Iceland Total - 16 days Self Drive
SELF12 - Tour the whole island - the highlands and the West Fjords
Explore Iceland’s bountiful natural treasures in the most complete self drive tour we have to offer. You won't miss a thing! All three national parks, beautiful waterfalls, striking glaciers, magnificent volcanoes and hot springs.
Here we present you a tour around Iceland with the duration of 16 days and 15 nights. Drive along the so-called Ring Road, the West Fjords, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula - and the highland roads in Kjolur.
The tour also includes Reykjavik city, Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir hot spring area, the national parks at Thingvellir and Skaftafell, Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Jokulsargljufur with Asbyrgi Canyon and waterfall Dettifoss, geothermal area of Hveravellir, Husavik town, Akureyri city, Latrabjarg cliffs, Patreksfjordur village, Isafjordur town, glaciers, museums, lakes ... and much more. Everything already organized for your convenience.
July, August, September
16 days / 15 nights
Quality rental vehicle
Accommodation with breakfast
A detailed itinerary
Day 2: Snowmobile tour from Myrdalsjokull glacier (all year)
Day 8: Whale Watching in Husavik (Apr - Oct)
Day 9: Glacier hike and boat tour in Langjokull (Jun - Sep)
Day 10: Snorkeling under the Midnight Sun (May-Aug)
Day 14: Ferry from the West Fjords - Stykkisholmur (Jul - Sep)
Car collected at the airport or in Reykjavik, accommodation in Reykjavik. Check the thermal swimming pools in Iceland's pristine capital, or go to the mall for some shopping, or some sightseeing in the city. You'll also have some buffer time to get yourselves settled for the big trip beginning tomorrow.
Optional: Dining out in Reykjavik - Restaurants
Drive to Reykjanes peninsula to the fishing village Grindavik and over lava fields to the "toe" of Reykjanes where the Atlantic Ocean ridge takes land with the small island Eldey nearby. Hike there and then drive to the geyser Gunnuhver nearby. You take the road back east and get to Krysuvik geothermal area where you can visit the sulphur springs at Seltun, a great hot spring area where magma exists at a little depth underneath so the surface of land looks boiled and colorful. The hot springs are more than hundred; steam geysers, water geysers and even mud pit geysers. From Seltun you drive to the nearby Lake Kleifarvatn, which offers a unique landscape.
You continue along the rugged south coast and visit the bay Selvogur, Lake Hlidarvatn and the popular Strandarkirkja church. Legend has it that seamen in mortal danger vowed to build a church on the coast if they survived. You visit the sandy shore near Olfusarbru bridge where the waves of the Atlantic Ocean reach land and the fishing village Eyrarbakki. From there you drive to the town Selfoss and then head east through the villages Hella and Hvolfsvollur that boasts of a nice museum where you can gain insight into one of our most renown old sagas, the story of Burnt Njal.
When heading east from Hvolsvollur you get in view Eyfjafjallajokull, a 1666m high glacier-capped strato volcano, the sixth biggest glacier in Iceland, about 80 square kilometers. Last eruption there was in 2010. You stop at Seljalandsfoss waterfall. It's a unique waterfall, 60 meters high with a foot path behind it at the bottom of the cliff. It is the only known waterfall of its kind, where it is possible to walk behind. The waterfall is very picturesque and therefore its photo can be found in many books and calendars.
You drive further east and get to the beautiful 60-meter high Skogafoss waterfall in the river Skogaa.
If the sun conditions are favourable you can see a vivid rainbow in front of the waterfall. You get to Myrdalsjokull glacier where you can take a snowmobile tour on the glacier - there you get the opportunity to touch some 600 years old ice. From the glacier you drive to Dyrholaey, a 120-meter high promontory to the west of the village Vik.
The place got its name from the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the headland. (The name literally means "door-hole"). The headland is thought to have been made in an underwater volcanic eruption late in the glacial period. Bird life here is abundant, with puffins and eider ducks being the most common species in the area. The lighthouse on the top of the cliff stands impressive and stoic in this often very windy area.
