Relaxed 4-Day Northern Lights Self-Drive Tour of Iceland with Day Trips from Reykjavik

The northern lights in Iceland lighting up a snowy scene.
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Description

Summary

Tour starts
Keflavík International Airport (KEF), Reykjanesbær, Iceland
Starting time
Flexible
Duration
4 days
Ending place
Keflavík Airport (KEF), Reykjanesbær, Iceland
Difficulty
Easy
Available
Sept. - Apr.
Ending time
Flexible
Minimum age
None

Description

Discover the highlights of Reykjavik, the South Coast, and the Golden Circle at a relaxed pace on this winter self-drive tour in Iceland. People visiting Iceland who want to hunt for the northern lights and enjoy a self-guided tour of the country's most popular attractions will love this four-day itinerary.

This self-drive adventure is ideal for those visiting Iceland in winter who want the freedom and flexibility to travel at their own pace. You'll receive a detailed itinerary with this top-rated package and 24/7 access to a personal travel agent to help you with questions.

Instead of planning your own Icelandic travel itinerary, we'll do the work for you. We'll ensure you can visit the most popular places in Iceland, including the South Coast, the Golden Circle, and even the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. You'll also get great tips to help maximize your chances of seeing the northern lights during your visit.

If something comes up and you need to change your plans, don't worry. You can cancel this self-drive winter tour for free up to 24 hours before your scheduled departure and receive a full refund.

This four-day trip is ideal for travelers who want to discover the best of Iceland at a relaxed pace. With the freedom of a car, you can choose what attractions you visit and how long you spend at each place. There's no need to wait for other members in a large tour group if you're ready to move on.

Having your own car also gives you plenty of time to go northern lights hunting in the evenings without spending extra money joining a tour. Witnessing the aurora borealis is a highlight for many travelers to Iceland. This stunning natural light display lights up the night sky as it dances before your eyes.

The tour comes with three nights of accommodation in downtown Reykjavik. Staying in one place means you won't have to repack your bag each morning before you depart for the day's activity. Instead, you can enjoy a home away from home.

Spend a day exploring the incredible natural attractions of the Golden Circle, including Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area, and the Gullfoss waterfall. You can also visit the "crown jewel of Iceland," the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

Head along the South Coast to see black-sand beaches, picturesque coastal villages, and dramatic glacier-capped mountains.

If you're seeking an adrenaline rush, you can add some exhilarating experiences to your trip. Snorkel between two tectonic plates at the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir, go snowmobiling, hike atop a glacier, or climb into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano.

With plenty of natural hot springs in Iceland, you can unwind after days of adventure and let your body soak in the nutrients in the mineral-rich water.

Take advantage of this four-day winter self-drive tour of Iceland and maximize your chances of seeing the aurora borealis. Check availability now by choosing a date.

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Included

Three nights of accommodation (different levels available, with breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels — more detailed information below)
Car rental for 4 days, in a comfortable new vehicle (upgrades available)
CDW insurance included for all vehicles
Free Wi-Fi in vehicle
Detailed travel itinerary
Personal travel agent available 24/7
Taxes

Activities

Glacier Hiking
Snorkelling
Snowmobile
Horse Riding
Sightseeing
Northern lights hunting
Hot Spring Bathing
Cultural Activity
Helicopter
Ice Caving
Self drive

Daily itinerary

Day 1
A footbridge over the pale-blue waters of the Blue Lagoon spa in Southwest Iceland.

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland and Travel to Reykjavik

On the first day of your four-day self-drive tour, you'll arrive in Iceland and travel to Reykjavik, with an optional trip to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.

When you land at Keflavik International Airport, your rental car will be ready to collect. When you're ready to go, you can drive away from the arrivals gate and start exploring the beauty of Iceland.

Depending on your flight time, you might have time to start sightseeing as soon as you arrive. Drive around the Reykjanes Peninsula to discover the geothermal volcanic activity the region is known for.

Popular attractions include the Krysuvik geothermal area and the Fagradalsfjall volcano, which erupted in 2021 and 2022, dramatically changing the landscape.

Before traveling to Reykjavik, you can also visit the world-renowned Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. This spa is in the middle of a moss-covered lava field and is known for its healing waters, vivid azure waters, and luxurious treatments.

