as ancient ice drops hundreds of meters from the mountain top.
After the glacier hike, we highly recommend you take the time to enjoy the short hike from Skaftafell Visitor Centre to Svartifoss, a waterfall that drops from a dramatic wall of black basalt columnar formations. Can you imagine how stunning this is? Shimmering white water pouring over dramatic black basalt, it is no surprise that these falls have inspired Icelandic architecture!
In this area you will also find Skaftafellsjökull and Svínafellsjökull glaciers - both are an absolute delight to the eye. For many travelers, a glacier hike is very high on their Iceland bucket list!
The next segment of your route will deliver you to the amazing Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The glacial lagoon is vast stretching as far as the eye can see, the icebergs are all gliding towards the ocean less than 1 km away. This area has undergone an incredible transformation since 1934, when the lake started to form, although, by far the greater part of it developed after 1950.
The scenery here is just like a film set, or rather it is a film set! Tomb Raider, the reality TV series, Amazing Race, Batman Begins and the James Bond movies, Die Another Day and A View to Kill all contain scenes which were shot here. We suggest you spend a little time exploring Diamond Beach and admiring the sparkling icebergs as they float out to sea, or come to rest on the black sand.
Your accommodation for the night will be in the Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Skaftafell, or Höfn area. Along the way, you can stop off whenever you want for meals or look at points of interest.
Today we explore the South Coast even more! Your route continues with a visit to Kirkjugólf, the amazing basalt column ‘floor’ which is situated just outside of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The lovely Fossálar (waterfall), Dverghamrar, Lómagnúpur, and the ol...)
Today we explore the South Coast even more!
Your route continues with a visit to Kirkjugólf, the amazing basalt column ‘floor’ which is situated just outside of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. The lovely Fossálar (waterfall), Dverghamrar, Lómagnúpur, and the old buildings at Núpsstaðir are all great stopping points.
There are so many exciting places to stop at today, before you travel too far towards Reykjavík you could check out Fjaðrárgljúfur, a sensational canyon near Kirjkjubæjarklaustur.
Your accommodation for the night will be in the capital area (Reykjavík, Kópavogur, Hafnarfjörður).
Perhaps you want to explore more of the areas close to Reykjavík, you could detour along the coast a little to visit Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki? Both are charming and atmospheric coastal villages, with delightful brightly painted wooden houses. Þorlákshöfn is another little village with the kind of scenes and atmosphere seaside places used to have - unspoiled but fabulous.
Selfoss and Hveragerði are both great little towns to explore, with lovely riverside walks. From Hveragerði you could hike the hot spring valley above the town, which leads to a hot spring river where you can bathe. Hveragerði is famous for its flower-filled gardens and geothermally heated hothouses, a lot of Iceland´s vegetables are produced in this area.
You could continue around Reykjanes, a lovely peninsula, or, if you have a late flight, leave that delight for tomorrow. For more info about Reykjanes please see the departure day information below. Your accommodation will be in the capital region, so you can enjoy an evening in this vibrant city on the edge of the Arctic. Reykjavík has a wide selection of restaurants - See our dining out in Reykjavík guide here - new places open up fairly frequently, though!
Reykjanes has far more to offer you than just being the peninsula where the international airport is situated, very convenient though that undoubtedly is! There are mossy lava fields, volcano craters, and cones, the silhouette of one particularly ele...)
Reykjanes has far more to offer you than just being the peninsula where the international airport is situated, very convenient though that undoubtedly is! There are mossy lava fields, volcano craters, and cones, the silhouette of one particularly elegant cone, Keilir, is very prominent on the horizon. Lake Kleifarvatn is especially picturesque with some nice hiking paths if you have the time. You definitely should see the hot springs at Krýsuvík, for one last look at the surreal steam wafted Icelandic landscapes. The Gunnuhver hot springs, the location of a famous ghost saga, and the bridge between the continents are also well worth a look. There are so many great and photogenic places! You could visit Grindavík, a traditional and remote fishing village at the tip of the peninsula, or take a walk along the coast by Eldey, an island which is a well-known bird habitat, kittiwakes, fulmars, guillemots, cormorants and eider ducks are very plentiful.
If you have the time, we certainly recommend a visit to the Blue Lagoon at Grindavík, an iconic and now world-famous geothermal spa. Note that the entrance fee to the lagoon is not included, and we recommend that you buy it in advance at bluelagoon.com. Enjoy relaxing in the incredibly silica-rich water, and the free white mud mask - a bar, cafeteria, and restaurant offer drinks, snacks, and good quality meals - all with lagoon views.