This 14-day self-drive tour of Iceland takes you on an excursion to some of the country's most amazing sights. Start in West Iceland and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, with visits to the crashing waterfalls and powerful hot springs of Reykholt. See black-sand beaches, walk through historic Þingvellir National Park, and ferry over to the Westman Islands for beluga whales and puffins. Walk among massive icebergs at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, then end your stay in the vibrant capital city of Reykjavík.


  • Trek through canyons and caves at Hvalfjordur fjord
  • View the wonders of the aurora borealis from your own private bubble hotel room
  • Tour the waters around Reykjavík for whale watching and northern lights 
  • Soak in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Keflavík, West Iceland & Borgarfjörður, Krauma Spa Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 2 The Wonders of Snæfellsnes, Hunting the Northern Lights  Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 3 Black-Sand Beaches, Fishing Towns & Shark Museum  Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 4 Golden Circle, Þingvellir National Park, Secret Lagoon & Bubble Hotel Golden Circle
Day 5 Lake Laugarvatn: Fontana Geothermal Baths Golden Circle
Day 6 Lake Laugarvatn: Paddle Board Tour  Golden Circle
Day 7 Þingvellir National Park Golden Circle
Day 8 Ferry to Westman Islands, Visitor Center, Belugas & Puffins Westman Islands
Day 9 Circle Boat Tour of Westman Islands Westman Islands
Day 10 South Coast: Waterfalls & Black-Sand Beaches, Caves of Hella Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Day 11 Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Glacier Kayaking Adventure Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Day 12 Drive to Reykjavík, Þakgil Valley, Hveragerdi, FlyOver Iceland Reykjavík
Day 13 Explore Reykjavík, Whale Watching & Northern Lights  Reykjavík
Day 14 Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon Retreat Spa, Depart Reykjavík  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, West Iceland & Borgarfjörður, Krauma Spa

West Iceland & Borgarfjordur
West Iceland & Borgarfjörður landscapes
Welcome to Iceland! After arriving in the city of Keflavík, pick up your rental car and begin your tour of this magical country. As you head out on Iceland's Ring Road and into the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, plan to make several stops along the way. Start with Grabok Crater, located just off the main road. Grabok is part of the Grabrokarhraun lava field, the largest of three craters that were formed more than 3,000 years ago. Nearby you'll find Glanni, a lesser-known but still impressive waterfall that sits near an ancient lava field and has a viewing platform reached by an easy walk from the road to the falls.
If you're ready to hike, drive to Hvalfjordur fjord for an exhilarating trek along a canyon and through caves to the cascade of Glymur. At nearly 600 feet (198 m), this is Iceland's second-largest waterfall. Later, stop in the village of Reykholt, which is located near the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls and Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring. The village is steeped in history, as it was once the home of Norse writer, Snorri Sturluson. Stop in at Snorrastofa, the town's cultural center, and see the exhibits, then walk to Snorralaug, one of Iceland's oldest hot pools.
Just up the road from Reykholt, you'll find Krauma Spa, which takes its waters from the mighty Deildartunguhver. Take some time to recover from your busy day with a relaxing soak in their geothermal baths, take a bracing dip in their cold baths, or refresh with a sauna. Find lodgings in Reykholt or the location of your choice tonight. 

Day 2: The Wonders of Snæfellsnes, Hunting the Northern Lights 

The wonders of the northern lights 

Continue your exploration of Snæfellsnes today, beginning with a visit to Kirkjufell, or "Church Mountain," a dramatically shaped peak that sits near the town of Grundarfjordur and its small but impressive waterfall, Kirkjufellsfoss. If it seems familiar to you, it might be because it was one of the filming locations for the series "Game of Thrones."

Take a break in the village of Arnarstapi and walk the trail that takes you to Hellnar, a 1.9-mile (3 km) boardwalk that cuts through the rock formations of Gatklettur and skirts the coast. From here, continue to the cascades of Hraunfossar, which flow from the lava fields of Hallmundarhraun, and also visit Barnafoss (Children's Waterfall), which is nearby and whose name comes from a legend about two children who drowned in the falls. 
If you're lucky enough to be in Iceland during the months of August through April, once you've decided on your accommodation and gotten settled, take a private tour tonight to hunt for one of Iceland's most amazing phenomena: the aurora borealis (northern lights). Your private guide will take you on an expedition to find the best views of these veils of green, white, or red lights. Created by tiny particles, protons, and electrons that escape into the earth's atmosphere and hit molecules (causing them to glow), this is truly a magical sight.  

