Winter 7 Day Self Drive Tour | The Golden Circle & North Iceland

Winter 7 Day Self Drive Tour | The Golden Circle & North Iceland
The elusive Northern Lights are one of the major appeals of travelling to Iceland in the winter.
A map detailing the route undertaken on this 7-Day Self Drive Tour.
Standing at 15 metres high, Hvítserkur is a rock stack on the eastern shores of the Vatnsnes peninsula.
Icelandic Horses are famed for their hardiness against Iceland's bitter cold weather; they are able to live comfortably in Iceland the whole year round.
The geyser Strokkur erupting in a magnificent display of nature's raw energy.
The Blue Lagoon Spa, roughly fifteen minutes from the airport, makes for a warm and cozy day-trip during the winter months.

See Iceland’s dramatic northern coast for yourself! This car rental package offers you an easy trip to Iceland's best-known natural sights, with some hidden gems as well.

You'll start in Reykjavik and head north to the coastal city of Akureyri, and on to Húsavík and Lake Mývatn. No matter where you go, you are in control. Stop where you like and leave when you want - focus only on enjoying yourself. 

Akureyri, the capital of the north, is a frosty wonderland of mountains, pools and pretty coastline sparkling with ice. You’ll cross the epic lava fields of Lake Mývatn, as well as some magical waterfalls and charming Icelandic culture on the way back to the capital. Then, you'll explore the famous attractions of the Golden Circle.

If you want more, you can add extra tours during the booking process. In western Iceland, take time for a tour of Viðgelmir lava cave or examine the ice layers deep inside a glacier. On your day around the Golden Circle, you can go snorkelling in Silfra fissure or snowmobile across the ice cap of a glacier. 

We at Guide to Iceland know why you've chosen to spend your precious vacation days in Iceland: to savour time in the great outdoors, far from the busy city and its noisy crowds. To help you find more private places, we’ve included some of our personal favourites. There will be very few people at some of these locations, and they are even more dazzling in their pristine state. The details are part of our exclusive itinerary when you book this tour.

Enjoy Iceland's winter beauty in just a week! Check booking availability now, by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible.

Your car will await you at Keflavík International Airport when you arrive. You will drop it off at Keflavík airport, too, when you depart from Iceland.
Included:
  • 6 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 7 days (Toyota Rav4 4x4 or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW and SCDW insurance along gravel protection for car rental

  • GPS System

  • Blue Lagoon comfort entrance (upgrade to premium level 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 Clothes

  • Driver's license

  • Winter hiking shoes


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.

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.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland - Reykjanes Peninsula


The rock stacks at Reykjanestá mark the southwestern tip of the Reykjanes Peninsula.


Collect your car at Keflavík airport, and if you're on an early flight and have time, you can explore the Reykjanes Peninsula with its magnificent cliffs and sea stacks at Reykjanestá. Then, you could make an optional visit to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa before driving to your accommodation in downtown Reykjavík - the visit to the Blue Lagoon can also be booked for your last day.

After settling in, the rest of the day is free to explore one of Europe's most vibrant cities. Reykjavík's abundance of museums, galleries, restaurants and bars will be sure to entertain you, in addition to many other quirky tourist sights, is sure to give you something that thrills you!


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.


Day 2 - Akureyri in North Iceland


Akureyri, the northern capital of Iceland, is filled with fascinating Nordic architecture.


Day 2 marks the beginning of your journey north as you take the Ring Road and head to Akureyri.

There is plenty to do in the capital of the north. Meet up with some locals, visit the Christmas House in celebration of Christmas (or, as it is called in Iceland, Jól) or explore the northernmost botanical gardens in the world, with more than 6,500 types of flora on display.

You will spend the night in the city centre of Akureyri.


Preferred accommodation by Akureyri

Akureyri Budget

Acco Akureyri is centrally located in Akureyri. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and a shared kitchen. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Akureyri Comfort

Hotel Norðurland is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri. Spacious and bright private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Akureyri Quality

Icelandair Hotel Akureyri (Deluxe room) is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Akureyri, right next to the swimming pool. Private bedroom with a living room area and a private bathroom. Great views from the 5th floor. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - Lake Myvatn - Grjotagja Cave - Dettifoss Falls


The clear blue water inside of Grjótagjá cave truly defies the imagination.


On day three, drive east to your accommodation in Mývatn, before heading out to the lava field of Dimmuborgir, or "the dark cities." Once there, you can explore the eerie, black pillars and caves that dominate the area.

Also, you can take a look at one of Iceland's beautiful hidden jewels, the spring cave Grjótagjá which is near Reykjahlíð.

The hot springs of Námaskarð are not far from Lake Mývatn, as you continue along the Ring Road and take a side road to visit Iceland's most powerful waterfall, Dettifoss, only if road conditions allow. 

