Day 1: REYKYAVIK
Approximate driving distance: 100 km
Pick up the car at the airport, make sure you receive the travel companion app with your rental car and you will be ready to start your Iceland experience. If your flight arrives early in the day, you may wish to stop at the Blue Lagoon (a short distance from the airport) for a chance to relax in the soothing geothermal mineral waters (this has to be requested and pre-booked as admission is limited). From Keflavik International Airport it is recommended one drives along the southern coast of the Reykjanes peninsula, a colourful area filled with interesting geological sites and perfect for photo opportunities. This route takes you along dramatic coastlines and towards your first overnight stay in the charming village of Hveragerdi. This village is one of the few sites in the world located directly on top of a geothermal area and, because of its many greenhouses heated by hot water from nearby springs, it is often called the “flower village.” If you arrive earlier in the day you can take advantage of afternoon and evening activities such as hiking, horseback riding, mountain biking or SuperJeep safaris. Or you might just relax and enjoy a visit to the town’s geothermal pool and having a nice dinner at a cosy restaurant like Skyrgerdin, a favourite get-together place for the locals.
Day 2: GOLDEN CIRCLE AREA
National Park – Famous Golden Falls – Bubbling Geysers
Approximate distance: 210km
After breakfast complete check out procedures. Today is open for you to explore the wonders of the Golden Circle region. We suggest starting with a visit to one of Iceland’s unique pollution-free power stations: Ljosafossvirkjun. This historical hydropower station has a wonderful interactive exhibit (in English) where you can learn how Icelanders have harnessed the power of water, geothermal heat and wind to create electricity. Visit Thingvellir National Park, site of the ancient Icelandic Viking parliament and a jewel of nature. Here you can see the meeting point between the North American and Europe continents. Several walking trails and hiking trails take visitors to historical points of interest. Continue to the amazing sites of Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir hot spring area. Gullfoss is considered by many visitors to be Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall. Geysir is an active geothermal field with many bubbling steam vents and spouting hot springs, including the famous Strokkur geyser.
If adventure is your style, try activities such as snowmobiling on Langjokull glacier or snorkelling at Silfra (both must be booked in advance). If you want to connect with local culture, visit Farmer‘s Bistro, where you can enjoy wholesome cuisine made with vegetables from the farm’s greenhouse. Or visit Efstidalur dairy, where you can indulge in home-made ice cream. We also suggest a relaxing visit to the Secret Lagoon in Fludir, a historical natural swimming pool that is now a cosy geothermal hot spring experience. You can lie in the soothing water and watch the Secret Lagoon‘s own little geyser erupt every few minutes.
Overnight: Hveragerdi (B)
Day 3: ICELAND’S SOUTH SHORE
Volcanic Views – Magnificent Waterfalls – Black Sands and Thundering Waves
Approximate distance: 170km
After breakfast complete check out procedures. Drive along the scenic South Shore, one of Iceland‘s best areas for farming. If the skies are clear you’ll get a great view of two famous volcanoes. Hekla is Iceland‘s most frequently erupting volcano. Eyjafjallajokull is the famous volcano whose 2010 eruption impacted air traffic around the world. This is a great day to get acquainted with Iceland’s famous volcanic and tectonic forces with an optional visit to the interactive LAVA Centre in Hvollsvollur village. The route also leads by two beautiful waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss is a ribbon-like waterfall that you can walk behind if trail conditions are good. Skogafoss is believed to contain hidden treasure from the middle Ages. Near Skogafoss is an interesting folk museum that has examples of different buildings from different eras of Icelandic history, including a turf farmhouse.
Admire the black sand beach, basalt columns and powerful Atlantic waves of Reynisfjara beach near Vik village. Far out to sea are huge sea stacks that local tales say were once trolls. Dyrholaey* is a rocky headland famous in photos for its black lava arch. During the summer, thousands of sea birds and puffins nest here (puffins are generally in Iceland between mid-May and early August)
The area around Vik is great for trying out activities such as snowmobiling on Myrdalsjokull glacier or an ATV tour on the black sand beaches. We also recommend glacier hiking on Myrdalsjokull, an adventure open to people of all skill levels. You’ll have the rare chance to touch a glacier while learning amazing facts about how they are formed.
*Important: Please note that Dyrholaey is closed during nesting season, from about the middle of May until late June
Overnight: Vik (B)
Day 4: VATNAJOKULL NATIONAL PARK
Massive Lava Field- Glacier National Park – Europe’s Largest Glacier – Iceberg filled Lagoon Approximate distance: 399km
After breakfast you will complete check out procedures. This is a day full of opportunities, so we recommend an early start. Drive through an impressive and surreal lava field as you head east. This is Eldhraun, the world‘s largest known single flow of lava, created by the eruption of Laki in 1783. Enjoy the chance to snap some unique lava images.
The path takes you over vast black sand plains created by glacial floods and on to the town of Kirkjubaejarklaustur. This town named after a convent is a good place to stop. During May – September, the Skaftarstofa tourist information centre is open and shows a short documentary (free of charge) about the infamous Laki volcanic eruption. The eruption’s impact was felt in Iceland and even into continental Europe. The town is also near Systrafoss, a double-ribbon waterfall that falls like a ribbon into the gorge.
