In-Depth 5-Day Northern Lights Road Trip to Iceland’s Golden Circle & Snaefellsnes Peninsula

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Description

Summary

Starts from
Keflavík Airport (KEF), Reykjanesbær, Iceland
Ends in
Keflavík Airport (KEF), Reykjanesbær, Iceland
Duration
5 days & 4 nights
Difficulty
Easy
Available
Sept. - Apr.
Accommodation
4 nights included
Car rental
5 days included

Description

Experience the stunning winter landscapes of Iceland with this five-day self-drive tour, visiting the West Coast, the mystical Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and the famed Golden Circle sightseeing route. Those wanting to witness the beauty of this island with the chance to see the northern lights dancing in the sky above should take advantage of this top-rated tour.

Don't spend weeks organizing your vacation and wondering whether you've missed some top sites. Let the professionals take care of it so you can focus on enjoying yourself.

This five-day adventure takes you through Reykjavik and up the beautiful West Coast. You'll spend two nights on the incredible Snaefellsnes Peninsula before setting your sights on the famed Golden Circle driving route. 

The Golden Circle comprises three of Iceland's most famous attractions: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area, and the spectacular Gullfoss waterfall. You can see the magnificent natural features that Iceland is known for up close, with plenty of photo opportunities.

Spend your days sightseeing and your evenings hunting for the northern lights. This spectacular natural display lights the sky with greens, yellows, reds, pinks, purples, and whites. You'll receive tips for spotting them when booking this fantastic self-drive tour.

Since you're behind the wheel, you can set your own course and pace to explore Iceland without stress. A self-drive tour is an ideal way to explore Iceland, as you'll have the freedom and flexibility to travel at your own pace without busy tour groups. 

If you book this tour, you'll also receive 24/7 access to a personal travel agent, so you can reach out at any time if you have any questions or problems. If your plans change, you can cancel up to 24 hours before your scheduled departure and receive a full refund. 

Upon booking, you'll receive a personal itinerary guiding you to all the top locations and information about accommodations and car rental, which have been arranged for you before your arrival.

You can also spice up your holiday with added excursions. As you book, you can add optional tours such as caving, snorkeling, snowmobiling, and relaxing in geothermal spas. If you decide you want something different, the agent will be on hand to help.

No trip to Iceland would be complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Your travel agent will help you book your entry ticket for your trip's first or last day.

Spend your winter days in Iceland exploring the wonders of West Iceland and the Golden Circle, and use the long nights to gaze up at the dancing northern lights with this five-day winter self-drive tour. Check availability now by choosing a date.

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Included

4 nights of accommodation
Continental breakfast on all days
New rental car for 5 days
CDW car rental insurance
Gravel protection car insurance
Unlimited mileage
Unlimited in-car Wi-Fi
Detailed itinerary & travel plan
Personal travel agent
24/7 helpline
VAT & all taxes

Destinations

Reykjavik is the northernmost capital city in the world.Reykjavík / 2 nights
Beautiful coastal geology helps to define the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.Snæfellsnes / 2 nights
Deildartunguhver geothermal hot spring in West IcelandDeildartunguhver
Reykholt was home to Snorri Sturluson, a medieval writer.Reykholt

Map

Attractions

Borg á Mýrum is a church estate in Iceland.Borg á Mýrum
Hraunfossar is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in West Iceland.Hraunfossar
Mount Kirkjufell on Snaefellsnes peninsula is one of the most iconic mountains in IcelandKirkjufell
Snæfellsjökull glacier above the black church at Búðir village.Snæfellsjökull
Djupalonssandur has beautiful natural featuresDjupalonssandur
Lóndrangar under the midnight sun.Lóndrangar
Búðakirkja Church bathed by the Northern LightsBudir
Seals hauling out at Ytri Tunga.Ytri Tunga Beach
Þingvellir National Park is Iceland's only UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the major stops along the world famous Golden Circle sightseeing route.Thingvellir
Geysir is a dormant hot spring in the geothermal area, Haukadalur Valley, found in South Iceland.Geysir
Long-exposure photo of Gullfoss waterfall on a cloudy dayGullfoss
Þingvellir National Park, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on Iceland’s mainland, is birthplace of the country’s parliament.Kerið
Kleifarvatn is the third largest lake in Iceland.Kleifarvatn
KrýsuvíkKrýsuvík
Gunnuhver is one of the geothermal areas on the Reykjanes Peninsula.Gunnuhver

Activities

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

Travel details

Travel dates

Travelers

Car

Car

Small car

Small car

Category
Small
Transmission
People
Large bags
Medium car

Medium car

Category
Medium
Transmission
People
Large bags
Premium car

Premium car

Category
Premium
Transmission
People
Large bags
large car

large car

Category
Large
Transmission
People
Large bags
SUV

SUV

Category
JEEPSUV
Transmission
People
Large bags

Personalize your itinerary

Day 1

Day 1 – Reykjavík

  • Reykjavík - Arrival day
  • More

Start your Icelandic adventure by exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula, arriving in Reykjavik, and maybe even relaxing in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon spa.

