6 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Jokulsarlon, Ice Cave & Diamond Beach

Based on 4 traveller reviews

Take the wheel on this winter self-drive tour, that's frosted with ice and snow for the season! This tour is for those who want the best possible value car rental to experience Iceland's magical south coast during wintertime.

You’ll start your 6-day adventure with the classic Golden Circle tour, before heading on to the glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón, and Diamond Beach to behold some of the finest sights of Iceland’s natural world. As you'll be driving yourself, you can enjoy each location in your own way, and in your own time. 

Book an optional tour in an ice cave in southeast Iceland from November to March. This is a rare and special experience, as the caves are only available for a few months per year. Each cave is investigated by specialists to ensure safe passage through the crystalline wonders inside, from beautiful frost-licked rock formations to entire walls of deep sapphire blue ice.

You can take a stroll on the black-sand beaches of Reynisfjara, admiring the black basalt cliffs, and the towers standing off shore against the endless waves. Find your favourite waterfall, as you'll get to stand next to some of Iceland's most impressive ones.

In the evenings, keep your eyes open for a fabulous display of the Northern Lights! Though it is never certain when they will emerge, they are an unforgettable sight dancing overhead in stripes of green, pink and white.

We know you're looking forward to these elements of Iceland's unique environment, like the ice caves and Northern Lights, and we want to make sure that you see the most popular attractions and a few out-of-the-way spots where you can be practically alone, far from the crowds. It's all included in the custom-made itinerary you'll receive with your tour package. 

Don’t miss this self-drive tour of the most popular locations on the south coast, along with a few special surprises! Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Sep. - Apr.
  • Duration: 6 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkeling, Hiking, Snowmobile, Ice Climbing, Sightseeing, Northern lights hunting, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Þingvellir, Skaftafell, Black Sand Beach - Reynisfjara, Vík i Mýrdal, Hvolsvöllur, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, South Coast, Diamond Beach
Pickup information:
  • Starting time : Flexible

Included:
  • 5 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 6 days (VW Polo or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW and SCDW insurance along gravel protection for car rental

  • GPS System

  • Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available)

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

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Fuel

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


What to bring:
  • Warm clothing and outerwear suitable for rainy or chilly weather

  • Sturdy shoes for walking/hiking

  • 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.

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. Please be aware that your itinerary may have to be rearranged to fit your arrival date and time better.

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 though the tour is available to book from September to May, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland & Reykjavik




After arriving in Keflavik International Airport, pick up your car and head straight for the Blue Lagoon. Just 20 minutes drive away, there is no better way to start your holiday than relaxing in this unique spa, basking in the warm water and refreshing your skin with silica masks. When you feel fully charged by this serene experience, you can head to your accommodation in the capital city of Reykjavík.

It may be worth having an explore around the beautiful and desolate Reykjanes peninsula too, which is en route. Do not worry if you cannot fit it in, however, as you will have another opportunity to do so at the end of the week.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the vibrant, culture-filled metropolis on your doorstep. Whether you are interested in food, Viking history, art or nightlife, you are bound to find something that suits your taste here.

Spend your first night in downtown Reykjavík, and remember to search the skies 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 Centerhotel chain has six 3-4 star centrally located hotels in Reykjavík, with a short walk 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.


Day 2 - Golden Circle Attractions




Start off on your trip by visiting the famous Golden Circle, beginning with Thingvellir National Park. Here you can walk along the fault line created by two tectonic plates splitting, you can embrace your sporty side with snorkeling or diving in the Silfra fissure, and you can learn more about Iceland's political history.

Your next destination is the geothermal area of the famous Geysir, with its fumaroles and hot springs, alongside the more active Strokkur geyser, which erupts as high as 40 m (131 ft) every few minutes.

Last but not least, you will stop off at the magnificent Gullfoss Falls. Its name fittingly means “The Golden Waterfall”, and a walk down to its edge offers a view of nature's spectacular combination of power and beauty.

From there you head to the main road, stopping at the old explosion crater Kerið, which is home to a vivid blue lake.

Spend the night in the beautiful village of Hvolsvöllur, and again, remember to gaze at the night sky in search of the auroras.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Budget

Hellishólar Guesthouse is a 2 star hotel located a few kilometres east of Hvolsvöllur, heading towards 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 Iceland Waterfalls - Black Sands - Klaustur




As you continue your journey, you will drive towards Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that made world headlines during its 2010 eruption, when enormous ash clouds brought European air traffic to a standstill.

You will then visit the beautiful waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, before taking a highly recommend trip to the nearby Skógar Folk Museum.

