4 Day Northern Lights Winter Self Drive Tour of the Golden Circle, Glaciers & Black Sand Beaches
Immerse yourself in the quiet and frozen nature of Iceland as the Northern Lights dance above with this winter self-drive tour. Those wanting to witness the wealth of beautiful natural sights on the Golden Circle route and the diversity of the South Coast landscapes in just four days should grab this chance now.
This self-drive tour allows you to visit some of the country’s most beautiful attractions at your own pace. You will see frozen waterfalls, snow-topped mountains, black sand beaches, and the Northern Lights without worrying about bus schedules or impatient tour guides.
All accommodations will be sorted out for you before your journey, and you will receive a personal itinerary guiding you there each night. This itinerary will also tell you about some of the region’s most popular destinations, as well as gems hidden in lava fields or under glaciers.
If you wish, you can visit the world-famous Blue Lagoon, where you can unwind in the spa’s geothermal waters with a silica mask and a complimentary drink. You can customize your itinerary and add more activities to your Trip. Options include a glacier hike, a snowmobile ride, a snorkeling tour, a horse-riding tour, and even a trip to an authentic ice cave.
So don’t hesitate. Fill your stopover holiday in Iceland with sightseeing, adventures, and fun, and book this 4-day winter self-drive tour now! Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland
Your car will await you at Keflavík International Airport when you arrive in the country. Once you’ve got the keys, it is time to make your way to Reykjavík City, where you will find your accommodations for the night.
On your way to Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It is located in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere. If you add the Blue Lagoon, it will be arranged according to your flights. If there is no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added to another day. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you. There is still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula if you have extra free time.
Once in Reykjavík, you can settle into your accommodations and start exploring the city. Dotted around are numerous restaurants, cafés, and bars. You can get a taste of the country through the food and try some traditional treats like ‘harðfiskur’ stockfish, ‘hangikjöt’ smoked lamb, or the dairy product ‘skyr’.
Day 2 - Winter Wonders on the Golden Circle
Leave the city behind today, and start your adventure on the road. If you'd like to begin the day by creating unforgettable memories, you can take a short drive out of the city to a horse farm where you can meet and ride the friendly Icelandic horse. These creatures are both gentle and intelligent, so this tour is suitable for beginners and expert riders alike.
Begin your sightseeing journey by visiting the Golden Circle. The first stop is Þingvellir National Park, the birthplace of Iceland's parliament. Viking settlers would gather here to settle disputes and create the land laws, which, in 930 AD, led to the creation of the world's longest ongoing parliament, Iceland's Alþingi.
Not only is Þingvellir a historical treasure, but it is a geological wonder as it is not located on the North American nor the Eurasian tectonic plates, but in a valley between. As the plates move, they tear open the earth, creating huge fissures in the surrounding landscape.
One of those fissures is called Peningagjá or' coin fissure' as people throw coins in it for luck, but the most famous one is Silfra. The crystal-clear waters of Silfra have made it a popular spot for snorkelers. Today, you'll have the option of taking a snorkeling tour where you swim in the glacial water that fills the fissure.
Continuing onwards, you'll move to Geysir geothermal area. Aside from being steeped in history, this place is the home of bubbling mud pools of unusual colors, hissing steam vents, hot springs, and erupting geysers! The most active geyser is Strokkur which erupts every 5-10 minutes, reaching a height of around 66 ft (20m).
The last part of the Golden Circle is the thunderous waterfall Gullfoss. Here you'll find power and beauty rolled into one as this double-drop waterfall tumbles down 105 ft (32m) into an ancient canyon. Visiting in the winter, you'll see the surroundings covered in ice, appearing frozen as in awe of the violent water.
If you are looking for excitement today, you can take a tour from Gullfoss waterfall to Langjökull glacier, where you race across the white expanse on a snowmobile, zipping past snowy hills with the mountain air in your lungs and adrenaline surging in your veins.
At the end of the day, make your way to the town of Hvolsvöllur, where you'll find your accommodations for the night. If the sky is clear of clouds, you can search for the beautiful Northern Lights before going to bed.
Day 3 - Glacier Adventures on the South Coast
Today, you’ll explore the wonders that line the South Coast of Iceland. The day will be filled with glaciers, waterfalls, black sand, spectacular ocean views, and adventures.
Head east to your first attraction, the magnificent Seljalandsfoss waterfall. The days are dark in Iceland during the wintertime, and if you set out early, the sun might not be up. But don’t worry, Seljalandsfoss is lit up in the winter with strong lights that create a sense of drama and mystery around it.
From there, you’ll move on to another equally impressive waterfall, Skógafoss. This one is much wider than Seljalandsfoss and has a more classic shape, tumbling down cliffs of around 197 ft (60m) with a width of 82 ft (25m). If the sun is up by now, you might see a rainbow or two forming in the cascade’s mist.
As you travel between these two falls, the glacier volcano Eyjafjallajökull will be visible in the north. Then, further along, the mighty Mýrdalsjökull glacier will start to appear. You can stop at Mýrdalsjökull’s outlet glacier, Sólheimajökull, where you can view the unique landscapes created by glacial erosion and volcanic eruptions.
At Sólheimajökull, you can opt for one of two tours so you can get a better view of the glacier. You can explore the massive ice cap on a glacier hike, where a knowledgeable guide will lead you past deep crevasses and ash-covered peaks. Or, if you missed it the day before, you can go on a snowmobile tour.
Nearby is the village of Vík. This is a great place to stop and relax before your journey back to Reykjavík. Vík sits on the banks of the black sand beach of Reynisfjara, known for its hauntingly beautiful scenery and treacherous waves. Surrounding the beach are cliffs made of columns that form strange geometric patterns in the rock walls, and out in the ocean rise the massive sea stacks of Reynisdrangar.
As this is a self-drive tour, you are in charge of the itinerary, so you decide which of these amazing sites you’ll visit first. If you are looking for an exciting way to start the day, you can head straight to the village of Vík in the morning to take a tour of an authentic ice cave in Mýrdalsjökull glacier. Afterward, you can drive back to Reykjavík, stopping at these mesmerizing sights mentioned above.
Day 4 - Reykjavik City and Departure
Spend the day getting to know Reykjavík city before you head to the airport to catch your departing flight. Just make sure that you arrive in good time in Keflavík to return your vehicle and check in.
For those who have a later flight and choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today, you will finish off your stay unwinding before you head to the airport. This is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters as you look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice. If your flight is later, there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik. If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
If you are in a sightseeing mood, you can visit the architectural wonders of Hallgrímskirkja church and Harpa Concert Hall, see the historic Parliament building, and visit City Hall to look at a 3D map of Iceland where you can try and spot all the places you just visited in the past days.
You could also organize admission to two of the country's most popular exhibits, the Whales of Iceland and FlyOver Experience.
When it is time to leave, you'll drive again through the moon-like lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula to Keflavík International Airport. Have a nice flight, and we hope to see you soon.
What to bring
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.
Some optional activities might require you to have a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkeling or diving.
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximize your chances to see them if the weather allows.
It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is canceled. If your chosen activity is canceled, 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 the ice caves are only accessible from October to March each year.
This self-drive is set to take place in 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.
Note that Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the wintertime. We recommend you bring shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers. The covers can be purchased in most supermarkets and gas stations around the country.
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.
Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A large 9-seater van such as a Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD manual, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), 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.