Iceland's Ring Road Self-Drive Vacation

Self drive vacation along the Iceland ring road

Price from: ISK 383800

For those who have plenty of time the Ring Road is the perfect route for seeing Iceland.  The Ring Road circles Iceland and you'll find some of Iceland's most beautiful sites just off the main road.  On the Nature Explorer summer version we improve the route a bit by taking the Kjolur mountain track so that you will get to explore the barren wilderness of the Icelandic highlands. On our Ring Road itinerary you will experience the diversity of Icelandic nature to the fullest.  You'll visit hot spring fields, soak in a natural geothermal pool, hike on volcanoes, see some amazing waterfalls, take a boat cruise on a glacier lagoon and visit national park.  The  drive itself is very scenic, be it through vast lava fields or by fjords and mountains.

Prices:
From ISK 383800 in winter
From ISK 589800 in summer
For more prices and rental car options please check the tab 'Prices'
Prices are for 2 persons staying in a double room

Optional: Hotel upgrades available in some areas.

In summer we can offer the Ring Road in 7 days and 8 days in winter and shoulder seasons

Price from: ISK 383800

Available: All year

Included:
Rental car with CDW insurance, GPS and unlimited milage
Accommodation in 2-3* hotels and guesthouses
A detailed Road Atlas and driving directions
An Icelandic cell phone with ISK 1000 credit

Excluded:
Optional activities
Meals except for breakfast
Fuel

Note: The Icelandic government has announced plans to increase the VAT (sales tax) on hotels from September 1st 2013 so prices could change after that.

View from the Icelandic Ring Road

Vatnajokull glacier in south Iceland seen from the Ring Road

You can extend your holiday in Iceland if you wish. If you have any questions, comments or requests, please don't hesitate to contact us.

Available:

All year

Price from: ISK 383800

Itinerary for the Iceland Ring Road Holiday on your own in a rental car

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland
Depending on your arrival time you may want to stop at the Blue Lagoon for a relaxing soak.  The afternoon is then spent exploring Reykjavík downtown.  You can also choose to pick up the rental car at the airport, at an additional cost.
Optional: Private Super Jeep tour of the Reykjanes peninsula, where you explore the vast, Lunar-like lava fields, see the amazing colours of the geothermal hot spring areas and go to the Blue Lagoon.  Learn more about the tour here
Accommodation: A centrally located hotel in Reykjavík.  Your self-drive package will be in the reception.

Day 2: West Iceland to Gauksmyri
After picking up your rental car you head out of the city towards West Iceland. The road takes you to the town of Borgarnes in Borgarfjordur bay. There you visit the magnificent Hraunfossar, a waterfall that comes out of the lava. Very close by is Barnafoss which flows through a small canyon. Next up is Deildatunguhver, the most powerful geothermal spring in Iceland. You can also visit Snorrastofa, the home of Snorri Sturluson, writer of the Prose-Edda. After exploring Borgarfjordur you head back to the main road.
Accommodation: Hotel Varmahlid or Gauksmyri Lodge

Day 3: Akureyri and Lake Myvatn
Just a few km drive from Gauksmyri you can visit Borgarvirki, between Vesturhop and Vididalur. It's a volcanic plug and the saga says that in earlier centuries it was used by the Vikings as a fortress and hideout. Take a short detour to Hvitserkur, an ocean cliff rising like a giant from the sea before heading to Akureyri, the largest town in Akureyri.  From Akureyri to Lake Myvatn is about 100 km and on the way you stop at Godafoss waterfall which is situated in the 175 km long glacial river Skjalfandafljot just south of the Ring Road. In the evening it's perfect to go for a relaxing soak in the Myvatn Baths - and if you are lucky, the northern lights will be displaying above.
Accommodation: Hotel at Lake Myvatn

Day 4: Lake Myvatn
At Myvatn you spend the day exploring the area, seeing sites such as Dimmuborgir lava formations, Krafla caldera and Namaskard hot spring area. There has been a lot of volcanic activity by Myvatn and there's a lot of geothermal heat in the ground, for example in Grjotagja. There are plenty of hiking paths to choose from and optional activities; horseback riding, snowmobiling, caving etc.
Lake Myvatn often has clear skies and can be a great location for viewing the aurora borealis (northern lights).
Accommodation: Hotel at Lake Myvatn

Day 5: Jokulsargljufur National Park
Driving east, you go to Jokulsargljufur national park and visit Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. In winter it can be very slippery by the waterfall, so be extra careful. You can take a hike either to Selfoss waterfall About 1 km hike from Dettifoss or to Hafragilsfoss about 2km to the north. From Jokulsargljufur you drive through Modrudalsoraefi, the most remote area of the Icelandic Ring Road which is quite barren with wonderful big vistas. In Egilsstadir, we recommend relaxing in hot tubs at the local swimming pool.
Accommodation:  Hotel in or near Egilsstadir

Day 6: East Iceland
From Egilsstadir you drive south along the magnificent fjords of the rugged coastline and enjoy the very scenic drive through the beautiful fjords surrounded by majestic mountains.  You stop at some of the lovely fishing villages, including at Petra’s stone museum at Stodvarfjordur.
Accommodation:  Hotel in Hofn.

