8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting

8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting
8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting
8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting
8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting
8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting
8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting

Make the most of your time in Iceland with this 8-day winter self-drive. Circle the entire country and travel to mesmerising places such as the famous Golden Circle sightseeing route, the spectacular South Coast, the quiet Eastfjords, and the dramatic North.

Visit stunning locations such as the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Lake Mývatn on a self-drive tour that is suited for anyone wanting to travel on their own terms during the Northern Lights season.

You are behind the wheel so you can create your own adventure. There are no bus schedules or impatient tour guides to worry about, so you’ll be free to spend as much time in each spot as you like. Upon booking, you’ll receive a personal itinerary guiding you to your accommodation each night, to the most popular attractions as well as some hidden gems.

You’ll circle the entire ring road on this tour, seeing geysers erupt, waves crashing on Reynisfjara black sand beach, and icebergs drift on the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Furthermore, you will also receive a ticket to the Blue Lagoon where you can relax in the healing silica waters of this famous spa.

During the booking process, you can add on an array of extra adventures to spice up your journey. As this is a winter tour, you’ll have the rare opportunity of visiting an ice cave which is only accessible for a few months each year. You can also opt for tours where you get to know glaciers better with either a hike or by racing across the ice cap on a snowmobile.

Get to know the country with this extensive 8-day winter self-drive tour. Enjoy the scenic Icelandic nature while the elusive Northern Lights dance in the Arctic sky above you. Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Oct. - Apr.
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Hiking, Snowmobile, Sightseeing, Northern lights hunting, Cultural Activity, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Demanding
  • Minimum age: 2 years old
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, East Iceland, West Iceland , Reykjavík, Akureyri, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Mývatn, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Þingvellir, Sólheimajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Vík í Mýrdal, South Coast, Ring Road
Pickup information:
  • Starting time : Flexible

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

  • Vehicle for 8 days (Toyota Rav4 4x4 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

  • Flights

  • Lunch and dinner

  • Optional excursions


What to bring:
  • Warm clothes

  • Good Shoes

  • Driver's Licence

  • Swimsuit and towel

  • Camera


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.

Some optional activities might need either a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkelling or diving.

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.

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 October to April, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.

This self-drive is set to take place at wintertime. Conditions in Iceland can vary greatly during that season; snow and ice are commonplace, and Iceland has limited daylight hours. Please consider your ability to drive in winter conditions before booking this tour. If you feel insecure about driving in these conditions, we recommend a package tour instead.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting


After arriving in Iceland, find your vehicle at Keflavík International Airport and drive through the moss-covered lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Located on this barren terrain is the famous Blue Lagoon. You can start your Icelandic adventure right away by taking a relaxing soak in the healing waters of the spa; it is a sure way to cure all jet-lag.

Feeling refreshed after your dip in the Blue Lagoon, you will then head on out to Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík, where you will find your accommodations for the night.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

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 - The Golden Circle


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting


Today your adventure on the road begins. You’ll start the day by visiting the country's most famous area, and home to three of its most celebrated sites; the Golden Circle.

The first stop on this trio of attractions is the UNESCO world heritage site Þingvellir National Park. This is where Viking settlers founded the nation’s parliament, Alþingi, in the year 930 AD. The park is also located in a rift valley where two tectonic plates are drifting apart, causing cracks and fissures in the terrain as they tear up the landscape around.

One of those fissures, Silfra, is located on the boundary of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It is filled with crystal clear meltwater from Langjökull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. The fissure is a popular snorkelling site, and during the booking process, you can opt for a tour where you can enjoy the unparalleled visibility of the blue waters of Silfra.

Next up is the Geysir geothermal area which is home to Iceland’s most famous water feature, the erupting hot springs. The geyser Strokkur spouts boiling geothermal water 15-20 metres high in the air every 5-10 minutes, showing you the full power of the Icelandic nature.

From there you’ll move on to Gullfoss waterfall where you will witness glacial water from the river Hvítá plunge down 32-metres into a dramatic gorge. You’ll be dazzled over this iconic attraction as the rumbling sounds of Gulfoss' cascading water echoes in your ears.

If you elected to do so during the booking process, you could join a super jeep excursion at Gullfoss which will take you to Langjökull, the glacier that feeds the river Hvítá. Once there, you will mount a snowmobile and race across the whiteness of the ice cap.

