This 15-day self-drive adventure delivers the best of southern Iceland at a more leisurely pace. Make Reykjavík your base for road trips to the highlights of this stunning region, from the geothermal wonders of the Reykjanes Peninsula to the waterfalls of the Golden Circle and the ice caves and glaciers of the far south. You'll also enjoy adventures exclusive to Iceland, including a soak in the famous Blue Lagoon and snorkeling between two continents.


  • Tour Reykjavík and soak in the Blue Lagoon
  • Hike to a volcano and other geothermal sites
  • See the waterfalls and geysers on the Golden Circle
  • Explore ice caves and hike up to glaciers 
  • Go snorkeling in a rift between two continents

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Reykjavík, Optional Activities Reykjavík
Day 2 Visit the Blue Lagoon Reykjavík
Day 3 Fagradalsfjall Volcano Tour Reykjavík
Day 4 Tour the Reykjanes Peninsula Reykjavík
Day 5 Wildlife of Iceland Boat Tour Reykjavík
Day 6 Drive to Þingvellir National Park, Geysir & Gullfoss South Coast
Day 7 Jeep Tour of Fjallabak Nature Reserve South Coast
Day 8 Drive to Thórsmörk & Mountain Hike South Coast
Day 9 Drive to Vík: Beaches, Waterfalls & Canyons Vatnajökull National Park
Day 10 Ice Cave Expedition Vatnajökull National Park
Day 11 Hiking in Vatnajökull National Park Vatnajökull National Park
Day 12 Drive to Dyrhólaey & Skogafoss Waterfall Reykjavík
Day 13 Whale Watching Tour Reykjavík
Day 14 Silfra Snorkeling Tour Reykjavík
Day 15 Depart Iceland  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavík, Optional Activities

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavík's most iconic landmark

Welcome to Iceland! Arrive at Keflavík International Airport, located on the Reykjanes Penisula, which itself is a hotbed of geological activity and natural wonders. You'll get to explore those later; for now, pick up your rental car and drive about 40 minutes east to Reykjavík for adventures in Iceland's capital city. After checking in to your hotel, you'll have the rest of the day free to explore. 

A jaunt to the compact downtown area is a nice introduction to Iceland's culture. Besides picking up souvenirs, the main shopping thoroughfare of Laugavegur 23 is a great place to admire some street art. Continue on to the waterfront, where you can take photos of the impressive Sun Voyager dreamboat sculpture and perhaps tour the Harpa Concert Hall. The northern lights actually inspired the shimmering glass facade of northern Europe's most impressive concert venue. You certainly don't want to miss Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland's tallest church, which sits on a hill overlooking downtown.

Day 2: Visit the Blue Lagoon

Take a soak in the Blue Lagoon
After breakfast, drive back to the Reykjanes Peninsula for a visit to the most famous hot springs in the world: the Blue Lagoon. Situated amid lava fields, steam vents, and mud pools, the milky blue color of these geothermal springs derives from their high mineral content. This makes for a bathing experience as rejuvenating as it is luxurious. On a three-hour visit, you can soak in the 100°F (38°C) mineral-rich pools as long as time allows. Should you choose, you can also enjoy a white-mud facial at the on-site spa. Afterward, you'll return to Reykjavík and will have the rest of the day free.

Day 3: Fagradalsfjall Volcano Tour

Witness the fury and beauty of Mother Nature

Get ready for a day spent up close with an active volcano. In the morning, you'll drive back to the Reykjanes Peninsula and the Geldingadalur Valley. Here, there's a trailhead leading to Fagradalsfjall. This volcano is unique in that it was dormant for over 800 years until a fissure vent opened in 2021. This resulted in a fiery eruption that continued in 2022 and is still considered ongoing. 

On this half-day tour, you'll hit the trail on a guided group tour led by an expert guide. During the two-hour walk to the latest eruption site, you'll pass dried lava fields, steam vents, and conical peaks. Eventually, you'll arrive near the fissures of Fagradalsfjall and see fresh lava fields merging with the old. Your guide will get you as close as is safely possible to the new lava fields to ensure you snap the best photos. Afterward, you'll return to your car and drive back to Reykjavík.

Day 4: Tour the Reykjanes Peninsula

See the highlights of the Reykjanes Geopark

You'll have the whole day to explore the fishing villages and geological wonders of the Reykjanes Peninsula. If you like, you can start with another nice long soak in the mineral pools of the Blue Lagoon. Otherwise, drive around and explore the marvels of the Reykjanes Geopark, which include lava fields, bubbling mud pots, and steam vents. One area where you can see each of these phenomena is at Krýsuvík

More mud pots and fumaroles await at the Gunnuhver Hot Springs. This colorful geothermal field was named after a female ghost who was supposedly trapped here by a priest about 400 years ago. The area is beautiful but highly active, with temps at the hot springs here averaging 572°F (300°C). Another fun stop is at the Bridge Between Two Continents. This footbridge straddles the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, meaning you can take a quick stroll between two different continents. You can take more great photos at Reykjanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, which dates to 1878.

