ICELAND - On your own with a car
Ideas for trips on your own
Half a day trip 3-4 hours
Bláa lónið - Blue Lagoon
A visit to the Blue Lagoon, Iceland´s geothermal spa, is an important part of your stay in Iceland and an experience you will never forget. Guests renew their relationship with nature, soak up the scenic beauty and enjoy breathing the clean, fresh air while relaxing in the warm geothermal water. About 40 minute drive from Reykjavík.
Reykjavík - The Capital of Iceland
Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, is the country's largest city and the world's most northern capital, with a population of over 115,000.
There are several interesting things to do in Reykjavik. . The city centre is lively with many shops, bars, restaurants, museums and galleries. A number of the museums and galleries that have been established in Reykjavík are run by the state, municipal authorities or privately owned. Some are dedicated to the works of individual artists.
If you are interested in exploring our history it is highly recommended that you visit the National Museum of Iceland, The Settlement Exhibition and Árbæjarsafn, an open air museum.
The City Hall (Ráðhúsið) which is by the Pond (Tjörnin) in the city centre is open for visitors, as well as Hallgrímskirkja (the country´s largest church). Perlan is a stunning structure built on top of hot water tanks. It houses a revolving restaurant as well as an observation deck which offers a panoramic view of the Capital and surrounding areas.
Due to the abundance of geothermal water Reykjavík has several outdoor swimming pools. They all have hot tubs and some have steam baths and water slides as well. They are open year round.
Reykjavík and surrounding areas (Reykjavík/Hafnarfjörður/Heiðmörk/Rauðhólar)
Whale watching from Reykjavík
South coast (Þrengslin/Eyrarbakki/Stokkseyri/Hveragerði)
Whole day trip 6-10 hours
The Golden Circle tour takes you to Gullfoss, Geysir and Þingvellir. Gullfoss is a spectacular waterfall and among the most beautiful in Iceland. Geysir is one of the highest hot springs in the world. The English term geyser for erupting hot springs comes from the name of this particular hot spring.
Þingvellir is the site where our Alþingi (parliament) was established in the year 930). On this trip, the road also takes you through farmed countryside and popular cottage areas.
Reykjanes with or without the Blue Lagoon.
Reykjanes peninsula is where the Atlantic ridge rises above the ocean. Take the road toward Keflavík Airport. In Reykjanesbær you can visit the Viking ship, Islendingur. Then head south to the symbolic bridge between the continents. The lighthouse area on the westernmost tip of the peninsula is a magnificent area with rich bird life. You can hear the surf crashing against the basalt cliffs. Close by is Gunnuhver hot spring, one of the most famous high temperature geothermal areas in Reykjanes. After driving through the moonscaped lavafield you arrive in Grindavík, a typical Icelandic fishing willage. From there you can choose to visit the Blue Lagoon for a relaxing dip. Alternatively you could take the scenic route along the coast to Krísuvík, another interesting hot spring area. After passing Lake Kleifarvatn you can drive through the centre of Hafnafjörður, Iceland´s third largest town and historically an important port.
Þórsmörk , (Thor´s forest or the thunder god´s forest), is one of Iceland’s greatest wonders of nature, encircled by natural barriers such as mountains, glaciers and un-bridged rivers in all directions. Þórsmörk, a nature reserve since 1924, is only accessible by specially equipped vehicles and with experienced drivers. This trip can be done in a day provided you start out early. Take Highway 1 and drive east. An ideal place for a pit-stop before leaving the highway and heading toward Þórsmörk is the small town of Hvolsvöllur. On a clear day, you can see the famous volcano Mount Hekla. Seljalandsfoss is a waterfall that you will see from the road just after you have left the highway and turned towards Þórsmörk. It is well worth a stop. A path allows you to walk in behind the waterfall and view it from there. Further along the road toward Þórsmörk you pass the glacier tongue Gígjökull. Due to the eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in the spring of 2010, some of this area is still covered with a layer of volcanic ash. Once you reach Þórsmörk, take the time to walk into Stakkholtsgjá. Básar in Þórsmörk has facilities for you to rest and consume some of the food that you have brought along.
Kaldidalur – Borgarfjörður
West-Iceland has many scenic and interesting places to visit. For an enjoyable day trip you could start by driving to Þingvellir and from there take the mountain road Kaldidalur which takes you through rugged terrain along the glacier Langjökull. (For touring the glacier snowmobiles are available to rent but they must be booked in advance). From the highland you drive down into the green valley by Húsafell where you could stop for refreshments. Your next stop would be Hraunfossar/Barnafossar. Hraunfossar are clear, cold springs that well up through the lava and run in falls and rapids into the Hvítá River. Reykholt in Borgarfjörður is a historic site, a cultural centre past and present. Its most famous inhabitant was undoubtedly the saga writer and historian SNORRI STURLUSON (1179-1241). "Snorralaug", Snorri‘s hot tub, is thought to have been built during the thirteenth-century and is one of the ten archaeological remains which were the first to be listed as such in Iceland in 1817. Also the old church is worth visiting. Snorrastofa is a museum, a cultural and medieval centre founded in memory of Snorri Sturluson. From Reykholt it takes only a few minutes to get to to Deildartunguhver, a thermal spring which produces 180 liters of water per second, the largest output of any thermal spring in the world. You return to Reykjavík through Borgarnes and via the tunnel underneath Hvalfjörður.
