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12 Days Around Iceland

12 Days Around Iceland itinerary, travel plan, suggestions, and recommendations

Driving around and exploring Iceland at your own pace is really quite an experience. Having driven around Iceland many times, here is one of my itineraries if you need some ideas and tips for your trip.

For this trip, we mostly used cottages/apartments where we could cook. We made our own breakfast, packed lunch, and made dinner most of the days.

Day 1 Arrival

Keflavik airport sculpture.

Keflavik International airport is not a big airport so finding your way around is very easy. Just look for the sign that says “Exit to Iceland”, go down the escalator and you are in. There is a duty-free shop right beside the baggage collection where you can get some last-minute supplies like lip balm and hand cream which will be very necessary if you are here during the winter.

After collecting your luggage(s), just follow the signs or the crowd (there is only one way out) to the arrival hall. The moment you step out into the arrival hall, the real adrenaline starts.

On the right side of the arrival hall is a small convenience store where you can get some light meals, snacks, and stuff. You can also get the local sim cards in the store.

At the front of the arrival hall are two booths for FlyBus and Airport Express. There are people who are taking the airport transfers to Reykjavik. FlyBus is more expensive than Airport Express if you need hotel drop-off. Some accommodations do not allow for drop-off at the property due to space constraints so the bus will drop you off at the nearest bus stop. You can check www.busstop.is for more information.

On the left side of the arrival hall is a row of booths for the car rental companies. Depending on which company you are renting with, they might or might not have a booth at the arrival hall. If the booth of the rental company that you are using is in the arrival hall, very good, just head over and have your journey started. If not, you will need to go out of the arrival hall, follow the signs that say “shuttle bus for car rental” and the shuttle bus will take you to the car rental company. For some of the car rental companies with booths in the arrival hall, you still have to go take the shuttle bus to collect your car, just that the people at the booth will give you these instructions.

For more information about what you need to know when driving in Iceland, check out 40 things that you need to know about driving in Iceland.

After you have sorted out your vehicle, your road trip to Iceland officially begins.

Driving away from the airport, you will very soon get drawn into the out-of-the-world landscape. The first thing that struck me was that there are lava rocks everywhere. Really cool though.

If you are driving towards Reykjavik, you will be going onto road 41 and the first town that you will pass is Keflavik. There are grocery stores (BonusKronan, and Netto) where you can stock up on food and supplies. Vínbúðin is a liquor store (don’t drink and drive, it is illegal). There are also restaurants like Kaffi Duus and Olsen Olsen where you can enjoy some local cuisines. There is an interesting museum called Viking World in this town. It is a Viking history museum whose star attraction is a climb-aboard replica of a 9th-century ship.

Enjoying the benefits of Silica Mask at Blue Lagoon.

Not far out of town, you will find road 43 which takes you to the Blue Lagoon of Iceland. I have been to the Blue Lagoon like 20 times so I am biased. The Blue Lagoon is amazing. Especially after a long flight, it is so relaxing to just soak in the warm water and let the body enjoy itself. My skin totally appreciates the pampering.

You can read more on the Blue Lagoon experience at Visiting the Blue Lagoon.

Depending on your flight arrival time and how much time you spend at the Blue Lagoon, I would highly recommend giving Lava Restaurant a try. Though a little on the pricy side, the food is really good. Local ingredients with a modern twist.

After relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, it is time to head to the accommodation. I personally like to stay out-of-town so for the first night, I chose a cottage near to Borganes.

There is much sightseeing to do all the way there. You will definitely pass by Hafnarfjordur, the town of the elves and Vikings. If you are into the Viking stuff, there is a Viking Village in this town with a Viking restaurant serving traditional Viking dinner. Worth a try for the experience. If you are interested in elves, you can head to Hellisgerði park where the elves are said to live in the rocks.

After driving through two other towns, Gardabaer and Kópavogur, you will head onto road 1 which is the ring road of Iceland. After passing Mosfellsbær, this is when the scenery starts. You will be driving alongside mountains and fjords. The first fjord not far after Mosfellsbær is Kollafjörður. At the next fjord, you will drive under it in a tunnel and that is Hvalfjörður, the famous “Whale Fjord”. During the summer, you can choose to drive around the fjord instead of under. It is quite a long drive but it is very beautiful. There is a very pretty waterfall, Fossarétt, which makes a very good photo stop.

