Travel Tips for Iceland

ES Best Iceland 10-Day Self-Drive Itinerary (Summer + Winter)


 Best Iceland 10-Day Self-Drive Itinerary (Summer + Winter)

[SPANISH VERSION]

If you’re planning 10 days in Iceland, there’s no better way to spend your time, regardless of the season, than by driving your way around the island. An Iceland 10-day itinerary can give you just enough time to see some of the country’s best spots, without putting you into a rush. Of course, proper planning is necessary in order to make the most out of your 10 days in Iceland, so that’s why we’re here to help. 

We’re going to answer a few questions on the most need-to-know information on how to see Iceland in 10 days, including:

  • How much money will you need to spend to enjoy 10 days in Iceland?
  • What car should you rent for an Iceland itinerary of 10 days?
  • How can you see the Ring Road in Iceland over a 10-day self-drive Iceland itinerary?
  • And, more generally, what can you see around Iceland in 10 days?

To learn all about this and more, keep reading. 

itinerary for 10 days self drive in Iceland

3 Things You Need to Know Before You Plan Your Iceland Itinerary (10 Days)

But before you can start planning the best 10-day itinerary for Iceland possible, you have to know a few things about what you’re getting into.

1. Possible Driving Routes

If you have 10 days in total to spend in Iceland, including your arrival and departure days, you have a few options, as far as self-driving routes in Iceland go. 

It is possible to drive a complete road trip around Iceland, taking Iceland’s Ring Road trip via Route 1. This route is one of the most popular in the country and allows you to see some of the most amazing spots in Iceland, from the top cities to the most magnificent natural wonders. During the summer months, the Ring Road is especially nice, as you won’t need to worry about the harsher winter weather when you’re up around the North Fjords or near the Arctic Coast Way. 

You can also choose to drive a shorter route around the southern portions of the island, which will allow you to spend less time driving and more time exploring. This option is also more ideal when you’re travelling during the winter, as the weather is a bit more agreeable for driving in the southern portion of the island. However, we’ll get into exact itineraries in a minute.

how to plan for your road trip to Iceland

2. Car Rental Options

For the optimum in safety while in Iceland, you’ll have to rent a car based on the season that you’re visiting and where you plan on driving. For example, if you plan on driving in the Highlands, you’ll need a 4WD vehicle, regardless of the time of year you visit. If you plan on staying in the southern portion of Iceland during the summer, or if you’re only going to drive along the paved Ring Road, you can get away with a more economically friendly 2WD. If you plan on visiting Iceland at all in the winter, though, you’ll need a 4WD vehicle regardless of where you’re going.

3. Booking Times

If you plan on visiting Iceland during the summer, which is peak travel season in Iceland, you’ll need to book well ahead of your trip dates. That means, if you’re booking a rental car, camper van, hotel or any tours, you want to do so, at the very latest, a month in advance of your trip. If you don’t book in advance, you’ll either pay a higher fee for your travel costs, or you’ll run the risk of not being able to book anything at all (this is especially the case for camper vans, as there are only so many 4WD campers available in Iceland). 

Plus, the earlier you book, the more likely you’ll be able to take advantage of an early bird booking option! Follow LAVA Car Rental on Facebook for deals like these and other exclusive Iceland car rental offers.

numerous adventurers have Iceland on their travel bucket list

How Much to Budget for 10 Days in Iceland 

Iceland is a popular destination, but it’s not really known as a budget-friendly travel destination, and it’ll be even more expensive if you visit in the wrong season or in the wrong way. 

The primary thing that’s going to impact how much your trip to Iceland costs will be the season in which you visit. In general, visiting Iceland in winter is more affordable than visiting Iceland in the summer. Since demand for travel in Iceland is up in the summer, rates for everything, from hotels to flights to rental cars, are more expensive; when demand decreases in the winter, those rates go down. 

The most expensive way to travel to Iceland is probably by visiting during the summer, and doing all your planning and booking at the last minute. On the flip side, visiting Iceland the most affordably will be by doing so in the winter, planning far in advance. 

Regardless of the season you visit, though, your primary costs in Iceland during a 10-day self-driving trip will include your car rental, food, accommodations and extraneous expenses. 

Car Rentals

You can check the LAVA Car Rental website for the most up-to-date and current car rental prices. Prices change every year, but, for 2021, here’s what you can expect. 

Summertime rental prices, May through September, range from 9,000 ISK (70 USD or 60 EUR) to 13,000 ISK (100 USD or 87 EUR) per day for a small, economy car, and from 14,000 ISK (110 USD or 94 EUR) to 30,000 ISK (240 USD or 200 EUR) per day for 4x4 vehicles. Camper vans run about 12,000 ISK (95 USD or 80 EUR) to 30,000 ISK (240 USD or 200 EUR) per day. 

