West Iceland Self-Drive Tour

The Beach and the Snaefellsjokull Glacier

On this tour you will explore the western part of Iceland, from the Westfjords in the north, to Snaefellsnes peninsula and Borgarfjordur Bay, as well as the Golden Circle in south-west Iceland.  As with most tours, it also goes through the capital, Reykjavik.

What impresses most visitors about the Westfjords is how peaceful it is, with much lesser traffic than other parts of Iceland and the feeling of being alone in the splendid nature.  Snaefellsnes is a beautiful peninsula, with a number of small fishing villages and one of Iceland's most breathtaking glaciers.  Snaefellsnes is sometimes called ‘Iceland in a nutshell' because of the variety of landscape. The Golden Circle is almost a must for first time visitors to Iceland, seeing the geyser and the tectonic plate boundaries.

Due to snow conditions some of the roads are impassable in the winter.  This tour is only available in a 4WD car, as you'll be traveling on gravel roads and mountain roads.

Rental car for 4 days with CDW insurance, GPS and unlimited mileage
One-way rental fee from Isafjordur to Reykjavik
Flight from Reykjavik to Isafjordur
Ferry across Breidafjordur

Accommodation for 6 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 activities
Meals othern than breakfast


June to September.

Price: Ask for quote

Itinerary for the West Iceland Self-Drive tour

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland
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 Lunar Landscape Adventure tour here.
Accommodation: Hotel in Reykjavik downtown.

Day 2 – Isafjordur
After enjoying breakfast at the hotel you head to Reykjavik domestic airport for a morning flight to Isafjordur, the capital of the Westfjords.  There you drop off your luggage at the hotel and go for a walk in the town, to see the old fashioned houses and perhaps visit the local folk museum.  In the early afternoon, after enjoying lunch at one of the local restaurants, you head to the harbor for a 3-4 hour tour to Vigur Island.  This is the second largest island in Isafjordur Bay, but only one family of 5 lives there as they have done for centuries.  The island is home to thousands of birds, for example puffins, arctic terns and black guillemot.  There's also a large colony of eider ducks that make their nests at Vigur, and their precious down is collected for filling pillows and quilts.  The guide will take you on a walking tour of the peaceful island and you will enjoy refreshments before taking the boat tour back to Isafjordur. Optional: For photographing enthusiast it's possible to go on a 7-hour tour to Vigur, and have all day to catch that perfect photo.  You can join the walking tour with the other group in the afternoon, if you wish.
Accommodation: Hotel in Isafjordur

Day 3 - The Westfjords
You pick up your rental car at Isafjordur.  Before heading into the wild of the Westfjords we recommend taking a small detour to go to the town of Bolungarvik, where you'll find the majestic mountain Tradarhyrna.  Just a short drive from Bolungarvik is Bolafjall Mountain.  The road leads to the top of this mountain and you can enjoy the amazing view of the fjords just below the Arctic Circle. Driving south, you go to Dynjandi, one of Iceland's most beautiful waterfalls which is about a 100 meters high.  Dynjandi is actually made up of six different waterfalls, and you can walk behind one of them.  You continue west through Patreksfjordur, the westernmost town in Iceland (and therefore Europe), and to Latrabjarg, a 14 km wide cliff by the Ocean which hosts millions of birds, such as the Razorbill and Atlantic Puffin.
Optional: You can start the day with a 2,5 hour kayak tour in the Isafjordur fjord, where you enjoy the amazing view of the surrounding mountains and see the birdlife from a different angle.  This tour is suitable both for beginners and experienced kayakers.
Accommodation: Hotel by Breidavik.

Day 4 - The Snaefellsnes Peninsula  Driving into midnight sun
In the morning you take a very scenic drive along the south coastline of the Westfjords, with the Atlantic Ocean on one side and majestic mountains on the other.  From Brjanslaekur harbour you take a ferry to the town of Stykkisholmur.  On the ferry you can enjoy the view of Breidafjordur Bay which is known for its diverse birdlife and a number of small islands.  You make a short stopover at Flatey, the largest island of Breidafjordur.  It's also possible to stay in Flatey for a few hours and take the next ferry to Stykkisholmur, at no extra charge.  Then you have time to walk around and explore the island and inhale the history, the peace and quiet of past times.
From Stykkisholmur you travel by the ocean on the north coast of Snaefellsnes peninsula, through the small fishing villages of Grundarfjordur, Olafsvik and Hellissandur.  At the westernmost part of Snaefellsnes is Snaefellsjokull glacier, which is considered by many to be the most beautiful glacier in Iceland as it's situated on a mountain on the edge of the peninsula.  The glacier is said to have mystic powers and is the setting of the Nobel Prize winner Halldor Laxness's Christianity under the Glacier and the entrance to Earth's core in Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Accommodation: Hotel by Snaefellsjokull national park.

Day 5 - Borgarfjordur Bay
In the morning we recommend taking the hiking path from the town of Hellnar to Arnarstapi.   You'll enjoy the view of Snaefellsjokull on one side and the black sand beach by the Atlantic Ocean on the other.  On the route you will find Gatklettur cliff and an abundance of birdlife in the summer.  There is a beautiful natural harbor in Arnarstapi and around the village are several cliffs that form an interesting shape to the ocean.
Driving east along the south coast of the Snaefellnes peninsula, you can stop at Olkelda mineral spring to taste the natural carbonized water coming out of the ground.  From the road you have a great view of the surrounding lowland and mountains that are more inland.  The road takes you to the town of Borgarnes in Borgarfjordur Bay.  There you visit the magnificent Hraunfossar, a waterfall that comes out of the lava.  Very close by is Barnafoss which flows through a small canyon.  Borgafjordur is also the home of the most powerful geothermal spring in Iceland, Deildatunguhver.  If you're interested in the history of Iceland and the Icelandic Sagas it's ideal to visit Snorrastofa, which was home to Snorri Sturluson, writer of the Prose-Edda.  There you can see one of the oldest outdoor geothermal pool in Iceland and learn about the Vikings and the Sagas.
Optional: You can start the day with a snowmobile ride on Snaefellsjokull glacier, where you have an amazing view of the Ocean and the surrounding countryside.
Accommodation: Hotel in Borgarfjordur.


Day 6 - The Golden Circle
At the easternmost part of Borgarfjordur is Kaldidalur mountain track, which will take you into the highlands where you have a view of Langjokull glacier from the road and you get a good feeling for the barren wilderness of Iceland. This route takes you to Thingvellir National Park,  where the Icelandic Parliament was founded and you can see clearly how the Eurasia and North-America tectonic plates are drifting apart, having formed a canyon called Almannagja.  Thingvellir National Park is on UNESCO's world heritage list because of its beautiful nature and rich history.  You walk along the area and visit Nikulasargja pool where travelers have thrown in coins which sparkle beautifully in the sunshine at the bottom of the mirror clear water.  Next you take the road further east to the Geysir area, where you can see many powerful hot springs and geysers, including Geysir, from which the English word geyser takes its name.  There you can see the geyser Strokkur spout boiling water 25-30 meters in the air every five to ten minutes.  A short drive from the Geysir area is Gullfoss, the most photographed waterfall in Iceland.  It's magnificent to see the water cascade down the 32 meter canyon into Hvita glacial river.  On a sunny day there is usually a rainbow over the picturesque waterfall.  You get to Reykjavik in the afternoon where you drop off the rental car.
Accommodation: Hotel in Reykjavik downtown.

Day 7 - 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.  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