On arrival at Keflavik International Airport, you'll collect your rental car and start your journey to Reykjavik, the world's northernmost capital city. On the way, you'll pass through the lunar-like landscapes of the Reykjanes Peninsula, with views of moss-covered lava fields and distant blue mountains. 

Before leaving the peninsula, you can stop at the world-renowned Blue Lagoon geothermal spa if you've booked entry for today. The Blue Lagoon is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious spa treatments. Soak away the stresses of your flight and relax with a silica-rich face mask in the milky-blue waters. 

Don't worry if you don't have time to visit the Blue Lagoon today. Your travel agent will help you organize your trip to suit your arrival or departure times. You can explore the Reykjanes Peninsula instead or go straight to Reykjavik.

On arrival in Reykjavik, you can check into your accommodation in the city center. When you've dropped off your bags, you'll be free to explore the city at your own pace. You'll find numerous cafes, restaurants, bars, and shops on the Laugavegur shopping street and several excellent museums around the city. 

Stroll around the Old Harbor to enjoy coastal views and see the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. Visit the Sun Voyager sculpture or the Einar Jonsson Sculpture Garden, and don't forget to see the Hallgrimskirkja church. 

If the sky is clear, you might want to drive away from the city's light pollution to search for the northern lights. There are excellent places to see the lights near Reykjavik. Don't worry if you're too tired after your flight because you'll have plenty of chances to hunt them down on your vacation.

Return to your accommodation when ready and get a good night's sleep before tomorrow's adventure.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 2

Day 2 – Snæfellsnes

  • Snæfellsnes
  • More
  • Borg a Myrum church and farm
  • Deildartunguhver hot spring
  • Reykholt historical site
  • Hraunfossar & Barnafoss waterfalls
  • More

Today, you'll explore the highlights of West Iceland, with visits to mountains, waterfalls, and lava fields.

Start the day by leaving Reykjavik and heading past the city mountain Esja for a quick photo stop. If you're not in a hurry, you can drive along the Hvalfjordur fjord instead of taking the tunnel. The route is a little longer, but you'll enjoy incredible mountain and ocean views. 

On the other side of the Hvalfjordur fjord, you'll drive through West Iceland's farmlands until you near Borgarnes town. Before you reach Borgarnes, we recommend you take a slight detour to some of West Iceland's most beautiful attractions.

Start by visiting the beautiful Barnafoss and Hraunfossar waterfalls. The former rushes violently through a narrow, rocky gorge, and the latter trickles down black lava from the Hallmundarhraun lava field, which formed during an eruption over 1,000 years ago.

While here, you can head into the Vidgelmir lava cave on an optional tour. Visit the depths of this lava tube to see its strange rock formations, glistening icicles, and fantastic color display.

You can also have a slightly different underground adventure today and tour the ice cave tunnels of the mighty Langjokull glacier. These manufactured tunnels were carved inside Iceland's second-largest glacier and provide a unique insight into the ever-changing nature of the ice cap.

As you head back toward Borgarnes, you'll drive by the hot spring Deildartunguhver. It's worth exploring this area and witnessing Mother Nature's tremendous power firsthand. You can explore it further by stopping at the Krauma geothermal spa. Hot water from Deildartunguhver mixes with cold water from a nearby glacier, creating the perfect bathing temperature.

Borgarnes town is a great place to stop for a bite before continuing to your accommodation on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. If you still have some energy left after the day, you can explore the area a little and look for the northern lights. However, you'll have the whole day tomorrow to do this, so don't worry if you're too tired.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 3

Day 3 – Snæfellsnes

  • Snæfellsnes
  • More
  • Kirkjufell Mountain
  • Snaefellsjokull
  • Djupalonssandur black pebble beach
  • Londrangar Basalt Cliffs
  • Budir hamlet
  • Ytri Tunga Beach
  • More

Today, you'll explore "Iceland in miniature" with a self-guided tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland.

After breakfast, pack a day bag and get ready to leave. You'll return to the same accommodation tonight, so you don't need to repack your luggage or check out of your room.

Start your drive along the peninsula's northern coastline. You can stop to stretch your legs in the fishing village of Grundarfjordur. It was once an important trading port, but people now flock to it for another reason. 

Nearby, you'll find Kirkjufell, the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Fans of Game of Thrones might recognize it as the "arrowhead mountain" used in seasons six and seven. Stop at the nearby Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall for one of the best views.