Day 3: Black-Sand Beaches, Fishing Towns & Shark Museum 

Sea cliffs near Lóndrangar

If you missed the opportunity yesterday, begin your day with a walk along the cliffside paths at Arnarstapi and a visit to their on-site café for a quick bite. From here, head to the Lóndrangar lava formations, which you can view from afar, or walk 15 minutes to see up close. A little farther along the road is the peninsula's Visitor Center, where you can learn more about the volcanic system and the area.

Make a stop at Djúpalónssandur, a black-sand beach with debris from a shipwreck—the rusted remains along the black sand make for striking photos. There's also a small trail along the right of the cliffs that takes to you to Dritvík cove, which was once the site of a major fishing operation. You'll also want to make a visit to nearby Buðir Black Church, a nearly 200-year-old parish church that was painted with pitch to protect it from the weather.

As you near the westernmost point of the peninsula, look for signs of Saxhóll Crater. You can make a quick stop here and climb the stairs that take you to the top of the crater, rewarding you with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. End your day in the village of Grundarfjörður, where you can find lodging, or continue to the larger town of Stykkishólmur. On the way, stop at Bjarnarhofn Farm, home to The Shark Museum. Learn about the history of shark fishing in Iceland, and the local Greenland shark from which they make their fermented shark, or hákarl. You can even try a sample if you like! 

Day 4: Golden Circle, Þingvellir National Park, Secret Lagoon & Bubble Hotel

Stand at the edge of the mighty Gullfoss waterfall

It's off to the Golden Circle, one of Iceland's most popular tourist destinations and home to the majestic Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. Today, you can see several of these sights as part of a guided tour, which starts in the city of Reykjavík and ends with an overnight stay in your very own private bubble! 

After the pick-up in Reykjavík, you'll head to Þingvellir National Park. This historically significant site is located in the rift valley between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. You'll have some time to walk around and take in the views, then the tour continues to Geysir geothermal area and Strokkur geyser, which erupts into the sky like clockwork every 5-10 minutes.

Make a visit to Gullfoss (Golden Falls) and admire the incredible power of this massive waterfall, then your final stop before your check-in at the Bubble Hotel will be the Secret Lagoon. This natural hot spring features warm geothermal waters that flow from the rocks, making it a relaxing way to end the day. Tonight, you'll be surrounded by the magic of the northern lights and quiet wilderness as you sleep in your private bubble, a true oasis in the Icelandic wilderness. 

Day 5: Lake Laugarvatn: Fontana Geothermal Baths

Fontana Geothermal Baths 

Visit Lake Laugarvatn today and indulge in the Fontana Geothermal Baths. With waters taken from the natural hot springs here, these outdoor pools are a popular destination for tourists and locals alike. Like many parts of Iceland, the community of Laugarvatn sits in a "hot zone," with multiple hot springs. The hot water from the springs has been used for cooking, geothermal heating, and steam bathing since the late 1920s. 

Enjoy the outdoor mineral baths, which are connected and vary in depth size, and temperature. The pools and hot tub are perfect for soaking or steaming, and in addition to the natural beauty of the landscape, you'll also find artwork by local artists built into the stone. After your bath, move to the Finnish-style sauna. The temperature runs between 176°F (80°C) and 194°F (90°C) with a large window that showcases the lake. 

Completing the ensemble is the lake and beach. Bathers can walk into the lake from a pier, or take a stroll on the black sand beach. A cool dip between steam and sauna is a refreshing temperature shift for the healthy-hearted! Tonight, overnight in the Lake Laugarvatn area or Golden Circle location of your choice. 

Day 6: Lake Laugarvatn: Paddle Board Tour

Lake Laugarvatn sunrise views

If you'd like to really see Lake Laugarvatn, take a paddle-boarding tour of the lake and shorelines. Your guides will provide you with the necessary equipment and after brief instructions, you're on your way for a cruise around the lake. The waters of the lake are calm and shallow, ideal conditions for first-time paddle boarders. Tour the lake while learning about its history and taking in the peaceful scenery. Later, you can enjoy another dip at Fontana before continuing to your next destination. Tomorrow is your last chance to see more of the Golden Circle, so rest up tonight!

Day 7: Þingvellir National Park

Views of Þingvellir National Park
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Go back to Þingvellir National Park today, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Icelandic mainland. Located on the northern shore of Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, it is bisected by the river Oxara, which forms the Oxarafoss waterfall in the Almannagja Gorge. Stop in at the Hakid Visitor Center, which has different seasonal interactive exhibits on the history of the area and its people, then visit historic Law Rock, where Viking chieftains from all over the country met once a year to discuss local laws. 

You can head back to Geysir geothermal area and see if Strokkur will reward you with an eruption, or make another visit to Gullfoss and take a hike around the falls. You can also visit the volcanic crater of Kerið and its gorgeous blue lake. A 20-minute walk takes you around the lake, or you can hike down to the shore and check out the water. Enjoy your last night in the Golden Circle before continuing your journey tomorrow. 

