7 Day Self Drive
The Big Adventure!
- DAY 1 Arrival in Iceland, check in at one of the hotels in Reykjavik
- DAY 2 Drive along the South coast towards the East Fjords.
- DAY 3 Time to enter the East
- DAY 4 The “Foreign” Villages of East Iceland
- DAY 5 Visiting the Elves’ Court in Borgarfjörður
- DAY 6 Egilsstaðir and the mighty Hengifoss waterfall
- DAY 7 The picturesque drive back to Reykjavík
EXPLORING EAST ICELAND
East Iceland is a wonderful place for any nature lover, especially the geology enthusiast. Everywhere from the undulating, green, soft valleys to the steep fjords, you are reminded of the seismic forces that shaped our Earth; the evidence of these prehistoric times are everywhere. The steep mountainsides in the Fjords are formed of thousands upon thousands of basaltic lava layers as impressively displayed in places like Breiðdalur. The East also features volcanoes, dormant as well as highly active. The region is furthermore famous for interesting minerals, such as the zeolites at Teigarhorn and jaspis, onyx, opal, agate, and amethyst are found from Breiðdalur north to Borgarfjörður eystri.
THE ROUTE 1
Driving the famous National Route 1, The Ring Road, is a memorable experience by any standards complete with natural sceneries the likes of which you are unlikely to see anywhere else. This means that even if the drive from Reykjavík to the East fjords is a bit of a stretch you will have loads of interesting scenery and unique locations along the way. Allocate some time for getting there because, trust us – you will make stops for gasps and photos.
Those who have had the pleasure to visit the small towns on the eastern coast of Iceland fall in love with them, the warm people living there and the surprising diversity found between them. As the East fjords are the part of Iceland closest to the European continent, you will find some strong influences in certain towns, from certain countries.
Book this tour for seven unforgettable days to experience firsthand all the most beautiful locations to be found in East Iceland. The most distant part of the country, from the capital area, might end up being the closest to your heart. Seize the day and take this opportunity to create the perfect cozy and soothing 7-day stay in Iceland. You can see the booking availability in the calendar to the left.
You can rearrange days, activities and routes as you like from scheduled itinerary.
Approx. km driven:
Use the first day to save some energy for the trip. Take a walk around the town center and hit the bets early for an early start. Hallgrímskirkja cathedral with its panoramic views of the city, Bæjarins bestu hot dog stand and Skólavörðustígur shopping street are all safe bets for a nice time out. Harpa Concert Hall by the harbour is also a place well worth visiting and entrance is free.
DRIVE ALONG THE SOUTH COAST TOWARDS THE EAST FJORDS
Approx. km driven: 343 KM
Making your way to the East takes a few hours but fortunately, the drive is packed with locations worthy of a stop. You would do well to make an early start as there will be loads of tempting stops to make and you will want to enter the hotel before night falls. Ultimately, it is you who decide where you make your stops as you cruise along the South of Iceland. Here are a few stops you probably do not want to miss.
First off, there is Seljalandsfoss. This may not be the most powerful cascade in Iceland but the 60 meter-drop is impressive nonetheless, and it presents a rare trait: you can actually walk behind the plunging water.
Back to National Route 1, the Ring Road, and next up is Skógafoss, a massive waterfall with booming noise as the 25-meter wide river crashes 60 meters below, resulting in a lot of spray and almost perpetual rainbows in the mist.
Next option is an interesting one; not exactly a natural attraction but a popular stop nonetheless. In 1973, a US Air Force Douglas Dakota was flying towards Keflavík Air Base when it ran out of fuel and had to force a landing on Sólheimasandur Beach. Fortunately, there were no casualties except for the plane, which sits is the black sands to this day, subject to slow erosion by the sands of time. Literally. Please note that the landowners have now banned automobile traffic to the wreck and that requires you to park your vehicle about 4 kilometers (approx. 2.5 miles) and walk the rest. But that’s not too much for a famous landmark, is it? Just make sure to have the right clothing for the stroll.
Now for the famous Reynisfjara beach – The Black Beach. A highly impressive shoreline stretch of pitch-black sand, Reynisfjara is a popular stop for tourists in Iceland and not just because of the impressive black sand. But be extra careful: the waves at Reynisfjara beach are exceptionally strong and unpredictable, to the point that fatal accidents occur there at a grim rate. Respect the tides – or that picture you’re trying for may just be your last.
The beach also sports an impressive cliff of regular, octagonal basalt columns. The cliff, named Hálsanef, and Reynisdrangar, a row of tall basalt stacks out in the sea, add to the overall effect. A short drive further east takes you to the massive cliff on Dyrhólaey. End your day by checking into Fosshótel Glacier Lagoon.
