Amazing 6 Day Northern Lights Winter Self Drive Tour on Iceland's South Coast with Ice Caving
Join this 6-day winter self-drive tour around some of the best spots in Iceland. Explore the wonders of Iceland's spectacular South Coast and the famous sites of the Golden Circle. This is the perfect tour for those who want the best possible value rental car to experience Iceland's magical South Coast during winter.
You'll start your 6-day adventure by exploring the stunning Golden Circle. Here you'll visit Þingvellir National Park, the Geyser geothermal area, and the mighty waterfall of Gullfoss.
Next, you'll head on through Iceland's richly diverse South Coast towards the crown jewel of Iceland, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Watch the magnificent blue icebergs float out to sea from the lagoon, and make sure to check out the Diamond Beach, where many of these icebergs wash up on shore in this otherworldly paradise. Remember, as you'll be driving yourself, you can enjoy each location in your own way and time.
Make your trip extra special by booking an optional tour in a mesmerizing blue ice cave in Southeast Iceland, open between October and March. This is a rare and unique experience, as the caves are only available for a few months per year. Specialists investigate each cave 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 also stroll on the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara, admiring the black basalt cliffs and the towers standing offshore against the endless waves. Find your favorite waterfall, as you'll get to stand next to some of Iceland's most impressive ones, particularly Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.
In the evenings, keep your eyes peeled to the northern skies for a stunning display of the Northern Lights. Ever unpredictable, in the dark of winter, the wondrous Aurora Borealis frequently dances in ribbons of green, pink, white, blue, purple, and sometimes even red over Icelandic skies. Make the most of every evening and hunt for a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
We know you're looking forward to these elements of Iceland's unique environment, like the ice caves and Northern Lights. We want to make sure that you see the most popular attractions, some off-the-beaten-track spots where you can witness some of Iceland's hidden gems away from the crowds. It's all included in the custom-made itinerary you'll receive with your tour package.
Don't miss this 6-day self-drive tour of the most popular locations on Iceland's South Coast, along with a few special surprises!
Check availability by choosing a date and book your Iceland adventure today.
Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland & Reykjavik
After arriving at Keflavík International Airport, pick up your car and head to Reykjavík City.
On your way to Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It is located 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 is no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added to another day. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you. There is still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik and the Reykjanes Peninsula if you have extra free time.
You can then head to your accommodation in the capital city of Reykjavík.
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.
Day 2 - Golden Circle Attractions
Start your trip by visiting the 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 by snorkeling in the Silfra fissure, and you can learn more about Iceland's political history.
After leaving this area, you can reach the Fontana Spa. If you elect to when booking, you can dip into the geothermal waters here and bask with beautiful lake views.
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 66 ft (20 m) 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.
If you elected to, you can go on a snowmobiling or monster truck adventure on the slopes of Langjokull glaciers from Gullfoss. These experiences will get your adrenaline pumping while exposing you to spectacular snowscapes.
A final adventure you can enjoy today is a beautiful horseback ride through Iceland's landscapes.
Spend the night in the beautiful town of Selfoss. Again, remember to gaze at the night sky in search of the auroras.
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 recommended trip to the nearby Skógar Folk Museum.
Drive on towards the Solheimajokull glacier, where you can take part in a thrilling glacier hike. This unique experience combines adventure with amazing views over the south.
If glacier hiking does not appeal to you, there are many other options for tours today. Snowmobiling on Myrdalsjokull is a particularly exciting adventure, whereas a forty-minute visit to the stables to meet Icelandic horses is a tamer but equally enjoyable adventure.
Those more interested in culture can visit the manmade Caves of Hella, which are steeped in history and mystery. Alternatively, you can visit the Lava Center Exhibition and Cinema in Hvolsvollur to learn about Iceland's volcanic past.
Once continuing your journey, you'll reach Reynisfjara beach, where you can discover wind-chiseled basalt cliffs and witness the full force of the North Atlantic Ocean. Here, you can embark on the final adventure offered today, a black-beach buggy tour.
You'll end the day at Vik. There is hardly any light pollution in the area, making Northern Light viewing optimal on clear nights.
Day 4 - Ice Cave - Svartifoss - Diamond Beach
On your fourth day, you can begin by taking the black-beach buggy tour offered yesterday for some extra adventure. You will then set off and pass the picturesque waterfall Foss á Síðu, the nearby Dverghamrar basalt columns, and the vast glacier sands of Skeiðarársandur.
Further down the road, visit the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, found within the Vatnajökull National Park. Once there, you can go on a short hike to another impressive waterfall, Svartifoss, as well as have plenty of other hiking opportunities in the area, including the chance to go on a guided glacier hike.
This is a particularly good option if you opted for a different tour on day three.
About 40 minutes further east is the truly magnificent Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. Jökulsárlón is considered the most beautiful place in Iceland, and you will probably want to spend as much time there as possible.
Those who book in advance, you can join a boat tour on the lagoon for an unforgettable perspective.
You also have the chance to visit the ice cave from this area. This extra activity is available from November through March and needs to be booked well in advance due to its popularity.
The crystal blue ice caves are one of the most incredible sites in Iceland in winter due to their vivid colors and beautiful formations.
Once you're done enjoying the blue ice and its magic, spend another night in Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Keep a lookout for the Aurora!
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 place you want to spend more time.
Before departing, however, you can go on one of two magnificent flightseeing tours over Vatnajokull glacier from Skaftafell airport. Alternatively, you can join the 'Into the Volcano' tour en route to the capital, where you enter the vast, magnificent magma chamber of a dormant volcano.
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.
Day 6 - Grótta Reykjavik - Keflavik Airport
On your departure day, you can drop off your car at the airport in Keflavik.
For those who have a later flight and choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today, you will finish off your stay unwinding before you head to the airport. This is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters as you look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice. If your flight is later, there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik.
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.
If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey. Come back soon! Sjáumst seinna!
What to bring
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.
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 around the country.
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.
Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
A large 9-seater van such as a Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD manual, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), 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.