Take a 15-day self-drive tour of Iceland's phenomenal landscapes and natural vistas, starting with a trip along the Reykjanes Peninsula and a dip in the Blue Lagoon. Visit the Golden Circle and hike through the stunning Reykjadalur Valley, then see beluga whales and puffins in the Westman Islands. Continue counter-clockwise around the entire Icelandic coast as you scale thunderous waterfalls, traverse otherworldly lava fields, ride horses along black-sand beaches, and overnight in colorful fishing villages.


  • Bathe in the healing mineral waters of the Blue Lagoon
  • See massive floating glacier ice at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
  • Get up close and personal with marine life in the whale watching capital of Húsavik
  • Tour the subterranean world of Iceland's largest lava cave

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Keflavík, Drive to Vogar via Reykjanes Peninsula & Blue Lagoon Vogar
Day 2 Drive to Hveragerði via Golden Circle & Cave People Civilization Museum Hveragerði
Day 3 Ferry to Westman Islands, Beluga Whale Sanctuary, Explore Heimaey Westman Islands
Day 4 Drive to Vík via South Coast Waterfalls, Dyrholaey & Reynisfjara  Vík
Day 5 Drive to Höfn via Fjaðrárgljúfur, Jökulsárlón & Diamond Beach Höfn
Day 6 Explore Höfn, Drive to Eskifjordur via Djupivogur Eskifjordur
Day 7 Drive to Seydisfjordur via Borgarfjordur Eystri & Egilsstadir Seydisfjordur
Day 8 Drive to Raufarhöfn via Northeast Iceland & Arctic Henge Raufarhofn
Day 9 Drive to Húsavik via Asbyrgi Canyon, GeoSea Geothermal Baths Húsavik
Day 10 Seaside Horse Ride, Drive to Lake Mývatn via Dettifoss Lake Mývatn
Day 11 Drive to Hvammstangi via Northwest Iceland & Godafoss Hvammstangi
Day 12 Drive to Olafsvík via Eiriksstadir Viking Longhouse & Stykkisholmur Olafsvík
Day 13 Drive to Húsafell via Snæfellsnes, West Iceland & Borgarfjörður Húsafell
Day 14 Drive to Reykjavík via Lava Cave Tour & Reykholt Reykjavík
Day 15 Tour Downtown Reykjavík, Drive to Keflavik & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, Drive to Vogar via Reykjanes Peninsula & Blue Lagoon

A visit to the Blue Lagoon

Welcome to Iceland, home to some of the world's most amazing geological wonders! Upon your arrival at Keflavík airport, head out on Iceland's Ring Road, or Route 1. This is one of their primary roadways, and as the name indicates, it circles around the whole country. Your journey starts on the Reykjanes Peninsula, a moonlike landscape that provides an excellent introduction to the unusual landmarks and sights you'll find here. 

Make your first stop at the colorful geothermal areas of Gunnuhver and Krysuvik. Here, you'll find simmering mud pools, fumaroles, and steamy hot springs. You'll also want to stop in at Kleifarvatn Lake, which at 3.5 square miles (9.1 sq km) is the largest lake on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The lake is interesting in that it is not fed by any rivers—the water comes from the porous lava rock surrounding it. Visit the volcanic crater lake at Graenavatn, then walk the Bridge Between Continents, where you can cross the bridge between the Mid-Atlantic's continental plates and look down at the gap below. 
Later, make your way to the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland's most well-known destinations and a must-see for any visitor. Take a relaxing soak in the lagoon's blend of seawater and geothermally heated water, which is rich in silica, minerals, and algae. The lagoon also includes man-made waterfalls, which can be fun to take a dip in, and sauna and steam rooms. The waters of the lagoon have long been hailed as a cure for various ailments, and are internationally recognized as a psoriasis treatment facility. Overnight in the nearby community of Vogar tonight before continuing your drive tomorrow. 