You drive to Reynisfjara beach and then to the village Vik and Reynisdrangar. From there you drive east over Myrdalssandur sand plains with a view up to the volcano Katla that is sleeping nicely under the Myrdalsjokull glacier. On the way you drive over some glacier rivers and over Eldgjarhraun lava field which is the biggest lava field from historical times in the world (19 cubic meters) and then over to Eldhraun which is the second biggest lava field from historical times in the world (13 cubic meters). You drive to Landbrotsholar hills which is one of the largest pseudo-crater areas in the world. You get to the village Kirkjubaejarklaustur and the steep rocky hill, Systrastapi, which can be ascended. From the top the view of glaciers, among other things, is amazing. You stop at the village Kirkjubaejarklaustur where you will accommodate.
Optional: Snowmobile tour from Myrdalsjokull glacier (all year)
Your first stop is just east of Kirkjubaejarklaustur at the black basalt columnar floor formation Kirkjugolf. The translation of the name is "church floor" although a church has never been built there but the basalt columnar floor looks like it has been laid by human beings.
You drive on to the waterfall Foss a Sidu and Dverghamrar, special basalt rock formation. Have a stop at Nupsstadur where there are remarkable old buildings that are typical for farms in Iceland in past centuries. You pass Lomagnupur, a 767 meter high mountain and drive through specific landscape with lava fields and sand plains with huge glacial rivers. Skeidararsandur is an enormous sand plain that reaches from Skeidararjokull glacier to the sea, formed like other sand plains in this region from glacier runs and is the largest sand plain in the world, covering 1300 km². Several eruptions under the glacier have caused glacier runs, the last one in 2011. Very little vegetation on Skeidararsandur sand plain gives it a barren look.
You pass the longest bridge in Iceland over Skeidara River, 900 meters long and get to the National Park of Skaftafell. It was established in 1967 and is the largest of its kind in Europe, around 5000 square kilometers. The glacier tongues of Skeidararjokull glacier, Morsarjokull glacier and Skaftafellsjokull glacier give the National Park majestic scenery with the country's highest peak, Hvannadalshnukur and there are few places in Iceland where you can more easily get in contact with the great whites of Iceland.
In Skaftafell National Park you'll find many hiking paths, both easy and hard ones and you can get really close to glaciers. Take a hike to Svartifoss waterfall. Or a guided glacier walk.
You drive east from Skaftafell with a view to several glacier tongues, like Skaftafellsjokull glacier and Svinafellsjokull glacier.
Due to the retreat of the glaciers a glacial lake has formed in front of Kviarjokull glacier and Fjallsjokull glacier. Have a stop at the nice little glacier lagoon, Fjallsarlon with icebergs floating and a great view up to the creeping glaciers. As you drive east to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon the view to Breidamerkurjokull glacier opens up which is the largest amongst Vatnajokull ice cap's glacier tongues. The glacier started to retreat at the start of last century and a lagoon formed in front of the glacial tongue in 1935. The lagoon was 8 sq. kilometers in 1975 but today it is 20 sq. kilometers. The lagoon is the deepest lake in Iceland, 248 meters. On top of it floats uncountable amount of icebergs, which you will take a closer glimpse at while you sail around the lagoon. You can find more photos from the lagoon here.
After a sailing tour on the lagoon and hiking to the shore - where icebergs float out to the sea you drive east the Ring road, enjoying a fabulous view to many outlet glaciers from Vatnajokull with nearby valleys and get to Hofn village, situated in breath-taking scenery in the realm of the greatest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull. There you have dinner and accommodation.
Optional: Guided glacier hike - Blue Ice Experience (Feb - Oct)
Optional: Boat tour in Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon (Apr - Oct)
You drive north from town Hofn and get to Djupivogur, a small village with a history of trading since 1589 and a long history of fishing, located in a region of incomparable natural beauty. Langabud, the oldest house in Djupivogur, is made of logs and was originally built in 1790. The towering mountain Bulandstindur which is 1069 meters high, dominates the landscape. The mountain is pyramid-shaped and many believe it to be a source of cosmic power.