Passing Hvalfjörður, there comes the small town of Akranes. The main attraction in this town is the old lighthouse of Akranes.

You will need to pay 300 isk to go up the new lighthouse but the view up there is really quite spectacular.

For the first night, we booked a sea view cottage with Hotel Hafnarfjall. Basic and comfortable accommodation with a view. We will be staying here for 2 nights.

Day 2 Snæfellsnes Peninsula

After breakfast, you will be heading to Snæfellsnes Peninsula or what they call “the hidden gem of the west”.

You will drive past Borganes. There is a Bonus here where you can stock up on your grocery. If you have time, drive into the town and all the way to the end where The Settlement Center is, there is quite a nice view from there and you can check out the museum at The Settlement Center too.

After driving out of Borganes, you will turn from road 1 onto road 54, into Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The landscape is slightly different here. The first stop will be Gerðuberg Cliffs, the “North Wall” in Game of Thrones.

Seeing this cliff up-close is really quite impressive. They are much bigger and taller than I imagined them to be.

Leaving from here, a short drive will bring you to the junction of road 54 and road 56. From here, you can either go clockwise or anti-clockwise. The main time consideration will be when the low tide will be as two of the attractions in Snæfellsnes Peninsula are nicer during low tide. During the time when we were here, the low tide was in the afternoon so we went anti-clockwise, starting with Ytri Tunga, a stretch of beach where you can often spot a seal colony.

Photo by (IG) @stamper_vagabond

Our next stop was Búðakirkja, the black church of Búdir. It is quite a pretty little church with an interesting story. We did not spend very much time here though.

We headed to Arnarstapi next. Take a stroll along the coast where you can take in all the views and see Gatklettur, a famous, naturally formed stone arch. Drive to the end of Arnarstapi where the port is. The view of the cliff from the deck is really quite amazing.

After Arnarstapi, we head to Londrangar.

This place is simply beautiful. It is a little walk from the parking lot to the viewing platform. We packed some sandwiches for lunch so we had our picnic on the benches by the parking lot.

Next, we went to Djúpalónssandur, a black pebble and sand beach. You will walk through a beautiful lava field to get to this beach. This beach is especially amazing during low tide.

All these that you see in the picture above are usually underwater during high tide and can only be seen during low tide.

This beach is also where I have found 3 heart-shaped pebbles on 3 separate occasions.

There are some remains of a shipwreck on the beach and some history about it.

Driving along this outer circle of Snæfellsnes Peninsula, you will be driving alongside Snæfellsjökull National Park almost the whole time and get to see Snæfellsjökull from some places. There are some hiking trails in this National Park but that will be for next time.

The next stop will be Saxhóll Crater. From the parking lot, you can climb up a spiral staircase to the top of the crater. Very easy, 5 minutes climb. The view from the top is really great.

From here, you will be driving past a few small villages and waterfalls like SvöðufossKerlingarfoss, and Bæjarfoss. Different kinds of waterfalls and each is pretty in its own way. If you have time, no harm stopping.

The next stop is the highlight of Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Kirkjufell, “The Arrowhead Mountain” in Game of Thrones, and Kirkjufellfoss waterfall.

Saxholl crater in Snaefellsness Peninsula.

This mountain is almost like the icon of Iceland. Although I have been here many times, I still love this place. It is always beautiful, rain or shine or snow.

There is a small grocery store, Samkaup, in the adjacent town, Grundarfjörður, where you can get some food and stuff.

The next stop is a little drive away. Deildartunguhver is Europe’s most powerful hot spring where boiling water is bubbling from the ground.

Driving past Reykholt, one of the most important historical locations in Iceland and home of Snorri Sturluson, who was one of the most significant figures of the Middle Ages, you will arrive at Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Hraunfossar is a series of rivulets that stream through the dark lava field. Barnafoss waterfall is a light blue waterfall that rushes through a narrow gorge. There are a series of small hiking trails in the area.

