5-Day Northern Lights Winter Self-Drive Tour with the Golden Circle & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

On a winter self-drive tour, you can visit the Diamond beach in the evening and watch as the sun sets among glistening icebergs.
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Free cancellation
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Description

Summary

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

Description

Discover the very best of Iceland's snowy landscapes with this five-day winter self-drive tour. Relax in the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, see the Golden Circle attractions, and drive the South Coast to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, where you can visit an authentic ice cave. This tour is perfect for those who desire the freedom to explore Iceland's winter scene at their own pace.

For your convenience, your winter drive in Iceland begins as you arrive in Reykjavik or at the Keflavik International Airport. Your car fit for the winter terrain and with free Wi-Fi is ready for pick-up at either location.

On this tour package, no impatient tour guides rush you from place to place, nor must you follow precise schedules. You're behind the wheel, so you can decide what sights you visit and how long you stay.

Your only set destinations are your accommodations each night, which have been arranged for you before the journey begins to ensure you get plenty of rest at the best locations. In case of emergencies or simple queries, a dedicated travel agent is ready to assist you at any time of the day.

Upon booking, you'll receive a personal itinerary pointing you toward Iceland's best attractions and some best-kept secrets you can experience away from the crowds. All the planning has been done for you, yet you have the freedom and flexibility to adapt things to suit you.

You could spend extra time capturing the perfect photo of the Gullfoss waterfall in the Golden Circle. You can also watch the mighty ocean waves crash upon the shore at Reynisfjara black sand beach on the South Coast.

The highlight of your winter drive is your time at the Vatnajokull National Park on day four. You can explore the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, the Skaftafell nature reserve, and a breathtaking ice cave on the largest glacier in Europe. 

If you want to enhance your holiday with extra activities, you can add guided tours during the booking process. These include riding around the wondrous rugged terrains on a majestic Icelandic horse, an ice-caving experience, and a thermal bath in the azure waters of the Blue Lagoon spa amid a volcanic landscape.

For thrill-seekers, other optional activities are a snowmobiling tour on top of one of Iceland's mighty glaciers and snorkeling in the crystal-clear glacial water between two continents in the Silfra fissure.

Each night, you can take the chance to spot the spectacular northern lights dancing across Iceland's wintry landscapes. Avoid areas with heavy light pollution and steer clear of cloudy locations to give yourself the best chance of spotting the beautiful aurora borealis.

After a thrilling self-drive adventure, you'll end this winter tour in Iceland by returning your car rental to Reykjavik or the airport.

Please note that in case of sudden alterations in your travel plans, you can cancel your booking up to 24 hours before departure and receive a full refund.

See the best attractions of Iceland in a different light on this five-day self-drive tour in winter. Check availability now by choosing a date.

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Included

4 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)
New vehicle unit for 5 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)
CDW insurance for super budget level vehicle; other levels include gravel protection insurance
Free Wi-Fi in your vehicle
Detailed itinerary for five days
Personal travel agent
Taxes

Activities

Glacier Hiking
Snorkelling
ATV
Snowmobile
Horse Riding
Sightseeing
Boat Trip
Northern lights hunting
Hot Spring Bathing
Ice Caving
Self drive

Daily itinerary

Day 1
Breathe in the cold winter air as you unwind at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa on a winter self-drive tour.

Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland

Your winter adventure starts on day one as you arrive in Iceland. After landing at the Keflavik International Airport, pick up your car and drive towards Reykjavik, 31 miles (50 kilometers away). 

On your way to the Icelandic capital, you'll pass through the black lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula. If your flight arrives early, you can explore the peninsula first and discover its diverse volcanic and geothermal landscapes.

The Reykjanes Peninsula runs along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates drift apart. Just south of the airport is the symbolic Bridge Between Continents, which lies in the rift valley between the continents. 

The most exciting activity you could do today is to visit the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned geothermal spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It's 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's no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added another day or before your flight home. Your travel consultant can arrange this for you, whether you want the standard comfort package or the premium entrance option.

Once you arrive in Reykjavik, you can settle in your accommodation and explore the city's charming streets. Near your hotel are restaurants, cafes, boutiques, and cultural attractions. Feel the vibrant pulse of Iceland's capital as you meander through its historic streets, where modernity meets tradition in a delightful blend that promises discoveries at every corner.

If the sky is clear in the evening, you can drive a little out of the city, away from the light pollution, and hunt for the elusive northern lights. Although there's no assurance that you'll see them because these lights are natural, Iceland is one of the best places for northern lights hunting.

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Day 2
Watch the geyser Strokkur erupt as you travel the Golden Circle on a self-drive tour.

Day 2 - A Journey of the Golden Circle

On day two, you'll visit Iceland's most famous sightseeing route, the Golden Circle. Get a good start to the day and wake up early, or enjoy a few more minutes of snoozing and sleep in. You're behind the wheel, so you get to create the day's schedule.

Today's first main stop is the Thingvellir National Park, a historically and geologically significant site for Icelanders. Thingvellir is home to the rift valley that separates the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. 

As the plates move, they rip open ravines throughout the landscape. One of those fissures, Silfra, is filled with crystal clear meltwater from Langjokull glacier, and today, you can opt for a snorkeling tour in this fissure where you swim between the two continents. Participants need to be comfortable in the water and be able to swim.

After leaving Thingvellir, you'll pass Fontana Spa, a geothermal set of pools immersed in a lake. If you elect to do so, you can dip in here to revitalize ahead of your travels.

You'll continue your journey, making another stop at the Geysir geothermal area. This field is filled with bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles, but the Geysir area also contains hot springs and erupting geysers.

Strokkur is the most active geyser, erupting every 5-10 minutes and reaching around 66 feet (20 meters) high. You can walk around the area and take photos of Strokkur and the bubbling mud pools. 