Then you drive up north along the rugged and varied coastline of Eastfjords, Iceland´s magnificent East Fjords, stopping here and there, like in the village Stodvarfjordur where you could visit Petra's Stone Collection, one of the biggest and best stone collections in the world, a magical place full of beautiful stones and plants. Drive along narrow fjords surrounded by steep mountains to Faskrudsfjordur and Reydarfjordur. You get to Lagarfljot Lake and it's worth driving around it. You can stop at both historical places and places with special nature like Hengifoss waterfall.
With the height of 118 m, it is one of the highest waterfalls in the country. If in the mood take a short hike following the trails in Hallormsstadaskogur forest, the biggest forest in Iceland or visit the centre of culture and history at Skriduklaustur.
The lake Lagarfljot (also called Logurinn) situated near Egilsstadir town has a surface of 53 km² and is 25 km long, its greatest width is 2.5 km and its greatest depth 112 m. The river Lagarfljot flows through this lake. A worm-monster called Lagarfljotsormurinn is believed to be living in the depths of Lake Lagarfljot.
Wake up early because you have a long day for driving. You drive to the mountains Upptyppingar and volcano Askja where you will experience a unique nature, caused by volcano eruptions. Take a hike to Oskuvatn Lake and the crater Viti, this great wonder of the Icelandic highlands. The big crater that Lake Askja is in was formed in some hours in an eruption in 1875. A few other eruption were in and around the crater during the next few decades after the first eruption. The last time Askja erupted was in 1961 after being dormant for 32 years.
You can even take a bath in the crater Viti but be careful as the water can be hotter here and there in this unique natural pool. From there you drive to the oasis in the lava desert, Herdubreidarlindir where it's worth taking a stop and then you drive north along the banks of the glacial river Jokulsa a Fjollum until you get to the Ring Road. You drive to Myvatn for accommodation.
Explore Lake Myvatn and its surroundings with unique attractions. The lake and its surrounding area are full of magnificent and unique natural wonders.
You will find a thriving bird life, including various duck species, along with volcanic phenomena such as pseudo-craters. Here, you will also find the largest explosion crater in Europe and strange lava fields, the kind of which you would expect to see on Mars. Go and see highlights such as the rocky promontory Hofdi, where one-of-a-kind lava clusters rise out of the lake as well as Dimmuborgir, "The Dark Castles" - lava field rim where the interaction between the magnificent lava formations plays with the imagination. Dimmuborgir sports a lava formation that can be walked into and looks like a church dome. See the pseudo craters at Skutustadir, the colorful sulphurous slopes of Namaskard and Krafla volcano area. And don’t forget Grjotagja chasm which is yet another wonder; it has an underground flow of hot water and can be explored on foot. You can even take a bath in this natural bathing place.
You can also take a bath in Jardbodin geothermal spa, a natural bathing site in a lagoon that has many special properties. Its water contains minerals in large amounts and is alkaline and therefore good for bathing. Because of the composition of minerals, harmful bacteria and vegetation cannot survive in the water. No chlorine or other disinfectants are therefore added to it. A hot tub and a natural sauna are also on site.
Accommodation at Myvatn.
From Myvatn you drive to the geothermal area at Hverarond and Krafla where the boiling and spiting sulphuric mud and clay springs may make you feel like you have gone back in time to the creation of the world itself. It's an experience not just for your eyes and nose, the place also provides music for your ears as you can hear the scream of steam as it escapes the holes. Take a hike in this remarkable place.
From there you drive to Jokulsargljufur National Park. The Jokulsargljufur canyon and its surroundings are thought to have been cut into the bedrock through a sequence of catastrophic glacial floods. Several enormous, catastrophic glacial bursts have carved out the deep ravines and rocky basins, the most famous of which is Asbyrgi canyon, 3.5 km long and over 1 km wide.