Day 7: Skaftafell & Jokulsarlon
From Hofn you travel towards Vatnajokull, Europe's largest glacier. You'll stop at Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, one of Iceland's most famous sights which have been used in many films. When the lagoon is not frozen, you can take a boat ride among the floating icebergs. Next you head to Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon and then Svinafellsjokull glacier outlet where parts of Batman Begins and Game of Thrones were filmed. You then continue to Skaftafell national park where you spend the rest of the day hiking, taking photo stops at places like Svartifoss waterfall.
Accommodation: Hotel by Kirkjubaejarklaustur

Day 8: South Iceland
By Kirkjubaejarklaustur you find Fjardagljufur, which is a spectacular natural formation which formation has probably resulted in approx. nine thousand years ago.
Traveling along the south coast you'll visit the town of Vik where you can go down to the black sand beach and photograph the lava pillars, Reynisdrangar rising from the ocean like trolls.
Dyrholaey peninsula which is shaped like an arc that stands out to sea.  From the peninsula you have a breathtaking view on a sunny day of Reynisdrangar, and Myrdalsjokull glacier and the surrounding countryside.
Further west you stop at the two waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
At Seljalandsfoss you can take a short path that leads behind the free falling waterfall and feel the spray and drizzle on your face.
Accommodation: 3* Hotel by Hvolsvollur (optional upgrade to 4* Hotel Ranga)

Day 9: Golden Circle
From the south shore you drive inland Selfoss and continue towards the Golden Circle.  First you stop for a short photo stop at the Crater Lake Kerid. Then you first arrive to Geysir and see the geyser Strokkur spout boiling water 25-30 m high in the air. After seeing Iceland's most famous waterfall, Gullfoss up close and listening to its roaring thunder as it cascades 32 meters down the mighty glacial river Hvita it’s time to drive towards Thingvellir, you cross the road of Lyngdalsheidi before you arrive to Thingvellir where the oldest parliament in the world was founded and you can see the tectonic plates boundaries.  From Thingvellir you complete your Ring Road tour in Reykjavik.
Accommodation: Hotel in Reykjavik.

Day 10: - Departure from Iceland
If your flight is early in the morning, you take a taxi or the Flybus to the airport.
However, if your flight is in the afternoon it's ideal to visit the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport. You can do this on your own, with the Flybus or take our Lunar Landscape Super-Jeep tour. 

It's no problem to extend your stay in Iceland, either by spending additional nights in Reykjavik or in the countryside.  If you decide to stay longer in Reykjavik you can take a day tour out of the city to see places you didn't visit on the self-drive tour.  We have a number of Super Jeep day tours which can take you to areas inaccessible to regular cars. We especially recommend the Thorsmork tour, which is a great 4x4 adventure to one of Iceland's most beautiful places.

Summer Itinerary for the Iceland Ring Road Holiday Iceland Ring Road Self Drive Tour in Summer

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland
Depending on your arrival time you may want to stop at the Blue Lagoon for a relaxing soak. The afternoon is then spent exploring Reykjavík downtown. You can also choose to pick up the rental car at the airport, at an additional cost.
Optional: Private Super Jeep tour of the Reykjanes peninsula, where you explore the vast, Lunar-like lava fields, see the amazing colours of the geothermal hot spring areas and go to the Blue Lagoon. Learn more about the tour here
Accommodation: A centrally located hotel in Reykjavík. Your self-drive package will be in the reception.

Day 2 - The Golden Circle
After picking up your rental car you head to Thingvellir national park, where the Icelandic parliament was founded and you can clearly see where the tectonic plates are slowly drifting apart. You then drive east to visit Gullfoss, the golden waterfall, and Geysir hot spring area where you'll watch the geyser Strokkur spout boiling water into the air.
Optional: Horseback riding tour from Geysir or from Laxnes, where you get to enjoy the benefits of the Icelandic horse and its five types of gaits.
Accommodation: Hotel by Geysir area
Note: You can read more a about the Golden Circle and see photos on our Golden Circle Super Jeep Tour page