From here, you will drive back to the accommodation for the night.

Day 3 Troll Peninsula

You will start the day driving up north on road 1. Glanni Waterfall is definitely worth stopping. From the parking lot, you will need to follow the trail to get to the viewing platform. There are other smaller trails in the area to get to the side of the waterfall.

The drive north will bring you into a different landscape once again. In the next one and a half hours’ drive, you will experience a little of the “nothingness” of Iceland. Where you will drive on and on with only nature around you. No buildings, no people, just nature. You will get to enjoy the rolling hills and flowing streams.

Your next stop will be at Hvitserkur, a 15-meter-tall basalt island that resembles a dragon or rhino. (This place might be a little tricky to go to during the winter if you are in a small car without 4×4).

Hvitserkur the Rhino rock in Iceland under a pink sky.

From here, you can explore an island in an island, Hrútey í Blöndu is a small island ideal for short hikes before heading into the Troll Peninsula.

The Troll Peninsula (Tröllaskagi), is one of the most extraordinary mountain scenarios in Iceland. It lies in North Iceland between the fjord of Skagafjörður and the fjord of Eyjafjorður. The peninsula is mountainous with several peaks reaching over 1200m above sea level, some over 1400m, the tallest one is Kerling (1538m). It is the part of Iceland with the highest elevation outside the central highlands. There are many outdoor activities in this area including hiking trails, heli-skiing, etc. The peninsula also comprises many areas of “untouched nature”. Nature that has not been disturbed by mankind.

Driving along the coast, you will be driving through several picturesque little towns like Hofsós, Siglufjörður, Ólafsfjörður, and Dalvik.

A coffee house, Gisli Eirikur Helgi Kaffihûs Bakkabrædra, in Dalvik left a particularly deep impression. It is a very small place filled with a lot of stories. The owners are so friendly, they shared so many stories with us.

The Troll Peninsula is also the one and only Beer Spa in Iceland. You get to soak in a tub filled with warm beer and drink free-flow cold draft beer at the same time. For all the beer lovers, this might be very close to heaven.

Not far from here, in the town of Hauganes, you can go whale-watching in Eyjafjörður. By far, this is one of the best places for whale-watching in Iceland. The waters are calm, with hardly any waves and when the boat is approaching the whales, they turn off the engines altogether so that the whales will not be spooked.

By the beach, you can find Hauganes Hot Pot, some outdoor hot tubs by the ocean and one of the hot tubs is in a boat. You can get the entrance bracelet from Baccalá bar and the entrance is 12000 isk per person (at time of writing).

From here, you will drive toward Akureyri. I used Lava Apartments & Rooms for the night.

Day 4 North Iceland

We started the day exploring the town of Akureyri, the town of love. Even the traffic lights are heart-shaped. The Akureyri church, Akureyrarkirkja, is quite spectacular with its long flight of stairs. There is this giant Viking beer can that can be interesting to see.

Hugging a giant beer can.

And the Botanical Gardens of Akureyri is especially beautiful during the summer, where flowers of all kinds are blooming everywhere.

The Icelandic Aviation Museum is also in Akureyri. It showcases planes from the very first kind and their evolution over time. Quite interesting.

The one place that I always visit when in Akureyri is the Christmas House. It is really a store that sells Christmas-related stuff like decorations and candies and they have really interesting ones.

Moving out of Akureyri, the first stop will be Goðafoss, the waterfall of the Gods. This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. You can access it from both sides and the view is quite different.

Godafoss waterfall under a pink sunset sky.

From here, you will explore the Mývatn area. If you are here during the summer, I would suggest that you take road 848 as there are more things to see along this road but during the winter, this road is not so nice to drive so better to take road 1.

So, driving onto road 848, there are several places where you can stop to take in the views of Lake Mývatn. One of the places that are more interesting is Höfði. There are some small hiking trails in this park and you can get some interesting sights of the lake. One thing that you might like to note is that there will be a lot of flies in Mývatn during the summer. If they bother you, you can get a headset from the gas station.

If you have time and don’t mind hiking a little, you should visit Dimmuborgir. It is a lava field and the area is like a movie set.