Attractions on the way: Seljalandsfoss, Skógarfoss, Sólheimasandur Beach, Douglas Dakota US Air Force Plane, Hálsanef, Reynisdrangar, Reynisfjara, Black Sand Beach, Dyrhólaey
TIME TO ENTER THE EAST
Approx. km driven: 320KM
First stop today is the famous Jökulsárlón – the Glacier Lagoon. The creation of this natural wonder can best be described like this: Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, a section of the great Vatnajökull, is slowly melting. Subsequently, giant icebergs keep breaking off and go floating through a lagoon. On their way towards the sea. Some of the ice collects on the shores of the lagoon while the majority of the pieces drift slowly out to sea.
Next up is a town situated where the South meets the East – Höfn. The town is based on fisheries and more especially, lobster fishing. You would do well to try some of the restaurants that serve the locally caught langoustine – they are exquisite. The town swimming pool has it all for a refreshing day: a hot tub, a jacuzzi, steam bath as well as ice bath, and some pretty impressive water slides in case you need to find the child within you again.
Next in line is the town Djúpivogur. Various activities are on offer, like a sailing trip to Papey Island. A famous local landmark in Djúpivogur is an eye-opener: Eggin í Gleðivík (The Eggs of Merry Bay) is a new outdoor artwork made by the Icelandic artist Sigurður Guðmundsson. The artwork consists of 34 eggs, each representing one of the local species of birds. The eggs represent a unique photo moment, and from the center of the village, it is easy to find them by the harbor, about 900 meters walking distance from the center of the village. The great mountain Búlandstindur dominates the town and is an impressive sight with its unusual shape.
Stöðvarfjörður is another tiny fishing village, surrounded by beautiful mountains on all sides as is often the case in the East Fjords. Around the village, you have Mount Steðji, Mount Súlur, and Hellufjall Mountain. A special attraction of Stöðvarfjörður stems from the rare and peculiar types of stones and minerals can be found in the surrounding mountains.
Petra Sveinsdóttir´s Mineral stone collection, one of the most impressive private collections of rocks and minerals in the world. Her home and adjacent garden are truly a collector´s paradise, visited by tens of thousands of guests annually.
After 25 minutes drive, you will reach Fáskrúðsfjörður. Check in at Fosshótel Fáskrúðsfjörður.
Attractions on the way: Jökulsárlón, Lobster-tasting, Outdoor Artwork, Papey Island, Mountains, Stöðvarfjörður, Stone collection museum
THE “FOREIGN” VILLAGES OF EAST ICELAND
Approx. km driven: 157 km
The village you are waking up in, Fáskrúðsfjörður has some strong ties to France. French fishing schooners would restock and rest in the town’s port during their fishing in Icelandic water around 1900 and the hotel where you just spent the night, the Fosshótel Eastfjords, is actually a reconstructed French 19th-century hospital, built to nurse and treat French fishermen at the time. The building preserves its rich history and heritage, and a walk around the facilities will teach you much about the town’s common past with the French fishermen who braved the harsh Icelandic waters, many of whom would never return to their native land. Quite a few of them lie in a specific cemetery just outside the town.
Head towards Neskaupstaður, the most densely populated town in the area. Hiking trails in the vicinity – the Norðfjörður nature reserve – are renowned for imposing natural beauty, and the wonderful café Nesbær offers delicious refreshments and interesting exhibitions by local artists. Horse rental Skorrahestar offers long and short tours, and for some memorable hiking to local natural sights, we recommend the cave Páskahellir (Easter Cave) and Rauðubjörg (Red Cliffs), a stunning reddish rhyolite cliff which offers a spectacular view once you reach their top.
Finally for today, drive for 90 minutes to reach Seyðisfjörður, a village of 700 people living in delightfully colorful Norwegian-style wooden houses, dating from the early years of the 20th. Century. Once another tiny fishing village, Seyðisfjörður is now a welcoming town booming with creativity with a flourishing art scene. Plenty of guided tours and delightful hiking trails are available. Seydisfjordur is one of Lonely Planet’s top picks in Iceland.
Head back to your hotel in Egilsstaðir in time for a decent night’s sleep.
