- Drive along the Golden Circle and see famous waterfalls
- Ride ATVs and snowmobiles over glaciers and on black-sand beaches
- Explore ice caves and hike through volcanic river canyons
- Visit active volcanoes and go inside dormant ones
|Day 1||Arrive in Reykjavík, Blue Lagoon & Quad Biking||Reykjavík|
|Day 2||The Golden Circle, Langjökull Snowmobile Tour||Hella|
|Day 3||Jeep Tour of Thórsmörk & Mountain Hiking||Hella|
|Day 4||South Coast Waterfalls & Katla Ice Cave||Kirkjubæjarklaustur|
|Day 5||Explore River Canyons, Skaftafell Glacier Hike||Kirkjubæjarklaustur|
|Day 6||Drive up the South Coast, ATV Beach Ride||Hella|
|Day 7||Jeep Tour of Nature Reserves, Waterfalls & Volcanos||Hella|
|Day 8||Drive to Reykjavík & the Golden Circle||Reykjavík|
|Day 9||Inside the Volcano & Night Out in Reykjavík||Reykjavík|
|Day 10||Tour Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavík, Blue Lagoon & Quad Biking
Welcome to Iceland! This volcanic island just south of the Arctic Circle is a hotbed of geological wonders whose settlement dates back over 1,000 years to the Viking Age. After arriving at Keflavík International Airport, you'll pick up your rental car and can explore the area around the Reykjanes Peninsula. One major highlight you won't want to miss is the Bue Lagoon, quite possibly the most famous hot springs in the world. Feel free to take a nice long soak in its milky blue mineral waters and perhaps enjoy a white-mud facial at the on-site spa.
Then, trade the car for a quad bike and take a 3.5-hour ride around the highlights of the area. This includes Sandvík, a black sandy beach where scenes from the film "Flags of Our Fathers" were shot; the Bridge Between Continents, a footbridge over a fissure separating the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates; and Reykjanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, which dates to 1878. It's a fun activity for the whole family, with children as young as six welcome. After the quad trip, you'll check in to your hotel in the capital of Reykjavík.
Day 2: The Golden Circle, Langjökull Snowmobile Tour
After breakfast, hop in your rental car and head out from Reykjavík along the famous Golden Circle, a 190-mile (300 km) route that features some of southern Iceland's most popular natural attractions. First up is Þingvellir National Park and historic Law Rock. It was at this site during the Middle Ages that chieftains met annually to air grievances and recite new laws, thus becoming the first parliamentary system in the world. Also in the park is the Silfra fissure, a rift located in a crystalline lake on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. It's the only place in the world where you can dive between two continents.
Next is the Geysir geothermal area, located about 65 miles (106 km) east of the capital of Reykjavík. With bubbling mud pits, steam vents, and erupting geysers, the area is one of the most active geothermal zones in the country. Then it's on to Gullfoss, one of Iceland's most impressive waterfalls. You can follow trails to the top of the falls or view them above the canyon's edge.
Day 3: Jeep Tour of Thórsmörk & Mountain HikingIn the morning, you'll embark on a full-day tour and hike in Thórsmörk. This mountain ridge is named after the Norse god Thor and is located in southern Iceland between the Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull glaciers. It was designated a Natural Mountain Reserve in 1918 due to its diverse landscape characterized by unique rock formations, impressive gorges, scrubby slopes, and a wide variety of endemic vegetation like ferns, birchwood, and other shrubs. The road here is rough and only accessible by 4WD; for this reason, you'll be entering the reserve on a guided tour in a modified Jeep.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: South Coast Waterfalls & Katla Ice Cave
Get ready for a scenic drive down Route 1 (Ring Road) along the southern coast of Iceland. One of the highlights you'll pass is Urriðafoss, a waterfall on Iceland's longest river of Þjórsá. The falls here aren't big, but they do cascade at high speeds over rugged lava rocks. You can also stretch your legs at Kvernufoss, a small canyon near Seljalandsfoss, where a romantic waterfall plunges 200 feet (60 m) into a lagoon.
Next up is Skógarfoss. Located just outside the town of Skógar, this thundering waterfall cascades 200 feet (60 m) over a cliff into the Skógá River. Near the southernmost tip of Iceland, you'll pass the town of Vík, known for its scenic coastal cliffs and volcanic beaches. Nearby is Dyrhólaey, a 393-foot (120 m) rock promontory whose name derives from its massive natural arch (Dyrhólaey translates to "door-hole"). After enjoying the views, you can stroll the black sands of Reynisfjara Beach, whose jagged rock formations lend it an otherworldly quality.