Grjótagjá cave is also highly recommended to visit. It is an ancient lava cave that houses a geothermal spring once used for bathing. We used to soak our feet in the waters but its temperature seems to be increasing so I think it is too hot now, you can always try.

Shortly after you turn back onto road 1, you will arrive at Mývatn Nature Baths. The water here is also blue like the Blue Lagoon, the only difference is that it is not salty.

The next stop, Hverir, is out-of-the-world. It is a geothermal area with orange soil and boiling mud pools. Do not be deceived by this amazingly beautiful look. The smell is really quite terrible. It is actually the smell of sulfur but it is quite similar to the smell of rotten eggs. If you can tolerate the smell, this place is beyond imagination but I have seen people puking the moment they step out of the car so this place might not be for everyone.

During the summer, you can take a detour to Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe. I would suggest taking road 864 instead of road 862. Although they both go to Dettifoss and road 862 is kind of shorter, road 864 brings you to a point closer to Dettifoss, and the angle of view of the waterfall is a little different.

Dettifoss the most powerfull waterfall in Rurope in a cloudy day.

Both the roads to Dettifoss are not so good to drive during the winter.

The next stop, Stuðlagil Canyon, is only doable during the summer. It is very dangerous to go there during the winter so I would suggest not to try.

View of Studlagil canyon on a stormy day.

From the first parking spot, it will be a 4.5km hike to go down to the canyon. This is not possible to do if it has been raining as the water level of the canyon will be very high. There is a second parking spot further down the road where you can view the canyon from above. Also, the water in this canyon is not always blue. If it has been raining, the water will likely be brown.

Spend the night in Egilsstaðir, a town by Lagarfljót, the lake where the lake monster is said to live. I used Ormurinn Cottages, by the lake, and I stayed here for two nights.

Day 5 East Iceland

You will be exploring east Iceland on this day.

The first stop will be Hallormsstaður Forest. Very good for some light hiking.

A path into the Iceland's largest forest.

Road 931 also drives along Lagarfljót, so you can try and see if you can spot the lake monster.

The next stop is Hengifoss, a waterfall falling over a striated rock. It takes about 1 hour to hike up to the waterfall but the view up there is worth it. There are also several smaller waterfalls along the way.

From here, you can visit Skriduklaustur, a museum and historical site.

Photo of Skriduklaustur museum.

If you are up for more hiking, a little further at Laugarfell, you can go on an 8km hike around the waterfall circle where you can see five waterfalls and one canyon. There is also an outdoor hot tub at Laugarfell at 1500 isk per person.

Go back to spend the night in Egilsstaðir.

Day 6 The Eastfjords

You will be driving mostly along the east fjords on this day but I decided to start the day with a detour to Borgarfjarðarhöfn because we were at the right time for the puffin season so no reason to miss it. The puffins are in Iceland from mid-May to mid-August.

After you are done with the detour, it is time to go back to the planned route. During the summer, you have 2 options. One is to follow road 1 and drive along the fjords, two is to take road 95 and drive through the mountains. Both are beautiful, different kinds of beautiful. Road 95 is mostly closed during the winter or it is super dangerous to drive it during the winter so no choice in the winter, only road 1.

There are many beautiful sceneries on both routes. Waterfalls, mountains. If you drive along road 1, you will pass a couple of small fjord villages. No particular attractions in this part of Iceland, just you and nature.

View over a town in Eastfjords.

When you eventually arrive at Djúpivogur, be sure to make a quick stop at Eggin í Gleðivík, a sculpture of 34 replicas of eggs from as many nesting birds in Djúpivogur.

Right outside of Djúpivogur, you will find Halsaskogur, a little enchanted forest. Ideal for a picnic or a little hike.

The highlight for the day will be Stokksnes. Stokksnes is one of the photographers’ paradise in Iceland. From here, you can view the famous Vestrahorn, black sand-dunes, and Viking village props for the movie.

The entrance to Stokksnes is 900 isk per person and can be purchased at the cafe.

Spend the night in Höfn, the Lobster Capital of Iceland. We used Höfn Cottages.

Day 7 Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

The moment you drive out of Höfn, you will realize that the landscape starts to change. In fact, for most of the day, you will be driving alongside Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe.

