7 Day Self Drive
The Amazing North of Iceland
- DAY 1 Driving towards the Great North
- DAY 2 Four pretty villages in the North
- DAY 3 Walk in the woods and the biggest town of the North
- DAY 4 Húsavík, the Whale Watching capital of the North
- DAY 5 The Majesty of Lake Mývatn and the Queen of Icelandic Mountains
- DAY 6 The hoofprint of Odin’s horse and Europe’s most powerful waterfall
- DAY 7 Drive back and bets bits revisited
ABOUT NORTH ICELAND
The North part of Iceland features an amazing variety of natural vistas, and if you came to Iceland to enjoy some spectacular nature, the likes of which not to be found anywhere else on the planet, the North will fulfill any fantasy, however far-fetched you may deem it, to begin with. Lush forests, thunderous waterfalls (among them the most powerful in all of Europe), plus a host of utterly unique natural formations best seen to be believed. It’s all here.
TRAVELING IN THE NORTH
While traveling around northern Iceland, you can also choose from various activities to make the journey even more exhilarating and memorable. For each location, we will recommend a few for you to pick from. Just remember to review the options and make your choices before you leave for the tour; most of them may require booking in advance.
Some say the beauty of North Iceland is unimaginable. That may be so, but no worries; once you have driven there and seen it for yourself you won’t have to imagine a thing. The spectacular landscape will be ingrained in your mind’s eye for life. And in your photographs as well, thankfully. Without them, few will believe what you tell them about the natural environment of North Iceland.
For a seven-day trip in Iceland, it’s always good to remember the swimming pools found in every township and sometimes out in the country as well. Nothing soothes the mind, body, and soul as well as a quick sprint in a swimming pool, followed by a serene moment in a “hot pot,” the cozy hot tubs every pool in Iceland features.
Book this tour for seven unforgettable days to experience firsthand all the most beautiful natural wonders to be found in North Iceland. 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:
Driving from Reykjavík to your hotel in Dalvík, northern Iceland, takes approx. five hours. You will be making several stops along the way so we recommend an early start. That way you will squeeze the most value from your time today.
Make for the National Route 1, the Ring Road, and set the course for a small town up north called Blönduós. During your drive along the West of Iceland, remember that you’re the boss and if you see something interesting, have a look – provided that the subject of your interest is accessible by car.
When you have about 40 kilometers left towards Blönduós, you will see a sign by the side of the road, signaling aright turn off the National Route 1 and to National Route 715. This road leads to a deep, rugged gorge called Kolugljúfur where Víðidalsá river goes cascading over many waterfalls which bear the name Kolufossar Falls in honor of a fabled giantess called Kola.
Once back up on the Ring Road look out for another detour, this time towards left via National Route 716, the road the leads to Hvítserkur. This imposing 15-meter high sea stack, just offshore on the eastern side of Vatnsnes, looks like a dragon to some, a petrified troll to others. You decide what you think it looks like, as you watch the birds and the seals around the spectacular rock.
Back on the Ring Road, you will soon pass the otherworldly Vatnsdalshólar to your right, a gathering of hills of various sizes strewn across the landscape. While there just might be a legend about a troll who scattered the hills randomly, they were allegedly made in a massive landslide. The hills of Vatnsdalshólar are considered to be one of the three “innumerable” things in Iceland, along with the lakes in Arnarvatnsheiði and the islands in Breiðarfjörður Bay in the west.
Finally, check in at the hotel, for the first of two nights.
Attractions on the way: Mount Esja, Borgarnes, Kolugljúfur, Vatnsdalshólar
FOUR PRETTY VILLAGES IN THE NORTH
Approx. km driven:
Dalvík is just one of the friendly little fishing villages in the vicinity, and today you will get to know them all, quirks and characteristics included. Apart from Dalvík itself, where you are staying, a drive counterclockwise around the peninsula takes you to Ólafsfjörður, Siglufjörður and finally Hofsós. Each has a bit of local magic of their own, but a special mention has to go to the final stop, Hofsós.