From here, you'll continue west into the Snaefellsjokull National Park, one of three national parks in Iceland. You'll pass small fishing villages as the mystical Snaefellsjokull glacier-topped volcano seems to grow with each mile.

This 700,000-year-old stratovolcano is the entrance point to the underworld in Jules Verne's classic novel Journey to the Center of the Earth. On a clear day, its snowy peak is visible from Reykjavik.

Inside the national park, you'll find the Djupalonssandur beach, but to get there, you'll have to walk through a maze of natural sculptures made from hardened lava. The beautiful beach is made of smooth black pebbles and jet-black sands. Scattered around the area are the remains of a trawler that fell to the water 70 years ago.

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula's southern coastline is gorgeous. You can stop at the Londrangar rock stacks and the ancient Hellnar and Arnarstapi hamlets as you return.

After a day of exploring, return to your accommodation. Remember to look out for the northern lights as you go. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula has excellent places to see the aurora borealis, surrounded by Iceland's natural beauty.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 4

Day 4 – Reykjavík

  • Reykjavík
  • More
  • Thingvellir National Park
  • Geysir geothermal area
  • Gullfoss waterfall
  • Kerid Crater
  • More

Spend your penultimate day in Iceland enjoying the magical sights of the Golden Circle, Iceland's most famous sightseeing route. 

After checking out of your accommodation, you'll drive southeast toward the Golden Circle. This driving route has three main attractions: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir geothermal area, and the Gullfoss waterfall.

Before you leave the west behind, you can stop at the Gerduberg cliffs. The cliffs are about 1,600 feet (roughly 500 meters) long and have hundreds of hexagonal basalt columns that stand tall like an army.

Continue your countryside journey until you reach your first stop on the Golden Circle route, Thingvellir National Park. The park is the birthplace of Iceland's parliament, the Althingi, making it a place of immense historical importance in Iceland. It's also a geological wonder sitting in a rift valley between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. 

The unusual location results in some remarkable landscapes. Throughout the park, you'll find cracks and fissures that form as the tectonic plates move apart. One of these fissures, Silfra, is filled with crystal-clear meltwater from the Langjokull glacier.

You can opt to take a snorkeling tour inside the fissure to discover a beautiful blue underworld. Participants need to be comfortable in the water and able to swim.

Make your way from Thingvellir National Park to the geothermal area of Geysir. You can see bubbling mud pools, steaming hot springs, and erupting geysers here. The most active geyser is Strokkur, which shoots a column of water into the air every few minutes. 

The final stop of the Golden Circle is the mighty Gullfoss waterfall. "Gullfoss" means "golden falls" in Icelandic, and this waterfall gives its name to the whole sightseeing route. The waterfall has two tiers, and the water cascades from 105 feet (about 32 meters) high in a spectacular display of power. 

Another optional tour today is an exhilarating snowmobiling tour on the Langjokull glacier. Get your blood pumping as you race across the ice cap.

From here, travel to Reykjavik to check into your accommodation. Stop off at any beautiful sights on the way to wait for the northern lights or gaze up at the stars.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 5

Day 5 – Reykjavík

  • Reykjavík - Departure day
  • More
  • Kleifarvatn
  • Krýsuvík
  • Gunnuhver
  • More

Spend your final day in Iceland exploring more of Reykjavik's top sights or relaxing in the Blue Lagoon.

Your plan for today will depend on your flight's departure time. If it leaves in the late afternoon or evening, you can spend the morning exploring the Icelandic capital before heading to the airport. 

Immerse yourself in a vibrant blend of modernity and tradition in Reykjavik. Start your day with a leisurely walk through the picturesque Austurvollur Square, a popular gathering spot surrounded by charming cafes and restaurants.

Next, delve into Iceland's rich maritime history at the Maritime Museum, conveniently located near the old harbor.

For those inclined towards literary pursuits, the Culture House offers a deep dive into Icelandic sagas and art exhibits.

Nature enthusiasts should not miss the Reykjavik Botanical Gardens, an oasis of greenery showcasing a diverse array of native and foreign plants.

If you visit the Blue Lagoon today, you can end your vacation by relaxing in the geothermal waters. It's an ideal place to finish your trip, relaxing and reflecting on your adventure in the land of fire and ice. 

When leaving, drop your rental car at Keflavik International Airport and head to the departure gate. 

We hope you have a great flight and will return to Iceland soon!

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Experiences

What to bring

Warm, waterproof clothing
Sturdy hiking shoes
Hat, gloves, and scarf
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. Gravel protection is not included if you choose a Toyota Aygo or similar.

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 this tour is available to book from September to May, but the ice caves are only accessible between November and March.

Those who opt to go snorkeling must be comfortable in the water and able to swim, and must present medical documents before snorkeling or diving.

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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