Exciting 6-Day Northern Lights Winter Self-Drive Tour of Iceland's Golden Circle & Snaefellsnes
Explore the highlights of the Golden Circle and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland on this fantastic six-day self-drive tour. Travelers visiting Iceland in the winter who want to see dramatic coastlines, mighty volcanoes, spectacular waterfalls, and the northern lights will love this self-guided tour.
Organizing your own trip to Iceland can be tricky. There are so many attractions to see, and you won't want to forget anything. Choosing a self-drive tour means we'll do the hard work for you, planning a perfect itinerary and booking accommodation at a great price.
Book this top-rated self-drive tour to receive a detailed itinerary and a personal travel agent to help you with any aspect of your trip. They'll be available by phone 24 hours a day, giving you peace of mind if you have any questions or problems. You can also cancel the trip for free up to 24 hours before departure and receive a full refund if your plans change.
Your adventure will begin as soon as you land at Keflavik International Airport. You'll collect your rental car when you land and can start exploring at your leisure.
Journey through the most famous sights in the country with a self-guided tour of the Golden Circle. Relax in the healing waters of the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa and discover beautiful fjords, lava caves, volcanic craters, and waterfalls. Explore the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in West Iceland and visit two of Iceland's three national parks.
A self-drive tour is an ideal choice if you want freedom and flexibility. You can travel at your own pace without rushing off to meet tour groups or wait for other travelers.
You'll spend your days enjoying Iceland's beauty and learning about its history and culture. Since this is a winter tour, you can spend your evenings hunting for the northern lights. Witness the magic of the aurora borealis in the remote Icelandic countryside. It's an experience you'll never forget.
In addition to the most popular attractions in Iceland, you'll have the chance to get off the beaten path and visit lesser-known locations you won't find on a typical guided tour. Explore the unspoiled environment of Iceland's coasts and forests.
When you book, you can also add exciting extras to your tour. Zoom across the Langjokull glacier on a snowmobile, snorkel between tectonic plates at the Silfra fissure in Thingvellir National Park, or go lava caving at Vatnshellir.
After six fantastic sightseeing days, you'll drop your rental car back at the airport in time for your flight home.
Enjoy the best bits of Iceland in winter with this six-day self-drive tour, visiting the Golden Circle and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Check availability now by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland & Reykjanes Peninsula
Let the adventure begin! On the first day of your self-drive tour, you can explore the Reykjanes Peninsula, soak in the Blue Lagoon, and enjoy your first evening in Reykjavik.
Pick up your rental car at Keflavik International Airport and load your luggage. You'll now be ready to set off on your self-drive winter tour. Depending on your flight's arrival time, you might want to drive straight to your accommodation in Reykjavik or spend some time exploring.
If you have time today, visit the Reykjanes Peninsula to admire its striking coastline and bubbling geothermal areas. The peninsula is home to the Fagradalsfjall volcano, which erupted in 2021 and 2022 and dramatically changed the area's geological structure. It's worth exploring the eruption site if you're interested in Iceland's volcanic activity.
You can also choose to stop at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa today. This world-famous hot spring is in the middle of a moss-covered lava field and is known for its milky blue waters and stunning surroundings. Relaxing in the geothermal water is a great way to unwind after a long flight, but don't worry if you don't have time to visit today, as you'll have time another day.
When ready, you can drive into Reykjavik, the world's northernmost capital city. Reykjavik is a bustling metropolis with plenty to see and do, including museums, galleries, beautiful architecture, and the picturesque Old Harbor.
It also has excellent nightlife, with world-class restaurants and plenty of bars. Check into your accommodation and spend the rest of the day exploring the city at your own pace.
If you prefer, you can drive into the countryside to see if you can spot the northern lights. They appear in Iceland's skies between September and April.
When you're ready for bed, your comfortable accommodation in the city center awaits you.
