Experience all the best Iceland has to offer in only nine days! This perfect nine-day Iceland itinerary will ensure you hit all the must-dos and must-tries during your island adventure. It’s complete with additional suggested hidden gems.
Included in your nine-day tour is a rental car, accommodations, a glacier hike in South Iceland, and a whale-watching tour in North Iceland. You will receive a detailed itinerary and information package
All at the best price available.
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Deildartunguhver the most powerful hot spring in Europe
- Hraunfossar Waterfalls
- Barnafossar waterfall
- Gerðuberg Basalt Columns
- Arnarstapi & Hellnar villages
- Lóndrangar Sea Stacks
- Djúpalónssandur Pebble Beach
- Mt. Kirkjufell
- The Golden Circle Tour
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- Geysir Hot Springs
- Thingvellir National Park
- Skogafoss Waterfall
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Gljufrabui Waterfall
- Eyjafjallajokull Volcano View
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Vík Village
- Whale watching in Dalvik
- Skaftafell National Park
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
- Glacier Hiking on Solheimajokull Glacier
- Fjadrargljufur Canyon
- Eldhraun Lava Field
- Lómagnúpur mountain rock
- Reykjavík Capital of Iceland
- Akureyri - The capital of the north
- And many more you can visit using our detailed guide!
Choose between pickup at Keflavik international airport (KEF) or BSI bus terminal in downtown Reykjavik, at flexible times.
For the best experience we recommend that you pick the car up early on departure day, and return it in the afternoon or evening on the last day.
By default your drop-off location is always set to Keflavik international airport (KEF), no matter which pickup location you select.
You can however drop-off the car at BSI Bus Terminal in Reykjavik, on the last day. If you prefer this drop-off location you can change the drop-off location afterwards (details can be found in the confirmation email).
- Accommodation for 8 nights w. breakfast
- Rental car for 9 days (with all basic insurances: Collision Damage Waiver, Personal Accident Insurance and Theft protection)
- Glacier hike on Solheimajokull glacier
- Whale watching tour in Dalvik
- Detailed itinerary and information package
Remember to bring:
- Warm clothes
- Hiking shoes
- A driver's license
Accommodation: Comfort accommodation is included in the package. Good locations, breakfast included and you get a private bathroom.
Note: If you book for 2 or 4 persons you get twin / double rooms. If you book for 3 or 5 persons you get a combination of double/twin rooms and a single room.
Optional Extra: If your flight schedule allows, you can stop at the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa on your way to the airport on day 9, for a relaxing swim. The admission fee is not included and a pre-booking is required. We recommend you do so on bluelagoon.com. Remember to bring a bathing suit and a towel, if you don’t you will need to rent or hire them.
If 4 persons - May vary depending on group size, season and availability.
Iceland’s Ring Road is one of the world’s most impressive road trips. You will drive through incredible landscapes that will leave you breathless! You’ll admire the awe-inspiring views of active volcanoes, sparkling blue glaciers, stunning waterfalls and much more!
Drive the fabled Golden Circle route, where you can experience the incredible power of the Mother Nature. Witness a real geyser erupting only a few meters from you. Walk between the continental plates and discover the amazing history of a UNESCO World Heritage site. Feel the spray of Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most powerful waterfalls, hit your face.
Explore the legendary south coast and its majestic beauty. Climb to the top of 60m (197 ft) tall waterfalls. Feel the pitch black sand of the volcanic beaches. Pose with stunning columnar basalt formations, and watch for the rare nesting seabirds you are sure to see nearby. Discover a rugged Icelandic glacier and experience what it feels like to walk on its unearthly surface.
Tour the more remote parts of this beautiful country, and see the real face of Iceland. Wander through tiny fishing villages, drive around scenic fjords, encounter arctic wildlife, and more. You’ll see reindeer in the east, and whales in the north. You also have a very good chance of spotting some seals, arctic foxes, wild running horses and sheep all over the country! You’ll also get a chance to soak in some of Iceland’s amazing hot geothermal pools. Let the unmatched Nordic atmosphere envelop you!