Day 5: Wildlife of Iceland Boat Tour

Meet Iceland's most famous avian resident

After a hearty Icelandic breakfast, head to the harbor in Reykjavík. Here you'll board a RIB (rigid inflatable boat) vessel for a two-hour tour in which you'll zip along the water and get up close and personal with some of Iceland's most famous animals. First, you'll visit the feeding grounds of various species of whales, including humpbacks and sperm whales. You might get lucky and even spot an orca. Then, if you're here during the warmer months, you'll stop at Puffin Island, where you can view the colonies of these cute and colorful seabirds. 

Upon returning to the harbor, you'll have the remainder of the day to explore Reykjavík at your own pace. If you're interested in culture, you can choose from more than 60 museums and galleries. Explore Nordic history at the National Museum and Settlement Exhibition, or head to the Northern Lights Center and the Whales of Iceland Exhibition, which is the largest whale museum in Europe. Speaking of which, you can join a whale watching tour at Reykjavík Harbor. Afterward, snack on a world-famous hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur or indulge your sweet tooth with a visit to the OMNOM chocolate factory.

Day 6: Drive to Þingvellir National Park, Geysir & Gullfoss

The waterfall at Gullfoss 
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Leave Reykjavík behind today and drive about an hour to Þingvellir National Park. The route you'll follow is part of the Golden Circle, a 190-mile (300 km) circuit that includes some of Iceland's most stunning natural landmarks. Your destination within this UNESCO World Heritage Site is Law Rock. This is where the Vikings founded their parliament in 930 AD, making it the first-ever parliamentary system in the world. Many milestones in Iceland's history occurred here, including its conversion to Christianity, its independence from Denmark, and the election of its first president.

After marveling at the beautiful landscapes around Þingvellir, some of which were featured in "Game of Thrones," you'll continue east to the Geysir geothermal area. This is one of the most active geothermal sites in the country, which is evidenced by the area's bubbling mud pits, steam vents, and erupting geysers. Also, here is Gullfoss, one of Iceland's grandest waterfalls. There are trails you can hike to reach the edge of the river canyon and snap great photos of this thundering two-tiered waterfall. Afterward, you'll drive to a hotel in the area, where you'll overnight.

Day 7: Jeep Tour of Fjallabak Nature Reserve

Highland scenery in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve

Leave your vehicle behind, as this morning, you'll embark on a full-day tour by Super Jeep 4WD into the highlands of the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. Your private guide will pick you up from your hotel, and from there, the two of you will drive into the park. Your first stop is Eldgjá, a 25-mile (40 km) long fissure that's part of the Katla volcano. You'll hike through this canyon on foot, passing volcanic landscapes on your way to cascading waterfalls.

After a picnic lunch at Eldgjá, you'll drive along the 12-mile (20 km) Álftavatnskrókur Road, which connects the north and south of the reserve. This is where the Super Jeep 4WD comes in handy, as it's a rough road with river crossings. During this back-road adventure, you'll pass incredible landscapes, including the green cone of Mælifell volcano rising up out of black-sand deserts. After exploring this rugged region, you'll make your way back to your hotel, perhaps visiting some secret spots on the way.

Day 8: Drive to Thórsmörk & Mountain Hike

Spend the day at Thórsmörk

In the morning, hop in your car and drive a couple of hours southeast to Thórsmörk, a mountain ridge named after the Norse god of thunder. Designated as a mountain reserve in 1918, it's located between the Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers. The road getting here is rough, so your end destination will be before the Krossá River, which you won't be able to cross in your rental car. However, in this area, you'll be treated to stunning scenery like striking rock formations, deep gorges, and rugged mountain slopes. It's a great place to spend the day on a nature hike.

You'll have your pick of different hiking trails of varying lengths. These will take you across dried lava fields, over foothills, up to mountain peaks, along rivers, and to secluded waterfalls. No matter which trail you choose, you'll be treated to plenty of panoramic viewpoints as you hike. At the end of the afternoon, you'll return to your hotel on Iceland's South Coast

Day 9: Drive to Vík: Beaches, Waterfalls & Canyons 

Walk behind the Seljalandsfoss waterfall

In the morning, you'll head out again down Route 1 back to the far south of Iceland. Today, you'll be touring the natural wonders in and around the town of Vík, which is located about 2.5 hours from Reykjavík. Your first stop will be at the Seljalandsfoss, which is high in the running for the most romantic waterfall in Iceland. These narrow falls plunge 200 feet (60 m) over a cliff into a lagoon, and there's a footpath that leads behind it where you can take some great pictures. 

