- 15 Days / 14 Nights
- Vehicle – 4WD
- Season – July – August
Main areas of this itinerary:
Golden Circle, Iceberg Lagoons, Snæfellsness Peninsula, West Fjords, Landmannalauger, Fjadrargljufur, Laki
Explore the Pearls of Iceland with this 4WD itinerary – a deep journey covering the island’s highlights, including landmarks such as Landmannalaugar, the Laki Craters, and the volcanic mountain Askja. The tour spans the northwest of the island, featuring a unique ferry crossing of Breiðafjörður Bay, the western fjords, and Tjörnes Peninsula, the westernmost point in Europe. Immerse yourself in surreal landscapes throughout Iceland. No prior off-road driving experience required for this unforgettable adventure.
Day 1 – Arrival and Reykjavik Discovery
Upon collecting your rental car at Keflavík Airport, a brief 45-minute drive from Reykjavik awaits. After a smooth check-in at your Reykjavik accommodation, embark on an exploration of Iceland’s cultural heart. Take a relaxed walk through the city, making sure to include a visit to the Harpa opera house—an architectural wonder that transforms colors with the sun’s play. Serving as a cultural and social hub, it hosts a variety of events throughout the year. For sweeping views of Reykjavik, make your way to Perlan (“The Pearl”), situated on a hill and boasting a revolving restaurant. This iconic landmark features a 360-degree observation deck, offering breathtaking vistas of the city and its surroundings.
Optional Activities: FlyOver Iceland, Perlan, Sky Lagoon
Day 2 – Eldborg Crater – Snæfellsjökull National Park
From Reykjavik, head clockwise to the Borgarfjörður region. The town of Borgarnes serves as the central hub in western Iceland, acting as the gateway to the rugged wilderness of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Between Borgarnes and the Snæfellsnes Peninsula lies Eldborg Crater, one of the prime examples of a perfect volcanic crater. Often referred to as Iceland in miniature, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula boasts numerous spectacular natural phenomena concentrated in a relatively small geographical area. Viewed from above, the peninsula resembles a long tongue with a protrusion at its western end—the famous Snæfellsjökull glacier-capped volcano. Standing at the base of this volcano is the Snæfellsjökull National Park. With its glacier-covered summit towering at 1,440 meters, it dominates its surroundings and is visible even from Reykjavik, approximately 160 km away. The area around the volcano features fascinating sites such as the Djúpalónssandur pebble beach and the picturesque fishing villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar, connected by a scenic hiking trail with dramatic views. Estimated driving distance: 270 km.
Optional Activities: Lava Cave
Day 3 – Ferry Ride Across the Western Fjords – The Edge of Europe Cliff
Stykkishólmur is the main town on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and from there, embark on a two-and-a-half-hour ferry ride across the Western Fjords. The journey navigates through a bay adorned with small islands, showcasing an impressive panorama of a volcanic mountain on one side and table mountains on the other. The Western Fjords are the most isolated region in Iceland, and at the extreme western edge lies Látrabjarg, a cliff rising over 400 meters high and stretching for 14 km. This cliff marks both the westernmost point in Europe and a majestic perch for a variety of seabirds, including puffins and numerous other species. Adjacent to the cliff is one of Iceland’s enchanting seashores, the “Red Sands Beach,” with its distinct red-hued sands gently meeting the bay. Across the waters stands the majestic Snæfellsjökull volcano. Estimated driving distance: 110 km.
Optional Activities: Ferry to WestFjords
Day 4 – Dynjandi Waterfall – Fishing Villages
With very few residents living by the Western Fjords, most inhabit fishing villages scattered along the fjords amidst the mountains. Heading north along the fjords provides a timeless journey through fjords and villages seemingly untouched by time. Nature reigns supreme, and no one challenges its authority. The towering Table Mountains surrounding the area create a majestic backdrop, making it hard not to succumb to the unique atmosphere. Dynjandi Waterfall, one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls, is found along the route, connecting the southern coast of the Western Fjords with Ísafjörður, the main town in the region. Ísafjörður is a gem among fjord settlements and serves as an excellent starting point for excursions to nearby villages, including the original fishing village Suðureyri and Bolungarvík at the edge of the cliff. Estimated driving distance: 220 km.
Day 5 – Deep Fjords, Thermal Pools, and Glacier Scenery – Hólmavík
Venture eastward, where the fjords weave a breathtaking tapestry, revealing the northernmost Drangajökull Glacier’s majestic embrace. Marvel at seals sunbathing on rugged fjord shores, guided by discreet stops that unveil prime viewing spots. In the secluded Reykjanes hostel, unveil Iceland’s grandest thermal pool—an invitation to an otherworldly soak. Before parting ways with the enchanting western fjords, arrive in Hólmavík, a mystical hub nestled in the Strandir region. Explore the folklore and pervasive magic of Iceland, etched in the town’s cultural and historical fabric. Approximate journey distance: 240 km.
