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Highlands and Lowlands

from £2888 excluding flights

  • 14 nights
  • Jul-Aug
Home Destinations Nordic Europe Iceland Highlands and Lowlands


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Experience the wild beauty of the Highlands including spectacular Askja

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Hike in the East Fjords and Vatnajokull National Park

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Drive a 4WD vehicle on the Kjolur route

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Discover pseudo-craters and mud pools at Lake Myvatn

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Take a soak in the hot river at Laugarvalladalur

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Experience the ice wonders of Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon

Why this trip...

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Tailor made

This itinerary can be tailor made to suit you and is intended to give you a guideline of what is possible in a given timeframe

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Well-researched route

We've put our years of experience into creating this well-paced itinerary that includes the places we know you'll enjoy

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This holiday showcases places and experiences away from the usual tourist routes


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 spectacular Kjolur Route and the legendary drive to Askja.

Driving in Iceland’s Highlands

You will have plenty of time to become familiar with your high-clearance 4WD vehicle before tackling F35 – the Kjolur route – a 168km track which traverses between two glaciers – Langjokull and Hofsjokull, passing through a mountain range and weaving around some of the highest points in Iceland. 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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Fly to Keflavik Airport and collect your 4WD rental vehicle 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 at Hotel Ork.

Enjoy 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.

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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.

Originally used as a horse trail between North Iceland and the ancient midsummer assembly at Thingvellir, the Kjolur 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. Before reaching the north overnight is at Highland Base Kerlingarfjoll – a place to relax and unwind in the heart of a Iceland.

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Reaching the north, and returning to the surfaced main road on the way to the Lake Myvatn area for a two-night stay at Guesthouse Dimmuborgir allowing plenty of time to immerse yourself in the collection of natural wonders known as the Diamond Circle. 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.

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.

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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. Overnight at Laugarfell Accommodation and Hot Springs.

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 at 1833m, located near the Laugerfell hot springs. Overnight at Lake Hotel.

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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. Spend two nights at Hotel Blafell.

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.

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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. Spend two nights at Hotel Skaftafell, allowing plenty of time to fully appreciate Jokulsarlon and explore various hiking trails.

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.

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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.

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

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.

Accommodation Options

We have selected properties for this holiday as referenced in the itinerary. However, with a wide choice of accommodation in Iceland we can adapt to your preference and mix and match different grades and styles where available from hotels, farmstays and self-catering apartments to private villas and countryside properties.

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  • edu iecland hotel cabin twin bedroom
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Prices and Departures

Price from £2888 excluding flights

Airfares vary widely and are quoted separately to the holiday price, starting from around £250pp return with Icelandair and British Airways, though may be lower with Play or EasyJet. We'll provide the best fare available at the time of enquiry, which tend to be cheaper the earlier you book.

UK Airports with flights direct to Iceland are Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Luton, Bristol, Manchester, Glasgow and Edinburgh. We can also arrange flights from non-UK destinations. Discover more »

Iceland Volcano Disruption Protection
We are proud of our excellent reputation for looking after our clients, without question. Should the unexpected occur our team of dedicated Travel Specialists are on call 24/7 to make any necessary alternative plans at no cost to you.

What's Included

  • Accommodation in rooms with private bathroom
  • Daily breakfast
  • Car rental throughout with unlimited mileage
  • No charge for additional driver
  • 24 hour emergency assistance from our team during your holiday
  • No surcharge guarantee
  • Full financial protection

This itinerary starts from around £2,888 per person, based on 2 sharing a room with private bathroom in standard hotels, and rental of an intermediate vehicle.

Prices may vary depending on departure date and booking date, as well as any changes to the included components. The final cost of a tailored holiday will be based on the level of accommodation, size of vehicle, included activities, travel season, and how far in advance it is booked. We will confirm the exact price for your holiday in your individual quotation, based on your chosen travel dates and inclusions.

* Choice of Vehicles

We would always recommend a 4WD for winter travel, but many clients also prefer the greater security and comfort that a larger vehicle provides year round – upgrade your vehicle from as little as £10 per person per day.

  • We can offer a wide range of rental vehicles for this holiday – our team will be happy to talk you through the options and provide a quote for the most suitable category based on your individual requirements.
  • Our long-standing relationship with the local Europcar franchise means that our clients enjoy many exclusive benefits, including priority on the newest and best appointed vehicles available.

As Standard, Complete Piece of Mind

We’re listening. We always care what our fellow travellers think and love building strong customer relationships so we continuously focus on improving future experiences based on feedback. How incredible for the last three years we have received the Feefo Platinum Award.

The World's Great. Pass it On

To mark our 40th anniversary, we've launched our Education Bursary Fund to help disadvantaged school children experience the wonders of travel. A percentage of revenue from every holiday booked will go into the bursary fund to pay for at least 40 students to join one of our school trips abroad.