Day 2 - Waterfalls, Hot Springs, & Lava Caves
On day two of your self-drive winter tour, you'll visit the Hraunfossar waterfall and the town of Borgarnes before arriving on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
After breakfast in Reykjavik, you can start your drive out of the city. You'll join the Ring Road and head northward until you reach the town of Borgarnes via the Hvalfjardargong undersea tunnel.
Borgarnes is a picturesque coastal town at the edge of the Borgarfjordur fjord and the mouth of a river. It's also home to the Icelandic Settlement Center, a fascinating museum that can teach you about Iceland's early settlers and the Egils saga.
Next, you'll drive east toward the beautiful Hraunfossar waterfall and the Deildartunguhver hot spring. You can explore these and admire the stunning views at your own pace.
One of the optional tours for today is a visit to the Vidgelmir lava cave, one of the most sizable caves in Iceland. An expert guide will take you deep into the lava tunnel to see the unusual shapes and structures. You'll get fantastic photos and a better understanding of the power of Iceland's volcanoes.
Alternatively, go inside a glacier with a tour of a manufactured ice tunnel in the Langjokull glacier. This exciting tour starts with a ride in a specially adapted vehicle over the glacier, letting you enjoy the gorgeous views of the wintery landscape.
Your experienced guide will then lead you into the tunnel to see the blue ice and feel the power of Iceland's glaciers. Langjokull is the second-largest glacier in Iceland, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance to see it up close.
After an exciting day of exploring, you can continue to your accommodation in or near the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Since you'll be away from Reykjavik's light pollution, this is an excellent opportunity to hunt for the northern lights. Stay up late, watching the green, yellow, pink, and red lights dancing in the sky above you, then get a good night's sleep in your comfortable accommodation.
Day 3 - Snaefellsjokull National Park
Explore the highlights of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula with its picturesque mountains, hiking trails, and pretty villages.
Begin your day with breakfast at your accommodation, then prepare for your adventure on the peninsula. You'll return to the same room tonight, so you don't need to pack your things or check out.
Start by exploring the coastal village of Stykkisholmur, the most significant settlement on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It's one of the prettiest villages in Iceland, so take your time walking through the streets and enjoying the views of the Breidafjordur fjord. You can also visit a volcano museum or the Library of Water, an unusual art installation dedicated to Iceland's crystal-clear spring water.
Next, drive to the iconic Kirkjufell mountain, one of Iceland's most photographed sites. The peak, near the village of Grundafjordur, has an unusual conical shape that makes it very distinctive. The nearby Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall is one of the best places to see it, so bring your camera!
Spend the rest of the day exploring the peninsula at your leisure. Keep driving west, stopping at photo points, until you reach the Snaefellsjokull National Park. The park is dominated by the stratovolcano that gives the park and the peninsula their names.
The volcano features in Jules Verne's 1864 novel Journey to the Center of the Earth, marking the entrance to the underworld. It's an enormous volcano with a height of almost 4,750 feet (about 1,440 meters). On a clear day, the ice-capped volcano is visible from Reykjavik.
There are several other attractions on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, but you'll have time tomorrow to see anything you miss today. Take your time and enjoy the experience.
Return eastward through the peninsula to your accommodation whenever you're ready. You can stop off in beautiful locations to wait for the aurora borealis. Witnessing the lights in the sky above the Kirkjufell mountain or the Breidafjordur fjord is utterly spectacular.
Day 4 - Mesmerizing Coastline, Black-Sand Beaches, & Lava Caving
Continue exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on day four of your six-day self-drive winter adventure in Iceland.
After breakfast in your accommodation, you can spend today exploring more of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula at your leisure. One of the best things about a self-drive tour is that you can travel at your own pace. You don't need to rush to keep up with tour groups, so take your time and soak in the experience.
Since you spent yesterday on the peninsula's northern coastline, you can spend today exploring the south. Drive to the Djupalonssandur black-sand beach to see Iceland's famous volcanic sands up close. Also known as the Black Lava Pearl Beach, Djupalonssandur boasts striking lava formations and incredible coastal views.
