5 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Northern Lights, Golden Circle & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

5 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Northern Lights, Golden Circle & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
See the Northern Lights sparkle over Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon on a winter self-drive tour.
Visit an authentic ice cave in Vatnajökull National Park on a 5-day winter self-drive tour.
On a winter self-drive tour, you can visit the beautiful Seljalandsfoss waterfall as it is cloaked in beautiful winter colours.
With a self-drive tour, you can walk through the snowy landscapes of Reykjavík city before you discover the countryside of Iceland.
On a winter self-drive tour, you can visit the Golden Circle and watch the geyser Strokkur erupt every 5-10 minutes.
On a winter self-drive tour, you can visit Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in the evening and watch the Northern Lights dance in the sky.

Discover the unforgettable, snowy landscapes of Iceland for yourself with this winter self-drive tour. Relax in the Blue Lagoon, see the Golden Circle and drive the South Coast all the way to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon where you can visit an authentic ice cave, all in just five days. This tour is designed for those who desire the freedom to explore Iceland’s winter scene in their own time.

Upon booking you’ll receive a personal itinerary, pointing you in the direction of interesting locations, but you are behind the wheel, so you decide where you go and how long you stay. There are no impatient tour guides rushing you from place to place, so you can take your time at each location, capturing the perfect photo of Gullfoss waterfall or watching the ocean waves crash upon the shore at Reynisfjara black sand beach.

Your only set destinations are your accommodations each night, which have been arranged for you before the journey begins. Also arranged for you is a visit to the Blue Lagoon Spa, where you can relax in the warm, geothermal waters with a silica mud mask and a complimentary drink.

If you want to spice up your holiday with an adventure or two, you can add on tours during the booking process where you race across a glacier on a snowmobile, ride around the countryside on the Icelandic horse or snorkel in crystal-clear glacial water. You will also have the option of visiting two ice caves, one of those is only accessible during the winter months.

Enjoy the beautiful Icelandic nature in the winter with this 5-day self-drive tour. Visit the country’s most iconic attractions as the Northern Lights dance in the sky above. Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Sep. - Apr.
  • Duration: 5 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Hiking, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Sightseeing, Northern lights hunting, Hot Spring Bathing, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Minimum age: 2 years.
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Þingvellir, Sólheimajökull, Skaftafell, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Vík í Mýrdal, South Coast
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible

Please consult your itinerary for further information.
Included:
  • 4 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 5 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW insurance for super budget level vehicle; other levels also include SCDW and gravel protection insurances

  • GPS system

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Blue Lagoon entrance (can be added during booking process)

  • Optional Excursions

  • Lunch and dinner

  • Fuel

  • Flights


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 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.

This self-drive is set to take place at 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.

Some optional activities might need either 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 snorkelling.

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximise your chances to see them if weather allows.

It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, 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 November to March each year.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland


Breath in the cold winter air as you unwind at the Blue Lagoon on a winter self-drive tour.


After you arrive at Keflavík International Airport, pick up your car and head towards the city of Reykjavík. On your way, you’ll drive 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 meet. Just south from the airport, is the Bridge between Continents, where you can walk along the fault line and cross a bridge that connect the two continents, allowing you to stand with one leg in Europe and the other in North America.

A short drive away is Gunnuhver, a colourful geothermal area filled with mud pools and fumaroles. You can stop there on your way to the peninsula’s most famous attraction, the Blue Lagoon Spa.

After a relaxing soak in the warm, healing waters of the Blue Lagoon, make your way to your accommodation in Reykjavík. In the evening, if the sky is clear, you can drive a little way out of the city, away from the light pollution, and hunt for the elusive Northern Lights.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.


Day 2 - A Journey of the Golden Circle


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


Today is the day you’ll visit Iceland’s most famous tourist trail, the Golden Circle. Get a good start on the day and wake up early, or enjoy a few more minutes of snooze and sleep in. You are behind the wheel, so you get to create the day’s schedule.

The first stop today is Þingvellir National Park, a site that is not only historically important but a geological wonder. It is here that the Vikings would gather to settle disputes and create the laws of the land, and where they founded Iceland’s parliament, Alþingi, in the year 930.

Þingvellir is not located on the North American nor the Eurasian tectonic plate, but in a rift valley between. As the plates move, they rip open ravines throughout the landscape. One of those fissures, Silfra, is filled with crystal clear meltwater from Langjökull glacier, and today you can opt for a snorkelling tour in this fissure where you swim between the two continents.

You’ll continue your journey, making another stop at Geysir geothermal area. Like Gunnuhver, the region 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 a height of around 15-20 metres. You’ll be able to walk around the area, take photos of Strokkur and the bubbling mud pools. No impatient tour guides are rushing you so you can spend as much time at Geysir area as you like.

The last stop on the Golden Circle route is the beautiful waterfall Gullfoss. Fed by the glacier Langjökull, the river Hvítá rushes south before plunging into an ancient canyon, creating this stunning cascade in the process.