If you have your own rental car, you have freedom. Spend as much time as you like at any location you want, and make extra stops whenever you feel like it. You can head out in the middle of the night for a northern light hunt or to take a walk in the midnight sun.
Day 1 - Arrival and The Golden Circle
The Nine-Day Iceland Self Drive Itinerary is perfect for morning arrivals. You can pick up your rental car at the airport and start your road trip right away. Alternatively, arrive a day before the tour starts and arrange a night stay in the capital region. Choose Reykjavík for the pick-up location of your rental car and start your journey in the morning.
On your first day, you’ll explore the famous Golden Circle route. It features the landscapes of the typical Icelandic countryside and world-famous geological wonders.
Thingvellir National Park
Your first stop will be Thingvellir National Park. It has been recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site for both its historical and geological importance. Þingvellir, often spelled Thingvellir, is a renowned geological site where the tectonic plates drift apart. Here you will be able to walk between continents along in a crack between the sturdy cliffs that form the edges of the Eurasian and North American plates.
Thingvellir also has some amazing historical significance. A few decades after Iceland was settled by the Vikings, the Icelandic Parliament was established at this very site in the year 930. Iceland has the world’s oldest operational parliament.
Geyser Geothermal Field
Next, you will travel to the geyser hot springs area where you will see boiling water blow up to 20-30 meters into the air. You will see the famous ‘Geysir’ from which the English and many other languages was adopted the word geyser (géiser, geysir, gejzir, etc.) The very active Strokkur geyser erupts every five to eight minutes. The area is filled with many bubbling hot springs, steaming mud pots and impressive fumaroles.
Next, you’ll visit the stunning Gullfoss Waterfall, an extremely powerful waterfall that carries enormous quantities of water. The fall cascades impressively down two levels and ends in a deep gorge. In the summertime, you can walk close to the fall and feel its incredible power only a few meters from the cascade. If you are really lucky, a rainbow will show up over the waterfall, providing an amazing photo opportunity.
Additional Golden Circle Attractions
Thingvellir, geysers, and Gullfoss are the main attractions on the Golden Circle route but there are plenty of other unique places where you can make extra stops. You will drive past the local favorite Laugarvatn Lake that is home to an amazing luxurious spa. Another great stop could be Flúðir, a geothermal village where the Secret Lagoon, Iceland’s largest natural geothermal pool, is found. Or visit the Friðheimar, a tomato plantation where you can taste delicious greenhouse-grown tomatoes and tomato-based dishes. You can also visit a stunning crater of an old volcano, called Kerið. There is so much to see in the area!
After the sightseeing road trip, you can check in at your hotel in the Golden Circle / Selfoss / Hella / Hvolsvöllur area.
Day 2 - The South Coast
Next up on the Nine-Day Self Drive Iceland Itinerary is the South Coast. The southern part of the country is, without a doubt, one of the most visited areas of Iceland. It is for a very good reason… the most impressive sights are found here!
After you have finished your delicious hotel breakfast, you’ll head east along the southern coastline of Iceland. Plenty of breathtaking attractions await you!
Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi and Skógafoss Waterfalls
Your first stop is the famous Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi, the best waterfalls in Iceland. They are found very close to each other, only a few hundred meters apart. Seljalandsfoss is the famous cascade that, in the summertime, you can walk behind. The waterfall drops over 60 meters (197 feet) with an intense power to pool at your feet. The water originates at the infamous volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull.
Walk five minutes from Seljalandsfoss to the west and you will find the breathtaking Gljúfrabúi waterfall hidden within a crack of the rock-face. Many people don't even know about it! Gljúfrabúi, however, is not for the faint-hearted, so be prepared to get soaked!
The next hair-raising natural beauty is only a 30-minute drive away. Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. You can climb the stairs to the 60-meter-high top and admire the fantastic panorama from there. With its 25m width, Skógafoss is incredibly powerful, and standing near it will surely take your breath away.