Drive on towards the Sólheimajökull glacier before taking a slight detour to witness the black sands of Reynisfjara beach, where you can discover wind-chiseled basalt cliffs and witness the full force of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Consider a short stop in the village of Vik, before reaching your final destination of the day, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, also called simply Klaustur. There is hardly any light pollution in the area, making Northern Light viewing optimal on clear nights.


Preferred accommodation by Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Budget

Klausturhof Guesthouse is centrally located within Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Comfort

Hotel Geirland is a 3 star hotel located in the countryside 2 kilometres away from Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Quality

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Modern private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Ice Cave - Svartifoss - Diamond Beach




On your fourth day, you will pass the picturesque waterfall Foss á Síðu, as well as driving by the nearby Dverghamrar basalt columns, before taking the road over the vast glacier sands of Skeiðarársandur.

Further down the road, visit the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, which is found within the Vatnajökull National Park. Once there, you can go on a short hike to another impressive waterfall, Svartifoss, as well as having plenty of other hiking opportunities in the area, including the chance to go on a guided glacier hike.

About 40 minutes further east is the truly magnificent Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. Jökulsárlón is widely considered to be the most beautiful place in Iceland, and you will probably want to spend as much time there as possible.

Today, you have the chance to visit the ice cave in this area as well. This extra activity is available from November through March and needs to be booked well in advance due to its popularity.

Once you're done enjoying the blue ice and its magic, spend another night in Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Keep a lookout for the Aurora!


Preferred accommodation by Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Budget

Klausturhof Guesthouse is centrally located within Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Comfort

Hotel Geirland is a 3 star hotel located in the countryside 2 kilometres away from Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Quality

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Modern private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 5 - Back to town




If you set out in the early morning of Day 5, you can aim to reach Reykjavík by the afternoon. This drive, along Route 1, is incredibly scenic, going past the black sand beaches, waterfalls, and glaciers that you witnessed on day 3. You can take your time to enjoy anything you missed, or return to any places that you wanted to spend more time at.

Once back in Reykjavik, you can explore the museums, galleries and cultural sites you may have missed on your first day. This is also a great time to return to the Reykjanes peninsula and see its sights; it has large geothermal areas, bird-watching cliffs, fascinating geological formations, and many places of stark, untouched beauty. 

Spend your last night in Reykjavík, and perhaps make the most of it by dining in one of the city's delicious restaurants.


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 Centerhotel chain has six 3-4 star centrally located hotels in Reykjavík, with a short walk 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.


Day 6 - Grótta Reykjavik - Keflavik Airport




On your departure day, you can drop off your car at the airport in Keflavik. If your flight is in the evening and you have a few hours to spend wandering, consider exploring some of the highlights of downtown Reykjavík, such as the City Hall, Perlan, Elliðaárdalur, Harpa Concert Hall, Hallgrímskirkja church or the Grótta Lighthouse. You can also visit spots of interest nearby, such as the Reykjanes geothermal area if you didn't do so the previous day.

Come back soon! Sjáumst seinna! 


Accommodation

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. 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). Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available hotels and guesthouses 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. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. The sooner you reserve the higher quality accommodation we can provide. Press choose a date at the top to find availability.

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

Guide to Iceland has a wide selection of vehicles and seeks to provide you with the best available car from our preferred rental operators, who offer the highest quality vehicles and service to our guests. Our self-drive packages include a newer model, usually a maximum of 2 years old and equipped with a GPS and basic CDW insurance. See the categories of available vehicles below. We recommend a comfortable 4X4 as a minimal standard for winter traveling due to icy and challenging road conditions. In the booking process, you can also upgrade to an automatic model for free.

Budget

A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4X4

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

Luxury 4x4

A large sized jeep with 4WD (4x4) such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all traveling. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads.


Map


Reviews

Average rating 5 / Number of reviews 4

The entire trip was excellent! All the hotels chosen by Guide to Iceland were, for the most part, very nice and ideally located for our trip. The rental car was just right and luckily came with a GPS as our phone service was not very cooperative. The GPS saved us!!! We were very happy with each tour we booked through Guide to Iceland and all the guides were friendly and knowledgable. I would definitely recommend this service to anyone thinking of exploring Iceland.

Excellent trip and the team at Guide to Iceland were very helpful when we needed assistance to change booking of rooms. The family really enjoyed the tour, country, and arrangements throughout the stay. The sights were magnificent and highly recommended!

Overall, we had a great experince with this trip. Our itinerary differed a little due to the time of year and the specific interests of our group, but Guide to Iceland was great in helping us customize the trip. The hotels were all great, very clean and comfortable, and the SUVs were nice and comfortable as well. I was traveling with a large group (14 people, 4 cars) so having Guide to Iceland help me with all of the bookings and payment collection was fantastic!

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