12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Immerse yourself in the incredible beauty of Iceland in winter, on this 12-day self-drive tour around the country's ring-road. This tour is perfect for those who wish to see as very much of Iceland possible, and do not fear the winter roads.

As you are in the driver’s seat for the entire journey, you'll get to set the pace of your adventure. You will be provided with a schedule after booking, which will instruct you on how to reach your accommodation each night, but the route you will take to get there is entirely up to you.

To help ensure that you have the holiday that you have always dreamed of, you will receive a personal itinerary when you book, which will inform you of all the potential places that you could see. It provides you with a perfect blend of classic, famous sights, such as Lake Mývatn and the Geysir Geothermal Area, and unique, lesser known gems where you can enjoy the nature far from the crowds.

What’s more, a visit to the Blue Lagoon is included and there are several tours you can add on to your trip during the booking process such as ice caving and glacier hiking. You can, therefore, pack your twelve days with both sightseeing and adventure.

The Icelandic winter nights are completely dark; you will thus have plenty of chances to hunt for the magical and elusive Northern Lights. While this is a great opportunity, Iceland’s dark winter roads are notoriously icy; it is therefore only advised that this tour is booked by those who have a capable, confident driver in the group they are travelling with, preferably with experience in these conditions.

If you have winter driving experiences and want to pack as much into your twelve days in Iceland as possible, then this self-drive itinerary promises to meet every one of your needs. Book now to reserve your space. Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Oct. - Apr.
  • Duration: 12 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Hiking, Snowmobile, Sightseeing, Northern lights hunting, Dog sledding, Hot Spring Bathing, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Moderate
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajokull, Mývatn, Dimmuborgir, Snæfellsjökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Hraunfossar, Skagafjörður, Snæfellsnes, Sólheimajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Stykkishólmur, Hellnar, Reykholt, Borgarnes, Barnafoss, Arnarstapi, Skútustaðagígar, Krafla, Egilsstaðir, Siglufjörður, Blönduós, Námafjall geothermal area, Hofsós, Kirkjufell, Reynisdrangar, Hvítserkur, Mývatn Nature Baths, Hvammstangi, Djúpalónssandur, Vík, Trollaskagi, South Coast, Diamond Beach, Ring Road
Pickup information:
  • Starting time : Flexible

Included:
  • 11 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 12 days (Toyota Rav4 4x4 SUV/Jeep or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW and SCDW insurance for car rental

  • GPS System

  • Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available)

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Gas

  • Additional activities (can be added during booking)

  • Lunch and dinner


What to bring:
  • Hiking Shoes

  • Warm Clothes

  • Camera

  • Driver's License

  • Swimsuit & Towel


Good to know:

Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with a one-year long on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time.

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximise your chances to see them if weather allows.

It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you. Please note that though the tour is available to book from October to April, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.

This self-drive is set to take place at wintertime. Conditions in Iceland can vary greatly during that season; snow and ice are commonplace, and Iceland has limited daylight hours. Please consider your ability to drive in winter conditions before booking this tour. If you feel insecure about driving in these conditions, we recommend a package tour instead.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


After landing at Keflavík International Airport, you will pick up your vehicle, and the rest of the day is yours. You could use the opportunity to visit the world-renowned Blue Lagoon Spa or explore the geothermal areas, lava fields, and volcanoes of the Reykjanes Peninsula. Or, you could head straight to Iceland’s charming capital, Reykjavík, to explore its galleries, boutiques, and bars.

Spend the night in Reykjavík.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 2 - The Golden Circle


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


On day two, you will head out onto the most popular tourist trail in Iceland: the Golden Circle. The three sites along this route are world-renowned, and for good reason.

Þingvellir National Park is the first of the three National Parks you will drive to, and the only one that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The reason for this is its history, being the original site of what is now the world's longest-running, ongoing Parliament. It is also, however, located right between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, leading to some spectacular geology.

At Þingvellir, you can opt for a snorkelling tour in Silfra fissure. The water from the spring here is incredibly pure, creating some of the clearest visibility on earth, and drysuit equipment makes the experience not only possible but very enjoyable.