After a day of sightseeing and adventures, you will head to the quiet village of Hvolsvöllur where you will find your accommodations for the evening.


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 - A Day of Glaciers


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting


Today you’ll explore the myriad of wonders on Iceland’s South Coast, where you’ll see picturesque waterfalls, stretches of black sand beaches, and magnificent glaciers.

Start the day by driving towards Seljalandsfoss waterfall, a high and narrow cascade that plunges down 62-metres over a concaved cliff. Seljalandsfoss is easily spotted from the road long before you reach it, so you can feel the excitement grow as you get closer and closer.

You’ll then make your way to another, yet equally impressive waterfall, Skógafoss. This cascade is much wider than Seljalandsfoss and has a more classic look. You can walk right up to the falling water and feel the spray on your face.

As you drive this stretch of road, towering over you will be the infamous Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano and its big brother, Mýrdalsjökull glacier. If you'd like to get up close and personal with glaciers, today is the day to do so.

You can opt for a glacier hike on one of Mýrdalsjökull outlet glaciers, Sólheimajökull, where you get to walk the millennia-old ice cap, past deep blue crevasses and high peaks which are blackened from volcanic eruptions.

Near Mýrdalsjökull lies the small village of Vík. This coastal town lies near Reynisfjara, a gorgeous black sand beach which is edged in by massive cliffs of basalt rock columns. Out in the ocean rise the 66-metre high Reynisdrangar sea stalks.

From Vík you’ll continue your journey east, in the direction of Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. In the realm of the ice cap lies Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Skaftafell is renowned for various hiking trails and tracks, and if you are not too tired after a day of sightseeing, you can walk around the beautiful landscape before finding your accommodations in the area.


Preferred accommodation by Skaftafell

Skaftafell Budget

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

Skaftafell 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.

Skaftafell Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4 star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Ice Cave and the Eastern Fjords


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting


A short drive from Skaftafell is the beautiful Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, where enormous icebergs that have broken off Vatnajökull glacier drift towards the open ocean.

Spend some time at Jökulsárlón and take in the serenity of the area. Watch the icebergs move with the waves and listen to the crackling sound they make when they break. In the winter, a large number of seals gather at the mouth of the lagoon to catch fish or laze on the bergs.

A short walk away is the Diamond Beach where ice chunks, polished by the ocean, wash up on shore and glisten in the sunlight, resembling the precious stones that give the beach its name.

If you are travelling between November and March, you will have the rare opportunity to visit an authentic ice cave in Vatnajökull glacier. These caves are only accessible in the winter as they flood during summertime. You can plan a visit during the booking process and descend into one of these caves and immerse yourself in the crystalline beauty of the glacier.

Then you head out to the eastern fjords of Iceland, a large area of vast, untouched beauty. You’ll zigzag your way through the fjords, past jagged mountains, deserted inlets, and sleeping fishing villages while the mighty Vatnajökull watches over you in the West.

The road will take you past the picturesque Vestrahorn and Eystrahorn mountains, a popular photography destination as it is possible to get a shot of the peaks mirrored in the surrounding seawater.

The largest settlement in the East, Egilsstaðir, will be your destination for the day. If the sky is clear, you might be able to enjoy the enigmatic Northern Lights.


Preferred accommodation by Egilsstaðir

Egilsstaðir Budget

Grái Hundurinn Guesthouse is located in a forested area 25km south of Egilsstaðir, and a 15 minute walk from Atlavík bay. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi available in nearby sister hotel. Breakfast not included.

Egilsstaðir Comfort

Lake Hotel Egilsstaðir is a 3 star hotel located in a short walking distance from the centre of Egilsstaðir but also right by the lake. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Spa on site for additional price. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Egilsstaðir Quality

Icelandair Hotel Hérað is a 3 star hotel centrally located within Egilsstaðir town. Bright, private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included, with focus on local ingredients.


Day 5 - The Eastfjords and Lake Myvatn


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting


Today you’ll get to explore the vast wilderness of the Eastfjords further. The area is known for its wealth of diverse wildlife. On your travels of this part of the country, keep an eye out for herds of reindeer, as this is the only region in Iceland where you can find them wild.

Close to Egilsstaðir are the most popular attraction of the East; the forest Hallormsstaðaskógur and the great lake Lagarfljót.

