Ask the experts: An Iceland self-drive tour

Our panel give their tips and practical advice on an autumnal Icelandic self-drive tour.

By National Geographic Traveller (UK)
Published 19 Jul 2014, 11:00 BST, Updated 1 Jul 2021, 11:55 BST

Q I want to take a self-drive tour around Iceland this autumn — a first-time visit. Is this the best time to go, and what tips would you give in terms of practical advice for driving and places to visit?,

Clive Stacey, co-founder, Discover the World:

Autumn is a great time to travel, with fewer visitors, plenty of daylight and every chance of seeing the Northern Lights. For your first visit, I'd recommend the south and west, where you can access some of Iceland's most celebrated sights. Many of our holidays take in the famous Golden Circle route, as well as a few hidden gems. Icelanders drive on the right and roads are well maintained, but you may see snow in October, so a 4WD is required. Our self-drive clients are loaned an iDiscover iPad, containing a personal itinerary with a wealth of daily things to see and do, and including apps for checking local weather and driving conditions. Seven nights B&B with hire car from £599 per person.

Chris Peacock, contributing editor, National Geographic Traveller (UK):

This year marks the 40th anniversary of the completion of the 'route one' ring-road — an 832-mile road circumnavigating the whole country. It's particularly popular with visitors in the summer who drive the route, surrounded by epic scenery, and stop off at farm stays along the way. While booking flights, car hire and overnights separately might afford greater flexibility, tour operators often have better access to accommodation through fly-drive packages. I'd recommend Extreme Iceland's four-day tour, taking in the glacial lagoon Jokulsarlon, Gullfoss waterfall and Strokkur geyser, with time to visit the geothermal spa at the Blue Lagoon. Four nights' hotel accommodation and car hire, from £635 per person.

Nikki Rickett, Iceland specialist, Macs Adventure:

A well-paced 'drive and hike' tour is ideal for first-timers to Iceland who want the freedom of the open road as well as lots of time to stretch their legs. Enjoy easy driving along the ring road on the south coast, where you're near glaciers, hot springs, waterfalls and volcanoes, plus a stunning iceberg lagoon. Arm yourself with a set of suggested walks — you see so much more on foot than from a car window. Travelling in late September means good daylight hours, beautiful 'soft' light and lower prices. Also, you may see the Northern Lights, plus you'll have the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle pretty much to yourself. Macs Adventures' Iceland's Scenic South Coast tour — an eight-day trip available year-round — is a super introduction to Iceland, with relatively easy walking. From £545 per person, B&B including car hire.

Published in the May 2014 issue of National Geographic Traveller (UK)


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