A short walk from the waterfall you’ll find a charming folk museum with authentic turf houses. The museum showcases a huge variety of tools and artifacts dating back to the Viking age. Visit the open-air museum and can soak in the atmosphere of how the Vikings lived through the centuries.
The Black Sand Beach Coastline: Dyrhólaey, Reynisfjara and Vík
Continuing your journey along the South Coast heading east, the next stop is the famous Black Sand Beach area. There are three stops that we recommend here.
The first one is Dyrhólaey, a small peninsula. It is famous for its oddly shaped 120 meter high (394 feet) arch formations, incredibly stunning sea cliffs and breathtaking views of the many miles of long black sand beaches.
Reynisfjara comes next, and it’s only a few miles further. It has basalt columns, towering sea stacks, and a basalt column cave. Reynisfjara has been ranked as one of the 10 most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world by the American journal, Islands Magazine.
Not far from here lies the adorable fishing village of Vík. This small seaside village has lovely cafes, restaurants, shops and all of the most important services. Here you can enjoy a good local lunch with a stunning view of the black sand beach and its curious sea stacks.
Guided Hike on a Glacier
When you visit Iceland, the land of fire and ice, exploring at least one glacier is a must. So, this day of your tour will bring you spine-tingling adventure: you will hike safely to the surface of Sólheimajökull glacier with an expert glacier guide. Explore the hair-raising crevasses and see breathtaking ice-sculptures. This experience is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to create amazing memories!
The glacier hike is easy and suitable for everyone over the age of 10 who is comfortable with walking on uneven surfaces. Make sure you wear good hiking shoes when you go glacier hiking since you will be given crampons to wear over your shoes.
After this adventurous day, you will spend the night in a charming country hotel in the Vík / Kirkjubæjarklaustur area.
Day 3 - the Ice Wonders: Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach
On your third day, you’ll drive through very dramatic landscapes and enter Iceland’s largest national park, Vatnajökull. It got its name from Europe’s largest ice cap, which dominates the landscape and is over 60 miles long. Some thrilling glacier tongues are visible from the road that leads east. These are outlet glaciers from Vatnajökull.
Skaftafell Nature Reserve is part of the national park and we highly recommend you make a stop here where you can walk quite close to some of the glaciers. There are some amazing hiking routes, including a two-hour loop that takes you to Svartifoss, one of Iceland’s most photogenic waterfalls. This famous ‘black fall” tumbles down 20 meters (65 ft), the water cascading from impressive black columnar rock formations.
Continuing your journey, you might want to make a stop at Iceland’s Hollywood glacier, Svínafellsjökull. It has been a filming location for plenty of blockbuster movies and television shows, from Game of Thrones to Star Wars and Batman, to name just a few.
The next stop is probably the most beautiful place you will ever see. Many of those who have visited it would agree that the Jökulsarlón Glacier Lagoon is probably the most awe-inspiring sight in Iceland. Massive pieces of ice break away from a glacier tongue and float through a vast lagoon towards the sea. The lagoon is filled with giant blue-white icebergs and it’s in a constant state of change. The icebergs float slowly, flip around and collapse while the lagoon receives new ice from the glacier every day.
Only a kilometer from Jökulsarlón lies the beautiful Diamond Beach. It is a black sand coastline where giant icebergs have washed up on the seashore. They resemble a multitude of sparkling diamonds. This place is absolutely unique, as it never looks the same twice.
After this experience, you will have sweet dreams for sure. You will spend the night in a peaceful country hotel in the Skaftafell / Höfn area.
Day 4 - East Fjords
On your fourth day, you will head north. You'll drive through the charming and undisturbed Icelandic east fjords. Enjoy the matchless fjord scenery and keep your eyes wide open, as you have a very good chance to see some reindeer!
Höfn, the Lobster Capital of Iceland
On this day you can visit Iceland’s lobster capital, Höfn. The high-value Norwegian lobster and the Icelandic lobster catches are landed and processed here. Do not skip tasting a lobster in this charming fishing town!