To get close enough to the glacier tongues, for most of them, you will need a 4×4 and many of these roads are not driveable when it snows. There are two that you can walk it, I will talk about them later.

The first accessible glacier tongue out of Höfn is Hoffellsjökull. The road to this glacier tongue is not quite obvious, especially after rain. It is not actually a proper road, just tracks left behind by other cars. So if you cannot find the tracks, better not to risk it if you are not absolutely sure where to go.

Hoffellsjokull glacier, view from the ground.

There is some outdoor hot tub at Hoffell that are quite nice though. 1000 isk per person.

The next glacier tongue that you can visit is Heinabergsjokull. The drive there is quite tricky and absolutely not possible when it snows. You will need a 4×4 to drive this. After you have driven about 3km past the farmhouses at Flatey, you will see a small road off the right and a sign that says “Welcome to Vatnajökull National Park”. You need to follow this road into very interesting terrain. Follow the road in red below.

Map of the road to the glacier tongue at Vatnajokull.

Drive till the road ends, you will find a parking spot and a hiking trail right beside it. Follow the hiking trail and you will end up at Heinabergsjokull.

Heinabergsjokull glacier mirrored in the glacier lagoon.

If you took a wrong turn, don’t worry, all the other roads lead to dead-ends so just turn around.

One other glacier that is very worth visiting is Skálafellsjökull. This one is very special. You don’t see it from below, you see it from above. You go onto road F985 which will bring you up to a dam, which is very pretty, and you keep driving upwards all the way and you will find yourself midway up Skálafellsjökull. Some scenes of Star Trek Discovery season 3 were filmed in this area so maybe you can spot them. The road ends at Jöklasel Glacier Base Camp, most of the time it is not possible to drive that far in a normal car so just turn around when the road starts getting really rough.

The next stop will be Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must-see in Iceland. It is beautiful beyond description.

During the summer, there are options of Amphibian Boat Tour and Zodiac Tour that can bring you into the lagoon and get some up-close encounters with the icebergs.

During the winter, you can go on a Blue Ice Cave Exploration to Breiðamerkurjökull, the glacier tongue that feeds Jökulsárlón.

On the other side of the road, the icebergs from the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon float into the Atlantic Ocean where they are quickly thrown back to shore by the tide and winds. This black sand beach is full of smaller ice rocks in all shapes and sizes, sparkling like diamonds in the daylight and therefore the name “Diamond Beach”.

The correct name of Diamond Beach is actually Breiðamerkursandur.

Ice pieces on a black beach shining during sunset.

For those without 4×4, here comes the glacier tongue that is reachable on foot. The name is Kvíárjökull.

After leaving Jökulsárlón, about 20km, you will come to a bridge over Vestari-Kvíá. Right after the bridge, there is a road to the right. It is a very short road that ends at a parking spot for Clyne Castle. There is some history there if you are interested to read about it. Behind the parking lot, there is a short hiking trail that leads you to the glacier tongue of Kvíárjökull.

You will spend the night in Hof. We used The Potato Storage.

Day 8 Vatnajökull National Park

Start the day with a hike into the mountains to Svartifoss, known as the black waterfall, where waterfalls are between basalt columns.

Svartifoss waterfall during autumn.

Along the way, you can see the highest peak of Iceland, Hvannadalshnúkur. There are several hiking trails in this national park. If time permits, you can also explore them.

From Skaftafell National Park visitor centre, there is a hiking trail that leads to Skaftafellsjökull. It is a 5km hike. Worth the trip if you have the time.

You can also go on a glacier hike on Falljökull, departure is from Skaftafell National Park meeting point.

If you have an extra day, Skaftafell National Park itself can make a full day itinerary on its own as there are so many places to see and explore. There are many hiking trails in this area that lead to amazing and beautiful places.

After leaving Skaftafell National Park, you can make a quick photo-stop at Eldhraun lava field, the largest lava field in the world and which event disrupted lives all around the world.

Lava field glowing during sunset.

Next, you will arrive at the town of Vik, the southernmost town of Iceland. There is a picturesque little church at the top of the hill.

