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9 days - Explore glaciers, volcanoes and Vestmannaeyjar
Head away from the crowds with a visit to the remote Vestmannaeyjar, also known as the Westmann Islands. The Westman Islands is Iceland's puffin kingdom, the islands' stunning cliffs provides a sanctuary to these colourful birds during their breeding season. This archipelago is also well known for it's volcanic activity - there were two major eruptions in this region in the 20th century, the eruption in 1963 which created the new island of Surtsey and the Eldfell eruption of January 1973.
This self-drive journey allows you to explore South Iceland at your own pace and includes countryside boutique accommodation and hand-picked excursions. A glacier walking adventure and the 'Inside the Volcano' tour are included in this active tour.
- Day 1
- Arrive Reykjavik and drive south
- Day 2
- Explore the Golden Circle and then relax at geothermal spa, Laugarvatn Fontana
- Day 3
- Ferry to Vestmannaeyjar
- Day 4
- Explore Vestmannaeyjar - options include rib boating, deep sea fishing and circle boat tours.
- Day 5
- Ferry to the mainland
- Day 6
- Glacier Adventure Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park
- Day 7
- Return to Reykjavik via a lagoon or two
- Day 8
- Descend 120 metres into a volcano that erupted 4.000 years ago
- Day 9
- Depart Reykjavik
- Start/End Place
- Reykjavik, Iceland
- Country Visited
- 9 Days
- Easy independent self-drive holiday suitable for singles & couples
Transfers & self-drive car
- Rental manual car for 7 days Car type B (VW Golf or similar), with unlimited mileage and CDW insurance
- GPS included
- Accommodation outside of Reykjavik in small hotels with private facilities and breakfast included
- 2 nights in Reykjavik central downtown hotel, breakfast included or similar
- Inside the Volcano tour (half day tour)
- Glacier tour (4-5 hours)
- Ferry ticket return to the Vestmannaeyjar
- Blue Lagoon entrance included
- Rental car return to Reykjavik city depot
- Transfer to the airport, Flybus+ shuttle
- 24-hour emergency service
- Taxes and service fees
The activities are seasonal and will be substituted depending on what you want to do and what is available.
Extra car insurance, such as S-CDW and gravel protection.
If you wish to hire an automatic car, these are 'on request' and can be difficult to obtain. Please seek further advice with us .
Flight tickets to/from start and end points, any airport taxes, travel insurance, visas, gratitudes and any items of personal nature.
Day 1 - Arrive Reykjavik and drive south
Arrive Reykjavik and pick up your car. Set off away towards Southern Iceland to get the most out of your stay in Iceland. It is a 90 minute drive to your hotel, in the heart of the Golden Circle. Your hotel is located at the river Sog which is Iceland’s largest freshwater river in terms of water volume. It is especially famous for fishing Arctic char, Atlantic salmon and brown trout.
Activities this afternoon can include golf, quad biking, snorkelling at Silfra or horse riding. We suggest booking activities and dinner with us before your departure.
Day 2 - Explore the Golden Circle and then relax at geothermal spa, Laugarvatn Fontana
Explore the Golden Circle highlights early this morning from your conveniently located boutique hotel. Visit Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site of great historical and geological importance, the Geysir hot spring area with its fabulous erupting Strokkur and the beautiful two-tiered Gullfoss Waterfall.
Grab your towel and enjoy a visit to a geothermal spa, Laugarvatn Fontana with it's hot spring bathing. Relax in the hot tub, built at a slightly higher level than the other baths, providing a panoramic view of the beautiful surroundings while the healthy water nourishes both body and soul. Three steam rooms and Finnish saunas are also there to be enjoyed. Feel alive with the dash between these amazingly beautiful hot pools.
Day 3 - Ferry to Vestmannaeyjar
After breakfast, drive to Landeyjahöfn (1hr 15 mins) to catch the ferry across to Vestmannaeyjar. There are several departures each day and you need to check in 30 minutes before departure.
On arrival on the island of Heimaey, check into your hotel and then start exploring. Heimaey may only be about 13 km2, but this small area contains enough magical scenery and birdlife to delight you for days. Popular attractions include Iceland´s best 18 hole golf courses, deep sea fishing, bird- and whale-watching and hiking: up volcanoes, over lava fields or along the shore.
Day 4 - Explore Vestmannaeyjar - options include rib boating, deep sea fishing and circle boat tours.
There are many options today - you can continue to explore by car or foot. If you would like to get on the water, there are numerous sailing and rib boating options depending on your interests.
Day 5 - Ferry to the mainland
After breakfast, take the ferry back to the mainland. Time is now put aside to explore the area of Vik. Head down to the black beaches, have a look at the amazing rock formation of Dyrhòlaeyand Reynisfjara in the distance. Stop to skip volcanic stones by Reynisfjara beach where there are unique basalt columns, black sand and caves.