Snæfellsnes – Snæfellsjökull National park
Snæfellsnes is a beautiful peninsula on the west side of Iceland. It offers many recreational activities. Driving through Borgarnes head for the south coast of Snæfellsnes. You pass the crater Eldborg and drive on to Gerðuberg, a columnar basalt cliff worth stopping at.
By Hotel Búðir there is a nice little church and a lovely golden beach adorned with black lava cliffs. You continue around the peninsula toward Snæfellsjökull National Park. On the way you can stop at Arnarstapi and enjoy its extraordinary shores and scenery. At Hellnar there is a tiny restaurant right on the ocean. It is also where you find the visitor centre for the National Park. Lóndrangar are a pair of sharp, steep cliffs, or volcanic plugs made of basalt that have been hewn out from the softer surrounding rock by erosion. Snæfellsjökull glacier is a dormant volcano that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Some people assemble there regularly each summer to capture the energy it radiates as they believe it to be one of Earth´s seven energy spots. You can drive back on the north side of Snæfellsnes and enjoy the beautiful landscape it offers. In this area there are many signs of ancient eruptions with various lava formations and craters. You pass Grundarfjörður, a small town in an idyllic setting and if you have the time Stykkishólmur is well worth the short detour. There are swimming pools in Ólafsvík, Lýsuhóll, Grundarfjörður and Stykkishólmur.You return to Reykjavík through Borgarnes.
Highland-Golden Circle- and the highlights of the North. 3-4 days Gullfoss/Geysir/Kjölur/Akureyri/Mývatn/Dettifoss/Ásbyrgi/Húsavík/Akureyri. Highway 1 on your return. Accommodation in Akureyri or nearby. http://www.northiceland.is/
Head for Gullfoss, Geysir and from there take the highland road Kjölur to the north. The road takes you through great scenery between two big glaciers, mountains, rugged terrain and lakes. You should plan to stop at Hveravellir, which is one of the most unique geothermal areas in the world with smoking fumaroles, beautifully shaped with sky-blue boiling water. Take time to relax in a hot tub before continuing your journey. There is also a coffee shop that sells snacks. Continuing north to Akureyri your destination at the end of the day. Akureyri is often referred to as the capital of northern Iceland, a picturesque town with 17.000 inhabitants. In and around Akureyri there are numerous possibilities for accommodation.
On your second day you take in the highlights of the North. Húsavík is a small town mostly known for its whale watching tours. The National ParkJökulsárglúfur, with Dettifoss, Europe’s mightiest waterfall. From there you make your way toward Námaskarð and Mývatn, where you can bathe in geothermal waters, Jarðböðin. En route back to Akureyri you can stop to view the waterfall Goðafoss. This is a full day trip so you stay over for another night before heading back to Reykjavík on route 1. The drive takes about 5 hours but you travel through varied landscape and there are many interesting places to stop on the way.
Snæfellsnes 2 days with Kaldidalur
Combination of the tour to West Iceland and Snæfellsnes.
Southcoast to Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón, 2 – 3 days Seljalandsfoss/Dyrhólahey/Vík/Kirkjubæjarklaustur/Skaftafell/Jökulsárlón.
The South has both densely and sparsely populated areas. The area between the town of Hofn and the river Markarfljot has vast alluvial or outwash plains, lava fields and narrow strips of lowlands, which are not well suited for agriculture whereas the western part contains the largest fertile agricultural area of the country and a has a number of townships. This is a long drive, 380 KM on road no. 1 to Jökulsárlón with many places of Interest on the way. You drive through the towns Selfoss and Hvolsvöllur, where you could make pit stops. At Seljalandsfoss you can walk around the waterfall and see it from behind. On the way to Vík you pass the area that was covered with ash from the Volcano eruption in Eyjafjallajökull in march/april 2010. It is also worth stopping at is Skógar, to visit the transportation and folk museums as well as viewing the magnificent waterfall Skógafoss. After Skógar you drive across the sandy desert created by the Glacier Myrdalsjökull. Once there you could drive to the glaciertounge Sólheimajökull. Visit Dyrhólaey ,well known for its bird-cliffs and in Vík it is nice to take a walk on the black beach. Again you drive throuth the sands from the claciers until you reach the lavafield Eldhraun with its soft mooscarpet. Other stops of interest are Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Dverghamrar, Núpsstaður and the visitor centre at Skaftafell. From Skaftafell you can hike to Svartifoss. After you pass Skaftafell there is a gravel road leading to the glaciertounge Svinafellsjökull. One of the highligts of this tour is a boatride on Jökulsárlón. The quickest way back to Reykjavík is on Highway 1. But if you are not pressed for time there are other options on side roads, depending on the kind of vehicle you are driving.
This pearl of the interior is situated in a valley between colourful mountains at the dark edge of the rhyolite lava field Laugahraun. Many hot and cold springs create a bathing warm brook, where people bathe. For Landmannalaugar it is possible to book sleeping bag-accommodation in the mountain cabin. Or stay in other places outside the area.
More ideas for longer trips
Þórsmörk – Landmannalaugar 3 days. Possibility for longer hikes.
Iceland roundtrip 6 days or more
Visit the Vestfjörður 3-5 days
Iceland roundtrip 6 days or more
Ideas for short and long excursions in Iceland
Organized trips available at