If you add a ticket to the Blue Lagoon to your self-drive tour, your travel consultant will arrange it according to your flight time. If you have no time to visit today, don't worry. You'll still have plenty of opportunities to visit during your stay in Reykjavik.

When you're ready, travel northward toward the Icelandic capital and check into your accommodation in downtown Reykjavik. From here, you can easily explore the city's many restaurants, museums, cafes, and boutique shops.

Once it gets dark, drive out of the city to search for the northern lights. The Grotta lighthouse is a great location, far away enough from the city's light pollution to allow a clear view of the lights when conditions are favorable. You'll have three more nights to hunt for the northern lights, so don't panic if it's cloudy or the aurora forecast doesn't look good.

After an exciting first day, you can get a good night's sleep in your Reykjavik hotel or guesthouse.

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Day 2
The Strokkur geyser in the Haukadalur valley erupting as the sun starts to set.

Day 2 - The Golden Circle

Day two of your four-day winter tour lets you explore the famous Golden Circle sightseeing route.

The Golden Circle has three main attractions: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area in the Haukadalur valley, and the Gullfoss waterfall.

Most people traveling on this route stop at Thingvellir National Park first (but you can easily reverse the order if you prefer). This park is the site of Iceland's first parliament, the Althingi, formed in 930. It's also a beautiful natural space with incredible scenery.

Travelers looking for adventure in Iceland should book a snorkeling tour in the Silfra fissure at Thingvellir. The Silfra fissure is a stunning natural gorge between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates that are slowly pulling apart. The valley is filled with crystal-clear glacier water, and it's an incomparable place to try snorkeling or diving.

Please note that Silfra snorkeling participants need to be comfortable in the water and be able to swim.

From here, continue your drive to the Geysir geothermal area. This is home to the world-famous Geysir, a geyser that gave its name to all others worldwide. Geysir itself isn't very active these days, but the nearby Strokkur geyser erupts every few minutes, shooting jets of water high into the air.

Next up is the Gullfoss waterfall, one of the most iconic sights in Iceland. It's a two-tiered waterfall on Hvita, a glacial river from the Langjokull glacier. Water cascades more than 100 feet (about 32 meters) over two levels in a dramatic display.

If you want to explore attractions off the beaten path, you can visit the Kerid crater, the Fridheimar tomato farm, or the Secret Lagoon (a lesser-known sibling of the Blue Lagoon spa). Other optional tours include a snowmobile ride on the Langjokull glacier or a horseback riding tour.

As you're spending today in the Golden Circle area, you might want to have dinner nearby and stay out to hunt the northern lights. Thingvellir National Park is a perfect location for this. Witnessing this stunning natural light display will surely be one of your trip's highlights.

Return to your accommodation in Reykjavik for a good night's sleep.

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Day 3
The Reynisfjara black-sand beach, covered in snow in the winter months.

Day 3 - South Coast of Iceland

Discover the most famous sights on the South Coast of Iceland on day three of this self-drive winter tour.

After a hearty breakfast at your accommodation in Reykjavik, you can start the drive along the South Coast to explore the highlights of this spectacular area. There's plenty to see and do along this route, and we recommend going as far as Vik.

Vik is a picturesque coastal village and one of the southernmost points in Iceland. You can enjoy spectacular ocean views and try some Icelandic food here. It's also close to the Reynisfjara black-sand beach, one of the best-known beaches in Iceland. Walk along the volcanic sands and see how their colors contrast with the white snow and ice.

From here, you'll also get a breathtaking view of the Reynisdrangar sea stacks and the Dyrholaey cliffs.

Other sights you shouldn't miss today include the DC plane wreck, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls, and the Solheimajokull glacier. You can even book a glacier hiking tour atop Solheimajokull for an exhilarating experience that lets you enjoy incomparable views.

Alternatively, you can add an ice-caving excursion at the Katla ice cave. Ice caves are a magnificent natural phenomenon, forming as glacier ice melts and refreezes. An expert guide can take you into a cave to see the bright blue ice and the fascinating shapes it makes.