Next on the route is the Geysir Geothermal Area. This is home to the active geyser Strokkur, which erupts five to ten minutes to heights of over twenty metres. There are also many hot springs and mud-pools to admire in this scenic valley.

The final site of the Golden Circle is Gullfoss Waterfall. This massive feature is immensely powerful, thundering down a canyon in two tiers. There are multiple viewing platforms, allowing you to admire and photograph it from several different angles.

You can elect to take a snowmobiling tour from Gullfoss; this exhilarating experience will take you up Langjökull glacier, and across the otherworldly surface of an ice-cap.

While the places listed above are the main three sites of today, you can reference your itinerary to find other places of note in the area, such as Kerið Crater Lake and the Secret Lagoon at Flúðir.

You will spend the night near Hvolsvöllur.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Budget

Hellishólar Guesthouse is a 2 star hotel located a few kilometres east of Hvolsvöllur, heading towards Þórsmörk. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Comfort

Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Hvolsvöllur Quality

Hotel Rangá is a 4 star hotel situated between the towns of Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - South Coast to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


On day three, you will travel across the length of the South Coast. There are many places to see today, so make sure you rise early.

The first features of note are waterfalls. The two most iconic of these are Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. The former has a very classic shape and structure but is notable for its width and power. It is possible to approach it right to where the water is falling. Seljalandsfoss is famed for its unusual formation, however; it is one of few waterfalls that it is possible to walk all the way around, due to a depression eroded into the cliff it falls from.

On your way onwards to Vík, you will encounter some mighty glaciers, where you can opt for an exciting tour; an exhilarating snowmobile ride across Mýrdalsjökull.

Next along the route is Reynisfjara Beach, a beautiful stretch of black-sand coastline. It boasts of some fascinating lava formations, such as Dyrhólaey rock arch and the Reynisdrangar sea stacks.

It is highly recommended that you go a little off route to the Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Once a National Park in its own right, it is surrounded by dramatic peaks and glacial tongues and filled with forests, lava fields, and hiking trails. One trail which comes well-recommended will take you to Svartifoss waterfall, which falls amongst a series of unique, hexagonal basalt columns. It is also possible to take a glacier hike in this area, which you can opt for during booking.

After marvelling over the sights here, you will continue your journey and head to Jökulsárlón. It is a glacier lagoon, filled with enormous icebergs that have calved away from a tongue of the mighty Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest ice cap. Watching them is mesmerising, made all the more enjoyable for the seals that call the area home. A visit to the nearby coast is also worthwhile, as it is here that these bergs wash on the shore after reaching the ocean; as such, it is called the Diamond Beach.

Finally, you will retire either near Jökulsárlón, or a little further east at Höfn.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Gerði Guesthouse is located about 13km east of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in main building. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4 star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Hofn to Egilsstadir


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


On day four, prepare to head south-east to the little-visited but wondrous East Fjords, where you will have an awe-inspiring ride between the mountains and ocean. One of Iceland’s most remote regions, there is a wealth of untouched beauty here that is simply breathtaking.

Before taking off, however, if you are travelling between November and March, you can opt for an ice caving tour in Vatnajökull glacier. These unique natural caves are formed when the summer rivers create tunnels and cave systems under the massive glacier. In winter, the rivers retreat, leaving the caves accessible to exploration. This is a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

Once you are ready to head to the East Fjords, the road will take you past two of Iceland’s most dramatic peaks, Eystrahorn and Vestrahorn. These spots are particularly popular amongst avid photographers, so keep your cameras ready as you pass them. The settlement of Djúpivogur also makes for an interesting stop; it has a modern, outdoor art display along the edge of its coast called ‘the Eggs of Merry Bay’ that warrants a look.

Once at your destination of Egilsstaðir, you can head to the coast to witness the fjords that make this area so renowned. One such place you could go to is Borgarfjörður Eystri, where there are many available hiking trails.

You will spend the night in Egilsstaðir.


Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Budget

Grái Hundurinn Guesthouse is located in a forested area 25km south of Egilsstaðir, and a 15 minute walk from Atlavík bay. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi available in nearby sister hotel. Breakfast not included.

