Winter 5-Day Northern Lights Self-Drive Tour of Iceland’s South Coast with Ice Caving
Embark on a five-day winter adventure in Iceland and discover the highlights of the South Coast. Travelers who want to see as much as possible in a short time should book this tour to enjoy a guided two-day South Coast excursion and self-guided sightseeing in Reykjavik and the Golden Circle.
Organizing your own tour of Iceland in winter can be tricky, as there’s so much to see and do in a short space of time. Choose this self-drive tour with a two-day minibus tour of the South Coast to let us do the hard work for you.
This top-rated tour is perfect for people who want to combine a guided tour of South Iceland with the flexibility and freedom of a self-drive tour. You’ll receive a personalized travel itinerary and access to a personal travel agent 24 hours a day, meaning you can contact them anytime during your trip.
Your adventure will let you discover the best attractions and activities of Iceland’s winter landscapes. You can bathe in the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, explore a natural ice cave inside a glacier, and visit stunning natural attractions like waterfalls and impressive black-sand beaches. You’ll also see an incredible spouting geyser, visit two national parks, and have some downtime in Reykjavik.
The northern lights appear in Iceland every winter, and you’ll have four nights to try and spot the breathtaking natural display. We’ll provide you with tips to help you maximize your chances of seeing the lights.
If that’s not enough, you can add extra activities when booking to make your Icelandic getaway even more special. As you journey around the sights of the Golden Circle sightseeing route, enjoy an adrenaline rush with a snowmobiling tour across a glacier, go horseback riding in a geothermal valley, or snorkel between two continental plates.
The adventure begins with pick-up at Keflavik International Airport. You’ll arrive at a select hotel in downtown Reykjavik for your first night before embarking on a two-day guided tour of Iceland’s South Coast.
Once you’re accustomed to the weather and roads, you’ll receive a rental car for your penultimate day to explore the Golden Circle at your own pace. Explore the volcanic landscapes of Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area, and the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall.
We’ll provide detailed plans and guides to each location on your trip so you can rest assured that you’re making the most of your time in Iceland. If your plans change, you can cancel your trip for free up to 24 hours before your scheduled departure and receive a full refund.
Reserve now to guarantee your spot on this five-day winter tour, perfect for people who like a combination of comfort and adventure. Check availability now by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival & Welcome
Arrive in Iceland and enjoy some free time in Reykjavik on the first day of your winter tour.
When you've landed and collected your luggage from the carousel, a driver will be waiting to collect you at the arrivals lounge. You can go directly into Reykjavik to explore Iceland's cosmopolitan capital or visit the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
A trip to the Blue Lagoon is the perfect way to settle into Iceland. You can relax in the milky-blue waters and enjoy a soothing, silica-rich face mask to rejuvenate your skin after your flight.
If you prefer, you can save the Blue Lagoon visit until the last day of your winter vacation in Iceland to unwind after a busy few days of sightseeing and adventure. After booking, talk to your travel agent to organize your trip how you like it.
After relaxing in the healing geothermal water and enjoying the views of the mossy lava fields, your driver will take you to Reykjavik, where you can check into your accommodation for the first night.
You can spend the rest of the day exploring the world's northernmost capital city, with all its cafes, museums, restaurants, galleries, and theaters. Visit the Hallgrimskirkja church and climb its tower to admire a sweeping view of the cityscape below, or head to the striking Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center to see some modern architecture.
Stroll through the Old Harbor and look out to sea, then dine in one of the city's best restaurants to try some traditional Icelandic food. You can even take a complimentary northern lights tour if it's a clear night. You can choose between a bus tour or a boat trip to take you away from the city's lights to increase your chances of spotting the aurora borealis.
At the end of a busy day, head to your city center hotel for a good night's sleep before the next day's adventure begins.
Day 2 - South Coast Tour to the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Today, you'll start a two-day guided tour of Iceland's majestic South Coast.
At certain times of the year, you can start your day with an awe-inspiring helicopter journey over the volcanic eruption at Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes Peninsula. Those seeking to start their day with a life-changing experience should not miss this chance.