Attractions on the way: Fáskrúðsfjörður, French 19th century hospital, Nesbær Café, Horse rental, Hiking, Páskahellir, Rauðubjörg, Seyðisfjörður, Fishing villages
VISITING THE ELVES’ COURT IN BORGARFJÖRÐUR
Approx. km driven:
Start the day by driving to Borgarfjörður Eystri. The Borgarfjörður region is known for its great natural beauty. Borgarfjörður is famous for fantastic hiking trails called “Víknaslóðir” leading to the deserted fjords and coves. The area has become a hiker´s paradise with local people marking numerous trails, comfortable hiking huts, and a good hiking-map. But you are advised to tread carefully; Borgarfjörður happens to be the home of the Queen of Elves, no less. You can walk to the hill “Álfaborg” – The Elves´ Castle – where the queen of the Icelandic elves allegedly resides with her court. The “Álfacafé” is also well worth a visit for trying out the local fish dishes.
Nearby you will find the magnificent Dyrfjöll and Stórurð. Dyrfjöll is doubtless one of the most majestic mountains in the East. The name means “Door mountain” and draws its name from the huge opening in the middle of the mountain ridge. The mountain is 1136 meters high, and the top can be reached in about 3,5 – 5 hours hike. The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking! Below Dyrfjöll lies Stórurð, one of East Iceland’s best-hidden gem.
Stórurð is an incredibly picturesque place with gigantic boulders of rock, green meadows, and turquoise colored little ponds. A pretty little stream runs through stórurð and the entire area wouldn’t be out of place in Bilbo Baggins’ Shire. The 2.5-hour hike to Stórurð is well worth it for all nature lovers. Simply drive up on the Vatnsskarð pass, National Road nr. 94 and find the “Stórurð” sign. From there the path is clearly marked.
Check in at your hotel for the night.
Attractions on the way: Víknaslóðir hiking trails, Álfaborg, Dyrfjöll, Stórurð
EGILSSTAÐIR AND THE MIGHTY HENGIFOSS WATERFALL
Approx. km driven:
Pack your bags and set sails for Egilsstaðir, a young and lively town of 2700 people that is among few townships in Iceland not situated by the seaside. Water flows by, nevertheless, in the form of the great river Lagarfljót. Egilsstaðir is a gourmand’s paradise, and an absolute must is the famous reindeer steak.
Nearby you will find Hallormsstaður, surrounded by Iceland’s largest forest, complete with an arboretum consisting of 70 different species of trees. Numerous marked trails offer some highly enjoyable strolls and hikes through the woods.
Further on Road 931, you will find the tremendously impressive Hengifoss waterfall. Hengifoss has a drop of 128 meters, making it one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland. The hike up to the waterfall from the parking lot is fairly easy and takes about 45 minutes. On your way, you will also see the beautiful waterfall Litlanesfoss, surrounded by some of Iceland’s longest basalt columns.
Finish your day trip by visiting Skriðuklaustur, a house generally regarded among the more beautiful in the entire country. Built in 1939, the house is a historical site not only because it was the home of famous writer Gunnar Gunnarsson, but the lot also has the ruins of a fully excavated 16th-century monastery. Mr. Gunnarsson donated the house to the nation in 1948. The facilities also feature a museum with exhibitions and events of various kinds.
Check in at your hotel for the night.
Attractions on the way: Lagarfljót river, Egilsstaðir swimming pool, Hallormsstaðaskógur forest, Hengifoss, Skriðuklaustur museum
THE PICTURESQUE DRIVE BACK TO REYKJAVÍK
Approx. km driven:
From Höfn the drive back to Reykjavík takes around 5.5 hours in a straight run, but we know you’ll want to stop now and then, for refreshments as well as photographs, so we highly recommend you start the day early and allow for a longer ride back to the capital. Think of it a bonus opportunity to revisit your favourite spots from the initial drive towards the East.
Have a safe trip back home and until we meet again – bless!
- Standard Entrance Ticket to the Blue Lagoon
- Detailed Travel Plan with a map of the area and information package
- Access to Go Personal Travel Assistant, GPTA – Go Icelandic Travel Service
- Car of Choice (4X4 in winter)
- Fuel Discount Card
- Studded Winter Tires
- Unlimited Mileage
- SCDW insurance – Additional Insurance available upon request
- Optional to add a hotspot WIFI to your vehicle GPS Navigation System
- Available: April – September
- Total Duration of the Tour: 7 days – 6 nights
- Easy and Relaxed
PLACES YOU WILL SEE
- Sólheimasandur Beach
- Douglas Dakota US Air Force Plane
- Black Sand Beach
- Outdoor Artwork
- Papey Island
- Stone collection museum
- French 19th century hospital
- Nesbær Café
- Horse rental
- Fishing villages
- Hot springs
- Big waterfalls
- Blue Lagoon.
