South Iceland Self-Drive Tour

Seals on Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland

In southern Iceland, from Reykjavik in the west to the Vatnajokull region in the east, you'll find an amazing diversity in nature.  On this tour you'll see where the tectonic plates meet, walk on a black sand beach, have the chance to visit a glacier, experience a glacial lagoon and gaze upon beautiful waterfalls - as well as walk behind one.

In the winter we strongly recommend renting a 4wd car due to snow and ice conditions. 

Included: Land Cruiser full size SUV rental car
Rental car for 3 days with CDW insurance, GPS and unlimited mileage
Accommodation for 4 nights in 3* hotels and guesthouses
A detailed Road Atlas and a rough map with your route marked out
An Icelandic cell phone with all necessary numbers

Optional: Upgrade to luxury hotels. Contact us for prices

Optional activities
Meals other than breakfast


All Year

Price: Ask for quote

The Itinerary for the South Shore Self-Drive tour

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland and Blue Lagoon
If you have any early arrival we recommend stopping at the Blue Lagoon for a relaxing soak before going to your hotel in Reykjavik.  You can choose to take a taxi or a bus, or we can provide you with your very own private Super Jeep, that will take to the Blue Lagoon and along the back roads of the Reykjanes peninsula, where you'll explore the lunar-like landscape of vast lava fields and visit hot spring areas.  Learn more about the tour here. If you like you can pick up the car at the airport and drive to Reykjavik, at an additional cost.
Accommodation: Hotel in Reykjavik downtown

Day 2 - The South Coast
In the morning you pick up your rental car and head east out of Reykjavik.  By Eyjafjoll Mountains you'll come upon the freefalling waterfall of Seljarlandsfoss.  A path takes you behind the waterfall where you can see it from an interesting view and feel the spray and drizzle on your face.  A short drive further east is Skogarfoss waterfall.  You'll then drive alongside Myrdalsjokull glacier and to Dyrholaey, which forms an arch into the ocean and from where you have an amazing view of Reynisdrangar lava formations, the surrounding countryside and black sand beach.
Optional: You can go for an hour-long snowmobile or dog sledding tour on Myrdalsjokull glacier, where you'll speed across the white plains and feel the wind on your face.  In the summer it's also possible to go on a glacial hike on Solheimajokull.
Accommodation: Hotel in Kirkjubaejarklaustur or Skaftafell

Day 3 - Jokulsarlon and Skaftafell
Today you'll go on a very scenic drive, with Vatnajokull glacier on one side and the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  By the roots of the glacier you'll find Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, where majestic icebergs float in the lagoon by the falling glacier tongue.  Seals are often seen swimming in the lagoon or sunbathing on icebergs.  From mid-May to mid-September you can take a boat tour in the lagoon, which we highly recommend.
From Jokulsarlon you head to Skaftafell national park, known for its unspoilt natural beauty.  On a sunny day you'll have a view of Hvannadalshnjukur, the highest peak in Iceland, and you'll find plenty of hiking paths and photo sites in the national park, such as Svartifoss waterfall.
Accommodation: Hotel or guesthouse in Kirkjubaejarklaustur or Skaftafell

Day 4 - The Golden Circle Iceland's Strokkur, next to Geysir
After enjoying breakfast you drive north to Geysir hot spring fields where you'll watch the geyser Strokkur sprout boiling water 25-30 meters into the air.  In the Geysir center you can learn about geothermal power and see a volcano exhibit.  A short drive from Geysir is Gullfoss, the Golden Waterfall, which cascades down a 32 meter crevice in two steps.  You can stop for lunch at the Gullfoss cafe, known for its traditional Icelandic kjotsupa, a broth soup with lamb and vegetables.
An hour's drive west of Geysir is Thingvellir national park, where the Icelandic parliament was founded in 930.  The national park is a UNESCO world heritage site, not only for its rich history but also for the beautiful landscape.  At Thingvellir you can clearly see where the tectonic plates are drifting apart, having formed a large crevice called Almannagja.  You'll take a walk down the crevice, stopping at Oxararfoss waterfall and then head through the parliament site and to Nikulasargja, where it's believed to be good luck to throw in a coin. You return to Reykjavik in the afternoon and drop off your rental car.
Optional: You can go on a horseback riding tour or an ATV tour from Geysir and explore the beautiful landscape of Haukadalur.
Accommodation: Hotel in Reykjavik downtown

Day 5 - Departure from Iceland
You can either take a taxi or the Flybus to the airport.  If you didn't have time on day 1 you can stop at the Blue Lagoon, either by taking the Lunar Landscape Super Jeep tour or go in a taxi or a bus.  It's also possible to extend the car rental and drive to the airport.