Later, you'll meet a guide in Vík for a tour of the Katla Ice Cave, which is located in the Kötlujökull glacier. First, you'll receive your necessary equipment and a safety briefing. Then, your guide will lead you on an exciting glacier walk to the cave entrance. The shimmering, otherworldly interior of Katla is so evocative that it was actually a filming location for "Game of Thrones." Upon entering, you'll have up to an hour to explore this natural wonder, and afterward, you'll transfer to your hotel in the nearby village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
Day 5: Explore River Canyons, Skaftafell Glacier Hike
In the morning, leave Vík and drive east on Route 1 to Jökulsárlón, a glacial lagoon on the coast. The drive takes 2.5 hours, but you can stop on the way to visit natural attractions. One option is to enjoy the viewpoints and distinctive rock formations of the Fjaðrárgljúfur river canyon.
Eventually, you'll arrive at Jökulsárlón, the deepest lake in Iceland (656 ft/200 m). The icebergs floating on its surface are over 1,000 years old, and if you're lucky, you might spot seals and whales in the water. From here, follow the lagoon to the adjacent Diamond Beach. This black-sand beach is famous for the iceberg fragments that drift ashore from the lagoon and sparkle in the sunlight.
Later in the day, you'll strap on the crampons and embark on a four-hour hike on the Skaftafell glacier. This icy giant extends from Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. First, you'll meet your certified guide. Then, after receiving your equipment and safety instructions, step onto the glacier and take a walk on this 1,000-year-old ice. The experience is incredible, and it will feel as if you're walking on a foreign planet. Afterward, you'll return to Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
Day 6: Drive up the South Coast, ATV Beach Ride
Hop in the car this morning and head back up the coast. Just like the previous days, there will be many places you can stop and enjoy the scenery. One unique landmark is Hjörleifshöfði. Known as the "Yoda cave," the entrance to this cavern is actually shaped like the diminutive character from "Star Wars." You can also stop at Eldhraun lava field. This enormous field of moss-covered lava rocks resulted from a fissure eruption in 1783 and is believed to have been one of the greatest lava flows in history.
Near Vík, you'll enjoy an exciting ATV ride along Iceland's famous black-sand beaches. This two-hour tour kicks off when you meet your guide and receive a safety briefing. Your group will then head over to the coast near the Dyrhólaey rock promontory. Here, you'll drive along the black sands and pass the wreckage of a plane that crashed in 1973. After traveling to a river and up the foot of a mountain, you'll return to the base. Then, drive your car back to the town of Hella, where you'll overnight.
Day 7: Jeep Tour of Nature Reserves, Waterfalls & Volcanos
After breakfast, leave your car for another Jeep ride around Iceland's natural wonders. There's much to see on this full-day tour, too. First, travel to the extraordinary geological area of Landmannalaugar in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve. Here, you can marvel at the area's colorful, "painted" mountains.
Then, head inland to more remote waterfalls you haven't yet had a chance to see. The star is Hjálparfoss, a beautiful waterfall in the Thjorsa Valley whose double cascades point toward each other and appear as mirror images. Farther south, at the Merkjá River, you'll find Gluggafoss (Window Falls). The river here has formed tunnels and grooves in the soft rock, creating "windows" in the falls, hence the name.
Day 8: Drive to Reykjavík & the Golden CircleIn the morning, hit the road back to Reykjavík, taking your time as you enjoy even more of the Golden Circle. If you missed them the first time around, you can also stop at impressive waterfalls like Urriðafoss and Kvernufoss. At the latter, there's a museum where you can learn about the area's history and how people traversed the glacial rivers before they were bridged. Upon arrival in Reykjavík, you'll check in at your hotel and will have the remainder of the day free.
Day 9: Inside the Volcano & Night Out in Reykjavík
It's quite an experience to hike up a volcano, but few people in the world can say they've actually been inside one. That's exactly where you're going today when you travel south of Reykjavík for a tour of Þríhnúkagígur. This dormant volcano has not erupted for the past 4,000 years, which makes it perfectly safe to go inside. Getting there requires hiking a little less than an hour up to the crater rim and then taking an elevator 393 feet (120 m) down into the cavernous magma chamber. It's guaranteed you'll never experience scenery quite like that inside a volcano.
Afterward, head back to your hotel in Reykjavík and spend the remainder of the afternoon relaxing. In the evening, feel free to check out the city's famed nightlife scene. There are plenty of bars where you can sip on a tasty craft beer or cocktail while listening to live music.
Day 10: Tour Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart
Time to say goodbye to Iceland. In the morning, make your way to the airport, and If there's enough time before your flight, maybe go to the Blue Lagoon again for more relaxation in its soothing waters. Or, you can continue the road trip and visit charming fishing villages, lava fields, and the Reykjanes Geopark.
Another highlight is Krýsuvík. This geothermal area is situated on Iceland's tectonic plates and is filled with hot springs, steam vents, and mud pots. You can also see bubbling mud cauldrons at Gunnuhver Hot Springs, named after a female ghost who was supposedly trapped here by a priest 400 years ago. Temperatures are a balmy 572°F (300°C), so stay well within the marked pathways. Afterward, drop off your rental car and board your flight home. Safe travels!