At Gullfoss, you can opt for a tour where you race across the white expanse of Langjökull glacier on a snowmobile. If you instead like to do something at a slower pace, you can opt for a tour where you ride the Icelandic horse through the countryside.

At the end of the day, make your way to the village of Hvolsvöllur on the South Coast where you’ll find your accommodation.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Super Budget

Árnes HI Hostel is located close to the village of Hella. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Budget

Hellishólar Guesthouse is a 2-star hotel located a few kilometres east of Hvolsvöllur, in the direction of Þórsmörk. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Comfort

Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Hvolsvöllur Quality

Hotel Rangá is a 4 star hotel situated between the towns of Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - South Coast Adventures


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


Your journey continues eastwards today. You’ll travel under two mighty glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull and visit some of the country’s most beautiful attractions.

The first stop is the spectacular waterfall Seljalandsfoss. The days are dark in Iceland during the wintertime, but Seljalandsfoss is lit up with strong lights which creates an aura of magic around it.

From there, you’ll visit the majestic Skógafoss 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 is the outlet glacier, Sólheimajökull. Today you can opt for two tours on Sólheimajökull, a snowmobile tour or a glacier hike. You can also head further north to the village of Vík for a tour to the larger Mýrdalsjökull glacier where you get to explore an authentic ice cave.

Vík is a great place to stop and refuel as it overlooks Reynisfjara, a beautiful black sand beach edged in by towering cliffs of hexagonal basalt columns. Out in the ocean rise the massive rocks stacks Reynisdrangar which have been carved by centuries of Atlantic waters crushing up against them.

Drive onwards into Vatnajökull National Park, past Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. If you wish to stop there to explore you can do so, but you will also have most of tomorrow to spend in the area.

Make your way to your accommodations in the town of Höfn or the surrounding area. If the sky is clear of clouds and conditions are right, look up for a chance to catch a glimpse of the dancing Northern Lights.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Super Budget

HI Hostel Höfn is located in Höfn township. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Gerði Guesthouse is located about 13km east of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in main building. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4 star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Ice Cave, Skaftafell & Jokulsarlon


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


Spend the day exploring the great Vatnajökull National Park. You can start by heading west from the town of Höfn, towards the beautiful Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Jökulsárlón is filled with meltwater from Breiðamerkurjökull, an outlet glacier of Europe’s largest ice cap, Vatnajökull. Floating in the water are massive, blue and white icebergs that have broken off the glacier. Keep an eye out for seals that can often be seen lounging on top of the bergs.

A stone’s throw away is a black sand beach where ice chunks from the lagoon have washed up on shore. As the ice glistens in the sun, they are reminiscent of gemstones on black satin. The scene has thus earned the beach the nickname ‘The Diamond Beach’.

Today you can opt for an exciting ice cave tour from Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The ice caves in this area are only accessible during the wintertime as they flood during the spring, and so witnessing the dazzling structure of a cave in Vatnajökull glacier is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

From the lagoon, drive to Skaftafell, a nature reserve nestled under the roots of Vatnajökull glacier. Scattered around the area are many hiking trails and tracks, that lead 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 is time to head back to your accommodations in Reykjavík. As you are behind the wheel on this self-drive tour, you can stop at any of the locations on the South Coast or Golden Circle you want to explore further. You can even spend some time in the evening outside the city to hunt for the Northern Lights.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.


Day 5 - Farewell


Reykjavík's street light illuminating the dark winter sky.


On your last day, you can explore Reykjavík city a little if your flight leaves late. Just remember to give yourself plenty of time to drive to the airport and return the car.

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 and then a soak in the warm waters of the hot tubs, feeling the crisp winter air in their lungs. If you missed it on the day you arrived, you could instead visit the Blue Lagoon Spa.

If you are looking for a souvenir, a trip down Laugavegur shopping street is a must. You could get a traditional lopapeysa woolly sweater, some chocolate covered liquorice treats or jewellery made with volcanic rocks. You could also visit a bookstore or a record shop get to know the local culture through Icelandic music and literature.

When it is time to leave, you will head back out to the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula to Keflavík International Airport. Enjoy your flight and come back soon!


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 budget and comfort 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). For quality level, odd number groups will always be allocated a single room. 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. Super budget 2WD vehicles are maximum 5 years of age, and come equipped with a GPS and standard CDW insurance. Budget 2WD, Comfort 4x4 and Luxury 4x4 level vehicles are maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model. In wintertime, all cars have winter tyres. For winter driving, we highly recommend a Comfort level 4x4 vehicle or Luxury 4x4 to combat possible heavy winter conditions.

Super Budget

A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities.

Budget

A basic 2WD vehicle such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4x4

A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. Fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities. Recommended.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized 4WD (4x4) jeep such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all travelling. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. Note that off-road driving is illegal.


Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person. The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to info@guidetoiceland.is no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation. Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.


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5 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Northern Lights, Golden Circle & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
 
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