Hvalnes Nature Reserve: Eystrahorn, Stokksnes, and the Vestrahorn
Leaving the town behind, you’ll visit the beautiful Hvalnes Nature Reserve. Besides a picturesque yellow lighthouse, you’ll see some of Iceland’s most photographed mountains. The Eystrahorn, Stokksnes, and the Vestrahorn are located here. Surrounded by grassy black sand dunes, this place is more beautiful than you could ever imagine!
Next, you will drive around some long and narrow fjords and see breathtaking lagoons with incredibly rich birdlife. You’ll pass by a scenic, pyramid-shaped mountain before arriving at Djúpivogur, which is a charming, little fishing village with incomparable natural beauty. Visit its heritage museum and coffee-shop, and taste their delicious homemade cakes.
Petra’s Stone Collection
Leaving the village, continue driving on the gentle serpentine roads of the Eastfjords. You’ll pass by rustic farms and tiny villages. There is an impressive rock collection that Petra, a local lady who has been collecting from her age of seven until she passed away a few years ago at age of 96. This unique exhibition is definitely worth a visit!
Iceland’s Largest Forest on the Shore of the Monster Lake
Soon you’ll leave the fjord area and head towards the monster-lake, Lagarfljót. It is Iceland's third largest lake and has its very own Loch Ness Monster, called Lagarfljótsormurinn, or “the Lagarfljót serpent.” The monster has been seen by many people through the ages. There was even a video recorded in 2012!
At the shore of the lake, you will find yourself in the middle of a landscape that is completely different from what you have seen in Iceland so far. Iceland’s largest forest - which is not really as large as you might think - is found here next to the Lagarfljót Monster Lake. The forest covers 740 square kilometers. Hallormsstaðaskógur forest has a unique arboretum with 67 foreign tree species. Here you can find great walking paths through the stunning forest and the very diverse arboretum.
Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss Waterfalls
On the other side of the lake, you’ll find Hengifoss or the “Hanging Falls.” It is one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland, measuring 128 meters, dropping into a magnificent gorge. It is surrounded by eye-catching, colorful rock walls. What makes this waterfall very special is that you can see the different layers from volcanic eruptions in the wall.
The hike to Hengifoss takes 40 to 60 minutes to walk uphill from the parking. On the way, there is another astonishing waterfall called Litlanesfoss. It is framed by exceptionally high basalt columns, making it absolutely astonishing.
From here you’ll head to your country hotel located in the Egilsstaðir area.
Day 5 - Dettifoss, Mývatn, Goðafoss & Akureyri
On your fifth day, you’ll leave the east and head north. It will take about two hours driving time through striking panoramas of the North-East highlands to arrive at your first natural attraction of the day.
Dettifoss, Europe’s Most Powerful Waterfall
Europe’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, will surely enchant you when you experience the incredible volume of water that tumbles down from the cliff. Dettifoss is 45 meters high and 100 meters wide. The water originates from the nearby Vatnajökull glacier, whose sediment colors the water a greyish white.
The Volcanic Mývatn Area
From here you’ll drive another 90 minutes to reach the unearthly landscape of the Mývatn area. Mývatn is a crater lake that lies in an area of active volcanism. The lake was created by a major eruption some 2,300 years ago. Odd volcanic landforms, lava pillars and countless impressive pseudo craters dominate the landscape in every direction.
Stóra Víti Crater
Next, you can visit the small and very picturesque crater lake, The Stóra-Víti. It is a huge explosion crater, about 300 meters wide. The crater was formed during a five-day-long volcanic eruption in 1724 and Víti's cauldron continued boiling for more than a century.
Námafjall Geothermal Field
The impressive Námafjall Geothermal Field or Hverír is located on the east side of Lake Myvatn. It doesn’t have any geyser but it looks even more dramatic and much more intense - and smelly - than the famous Geyser Geothermal Area on the Golden Circle. You’ll see many solfataras and intensely boiling mud pots, surrounded by colorful sulfur crystals.