Day 8: Ferry to Westman Islands, Visitor Center, Belugas & Puffins

A puffin in the Westman Islands,
Drive to the town of Landeyjahöfn, where you'll catch one of the daily ferries to the Westman Islands, or Vestmannaeyjar, an archipelago of 15 islands ranging in age from 50-40,000 years old. These islands are considered one of Iceland's best-kept secrets, with their abundance of wildlife and plenty of things to do. The ferry lands on Heimaey, the only inhabited island of the group and a true off-the-beaten-path gem. Here, you'll find colorful lava landscapes, several short hikes, and the largest puffin colony in all of Iceland.
After disembarking, head to the Beluga Whale Sanctuary Visitor Center, a short walk from the ferry terminal, where you can see their puffin rescue, view a native species aquarium, learn about their resident beluga whales, or take a tour into the bay to see the whales up close. Later, spend some time exploring the village of Heimaey.
Learn about the volcanic history of the islands at the Eldheimar Museum, which is dedicated to the 1973 Eldfell eruption, or visit the Viking Stave Church, located near the harbor at Skansinn. While the church might appear to be hundreds of years old, it was actually built in the year 2000, a gift from Norway. In the summer months, visit the puffin colony of Storhofdi at the southernmost tip of the island. The island also has a variety of walking and hiking trails to volcanoes, cliffs, and lava fields. Overnight in Heimaey, where you can enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. 

Day 9: Circle Boat Tour of Westman Islands

A view of Heimaey in the Westman Islands
A view of Heimaey in the Westman Islands
See more of the Westman Islands with a Circle Boat tour around Vestmannaeyjar. The tour includes visits to two sea caves: Klettshellir, famous for its excellent acoustics, and Fjósið, located inside the cape Höfði (Stórhöfði) that is known to be the windiest place in Europe! 
During the tour, guides will discuss the history of the islands, their geology, the volcanic eruption in Eldfell in 1973, and share information on the youngest island in the world: Surtsey. This volcanic island was formed during an eruption that began below sea level and reached the surface in 1964. You will also see various rock formations and sail along the new lava that was formed in the 1973 eruption. The boat takes up to 50 passengers and offers both indoor and outdoor seating. Tonight, relax at your hotel as you enjoy your last night in Heimaey.

Day 10: South Coast: Waterfalls & Black-Sand Beaches, Caves of Hella

Black Sand Beach and Rocks of Reynisfjara
Black sands and rocks of Reynisfjara

Ferry back to the mainland and continue your drive on the Ring Road. Head along the southern coast, where you'll see some of Iceland's most well-known attractions, and catch views of glaciers and volcanoes right from the road. Your first stop will be the Caves of Hella, 12 man-made caves that were discovered at the farm of Ægissíða. This historic site is Iceland's oldest still-standing archaeological remains, and some believe the caves date even farther back than the settlement of the Nordic Vikings. Four of the caves are open to the public, and you'll be able to view ancient crosses, wall carvings, and carved seats. 

From here, head to Seljalandsfoss waterfall—one of the only known waterfalls you can actually walk behind. Access is a fairly easy walk from the parking lot, and you can stand in a cave under the cliffs and watch the water roaring past. Then, head to nearby Skógafoss, where the waters often create dazzling rainbows, making it one of Iceland's most photographed falls. 

Stop at the Dyrholaey Arch and cliffs, a nearly 400-foot (120 m) promenade with panoramas of the southern coast. At the top, you can see Mýrdalsjökull glacier, and an endless coastline of black beaches. If heights don't scare you, walk along the arch for more impressive views! Your last stop today will be Reynisfjara Beach. This black-sand beach is most known for the Reynisdrangar columns, gigantic basalt sea stacks that are seasonal nesting grounds for birds. After your beach visit, overnight in the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Day 11: Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Glacier Kayaking Adventure

Icebergs at Jokulsarlon
Icebergs at Jokulsarlon
Discover the beauty of Iceland's southeast glaciers, starting with a drive to Skaftafell nature reserve, which offers a variety of hiking options. You can hike around the countryside, with a stop at Svartifoss, a waterfall surrounded by immense basalt columns. You can also take an easy walk to the Skaftafellsjokull glacier tongue, or visit Fjadrargljufur Canyon, with its otherworldly rock formations and spectacular views. 
Your next stop is the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Take in the phenomenal sight of icebergs floating in the sea and beached on the black-sand shores of Diamond Beach, and hike into the nearby hills for better views of the area. You can also take a boat tour of the lagoon to get a closer look at the massive icebergs. and potentially see seals, porpoises, and small whales in the lagoon's waters. For those interested in Iceland's glaciers, there are seasonal tours available for glacier walks and visits to the Crystal Ice Cave
Adventurous explorers can also take a kayaking tour of the lagoon, which takes you close enough to touch those floating icebergs! Your guides will provide all the necessary equipment, and after giving a safety briefing, will take you out into the lagoon's icy blue waters. Float past massive icebergs and see the lagoon's wildlife, with magnificent views of the ice cap and the vast dome of ice that rises above. Overnight in Kirkjubæjarklaustur again, where you can walk around the village and enjoy a meal.