Day 3 - Kjolur Mountain Track
In the morning you'll head off the main road and into the wilderness of the highlands. Traveling across Kjolur mountain track, which lies between the two glaciers of Langjokull and Hofsjokull, you take a photo stop at Kerlingafjoll Mountain. Midway across the track is Hveravellir where there's enormous geothermal heat in the ground and you'll find colorful hot springs such as Blaihver and Graenihver as well as a natural outdoor geothermal pool where you can have a relaxing soak. You then go north through the town of Akureyri and stop at Godafoss waterfall before heading to Lake Myvatn.
Accommodation: Hotel by Lake Myvatn

Day 4 - Lake Myvatn and its Surroundings
Today you have the benefit of staying at the same hotel for two nights, so you don't have to spend time packing and unpacking. The day is spent exploring the Lake Myvatn area, seeing sites such as Dimmuborgir lava formations,
Krafla caldera and Namaskard hot spring area. This area is also the home of over 2.000 birds in the summer. There has been a lot of volcanic activity by Myvatn and there's a lot of geothermal heat in the ground. In the afternoon it's perfect to go for a relaxing soak in the Myvatn Baths.
Optional: Whale watching tour from Husavik, which has the highest success rate of spotting whales in Iceland.
Accommodation: Hotel by Lake Myvatn

 

Day 5 - Jokulsargljufur National Park
Driving east, you go to Jokulsargljufur national park and spend the morning and early afternoon hiking there and exploring the area. The national park is home to Dettifoss waterfall and Hljodaklettar where you'll find Karl and Kerling, two large rocks formations that resemble a man and a woman. Other sights include the three waterfalls of Selfoss, Hafragilsfoss and Rettarfoss. From Jokulsargljufur you drive through Modrudalsoraefi, the most remote area of the Icelandic Ring Road which is quite barren with wonderful big vistas.
Accommodation: Hotel in Egilsstadir

Day 6 - Eastern Iceland
From Egilsstadir you drive south along the magnificent fjords of the rugged coastline and enjoy the vista of majestic mountains. This part of the country is rather rural, with small fishing villages nestling by the Ocean. On the way you can stop at Stodvarfjordur and see Petra's Stone Museum.
Optional: Boat trip to Papey island, where hundreds of puffins and other birds make their nest in the summer.
Accommodation: Hotel by Hofn in Hornafjordur

Day 7 - The Vatnajokull Region
From Hofn you travel towards Vatnajokull, Europe's largest glacier. You'll stop at Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon for a boat ride among the majestic icebergs. You then continue to Skaftafell national park where you spend the rest of the day hiking, taking photo stops at places like Svartifoss waterfall.
Accommodation: Hotel by Skaftafell or Kirkjubaejarklaustur

Day 8 - Southern Iceland
Traveling along the south coast you'll visit Dyrholaey peninsula which is shaped like an arc that stands out to sea. From the peninsula you have a breathtaking view on a sunny day of Reynisdrangar, lava formations that stand out from the ocean as well as Myrdalsjokull glacier and the surrounding countryside. Further west you stop at the two waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. At Seljalandsfoss you can take a short path that leads behind the free falling waterfall and feel the spray and drizzle on your face. You return to Reykjavik in the afternoon and drop off your rental car.
Optional: Snowmobiling on Myrdalsjokull glacier.
Accommodation: Hotel in Reykjavik

Day 9 - Departure from Iceland
If your flight is early in the morning, you take a taxi or the Flybus to the airport.
However, if your flight is in the afternoon it's ideal to visit the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport. You can do this on your own, with the Flybus or take our Lunar Landscape Super-Jeep tour.

It's no problem to extend your stay in Iceland, either by spending additional nights in Reykjavik or in the countryside. If you decide to stay longer in Reykjavik you can take a day tour out of the city to see places you didn't visit on the self-drive tour. We have a number of Super Jeep day tours which can take you to areas inaccessible to regular cars. We especially recommend the Thorsmork tour, which is a great 4x4 adventure to one of Iceland's most beautiful places.

Prices for the Iceland Ring Road Self Drive vacation

All rates are total for 2 people staying in a double room with private facilities. For other room types or more rooms, please contact us for rates.

Summer season prices (June through August):
Skoda Octavia 4wd or similar: ISK 589800
Toyota Land Cruiser 4wd or similar: ISK 740800
Land Rover Defender 4wd or similar: ISK 796800

Shoulder season prices (May and September):
Skoda Octavia 4wd or similar: ISK 422700
Toyota Land Cruiser 4wd or similar: ISK 489100
Land Rover Defender 4wd or similar: ISK 490300

Winter season prices (October through April):
Skoda Octavia 4wd or similar: ISK 383800
Toyota Land Cruiser 4wd or similar: ISK 463800
Land Rover Defender 4wd or similar: ISK 487800

Included:
Rental car for 8 days with CDW insurance, GPS and unlimited mileage
Accommodation for 9 nights in 2-3* hotels and guesthouses.
A detailed Road Atlas and a map with your route marked out
An Icelandic cell phone with all necessary numbers

Excluded:
Optional activities
Meals other than breakfast
Fuel

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions 

What is Icelandic weather like?
Weather in Iceland unpredictable, so we strongly advise our customers to check the weather report each day, especially in winter. Weather forecasts for the whole of Iceland can be found on the Icelandic Met Office website. 