CAR PICKUP INFORMATION
- Keflavík Airport 24/7 service – Very important to choose a correct pick-up time and flight number
- Car rental shuttle bus outside the arrival terminal will shuttle you to the car rental company, it’s only 2-3 min away
- Pick up options at Keflavik Airport, address in Keflavík and greater Reykjavik area
- Pick up and drop off fee may apply for delivery in Reykjavik
- Starting time is Flexible
CAR RENTAL RETURN
- Keflavik Airport – 24/7 service
- Reykjavik by request – Drop off fee may apply
WHAT TO BRING AND DON’T FORGET
- Warm Clothes and walking boots for all weathers – Wool and Cotton is essential and dress in layers – even in summertime
- Mobile Phone, Camera, and Batteries
- Valid Driver’s license with photo ID and Passport
- Swimsuit and towels
GOOD FOR YOU TO KNOW
- Monitor weather forecasts well before the trip starts – even in summertime
- Check road conditions on www.road.is in advance
- Give someone (hotel staff) your travel plans (look for info about SAR app in you Travel Package)
- Download many great mobile Apps to use throughout your journey – Information Included in Travel Package
EMERGENCY NUMBERS FOR ACCIDENTS
- The official number for emergencies: 112
IMPORTANT: ICELANDIC WEATHER – ROADS – SPEED LIMITS
Weather in Iceland is notoriously unpredictable, hence the local saying: if you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes! This holds true for all seasons so regardless of the time of your visit, prepare well before start driving and make sure you are able to find your way back home safely. Never hesitate to ask the locals for advice when needed. They know how to deal with difficult situations and are a friendly bunch to boot.
It is of imperative importance to keep in mind that Icelandic roads are quite narrow. You are not driving on anything like US freeways or European autobahns. Due to constantly changing weather conditions, roads can be slippery in summers and icy in the winter or just might be loose gravel alongside the asphalt and single-lane bridges can be particularly treacherous. You might find the tarmac cut off, continuing with a gravel road which commands special precaution. Drivers need to be alert at all times, adhere to speed limits and take care whenever traveling on Icelandic roads. There is also good reason to warn drivers about the animals. Icelandic sheep can roam the open countryside and on the roads during the summer season. They can be quite unpredictable and drivers are advised to keep a watchful eye on them along with other animals as well.
Remember to take your own, sweet time; if you don’t, you’re bound to pass something and miss out. Now that you’re finally in Iceland, you wouldn’t want that, would you?
GO ICELANDIC – ACCOMMODATION
See our sample of our accommodation options below. Single person bookings will be in a single room and bookings of 2 or more people will be booked in twin/double room(s) (or triple rooms). Please let us know if you have special requests and we do our utmost to make your stay enjoyable. Please note, any changes to the original plan may incur additional costs to the booking.
Comfort Rooms – 3 stars
All rooms are with a private bathroom at three-star hotels or similar at quality guesthouses. Located in the city center or in close vicinity.
This category features rooms at a design hotel in the city center with a private bathroom at the absolute best locations downtown or seaside locations such as the Fosshótel Reykjavík. Breakfast is included.
For those who are in for the very best and prefer to stay at high-end luxury accommodation, please email us to firstname.lastname@example.org directly after booking. We will suggest a specially customized upgrade for your stay. Please note that special requests are subject to additional cost.
GO ICELANDIC EXCLUSIVE – VEHICLES
Go Icelandic offer just the right selection of vehicles to suit your wishes. Just book the one that fits your needs and travel plans. Our rental partners offer only highest quality vehicles and service to our guests and customers with care.
Our self-drive packages include only newest models of cars in each category or maximum 2 years old. Most of the fleet is equipped with a GPS for your safety and comfort. Please see the categories of available vehicles and select the car you need for a magical vacation in Iceland. Based on weather conditions we do recommend a comfortable 4X4 as a minimal standard for winter traveling due to the high probability of snow, and subsequently the possibility of icy and challenging road conditions.
Budget Option – 5 Persons Max
Great 2WD vehicle for your comfort. Great for regular road conditions and traveling enjoyment. We offer a selection of cars like KIA, VW, and Toyota or similar in all our tours. Does not fit for offroad driving.
Comfort 4X4 Option – 5 Persons Max
A medium sized SUV with 4 Wheel Drive (4×4), fit for most travel, and capable of snow and off-asphalt travel, such as Toyota, KIA or similar. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities.
Luxury 4×4 Option – 5 Persons Max
A large sized SUV with 4 Wheel Drive (4×4) such as Toyota Land Cruiser 150 or similar, capable of nearly all traveling routes. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads.