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Self Guided Walking Holidays & Cycling Holidays


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Iceland's Scenic South Coast Drive and Hike Holiday
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Highlights

  • Explore the dramatic south coast of Iceland by car and on foot.
  • Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, filled with huge icebergs of turquoise hues.
  • Walk through the great rifts of the earth's crust at Thingvellir National Park.
  • The thundering waterfalls of Gulfoss, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.
  • Getting up close to the mighty Vatnajökull, the largest glacier mass in Europe.

Explore Iceland’s dramatic south coast on an action-packed drive and hike tour starting and finishing in the capital city of Reykjavik. Taking in glaciers, thundering waterfalls, lava fields, and hot springs this tour is a great introduction to the ’Land of Fire and Ice’.

Iceland’s quiet, scenic roads are a true pleasure to drive, with plenty of time allocated to getting on those walking boots to see Iceland at it’s best!

Enjoy the charismatic café-culture of Reykjavik, before exploring the Golden Circle trio of Gulfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area and Thingvellir National Park. Continue to Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, and then on to the mighty Vatnajokull glacier and Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, before returning to Reykjavik.

Read about journalist Fiona's experiences on the South Coast Drive & Hike tour in her blog posts Iceland: Myths, Magic & Magnificence, and 12 Must Sees in Southern Iceland.  This tour was also featured in an article in Scotland's Sunday Mail Too Cool for School.

Day 1: Arrive Reykjavik

Arriving at Keflavik International Airport,  you are immediately transported to other-worldly landscapes, as you travel by road through craters and lava fields to reach your hotel in downtown Reykjavik.


The vibrant, quirky city of Reykjavik is wonderfully cosmopolitan and easily explored on foot. Browse the many outdoor and handicraft shops and enjoy a delicious meal from one of the many fantastic seafood restaurants—we recommend the Arctic Char in particular!


Overnight: Reykjavik


Day 2: Golden Circle—Thingvellir, Gulfoss and Geysir

Head straight out into the countryside today towards the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir National Park. Enjoy a walk here through the great rifts of the earths’ crust—an amazing experience!


Continue to the geothermal area of Geysir, where great spouts of boiling hot water shoot up from the ground every 5 minutes.


Finish your day with a visit to the beautiful two-tiered Gulfoss waterfall, where the water often catches the sunlight to throw incredible rainbows across it.


Walk: 3hrs


Total Drive: Approx 190km, 3 hours


Overnight: Hveragerdi


Day 3: Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss Waterfalls

An action packed day today! Visit another two of Iceland’s most spectacular waterfalls today. At Seljalandsfoss take a walk behind the falls to experience the mighty power of nature up close. And walk to the top of Skogafoss falls for a different perspective.


Heading east you pass the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, where it is possible to do some snowmobiling—sure to get the adrenalin pumping and highly recommended!


Continue to Kirkjubaelarklaustur via the black sand beaches of Vik. On arrival enjoy a walk to the nearby “church floor pavement”  - a natural phenomenon formed by basalt columns.


Walk from Skogafoss Waterfall:  1.5-3 hours


Walk to Church Floor Pavement: 1.5 hours


Total Drive: Approx 205km, 3 hours


Overnight: Kirkjubaelarklaustur


Day 4: Skaftafell National Park

Today you drive through Eldhraun, a 565 km² field of lava covered in thick luxuriant moss—its like a scene from another planet!


Continue to Skaftafell National Park, part of the Vatnajokull National Park, on the edge of the immense Vatnajokull glacier. 


We recommend several walks at Skaftafell—from a short 3 hour walk to Svartifoss Waterfall to longer full day walks which overlook the glacial valley.


Another option would be to take a hike on the glacier —accompanied by an expert guide and with crampons on! (optional extra).


Walk: 3-8hrs, 250m-1000m Ascent/Descent


Total Drive: Approx 205km, 3-4 Hours


Overnight: Höfn


Day 5: Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Heading west, a short drive takes you to  Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon—one of Iceland’s most photographed places! A walk along the lagoon’s shoreline which is littered with shards of ice gives you views of the giant icebergs floating in the water. The colours range from pure white to shimmering hues of blue. You may even recognise scenes from movies such as Die Another Day and Tombraider which were filmed here.


Continue to Dyrholeay, a giant natural rock arch where puffins perch at certain times of the year.


Walk: 2-4 hours, 100m Ascent


Total Drive: Approx 280km, 4 Hours


Overnight: Vik


Day 6: Hveragerdi, Drive to Reykjavik

Continue towards Reykjavik, stopping off en-route at Hveragerdi for a long walk around visiting hot springs, bubbling mud-pots and fumaroles.


From here it is just a short drive back to Reykjavik, where you will drop off your car in the late afternoon.


Walk: 3-4 Hours.


Total Drive: 190km, 3 Hours


Overnight: Reykjavik


Day 7: Free Day in Reykjavik

Explore Reykjavik at leisure today. There are plenty of things to see and do. We recommend a whale-watching excursion from the harbour! (bookable locally). Or you can also take a longer walk around the city and Seltjarnes area. One of the most popular things to do is a trip to the famous Blue Lagoon, for a soothing dip in its geothermal waters. (bookable locally).


Overnight: Reykjavik


Day 8: Onward Travel

A transfer (included) will take you back to Keflavik International Airport for your flight home.

Accommodation

3 Night’s accommodation is included in a 3-star city hotel in Reykjavik. 4 Nights are in comfortable, countryside hotels and guesthouses. We have carefully chosen traditional countryside hotels which offer a warm Icelandic welcome, comfortable rooms and fantastic food! They are in spectacular locations and generally have great views of the surrounding countryside.


Alternative Accommodation

The hotels we normally use are detailed below but subject to availability we may accommodate you in alternative hotels/guesthouses of a similar standard.


Meals

7 breakfasts are included. You can pick up lunches during the day from many cafes or shops. All of the countryside hotels have a restaurant where you can have dinner as there are not usually many other options for places to eat nearby. Food is generally of a very high standard, and local specialities include Hangikjöt (a delicious smoked lamb dish), Saltifiskur (salted fish) and the delicious Arctic Char. For the more adventurous, there is also Hákarl (cured shark commonly accompanied by schnapps), only for the very brave!


Solo Walkers & Single Rooms

Single rooms are available on this trip and a supplement will apply. It is also available to solo travellers but prices are on a request basis.



 

 

 




Hotel Odinsve - Reykjavik

A stylish 50 room boutique hotel in downtown Reykjavik. They offer newly renovated rooms along with service with a smile. Their restaurant is a popular meeting place in Reykjavik and offers outstanding Icelandic cuisine..


 

 

 


 

 

 



Frost & Fire Hotel - Hveragerdi



Frost & Fire Hotel - Hveragerdi

A quiet hotel with amazing amenities and comfortable rooms. Access to their geothermal spa is included and their restaurant "Varma" offers "slow food" made with the finest local ingredients.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Hotel Klaustur - Kirkjubaejarklaustur



Hotel Klaustur - K'klaustur

57-room Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is a modern property and conveniently located for exploring the south of Iceland. You can relax on their sundeck or enjoy a swim in their neighbouring geothermal pool.


 

 

 


 

 

 



Hotel Volcano



Hotel Volcano - Vik

A small boutique hotel in beautiful surroundings of Myrdalur valley, just beneath the Katla glacier.


 

 

 

Time of Year and Availability

You can start this tour on any day of the week between the beginning of May and end of October. From June through to August is the most popular and best time to travel to Iceland due to the long hours of sunlight and the fact that the weather is at it’s driest and warmest then. This is also the best time for wild flowers. During this time,  the main tourist sights such as the most popular waterfalls will get quite busy but you shouldn’t notice it too much whilst on the walks or driving.


If you prefer a quieter experience, then we would recommend either May or September. The weather isn’t quite as reliable then but it is quieter, and the price also comes down during those months.


The accommodation in Iceland fills up extremely quickly for the summer months between June and August. For this reason, your accommodation may change according to availability and your itinerary may be adapted so that we can secure accommodation. It may also take up to 2 weeks to confirm your booking but we will try to confirm as quickly as possible for you.


Single Rooms & Solo Walkers

This trip is available to solo travellers but a supplement is applicable and is on request. Single rooms are also available on request and again a supplement will apply.


Grade & Terrain

We grade this tour as easy-moderate as the suggested walks are all optional. They are between 1—6 hours in length, and up to 500m ascent/descent (most are less than 200m ascent/descent.


Navigation, Route Notes & Maps

We provide detailed route notes and maps to allow you to navigate the recommend walks without any problems. Footpaths are not always clearly marked but with the above you should not have any issues navigating. Paths can be slippy and rocky underfoot, so a good pair of walking boots is essential.


Equipment

Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, lightweight clothes, waterproofs and a day pack.


Car Hire

We include Group B Car Hire from the morning of Day 2 up to the afternoon of Day 6. Group B Car Hire would be based on a Volkswagen Golf or similar and is suitable for 2-3 people with luggage. For parties of 4, we will automatically include an upgrade to a CAT N Car Hire (similar to a Skoda Octavia) and this is already included in the cost. For parties of 5-8 people, we will provide 2x CAT B for 5-6 people, and 2x CAT N for 7-8 people. If you choose, you can also upgrade to a CAT FG Car Hire which is similar to a Suzuki Grand Vitara 4WD.  Select this option when making your booking. Car hire includes unlimited mileage, VAT, CDW insurance, 1 additional driver, Pick up and Drop off fees. No insurance in Iceland covers the underside of vehichles and excesses can be expensive. For this reason we suggest you take out an excess reimbursement policy in advance of your arrival, or upgrade your insurance locally.  Fuel and oil are not included in the rental of your vehicle.


Travel Insurance

It is a requirement of booking this tour with Macs Adventure that you have suitable travel insurance which covers you for the activity, emergency evacuation and hospital care.


General Information:

The distances and ascent/descents are approximations of the recommended routes. Please be prepared by packing all necessary items, (for example, proper rain gear jacket and pants, sun hat, sunscreen). Your information pack has a detailed equipment list which includes standard walking gear such as good walking boots or shoes, warm and waterproof clothes or the cooler months and lightweight clothing for summer, and a day pack.


Getting to/from Iceland:

Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital city and located in the south west of the country.


Air - Fly into Keflavik International Airport, which is served by numerous airlines from UK, European and International destinations. Keflavik is just a 3 hour flight from the UK and just a 5 hour flight from Boston, with Icelandair and Wowair offering many direct flights from various US airports.


An included transfer will collect you from Keflavik Airport and take you to your hotel in Reykjavik, and you will also be collected and transferred back to Keflavik at the end of your holiday.

Included

  • 3 Nights at a 3* Hotel in Reykjavik
  • 4 Nights in countryside hotels and guesthouses
  • 7 Breakfasts
  • 5 Days Group B car hire (from Day 2 to Day 6)
  • Return transfers betweeen Keflavik Airport and Reykjavik accommodation
  • Road Map
  • Detailed pre-departure information pack
  • Route notes, maps and driving instructions
  • 24/7 support from our local partners and UK office

Excluded

  • Travel to and from Iceland
  • Lunches and evening meals
  • Drinks and snacks
  • Fuel and oil
  • Personal equipment
  • Mountain rescue
  • Optional activities
  • Travel Insurance

Extras

  • Additional nights before, during or after the tour
  • Single room supplement if required
  • Glacier Hike
  • Car Hire Upgrades

How far in advance do I need to book?

We recommend booking as far in advance as possible for this trip as Iceland is extremely popular, especially over the summer months of June, July and August. The accommodations fill up extremely quickly. However, we will always try our very best to accommodate your plans.

How fit do I need to be?

We grade this tour as easy-moderate as the suggested walks are all optional. They are between 1—6 hours in length, and up to 500m ascent/descent (most are less than 200m ascent/descent.

What personal equipment do I need?

You will need good walking shoes/boots, comfortable walking clothes, waterproof jacket and trousers, a daypack and warm clothing. We supply a detailed packing list with your information pack. 

When is the best time of year?

