Hit the road on Iceland's main highway for a 15-day self-drive adventure. You'll arrive in the west and, from there, head south, stopping at waterfalls, glaciers, and black-sand beaches. As you travel up to the east and north, you'll pass scenic fjords, go whale watching, brave river rapids, hike along sea cliffs, and explore lava caves before completing the circuit back in Reykjavík, Iceland's capital.


  • Drive the famous Golden Circle and soak in natural hot springs
  • Go snowmobiling across the frozen surface of glaciers
  • Hike along sea cliffs, visit waterfalls, and explore lava caves
  • Enjoy horseback, kayak, and whitewater rafting adventures

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Iceland, Golden Circle Drive, Horses & Hot Springs Golden Circle
Day 2 Snowmobiling at Langjökull Glacier Golden Circle
Day 3 Ring Road to Vík, Beaches & Waterfalls Vík
Day 4 Explore Vík Vík
Day 5 Skaftafell Nature Reserve & Kayaking at Jökulsárlón Höfn
Day 6 Drive to the Eastfjords, Visit Vök Baths Egilsstaðir
Day 7 Drive to Lake Mývatn & Hot Springs Lake Mývatn
Day 8 Ásbyrgi, Jökulsárgljúfur & Whale Watching Lake Mývatn
Day 9 Drive to the Westfjords, Waterfalls & Whitewater Rafting Laugarbakki
Day 10 Drive to Isafjordur Bay Isafjordur
Day 11 Kayaking on Ísafjörður, Explore the Westfjords Patreksfjörður
Day 12 Látrabjarg Sea Cliffs & Westfjords Beaches, Drive to Snæfellsnes Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 13 Explore Snæfellsnes Peninsula & Lava Cave Tour Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 14 Tour Western Iceland, Drive to Reykjavík Reykjavík
Day 15 Highlights of Reykjanes Peninsula, Depart Iceland  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Iceland, Golden Circle Drive, Horses & Hot Springs

The famous Gullfoss waterfall

Welcome to Iceland! This mystical volcanic island in the far north is home to immense geological wonders and fascinating Viking history. You'll experience all of it on a self-drive tour that follows the famous Ring Road (Route 1) to all corners of Iceland. There's no time to waste because when you touch down at the international airport, you'll pick up your rental car and hit the road. 

The airport is located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, in the southwest of the country. From there, you'll drive east past the capital of Reykjavík and connect to the Golden Circle. This 190-mile (300 km) circuit is the most famous scenic route in the country and is home to southern Iceland's most popular natural attractions. Highlights you'll see include the steam vents and geysers of the Geysir geothermal area, the canyons of Þingvellir National Park, and the golden waterfalls of Gullfoss

After experiencing the Golden Circle, you'll leave the car for an excursion on horseback. Over 2.5 hours, you'll ride through verdant forests and along the slopes of Mount Reykjafjall. As you trot along, you'll eventually reach Hveragerði, a village in an area of such high geothermal activity that it's known as the "hot spring capital of the world." The path continues into hills located between the Hengill volcano and the vast plains of the southern lowlands. Here, you'll enjoy a nice view of the Varmá River and surrounding valleys with steam vents in the distance. After the ride, you'll drive to a hotel in the area.

Day 2: Snowmobiling at Langjökull Glacier

Langjokull Glacier Snowmobiling
Take a ride on the Langjökull glacier
In the morning, drive northeast up to Langjökull, the second-largest glacier in Iceland. It's an awe-inspiring sight, but you won't merely be taking photos–you'll be speeding across it on a snowmobile. Upon arrival at the glacier hut, you'll meet your professional guides and receive the necessary gear. Then, after a safety briefing and driving tutorial, you'll hop on your snowmobile and spend the next few hours zipping along the trails in this winter wonderland. Afterward, you'll drive back to your hotel. 

Day 3: Ring Road to Vík, Beaches & Waterfalls

Black Sand Beach and Rocks of Reynisfjara
The rocks of Reynisfjara

This morning you'll set off on a scenic drive on the Ring Road down the coast to Vík. This idyllic coastal town is located near the southernmost point in Iceland and is a great place to stop, enjoy a self-guided walking tour, and spend the night. However, on the drive there, you'll pass a number of stunning landmarks.