Travel further east to your hotel for this evening.
Day 6 - Glacier Adventure Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park
This morning, drive to the Skaftafell National Park headquarters (approx 1 hr) for a 4-hour glacier hike on crampons on Svínafellsjökull, part of the great Vatnajökull Glacier in Skaftafell National Park.
This is a moderate glacier tour in the majestic surroundings of Svínafellsjökull. The glacier is hemmed in by some of Iceland’s most spectacular peaks. You will climb the Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue up to the deep glacier valley between the summits of Hvannadalshnúkur and Hrútsfjall. You will traverse zones of different glacial formations where huge water cauldrons, deep crevasses and strangely shaped ridges and other ice formations await our discovery.
Easier glacier walking options are available.
Day 7 - Return to Reykjavik via a lagoon or two
With only 3 hours back to the capital, take the slow roads back to Reykjavik. Stop along the way at the Blue Lagoon for a pamper and a soak.
Reykjavik is an intimate city with a big personality and some striking landmarks - stroll down to the harbour to visit the Armoury, the new concert hall, the design streets and city hall. You will return your hire car this afternoon.
AccommodationSuperior room at stylish boutique hotel located in Reykjavik´s main district
Optional Add Ons
Day 8 - Descend 120 metres into a volcano that erupted 4.000 years ago
This morning, you will be picked up from your hotel for your tour inside the dormant Thrihnukagigur volcano. After a 30 minute drive, you hike to the start of the underground tour section. This usually takes about 45–50 minutes to complete. It’s rated as moderate in difficulty – it’s not uphill and although you will be walking on a hiking trail for the most part, the surface can be hilly and uneven. This is not a hike for those who have problems with ankles, knees, hips and/or the back. It can be demanding for those who are not used to hiking or doing longer walks.
After arriving on location, your group will be informed about all safety procedures and how to behave in the area and when inside the volcano. You will be wearing a helmet and harness. The group is then split into a smaller party of 6–7 people. The trip down or up takes about 6 minutes and the first ones to go down will usually be the first ones to go up.
You will spend about half an hour on the ground of the volcano, in which time you can take as many photos as you want. However, you are not allowed to take rocks and stones from the crater. Expert guides will be with you at all times, in the cable lift and on the ground in the magma chamber.
When you are back on the surface, while waiting for everyone in the group to complete the volcano visit, you will have the opportunity to enjoy a traditional Icelandic meat soup, hot coffee/tea/chocolate and perhaps some sweets.
Finally, you will walk back over the lava field. And again, you will be accompanied by a guide at all times. The coach will be waiting for you in the parking lot, ready to drive you back to Reykjavik.
AccommodationSuperior room at stylish boutique hotel located in Reykjavik´s main district
Day 9 - Depart Reykjavik
After breakfast, you will be transferred to the airport for your flight.
Price per person. Due to the current volatility of the Icelandic Króna (ISK), this price is indicative. We are happy to individually quote this tour for you.
1 Oct 2019
1 Oct 2019
The itinerary can be rearranged depending on the time of your arrival flights and if you wish to start with a stay in Reykjavik.
Driving in Iceland:
In regards to gravel roads; technically you’re not recommended to take a hire car on gravel roads, but in Iceland you may not have a choice. Some guesthouses are located on gravel roads. Consider getting extra car insurance with gravel protection if it is something that might worry you.
The hire car cannot be driven in the Highlands area.
Please note: Due to limited availability of accommodation in certain areas of Iceland this summer, we may need to adjust overnight locations and driving distances in some tours.
Please note that the authorities of Reykjavik City has announced changes to the current arrangement for tour bus traffic in Reykjavik City Centre, effective from 15th of July, 2017. The area where buses are not allowed to drive has been increased in size, and locations, numbers and names of the designated bus stops have been changed.
This may affect the pick-up and drop-off locations for your activities and transfers. If you have airport transfers with FlyBus, you will need to carry your luggage (200 metres to 300 metres) to / from the bus stop to your hotel.
Activities in Iceland:
Along our self-drive routes of Iceland, there are many different options for things to do, with new activities becoming available virtually every second month. Along with a GPS, map and driving notes included on arrival in Iceland, we include suggested activity sheets with our documents for each of the main driving regions. If you are trying to decide which self-drive itinerary to do, based on activities available, let us know and we will give you more specific details.
If you are travelling during the peak period, we suggest asking us about what you might like to book beforehand. But, each traveller is different and a lot of the experience of Iceland is just to be there and take things as they come. We do suggest doing a little research yourself if you have a particular focus and then let us help you out.
Interactive Tour Map
Fitness Requirement and Preparation - Moderate
Suitable for those in good health, who exercise regularly. Activity or walking in all kinds of terrain for 4 to 6 hours per day. Carry daypack only.
