Epic 3-Day Winter Tour of the Golden Circle and South Coast with Ice Caving at Jokulsarlon
See Iceland’s top attractions over three days, and go ice-caving near the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon on this memorable Golden Circle and South Coast tour. Travelers keen to discover the country’s best sites, from waterfalls to geothermal areas, beaches, and glaciers, should book this small-group tour now.
This exciting multi-day tour begins with a pick-up at a nearby bus stop or hotel in downtown Reykjavik. Then it’s time to depart the city and travel around the Golden Circle, the country’s most famous sightseeing route.
The Golden Circle consists of three major sites, Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall, and the Geysir geothermal area. These natural wonders offer a spectacular introduction to Iceland’s diverse and beautiful scenery.
Each is unique and stunning in its own way. Thingvellir is a fascinating site steeped in history and geological wonders. Gullfoss is one of the country’s most picturesque and powerful waterfalls, and the Geysir geothermal area features an impressive geyser that shoots high into the air every 5-10 minutes.
Standard Golden Circle tours cover these three sites. However, today you’ll visit a fourth attraction, the Kerid crater. You can walk to the top and around the crater, then peer into the gorgeous turquoise lake inside - a site you won’t want to miss.
After an excellent first day exploring, you’ll stay at a three-star hotel in Reykjavik or near the Golden Circle, with breakfast included.
Day two takes you along the South Coast, a region famed for pristine waterfalls and black-sand beaches. Today’s highlights include the Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, and Gljufrabui waterfalls, the Reynisfjara black sand beach, and the Dyrholaey rock arch.
You’ll get a magnificent winter-only experience in the evening if the conditions are right. Your knowledgeable guide will check the aurora forecast, and if it’s ideal, you’ll see the northern lights dance overhead from your South Coast hotel.
After a delicious breakfast, your group will enjoy a third day of sightseeing. Today you’ll check off some major bucket list items, such as seeing the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and experiencing the excitement of ice caving nearby.
Jokulsarlon is one of the country’s most breathtaking sites. Massive icebergs float in the lagoon and present an ever-changing landscape. Although you might expect the ice to be white, it sometimes appears black or a brilliant blue.
You’ll also visit Diamond beach, where giant ice chunks drift ashore. Other day-three highlights include an ice-caving experience, the phenomenal scenery at the Fjadrargljufur canyon, and the Skaftafell nature reserve.
After an unforgettable three days of exploring unbeatable attractions, your driver will take you back to Reykjavik. You can bring one carry-on bag.
Don’t miss the chance to see Iceland’s top sites, including the Golden Circle, South Coast, and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, on this three-day small-group tour. Check availability now by choosing a date.
Day 1 - The Golden Circle and Kerid Crater
On the first morning of your three-day tour, your driver will pick you up from a Reykjavik bus stop or downtown hotel. Then it’s time to head into the countryside to discover the Golden Circle attractions, which form the country’s most popular driving route.
First up is the Thingvellir National Park, famed for being the only place you can walk between two continents globally. The Eurasian and North American tectonic plates are moving apart a little more each year, so you can ponder this fascinating phenomenon as you stroll.
Thingvellir is also where Althingi, the world’s longest-surviving parliament, formed in 930. On top of its geological and historical importance, it’s a beautiful place to appreciate the natural surroundings.
Next, you’ll visit the Geysir geothermal area, named after the Great Geysir, which lies dormant. Rest assured that you’ll get plenty of action here, however. The Strokkur geyser erupts every 5-10 minutes, spraying water 49-66 feet (15-20 meters) into the air but sometimes reaching double that height.
The final Golden Circle attraction is the Gullfoss waterfall, also called the Golden Falls. You’ll be blown away by its power and beauty, and you can capture gorgeous photos from different angles. An ice and snow-covered landscape add an extra element of magic to its setting during winter.