Car rental prices (as of Summer 2021, with prices subject to change) in the winter, October through April, range from 6,000 ISK (47 USD or 40 EUR) to 9,000 ISK (70 USD or 60 EUR) per day for a small, economy car, and from 10,000 ISK (79 USD or 67 EUR) to 13,000 ISK (100 USD or 87 EUR) per day for 4x4 vehicles. Camper vans run about 16,000 ISK (126 USD or 107 EUR) to 50,000 ISK (396 USD or 336 EUR) per day.

Rental prices will, of course, differ depending on car make and model, as well as the age of the car.

Renting a SUV 4x4 in Iceland will allow you to cross the Highlands rivers

Food 

Of course, you have to eat during your trip. When dining out in Iceland, a meal at an inexpensive restaurant is typically around 2,500 ISK (20 USD or 16 EUR), while a meal for two at a mid-range restaurant is closer to 13,000 ISK (103 USD or 87 EUR). The average fast-food meal is about 1,800 ISK (14 USD or 12 EUR).  

If you plan on cooking for yourself while in Iceland, such as in your camper van or in a home rental, you can budget accordingly by checking the most accurate, average market prices in Iceland for things like milk, bread, eggs and produce. 

Accommodations 

Before deciding on your accommodations in Iceland, it’s best to shop around by looking for the most affordable options on Booking.com, hotels.com and Trivago.com. But, if you want the most budget-friendly accommodations option, it’s very much worth looking into renting a camper van in Iceland, to save you money by bundling your car rental with your accommodations. If you’re travelling with too many people to make a camper van feasible, you can also book home stays, such as those available through Airbnb, and split the costs of the home stay and a 4x4 car among your group. 

Other Expenses 

Beyond your car, accommodations and food, other expenses during a trip to Iceland will include any activities and tours you enjoy. While you can hike and enjoy lots of the scenery in Iceland for free, special tours for things like glacier hiking and ice caving cost extra, as do visits to most of Iceland’s picturesque hot springs. You can find more information about these costs on the LAVA Car Rental website

the price for accommodation in Iceland varies with the seasons

Best Iceland Itinerary — 10 Days, Summer, Self Drive, Late May–Early September

While travelling to Iceland during the summer months is more expensive, it also provides a lot of benefits. You get better, warmer weather, without all the snow and ice that’s common in the winter months. You get a lot more daylight, so you can explore Iceland’s dramatic landscapes until late at night, and the road conditions are much more agreeable, making for easier driving (though if you still feel you’ll need some pointers on Iceland driving). 

A 10-day Iceland itinerary in the summer is the perfect time to head north, and that’s exactly what our recommended, 10-day summer self-drive itinerary does.

10 Days Summer route map + Itinerary breakdown

  • Day 1: Blue Lagoon + Reykjavik
  • Day 2: Golden Circle 
  • Day 3: South Coast (from Reykjavik to Vik) 
  • Day 4: South Coast (hotel location: from Vik to Jokulsarlon)
  • Day 5: Eastfjords  or  heading to the north 
  • Day 6: North Iceland - Diamond Circle/ Myvatn area / Arctic Coast Way
  • Day 7: North Iceland(Akureyri and nearby area)  + heading to Snæfellsnes Peninsula
  • Day 8: a whole day on  Snæfellsnes Peninsula
  • Day 9: East of Iceland via Route 1 Ring Road + head back to Reykjavik 
  • Day 10: Departure

10 day Iceland summer self-drive route map

Summer Itinerary Breakdown

Day 1: Blue Lagoon + Reykjavik (Overnight in Reykjavik)

On your first day in Iceland, head from Keflavik Airport to pick up your rental car and then on to the Blue Lagoon, if you land early enough. This favourite attraction is one of the country’s most popular, and for a good reason. The massive hot spring is like an otherworldly spa, with bright turquoise waters surrounded by lava rock. 

After your Blue Lagoon visit, head into Reykjavik, where you can check into your hotel and enjoy a meal and catching up on some sleep before you begin your Iceland adventure. 

Day 2: The Golden Circle (Overnight along the Golden Circle)

On your second day in Iceland, check out of your Reykjavik hotel and then explore the Golden Circle. While this small route is only about 300 kilometres (or around 186 miles), it’s well worth taking an entire day to traverse it, so that you can stop the car as desired to get out and see the sights. Popular scenic spots along the route include Gullfoss Waterfall, Thingvellir National Park and the Geysir Geothermal Area.

You can stay anywhere along the Golden Circle for your second night, or even just stay in your hotel in Reykjavik, as the city is also located on the Circle. 

Day 3: The South Coast (Overnight in the Vik area)

On your third day, it’s time to head south. Check out of your hotel and travel along Iceland’s South Coast, from Reykjavik to Vik. The drive is only about two and a half hours, so you have plenty of time to stop and explore. Recommended spots include Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, Skogafoss Waterfall and Seljavallalaug Pool. 