Day 6 – The Fiery Hearts of the North: Lava Rocks in the Arctic, Vatnsnes Peninsula, and the Horse-Laden Skagafjörður District
Bid farewell to the fjords and journey towards Iceland’s northwest. The Vatnsnes Peninsula acts as a scenic divider between the fjords and the horse-laden Skagafjörður District. Massive basalt rock formations dot the coastline of this peninsula, resembling frozen trolls bathed in the golden rays of the sun. As the landscape shifts, the Table Mountains rise majestically, their peaks becoming more rugged and diverse.
Throughout the route, encounter numerous horse farms, providing an excellent opportunity to marvel at the resilient and beautiful Icelandic horses. Along the way, discover the wealth of Icelandic farmers, whose homes, churches, and Viking relics are scattered throughout the region. The turf houses at the Glaumbær farmstead museum vividly illustrate how Icelanders lived in the past, surrounded by a landscape unforgiving yet enchanting. Skagafjörður is also renowned as one of Iceland’s prime spots for river rafting, with its wild, rushing rivers. Approximate journey distance: 280
Day 7 – Akureyri, Waterfalls of the Gods, the Dark Fortress City, and Lake Mývatn
The primary city in Northern Iceland, Akureyri, serves as a cultural and economic hub with a population of 35,000 residents. Nestled at the entrance of a long and narrow fjord, Akureyri overlooks the eastern mountains, leading to the “Waterfalls of the Gods” (Goðafoss) and Lake Mývatn.
Surrounding the Lake Mývatn area are some of Iceland’s most renowned attractions within a relatively small geographic region. The scenery appears as if plucked from another planet, with the pungent scents of sulfur escaping from the earth intensifying the experience. The lake itself is dotted with pseudocraters, and numerous species of ducks inhabit its waters, making it the world’s best spot for various rare duck species.
One of the notable sites around the lake is “Dimmuborgir” or the “Dark Fortress City,” and the active volcano Krafla, whose recent eruption is still palpable throughout the area. Approximate journey distance: 230 km.
Accommodation: Myvatn area
Optional Activities: Forest Lagoon
Day 8 – The Diamond Circle – Húsavík, Ásbyrgi Canyon, and Europe’s Mightiest Waterfall, Dettifoss
One of the world’s premier locations for whale watching is the picturesque town of Húsavík. This charming town marks the beginning of our journey along the “Diamond Circle,” which includes Ásbyrgi Canyon and Dettifoss, Europe’s mightiest waterfall.
Húsavík, our first stop, offers a front-row seat to witness majestic whales. It also serves as the gateway to Ásbyrgi, a horseshoe-shaped canyon created by a colossal glacial flood. The lush, pastoral valley is surrounded by towering rock walls that cleverly conceal the catastrophe that initially formed it.
Our second destination is Dettifoss, Europe’s mightiest waterfall, where the thunderous roar of the water creates a seismic sensation. Originating from the powerful Jökulsá á Fjöllum river, fed by the Vatnajökull glacier, Dettifoss propels its formidable flow towards the Arctic Ocean. After this awe-inspiring encounter, our journey circles back to the Lake Mývatn region, concluding our day. Approximate journey distance: 250 km.
Accommodation: Myvatn area
Optional Activities: Whales Watching Husavik, Vok Bath
Day 9 – Exploration of Askja Volcano (4X4)
Selected by NASA for astronaut training due to its lunar-like landscape, the Askja area is often referred to as the “moon’s embassy on Earth.” Nestled at the heart of the island, Askja is surrounded by an off-road mountainous path, traversing numerous rivers. En route, we pass through the desert oasis of Námafjall and acquaint ourselves with the Icelandic mountain king, Herðubreið.
Atop Askja, two calderas await exploration—one a colossal crater lake caldera, and the other a smaller one with turquoise waters, whimsically dubbed the “Gate to Hell.” The hiking trail to these calderas takes around 45 minutes. After our lunar-like encounter, we continue our mountainous journey eastward through the Kárahnjúkar Pass towards the eastern town of Egilsstaðir. This will serve as our starting point for the subsequent exploration of the Eastern Fjords. Approximate journey distance: 330 km.
Optional Activities: Super Jeep to Askja
Day 10 – Eastern Fjords of Iceland
Egilsstaðir, the central town in eastern Iceland, serves as our gateway to a unique and distinctive region. Adjacent to it lies the picturesque village of Seyðisfjörður, situated at the entrance of one of Iceland’s beautiful fjords and serving as the gateway for arrivals from Denmark and the Faroe Islands. Heading south, our route meanders through narrow, lengthy fjords, flanked by secluded fishing villages, offering a pace of life vastly different from Reykjavik.
A notable stop in the area is the village of Stöðvarfjörður, where a local resident has transformed her home into a museum showcasing a unique collection of rocks and minerals. Further south, the southern entrance to the Eastern Fjords is marked by the village of Djúpivogur, with the nearby Papey Island, home to diverse bird species. Our journey concludes near the glaciers and volcanoes in the vicinity of the town of Höfn. Approximate journey distance: 250 km.