The Icelandic Lava Show is something not to miss. I think this is the only place on earth where you can get an up-close experience with real molten lava.

From Vik, there is also an Ice Cave tour to an ice cave by Katla Volcano. The view inside the Ice Cave is truly spectacular the combination of the colors of the ice, you will get the chance to see some amazing black ice as well as some blue ice features.

The last stop for the day will be Reynisfjara, the Black Sand Beach.

The basalt rock formations at Reynisfjara during sunrise.

This beach is spectacular. The waves, the basalt columns, everything comes together like an art. Be extra careful with the waves though.

You can spend the night in Vik. We used the Black Beach Suites.

Day 9 South Coast

Start the day by heading to Dyrhólaey. The drive up to the lighthouse requires a 4×4 and very good driving skills. Otherwise, you can stop at the parking place and do a small hike up to the lighthouse. The scenery from the top is amazing.

From here, you can visit the DC3 plane wreck on Solheimasandur. From the parking lot, you can take a shuttle bus to the plane wreck, or you can walk the 4km.

Plane wreck on a snowy beach in Iceland.

If you want to do more glacier hiking or did not get the chance to do it at Skaftafell, next stop will be Sólheimajökull, a part of Mýrdalsjökull.

Otherwise, you can move on to Skógafoss, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. There is a flight of stairs beside the waterfall which you can go up to the top of the waterfall. It is very common to see a rainbow at Skógafoss when it is sunny.

There is a Skogar Museum nearby if you are interested in the history of this area.

A short drive from here will bring you to Eyjafjallajökull Info Point which is just by road 1. Here, you can find information about the eruption in 2010 which disrupted the air traffic in the whole of Europe, and see the volcano itself when it is not cloudy.

The next stop will be Seljalandsfoss. You can walk behind this waterfall during the summer.

There is a walking path along the mountain which will bring you to a hidden waterfall, Gljufrabui. You will need to go into the cave to get to the waterfall. The water in the stream can be quite cold at times. It will be handy if you have a pair of waterproof shoe cover that goes all the way up to the calves which will allow you to walk in the water to the waterfall.

As you drive further along road 1, you will come to a town named Hvolsvöllur. In this town, you will find a restaurant, Eldstó Art Cafe, where they serve really good local food and handmade products.

Also in this town is the Lava Centre, an interactive, high-tech educational exhibition depicting volcanic activity, earthquakes, and the creation of Iceland over millions of years.

We spent the night in Hella, at Arhus Cabins. Basic cabins by the river.

Day 10 The Golden Circle

Right outside the town of Hella, you will find the Caves of Hella. This tour brings you to explore four ancient man-made caves dating back to the settlement of the Nordic Vikings.

You will be driving into the Golden Circle on this day. Go onto road 30 where you will drive through Flúðir. This is where the Secret Lagoon is. You can take a dip in the oldest pool in Iceland.

From here, you will head to Gullfoss, the golden waterfall. There are two carparks to Gullfoss. The first one that you will arrive at will bring you straight down to the waterfall. The second carpark will bring you to the visitors’ center and cafe.

Person looking at Gullfoss waterfall flowing fast.

From the visitors’ centre, you can go on a snowmobile tour if you like. This snowmobile tour is available all year round.

The next stop is the Geysir geothermal area, where Strokkur, one of the geysers, erupts every 5 minutes up to 40 meters. Take note of the wind direction if you don’t want a shower in the middle of the day.

After leaving Geysir, you should head to road 35 where you will find Faxi waterfall, Friðheimar greenhouse that serves a really good lunch, and Kerið Volcano Crater.

Volcanic crater with mossy walls and a blue lake.

There is a path where you can walk down to the crater lake during the summer.

From here, you will head to road 36, which will bring you around Þingvallavatn, the highest lake in Iceland, to Þingvellir National Park. There are several places to stop along the lake.

Instead of heading to the main carpark of Þingvellir, I would suggest that you head onto road 361 and stop at Þingvellir carpark P2. From here, you can explore Öxarárfoss, follow the path to Þingvallakirkja, and walk up the continental crack due to the shifting of tectonic plates.

