Driving in Iceland is very easy. Every day is a Sunday drive through landscapes characterized by waterfalls, geysers, volcanoes, black sand beaches and otherworldly steaming lava fields.
Despite the name, “ice” only covers about 10% of the land, but still represents the largest glaciers left in Europe. Icelanders are proud of their close ties to nature, and dedicated to preserving this natural wealth through responsible conservation. Iceland is the least populated country in Europe. Almost 80% of the country is uninhabited, and much of its terrain consists of plateaux, mountain peaks, and fertile lowlands.
Day 1-3: Arrive at Keflavik airport which is located about 40 minutes southwest of Reykjavik. Perhaps you will want to stop in Reykjavik for breakfast before heading off to the magical Snæfellsnes peninsula, a two hour drive from Reykjavik. Believed by many to be one of Earth’s seven major energy centers, the Snæfellsjökull glacier can be seen in the distance while driving the peninsula.
Additional day can be added to itinerary for an evening stay in Reykjavik to explore the city.
While visiting Snaefellsnes, activities to choose from include lava cave tour, hiking, snowmobiling to the glacier and horse back riding. Be sure to take the scenic easy hour hike on the coast from Arnarstapi to Hellnar.
There are a few choices for lodging in the area.
Option 1: Hotel Budir, a luxury hotel set on a beach on the edge of a lava field near the Snaefellsnes glacier, offers an intimate, family-run atmosphere, great service and a renowned restaurant.
There are views of the glacier or bay from almost everywhere, vintage-style sofas and lamps in the public areas, plus framed old photos on the wall, a working fireplace and magazines and books to read during your downtime. The restaurant has long had a justifiably stellar reputation. The adjoining bar is very welcoming and has a great selection of whiskeys as well as beers, wines and cocktails.
Option 2: On the north side of the highly scenic Snaefellsnes Peninsula is, Hotel Egilsen, a converted historic house at the heart of the fishing town of Stykkisholmur. The small hotel preserves its classic heritage while enhancing it with the best of modern design. Providing intimate lodging, healthy food, small library and the renowed COCO-MAT beds made out of organic and natural materials. The hotel has 10 bedrooms.
Option 3: Also located right next to the harbor in the town of Stykkisholmur is Hotel Fransiskus, a small and modern 21 room hotel with plenty of history. In the 1930’s, a group of Catholic sisters came to Stykkisholmur to build a monastery, a Catholic chapel and a hospital for the whole region. Each room has been furnished with all the latest amenities with magnificent views over the harbor, the center of the town, the mountains and towards the magnificent bay Breiðafjörður.
There is no restaurant in the hotel but restaurants are close by.
Day 3-6: After enjoying a few days on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, head one of two directions for the next three evenings.
Option 1: Any traveler looking for an authentic Icelandic experience should head 2.5 hours south to Frost and Fire, a boutique hotel along the Varma River. Steam rises around the outdoor pool and geothermally heated hot tubs make this setting an other-worldly terrain.
Activities in the area will include mountain biking, hiking and relaxing in the hotel’s pool & hot tub, warmed by geothermal water. Unlike many geothermal areas in Iceland, Reykjadalur is relatively accessible and the hike through the valley is not terribly difficult. The river that flows through the valley is quite long, so you can typically find a spot all to yourself to take a dip.
There are a vast array of scenic drives within easy access of the hotel. An itinerary with map will be provided by Cairn Travels.
Option 2: From Snaefellsnes Peninsula, drive two hours east to another dreamy location in Iceland. Hotel Husafell, a four-star resort in west Iceland is the only in the country that is fully self-sustainable and powered by hot springs, making it one of the world’s most unique lodges.
From the hotel you can visit the country’s largest lava cave, Vidgelmir, and see Europe’s third largest glacier, Langjokull. After a visit to the beautiful waterfalls in the area, soak in the geothermal water of the Krauma Nature Baths, a 25-minute drive from the hotel.
The hotel offers mountain bikes for you to explore the rugged terrain and remarkable beauty of the area.
Take a stunning hike through remote Icelandic wilderness ending with a geothermal soak in pools nestled in a magnificent highland canyon.
Day 6: For your last evening in Iceland, choose from three hotel options closer to the airport for your return flight tomorrow.
Option 1: Indulge in an evening surrounded by a dramatic landscape that’s rich in geothermal mineral water. The hotel has its own smaller private lagoon, surrounded by lava landscapes and a mere 10-minute walk away from the Blue Lagoon thermal springs. Entry to the Blue Lagoon (value $50pp)is included. Airport is a 20 minute drive in the morning.
Option 2: Spend the evening in Reykjavik at Hotel 101 occupying a historic 1930s building in downtown, overlooking harbor views. The drive to the airport is 45 minutes.
Option 3: Located 5 minutes from the airport and only 20 minutes from the Blue Lagoon is a newly renovated, four-star boutique hotel on two floors located above a small marina in Keflavík, Hotel Berg.
Day 7: Return flight home