Iceland Ring Road & Highlands Adventure

12 days / 11 nights
The black sand of the Djúpalónssandur beach
The Strokkur geyser erupting
A person walking around Kerlingarfjöll in the Icelandic highlands
The black sand of the Djúpalónssandur beach
The Strokkur geyser erupting

See the classics, then go off the beaten track

On this 12-day self-drive trip, you’ll circle Iceland’s coast via the Ring Road and take in its epic sights. You’ll also venture further, to the Snæfellsnes peninsula and highlands, where you can get truly close to nature.

This summer itinerary will take you through moonlike lava fields, lush green fjords, and jaw-dropping mountain ranges. Here you’ll spot stunning waterfalls, hot springs, black sand beaches, glaciers, and more.

Travel styleSelf-drive
Trip length12 days / 11 nights
(25 Jun–31 Aug)
TransportRental car
Starts fromReykjavík
Tour codeSD23

On this tour you will...

  • Venture to Landmannalaugar hot springs in the highlands

  • Explore black beaches and waterfalls on the south coast

  • Watch geysers erupt and bathe in geothermal springs

  • Follow the classic and unmissable Golden Circle route

  • See the natural diversity of the Snæfellsnes peninsula

  • Drive the road less traveled in stunning North Iceland

Top attractions

A man standing in front of mountains at Landmannalaugar


The Tjörnin pond in Reykjavík in summer

Downtown Reykjavík

The Gullfoss waterfall in summertime


Þingvellir National Park, Iceland, in autumn colors

Þingvellir National Park

The Strokkur geyser erupting in winter against a sunset

Geysir and Strokkur

Vik Church with Reynisdrangar sea stacks in the distance

Vík í Mýrdal

The Dettifoss waterfall in autumn


The village of Djúpivogur seen from a distance


Trees in the lush Ásbyrgi canyon


The Dimmuborgir lava formations in North Iceland


Lake Mývatn in its autumn colors

Lake Mývatn

The Goðafoss waterfall in summer


The skyline of Akureyri, North Iceland


Water coming out of colorful rocks at Deildartunguhver hot spring


The Hraunfossar waterfall in winter covered in ice

Hraunfossar and Barnafoss

Gatklettur rock arch at Arnarstapi


A man standing below Kirkjufellsfoss


The black sand of the Djúpalónssandur beach


Why book a self-drive trip with Iceland Tours?

  • Start your tour on the date that suits you

  • 24/7 emergency helpline in Iceland

  • Secure your booking with just a 5% deposit

  • New rental cars with 2 drivers as standard

  • Handpicked local accommodation options

  • Best Price Guarantee

Your 12-day self-drive itinerary

Your 12-day self-drive itinerary
Staying inReykjavík
Driving distance50 km (31 mi)

Your memorable Icelandic adventure begins the very moment you arrive at Keflavík Airport. After picking up your rental vehicle, you’ll drive to the capital, Reykjavík


The Tjörnin pond in Reykjavík in summer

Downtown Reykjavík

Extra activities

Riders on FlyOver Iceland above a virtual waterfallExtra

FlyOver Iceland

The Sky Lagoon at sunsetExtra

Sky Lagoon Pure Pass

Staying inSnæfellsnes area
Driving distance302 km (188 mi)

Are you ready for an invigorating day amongst the natural wonders of the Snæfellsnes peninsula? You can take all the time you need to discover the amazing sites here. They include the Eldborg volcanic crater, the Gerðuberg basalt columns, the quaint hamlet of Búðir, and Djúpalónssandur beach, with its historical shipwreck remains. Don’t miss the view up the majestic Snæfell volcano and surrounding glacier.

Staying inBorgarfjörður area
Driving distance205 km (127 mi)

From Stykkishólmur, you will head south-west toward the fjord of Borgarfjörður. This area is characterized by vast lands, sweeping views of the Langjökull glacier, and magnificent waterfalls. All set against a rich cultural background straight out of an Icelandic saga.

Staying inAkureyri area
Driving distance315 km (196 mi)

Today’s itinerary takes you to North Iceland. You’ll drive through farm fields and the Skagafjörður region known for Icelandic horse breeding. You will in fact surely encounter several of them grazing in the fields along your way to Akureyri.

There are several stops along the way that you could take to explore further. You could spot seals in their natural habitat at the Vatnsnes peninsula or visit the museum at Glaumbær, one of the few turf farmhouses that has been properly preserved in Iceland.

Staying inMývatn/Húsavík area
Driving distance120 km (75 mi)

There are more natural wonders on the program today! Your first stop is at the impressive Goðafoss waterfall, known as “the waterfall of the gods,” before heading onwards to the Mývatn area. Along the way, you can visit several awe-inspiring sites such as Dimmuborgir, a mesmerising lava field labyrinth, the ancient pseudo-craters of Skútustaðir, and Iceland‘s largest sulphurous hot spring areas, the solfataras of Námaskarð.

Staying inEgilsstaðir area
Driving distance275 km (171 mi)

You have the day to explore the north of Iceland further. You may want to drive around the Tjörnes peninsula as it offers some amazing experiences. From Iceland’s most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, which can make the ground shake beneath your feet, to the lush Ásbyrgi canyon.

On the way to Egilsstaðir, you could take a slight detour to drive through Möðrudalur’s highland, lunar-like landscape.

