Iceland Arctic Coast Way Road Trip
An action-packed, eight-day Arctic Coast Way road trip adventure takes you off the beaten track to explore the breath-taking coastline of North Iceland. Wild, wonderful and welcoming; the Arctic Coast Way gives you a taste of life close to the Arctic Circle, in all its natural beauty. Totally unmissable.
Itinerary at a Glance:
- Experience Iceland's wild beauty on a river rafting trip through a glacial canyon
- Enjoy an exhilarating whale watching tour in Dalvík
- Take to the skies for an awe-inspiring sightseeing flight over the Kverkfjoll glacier
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Day 1: Rest, Rejuvenation and Relaxation in Reykjavík
Your Icelandic adventure begins when you land in Keflavík, on the outskirts of Reykjavík. Once you've landed, you'll be met by a member of the team who will help you catch your transfer to Blue Lagoon.
This world-famous spa, set in the middle of a giant lava field, is the perfect place to start your Iceland experience. Take a soak in the rejuvenating, mineral-rich, geothermal sea water, coloured milky-blue by the silica, mineral salts and algae, before enjoying a silica mud mask and drink at the swim-up bar, while taking in the otherworldly views.
Once fully-pampered, you will be driven to your hotel, where you have the rest of the day to explore Reykjavík at your leisure.
Day 2: Icelandic Arctic Coast Way Road Trip Begins
After your quick Reykjavík pit-stop, our team will help you make your transfer to Reykjavík's domestic airport, before catching the 25-minute internal flight to Akureyri.
Once you've landed, pick up your hire car, which will be ready and waiting for you, ready to start your Arctic Coast road trip.
This morning, you'll have time to explore Akureyri - the energetic 'Capital of the North', scenically positioned on the shore of one of the longest fjords in Iceland, the Eyjafjörður. Take to the road and drive along the western edge of the Eyjafjörður, pass the picturesque village of Hjalteyr - all colourful wooden huts and dramatic mountain views - towards Dalvík. This seaside village is the gateway to the fantastically named Troll Peninsula, and boasts several scenic hiking trails, an ornithological reserve and a beer spa, where you can soak in a beer bath while helping yourself to the draught beer - sounds like a match made in heaven.
As tempting as it may be, try not to sample too much at the spa as we have something special lined up for you. Take to the waters in a traditional wooden Icelandic boat, for an afternoon of whale watching. On this incredible tour you'll also get the chance to try your hand at some sea fishing, and even taste some of the freshly caught fish.
Back on dry land, continue your self-drive discovery towards the northern tip of the penisula to Ólafsfjörður and on to Siglufjörður, a colourful harbour surrounded by majestic mountains, before reaching your hotel for the night.
Day 3: Take to the Water
After a delicious breakfast, jump back in your car for more self-drive adventure. If you fancy yourself as a bit of a fishing fanatic, make a stop at the Siglufjörður Herring museum, before driving west. Continue weaving around the rugged mountains and deep valleys that shape the Troll peninsula, towards Hofsós, where you can take a dip in the unique open-air infinity pool overlooking the ocean. Fear not, the thermal waters mean this is a relaxing, rather than bracing, swim.
Finally, you'll arrive in the Skagafjördur fjord, famous for its horse breeding and choirs - yes, eclectic just about covers it. The Glaumbær folk museum, situated on a renovated 19th century farm, is worth a visit, and for some adrenaline-filled fun we've laid on an adventurous rafting tour through a magical glacial canyon. There's even the chance to stop at one of the geothermic hot springs to enjoy the steam and warm up your fingers and toes. Or, for thrill-seekers, there's the option to do some cliff jumping if you're feeling brave.
Continue your drive to your final destination for the day, Lake Mývatn, an amazing, and unusual, landscape made up of pseudocraters, explosion craters, recent lava flows and cauldrons of boiling mud, all scattered around a beautiful lake, bursting with birdlife.
Here you'll find your accommodation for the next two nights.
Day 4: Landscapes and Lagoons in Mývatn
With a hearty breakfast to set you up for the day, it's back in the hire car to check out what the local area has to offer.