You’ll also see the Kerid crater today, a spectacular attraction to top off your first unforgettable sightseeing day. A short hike takes you to the top, where you can marvel at the gorgeous crater lake. Its turquoise waters freeze in the depths of winter, but if it’s not icy or snowy, you can safely walk down to it.
After a brilliant first day, your driver will take you to a three-star hotel that includes breakfast, in Reykjavik or near the Golden Circle. Enjoy a relaxing evening, and see if you can spot the aurora borealis when the sky darkens.
Day 2 - South Coast Waterfalls and Beaches
Day two begins with breakfast at your hotel. Then your group will hit the road, heading to the beautiful South Coast, a stunning area known for its waterfalls and beaches. You’ll see three breathtaking waterfalls today, Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, and Gljufrabui. Each offers excellent opportunities to marvel at nature’s beauty and capture superb photographs.
Seljalandsfoss has a cavern behind it and a path encircling it. You can walk around it and marvel at its splendor from every angle. Ensure you wear waterproof gear and boots with good grip to enjoy the experience fully.
Skogafoss is a similar height to Seljalandsfoss, at around 200 feet (60 meters). It has an impressive width of approximately 82 feet (25 meters), and its immense power is comparable only to a few other waterfalls around the country.
Gljufrabui is a lesser-known hidden gem nestled behind a cliff and tumbling into a narrow canyon. It’s a magical place overlooked by the average traveler, and you’ll be glad you got to appreciate its beauty.
Next, it’s time to visit Reynisfjara, a world-famous black-sand beach. It’s renowned for its towering cliffside basalt columns and dramatic sea stacks jutting from the ocean. With its jet-black sand and waves crashing on the shore, it’s a breathtaking landscape to behold.
Another highlight today is the Dyrholaey scenic reserve. You’ll love the scenic vistas down to the ocean and the striking volcanic rock arch, an excellent photography spot.
After a second brilliant day packed with amazing attractions, finish by seeing if you can spot the northern lights. Your South Coast accommodation is in an excellent location for viewing the lights when conditions are optimal.
Seeing the aurora borealis tops the memories list for many winter travelers to Iceland. As you gaze up at the colorful, star-filled sky, you’ll know it’s the perfect end to your day.
Day 3 - Jokulsarlon, Diamond Beach, Ice Caving, and More
On the final day of your sightseeing tour, you’ll discover more diverse natural landscapes, topping off your multi-day experience to ensure you’ve covered all the top sites.
After a hearty breakfast, your guide will take you further east along the South Coast, allowing time to stop at the Fjadrargljufur canyon and the Skaftafell nature reserve. Both are known as areas of immense natural beauty and offer hiking opportunities. You may be able to see these picturesque landscapes covered in a blanket of snow, depending on when you visit.
Next up is the awe-inspiring Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Marvel at the towering icebergs broken from the Breidamerkurjokull outlet glacier, part of the mighty Vatnajokull ice cap, as they lie amid a stunning setting of glacial meltwater.
You’ll be mesmerized by Jokulsarlon, from the scale of the icebergs to their fascinating colors. They could be white but often have streaks of black and sometimes appear a brilliant blue.
You might even see seals basking on icebergs or swimming through the water. It’s possible to spot them year-round here.
You’ll also see the nearby Diamond beach, where giant ice chunks float away and wash up on shore. It’s surreal to stand in this fairytale place where diamond-like ice shimmers against the beach’s black sand.
Ice caving is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and today you’ll get to try this magnificent activity. Your guide will take you to an ice cave close to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, accessible only in winter.
No previous experience is necessary, and your guide will ensure you have any required safety equipment. Then you’ll step inside to witness the breathtaking colors and ice formations, something you’ll never forget.
After your ice-caving adventure, you’ll begin the long but scenic drive back to Reykjavik. Your driver will drop you back at one of the city’s major hotels or a downtown bus stop, where the tour finishes.
What to bring
Good to know
Requests for hotel room upgrades are subject to availability. Extra luggage you cannot take on the tour can be stored in Reykjavik for a small fee.