Grjótagjá Geothermal Cave
The famous Grjótagjá Geothermal Cave is also located in the Lake Mývatn area. Once it was a popular bathing site. Today, due to increased geothermal activity, the temperature of the water in the cave is too hot and dangerous for bathing. However, a famous scene from the American fantasy television TV show, Game of Thrones was shot here. This is the scene where Jon Snow breaks his vow with Ygritte. The waterfall which shows up in this scene is, alas, not real!
Leaving the volcanic landscapes behind, you’ll next head to Goðafoss, the “Waterfall of the Gods.” It is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland and has an interesting anecdote behind it. According to myth, returning from the Alþingi parliament gathering, the Lawspeaker Þorgeir Ljósvetningagoði threw his statues of the Norse gods into the waterfall and made Christianity the official religion of Iceland in the year 1000.
Akureyri, the Capital of North Iceland
From here, it takes about 45 minutes to drive to Akureyri, the second biggest city outside of the capital area. Akureyri is the capital of North Iceland. It nests in a beautiful fjord, Eyjafjörður. Expect cozy cafes, quality restaurants, inspiring art galleries and good vibes! After this adventure-packed day, you will spend the night in a hotel in the Eyjafjörður area.
Day 6 - Whale-Watching and the Troll Peninsula
On your sixth day, you’ll get up early and head north along the fjord. You’ll start the day exploring the small city of Akureyri, which offers many interesting landmarks stores & museums to see. Remember that you have a whale-watching tour that departures from Dalvík, at 13:00. Dalvik is a small fishing town about 30 minutes from Akureyri.
Whale-Watching Tour from Dalvík
You have a nearly 100 percent chance of seeing whales on this whale-watching tour! Humpbacks, minke whales and dolphins are frequently spotted in Eyjafjörður, called the “island fjord” bay, where, besides the whales, magnificent fjord scenery awaits you! On this tour, you can try some sea angling as well. After the tour, we’ll put your seafood catch on the barbecue and share with each other.
Jump into Iceland’s most scenic geothermal swimming pool in Hofsós and enjoy the mind-blowing view of the Skagafjörður fjord with its exceptionally stunning islands.
Carrying on westwards, you’ll visit the magnificent Hvítserkur, the 15-meter high basalt stack that resembles a troll or a dragon drinking from the sea water. Hvítserkur is an extremely popular photo location… and it’s no wonder why!
Next, you’ll head south and make a stop after about 40 minutes of driving. Here you’ll find a deep, rugged gorge called Kolugljúfur. Numerous wild waterfalls running along the remarkable canyon. The gorge is about a kilometer long and about 40 to 60 meters deep. There are several spots at the edge of the cliff that provide amazing views of the canyon.
In the evening you will check in and spend the night in your hotel in the Vatnsnes area.
Day 7 - Snæfellsnes Peninsula
On your seventh day, you will head to the west and drive along the sparsely populated Snæfellnes peninsula. This site is famous for its extremely varied landscapes. Somehow, Snæfellsnes is fairly underrated by tourists. Despite its diverse beauty, this area sees significantly fewer visitors than the South Coast or the Golden Circle. However, all three sites are tourable in one day from Reykjavík.
Snæfellsnes has every kind of natural phenomena that Iceland is famous for: volcano, glacier, lava fields, waterfalls, sea stacks, black beaches, and far more. This is why many refer to it as “Iceland in miniature.”
Visit the stunning Grábrók crater in Borgarjöður. Grábrók is the largest of the three craters that were formed 3,400 years ago in a fissure eruption. It rises about 170 meters above the ground and is easily accessible by walk, providing a great view of the surrounding landscapes.
Do not drive by the largest town on the Snæfellsnes peninsula without stopping in Stykkishólmur town, the capital of this area. It is considered the gateway to the Westfjords, as the ferry departs from here. Discover the special atmosphere of the town as you take in the lovely and colorful old houses. And be sure to taste some local specialties in one of the many excellent local restaurants.
Visit the wonderful Kirkjufell, or the “Church Mountain,” which is one of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks. The symmetrical, free-standing mountain with its waterfalls in the foreground looks like a perfectly idyllic postcard picture.