The first one you'll want to stop at is Skógarfoss. Located just outside the town of Skógar, the mighty falls here plunge 200 feet (60 m) off a cliff into the Skógá River. Just before Vík, you'll reach Dyrhólaey, a massive rock promontory and natural arch home to colonies of puffins. Once in Vík, check in to your hotel and you can then head out and explore. The main highlight here is Reynisfjara, a long black-sand beach with incredible rock formations and massive basalt columns. 

Day 4: Explore Vík

The charming church in Vík

Today is yours to spend however you like. If the weather is pleasant, you can take a walk around town. Besides the coastal cliffs, rock formations, and black beach, the most noteworthy landmark here is a red-roofed wooden church sitting on a hilltop. It was built back in 1929, and you definitely won't want to leave without snapping a few photos.

As you'll no doubt be aware, the area around Vík is full of natural wonders. If you like, you can take a drive to a nearby landmark like Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. There's an almost otherworldly quality to this river gorge, as the rock formations and high, craggy cliffs here are unique to this part of Iceland. It's also a great place to do some hiking, as you'll find great lookout points throughout the area.

Day 5: Skaftafell Nature Reserve & Kayaking at Jökulsárlón

The glaciers of Jökulsárlón

In the morning, leave Vík and drive to the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, which is located about 2.5 hours up the coast. You can break up the drive with stops at landmarks like Skaftafell and Svartifoss, two towering waterfalls. Svartifoss is particularly impressive, as it cascades 65 feet (20 m) over basalt lava columns into a lagoon below. You can also stop at Diamond Beach, which is so named due to the iceberg fragments that wash ashore from the nearby glacial lake and sparkle in the light.

After doing some sightseeing, you'll arrive at Jökulsárlón. At 656 feet (200 m), this glacial lake is the deepest in the country, and the icebergs floating in it are over 1,000 years old. You'll get to see these icebergs up close on a 1.5-hour kayak tour of Jökulsárlón. This is a guided tour and is perfectly safe, as you'll be wearing a drysuit and will have all the necessary safety equipment.

Plan your trip to Iceland
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
After the kayak trip, you'll travel to Höfn, where you'll check in to a hotel. This little fishing town sits on a natural harbor on its own peninsula and bridges the gap between northern and southern Iceland. It's situated on a beautiful natural harbor and is a great place to spend the night. 

Day 6: Drive to the Eastfjords, Visit Vök Baths

The Eastfjords
The Eastfjords

In the morning, continue up the coast up the Ring Road and explore the fjords of eastern Iceland. Your destination is the town of Egilsstaðir, but on the way, you can take detours to charming fishing villages and stop at fjords to snap photos. A couple of great options are Seyðisfjörður and the more remote Mjóifjörður. You'll also want to drive to Lagarfljot. This narrow lake is known for its folklore, which involves a venom-spitting serpent that's supposedly inhabited the water for centuries.

Eventually, you'll arrive in Egilsstaðir, the capital of the Eastfjords region. The drive there will take you through the largest forest in Iceland, and along the way, you can stop for a short hike up to Hengifoss. At 419 feet (128 m), it's the third-highest waterfall in Iceland. After checking in to your hotel in Egilsstaðir, you can head five minutes outside town to take a dip in the geothermal Vök Baths, the only "floating Infiniti pools" in Iceland.

Day 7: Drive to Lake Mývatn & Hot Springs

The wonders of Lake Myvatn
The pseudocraters at Lake Mývatn

Today's drive takes you to the north of Iceland and Lake Mývatn. This is is one of the stops on the Diamond Circle, a 155-mile (250-km) circuit that passes the most incredible geothermal sites on this side of the country. Highlights you'll want to visit include the bubbling mud pots and steaming fumaroles at Hverir, the lava-rock formations at Dimmuborgir, the pseudocraters in the Mývatn wetlands, and the Grjótagjá lava cave. That latter was even featured in the TV series "Game of Thrones."