Day 11 – Glacier Lagoon Jökulsárlón – Hiking Tours in Skaftafell Park
Today, our journey continues to the foothills of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. Vatnajökull dominates its surroundings, covering about 8% of the entire island’s surface. At the glacier’s edges, you’ll encounter impressive natural phenomena, with one of the most famous being Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Icebergs, broken off from the colossal glacier, gently float in the picturesque lagoon, making their way to the sea. Iceland unfolds its beauty right before your eyes.
During the summer, you can embark on an amphibious boat tour in the lagoon, getting up close to the icebergs from various angles. The icebergs shimmer in a spectrum of colors, reflecting the sunlight. Often, you’ll spot seals gracefully swimming in the lagoon. Our next stop is the Skaftafell National Park, now part of the largest national park in Europe. This area offers perfect conditions for hiking trails through low birch forests that reveal uninterrupted panoramic views. Svartifoss Waterfall, with its unique basalt columns, stands out as a notable attraction in the park.
Moving from the glacier to the sea, we encounter the shifting sands created by sudden glacial floods, known as jökulhlaups. Passing near these flood zones, we head towards the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, connected to the historical site we’ll explore tomorrow. Approximate journey distance: 240 km.
Optional Activities: Snowmobile, Zodiac in the Glacier Lagoon
Day 12 – Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon – Laki Craters (4X4)
The Laki Craters are the result of one of the most significant volcanic eruptions in history, creating a geological wonder on a global scale. One hundred and thirty-five craters formed during a series of eruptions that spanned several months, reshaping the earth along an aerial line for several kilometers. The Highland Route winds through mountainous terrain, crossing numerous rivers, leading to the Laki Craters. This area is part of the Laki Protected Area (Lakagígar), where scenic walking trails offer a close-up view of the craters.
In the 18th century, the Laki eruptions emitted vast amounts of ash, causing panic in Europe, famine, and climate abnormalities in distant places like Japan. The nearby town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur survived the eruption’s impact and showcases an intriguing exhibition on the historical events. The road to Laki Craters passes through the stunning Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, widely considered one of Iceland’s most beautiful. Approximate journey distance: 140 km.
Optional Activities: Super Jeep to Laki
Day 13 – Fjallabak Highland Road – Rainbow Mountains of Landmannalaugar (4X4)
Landmannalaugar, accessible via the Fjallabak Highland Road, is a crown jewel for many travelers in central Iceland and a geological wonder for scientists. The “Valley of Fire” (Eldgjá), a 30 km-long volcanic fissure, sets the stage for a breathtaking day of exploration. The mountainous route, intersected by several rivers, has served as the backdrop for numerous films aiming to capture an otherworldly landscape.
Landmannalaugar itself, nestled in the colorful Rhyolite Mountains, is a gem resulting from the area’s diverse minerals. Abundant hot springs create a natural bathing pool, offering a superb opportunity to relax. The nature reserve features various hiking trails suitable for all skill levels, making it a prime starting point for the famous trek across Iceland. Approximate journey distance: 180 km.
Day 14 – Golden Falls – Geysir Park – Þingvellir National Park
No Icelandic journey is complete without visiting its most iconic sites, and this route, dubbed the “Golden Circle,” is a testament to that. The first stop on this circle is the majestic waterfall known as “Golden Falls” or Gullfoss. This renowned waterfall stands out even in a country filled with thousands of awe-inspiring falls.
Close to Gullfoss lies the famous Geysir, and its erupting water column is one of the most photographed events in Iceland. Geysir is just one of several geysers in the area, each with its unique charm. The third station of the day takes us to the most significant national park in Iceland, Þingvellir (Thingvellir). Located just a forty-minute drive from Reykjavik, Þingvellir is a place of historical significance, serving as the historic site of the world’s first parliament. It’s also one of the few spots where you can walk between tectonic plates on a kind of bridge, spanning the gap between the continents of Europe and North America.
Optional Activities: Secret Lagoon, Silfra Diving
Day 15 – Reykjavik – Keflavik (Flight)
On the final day of your journey, you’ll have the opportunity to explore the beautiful city of Reykjavik until it’s time for your flight. Take in the charm of the northernmost capital of the world, with its colorful houses, vibrant culture, and friendly atmosphere.
Before your departure, you’ll return your rental car at the airport and prepare for your flight. Reflect on the incredible landscapes, natural wonders, and unique experiences that have made your Icelandic adventure truly unforgettable. Safe travels, and may you carry the memories of this remarkable journey with you always!
Among our collection of 50+ itineraries, the ‘Pearls of Iceland – 15 Days’ itinerary stands out as a perennial favorite, securing its place on the ‘Top Itineraries’ list of ‘Take Me There Iceland’. Explore the beauty of Iceland at your own pace, guided by our app for an unforgettable road trip experience.