It is one of the wonders of nature, a wide, horseshoe-shaped canyon with sheer cliff faces up to 100 m high. When walking in Asbyrgi you can imagine how it was carved by enormous water flow and see in mind huge waterfalls flowing down the cliffs down to the now silent ponds Botnstjorn and Leirtjorn surrounded by luxuriant vegetation.
You will see the unique series of waterfalls in the river Jokulsa a Fjollum - Selfoss, Dettifoss, Hafragilsfoss and Rettarfoss - and they have few equals on earth. Falling 45 m with a width of 100 m, Dettifoss is reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
Take a hike in Hljodaklettar, outcrops that are the cores of ancient crater row, revealed when the river swept away all the loose volcanic material. A little further to the north are the Raudholar cliffs, the original scoria cones and longest fissure row on earth.
Then you drive around Tjornes to the town of Husavik for accommodation.
You can take a whale watching tour from Husavik in the morning.
From Husavik you drive to Godafoss waterfall, one of the most impressive waterfalls of the country, situated in the glacial river Skjalfandafljot. According to the Saga of Christianity the formerly pagan chieftain Þorgeir Ljósvetningagodi (Chieftain of Ljosavatn) was the law keeper of the Althing in Thingvellir in year 1000. He was given the authority to make a decision about which religion should be adopted by the Icelandic people. Although he was a pagan himself he came to the conclusion that Christianity was the religion all people should follow. When he returned home to Ljosavatn he took all his statues of the pagan gods and threw them into the waterfall. The name of the waterfall, Godafoss (the waterfall of the gods) is said to be derived from that event but his residence was at the nearby farm Ljosavatn. In the year 2000 a church was built at Ljosavatn to honor his memory.
You drive west through valleys and from the top of the heath Vikurskard a nice view opens to the fjord Eyjafjordur before continuing to the town of Akureyri, the biggest town in north Iceland. There you can take a walk and enjoy the sight of its location by a scenic fjord and streets winding their way through gorges. Spend some time walking around the town centre, see the impressive church and check out Listagilið ("The Art Canyon"), a home to a number of arts and crafts galleries and shops. The tranquil municipal botanical garden, Lystigardurinn, is worth visiting, as are the several small museums dotted around down town.
You head west from Akureyri through the valley of Horgardalur and over the heath of Oxnadalsheidi to the region of Skagafjörður with fertile farmland and renowned for horse breeding.
Accommodation is offered in Skagafjordur.
Optional: Whale watching tour from Husavik (Apr - Oct)
You drive the Highland road Kjolur through Blondudalur valley and Blondulon which is a manmade lake made for the hydro power plant. The highland road takes you to a gravel road which at some sections can only be driven slowly in lower gears. You will get an amazing view of mountains and the glaciers Langjokull and Hofsjokull if you are lucky with the weather. You get into the middle of highland between the glaciers to Hveravellir hot spring area, a real oasis in the highland.
From there you drive south to the glacier lake Hvitarvatn. You drive to Langjokull glacier where you can take a glacier hike and boat tour if you want.
You then drive south the road and arrive from the desert to the verdant canyons of Hvita River where the Golden Waterfalls, Gullfoss falls on the rapids. You spend a good time there, enjoy the views to this most famous waterfall in Iceland and then drive to your accommodation place nearby.
Optional: Glacier hike and boat tour on Langjokull (Jun - Sep)
You drive to the famous Geysir hot-spring geothermal area, a great place to see geysers in action. You can see hundreds of hot springs like Great Geysir that gave name to all other geysers in the world and Strokkur that is erupting every 5 minutes or so.
You drive the road west and get to the hot spring village Laugarvatn, where you can visit a modern spa. From there you drive over the Laugardalsheidi heath and follow the road to Thingvellir national park, a site of great historical importance as parliament was founded here over 1000 years ago. You will be able to stand where Viking settlers proudly stood centuries ago. Gigantic rifts run through the park creating a stark and dramatic landscape. Gently moving tectonic plates run across Thingvellir, pulling apart around 2 cm a year, making it possible to stand on two continents at once!