What are Icelandic roads like?
We also strongly recommend that you check the overview maps showing road conditions and the current situation for all main roads at a given point, provided by the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration. Attached is a representative photo of such a map, showing that some roads are closed, others icy or very icy, etc.  

Map on Icelandic road conditions from the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration

Be well prepared when planning to drive in Iceland:

  • Get accurate, up to date information about the area
  • Check the weather forecast - in Iceland, the weather can change suddenly
  • Always leave your travel plan with someone who can react if needed
  • Remember to bring the right equipment for the type of travel
  • Always use maps, compass, GPS when travelling outside the urban areas
  • Most of the Icelandic Highland roads are closed in wintertime


Where can I find information about driving in Iceland?

Nature Explorer provides you with a Self Drive Package which contains useful information about travelling safely in Iceland. The package includes a Road Atlas, Iceland's Big Map (that has your route marked out) and an Icelandic cell phone with prepaid call credit. A list of interesting highlights that you might wish to explore on your route is also enclosed.

The Icelandic Road Traffic Directorate (Umferðarstofa) has produced a video entitled "How to Drive in Iceland", as well as a downloadable brochure in English, German and French, which can be accessed on their website.

Additionally, the Icelandic Association for Search & Rescue, ICE-SAR (Landsbjörg), provides vital information for safe travel in Iceland. It is essential to be well informed when travelling around Iceland, especially in the Highlands - the combination of unfamiliar terrain and the abrupt weather changes can prove hazardous.

What happens if I don't reach my hotel due to weather, or if I find myself in some distress on my route?
If you are unable to reach your destination due to an event of force majeure nature, then the force majeure clause, cited below, will apply. 

Should you find yourself in distress, or in any uncertainty, you can call us at any time using the Icelandic mobile phone included in your Self Drive Package. If your arrival to your hotel is likely to be delayed, please give them a call and let them know. All the necessary phone numbers are included in your Self Drive Package. The 24 hour emergency phone number for ambulance, police and fire services in Iceland is 112.

If a road is closed and I can't make it to my next hotel – will that hotel still charge?
The usual minimum cancellation time for hotel bookings is 48 hours so technically they can charge, but give us a call and we will try our best to sort it out so there is little or no cost if possible. This is one of the advantages of having a local travel agency plan your Iceland tour. Most hotels are very understanding when it comes to changes due to weather.

I will then need another hotel - who pays for that?
Customers are responsible for covering any additional costs themselves but if we got the hotel cancelled without a fee, then of course that refund goes into the cost of the other hotel. We always try our best for our customers and it has always worked out with a few phone calls – remember, with us you will have an Icelandic mobile phone with our number that you can ring any time and the numbers of all your hotels.

Winter driving in Iceland is perhaps not for everybody and might not be everybody's idea of a carefree holiday. In wintertime, many of our customers opt to go first on a Super Jeep tour with us, to get a good sense of the Icelandic roads and conditions (as well as good insider tips) from our driver guides, before venturing on their own. Our expert driver guides can take you anywhere you would like to go. You can have any tour as a privately guided Super Jeep adventure.

Force Majeure
It is possible that an eruption, a flood, a storm or another form of Force Majeure might affect your tour in a way that is beyond human control. The standard Force Majeure or 'Act of God' clause applies and frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstances beyond the control of the parties (clients / tour operator) prevent one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

Your plans may need to change in such circumstances. We will, of course, help in any way we can; however, it is expected that the clients understand that driving, especially in a foreign country, inherently involves a degree of personal risk.

Insurance
Nature Explorer considers appropriate travel insurance to be essential. Please familiarise yourself with the details of your insurance policy and take it with you on holiday. It is a matter of personal responsibility to ensure that the insurance you have purchased covers you for the holiday activities in Iceland, whether they be driving tours, riding tours, snowmobiling tours, winter sports activities or other.

Disclaimer
Nature Explorer disclaims responsibility for any loss, damage, accidents, sickness or changes in schedules caused by weather, strikes or any other irregularity beyond the control of Nature Explorer. Nature Explorer reserves the right to alter routes, itineraries or departure times, without prior notice, should the necessity arise.



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