Upon arrival in Lake Mývatn, you'll check in to your hotel and will have the rest of the day free. Another great activity you can enjoy is a nice long soak in the Mývatn Nature Baths, a hot-spring lagoon. The soothing waters here remain at ideal temps between 97-104°F (36-40°C). There's an on-site café here where you can relax with a light lunch or dinner.

Day 8: Ásbyrgi, Jökulsárgljúfur & Whale Watching

Asbyrgi Canyon
Ásbyrgi Canyon

In the morning, hit the road again to see even more of the Diamond Circle. One interesting place is Ásbyrgi, a horseshoe-shaped canyon that, as the story goes, was created when god Odin's eight-legged horse galloped across the land. Other places to visit include the turquoise Botnstjörn Pond, the unique rock formations in Vesturdalur Valley, and Jökulsárgljúfur, a 15-mile (25 km) glacial river canyon. It's up to 393 feet (120 m) deep in places, making it one of the deepest in Iceland.

Continue north to Húsavík, a lovely harbor town and the whale watching capital of Iceland. The reason it's so popular is that you don't need to venture far out to sea to view these animals—you can see them right in the harbor. You'll have the option to take a two-to-three-hour boat cruise to spot humpback whales, sperm whales, dolphins, and harbor porpoises. Afterward, you can visit the Whale Museum and then have a bite to eat at a restaurant on the harbor before returning to your hotel at Lake Mývatn.

Day 9: Drive to the Westfjords, Waterfalls & Whitewater Rafting

Godafoss waterfall

Your journey continues into northwest Iceland, where more incredible landmarks and fun adventures await. The first stop is about 45 minutes from Lake Mývatn at Goðafoss. Known as the "Waterfall of the Gods," the cascades here drop 12 m (39 feet) into a river gorge. After taking some photos, you'll tour Akureyri, Iceland's second-largest city, located at the base of the Eyjafjörður fjord. Then, enjoy some mountain scenery with a drive on the famous Troll Peninsula, followed by a trip to the Vatnsnes Peninsula to see landmarks like the Hvítserkur sea stack and Borgarvirki fortress.

Later, you'll end up in the East Glacial River, where you'll brave the rapids on a whitewater rafting trip. The East is rated one of Europe's best rafting rivers, and on today's four-hour ride, you'll enjoy all it has to offer. It begins when you meet your group and guide and then travel to the put-in. Then, after a safety demonstration, you'll head out on the river. Marvel at the untamed beauty of northern Iceland as you paddle over powerful rapids that will get your adrenaline pumping. After the ride, continue to the village of Laugarbakki, near the Miðfjarðará fjord, where you'll overnight.

Day 10: Drive to Ísafjörður Bay

Ísafjörður town
The historic bayside village of Ísafjörður

Today you'll travel to the Westfjords region to witness some of the most dramatic landscapes in the country. You'll be driving to Ísafjörður, a historic bayside fishing village. Grand table mountains hug the bay, and in town, there are red-roofed homes dating to the 18th century.

There are also plenty of scenic places to stop on the way to Ísafjörður. Get up close and personal with curious seals at the Hvitanes cape, stop in at the Arctic Fox Centre in Súðavík, or hike up to waterfalls in the Valagil Gorge. When you do arrive in Ísafjörður, you can spend the rest of the day strolling its well-preserved town center and learning a bit about its fascinating maritime history.

Day 11: Kayaking on Ísafjörður, Explore the Westfjords

Stop to see the waterfalls at Dynjandi

In the morning, you'll head out to the bay for an unforgettable kayaking trip. The excursion begins when you meet your guide at the harbor to receive a safety briefing and a short lesson. Then, hop in the kayak and set off on a relaxing paddle around the fjord. Besides the coastal scenery, you'll spot plenty of seals and, in the summertime, sea birds like ducks, arctic terns, and puffins.

After the kayak tour, continue south through the Westfjords to the village of Patreksfjörður. The road there goes through some of the most beautiful fjords in Iceland, such as Arnarfjörður and Dýrafjörður. You'll also pass charming fishing villages like Þingeyri, and if the weather's right, you can stop to relax on the golden sands of Holt Beach. The real highlight is majestic Dynjandi, one of Iceland's prettiest waterfalls and an icon of the Westfjords. Upon arrival in Patreksfjörður, you'll check in to your hotel.