Staying inHöfn area
Driving distance185 km (115 mi)

Today, you discover the Eastfjords. Start by driving through Reyðarfjörður, where you‘ll find the local World War II museum, before heading south-east. Your drive down the east coast will take you through rugged landscape, at times, on high-perched roads on the mountains delivering breathtaking views down below.

Finally, you‘ll drive through the tunnel of Almannaskarð to arrive in the Höfn region.

Staying inVík area
Driving distance275 km (171 mi)

Your next stop is Iceland’s scenic south-east. You’ll first pass by various outlet glaciers belonging to Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap. You’ll then arrive at the stunning Jökulsárlón, a lagoon famous for its bogging icebergs. This exceptional sight sits at the foot of Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnúkur, and you could even book an optional boat tour onto the lagoon.

The Skaftafell Nature Reserve is another must-see area. This oasis, surrounded by glaciers and black sand plains, offers a broad range of options for impressive hikes. Continue through the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, the Eldhraun lava field, and the Mýrdalssandur plain before arriving in the Vík area.

Staying inLaugarvatn area
Driving distance261 km (162 mi)

Today, you will take in some of the top highlights of the south coast. Start the morning by admiring the powerful Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls.

Later, marvel at the attractions of the famous Golden Circle. First, the imposing Gullfoss waterfall, followed by the steaming power of Geysir. Here you can witness the Strokkur geyser propel warm water in the air every 5-10 minutes. Last but not least, the Þingvellir National Park. This is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, creating this impressive landscape.

Staying inLaugarvatn area
Driving distance295 km (183 mi)

From Laugarvatn, today you take a day trip to Landmannalaugar, a highlight for many who come to Iceland. To reach the colorful, volcanic mountains of Landmannalaugar, you must first cross rivers and drive past mountain passes. Here you can walk between vibrant mountains and black obsidian lava. Take some time to bathe in the relaxing hot springs of the area.

Staying inReykjavík
Driving distance106 km (66 mi)

This is your last full day in Iceland, so take some time to soak in the last few experiences that Iceland has to offer. You’ll pass through Hveragerði on your way to Reykjavík. Along the way, you may want to go horseback riding, kayaking, or even relaxing in a geothermal river after a hike in the Reykjadalur valley.

You have the rest of the day to explore Reykjavík at your leisure.

Driving distance50 km (31 mi)

It is now time to head back home after an amazing journey through one of the world’s most picturesque landscapes. Drive back to Keflavík Airport and return your rental car. If your flight is later in the day, you might want to enjoy a last stroll around Reykjavík or visit one last museum or attraction in the city.

What’s included?

Detailed itinerary

Budget, Comfort, or Quality accommodation every night

Continental breakfast every day

Rental car of your choice for 11 days

2 authorized drivers as standard

Unlimited mileage

Unlimited in-car Wi-Fi

Collision damage waiver

24/7 emergency helpline when you’re in Iceland

VAT, taxes & service fees

Flights to Iceland

Fuel & parking charges

Food & drink, unless otherwise stated

Attraction entrance fees, unless otherwise stated

Personal travel insurance

Don’t take our word for it

See what hundreds of fellow travelers have to say about their trips with Iceland Tours.

Read customer reviews

FAQs about our self-drive trips

On a self-drive trip with Iceland Tours, you’ll be at the wheel of the rental car of your choice and free to go pretty much where you want, whenever you want.

We provide a detailed itinerary to help you plan your route and where you want to stop along the way. But it’s up to you whether you want to stick to it or go your own way. If you do take detours, make sure that you aren’t too far from your accommodation on any given night.

That said, it’s a good idea to stick to the suggested itinerary if you’ve never visited Iceland before. Created by our Reykjavík-based travel experts, it contains plenty of things for you to and see and do on each leg of your trip. One thing’s for sure: you won’t be short on ideas!

You also get unlimited in-car Wi-Fi, so you can stay connected and use maps on your phone for navigation.

You have to be at least 20 years old to rent a car in Iceland, or 23 years old for larger vehicles like jeeps and vans. You’ll need to have held a valid driver’s license for at least 1 year and present a credit card when you collect your car.

You don’t need an International Driving Permit unless your license is not in Latin script (for example, Arabic or Chinese).

Find out more about car rental in Iceland.

Yes! It’s possible to add extra activities or extend your trip with additional nights in Reykjavík or the countryside. Check the itinerary above to see what activities are available on what day.

Once you’ve paid your deposit for your trip, we’ll finalize bookings for your accommodation, rental car, and any activities. As soon as we receive confirmation of everything, we’ll email your travel documents to you.

We aim to finalize everything within a few weeks of receiving your booking request, but in busy periods this might take longer. That said, you’ll always receive all of your documents before your departure date.

You’ll be able to pick up your rental car at Keflavík International Airport from the arrivals hall. Before your trip, we’ll send you information about where to go in the terminal to collect your keys.

Make sure you have your driver’s license and credit card ready when you collect your vehicle.

If you land late at night, you can use the out-of-hours phone at the pick-up desk to contact someone who will be able to help you.

You also have the option to collect your rental car in Reykjavík, if you’re planning to spend some extra days in the city before your trip starts. If you’d like to do this, please let us know in the ‘Special requests’ box at checkout.

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