Drive out to Húsavík and around the Tjörnes peninsula to reach the sleepy, little village of Kópasker, where you'll get just a small taste of what life on Mélrakkaslétta peninsula, one of the most remote outposts of Iceland, is really like.
Once you've had a wander, it's time to retrace your steps, back towards Ásbyrgi. This giant horseshoe-shaped canyon - which, legend has it, was created by the hoof of Odin's eight-legged steed, Sleipnir - is a great spot for hiking if you fancy stretching your legs. Carry on your drive down the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon and its many, beautiful waterfalls, to the most powerful of them all, the Dettifoss. This waterfall is a force of nature and believed to be the most powerful in Europe. It certainly ticks the 'wow-factor' box. Finally, cross the desert-like landscapes of the northeast highlands to return to Mývatn and your afternoon activity.
Hailed as the Blue Lagoon of the North - but certainly less touristy - the Mývatn Nature Baths make a welcome break from all that adventure. Relax in the restorative powers of the alkaline lagoon, while taking in the magnificent views over nearby volcanoes and lava flows, before a quick turn in one of the two steam baths, built directly on top of a geothermal area. There's a popular café, with a beautiful terrace just perfect for sunny days, if all that relaxation has built up an appetite.
Once you're finished, it's back to your hotel for the night.
Day 5: More of Mývatn’s Natural Beauty
After all the excitement of the past few days, today is your chance to enjoy a slower pace - starting with a leisurely breakfast before checking out of your hotel. Spend the morning revisiting Mývatn's many natural wonders - or give in to temptation and head back for another soak in the lagoon.
In the afternoon, you'll take to the skies, with a breath-taking sightseeing flight over the Highlands and around Kverkfjoll glacier. This unique opportunity to see the beauty of Iceland's natural wonders from above, is something you'll never forget. An utterly awe-inspiring one and a half hours.
Back on land, you'll drive to Egilsstaðir, and your hotel for the night.
Day 6: Seal Watching and Horse Riding in Húsey
Put on some of your best driving tunes as your Arctic Coast Way road trip continues this morning, as you cruise along one of the most stunning panoramic roads, leading to the village of Vopnafjörður.
Reach the lava plateau of Hellisheidi, for a fantatsic view across the black sand beach of Héraðsfloí bay, then carry on towards Húsey. Home to one of the largest colonies of seal in Iceland, Húsey is a peaceful area, rich with wildlife - and the best way to see it is on horseback. Our guided tour takes you to the ultimate seal-watching spots, where you can see these playful animals as they relax on the riverbanks and sandbanks. Spoilt with the beautiful surroundings, as well as plenty of birdlife and even reindeer, this is a wonderful opportunity to get close to nature.
After playing cowboy, it's up to you how you spend the rest of your day. The area has lots to offer - if you're in the mood for walking, drive to Bakkagerði village and the East Fjords, where the wild sea and mountains make for a spectacular landscape to explore on foot. Alternatively, for a taste of real Icelandic countryside, drive around Lagarfljót lake to Hallormmsstaður National Forest, the biggest forest in Iceland, and hike to the picture-perfect Hengifoss waterfalls. Whatever you decide, after all that exertion it's time to head to your hotel and relax, ahead of your last full day in Iceland.
Day 7: Countryside to City
With one last day to soak up everything Iceland has to offer, it's back in the hire car to visit the charming village of Seyðisfjörður. Quirky, creative and very welcoming, this small village packs a big punch. There's a thriving art scene here, so spend a laid-back morning wandering around the galleries, then stop at a café for a bite to eat and a spot of people-watching. In the afternoon, leave the village and its elegant Norwegian wooden houses, to drive back to Egilsstaðir.
There's just time to return your hire car, before boarding the internal flight back to Reykjavík. A member of our team will greet you to make sure you catch your transfer to your hotel for the night.
Day 8: Home
And just like that, your Iceland Arctic Coast Way fly-drive adventure has sadly come to an end. Enjoy your final Icelandic breakfast, before catching your transfer to Keflavík international airport for your flight home.
Charlotte H is our expert for this itinerary and, as a seasoned traveller, has the inside track on the most memorable adventures.