Egilsstaðir Comfort

Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3 star hotel located in a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir but also right by the lake. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Egilsstaðir Quality

Icelandair Hotel Hérað is a 3 star hotel centrally located within Egilsstaðir town. Bright, private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included, with focus on local ingredients.


Day 5 - Egilsstadir to Myvatn


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


On your fifth day, prepare to head to the North. You don’t have to leave the East Fjords right away though, while still around Egilsstaðir you could also visit the Lake Lagarfljót. In spite of its serene appearance, it is said to hold a monstrous wyrm, legends of which far out-date references to its cousin in the Loch Ness. Beside the lake is Iceland’s largest forest, Hallormsstaðaskógur.

You will leave the East Fjords by travelling Route 1 through the interior of the country, where you can expect to see some magnificent Highland views. When inland, look out for wild reindeer; they only live in this part of Iceland.

You will then head on to your first destination of the North and one of its most popular locations, the incredible Lake Mývatn region. Once at Mývatn, you can start to explore its many sights. As you will have all day here tomorrow, however, it may be nice to take a break from constant sightseeing and travelling to bask in the healing waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths.

You will spend your night by the lake.


Preferred accommodation by Mývatn

Mývatn Budget

Eldá Guesthouse is situated in Reykjahlíð village right by Lake Mývatn. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and shared kitchen. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Mývatn Comfort

Hotel Gigur is a 2 star hotel on the southern side of Lake Mývatn, right next to Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Mývatn Quality

Hotel Laxá is a 3 star hotel on the southern side of Lake Mývatn, with great views over the lake. Modern private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 6 - Day at Myvatn


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


Today, you will explore the diverse sites of the Mývatn area. The lake itself is beautiful, particularly due to the odd geological formations that rise from its waters, however, it is but one of many local attractions.

You can also visit the lava formations at Dimmuborgir, otherwise known as the ‘Dark Fortress’, which are both fascinating and haunting. You can walk along the edges of the pseudo-craters Skútustaðir, and up the Höfði Peninsula, for some beautiful panoramic views. There are also many geothermal hot-spots in the area, most notably around Mount Námafjall.

Fans of the HBO Series Game of Thrones will particularly enjoy the fact that most of the scenes north of ‘the Wall’ are filmed around here. You can even visit the cave that contains one of the franchise’s love scenes, the hot-spring lava tunnel of Grótagjá.

If you want to add a bit more fun into your day, you can opt for a dogsledding tour. The kennel at Heiði welcomes visitors, and the fluffy Huskies are more than willing to take you for a ride in the beautiful countryside.

You will spend another night in Mývatn.


Day 7 - Myvatn to Akureyri


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


You will continue along the North today, through some spectacular scenery. Your next destination is Akureyri, known to the locals as the capital of the North.

The drive over here can take less than two hours, but there are plenty of detours to be made en route. You could head to the town of Húsavík, or stop at the Laufás old turf farm as you enter Eyjafjörður fjord. The waterfall Goðafoss is also well worth a stop.

Once you reach the minuscule capital, you can explore its robust cultural scene, and head out to dinner at one of its numerous renowned country restaurants.

You will spend the night in Akureyri.


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Budget

Acco Akureyri is centrally located in Akureyri. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and a shared kitchen. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Akureyri Comfort

Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Akureyri Quality

Icelandair Hotel Akureyri (Deluxe room) is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri, right next to the swimming pool. Private bedroom with a living room area and a private bathroom. Great views from the 5th floor. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 8 - Capital of the North


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


On day eight, you remain based in the capital of the North, Akureyri. Feel free to explore this beautiful town of approximately seventeen thousand people, with its impressive church, a botanical garden, several museums, shopping streets and many bars and restaurants. If you want to immerse yourself in nature, however, you could opt to go to the town's ski slopes or the nearby Kjarnaskógur woods.

You could also drive along the Tröllskagi peninsula, which is home to numerous villages and valleys. This journey will take you by the fjord Eyjafjörður, through the quaint settlements of Ólafsfjörður and Dalvík.

You will spend the night in the capital of the North.