Then, continue on to Vík, where you can get out and stretch your legs on a self-guided walking tour around town. The major highlight here is Reynisfjara, a black-sand beach dotted with incredible rock formations both on land and jutting out of the water. According to folklore, two trolls attempted to drag a ship to land but were turned to stone as daylight broke, thus resulting in the basalt rock stacks. The area also has much birdlife, and if you're lucky, you'll see puffins, fulmars, and guillemots. 

For more spectacular rock formations, drive a little ways north to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. Like with Reynisfjara, the area around this river gorge is an almost alien landscape. The canyon is just over a mile (2 km) long, 328 feet (100 m) deep, and offers some great hiking. Along the ridge, you'll find amazing viewpoints where the river snakes through the craggy canyon cliffs. After hiking the canyon, you'll drive to a nearby hotel. 

Day 10: Ice Cave Expedition

Visit an ice cave

Today, you'll embark on an unforgettable day trip to an ice cave. After breakfast, hop in a modified 4WD vehicle and go on an off-roading adventure up to a glacier. Here, your guide will give you all the necessary equipment as well as a safety briefing. Then, you'll enter a nearby ice cave for up to an hour of exploration. Marvel at the shimmering ice walls of the cave and the gleaming stalagmites rising up from the floor. Afterward, you'll return to your hotel and will have the rest of the day free.

Day 11: Hiking in Vatnajökull National Park

Glaciers in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve

The landscape of southeast Iceland is dominated by Vatnajökull, the country's largest glacier. Within the national park, here is the beautiful Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Today, you'll explore the waterfalls and glaciers of Skaftafell on a self-drive tour.

Besides a scenic drive, there are also many hiking trails you can choose from. While you could easily spend days exploring this area on foot, the most popular short hike leads to Svartifoss, a thin waterfall surrounded by columns of basalt. The trail is 3 miles (5 km) long, and on the way, you'll be treated to great views of the river and out to the ocean. After exploring Skaftafell, you'll return to your hotel.

Day 12: Drive to Dyrhólaey & Skogafoss Waterfall

Majestic Skogafoss 

In the morning, take a drive to see some more natural beauty and incredible landmarks around Vík. First, you'll head to the coastal cliffs near town and visit Dyrhólaey. The name of this 393-foot (120 m) rock outcropping translates to "door hole," which is what this giant natural arch resembles. All around Dyrhólaey are viewpoints where you can take some great pictures looking out over the arch and the nearby black-sand beach. Keep an eye out for puffins nesting on the cliffside.

Then, you'll drive a few miles north to Skógafoss. This waterfall plunges 200 feet (60 m) over a cliff into the Skógá River and is an awe-inspiring demonstration of Mother Nature's raw power. You can admire the falls from the bottom, near the parking lot, or hike up the stairs to the right and admire the spectacle from an elevated perspective. Afterward, make the drive back to Reykjavík, where you'll check in to your hotel.

Day 13: Whale Watching Tour

See whales breach the surface

In the morning, you'll head back out on the water in a RIB boat for a small-group whale watching tour. Venture into the waters outside of the harbor where whales and dolphins tend to congregate. After snapping plenty of photos of these marine animals, you'll return to the harbor. The route back follows the shoreline and affords great coastal views of Reykjavík's skyline as well as landmarks like the Sun Voyager sculpture and Harpa Concert Hall. 

Once you're back, you can spend the remainder of the day enjoying everything that Reykjavík has to offer, from its cozy restaurants and pubs to its museums and famous concert hall. Take a leisurely stroll on the waterfront, amble through downtown, or walk up to Hallgrímskirkja, the iconic Lutheran church. If the conditions are ideal, you can take an evening tour to spot the famous aurora borealis, also known as the northern lights. 

Day 14: Silfra Snorkeling Tour

Snorkeling at the Silfra fissure

Today you'll enjoy a snorkeling adventure unique to this part of the world. In the morning, drive about an hour east of Reykjavík to the famous Silfra fissure. Located within Þingvellir National Park, Silfra is a rift formed between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and is filled with crystalline spring water. Anyone who dives here is effectively swimming between two continents.

On this 2.5-hour tour, you'll strap on a snorkel and wetsuit and hop in the water. Led by a guide, you'll float along the fissure through narrow sections where the continental plates are so close you can almost touch them. You'll also enter deep lagoons and glide over boulders far below. You'll be able to see far and wide, too, as the naturally filtered glacier waters here afford up to 393 feet (120 m) of visibility. After the tour, you'll return to your hotel in Reykjavík.

Day 15: Depart Iceland

Farewell, Iceland

Unfortunately, today marks the end of your grand 15-day adventure in Iceland. At the appropriate time, make the drive from Reykjavík to the airport, drop off your rental car, and catch your flight home. Bless!

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Map of Iceland Relaxed South Coast Self-Drive - 15 Days
Map of Iceland Relaxed South Coast Self-Drive - 15 Days