From June through to August is the most popular and best time to travel to Iceland due to the long hours of sunlight and the fact that the weather is at it’s driest and warmest then. This is also the best time for wild flowers. During this time,  the main tourist sights such as the most popular waterfalls will get quite busy but you shouldn’t notice it too much whilst on the walks or driving.
If you prefer a quieter experience, then we would recommend either May or September. The weather isn’t quite as reliable then but it is quieter, and the price also comes down during those months.

If you would like to do some whale-watching you will need to travel between May and September.

What is driving like in Iceland?

For most visitors driving in Iceland is sheer pleasure with miles and miles of open and traffic free roads, along with stunning scenery. At times, gravel roads,  high winds, dust and rain can make driving more challenging than at home but we provide comprehensive advice on driving conditions in our pre-departure information packs. Your rental vehichle will be left hand drive and driving in Iceland is on the right hand side of the road.


REVIEW SNAPSHOT®

by PowerReviews
macs adventureIceland's Scenic South Coast: Drive & Hike
 
4.6

(based on 7 reviews)

Ratings Distribution

  • 5 Stars

     

    (4)

  • 4 Stars

     

    (3)

  • 3 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 2 Stars

     

    (0)

  • 1 Stars

     

    (0)

100%

of respondents would recommend this to a friend.

Pros

  • Once in a lifetime experience (5)
  • Well organised (5)
  • Fun (4)
  • Great accommodations (3)

Cons

No Cons

Best Uses

  • Holiday (6)
  • Trying something new (5)
    • Reviewer Profile:
    • Avid adventurer (3), World traveller (3)

Reviewed by 7 customers

Displaying reviews 1-7

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5.0

Iceland itself is the star of its own show

By Balkaneer from Manchester

from Manchester

About Me Avid Adventurer

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Extensive information provided
  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
  • Well Organised
  • Well structured itinerary

Cons

  • Local prices expensive

Best Uses

  • Holiday

Comments about macs adventure Iceland's Scenic South Coast: Drive & Hike:

Iceland itself is the star of its own show. The scenery is spectacular. There is quite a lot of driving, but the roads are very good and navigation easy (although I used my phone SatNav to help get out of Reykjavik at the start and end of the trip). There is VERY comprehensive information provided to help get the best from the trip. One needs to be flexible to work around the variable weather and fit in some hikes - fairly short ones, given the daily drives between overnight stops. I don't like driving long distances, but in this case, it was a pleasure and not just 'getting from a to b'. The accommodation was fine: very comfortable with good breakfasts. Perhaps not a highlight, but local service was very polite and helpful. Eating out is very expensive so needs to be taken into account. Macs pre-departure help was excellent, flexing the itinerary to meet our needs. A relatively expensive trip, but well worth it.

 
4.0

A perfect way to explore Iceland

By Philippa

from Midlands

About Me World Traveller

Verified Buyer

Pros

  • Once in a Lifetime Experience
  • Well Organised

Cons

    Best Uses

    • Holiday

    Comments about macs adventure Iceland's Scenic South Coast: Drive & Hike:

    A great introduction to Iceland. The information from MacAdventure was extremely comprehensive, if a little overwhelming at first. Feel it could be better organised but we managed to work through it and would prefer too much information to too little. Driving and walking routes were very clear and easy to follow. Accommodation was varied from lovely at Fire and Ice to a little more basic further out. The breakfasts were substantial and we made the most of them to fill up for the day. We took a cool bag which we filled with snacks from the supermarket for in the day. Evening meals were very expensive nothing really under £30 for a main course. We would have liked the car on the first evening so we could have had an earlier start on the first day. There is quite a lot of driving but the scenery was so interesting we didn't mind and it meant we saw a lot and walked in some very different places. Plan for all weathers as we had very warm days and really cold wet days but the itinerary allows you to change things around a bit to make the most of the weather. Overall a great drive and walking tour, very varied days with great memories from bathing in a hot river, seeing a bay full of icebergs and watching puffins 10 feet away in the pouring rain. Highly recommended

     
    4.0

    beautiful sites

    By Bernie

    from South Carolina

    About Me Occasional Traveller

    Verified Buyer

    Pros

    • Fun
    • Good accommodations
    • Good use of time

    Cons

      Best Uses

      • Trying Something New

      Comments about macs adventure Iceland's Scenic South Coast: Drive & Hike:

      Pleased with the value as Iceland is very expensive. But compared with a previous macs adventure to wales we felt less guided while following the suggested itinerary.

