Iceland Self-drive Full Circle. Classic extended trip that passes Iceland’s nature treasures including national parks, spectacular waterfalls, giant glaciers, impressive volcanoes, hot springs and geothermal pools. For off-road vehicles there is a possibility to drive on Iceland’s most beautiful highland road in central Iceland.
Route Length : 1800 km. (Nearly)
Season: All Year Round
Day 1 – Landing – Pick up car at Keflavík Airport – Reykjavik
You will pick up the car at the airport and then drive 45 minutes to Reykjavik for express check-in and the initial arrangements at the hotel. The rest of the day, you will spend walking around Reykjavik, which is the capital city of Iceland and cultural, governance and trade center of the country. It is recommended to go down to the Gulf of Reykjavik and breathe in the fresh Icelandic air. The city’s opera house called Harpa (“Harp” in Icelandic) is located on the waterfront. This is a unique structure made of glass that changes colors according to the sun’s reflection. The structure Perla (The Pearl) located on a hill in the eastern part of the city provides a beautiful view of 360 degrees of Reykjavik as well as the option to dine in the revolving restaurant located there…
Today’s main sites: Reykjavik
Day 2 – Golden Circle – Three classic Icelandic landmarks
You will leave Reykjavik and head northeast to the Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir) – UNESCO World Heritage Site. This is the place, where the tectonic plates of Europe and America meet together and here the first gatherings of the Icelandic Parliament, which is the oldest parliament in the world, took place. Later you will arrive to geyser Strokkur and admire its eruptions that happen every 12 minutes. In addition, here Geysir is located: it gave its name to the concept of “geyser” that describes the phenomenon of hot spring in which boiling water and steam are sent in a form of a tall column into the air. A bit eastward from there, Gullfoss Waterfall is located. This royal waterfall falls into two cascades close to each other, and urges the spectacular view. There are other interesting sites in this area: crater Creed and waterfall Faxi and you will visit them too. Estimated driving distance: 250 km.
Today’s major sites: Thingvellir National Park – Geysir – Gullfoss waterfall
Day 3 – Panoramic view over the south coast – Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – black sand beach in Vik
Today you will walk along the beautiful south coast stretching along the mountains with the sloping coastline at the river mouth. You will reach the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and watch it falling down from the front and from behind since its rock formation has created a trail, which allows walking behind the waterfall. You will pass near the famous volcano Eyjafjallajökull, the eruption of which in 2010 led to the fact that all the flights were grounded in the whole Northern Hemisphere. Another waterfall you will see today is Skógafoss, it is falling from a height of 60 meters and on a sunny day, double rainbow is shimmering from its bottom. Since the waterfall flow is falling into a flat area, you can walk closely to it and “merge” into the rainbow. You will reach the village Vik that is the southernmost point of the island of Iceland. Dyrhólaey Cliff is located not far from there and is a wonderful place to watch the many sea birds such as the various species of sea gulls and puffins of different colors. Vik beaches are the black sand beaches; the walk along the waterfront will expose us to the exciting view of the black sand in the contrast of the deep blue color of the sea. You will stop at the Kirkjubaejarklaustur village with a hard to pronounce name that does not indicate its picturesque simplicity, the village with the beautiful mountains and rivers that extend around it and make your heart fall in love with it. Just in a short distance from the village, you can walk on the hexagonal basalt floor created by the volcanic eruption called Kirkjugólfið, the meaning of this word is the church-floor. Estimated driving distance: 220 km.
Today’s main sites: Waterfalls Skogarfoss and Seljalandsfoss – Cliff Dyrhólaey
Day 4 – The wilderness at the Skaftafell National Park – glacial lagoon – glacier Vatnajökull
You will drive on Route 1, where from one side of the road there is a plateau with the delta of the rivers and on the other side extends Vatnajökull glacier, a huge block of ice, which is the largest glacier in Europe. You will enter the nature reserve of the Skaftafell National Park, there are many hiking trails leading to the eye-catching sites, like a black waterfall and panoramic viewpoints over the glacier. Not far from the park is located the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon considered one of the most beautiful sites in Iceland and a landmark that will undoubtedly be engraved in your memory as one of the most beautiful places you’ve ever visited. Glacial lagoon contains a huge glacier pieces that broke away from the adjacent glacier and float slowly into the sea. This dynamic postcard of the nature changing constantly its form and the seals swimming in the waters of the lagoon certainly will not leave you indifferent. In the summer, you can go on a cruise among the icebergs in the amphibian boat. Estimated driving distance: 210 km.