Take hike down through the Almannagja gorge, see the deep fissure Flosagja with money coins glittering in the crystal clear cold water; you can even walk to the little church which was built in 1859 and to Oxararfoss waterfall.
After spending good time at Thingvellir you drive the highland road Uxahryggir and Kaldidalur to Langjokull and Husafell. Kaldidalur road is the second highest pass in Iceland which is often nicknamed "Highland for beginners" as being the shortest highland track in Iceland.
You have a stop and short walk at the beautiful waterfalls of Barnafoss and Hraunfossar viewing the fresh blue color of the river Hvita against the white glacial waterfalls. Then you drive to Reykholt for accommodation.
Optional: Snorkeling under the midnight sun (May - Aug)
You drive to the village Borgarnes that sits at the intersection of the roads that lead to the western and northern parts of Iceland, in scenic beauty of the area Borgarfjordur which abounds in hot springs, lakes, rivers and beautiful waterfalls. Here the Egil's Saga took place and you can visit an interesting museum in the village. The island Brakarey that nowadays is connected with a bridge was named after Egil's slave Thorgerdur brak after he drowned her in the sea near it. The town is among the friendliest towns in Iceland with all necessary services for travellers like golf, angling, hunting, good swimming pools and historical sites.
You drive north to Bifrost where a social science university is located, north of it is the crater Grabrok, which offers a beautiful scenery over Borgarfjordur area. It can be ascended by a marked trail. You drive the heath over Brattabrekka, road 60 to the Hvammsfjordur fjord and village Budardalur. In nearby valleys are the settings for several of the medieval epics, among them is the Laxdaela Saga which focuses on a love triangle. In the Haukadalur valley at farm Eiriksstaðir was the home of the famous discoverer of America, Leifur Eiriksson. From there you drive road 60 to Gilsfjordur fjord, which on a clear day gives you nice scenery to lovely surroundings. You take the road 61 to fjord Steingrimsfjordur and the village Holmavik. It has often been said that the people of this area, Strandir, know a bit more about witchcraft and sorcery than most others, and to underscore that claim the Museum of Sorcery & Witchcraft has been set up that takes one on a magical tour into the mystical world of the supernatural. The museum covers magic practiced during the 17th century, as well as folktales, in a most informative and enjoyable way.
You drive north the road that takes you to the fjords Bjarnafjordur, Kaldbaksvik and the fjord with the funny name Veidileysa that means No Fishing Fjord. Drive with care under the towering cliffs and hillsides which gives you an ample time to take in fantastic scenery and the atmosphere of this strange and remote region.
You get to Reykjarfjordur and the small inlet Djupavik, for accommodation.
Djupavik is a former fishing outfit and the Djupavik Hotel is a building that was formerly the living quarters for women working at a Herring pickling factory that was established there in 1917, but was declared bankrupt a few years later. The operation started again in 1934 and continued successfully for about a decade until the herring disappeared from the Hunafloi Bay. Take a stroll and observe the ruins of the factory.
You drive along the northern shores of the Reykjarfjordur fjord towards Gjogur, a tiny fishing hamlet which also sports the local airport close by.
You get to Nordurfjordur and in this tiny harbour with the fish curing factory, you can even find a grocery store, telling you're in the centre of this now depopulated region, which in spite of countless adversities still continues to survive. More photos from the area here.
From Nordurfjordur you drive around the Krossnes peninsula to the former farm Fell and there you visit Krossneslaug, a wonderful swimming pool uniquely located with the waves from the sea at the side. You drive back and you can take the road 649 to Ingolfsfjordur fjord which offers a beautiful view towards the jagged peaks of Drangaskord Pinnacles, one of the best known landmarks in the Strandir area. The five (although some count seven) pinnacles that stick out into the ocean can be seen from miles around.
Herring stations and a big processing factory were built in Ingolfsfjordur just before and during the Second World War, but as herring disappeared from these waters they were abandoned shortly afterwards, and are nowadays silent monuments about earlier time. There the trail ends and you drive back south to Steingrimsfjordur fjord where you take road 61 over the Steingrimsfjordur plateau and get to Isafjordur fjord. Drive the road along the fjords Mjoifjordur, Skotufjordur, Seydisfjordur, Hestfjordur and Alftafjordur all the way to the town Isafjordur for your accommodation.