If you are interested in dog-sledding, the one and only dog-sledding in Iceland is not far from Þingvellir.

You will head to Reykjavík for the night. We used Downtown Reykjavik Apartments.

Day 11 Reykjavik

We decided to spend a day exploring and visiting some places in Reykjavík. Reykjavík is not a big city. It is not far to get from one place to another. The only thing is that you have to pay for parking everywhere and that can be quite costly. The parking system in Reykjavík is by zone. In each zone, you can pay once and park at a different location within the zone within the time frame which you have paid for. So, it is either you check out the zones and all the locations that you want to visit in each zone to save on parking or just pay everywhere you go. There are some free parking zones but they are full most of the time.

One other thing to take note of is that not all streets in Reykjavík are driveable. A section of Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur are not driveable so if you choose an accommodation that is on those parts of the street, you will have to park somewhere else and walk to the accommodation.

We decided to drive Reykjavík in a round, starting with The Sun Voyager.

Sculpture of a viking ship at dawn.

Followed by Harpa Concert Hall, driving along the old harbor of Reykjavík, if you are there over the weekend, you can stop at Kolaportið, a weekend flea market. The old harbor is also where you can go on a Northern Light Cruise during the winter. If you really want to see the northern lights during the summer, you can head to Aurora Reykjavik, an aurora museum.

Along the harbor, you will also find Valdis, the famous Icelandic ice cream. Whales of Iceland museum and FlyOver Iceland are also in the area.

Driving slightly towards the end of the town, you will find Grótta Island Lighthouse. This place is very pretty during the summer but is also very popular during the winter to watch northern lights.

Next, we went to Nauthólsvík Geothermal Beach. There are hot tubs by the beach. You can swim in the lagoon during summer. This beach can be super crowded during summer.

From here, you can go to Perlan, where there are some really interesting exhibits and an aurora planetarium.

Afterwhich, you can go to Kringlan if you need to do some shopping. Kringlan is the largest shopping mall in Iceland. Not the best place for souvenirs and local products though. You can find more of them at the shopping street which I will talk more about later.

Since our accommodation is quite close to downtown, we decided to park our car at the accommodation and explore downtown on foot.

We went first to Hallgrimskirkja, the iconic landmark of Reykjavík.

Hallgrimskirkja the most known ladnmark in Reykjavik.

You can go up the church tower for a panoramic view of Reykjavík. This church also houses a very large pipe organ and on some days, there are performances that are open to the public.

We walked down Skólavörðustígur from here. There are many boutiques and cafes along the street. Almost at the end of this road, there is a rainbow painted on the street.

Rainbow street in Reykjavik and the Hallgrimskirkja at the end of the street.

Skólavörðustígur meets with Laugavegur, the main shopping street of Iceland. Here you will find many shops selling souvenirs, local products, handmade products, and famous local brands. There are also shops that sell flavored salts and chocolates. In this area, you will also find many street arts, paintings on walls of buildings.

There is a famous restaurant, The Lobster House, which serves really good Icelandic lobster dishes. If you want to try some local food, you can check out Icelandic Street Food.

Further down the street, you will find Lake Tjörnin, where you can feed the swans, geese, and ducks with bread.

Not far from Tjörnin, is the Althingi Parliament House with a beautiful square in front of it. Several interesting sculptures in this area.

If you are curious about the famous Icelandic Hotdog, you can head to BBP and try it. It is really good if I may say.

We spent part of the evening packing as we had an early flight the next day. We did not go pub hopping or anything like that since we had a child with us on this trip.

Day 12 Departure

We did not get to do much on this day as we had an early flight so we simply drove to the airport, return the car, and check-in for our flight.

Try to give some time allowance for the return of the car. Some car rental companies tend to take their own sweet time to check every single part of the car for damages and some will even try to make you pay for some nonsensical things. We have seen and heard so many stories that we only stick to one rental company and always get full insurance with zero excess so that we will not need to worry when we return the car.

Hope you enjoyed this itinerary and get to try it someday.

You can find more information on self-drive tours, where you can find pre-made packages and customization options. You can also make an appointment to speak with a local travel designer in Iceland who can tailor-make an itinerary just for you.

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