Make a stop at the most dramatic beach on the peninsula. Djúpalónssandur is a black sand beach that stretches between wondrous lava formations. This mystical lava wonderland is truly enchanting, especially when the sunset paints it with beautiful colors.
One of the oddest natural attractions on the peninsula is probably the Lóndrangar Castle. The Lóndrangar are a pair of curiously shaped rock stacks that dominate the landscape for many kilometers. The stacks are 75 and 61 meters high and together, they shape a dramatic castle. It is said to belong to the elves living in the area, and no one dare disturb them.
Hellnar and Arnarstapi
Your next stops are Hellnar and Arnarstapi, two remarkable sites that are very close to each other. Arnarstapi has a beautiful natural harbor with extraordinary columnar basalt formations, arch rocks, and columnar basalt caves. Hellnar used to be the biggest fishing village in Snæfellsnes. The oldest documented information about Hellnar dates back to 1560. Today only a few families live here, mainly for tourism purposes. There is a cozy café here with a great view of the breathtaking coastal rock formations.
After this memorable sightseeing road trip, you will spend the night in a lovely country hotel in the Snæfellsnes area.
Day 8 - Borgarfjörður and Reykjavík
Visit a Seal Colony
You will start your eighth day visiting a seal colony at Ytri Tunga, a golden sand beach on the Southern shore of the Snæfellsnes peninsula. It is very likely that you will be able to see at least a few seals from the colony. These seals are quite friendly and curious and will climb up on the rocks where they can be easily spotted.
Heading west for 30 minutes, your next stop will be the stunning Gerduberg cliffs. Gerduberg is a natural heritage site that is home to the truly impressive geometric patterns of a wall of basalt columns. The columns reach 14 meters high, and some of them are 1.5 meters wide.
Europe's Most Powerful Hot Spring
After an hour drive, you’ll arrive at Europe's most powerful hot spring. Deildartunguhver produces 180 liters (50 gallons) of water per second at a piping hot 97°C (200°F). Most of the hot water in the towns in a 60 to 70-kilometer area comes from Deildartunguhver.
The Lava Falls
The next stop on this day is the very unique Lava Falls. The waterfalls of Hraunfossar are a very special treasure. Countless creeks and cascades stream out of the ground directly from the lava. It is quite a rare natural phenomenon. The water continues appearing from the ground for a distance of about 900 meters. It is an extraordinary sight, making it one of the most beloved waterfalls for those who visit it.
Heading towards Reykjavík, you’ll drive through a town called Akranes. It is one of the larger towns in Iceland. Visitors love this place for its two lighthouses. The bigger one is a rustic, old lighthouse that is open to the public. You can go up and enjoy the beautiful view of the town and the bay. In good weather, you can see Reykjavík in the distance. There is an interesting photography exhibition inside the lighthouse.
After visiting Akranes, you’ll head back to Reykjavík. You will spend the night in a hotel in the capital region.
Day 9 - Reykjanes Peninsula and Departure
On your last day, you’ll head back to the airport. If your flight is in the afternoon or evening, you can spend your remaining time enjoying the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa or exploring the volcanic Reykjanes peninsula, which sits on a drift zone between two tectonic plates. On Reykjanes there are lots of hot springs and boiling mud pots to explore, two of nature’s most fascinating geothermal features.
The Blue Lagoon
Take a relaxing bath in Iceland’s most famous geothermal spa. The famous Blue Lagoon is listed as one of the 25 wonders of the world and it’s located within a 20-minute drive of the airport. This dreamy lake lays in the middle of a rugged lava field. Breathtaking landscapes surround it. Regardless of the season you visit, it will surely enchant you!
The scenery on the Reykjanes peninsula is rough and surreal. You’ll find enormous lava fields covered in moss. You’ll travel through some tiny, charming fishing villages where you can stop for a lunch break.
The Reykjanes peninsula sits on a rift zone between two tectonic plates: the North American and the Eurasian plates. It has an active volcanic system under its surface! There are plenty of thrilling hot springs and boiling mud pots to explore. It will make your day when you see them.
click to enlarge