You will soon be in the vicinity of Vatnajokull National Park, named after the largest glacier in Europe, and you‘ll see amazing views of Vatnajokull through the day. Take the day to enjoy the journey and the beautiful views and magnificent atmosphere of the area.
We highly recommend visiting the Skaftafell area of Vatnajokull National Park. There are some good hiking trails with views of glaciers. (Check the park’s visitor centre to see which trails are open during your visit). You can also take a hiking tour with an expert glacier guide. Near the park is the Glacier Lagoon (Jokulsarlon), where icebergs drift and collide with each other in a lake formed by Vatnajokull glacier. It’s a fantastic location for photographs, and there is an opportunity to take a boat tour among the ice bergs (April – October). Ten minutes away is a smaller and more secluded lagoon, Fjallsarlon (Iceberg Lagoon). Here you can take a Zodiac boat tour into the lagoon (April – October).
Some icebergs have drifted up onto a nearby black sand beach that provides a dramatic setting for photos. Known as the Diamond Beach, this is a beautiful place to linger, catching views of icebergs and seals.
Overnight: Vik (B)
Day 5: SOUTH COAST EXPLORATIONS
Approximate distance: variable
After breakfast complete check out procedures. Take your time and enjoy a leisurely drive to Reykjavik. As you drive along Road 1, take the time to view Urridarfoss, a mighty waterfall just off of Road 1. It’s great to stop here and feel the power from viewing the rushing waters. Then drive along the south coast road to Reykjanes Peninsula, a colourful UNESCO Geopark that is a paradise for photographers and geology buffs. The road first leads first through several charming villages. Stokkseyri village is a favourite stop for us. There are some great walking trails near the sea, perfect for viewing birdlife and area nature. The Icelandic Wonders centre is a fun place to discover legends about ghosts, and elves. The Fjorbubordid restaurant is famous for its charming ambience and scrumptious lobster feasts.
Drive along seacoast with amazing views of powerful waves, stopping to view Strandakirkja. This lovely church is the spot where many Icelanders have prayed for the safety of loved ones who worked or travelled on the sea. It’s very special to spend some moments outside the church and take in the views of the mighty ocean and rocky coastline. Visit the moon-like surroundings of Lake Kleifarvatn and the Krysuvik geothermal area with its multi-coloured bubbling mud pools. Visit Grindavik fishing village, known for its salt fish heritage. You can try some excellent bacalao dishes at the town’s Salthus restaurant. You can also cross the Mid-Atlantic ridge on the Bridge between Continents. In the area is the famous Blue Lagoon where you can relax in the soothing mineral waters. If you enjoy adventure you can enjoy guided ATV tours year-round. In the spring and summer, there is mountain biking, hiking, snorkelling and golfing. Or indulge your inner explorer at the Vikingaheimur museum where you can learn about Viking discoveries between Iceland and the New World.
Overnight: Reykjavik (B)
Day 6: REYKJAVIK
Enjoy your day in the world’s northernmost capital city!
Approximate distance: variable
After breakfast complete check out procedures. No trip to Iceland is complete without a visit to Iceland‘s capital city! The day is open for you to explore the vibrant culture of Reykjavik. Here are a few suggestions from our staff. Guided walking tours area a great way to fill learn about history and daily life of the city. One of our favourite tours is the Reykjavik Food Walk, a small-group tour that includes stops to sample Icelandic taste treats. Stroll the Old Harbour area, known for its artistic shops and unique eateries, including the new Grandi Food Hall. Browse for Icelandic products on Laugavegur, Iceland‘s main shopping street.
It’s also fun to explore the areas around the city with your car. The Arbaejarsafn Museum is a village-like Open Air museum with a collection of houses from two hundred years of Reykjavik’s history. You can stroll around the “village” and see how people lived in the past. Mosfellsbaer is a pretty town where you can enjoy a walking tour and afternoon coffee with a local or take some knitting lessons. Hafnarfjordur town has an interesting connection to legends of elves and Hidden People, and a charming harbour area that is ideal for a seaside walk and a visit to a café or art shop.
Summertime: You can also enjoy some midnight-sun themed evening tours from the Reykjavík area. Suggestions include guided ATV tours up a nearby mountain, horseback riding in the Red Hills outside the city, and whale watching from the Old Harbour.
West Iceland Option: Another suggestion for today is to visit the interesting Borgarfjordur region in West Iceland. Just an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, Borgarfjordur has different landscapes from South Iceland and is a great day trip. Enjoy natural wonders such as the beautiful Hraunfossar (Lava Waterfalls) or the brilliantly coloured Vidgelmir lava cave. Take part in an unforgettable experience with the Into the Glacier ice cave on Iceland’s second largest glacier. After a day of exploration, it is a lovely experience to relax at the Krauma Natural Geothermal Baths, where you can soak in water from Iceland’s largest hot springs.
Overnight: Reykjavik (B)
Day 7: DEPARTURE
Approximate distance: 50km
After breakfast complete check out procedures Drive back to Keflavik International Airport