Day 2: Drive to Hveragerði via Golden Circle & Cave People Civilization Museum

Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park
Drive the Golden Circle today. Your first stop will be Þingvellir National Park, which is part of the Atlantic Ocean ridge that runs through Iceland. Visit the Geysir geothermal area, where you can see Strokkur geyser—it erupts every 8-10 minutes and can hit heights of more than 130 feet (40 m)! Later, head to Gullfoss (Golden Falls), where you can hike the falls or visit the volcanic crater of Kerið
To learn more about the history of Iceland, visit the Cave People Civilization Museum, located near the town of Laugarvatn. As recently as 100 years ago, some Icelandic people built their homes into the earth and rock, earning them the nickname "cave people." Take a 25-minute guided tour of the cave homes and the surrounding areas, and hear the stories behind the houses and the people who lived there. The museum also has a café where you can grab lunch or a snack. 
Finish your day with a hike through Reykjadalur, or "Steam Valley." The region is part of the Hengill volcanic system, and although the last eruption was more than 2,000 years ago, the area is still very active with mud pools, fumaroles, a hot river, and steam coming out of the mountainside. There is a well-marked trail that you can take to the hot river, where you can take a dip or just relax. Be aware that the water temperatures can vary, with warmer areas at the top and cooler ones below. Tonight, stay in Hveragerði, a small village that sits nearby.

Day 3: Ferry to Westman Islands, Beluga Whale Sanctuary, Explore Heimaey

A puffin of the Westman Islands

Make the 1.5-hour drive from Hveragerði 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. Your ferry lands on Heimaey, the only inhabited island of the group. 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, you can spend some time exploring the village of Heimaey. Learn about the volcanic history of the islands at the Eldheimar Museum, or visit the Viking Stave Church, located near the harbor at Skansinn. While the church looks hundreds of years old, it was actually built in the year 2000, a gift from Norway. In the summer months, you can see the huge puffin colony of Storhofdi at the southernmost tip of the island. The island also has several locations you can hike to, including the peaks of Helgafell and Heimaklettur. Overnight in Heimaey, where you can enjoy dinner at a local restaurant. 

Day 4: Drive to Vík via South Coast Waterfalls, Dyrholaey & Reynisfjara 

Stunning views of Reynisfjara Beach

This morning, take the ferry back to Landeyjahöfn and continue along the Ring Road and Iceland's South Coast. Your final destination is the town of Vík, with several stopping points along the way. Start with Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which is unique in that it is one of the only known waterfalls you can actually walk behind. Access is a fairly easy few-minute walk from the parking lot, and you can stand in a cave under the cliffs and watch the water roaring in front of you. Then, head to nearby Skógafoss, where the waters often create dazzling rainbows, making it one of Iceland's most photographed falls. 

From here, travel to the Dyrholaey Arch and surrounding cliffs. This nearly 400-foot (120 m) promenade showcases some of the most amazing panoramas of the southern coast. The road to the arch diverges, and you'll want to take the higher road for the best views. At the top, you can see portions of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, and the endless coastline of a black-sand beach. If heights don't scare you, walk along the arch for even more impressive views! 
Your last stop before Vík will be Reynisfjara Beach. This stretch of black sand is most known for the Reynisdrangar Columns, huge basalt hexagonal sea stacks that are the nesting grounds for various seabirds. You can walk the beach, and if you head around the cliffs facing the ocean, you'll come upon a couple of large caves worth exploring. After your beach visit, drive to Vík and get settled at your hotel for the evening. 

Day 5: Drive to Höfn via Fjaðrárgljúfur, Jökulsárlón & Diamond Beach

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon 
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Discover Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, located just off the Ring Road and near the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur. This stunning landmark has only recently become a popular tourist destination, but it's definitely a must-see. The canyon is approximately 1.25 miles (2 km) long and more than 300 feet (100 m) deep, with the river Fjaðrá running through it. A gravel road from the highway takes you into the canyon, with easy walking trails that allow you to walk all the way to the highest ridges. 
Your next stop is at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, where you can take in the unusual sight of icebergs floating in the sea and beached on the black-sand shores of Diamond Beach. Hike into the nearby hills for better views of the area, or take a boat tour of the lagoon to get a closer look at the massive icebergs. You might also see seals, porpoises, or small whales in the lagoon's waters. Your last stop is the town of Höfn, where you'll overnight. 