Skogafoss is one of the famous tourist attraction in south Iceland

Day 4: The South Coast Continued (Overnight in Jokulsarlon)

Continue on your Iceland itinerary from Vik to Jokulsarlon. This is another drive that only takes a few hours, but is filled with sightseeing opportunities along the coast. Popular spots along the route from Vik to Jokulsarlon include Fjaorargljufur Canyon, Skaftafell National Park and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. 

Day 5: The Eastfjords OR Head North (Overnight in either Egilsstadir or Akureyri)

On your fifth day, you have two options. As you leave Jokulsarlon, you can either choose to continue on eastward, and visit the East Fjords and the largest town in East Iceland, Egilsstadir, or you can go on north, on Route 1, and explore the Diamond Circle and Myvatn area, overnight in Akureyri. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be positioned to continue on further north to the Arctic Coast Way on your sixth day.

Day 6: Northern Iceland (Overnight in Akureyri) 

On Day 6 of your trip, you can continue along with your explorations of the Diamond Circle and Myvatn area — there’s certainly enough to see and do here that you won’t run out of options! 

The Diamond Circle is a popular driving route through northern Iceland, and Myvatn is a mammoth lake along with it, but other popular stops in the area include Godafoss Waterfall, Mt. Namafjall and its geothermal mud pools, and Hafragilsfoss Waterfall. Wildlife watching — including whales and puffins — is popular in the area. 

Mývatn is Iceland's fourth-largest body of water located in North Iceland

Day 7: Heading on to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula (Overnight on Snaefellsnes Peninsula)

Spend the earlier part of your seventh day continuing your explorations of Northern Iceland and the Arctic Coast Way (check out our full guide on what to do along the Arctic Coast Way, here), and then make your way to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, where you’ll overnight, positioned to continue your drive around the island.

Day 8: Snaefellsnes Peninsula (Overnight on Snaefellsnes Peninsula)

On your eighth day, you have an entire day to spend exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. You could easily spend the entire time exploring Snaefellsjokull National Park, but other top spots to visit include Djupalonssandur Beach and Stykkisholmur, a small fishing village. 

Day 9: Heading Back to Reykjavik (Overnight in Reykjavik)

By Day 9, you’re nearing the end of your trip. You’ll head south along Route 1 (the Ring Road) until you’re back in Reykjavik. Once there, check into your hotel and then take advantage of this perfect opportunity to explore the historical and cultural attractions that Reykjavik offers.

Day 10: Departure 

On your last day in Iceland, if you have a little time before your flight leaves, consider stopping by the Blue Lagoon again, or for the first time if you didn’t get a chance to do so when you arrived. Don’t forget to take your vehicle back to your car rental provider in Keflavik, and then catch your flight back home. 

Rental Car Recommendations for a 10-Day Summer Iceland Itinerary 

If you’d like to drive a route similar to the one above, we’d recommend a 2WD small car for those travelling along the Ring Road only, and those who do not plan on visiting the East Fjords or northern Iceland. 2WD vehicles are also only suitable for single travellers or travelling couples. 

If you have a group of three or four people, you’ll want the additional luggage space and comfort that a 4WD rental car provides. A 4WD vehicle is also necessary if you’re planning to travel off the Ring Road, especially in northern or eastern Iceland. 

If you’re considering renting a camper van while driving around Iceland in the summer, you can find both 2WD and 4WD options. Learn more about renting a camper van in Iceland with our comprehensive guide

Vik is one of the most popular Icelandic town located on Iceland south coast

Best Iceland Itinerary — 10 Days, Winter, Self Drive, Late September–Early May

Winter in Iceland is more affordable for travellers than summer, and winter in Iceland is unarguably beautiful, but it does come with harsher weather and road conditions. You’ll want to be prepared for slower travel, as unexpected snow and wind storms can slow things down and impede driving, and you’ll also want to understand that you won’t be able to visit all of Iceland during the winter months. We do not recommend travellers visit far northern Iceland or the East Fjords during the winter, as road and weather conditions can be quite hazardous. 

Wherever you travel, though, 4WD vehicles are a must during the winter. You’ll have to remember to drive slowly, monitor weather changes at all times and be flexible with your itinerary, and adjust as the weather shifts. Because of the flexibility required for winter travel in Iceland, our 10-day winter itinerary does include some buffer days. 