The town of Hofsós is lovely, and a major part of that town is the local swimming pool. Not to take away from other pools in Iceland, but the Hofsós swimming pool is, in a word: magnificent. Arguably the most beautiful swimming pool in Iceland, it is designed by the same architect that brought us the one and only Blue Lagoon facilities. The pool has been built into the hillside above the sea with breathtaking views over Skagafjörður bay, all the way to Drangey island. The views from the pool are a combination of striking shades of blue; the crisp clear blue color of the swimming pool itself, the dark green-blue sea, the indigo blue of the islands and mountains in the distance, and finally whichever blue shade the sky will sport on the day you visit.
Once relaxed and refreshed, head back for Dalvík for the second night at the hotel.
Attractions on the way: Siglufjörður, Hofsós, Hólar í Hjaltadal
WALK IN THE WOODS AND THE BIGGEST TOWN OF THE NORTH
Approx. km driven:
A 35-minute drive will get you to Akureyri, the capital of the North. Along the way is Bruggsmiðjan, Iceland’s first ever craft brewery, at Árskógssandur. The brewery welcomes visitors but book your visit in advance and remember – no beer for the driver.
A busy, bustling town of Akureyri, home to about 20.000 people. Here you will find galleries, museums (the Icelandic Aviation Museum among them), numerous restaurants and shops. The Botanical Gardens are a major attraction, as are the northernmost 18-hole golf course in the world and excellent skiing slopes in Hlíðarfjall mountain.
It is sometimes said that Iceland has no trees. Well, Akureyri begs to differ. South of Akureyri is Kjarnaskógur forest, one of the biggest in the country and a wonderful place to visit. The area has 7 kilometers of lit trail in addition to a vast network of backcountry trails. Kjarnaskógur also features 10 kilometers of designated mountain bike trail. Additionally, there are two playgrounds, picnic areas, barbeque facilities, restrooms and a volleyball field as well.
Finish the day by driving towards Húsavík and checking into the hotel.
Attractions on the way: Árskógsandur and Bruggsmiðjan Brewery, Akureyri, Kjarnaskógur, Aldeyjarfoss
HÚSAVÍK, THE WHALE WATCHING CAPITAL OF THE NORTH
Approx. km driven:
Rise and shine, time to meet Húsavík. Húsavík is a town on the north coast of Iceland on the shores of Skjálfandi bay with around 2,185 inhabitants. The most famous landmark of the town and one you will notice immediately is the wooden church Húsavíkurkirkja, built in 1907. The shape of the building is unusual for churches in Iceland and the building plan takes the form of a cross. Built using wood imported from Norway, the church is open most days over the tourist season, and admission is free. Just open the door and take a look.
Among the various activities on offer are birdwatching, golf and horseback riding, but Húsavík really is the country’s capital when it comes to whale watching. If you want to see the gentle giants swim, roll around and splash in the water, look no further. The town of Húsavík is widely recognized as one of the best locations in the world from which to watch whales. In fact, there is a higher chance of seeing whales in Húsavík than any other place in Iceland. Retire for the night at the hotel.
Attractions on the way: Whale Watching boat trip, Húsavík Whale Museum, Húsavík Museum House, Mánarbakki Folk Museum, Húsavíkurkirkja church.
THE MAJESTY OF LAKE MÝVATN AND THE QUEEN OF ICELANDIC MOUNTAINS
Approx. km driven:
It only takes approx. 40 minutes to drive from Húsavík to Lake Mývatn and it’s spectacular surroundings, but you will still believe you have entered another world, if not another dimension. Lake Mývatn is truly one of the highlights of the north and therefore this tour.