The last stop on the Golden Circle route is the beautiful Gullfoss waterfall. Fed by the glacier Langjokull, the river Hvita rushes south before plunging into a narrow canyon, creating this stunning cascade.

At Gullfoss, you can opt for a tour where you race across the white expanse of Langjokull glacier on a snowmobile. Alternatively, you can book a monster truck across this frozen landscape. 

At the end of the day, you'll drive to your accommodation in Southwest Iceland.

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Day 3
Enjoy the view from behind the falling springwater of Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the South Coast.

Day 3 - South Coast Adventures

On day three, your journey in the land of fire and ice continues eastwards. You'll travel under two mighty glaciers, Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull, and visit some of the country's most beautiful natural attractions.

The first stop on your South Coast drive is the spectacular Seljalandsfoss waterfall. The days are dark in Iceland during the wintertime, but Seljalandsfoss is lit up with light beams, creating an aura of magic around it.

From there, you'll visit the majestic Skogafoss waterfall. This one is much wider and has a greater flow than Seljalandsfoss. The land underneath the cascade is very flat, so you can walk right up to the wall of water to feel the spray on your face.

Between the two waterfalls are the Myrdasjokull and Solheimajokull glaciers. You can opt for two tours on Solheimajokull, a snowmobile tour or a glacier hike. You can also explore an ice cave near the Myrdarsjokull ice cap.

Next to explore is Vik, an excellent place to stop and refuel as it overlooks Reynisfjara, a beautiful black sand beach edged by hexagonal basalt columns. Out in the ocean rise the massive rocks stacks Reynisdrangar, carved by centuries of Atlantic waters crashing against them.

You could embark on a thrilling black-sand buggy tour along this stretch of shoreline if you did not elect to go glacier hiking or snowmobiling.

From the village, continue driving into the Vatnajokull National Park, past Skaftafell nature reserve and the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. If you wish to stop there to explore, you can, but you'll also have most of tomorrow to spend in the area.

Make your way to your accommodations in Southeast Iceland. If the sky is clear of clouds and the conditions are right, look up to glimpse the dancing northern lights.

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Day 4
See the dazzling structure of an ice cave on your winter self-drive tour.

Day 4 - Ice Cave, Skaftafell, & Jokulsarlon

The highlight of your drive happens on day four as you explore the diverse features of the mighty Vatnajokull, the largest glacier in Europe.

You can start the day by heading to the beautiful Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Many travelers and locals consider it the crown jewel of Iceland because of its incomparable beauty.

Meltwater from Breidamerkurjokull, an outlet glacier of Vatnajokull, fills the deep waters of the glacier lagoon. Floating in the water are massive blue and white icebergs that have broken off the ice walls. Look for seals often seen lounging on top of the bergs. You can opt for a boat tour to get a closer look at the magnificent scenery.

Adjacent to Jokulsarlon is a black sand beach where ice chunks from the lagoon have washed up onshore. As the ice glistens in the sun, they are reminiscent of gemstones on black satin. The scene has thus earned it the name 'Diamond beach.'

From the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, you can opt for an exciting ice cave tour. Witnessing the dazzling structure of a cave in the Vatnajokull glacier is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The ice caves in this area are only accessible during the wintertime as they flood during the spring. 

From the lagoon, drive to Skaftafell, a nature reserve nestled under the roots of the glacier. Many hiking trails and tracks are scattered around the area that leads over glacial rivers and to the iconic Svartifoss waterfall.

At Skaftafell, you can opt for a glacier hike to see firsthand the continually changing environment of glaciers. You'll see incredible ice formations as a glacier guide leads you past deep cracks and blue crevasses on an adventure you'll never forget.

Then, it's time to head back to your accommodation in Reykjavik. As you're behind the wheel on this self-drive tour, you can stop at any South Coast or Golden Circle locations you want to explore further. You can even spend some time in the evening outside the city to hunt for the northern lights.

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Day 5
Reykjavik's street lights illuminating the dark winter sky.

Day 5 - Farewell

On your last day in Iceland, you can explore Reykjavik further if your flight leaves late. Give yourself ample time to drive to the airport and return the car. We wish you a pleasant journey if you have an early flight back home.

You can start the day like a local and visit one of the city's many geothermal swimming pools. Even in the winter, when snow and frost cover the ground, Icelanders flock to the pools for a few laps. You can soak in the warm waters of the hot tubs, feeling the crisp winter air around you. 

If you want a souvenir, a trip down Laugavegur shopping street is necessary. Here, you could get a traditional 'lopapeysa' or woolly sweater, chocolate-covered licorice treats, or jewelry made with volcanic rocks. You could also visit a bookstore or a record shop to learn more about the local culture through Icelandic music and literature.

You can also stroll downtown and toward the Reykjavik harbor to see some of the city's prized architecture and cultural landmarks. For example, visit the Sun Voyager, a renowned sculpture made of steel that pays homage to the Viking history of the country.

If you have a later flight and choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today, you'll finish your stay unwinding before heading to the airport. Geothermal bathing is the perfect way to relax as you soak in the warm, mineral-rich waters while reminiscing about the incredible adventure you've just taken in the land of fire and ice. 

When it's time to leave, you'll head back out to the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula to the Keflavik International Airport. Enjoy your flight, and see you soon on your next trip to Iceland.

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What to bring

Warm and waterproof clothing
Good waterproof shoes
Swimsuit and towel
Camera
Driver's license

Good to know

Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavik city or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license and a one-year-long on-road experience are required. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit 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 for snorkeling or diving, and participants need to be comfortable in the water and be able to swim.

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 yearly.

This self-drive is set to take place in wintertime. Conditions in Iceland can vary significantly 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 nationwide.

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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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