This Iceland Full Grand Circle 12+ Day Self Drive itinerary is designed for people who want to travel the famous Ring Road of Iceland, taking in the best sites in 12 days and 11 nights. This itinerary is a combination of popular sights, nature and adventure. From the mighty glaciers in the south to the scarred fjords in the east to the volcanic regions of the north and the rural landscape in the west.
The trip covers a glacier hike, two of Iceland’s UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the dramatic mountainous scenery of the Eastfjords, the volcanic region of Mývatn Nature Reserve in the north, huge waterfalls, the ever popular Golden Circle region, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon situated within Vatnajökull National Park, geothermal hot springs, rural villages and even a visit to the volcano that erupted in 2021 (now dormant). In essence, all the essential stops around the ring road of Iceland.
The itinerary below lasts for 12 days and 11 nights, including arrival and departure day. These days can be amended to fit your schedule.
Please note: we have only provided the highlights below to give you a snapshot of this incredible itinerary. We will provide you with a breakdown of the day-to-day itinerary after you submit the form at the bottom of the page.
Full Grand Circle 12 Day, 11 Night Day Self Drive Itinerary
Reykjavík & Golden Circle
Upon arriving into Reykjavík, you’ll be spending some time exploring our favourite little city. Your first stop will be the most popular part of the country, the Golden Circle. In this unforgettable first day of driving, you will see an erupting geyser at the Geysir Geothermal Area, witness your first big waterfall at Gullfoss and learn all about Iceland’s geothermal properties and unique tectonic plate dynamics.
South and South East Iceland
The next two days will have you travelling along the entire south coast, reaching as far as the Vatnajökull National Park in the south east. This area is known for its breathtaking scenery, glacier lagoons, black sand beaches and mountainous landscape. Over the space of 2 days you will get the chance to explore this unique area intimately, including a visit to the world famous Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon where you can watch the giant icebergs float around and wash up on the black sand shores of Diamond Beach.
If you are feeling adventurous you can add in a zodiac boat tour or hike on a glacier.
If you prefer a more relaxed time, there are uncountable nature walks to experience the flora and fauna, horse riding options and many other options in the area. There’s a reason this area was crowned as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2019.
The East Fjords & Mývatn Geothermal Area
Over the next couple of days, one of the big highlights is the drive itself. You’ll find yourself stopping to take pictures at every twist and turn as you zip around the East Fjords in East Iceland. On your way you will see minuscule fishing villages and gorgeous views of valleys and uninhabited fjords. The birdlife it quite spectacular in certain seasons as migrant species gather in these tranquil areas.
Then, as you approach the north east and into Mývatn an entirely new terrain opens up, rich with bubbling volcanic fumaroles, giant craters, great hikes, natural hot pools and a multi-coloured landscape that needs to be seen to be believed.
The Diamond Circle & North Iceland
Once in the North, you will have the chance to take a detour off the main ring road and into the newly created Diamond Circle route. This area is rife with waterfalls, nature walks and is considered one of the best places in Iceland to see whales.
You’ll also be surprised by how big the capital of the north is in Akureyri for a spot of shopping and sightseeing before detouring again into the often missed Troll peninsula, Tröllaskagi. Waterfalls, culture and impressive views are the main attraction over these couple of days. Not to be missed.
The Arctic Coastway & Snæfellsnes Peninsula
As you come close to completing the full ring road adventure, you will take your longest drive through the breathtaking Arctic Coastway. This drive winds around stunning fjords and mountains that tower over the coastline, creating some incredible driving scenery. Rural farm life and an unspoiled landscape make this feel like the most remote area you’ve been since travelling in Iceland.
Then, as you approach the wonderful Snæfellsnes Peninsula you’ll find fjords, mountains, volcanoes, endless lava fields, glaciers, and dramatic coastal cliffs all in one amazing peninsula, including the famous Kirkjufell mountain with its waterfalls, depicted in the hit TV series Game of Thrones as the Arrow Mountain.
Reykjanes, Blue Lagoon & Departure
On your final days of self driving you will explore the UNESCO Global Geopark of Reykjanes Peninsula which is home to some incredible sights. Start with the hot springs and bubbling mud pools of the geothermal area of Krysuvik then take a hike to the newest lava field in Iceland at the dormant volcano, Geldingadalur, which started erupting in March 2021. Walk around the lava field observing its incredible geometry and textures. There is no hot lava these days but you’re likely to see some steam coming from the rocks as the lava field is still hot. There is lots to see and do in this often overlooked part of the country before you finish your journey in Iceland at the world famous Blue Lagoon.
LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY
– Accommodation for the duration of your stay, all activities, rental vehicle with wifi from arrival to departure (type of vehicle depends on group size and preferences), all taxes and booking fees, carbon offsetting of your fuel usage.
– Custom itinerary for the duration of your stay. When we create your final itinerary we give you a very detailed itinerary which includes an interactive map, including a day by day map, trip breakdown as well as full detail on each stop with background information, facts, history etc on each sight. You can view it online, or can save as a pdf. You can also download a free app that allows you to have the itinerary on your phone, which then allows it to link to google maps to help with navigation.
– Hidden Iceland support and assistance every step of the way.
– You can request additional activities, additional days, a full extra day(s) in Reykjavík and suggested activities in the city. This tour is fully customisable to your needs under our guidance.
– Flights to and from Iceland, meals unless otherwise specified.
Ready to make this your dream trip?
Please try to give us as much information in your submission as you can. We respond to all tour requests within 7 days, but please reach out to us if your request is urgent, or you want to provide more info.