Day 9 - Akureyri to Blonduos


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


On your last day of travelling the North, you will aim for your destination of the town Blönduós. You will pass through impressive valleys and see the mountains of the north in all their power. You'll continue through the vast fjord of Skagafjörður as well, and can even visit the tiny settlement of Hofsós, where you can overlook the magnificent cliffs and serene ocean from the village’s incredible swimming pool known as the Infinity Pool.

You will then continue to the settlement of Blönduós where you will spend the night.


Preferred accommodation by Blönduós

Blönduós Budget

Blanda Hostel is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, lounge and kitchen. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Blönduós Comfort

Hotel Blanda is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland with a view towards Blanda river and the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast is included.

Blönduós Quality

Hotel Laugarbakki (Superior room) is a 3 star hotel situated in the countryside south of the town Hvammstangi with a view over nearby river. Spacious private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outside hot tubs and an indoor gym. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 10 - Blonduos to Snaefellsnes


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


On day ten, get ready to head to the one and only Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The area is only a few hours away, but your personal itinerary will direct you to many fascinating places en route. For example, you could visit the Seal Centre at Hvammstangi.

The greater Snæfellsnes area has boundless marvels to behold so that you can save some of its explorings for the following day. The most notable feature, however, is Snæfelljökull, the mighty glacier and volcano on the tip of the peninsula. This incredible landmark is the central point of the Snæfellsnes National Park, and has inspired writers and artists for generations; most notably, it was the setting for both Halldór Laxness’s novel ‘Beneath the Glacier’ and Jules Verne’s novel ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth’.

You will have a full day of exploration, before retiring for the night in a settlement on the peninsula, such as in Stykkishólmur.


Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes Budget

Hof Guesthouse is situated on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, just a few hundred metres from the beach. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, living room and kitchen. Free access to a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Snæfellsnes Comfort

Fosshotel Stykkishólmur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Stykkishólmur. Spacious hotel with a view towards the bay. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Snæfellsnes Quality

Hotel Búðir is a 4 star hotel on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, with a view towards Snæfellsjökull glacier and to the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 11 - Snaefellsnes to Reykjavik


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


Once at the peninsula, you will find an even greater wealth of things to see; it is often called ‘Iceland in Miniature’ due to the incredible diversity that can be found here. Notable sites include Kirkjufell, Iceland’s most photographed mountain; the seal colony on the beach near the farm of Ytri Tunga; the haunted lava fields of Berserkjahraun lava field; and the Djúpalónssandur black pebble beach.

Your destination for the journey’s end is Reykjavík City. En route, you could detour to different sites of West Iceland, such as the historical towns of Borgarnes and Reykholt, the waterfalls Fossatún, Barnafoss, and Hraunfossar, and geothermal areas such as the Deildartunguhver hot spring.

You can also opt for one or two last adventures; venturing inside a lava tube in Víðgelmir Cave, or by entering a stunning, man-made ice tunnel in Langjökull Glacier. Both options ensure geological wonders to behold. 

After a day packed with sightseeing and adventure, you will return to Reykjavík for the night and enjoy its cultural downtown scene once more.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 12 - Departure


12 Day Winter Self-Drive Tour | The Ring Road of Iceland with the Snaefellsnes Peninsula


For your departure day, you will need to deliver your car back to Keflavík airport in time for your flight. If you leave Iceland late, feel free to use the day exploring Reykjavík, or easing away tensions built from your long and action-packed trip in the Blue Lagoon.


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available hotels and guesthouses at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies among locations and availability is highly limited. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. The sooner you reserve the higher quality accommodation we can provide. Press choose a date at the top to find availability.

Budget

Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Comfort

Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.

Quality

Rooms with a private bathroom in a four star hotel or superior rooms in a quality three star hotel at the best locations in Iceland. Breakfast is included.


Car

The vehicles offered for our winter self drive tours are 4WD jeeps or SUVs to counter Icelandic winter conditions. They are new or current models, maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, and SCDW insurances. You can upgrade to an automatic model free of charge. All cars have winter tyres.

Comfort 4X4

A medium sized jeep or SUV with 4WD (4x4) fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt travel, such as Toyota Rav4 or similar.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized jeep with 4WD (4x4) such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all traveling.


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