Day 6: Explore Höfn, Drive to Eskifjordur via Djupivogur

Colorful fishing boats in Höfn

Start your day with an exploration of Höfn, locally known as the "lobster capital" of Iceland. This fishing village sits at the base of Vatnajökull glacier and is surrounded by the tongues of many outlet glaciers, making for stunning views all around. For a deep dive into the region's geology, head to the Gamlabud building, which houses an information center and exhibit on the glaciers, as well as the region's birdlife. Then, visit the Seamen's Monument, located just outside the city in Ósland, a conservation area with hiking trails and plenty of bird-watching opportunities. 

After your departure from Höfn, your next stop is Djupivogurm, a small town in the Eastfjords. This is another great spot for bird-watching, as the shallow lagoons, coastal lakes, and numerous mudflats are magnets for various avian species. The area is dominated by the pyramid-shaped peak of Bulandstindur, which towers at more than 3,500 feet (1,069 m) and the town itself has several art studios and outdoor galleries. Stop in at Langabud, Djupivogur's oldest standing house, which now serves as a cultural center, or visit Teigahorn Farm, a mining site that offers exhibitions about the region's minerals. 

Your final destination today is the town of Eskifjordur. After you arrive and get checked in at your accommodations, take a guided walking tour of this charming seaside village. You'll stroll the streets of the town while a local storyteller shares the history of the area and the Icelandic legends that surround it. Later, head to the nearby Hólmanes Nature Reserve, which has several hiking trails, and end your day with a meal at a local Eskifjordur restaurant. 

Day 7: Drive to Seydisfjordur via Borgarfjordur Eystri & Egilsstadir

The quaint town of Seydisfjordur
The quaint town of Seydisfjordur

Travel to Borgarfjörður Eystri, the northernmost region of the Eastfjords. The route takes you along spectacular mountain passes, with your first stop in the tiny town of Bakkagerdi. Visit the Lindarbakki turf-roofed house, one of the few remaining inhabited turf houses in Iceland and an important landmark of the village, then walk to Alfaborg hill, which is believed to be the home of the Elf Queen and offers panoramic views over the town and fjord. You'll also want to see Hafnarholmi hill, an islet that is home to nesting puffins. There is a stairway and viewing platform that allows you to get quite close to the birds. 

From here, continue on to the Fljotsdalsherad area and the town of Egilsstaðir, which is about an hour down the road. The largest town in the Eastfjords, Egilsstaðir is often referred to as the "capital" of the region. The town sits on the banks of Lagarfljot, Iceland's third-largest lake, which is rumored to have its own lake monster! You can hike around the area, taking in views of the lake and nearby waterfalls, or have lunch at one of the town's cafés. 

Your next and final stop for the day is the town of Seyðisfjörður, which is located on the fjord of the same name. Seyðisfjörður fjord is a winding 10-mile (17 km) waterway, with waterfalls and hiking trails nearby. The town is considered one of Iceland's most picturesque, primarily due to the number of old wooden buildings that have been well-preserved here. Visit the Blue Church, which was originally built on the Dvergasteinn Farm, but was moved and rebuilt in Seyðisfjörður, and make the 15-minute hike up to Tvisongur sound sculpture, created by German artist Lukas Kühne. 

Day 8: Drive to Raufarhöfn via Northeast Iceland & Arctic Henge

Iceland's Arctic Henge

Journey off the beaten path today as you drive Road 870, which takes you along Iceland's Arctic Coast Way in the northeast. Here, you'll find remote fishing villages, incredible ocean views, and fascinating geological formations. Stop at the Melrakkasletta (Arctic Fox) plains, a beautiful natural landscape where you might even catch a glimpse of its namesake. You'll also want to stop at the Langanes and Raudanes peninsulas, where you'll find sea stacks, arches, and caves to explore, not to mention a host of seabirds. You can hike along the cliffs here for miles of endless sea views.

Just as you reach your final destination of Raufarhöfn, one of the most remote villages in Iceland, you'll come across the Arctic Henge (Heimskautsgerðið). Similar to ancient Stonehenge, the Arctic Henge works as a huge sundial, with four 19-foot (6 m) gates and a 32-foot (10 m) high column. The monument was designed by artist Haukur Halldórsson, with its still-underway construction beginning in 2004. Overnight in Raufarhöfn this evening before continuing your drive tomorrow. 