Day 12: Drive to Reykjavík, Þakgil Valley, Hveragerdi, FlyOver Iceland

Driving to Þakgil Canyon

Travel back along the southern coast today, stopping at some of the lesser-visited sights that, while perhaps not as well known, are still well worth seeing. Visit the beautiful Þakgil Canyon where you can visit Stórhellir, a large cave not far from the main road. Continue to the black sand beaches of Sólheimasandur, where if you like, you can make the two-hour hike to the wreck of a US Navy DC-3 that crashed there in the 1970s. 

Next, stop in at the town of Hveragerdi, and visit the Geothermal Park. The park includes a natural clay bath, an underground geothermal oven that is still used to bake bread, and several hot springs. You can take some time to hike around the area or have some lunch. 

Later, head to the capital city of Reykjavík, where you'll overnight. After checking in at your hotel, take advantage of some of the newest, state-of-the-art technology, seeing views of Iceland you've never expected, with a visit to FlyOver Iceland. This virtual ride makes you feel like you're flying over the sweeping glaciers and ancient fjords, as you swing across a large screen and journey across the country. The ride includes special effects that include wind, mist, and scents, all combined with real movement to create an unforgettable experience.

Day 13: Explore Reykjavík, Whale Watching & Northern Lights 

Downtown Reykjavík 
Take in the city sights of Reykjavík, starting with a walk around the downtown area, which has assorted shops and colorful street art. Visit Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main street and one of the oldest streets in the city, which is also renowned for its restaurants and fun boutiques. Then, head toward the waterfront to see the Sun Voyager, a metal sculpture that replicates a Viking ship, or Hallgrimskirkja Church, where you can climb the tower and see the whole city laid out below.
Take a peaceful stroll by Tjörnin, a large body of water that sits right in the middle of the city. The pond is a popular recreational spot, so you're likely to see locals and families walking there as well. There are also several museums worth visiting, including the Northern Lights Center, Saga Museum, Marine Museum, and the Whales of Iceland Exhibition.

This afternoon, get out on the water with a tour that combines whale watching and northern lights! You'll start from the harbor with a three-hour excursion, where you'll see various whale species, dolphins, and other marine life. The ship returns in time for your to grab dinner and walk around the city center before heading back out for an evening northern lights cruise. You'll get back onboard, and take a two-hour cruise that takes you out to the open bay under a vast starry sky, on the lookout for the magical colors of the aurora borealis. 

Day 14: Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon Retreat Spa, Depart Reykjavík

Iceland's famous Blue Lagoon

Unfortunately, it's time to depart Iceland today, but if you have time before your flight, you can visit a few more interesting sights along the Reykjanes Peninsula. Go by Krysuvik volcanic area, which spans 135 square miles (350 sq km) and is home to Seltun, a colorful geothermal area with bubbling mud pots and hot springs. Not far from here is Grænavatn, a small lake that, due to the amount of sulfur in the waters, sports a gorgeous seafoam green color. 

From here, head to Gunnuhver, one of the most active geothermal areas of Iceland. Legend has it, it is named after a female ghost called Gunna, who caused havoc in the area hundreds of years ago. Visit Reykjanes Lighthouse, which offers great views of the area, as well as the Valahnukur Cliffs, which are abundant with birdlife. Make your last stop at the Bridge Between Continents, where you can cross the bridge between the Mid-Atlantic's continental plates and look down at the gap below. 

If you'd prefer to spend your final hours in Iceland relaxing, visit the famed Blue Lagoon. The healing waters are world-renowned and are said to cure or improve numerous physical ailments. You can take it to the next level with a visit to the lagoon's award-winning Retreat Spa. This five-hour escape includes entry to the lagoon, access to several subterranean spaces within the resort, beverages, massage, and access to the spa restaurant. Later, you'll head back to the airport for your flight home or to your next destination. Safe Travels!

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Map of Coastal Iceland Tour: Snæfellsnes, Golden Circle & Westman Islands - 14 Days
Map of Coastal Iceland Tour: Snæfellsnes, Golden Circle & Westman Islands - 14 Days