Highlands and Lowlands

from £2639
excluding flights *
14 nights Jul-Aug
iceland highlands landmannalaugar mountains istock

Overview

Iceland’s main roads are perfect for touring in any vehicle, but get behind the wheel of a 4WD and suddenly the whole interior opens up for you. This exciting two-week self-drive combines popular spots on the Ring Road, like the South Coast and Lake Myvatn, with offbeat trails through the Highlands, including the epic Sprengisandur Route and the legendary drive to Askja.

Highlights

  • Get a new perspective of Iceland by driving a 4WD vehicle across the country’s interior on the Sprengisandur Route
  • Experience the wild beauty of the Highlands on exciting drives to Askja and Landmannalaugar
  • Explore the lava flows, hot springs and craters at Lake Myvatn
  • Hike in the East Fjords and Vatnajokull National Park
  • Take a shower in the hot river at Laugarvalladalur
  • Use of exclusive digital travel guide, iDiscover, throughout

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • Car rental throughout
  • Unlimited mileage
  • No charge for additional driver
  • Exclusive use of iDiscover app

Full description

Driving in Iceland’s Highlands

You will have plenty of time to become familiar with your high-clearance 4WD vehicle before tackling F26 – the Sprengisandur – a 244km track which traverses Iceland, crossing a barren volcanic plateau between the icecaps of Hofsjokull and Vatnajokull. After exploring the area around Lake Myvatn, you will once more head inland, passing Herdubreid (Queen of the Mountains), fording rivers and weaving through lava fields to reach the flooded caldera of Askja. Another 4WD adventure takes you from Skaftafell to spectacular Landmannalaugar – famed for its hot springs and colourful rhyolite mountains.

Taking the smooth with the rough

You won’t spend all your time bumping through volcanic deserts. This trip also includes gentle touring through the East Fjords and the South Coast, as well as plenty of opportunities for parking the car and enjoying a hike – whether it’s a gentle stroll to a puffin colony or waterfall, or a more challenging glacier hike.

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Authentic holidays for passionate travellers

Prices & Dates *

Airfares start from around £70 per person and are quoted separately to the holiday price. When enquiring, our Travel Specialists will provide the best fare possible from your preferred airline / airport.

From prices per person based on 2 sharing a room with private bathroom, including car hire

Departure Duration Car Category Twin Price (pp)
Jul - Aug 2019 14 nights F - Suzuki Vitara £2,639
Jul - Aug 2019 14 nights G - Toyota Rav4 £2,715
Jul - Aug 2019 14 nights I - Mitsubishi Shogun £3,188

 Note Other variations such as single rooms, rooms without facilities, three or four people sharing a vehicle, will be quoted on request.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • Car rental throughout
  • Unlimited mileage
  • No charge for additional driver
  • Exclusive use of iDiscover App
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee

Itinerary & Accommodation

Itinerary & Accommodation

Day 1: arrive in Iceland

Collect your 4WD rental vehicle at Keflavik Airport before setting off to explore the Reykjanes Peninsula – a hauntingly beautiful landscape of lava flows, volcanic craters, tectonic rifts, hot springs and rugged shore. Continuing east, you’ll reach the fascinating geothermal town of Hveragerdi where you will be based for the following three nights.

Day 2: Golden Circle

A leisurely day exploring three of Iceland’s most famous natural wonders: the twin-tiered waterfall of Gullfoss, the Geysir geothermal site and Thingvellir National Park – an extraordinary site that showcases both Iceland’s ancient parliament and the continental rift between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Part of this rift (the Silfra fissure) is flooded with crystal-clear glacial water, forming one of the world’s most unusual and unforgettable dive sites. Optional guided tours, either snorkelling or diving, are available, with all equipment (including drysuits) provided. At nearby Fludir, meanwhile, you can gently poach yourself in the geothermal waters of the Secret Lagoon.

Day 3: South Coast or Thorsmork

You have a couple of options for today’s adventure. A drive along the South Coast is rewarded with a procession of amazing sights, from the breathtaking waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss (not forgetting the far-less-visited, but absolutely stunning cascade known as Gljufrafoss) to the black-sand beach of Reynisfjara and seabird cliffs of Dyrholaey. The coast road also skirts the southern flank of Eyjafjallajokull (there’s an excellent visitor centre dedicated to the infamous eruption) and provides easy access to the Solheimajokull glacier where you can join an optional guided hike amongst its crevasses and ice caves.