The forest is Iceland’s largest wooded area. There you’ll find numerous hiking trails leading to waterfalls, streams, cliffs, moors and coves. You could also hike to the serene lake Lagarfljót to try to catch a glimpse of its famous resident; the great wyrm-monster Lagarfljótsormurinn.

After exploring the East to your heart’s content, you’ll move on to the North. Make your way towards the diverse sites of Lake Mývatn, situated in an area of active volcanism.

Free standing lava pillars and pseudocraters dominate Lake Mývatn’s landscape. The surrounding region is no less spectacular, as the whole area was formed by an eruption some 2,000 years ago.

You can also visit Dimmuborgir, a vast lava field of cliffs and pillars which create a strange and beautiful labyrinth of oddly shaped rock formations. Close by is Hveravellir, a high-temperature geothermal area of bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles.

An excellent way to unwind after a day of travelling is with a soak in the mineral-rich waters of Mývatn Nature Baths. Enjoy your time there, surrounded by nothing but the unspoilt nature of the Mývatn area. If the sky is clear of clouds, the dancing Northern Lights might pay you a visit as you soothe aching muscles in the geothermal waters of the Baths.

You’ll be spending the night in this otherworldly area of Mývatn.


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 6 - The Diversity of Northern Iceland


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting


Today you’ll travel through North Iceland, visiting divine waterfalls, quirky museums and bustling towns.

Start your day in the town of Húsavík on Skjálfandi Bay. The ocean around the town is home to around 23 species of whales and dolphins, and so a trip to Húsavík Whale Museum is highly recommended.

Make your way west from Húsavík, in the direction of the town of Akureyri. Along the way, you can stop at the Transport Museum of Ystafell. This unusual museum is every auto enthusiast dream as it has an extensive collection of restored classic cars as well as a ‘graveyard’ for derelict cars and trucks.

Make another detour just as you reach Akureyri and find Iceland’s Christmas House. It doesn’t matter if you are travelling in December or April, it is always Yuletide at the Christmas House. Learn about Icelandic traditions such as the Yule Lads and the giantess Grýla, or get some presents and decorations for the next festival.

After getting into the Christmas spirit, you can head to the town of Akureyri, the largest settlement in the North. Find your accommodation, and if you are not too tired after a day of diverse attractions, you can go sightseeing or hunt for the beautiful Aurora Borealis.


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 7 - Heading Back to Reykjavik


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting


Today you’ll complete the circle around the country by heading back to Reykjavík city. Get ready to spend a good amount of time on the road, but don’t worry, along the way are some great sights worth seeing.

Start the day in Akureyri and get to know this town a little better. When you are good and ready, hop in your car and hit the road. 

When you cross over Holtavörðuheiði heights, take some time to explore the Borgarfjörður area. There you can visit two stunning but completely different waterfalls. Barnafoss waterfall cascades down a narrow, twisting ravine while the shorter and wider Hraunfossar trickles down from the edges of a dark lava field.

Europe’s most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver, is just a short drive away. This dynamic hot spring is surrounded by bright red rocks and a copious amount of steam, as it pumps over 180 litres of near boiling water every second.

The hot spring covers an area of 50 m2, but most of it is underground. Its powers are harnessed and used to heat up houses in the nearby towns of Akranes and Borgarnes. The steam coming from the ground serves as a great reminder of the energy that lies underneath the earth's crust.

Make your way back to Reykjavík where you will spend the night.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

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 8 - Farewell to Iceland


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting


Today is your last day in Iceland. Depending on your flight, you can start the day and do as the locals by heading to the nearest bakery for a breakfast treat. Try ‘snúður’, a rolled-up cinnamon-filled bread bun slathered with chocolate.

If you’d rather start the day doing something more healthy, make your way to one of Reykjavík’s swimming pools for a soak in the geothermal waters. Your visit to the Blue Lagoon can also be arranged on this day. 

Head back out to the black lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula to Keflavík International Airport. If you have time, you can visit the gems of Reykjanes such as Kleifarvatn lake or the Viking World Museum.

Make sure to give yourself plenty of time to return your vehicle at the airport before you catch your departing flight.


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, and SCDW insurances. You can upgrade to an automatic model free of charge. 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.


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.


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.


Map


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8 Day Winter Self Drive | Ring Road & Golden Circle with Northern Lights Hunting

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