For more information on driving in Iceland in the winter, check out our full guide

10 Days Winter route map + Itinerary breakdown

  • Day 1: blue lagoon + Reykjavik 
  • Day 2: the Golden circle
  • Day 3:  south coast (from Reykjavik to Vik) 
  • Day 4: south coast (Vik to Jokulsaron) 
  • Day 5: Ice caving in Jokulsarlon area in the morning (if you are interested), if not, head to the east via Route 1, stopover some villages along the way
  • Day 6: head north from Egilsstaðir 
  • Day 7: visit Myvatn area 
  • Day 8:  North Iceland - from Myvatn to Akureyri
  • Day 9: Akureyri to Reykjavik-- visit west Iceland attractions along route 1
  • Day 10:  Depeature

10 day Iceland winter self-drive route map

Winter Itinerary Breakdown

Day 1: Blue Lagoon + Reykjavik (Overnight in Reykjavik)

On your first day in Iceland, head from Keflavik Airport to pick up your rental car and then on to the Blue Lagoon, if you land early enough. This favourite attraction is one of the country’s most popular, and is especially nice to visit during the winter, when you can enjoy the hot waters while watching the snow or sleet fall around you. 

After your Blue Lagoon visit, head into Reykjavik, where you can check into your hotel.

Day 2: The Golden Circle (Overnight in Reykjavik)

On your second day in Iceland, it’s time to explore the Golden Circle. Popular scenic spots along the route include Gullfoss Waterfall, Thingvellir National Park and the Geysir Geothermal Area. Remember to take your time and go slow!

Day 3: The South Coast (Overnight in Hofn or Jokulsarlon)

On your third day, it’s time to head south. Check out of your hotel and travel along Iceland’s South Coast, from Reykjavik to Vik. The drive is only about two and a half hours, so you have plenty of time to stop and explore. Recommended spots include Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, Skogafoss Waterfall and Seljavallalaug Pool.

Day 4: Buffer Day (Overnight in Hofn or Jokulsarlon)

Your fourth day in Iceland is one of those aforementioned buffer days. You can choose to explore further around Jokulsarlon, Hofn and Vik, or, if you were delayed by bad weather and need to, you can use this buffer day as a chance to catch up on the itinerary.

Day 5: East Iceland (Overnight in Egilsstadir)

On the fifth day, you can enjoy one of the favourite winter activities in Iceland, ice caving. Jokulsarlon is one of the most popular places to the ice cave, so plan to do so in the morning, before you head on to Egilsstadir via Route 1. Along the way, stop in some of the villages, such as Hofn and Djupivogur, for sightseeing. 

Day 6: Myvatn (Overnight in Myvatn)

On your sixth day, head north from Egilsstadir to Myvatn and take your time on the two-hour drive. Once in the Myvatn area, you have to, of course, see Myvatn Lake, but other top spots to visit include Dimmuborgir lava field, Hverir geothermal area and Krafla volcanic region. 

Day 7: Buffer Day (Overnight in Myvatn)

Day 7 is another buffer day, a chance for you to catch up if the weather has slowed you down again. If it hasn’t, though, you can continue on sightseeing in Myvatn.

Day 8: Northern Iceland (Overnight in Akureyri)

From Myvatn, you can travel further to Akureyri, which is about as far north into Iceland as you’ll want to go during the winter months, for the best weather. Once in Akureyri, you can enjoy a range of activities, from skiing at Mt. Hlidarfjall to taking to the geothermal waters at Akureyri Thermal Pool. If you’re reading to get out of the cold, you can warm up at museums such as the Akureyri Art Museum or Akureyri Folk Museum. 

driving through the winter roads in Iceland

Day 9: Buffer Day (Overnight in Reykjavik) 

This is another buffer day for you to catch up. If you’re still catching up, you may want to stay overnight in Akureyri, but if you’re not, continue on to Reykjavik, where you can enjoy the cultural and historical attractions of Iceland’s largest city. 

Day 10: Departure 

On your last day in Iceland, if you have a little time before your flight leaves, consider stopping by the Blue Lagoon again, or for the first time if you didn’t get a chance to do so when you arrived. Don’t forget to take your vehicle back to your car rental provider in Keflavik, and then catch your flight back home.

Rental Car Recommendations for a 10-Day Winter Iceland Itinerary

As mentioned, we only recommend 4WD vehicles for any visit to Iceland during the winter. Remember to drive slow, keep your eye on the weather and road conditions, and plan at least one buffer day into your itinerary, just in case the weather delays you. 

Ready to Spend Your Perfect 10 Days in Iceland? 

Whichever Iceland itinerary for 10 days you choose, LAVA Car Rental is here for you, with the best rental car options, itineraries and tips for a 10-day self-drive Iceland tour.

See all our car rental options and book now

Related Travel Tips

ES Best Iceland 10-Day Self-Drive Itinerary (Summer + Winter)

Spanish If you’re planning 10 days in Iceland, there’s no better way to spend your time, regardless of the season, than by driving your way around the island. An Iceland 10-day itinerary can give you just enough time to see some of the country’s best spots, without putting you into a rush. Of course, proper planning is necessary in order to make the most out of your 10 days in Iceland, so that’s why we’re here to help.