Day 9: Drive to Húsavik via Asbyrgi Canyon, GeoSea Geothermal Baths

Views of Ásbyrgi Canyon

Visit the spectacular Ásbyrgi Canyon today. This massive landmark curves into a U-shape, taking up about 2 miles (3 km) from north to south. Local folklore says the canyon is the footprint of Sleipnir, Odin's eight-legged horse, but in reality, it was formed thousands of years ago during catastrophic flooding of the Jokulsa a Fjollum river. Stop in at the on-site visitor's center, where you can learn about the geology of the area, glacial floods, and the formation of the canyon. There are also maps there with various hiking routes, which could easily turn into an all-day adventure if you like! 

Continue to the town of Húsavik, which sits on Skjálfandi Bay and is Iceland's oldest settlement. Check in to your accommodations here, then head to the harbor for some whale viewing. Often called the "whale capital" of Iceland, the town is known for its whale watching tours, primarily because as opposed to other regions where you might have to go far out to sea to view marine life, they often have whales, porpoises, and seabirds right by the main harbor. There are regular tours that depart from the city harbor, and there are also plenty of museums, galleries, and restaurants to explore. 
If you're looking to relax and recover from your road-tripping, spend some time at nearby GeoSea Geothermal Baths. These mineral-rich waters are known for their healing properties, and their cliffside location provides a perfect vantage point for views of the bay and whale watching. There are three main pools, a bar area, and communal showers, as well as steam rooms available. 

Day 10: Seaside Horse Ride, Drive to Lake Mývatn via Dettifoss

Guided horseback rides along the coast

Start your day by taking a closer look at Iceland's coastlines via a guided horseback tour. You'll be matched with a horse that meets your equestrian skills, and your guide will share information about Húsavík's history as you ride along the beaches. The tour also takes you into the hills above the nearby farm of Salfarm, where you'll see fantastic views of the bay of Skjálfandi (known as the "world of whales"). 

Then, it's off to Lake Mývatn via the Diamond Circle. After leaving Húsavík, make your first stop at Jokulsargljufur, a 15-mile (25 km) long glacial river canyon that is home to several waterfalls including Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful falls. From there, it's an hour or so drive to the lake, where you'll spend the night. After you get settled at your accommodations, take a walk along the landscapes of Hverir and Leirhnjukur, or hike to Dimmuborgir, an area of lava rocks that resemble ancient towers.
Fans of the series "Game of Thrones" will want to visit nearby Grjótagjá Cave, a natural spring that was once a film site for the show. You can also visit the massive Skútustaðagígar pseudocraters, which look like real volcanic craters but actually have no magma conduit. Finish the afternoon with a trek to the volcanic crater of Hverfjall (Crater Mountain). Later tonight, warm up in the healing waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths, an alkaline lagoon where you can swim, soak, or hop into one of the nearby steam baths. 

Day 11: Drive to Hvammstangi via Northwest Iceland & Godafoss

Magnificant Godafoss waterfall

You may find the northwest to be less of a tourist hub than other parts of Iceland, but this often-overlooked region has several natural landmarks that are true gems. Visit the monolithic Hvitserkur sea stack, rising from the ocean at a height of nearly 50 feet (15 m). Legend has it that Hvítserkur was once a troll, terrorizing the nearby Þingeyraklaustur convent until he was captured by the rays of the sun and turned to stone. As you drive along the Vatnsnes Peninsula, you're likely to see seals, whales, or other wildlife. 

Just a few minutes off the Ring Road is Godafoss, the "Waterfall of the Gods." These thunderous falls flow from the river Skjálfandafljót, with a height of nearly 40 feet (12 m). According to local legend, the waterfall was so named when a local chieftain decide to convert the country to Christianity and threw all the old Nordic gods into the falls. Enjoy the stunning views here and take advantage of these once-in-a-lifetime photo ops.

Make a stop at Borgarvirki, a volcanic plug that is said to have once been a Viking fortress, which offers some truly amazing views if you climb to the top. Later, drive to the town of Hvammstangi, where you'll overnight. This small village is known for its seal population, and a visit to the Icelandic Seal Center there will provide you with information on the best viewing spots for seals and other marine life. The region is also home to Kolugljufur Gorge, which has a large waterfall and beautiful views of the countryside.