Today’s main sites: Park Skaftafell – Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon
Day 5 – The East Fjords – “Far East of Iceland”
You will spend this day traveling along the East Fjords. This region was isolated once, when the land transport was limited and the relations of the residents of the East Fjords with the ships coming from Europe were more developed than with the rest of Iceland. Among Icelanders, every fjord has its own story and its unique nature and inhabitants. Even a stranger visiting this area would feel it. Bird watching and photography enthusiasts are welcome to enjoy the cruise to the island of Papey, where they can watch colonies of sea puffins that stay at the island during their nesting season until mid-August. Ferry from Denmark reaches the charming village Seyðisfjörður once a week. This village is known for the wooden houses built on the edge of the fjord that look like they were taken from a fairy tale. East Fjords are abundant with the trees, unlike the rest of Iceland, and are unique as only in this part of Iceland there are wild herds of north reindeer wandering in the area. Estimated driving distance: 300 km.
Today’s main sites: East Fjords – Egilsstaðir – Puffin colonies.
Day 6 – The most powerful waterfall in Europe – volcanoes – Lake Mývatn – summer home of the water birds.
You will say goodbye to the East Fjords and turn northward all the way to the Dettifoss waterfall, which is the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Watching the furious and mighty flow of the waterfall is an amazing experience, that will make each one of you feel insignificant and small compared to the power of the water. Another meeting with the forces of nature today will be in the area of the volcano Krafla that despite the fact that his last eruption was in 1984, the landscape around it is full of steaming lava and the volcanic riots create a view dazzling the senses. A few minutes’ drive away, is located the geothermal field Namafjall with pits of boiling mud and sulfur. Mývatn is the perfect place to get us some peace and quiet. Around the lake a great variety of water birds spend the summer and as an addition to this beautiful scenery, near the lake there are “dark castles” of Dimmuborgir, known in folklore of Iceland as the home of the Gnomes of Christmas. Estimated driving distance: 200 km.
Today’s main sites: Mývatn
Accommodation: Husavik \ Mývatn
Day 7 – Akureyri the capital of the North – Icelandic Horses in Skagafjörður
On our way west you will stop to watch the waterfall Godafoss, name of which means in Icelandic “the waterfall of the Gods”, and the sight is heavenly indeed. From there you will turn from the nature landscape to Akureyri – the magnificent northern capital of Iceland. In Akureyri there are many attractions including a botanical garden, golf surfaces, open sea cruises and plenty of restaurants and cafes. You will pass Öxnadalur – mountain pass with its sharp peaks that look like they have been cut by a human hand. From there you will reach the region Skagafjordur known by some of the finest and the most beautiful Icelandic horses, which are bred here. Even if you will not ride the horse, you can still watch them galloping in a meadow on the sides of roads. This region is abundant with the rivers and lakes brimming with fish and swans cruising above it. To learn a little about how the daily life was in Iceland many centuries ago, you can visit the museum of the grass houses Glaumbær. Estimated driving distance: 220 km.
Today’s main sites: Waterfall Godafosse – Akureyri – Skagafjörður Mountain Ridge
Day 8 – Waterfall Hraunfossar (Lava Waterfall) – the cradle of Icelandic sagas – Reykjavik
From Skagafjordur you will move on facing the western Iceland, after passing Borgarnes, you will continue to Reykholt. You will make a stop at the hot springs in Deildartunguhver. This is the biggest hot springs site in Europe. From there, before you get further west, you can make a detour around the Vastnes peninsula and see the Hvítserkur – an impressive rock rising from the sea, according to the Icelandic sagas, it was originally a scary troll that became a rock when it was exposed to the sunlight. Around this peninsula, you can see herds of seals on sunny days sunbathing on the rocks sticking out from the sea. You will continue westward, to the cradle of the Icelandic sagas, there started a large part of the great and important traditions of the Western world. Lava Waterfall’s (Hraunfossar) long splashes of rocks are located in the area near the Europe’s largest geothermal water well – the provider of water at minimal cost to all the nearby residents. In the village Borgarnes you can make a stop before you complete the whole circle and be back onto the Route 1 to Reykjavik. Estimated driving distance: 280 km.
Another option for 4X4 vehicle travelers is to cross Iceland by the hilly dirt road Kjölur that runs between the two glaciers. On our way you will visit the oasis and geysers park Hveravellir before you get back to Reykjavik.
Today’s main sites: Waterfall Hraunfossar – Deildartunguhver – Reykholt – Borgarnes
Day 9 – Reykjavik – Keflavik (flight)
This day and until your flight back home, you will dedicate to the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. The car will be returned at the airport before your flight.