Self Drive holidays in Iceland
Conditions in Iceland are in many ways unusual and often quite unlike what foreign drivers are accustomed to. It is, therefore, very important to read about driving conditions and if this type of tour suits you.
Road conditions in Iceland vary substantially. Highway 1 (Þjóðvegur 1) is mostly paved, but other country roads are often very narrow, steep and unpaved. Those unfamiliar with such conditions often find it difficult to drive on Icelandic roads, especially in winter. We advise all travellers to gain information before heading off to the roads and recommend driving a 4wd during the winter (October - March). Please visit the website www.safetravel.is for further information.
Before you get in your car and have to dial 112, please check the road conditions en route to your destination with this very informative map.
This atlas/guidebook/crazy facts book is also recommended.
Most of the farms and guesthouses have good signs on the roads and are marked on detailed maps. However we advise all travellers to buy good maps (e.g. 1:500 000) and to go over the route before the journey. If lost do not hesitate to call the accommodation and ask for directions.
The most useful map in the car and essential companion to the Iceland Road Atlas is the KORTABOK, beautifully designed by Hans H. Hansen, on a scale of 1:300 000. It can be found in all good bookstores and the better gas stations.
There are also some new mobile Apps that you can use to guide you.
**Just a note: you often stay at a different accommodation each night on these self-drive itineraries. Be sure to pack with this in mind. **
Check-in is usually after 14:00 and check-out before 12:00 but it can vary between the accommodation. The farmers should be notified if you intend on arriving later than 18:00.
Dinner is available in most of the farms and guesthouses. Some of them have fantastic restaurants with well known chefs while others offer more traditional meals in their own kitchen! Lamb and fish are amongst the most common dishes in Iceland.
Accommodation places we book for you do evening meals. When staying in the smaller farms it is often a good idea to give them a call in the morning if you wish to have dinner in the evening. This way you will also know what time dinner is served (on smaller farms there's usually a set time, around 7-8pm or so). Some of the bigger places have a restaurant that might be open for a few hours each night. Cost for a basic soup & bread dinner is around ISK2000 (roughly AUD20), 3 course meals (which are usually excellent) are around ISK4000-6000 (AUD 40-60), depending what you order. Glass of house wine was around ISK1100 (AUD11) in most places.
For lunch you can stop at petrol stations for example (they usually serve little sandwiches etc.), but I would probably recommend having some snacks (fruit, biscuits, nuts etc.) in the car, as the more remote locations won't necessarily have too many options.
Petrol stations also sell coffee and hot chocolate. Be sure to find the 'self heating' hot chocolate (and coffee) cans that you can get in some places ( Buy a few of these if you see them, and have them in the car).
Usually, horseback riding can be booked on the spot. Day tours and longer tours however must be booked in advance.
It is not necessary to drive a 4 wheel drive car in summer unless you are crossing the highland and F-marked roads.
The summer months, June, July and August, is the most popular time to visit Iceland. However spring and fall can be just as nice, especially for those who want to enjoy the tranquility of the countryside. If you are looking for a unique experience, a winter visit will be unforgettable with the northern lights and a magical landscape.
Some farmers in Iceland supplement their low farming income and cater for tourists, and the most natural way of doing that is building cabins on their land. They are reasonably basic, with private facilities in the cabins and rooms. The meals offered on the farm stays are generally traditional home made food featuring locally sourced ingredients from their own farm or neighbouring farms, such as geothermally grown vegetables, organic beef and lamb, freshly caught fish and home baked bread.
Practical Information for travelling and packing for Scandinavian Winter
- Warm wind and water proof jacket and trousers large enough to fit thick woollen jumper/clothing underneath
- Rain trousers – waterproof and breathable material
- Warm windproof cap/hat
- Warm gloves or mittens. Mittens where all fingers except the thumb are together are often warmer than gloves.
- Windproof gloves or mittens, which you can pull over the warm gloves
- Warm scarf
- 2 pairs of long woollen underwear (Merino wool in a few different thicknesses is perfect)
- 1-2 warm woollen jumper(s), or one jumper and a warm fleece
- Woollen or fleece trousers
- 2-3 pairs of warm woollen socks
- Warm & sturdy footwear with good grip
- Clothes for indoors, i.e. a shirt, T-shirts and jeans or cotton trousers
- Back pack for day trips (approx. 30 litre)
- Light footwear/trainers (mainly for indoors)
- Sun screen & Lip salve (the sun reflects off the snow and the air is dry)
- Hand warmers
- Nordic Grip anti-slip soles for walking on ice
- Personal medication
- Water bottle - thermo, or include a cover to keep warm (or you can stick it into a warm sock)
- Travel documents (including insurance)
- Photo ID
- Note book and pencil
- Camera, memory cards and charger
- Chargers for other gadgets
- Extra batteries for your cameras as they are used fast in cold conditions.