Walk along the sands and enjoy the views of the Londrangar cliffs, but ensure you don't get too close to the water's edge. The Atlantic Ocean here is mighty, and it can be dangerous.
If you have time today, you can enjoy an optional tour of an 8,000-year-old lava tube. A volcanic eruption created the tunnel, and you can see vividly colored rocks revealing the mineral deposits the molten rock left. The tunnel is over 650 feet (about 200 meters) long and has a depth of 115 feet (around 35 meters) at its deepest point.
Next, you can start the return journey to your accommodation by driving back along the peninsula's southern coast. Stop at the fishing villages of Hellnar and Arnarstapi. You can hike from one to the other if you like.
Don't forget to stop at the Budir church, too. If it's dark by now, this is a fantastic place to wait for the northern lights if the aurora forecast is good.
Return to your accommodation and spend another peaceful night in the quiet wintery realm of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Day 5 - The Golden Circle
Explore Iceland's most remarkable attractions with an exciting day on the Golden Circle, the country's most popular sightseeing route.
After breakfast at your accommodation, it'll be time to say goodbye to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. You'll drive back to the village of Borgarnes and start your day with a stop at Thingvellir National Park.
This national park, one of three in Iceland, is a site of enormous historical and geological importance. It's where Iceland's parliament, the Althingi, was first formed in 930 A.D. You can also see two tectonic plates drifting apart, an incredible opportunity.
While here, you can take an optional snorkeling tour in the Silfra fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Dive into the crystal-clear waters and get an unforgettable view of the underwater canyon walls. Visibility extends as far as 328 feet (about 100 meters).
Next, continue to the Geysir geothermal area within the Haukadalur valley. Geysir is the boiling hot spring that gave its name to all others. It's not very active these days, but the neighboring Strokkur geyser erupts every five or ten minutes, so you won't have to wait long to see it.
The final Golden Circle attraction is the Gullfoss waterfall. Its name translates to "Golden Falls," and this is where the Golden Circle gets its name. The waterfall has two tiers, sending almost 360 cubic feet (about 110 cubic meters) of water cascading over its crest every second in the winter.
You'll have time to explore the area and take incredible photos of the spectacular waterfall. You can also join an optional snowmobiling tour that takes you zooming across the Langjokull glacier. It's a fantastic way to end your day before you go to Reykjavik for your final evening in Iceland.
You'll check into your accommodation in the city center and can spend the evening enjoying the nightlife before bed.
Day 6 - Say Farewell!
Make the most of your final day in Iceland by exploring Reykjavik or visiting the Blue Lagoon before your flight.
Depending on your flight's departure time, you can spend the day making the most of the city's top attractions before you go to the airport.
There's more to see and explore in Reykjavik beyond the most well-known attractions. Delve into the vibrant Icelandic culture at the Arbaer Open Air Museum, where you can witness the preservation of traditional Icelandic houses and experience the local way of life during the earlier centuries.
For a tranquil yet vibrant experience, visit the Grasagardur Botanical Garden, which hosts a wide variety of both native and foreign flora, offering a peaceful escape in the heart of the city.
For art enthusiasts, visiting the Museum of Design and Applied Art provides an insight into Icelandic creativity with a rich collection of works from the 20th century to the present.
Additionally, take a peaceful stroll along the Sculpture and Shore Walk, a picturesque seaside pathway adorned with striking sculptures, and enjoy the beautiful views of the surrounding mountains and sea. Don't miss the Sun Voyager, an iconic sculpture by Jon Gunnar Arnason, promising a visual treat, especially during the sunset.
If you didn't visit the Blue Lagoon on your first day, you could end your vacation by relaxing in the healing geothermal waters of this incredible spa. Reflect on the adventure you've enjoyed as you soak and relax with a silica-rich face mask.
When it's time for your flight, drop your rental car at the airport and go to the departure lounge. We wish you a pleasant journey home and look forward to seeing you in Iceland again one day!
What to bring
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.
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.
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.
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 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.