The Westfjords region has sometimes been dubbed "the most famous unknown place in Iceland". Enjoy it as you drive the road along the fjords Sugandafjordur, Onundarfjordur, Dyrafjordur and Arnarfjordur. See the waterfall Dynjandi, one of the highlights of the Westfjords. It is a must to visit and see with your own eyes. You visit Dynjandi by driving over the Dynjandi pass from the bottom of Arnarfjordur.
This region boasts of a unique nature that attracts visitors, it is untouched and almost uninhabited. The cliffs and valleys are packed with birds, the uninhabited fjords offer a moment of silence and tranquillity, and the Arctic fox proudly roams the mountains and inlets. The waterfalls are high and the streams pure. The distances are long and the fjords are deep. And then there are places where there are no roads at all.
You get to the villages Bildudalur, Talknafjordur and Patreksfjordur. Drive to Latrabjarg, the western-most part of Europe. It hosts millions of birds and is vital for their survival as it hosts up to 40% of the world population for some species like the Razorbill. It is Europe's largest bird cliff, 14km long and up to 440m high.
Accommodation at Hotel Latrabjarg.
You drive to Raudisandur, a unique place to visit and you should allocate time to visit this beautiful hidden secret of Iceland. You drive to Vatnsfjordur where the early settler Hrafna Floki settled in around the year 860 but experienced a harsh winter with snow and ice that resulted in loss of his entire stock. He then became angry and named the land Iceland before his departure from the country. Other settlers - Vikings with more survival skills - then came and managed to survive.
You drive to Brjanslaekur village where you take the ferry over Breidafjordur Bay to the town Stykkisholmur.
If you take the ferry at noon then you'll have time to stop at the particularly interesting island of Flatey, at no extra cost. You collect your car in Stykkisholmur later on. Because of its location, Stykkisholmur became a centre for trade, transportation and services on Breidafjordur early in Iceland’s history. The town is still an ideal destination for those who wish to experience diversity of nature. Stykkisholmur is in fact a museum of old houses which have recently been renovated, giving the town a charming look, such as Kuld's House, Norwegian House, Egill's House, Clause's House, Tag and Rig and of course the Old Church. The oldest building, the Norwegian House (Norska Husid), is the Snaefellsnes Folk Museum. Souvenirs and handicrafts are sold there, and there are often special exhibitions put on by the Museum or artists.
You accommodate in Stykkisholmur.
Optional: Ferry from the West Fjords to Stykkisholmur (all year)
You drive from Stykkisholmur to Grundarfjordur and Olafsvik and then into the Snaefellsjokull glacier National Park, and more photos here.
Snaefellsjokull National Park – Iceland's only National Park to extend to the seashore – covers an area of 170 sq. kilometers. The coast is varied and alive with birdlife during the breeding season. The coastal plain is mostly covered by lava that flowed from the glacier or nearby craters. The lava is covered with moss but sheltered hollows can be found in many places, filled with a sizable variety of thriving, verdant plants. The omnipresent Snaefellsjokull glacier towers majestically over the Park, with trails of lava and signs of volcanic activity clearly visible on its flanks. On its north side the Eysteinsdalur valley cuts a path up from the plain encircled by alluring steep mountains.
You can hike inside the national park to Snaefellsjokull glacier, Saxholl, and to Djupalon, Dritvik, Londrangar, Hellnar, Arnarstapi, Budahraun and Budir.
You continue to Borgarnes, and you drive to Reykjavik. Enjoy Reykjavik. Accommodation there.
Enjoy Reykjavik. Drive to the popular Blue Lagoon geothermal spa in the Reykjanes peninsula (very near the Int'l airport in Keflavik) where you can relax for some time. Car returned. Let us know if you need accommodations for this night.
---Meet on location - Activities around Iceland
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Iceland Total - 16 day self drive tour
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