You'll lift off from Reykjavik's domestic airport and marvel over the capital's features and nature from above before crossing the Reykjanes Peninsula to the beautiful, primordial eruption site. After circling it a few times, you'll even make a landing to admire it from a new angle.
When you're back in central Reykjavik, you'll board a minibus to take you on your South Coast adventure. Your driver and expert local guide will stop off at the stunning Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls and the awe-inspiring Reynisfjara black-sand beach.
Next, you'll head into Vatnajokull National Park to admire the landscapes of the Skaftafell nature reserve. Your guide will tell you about the area's history as you travel onward to the spectacular Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, the "crown jewel" of Iceland.
This enormous glacial lake is one of Iceland's most beautiful natural attractions. You'll have plenty of time to admire the spectacular views of the icebergs floating in the icy waters. You might even spot a few seals, as many live in the lake's waters.
You'll also visit Diamond Beach on the lake's shore during your trip to the lagoon. The jet-black sands are dotted with icebergs that have drifted ashore. It's an incredible opportunity to see the size and beauty of the icebergs up close. You're sure to get some fantastic photos.
When you've finished at the lagoon, you'll get back on the minibus and go to your accommodation for the night, a country hotel in Southeast Iceland. If conditions are favorable, your guide will help you spot the northern lights.
Day 3 - Ice Caving Adventure Tour
Spend day three of your Icelandic vacation exploring a magnificent ice cave within a glacier.
Your day begins with breakfast at your hotel. You'll then board the minibus with the rest of your group and travel to the foot of a glacier. Here, you'll board a super jeep, an exciting four-wheel drive vehicle modified to allow for icy conditions.
Enjoy an exciting off-roading experience as you travel up the glacier to the ice cave. These glacier caves change yearly as the ice melts and refreezes, meaning no two visits are the same. Your guide will choose a perfect cave to ensure a safe trip in a mesmerizing frozen environment.
The guide will provide your group with crampons and a helmet, but you must wear sturdy hiking boots and warm clothing. You might also want to bring sunglasses, as the ice can be very bright in sunny conditions.
Your group will trek over some of the glacier ice and head into the spectacular environment of the ice cave. You can take gorgeous photos of the bright blue and white ice and admire the unusual shapes. The guide will also take pictures of you within the cave, so you'll have a brilliant souvenir to show off to friends and family back home.
You'll spend about 45 minutes inside the cave before you head back down the glacier. From here, you'll return to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon to admire the views in the afternoon daylight before you start the journey back to Reykjavik.
Driving along Iceland's South Coast on a winter evening is another excellent opportunity to look out for the northern lights. Your driver will stop the bus so you can admire the beautiful green and yellow lights if they appear above you on the way back.
When you arrive in Reykjavik, you'll check into a new hotel and can spend your evening exploring the city or enjoying a delicious meal.
Day 4 - The Golden Circle
Today, you'll discover the highlights of the Golden Circle, Iceland's most famous sightseeing route.
Start the day by collecting your rental car. You'll get a four-wheel drive vehicle to help you stay safe in wintery conditions.
From here, you can set off onto the Golden Circle route or start your adventure with a thrilling helicopter tour over the Geldingadalur volcanic eruption site. Departing from Reykjavik domestic airport, you'll fly over the city and see how volcanic activity can change an area's landscape. This tour even includes a short landing at the site to get up close to the volcanic rock.
Now, it's time to start driving around the Golden Circle. Most people first stop at the Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site rich in culture, history, and beauty. The park is situated between two tectonic plates that are drifting apart.
You can add a snorkeling tour to your journey to visit the spectacular Silfra fissure during your time here. This once-in-a-lifetime opportunity lets you swim between the tectonic plates and see the geological features up close.
After finishing at Thingvellir National Park, you'll continue your Golden Circle drive and stop at the Geysir geothermal area. You'll find bubbling hot pots and a fantastic geyser, Strokkur, which erupts every five or ten minutes. The great Geysir, which gave its name to all others worldwide, is no longer active, but Strokkur's exciting eruptions make up for it!