Day 12: Látrabjarg Sea Cliffs & Westfjords Beaches, Drive to Snæfellsnes

A puffin on the Látrabjarg sea cliffs

Start this morning with a drive to the end of the road and the far northwestern point of Iceland. Here, you can take a stroll along the famous Látrabjarg sea cliffs and marvel at the panoramic views over the coast. An added treat is that this area is a nesting site for a variety of birds, including puffins.

Afterward, drive to the south of the peninsula and Rauðisandur Beach. Strolling the red sands here, you'll think you've stepped out of Iceland and into the Sahara Desert. The area is home to a colony of seals, and there are other nice beaches in the area, like Breiðavík and Örlygshöfn. After spending time at the coast, you'll drive south back to western Iceland and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, where you'll check in to your hotel for the night.

Day 13: Explore Snæfellsnes Peninsula & Lava Cave Tour

The coast of Snæfellsnes

Discover more of Snæfellsnes on today's driving tour. This 56-mile (90 km) long peninsula is often referred to as "Iceland in miniature" as it boasts many of the wonders the country is known for. The snow-capped Snæfellsjökull volcano dominates the peninsula itself, and elsewhere in the area, you'll find unique rock formations, desolate lava fields, windswept beaches, and rugged sea cliffs. There are also historic coastal villages and prime areas to go whale and orca spotting.

You'll have plenty of time to drive around the peninsula and see the highlights. You certainly won't want to miss the three-tiered waterfall of Kirkjufellsfoss, which is backed by the rounded peak of Mount Kirkjufell and was also featured in "Game of Thrones." To see some of the most incredible rock formations on the peninsula, take a stroll on the cliffs between the villages of Hellnar and Arnarstapi. The Berserkjahraun and Budahraun lava fields are worth visiting, too.

Later in the day, you'll drive to the southwest end of the peninsula and visit Vatnshellir Cave. It was created 8,000 years ago during an eruption when a vast underground river of lava cooled down and formed hundreds of tube caverns. Today, this is the most visited cave in Iceland, and you'll get to explore it on a one-hour tour. It's an exciting excursion in which you'll descend a spiral staircase and then walk through the 656-foot (200 m) long lava tube, which is filled with colorful mineral deposits and interesting rock formations.

Day 14: Tour Western Iceland, Drive to Reykjavík

Hike up to Glymur waterfalls
Spend the day visiting some of western Iceland's highlights. Drive to the twin waterfalls of Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, then follow that with a trip to the steaming pools at Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring. Continue to the Borgarfjörður fjord to see volcanic craters, and maybe stop in at the Settlement Centre in the town of Borgarnes, which recounts Iceland's history from the Viking settlement through the Middle Ages. Another more active option is to hike up to the 650-foot (198 m) Glymur, Iceland's second-highest waterfall. Afterward, you'll continue to Reykjavík, where you'll overnight. 

Day 15: Highlights of Reykjanes Peninsula, Depart Iceland

The Blue Lagoon

Today may be your last in Iceland, but there's a bit more adventure left. After breakfast, you'll return to the Reykjanes Peninsula and can explore this area on a self-guided tour until it's time for your plane to depart. Highlights here include lava fields, fishing villages, and the UNESCO World Heritage Reykjanes Geopark. This hotbed of geological activity is the only place on earth where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is visible above sea level.

Of course, the most famous destination on this peninsula is also the most famous one in the country: the Blue Lagoon. If there's time, stop for a soak in the milky blue waters here, which hover around a luxurious 98-104°F (37-40°C). The experience is heightened by the sheer blanket of steam and mist perpetually hovering above the water. The water's rich mineral content, combined with its algae and silica, offers many health benefits. It's even a proven treatment for psoriasis.

Other destinations on the peninsula you may want to visit include Reykjanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, which was built in 1878. Not far off is a footbridge over a fissure separating the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. A walk across it means you're effectively taking a stroll between two continents. Afterward, drive to the airport, where you'll drop off your rental car in time to make your flight home. See you soon!

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Map of Iceland Highlights & Ring Road Adventure - 15 Days
Map of Iceland Highlights & Ring Road Adventure - 15 Days