Not far from the waterfall of Seljalandsfoss, a gravel road loops behind Eyjafjallajokull, probing the Highlands to reach the hidden valley of Thorsmork. We strongly recommend, however, that you join a guided superjeep tour to reach this spectacular destination, and not attempt the tricky river crossings yourself.

Day 4: Sprengisandur Highland route

Originally used as a horse trail between North Iceland and the ancient midsummer assembly at Thingvellir, the Sprengisandur route is the setting for today’s adventurous drive, traversing the volcanic desert of the Highlands. Travelling through the interior of Iceland, you’ll experience the wide-open horizons and rugged scenery of this remote, uninhabited region. Reaching the north, and returning to the surfaced main road, stop to admire Godafoss waterfall before heading to the Lake Myvatn area for a three-night stay.

Day 5: Lake Myvatn

Spend the day exploring the kaleidoscope of volcanic and geothermal sites around this glorious freshwater lake (a natural wonder in itself thanks to the profusion of wildfowl, waders and divers that nest around its shores). Driving around the area, you will be able to visit Krafla volcano with its explosion crater and vast lava fields. At Namafjall you can see (and smell) fumaroles and bubbling mud pits. Pseudocraters, lava caves, basalt pillars, sulphrous hot springs and tephra cones can also be found around Lake Myvatn. After a day of volcanic shenanigans, treat yourself to an (optional) dip in the Nature Baths – an open-air geothermal lagoon with wonderful views across the lake.

Day 6: Dettifoss & Husavik

A short drive from Lake Myvatn leads to Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful waterfall. Fed by glacial meltwater from the Vatnajokull icecap, this thundering cataract hurls 200 cubic metres of water 45m into the Jokulsa canyon every second. Further north, the Asbyrgi canyon provides a more tranquil setting for a hike beneath birch woodland carpeted in cranesbill. In the evening, consider joining an optional whale watching trip from Husavik, sailing into Skjalfandi bay to search for humpback and blue whales under the glow of the midnight sun.

Day 7: Askja

An early start today is required for the incredible drive to the heart of the Highlands where the vast caldera of Askja broods among desolate plains of ash and lava. To describe the scenery as lunar-like is not an overstatement – this is where NASA trained its Apollo astronauts. Enroute to Askja you will skirt the muffin-shaped volcano of Herdubreid (Queen of the Mountains), ford several shallow rivers and discover where outlaws hid out in centuries past. You will also be able to walk into Dragon Canyon and hike across ochre-coloured volcanic gravel fields, studded with hardy mosses, lichens and saxifrages, to reach the explosion crater of Viti. The warm, milky-blue waters inside the crater are perfect for a relaxing soak. Continuing to the east, drive to Laugarfell Accommodation & Hot Springs for an overnight stay.

Day 8: Egilsstadir

Lying at an intriguing crossroads, with the Highlands to the west, the fjords to the east and equally spectacular drives north and south, the small town of Egilsstadir is a perfect base for exploring off-the-beaten-track – particularly with your 4WD vehicle. Your iDiscover digital travel guide will provide plenty of suggestions for places to visit, from remote Mjoifjordur (reached on a gravel track that snakes past tumbling waterfalls and secret ravines) to Mt Snaefell, Iceland’s highest freestanding mountain (1,833m), located near the Laugerfell hot springs. Overnight in Egilsstadir.

Day 9: East Fjords

Travelling south from Egilsstadir, the road scales a pass to reach Breiddalur – a broad valley in the East Fjords hemmed in by striking mountains and basalt cliffs, and the perfect spot for hiking or horse riding. At the mouth of the valley, the small fishing hamlet of Breiddalsvik (your base for the following two nights) has a black-sand beach and quirky geology museum. The nearby waterfall of Flogufoss is well worth tracking down.