We recommend ending your day with a soothing soak in the geothermal waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths, before spending the night in the area. Keep your eyes open for Northern Lights.


Preferred accommodation by Mývatn

Mývatn Budget

Eldá Guesthouse is situated in Reykjahlíð village right by Lake Mývatn. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and shared kitchen. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Mývatn Comfort

Hotel Gigur is a 2 star hotel on the southern side of Lake Mývatn, right next to Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Mývatn Quality

Hotel Laxá is a 3 star hotel on the southern side of Lake Mývatn, with great views over the lake. Modern private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Husavik & Godafoss Falls


An Icelandic passenger ship, the MS Goðafoss (named after the waterfall) was sunk by a German U-boat during the Second World War.


Today, after exploring a little more in the Mývatn area, you'll head to the nearby village of Húsavík, known for its quaint buildings, such as Húsavíkurkirkja church. This fishing village is also known for the wealth of marine life that dwells in the ocean around, and a trip to Húsavík's Whale Museum is highly recommended.

After that, you'll head back west for a stop at the mighty Goðafoss waterfall before reaching Akureyri again.

Continue towards Skagafjörður, the only county in Iceland where horses outnumber people, and head back the same way you drove from Reykjavík towards your accommodation.

You can take this time to linger at your favourite spots or visit any that you may have missed on your way out of the city. The choice is yours, and you can do what you feel!

Spend the night in the northwest area of Iceland and hunt again for the Northern Lights.


Preferred accommodation by Blönduós

Blönduós Budget

Blanda Hostel is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, lounge and kitchen. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Blönduós Comfort

Hotel Blanda is centrally located within Blönduós town in north Iceland with a view towards Blanda river and the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast is included.

Blönduós Quality

Hotel Laugarbakki (Superior room) is a 3 star hotel situated in the countryside south of the town Hvammstangi with a view over nearby river. Spacious private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outside hot tubs and an indoor gym. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 5 - Hot Springs & Cascades of Hraunfossar


Hraunfossar looks even more majestic than normal when surrounded by Autumnal colours.


On the fifth day, make a stop at the beautiful Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, where the water gently cascades into the river below. Nearby is Deildartunguhver, home of the largest hot spring in Europe.

History buffs may also enjoy a visit to Snorrastofa, the medieval research institute in Reykholt, where the early settler Snorri Sturluson wrote saga Heimskringla in the 13th century.

Another recommended stop on the way back to Reykjavík is at the Icelandic settlement exhibition in Borgarnes, and at Fossatún, a waterfall said to be guarded by a troll woman named Drifa.

Or you can always choose to enter man-made ice tunnels at Langjökull glacier, or explore the natural, large Víðgelmir lava cave.

You'll spend the night in Reykjavík.


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.


Day 6 - The Golden Circle


Gullfoss is the prize and joy of south west Iceland, a staggering natural features that drops a mighty 32 metres.


From Reykjavík, you can easily access the classic Golden Circle route. It comprises three of Iceland's greatest highlights, unmissable stops during your visit to Iceland.

First up is the National Park of Thingvellir, a historical site with great geological importance, being a valley situated between two tectonic plates. Here you have the option to go snorkeling, in Silfra, Iceland's most famous diving site with crystal clear waters.

The geothermal area at Haukadalur valley will be your next stop, where the geyser Strokkur erupts every 5-8 minutes, so you'll have a few chances to try to catch it on camera.

Finally, you'll arrive at the magnificent Gullfoss Falls, which will probably take your breath away. Here, you can choose to go on an optional snowmobile tour at the nearby Langjökull glacier.

After a full day sightseeing, return to Reykjavík where you can have dinner in one of its fine restaurants downtown.


Day 7 - Departure: Car Drop Off at Keflavik International Airport


Reykjavík is brimming with opportunities, from exciting nighttime bars to sophisticated museums and art galleries.


If you have a flight back in the late afternoon or evening, then you may want to add an optional visit to the Blue Lagoon if you didn't do so on your first day. Alternatively, you can do your last-minute shopping in Reykjavík and soak in the relaxed, friendly atmosphere of the city.

Just be sure to reach the airport in time to drop off your car, and have a wonderful flight home, having witnessed some of the finest sights that Iceland has to offer.

Come again soon! There's still so much to see!


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

The vehicles offered for our winter self drive tours are 4WD jeeps or SUVs to counter Icelandic winter conditions. They are new or current models, maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, SCDW, and GP insurances. You can upgrade to an automatic model. All cars have winter tyres.

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.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized jeep with 4WD (4x4) such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all traveling.


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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Winter 7 Day Self Drive Tour | The Golden Circle & North Iceland
 
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