In a country of spectacular nature, a place that never ceases to amaze is Lake Mývatn. Mývatn is a shallow lake situated in an area of active volcanism in the north of Iceland, not far from Krafla volcano. The lake and its surrounding wetlands have an exceptionally rich fauna of waterbirds, especially ducks, in a strange landscape of rock formations where volcanic eruptions have played a crucial role. Some fantastic hiking trails can be found around the lake and among the more popular is to climb up to the crater of Hverfjall. Walk the whole circle around the rim of this beautiful tephra ring which is one of the largest in the world. You can also rent a bike and cycle around the lake.
After your activities of choice, you will visit the Mývatn Nature Baths for a wonderful relaxation.
The Nature Baths, a man-made construction which uses water from the National Power Company´s borehole in Bjarnarflag, contains a large amount of minerals, is alkaline and well suited for bathing. Due to its chemical composition, undesired bacteria and vegetation do not thrive in the lagoon making chloride or any other disinfectant completely redundant.
All major services are provided in the village of Reykjahlid, next to Lake Mývatn, such as a mini supermarket, bank, post office, health care center, school and swimming pool. At Lake Myvatn, different types of accommodation are available as well as good restaurants and cafés.
A two-hour drive further South gets you to Herðubreið, often called the Queen of Icelandic mountains. This is fitting enough as the mountain looks crown-like in shape. Herðubreið is a circular table-mountain, or tuya, and rises over 3500 feet above the surrounding area, 5518 feet above sea level.
Drive back to the hotel for the night.
Attractions on the way: Lake Mývatn, Hverfjall, Mývatn Nature Baths, Bjarnarflag, Dimmuborgir, Herðubreið
THE HOOFPRINT OF ODIN’S HORSE AND EUROPE’S MOST POWERFUL WATERFALL
Approx. km driven:
You don’t have to adhere to the ancient Norse religion of Odin, Thor, Loki et al. but it wouldn’t hurt when you visit Ábyrgi. According to myth, this horse-shoe shaped canyon is exactly that; the hoofprint of Sleipnir, Odin’s octapod horse. This gigantic rock formation, with a thick forest covering its floor, is a geological wonder in a class of its own, in a country rich in geological wonders. Sleipnir must have been a sizeable creature, considering Ásbyrgi is about 3.5km in length and 1.1km wide. But then, Odin was the chief of the Norse gods.
An hours drive delivers you in the clutches of Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. This booming cascade may be in the middle of nowhere but don’t expect any peace and quiet as the crushing noise from the waterfall is deafening. Cinema enthusiasts will likely remember Dettifoss as the star of the opening scene of Ridley Scott’s sci-fi epic Prometheus.
You also have the option of driving to Raufarhöfn, a town literally on the edge of the country. Raufarhöfn is on the northeastern tip of the Melrakkaslétta peninsula in Iceland, and there you will find the Arctic Henge (Heimskautsgerðið) which is under construction. Similar to its ancient predecessor, Stonehenge, the Arctic Henge is like a huge sundial, aiming to capture the sun rays, cast shadows in precise locations and capture the light between aligned gateways. Head back again to the hotel for the night.
Attractions on the way: Ásbyrgi, Dettifoss waterfall, Arctic Henge.
DRIVE BACK AND BEST BITS REVISITED
Approx. km driven:
You have at least a 5-hour drive back to Reykjavík on your hands, and if you take the day early, you can make a fantastic trip out of it, by either checking off locations you didn’t get to see on the way North, or revisit those that you found really captivating. However you decide to spend the drive back, do drive carefully and enjoy the ride.
Attractions on the way: Akureyri, Varmahlíð, Blönduós, Vatnsdalshólar, Laugarbakki, Hvalfjörður bay, Mount Esja.
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
- Húsavík Whale Museum
- Mount Esja
- Hólar í Hjaltadal
- Árskógsandur and Bruggsmiðjan Brewery
- Whale Watching boat trip
- Húsavík Museum House
- Mánarbakki Folk Museum
- Húsavíkurkirkja church
- Lake Mývatn
- Mývatn Nature Baths
- Dettifoss waterfall
- Arctic Henge
- Hvalfjörður bay
- 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. Breakfast is included.
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.