       
      5.0

      One of the best self guided tours I've undertaken

      By Kip

      from Vancouver

      About Me Enjoy moderate activity in an outdoor setting, World Traveller

      Verified Buyer

      Pros

      • Great Accommodations
      • Once in a Lifetime Experience
      • Well Organised

      Cons

        Best Uses

        • Great outdoor activity
        • Holiday
        • Trying Something New

        Comments about macs adventure Iceland's Scenic South Coast: Drive & Hike:

        Perfect amount of time. Great selection of accommodations and very helpful associates in the host country

        (2 of 2 customers found this review helpful)

         
        4.0

        Great flexible way to see Iceland

        By TR

        from Belgium

        About Me Avid Adventurer

        Verified Reviewer

        Pros

        • Fun

        Cons

          Best Uses

          • Holiday
          • Trying Something New

          Comments about macs adventure Iceland's Scenic South Coast: Drive & Hike:

          My husband and I mostly chose active holidays (either through Macs or do it ourselves). Having hiked in other areas that are more difficult (i.e. Switzerland, Scotland) we found this to be 'luxury' hiking and a great holiday for those who want to try out an active holiday for the first time or want an easier walking holiday.

          We did all the hikes listed by Macs in the brochure and additional ones that were in the books (provided by Macs). Paths were well marked and boggy areas usually have duckboards covering them - so that is why we call it luxury hiking. I was five months pregnant and wore leggings (as my hiking pants didn't fit anymore) and that was enough for the hikes and temperature in June.

          We liked the flexibility, as we chose what to do each day and used the weather as our guide to hike first in the morning or drive first and then hike. The lodging was okay, we had booked a bit late so we didn't stay at some of the hotels listed on the website. They were all okay and in some places we didn't eat at the hotel as the reviews for their dining weren't very good.

          My husband and I enjoyed the holiday. It is relaxing to concentrate on one area of the country and see different landscapes. The only part that was tiring was the the time in the car. But with enough stops and hikes we were able to break it up as to not spend long stretches driving.

          This was a great way to see part of Iceland!

          (1 of 1 customers found this review helpful)

           
          5.0

          A magical experience

          By FionaOutdoors

          from Glasgow

          About Me Avid Adventurer

          Pros

          • Fun
          • Great Accommodations
          • Once in a Lifetime Experience
          • Well Organised

          Cons

            Best Uses

            • Holiday
            • See Amazing Sights
            • Trying Something New

            Comments about macs adventure Iceland's Scenic South Coast: Drive & Hike:

            At first the packed itinerary looked exhausting but it wasn't at all. The highlights were perfect for seeing as we travelled by car on beautiful and empty roads.
            We loved the choice of daily walks and added our own for longer days of hiking from the two walking guidebooks provided.
            There is so much to see and do in Iceland that we are sure we would have missed some of the sights if we had not had our day-by-day schedule to look at.
            It was great having the last day in Reykjavik, too.
            Iceland should be on everyone's bucket list and we now want to go back again!

             
            5.0

            true to the experience, just great

            By Saina

            from Maryland, USA

            About Me World Traveller

            Pros

            • Fun
            • Great Accommodations
            • Once in a Lifetime Experience
            • Well Organised

            Cons

              Best Uses

              • Holiday
              • Relaxation
              • Trying Something New

              Comments about macs adventure Iceland's Scenic South Coast: Drive & Hike:

              I can't imagine how this trip could have been any better! You did a terrific job – the itinerary and planning were very well thought out and executed. It was perfect for the variety of ages in our group. We often had an option to go on a longer walk or choose a more difficult one. Glad to have the two books!! Brilliant. Add it all up and this is a BIG Thank You!

              The only negative: the hire car company didn't know they were supposed to pick us up! We lost a lot of time on the first day.

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