Day 10: East Fjords

The coastal road that hugs the East Fjords offers one of the finest scenic drives in Europe, tracing a crinkle-cut shore through a realm of waterfall-doused cliffs and sheltered inlets. Driving through the East Fjords, you will pass through numerous villages, each with their own unique appeal. One of the most interesting is Djupivogur, south of Breiddalsvik, where you can take an optional boat trip to the ancient Celtic outpost of Papey island – now a breeding site for puffins.

Day 11: Skaftafell & Jokulsarlon

Leaving the East Fjords, today’s drive follows the coast to Skaftafell – gateway to the Vatnajokull National Park. One of the star attractions here is Jokulsarlon where you can see hundreds of icebergs drifting in a glacial lagoon or scattered, in crystal-like fragments, across a nearby black-sand beach. Optional boat trips are available on the lagoon. The following two nights are spent in the Skaftafell area, allowing plenty of time to fully appreciate Jokulsarlon and explore various hiking trails.

Day 12: Skaftafell & Vatnajokull National Park

One of the most popular hikes in the national park leads to Svartifoss, a waterfall plunging over hanging cliffs of basalt columns. It is also possible to arrange a guided glacier walk from Skaftafell, hiking into a head-spinning landscape of mountain peaks and blue ice.

Day 13: Landmannalaugar

Venturing deeper into the mountains and valleys, you will reach Landmannalaugar. This is without doubt one of the most beautiful and awe-inspiring places in Iceland. The hiking possibilities are endless, while the colourful rhyolite mountains are a photographer’s dream. Reaching Landmannalaugar involves many exciting river crossings – a great way to put your 4WD experience to the test. Bathing in the geothermal river is the perfect way to relax before heading further north to Hrauneyjar where you will spend the night at Highland Centre Hrauneyjar.

Day 14: Reykjavik

Take a leisurely drive to Reykjavik for your final night. Explore Iceland’s vibrant capital with its museums, art galleries, restaurants and shops.

Day 15: depart Iceland

Drive to Keflavik and perhaps visit the famous Blue Lagoon (pre-booking required) on the way before dropping off your vehicle prior to flying home.

Hotel Ork, Hveragerdi

Iceland

Grade: Standard

Type: Hotel

Found 45km east of Reykjavik in the 'greenhouse village' of Hveragerdi, this hotel offers 85 spacious, en suite rooms.

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Sel Hotel Myvatn

Iceland

Grade: Standard

Type: Hotel

Sel Hotel Myvatn is the ideal base for experiencing the wonders of Lake Myvatn and its surroundings, with 58 smartly-furnished rooms situated on the southern shores of the lake.

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Hotel Blafell, Breiddalsvik

Iceland

Grade: Standard

Type: Hotel

Hotel Blafell is a cosy hotel situated in the charming village of Breiddalsvik at the…

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Hotel Hallormsstadur, Hallormsstadur

Iceland

Grade: Superior

Type: Hotel

Around 25km south of Egilsstadir, Hotel Hallormsstadur is nestled in a large forest (a rarity…

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Hotel Skaftafell

Iceland

Grade: Standard

Type: Hotel

The Hotel Skaftafell makes an ideal stopping off point for excursions into the park, out onto the glacier and to the area's iconic waterfalls.

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Hotel Highland

Iceland

Grade: Standard

Type: Hotel

Found in a stunningly remote yet easily accessible location, this single-storey hotel has 16 rooms, 4 family apartments and 4 suites, all decorated in a contemporary style.

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Hotel Cabin, Reykjavik

Iceland

Grade: Standard

Type: Hotel

Superb value for your money, this 252-room hotel is for guests looking for simple yet comfortable accommodation.

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Excursions

Other Information

Choice of Vehicles

We offer a wide range of rental vehicles for this holiday provided by the local Europcar franchise. Our long-standing relationship with them means that our clients enjoy many exclusive benefits including priority on the newest and best appointed vehicles available on the day.

Alternatively, consider renting a motorhome and use this itinerary as a route outline. You'll have complete flexibility on where you overnight.

iDiscover digital app

If you book any self drive in Iceland with us you will also get free use of our exclusive digital travel app, iDiscover, pre-loaded with your personalised itinerary. With 4G connectivity, the app allows you access to a vast travel directory featuring scenic wonders, 'must-visit' sites as well as hidden gems and activities.

How to Book
Call us on 01737 214 250 to discuss your plans or
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