Drive back along the South Coast to Reykjavik after an early dinner in Vik, and keep your eyes peeled for the northern lights. You might be lucky to see the aurora borealis appear over Skogafoss waterfall. It's an unforgettable experience and a fantastic photo to show your friends and family.

After a full day of adventure, you'll return to Reykjavik in time for bed. Or, if you still have some energy, you can make the most of the city's bustling nightlife. Reykjavik has excellent bars and pubs, live music nights, and friendly locals ready to welcome you.

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Day 4
Colourful buildings in Reykjavik city center, next to the Lake Tjornin.

Day 4 - Final Day in Reykjavik

Get ready to say goodbye to Iceland on the final day of your self-drive tour.

Check out of your hotel after breakfast and get ready to go. Depending on your flight time, you might visit the Blue Lagoon today. This is an ideal way to unwind before you head to the airport. Relax in the warm, mineral-rich waters and reflect on the incredible adventure you've had in the land of fire and ice.

If your flight is later, you can also spend more time picking up souvenirs for your loved ones back home or exploring the sights of Reykjavik. A visit to FlyOver Iceland (a 4D cinematic simulation ride) will surely give you a final thrill as you "fly" over some of Iceland's most beautiful attractions.

Alternatively, you can enjoy a real flight experience by taking a helicopter tour to a geothermal area near Reykjavik. This incredible tour will let you finish your trip to Iceland on a high, offering spectacular views and a thrilling helicopter ride.

If your flight time allows, you could venture out of the city to visit the interior magma chambers of a dormant volcano. This tour, only available if you're visiting before the end of October, is a fantastic way to learn about the hidden volcanic power of Iceland.

When it's time to go, return your rental car to Keflavik International Airport and board your flight. We wish you a safe flight home and hope to welcome you back to Iceland soon.

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What to bring

Warm, waterproof clothing
Hat, gloves, and a scarf
Sturdy hiking shoes
Driver's license
Luggage
Passport
Refillable water bottle
Camera and charger
Swimsuit and towel

Good to know

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

The northern lights are a natural phenomenon and, therefore, cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximize your chances of seeing them if weather conditions allow. In cases of extreme weather, certain activities can be canceled at short notice. If this happens, we'll assist you with rearranging or replacing the activity. Any potential price difference will be refunded to you.

Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkeling. Participants also need to be comfortable in the water and be able to swim.

Please note that this tour is available to book from September to May, but the ice caves are only accessible between November and March. Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the winter. We recommend bringing shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers, which you can purchase in many supermarkets and gas stations around Iceland.

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Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary.

Super budget level accommodations will be arranged in hostel dorm beds. For other levels, bookings for one person will be arranged in single rooms, and bookings for two or more people will share a twin/double or triple room(s).

Teenagers and children will be arranged in the same room with parents. If additional room(s) is needed, additional costs will incur.

Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation 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. If our preferred partners are fully booked at the time of your booking, we will find another suitable accommodation for you of similar level.

Please note that not all locations offer quality level accommodation. Comfort level accommodation will be arranged at those particular locations, which is reflected in the quality level upgrade price.

We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.

Super Budget

Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

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

Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour.

All our vehicles are new or current models, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP) insurance. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars.

All levels come equipped with free Wi-fi. You can enjoy unlimited data with the Wi-Fi device, which can be connected to up to 10 devices at once. The car rental will provide 24-hour roadside emergency services.

Age requirement for each level can be found below. For all levels, the driver must possess a valid driving license for at least one year before the date of the rental.

We recommend Budget 4X4 level for summer driving and Comfort 4X4 for winter driving.

Super Budget 2WD

A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.

Budget 2WD

A basic 2WD vehicle, such as a Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.

Budget 4x4

A basic 4WD (4X4) jeep or SUV such as a Dacia Duster or similar. Comfortably fit up to 3 travellers with 2 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and decent for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.

Comfort 4x4

A medium-sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as a Toyota Rav4 (automatic) and Suzuki Vitara (manual), or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travelers with 3 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.

Luxury 4x4

A large 4WD jeep such as a Toyota Land Cruiser or similar. Comfortable for up to 4 travellers with 4 large pieces of luggage. Fit for nearly all travelling. Has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.

Van

A large 9-seater van such as a Mercedes Benz Vito or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travelers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.

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