Your third stop on the Golden Circle is the Gullfoss waterfall, known in English as the "Golden Falls." It gives its name to the sightseeing route. The mighty waterfall cascades down in two tiers into an impressive gorge. It's one of Iceland's most iconic sights, so you won't want to miss it.
Other optional tours today include a snowmobiling adventure on the nearby Langjokull glacier. You'll park at Gullfoss and join a super jeep tour to take you onto the ice before spending an hour whizzing over the snowy glacier.
By now, it'll be time to start making your way back to Reykjavik. On the way, you can stop at the Kerid crater, a stunning volcanic crater with a blue lake at its base. There's a small entrance fee here, so make the most of it and walk around the whole thing.
Return to Reykjavik in the evening for a good night's sleep at your hotel.
Day 5 - Departure & Goodbye to Iceland!
Spend the final day of your winter trip to Iceland exploring Reykjavik or visiting the Blue Lagoon before your flight.
After checking out of your accommodation in Reykjavik, you can use your rental car to drive to Keflavik International Airport in time for your flight. If you have enough time before your flight's departure, you can go sightseeing in the city or buy some souvenirs to take home.
Immerse yourself in the vibrant cultural scene by visiting the captivating National Museum of Iceland, where you can learn about Iceland's rich history and heritage.
If you're in the mood for a tranquil retreat, stroll in the lush Oskjuhlid Hill, which houses the picturesque Perlan, a modern glass dome offering panoramic city views.
For a bit of relaxation before your journey home, you might consider soaking in the serene surroundings of the Nautholsvik geothermal beach. You can enjoy a warm dip amidst the crisp Icelandic air in this golden-sand haven.
Don't forget to swing by Laugavegur, the city's main shopping street, to pick up some last-minute gifts or souvenirs, including unique Icelandic designs and handicrafts.
If you didn't visit the Blue Lagoon on your first day, you can drive there on your way to the airport. Relaxing in the soothing waters before your flight home is a fantastic way to end your adventure.
If you have time, you can explore more of the Reykjanes Peninsula. The nearby Krysuvik geothermal area has fascinating hot springs and bubbling mud pots worth visiting. Alternatively, you can see the small towns of Grindavik and Keflavik.
When it's time to go, you can drop your car off at the airport and prepare for your flight. We wish you a safe journey home and hope to see you again in Iceland soon!
What to bring
Good to know
Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time. A valid driver's license is required
Note that Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the wintertime. 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.
Please note that you will have to check out of your Reykjavik accommodations before you go on your multi-day tour. For your comfort and ease, we suggest you pack lightly. If you are returning to the same hotel after your tour, please alert the lobby, as they will store your large luggage for you while you are away. If you are moving to another hotel after your tour, please take your luggage with you. It will be accommodated on the bus.
Accommodation in Reykjavik
See our accommodation levels below. 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). If you are traveling in a group, but prefer a single room, please make separate bookings. For multi-day guided tours, accommodation cannot be upgraded and the levels below do not apply. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs.
Rooms with a private bathroom at three-star hotels such as Fosshótel Barón, or quality guesthouses. Located in the city center or in close vicinity. Breakfast is included.
Rooms at four-star design hotels in the city center with a private bathroom at the absolute best locations downtown such as Hotel Alda. Breakfast is included.
Are you looking to try some of the best dishes Iceland’s top restaurants have to offer? You can now add delicious meals to your booking without having to research where to find them.
Select this option to include dinner every night as an extra, and we’ll provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We’ll choose the top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you.
Your server will offer you a set menu of two to three courses at the restaurant, from which you can choose meat, fish, or vegetarian options. If you prefer to try a different dish, the meal voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu.
Save time and effort during your vacation, and let us take care of your meals for you. Choose the meal option today so you’ll be guaranteed to eat well on your forthcoming trip.
Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.
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 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.