Please note: It's no problem to extend your stay in Iceland, either by spending additional nights in Reykjavik or in the countryside.  If you decide to stay longer in Reykjavik you can take a day tour out of the city to see places you didn't visit on the self-drive tour.  We have a number of Super Jeep day tours which can take you to areas inaccessible to regular cars.  We especially recommend the Thorsmork tour, which is a great 4x4 adventure to one of Iceland's most beautiful places.

FAQ - Frequently Asked Questions

What is Icelandic weather like?
Weather in Iceland unpredictable, so we strongly advise our customers to check the weather report each day, especially in winter. Weather forecasts for the whole of Iceland can be found on the Icelandic Met Office website.

What are Icelandic roads like?
We also strongly recommend that you check the overview maps showing road conditions and the current situation for all main roads at a given point, provided by the Icelandic Road and Coastal Administration. Attached is a representative photo of such a map, showing that some roads are closed, others icy or very icy, etc.

Map of Icelandic Road Conditions

Be well prepared when planning to drive in Iceland:

  • Get accurate, up to date information about the area
  • Check the weather forecast - in Iceland, the weather can change suddenly
  • Always leave your travel plan with someone who can react if needed
  • Remember to bring the right equipment for the type of travel
  • Always use maps, compass, GPS when travelling outside the urban areas
  • Most of the Icelandic Highland roads are closed in wintertime

Where can I find information about driving in Iceland?

Iceland Private Tours provides you with a Self Drive Package which contains useful information about travelling safely in Iceland. The package includes a Road Atlas, Iceland's Big Map (that has your route marked out) and an Icelandic mobile phone with prepaid call credit. A list of interesting highlights that you might wish to explore on your route is also enclosed.

The Icelandic Road Traffic Directorate (Umferðarstofa) has produced a video entitled "How to Drive in Iceland", as well as a downloadable brochure in English, German and French, which can be accessed on their website.
Additionally, the Icelandic Association for Search & Rescue, ICE-SAR (Landsbjörg), provides vital information for safe travel in Iceland. It is essential to be well informed when travelling around Iceland, especially in the Highlands - the combination of unfamiliar terrain and the abrupt weather changes can prove hazardous.

What happens if I don't reach my hotel due to weather, or if I find myself in some distress on my route?
If you are unable to reach your destination due to an event of force majeure nature, then the force majeure clause, cited below, will apply.

Should you find yourself in distress, or in any uncertainty, you can call us at any time using the Icelandic mobile phone included in your Self Drive Package. If your arrival to your hotel is likely to be delayed, please give them a call and let them know. All the necessary phone numbers are included in your Self Drive Package. The 24 hour emergency phone number for ambulance, police and fire services in Iceland is 112.

If a road is closed and I can't make it to my next hotel – will that hotel still charge?
The usual minimum cancellation time for hotel bookings is 48 hours so technically they can charge, but give us a call and we will try our best to sort it out so there is little or no cost if possible. This is one of the advantages of having a local travel agency plan your Iceland tour. Most hotels are very understanding when it comes to changes due to weather.

I will then need another hotel - who pays for that?
Customers are responsible for covering any additional costs themselves but if we got the hotel cancelled without a fee, then of course that refund goes into covering the cost of the other hotel. We always try our best for our customers and it has always worked out with a few phone calls – remember, with us you will have an Icelandic mobile phone with our number that you can ring any time and the numbers of all your hotels.

Winter driving in Iceland is perhaps not for everybody and might not be everybody's idea of a carefree holiday. In wintertime, many of our customers opt to go first on a private Super-Jeep tour with us, to get a good sense of the Icelandic roads and conditions (as well as good insider tips) from our expert driver guides, before venturing on their own. Our experienced driver guides can take you anywhere you would like to go. You can have any tour as a privately guided Super-Jeep adventure.

Force Majeure
It is possible that an eruption, a flood, a storm or another form of Force Majeure might affect your tour in a way that is beyond human control. The standard Force Majeure or 'Act of God' clause applies and frees both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstances beyond the control of the parties (clients / tour operator) prevent one or both parties from fulfilling their obligations under the contract.

Your plans may need to change in such circumstances. We will, of course, help in any way we can; however, it is expected that the clients understand that driving, especially in a foreign country, inherently involves a degree of personal risk.

Iceland Private Tours considers appropriate travel insurance to be essential. Please familiarise yourself with the details of your insurance policy and take it with you on holiday. It is a matter of personal responsibility to ensure that the insurance you have purchased covers you for the holiday activities in Iceland, whether they be driving tours, riding tours, snowmobiling tours, winter sports activities or other.

Iceland Private Tours disclaims responsibility for any loss, damage, accidents, sickness or changes in schedules caused by weather, strikes or any other irregularity beyond the control of Iceland Private Tours. Iceland Private Tours reserves the right to alter routes, itineraries or departure times, without prior notice, should the necessity arise.

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Source: Central Bank of Iceland