Day 12: Drive to Ólafsvík via Eiriksstadir Viking Longhouse & Stykkisholmur

Views from the lighthouse at Stykkisholmur

Your drive continues as you depart Hvammstangi and head west toward the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Make your first stop of the day at Eiriksstadir Viking Longhouse, a replica of a Viking turf house built alongside the ruins of the original structure. The house is the former homestead of Erik the Red, and the birthplace of Norse explorer Leif Erikson. You can learn about the Vikings and their way of life, see their weapons, and even try a Viking helmet on for size! 

Next, stop in the village of Stykkisholmur, the largest town in Snæfellsnes. Formed in the mid-16th century and named after a small island in the harbor, Stykkid, this charming village features picture-perfect views of bobbing fishing boats, colorful wooden houses, and expansive views. Climb to the brightly-painted Sugandiseyjarviti Lighthouse where you can see all of Breidafjordur Bay laid out before you, then have lunch at one of the town's several local restaurants. 

Tonight, you'll stay in Ólafsvík, a village located on the west side of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. You can visit their regional museum, Pakkhus, an old trading store that has been converted to showcase the history of seafarers and Icelandic trading, or stop in at the harbor and see their maritime museum. The town also offers plenty of opportunities for hiking, bird-watching, or just strolling on the beach. 

Day 13: Drive to Húsafell via Snæfellsnes, West Iceland & Borgarfjörður

Mount Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall

Explore Snæfellsnes today, a 55-mile (90 km) peninsula that is dominated by the Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano, which stands at a towering 4,744 feet (1,446 m). Begin 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. This was another filming location for the HBO "Game of Thrones" series.

Travel to the lava fields of Berserkjahraun and Budahraun, created thousands of years ago by the eruptions of nearby craters. Walk the black-sand beaches of Djupalonssandur to see the unusual rock formations, then visit the historic Buðir Black Church, a nearly 200-year-old parish church that was painted with pitch to protect it from Iceland's harsh weather. You can also take a quick drive to Grabrok crater, where you can hike to the top for views of Borgarfjörður and the surrounding mountains. 
This afternoon, make your way to the town of Húsafell and check in at your accommodations. Once you've gotten settled, take a guided hike to Húsafell Canyon Baths. Starting at a nearby trailhead, this two-hour nature walk takes you through surreal landscapes, forested pathways, and waterfalls. It culminates with a short descent into a majestic gorge where you can rest and rejuvenate in the healing waters of the hot springs. 

Day 14: Drive to Reykjavík via Lava Cave Tour & Reykholt

Snorralaug, one of Iceland's oldest hot pools

Just a short drive from Húsafell is the Víðgelmir lava tube, the largest in Iceland. Take a guided tour into the caves here, where you'll see the vivid colors and unusual rock formations created by volcanic activity. Your guides will share information on the geology and history of the region, and the state-of-the-art lighting and easy-access walkways make it enjoyable for all ages. 

Later today, visit the village of Reykholt, which is located near the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls and Deildartunguhver, Europe's most powerful hot spring. The village itself is steeped in history, as it was once the home of Norse writer and historian, Snorri Sturluson. Stop in at Snorrastofa, the town's cultural center, and see the historical exhibits, then walk to Snorralaug, one of Iceland's oldest hot pools. Afterward, make the 1.5-hour drive to Reykjavík, where you'll overnight. 

Day 15: Tour Downtown Reykjavík, Drive to Keflavík & Depart 

Exploring Downtown Reykjavik
Explore downtown Reykjavík
Sadly, it's departure day, but before you head to Keflavík airport and fly out, spend your morning exploring Reykjavík, Iceland's capital and largest city. This lively cultural hub offers diverse art, restaurants, and some of the country's most noteworthy historic sites. Start with a walk through the compact downtown area and check out the street art, then head to the water and see the Sun Voyager, a metal sculpture that replicates a Viking ship. 
Walk by Harpa Concert Hall and take in its unusual glass architecture, and climb the tower at Hallgrimskirkja church for views of the entire city. You can also visit some of the local museums around town, such as the Northern Lights Center, the Saga Museum, the Marine Museum, or the Whales of Iceland Exhibition. And if you have time, join a whale watching tour from Reykjavík Harbor. This afternoon, return your car to Keflavík and wave goodbye to Iceland. Safe travels home or to your next destination! 

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Map of Natural Wonders of Iceland: Volcanoes, Waterfalls, Hot Springs & Glaciers - 15 Days
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