Amazing 8 Day Northern Lights Self-Drive Tour & Glacier Expedition in Iceland with Ice Caving
Take a real winter adventure with this eight-day, seven-night road trip in Iceland. This package is perfect for those who want to soak up the winter wonders, including glaciers, ice caves, and more, while being able to take it at your own pace.
This self-drive vacation will introduce you to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland's west, as well as the South Coast to the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. You will also visit the famous Golden Circle and travel to the foot of the Eyjafjallajokull glacier. You will also have plenty of time in the evenings to gaze towards the skies and search for the Northern lights.
This trip has been designed to get the most out of Iceland in winter and give you the maximum chances to experience the wonder of Iceland's glaciers.
During the booking process, you can add extra activities to get more out of your stay. You could go on a glacier hike in Skaftafell National Park. You could be transported to another world by visiting the Katla Ice Cave. You could enjoy the thrill of snowmobiling as you take in some of the most breathtaking scenery imaginable.
Explore the vast expanses of glaciers, witness the magic of black sand beaches and hunt for the Northern Lights, all while you have the luxury of going at your own pace. You will also have plenty of free time in Reykjavik to soak up the culture, cuisine, and vibrant life of the northernmost capital city in the world.
Your accommodation and itinerary are taken care of before you land, so all you need to do is take the wheel and enjoy your adventure.
Don't miss out on the chance to experience the ultimate vacation in the country renowned for its glacial beauty. Pick a date to check availability.
Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland
Welcome to Iceland! As soon as you exit the baggage claim area, your incredible journey will begin. You will pick up your car and be able to set off straight away on the adventure of a lifetime.
On your way to Iceland’s capital of Reykjavik, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon Spa. This famous attraction is known throughout the world for its azure blue, warm waters that boast minerals said to be incredibly beneficial to the skin. You could spend some time here soaking as you take in the volcanic landscape that surrounds the Blue Lagoon. This is the perfect way to shake off any post-flight tension and prepare yourself for the untold experiences you will encounter.
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 will continue over the moss-covered lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula to the world’s most northern capital city, Reykjavik, where you will check into your accommodation. You can relax or check out some of the incredible sights this vibrant city has to offer.
Day 2 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Today you will see a magical part of western Iceland, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This exceptional part of the nation is affectionately called 'Iceland in Miniature'. This is because of the wide variety of Iceland's natural landscapes that are found here.
A must-see is the glacier the peninsula is named after. Snaefellsjokull is a glacier-capped volcano that stands over the surrounding landscape like a giant guardian. This glacier inspired the science fiction writer Jules Verne and was the starting point in his epic novel 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'.
If you would like some added adventure, you could choose to visit a lava cave. Vatnshellir is an 8000-year-old magma tunnel formed during a volcanic eruption. In this experience, you will descend into the depths and then follow the path created by magma all those years ago.
Another popular attraction on the peninsula is Kirkjufell Mountain. Kirkjufell stands at the height of 1519 ft (463m). Its conical shape seems to point up towards the sky. This mountain was also a star in the HBO series Game of Thrones, in which it stood in for 'The mountain shaped like an arrowhead.'
You may also want to check out the quaint and picturesque fishing villages of Hellnar and Arnarstapi. These small towns sit at the foot of mountains and overlook the sea. They are places rich in natural beauty as well as great snapshots of idyllic Icelandic life.
You will spend the night at your accommodation on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Day 3 - The Golden Circle
Today is your chance to explore one of the most sought-after attractions in Iceland, the famous Golden Circle route. This group of three major natural attractions presents beauty, geothermal wonders, and incredible history.
The first stop most travelers take is at Thingvellir National Park. This breathtaking area sits on a rift between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Thingvellir is a UNESCO World Heritage site and was the place where Iceland established its first parliament in the year 930.
It has an incredible historical and geological significance to Icelanders. Thingvellir is also home to the Silfra Fissure, a ridge between continents filled with crystal clear glacial water that has been filtered through lava rock for over a century. Visitors can choose to take a snorkeling tour of this natural marvel. Because of the filtration of the water, Silfra is a consistent 2 degrees Celcius all year round, meaning that snorkeling in a protective dry suit is incredibly comfortable and worth it.
Next, you can visit the Haukadalur geothermal valley, where the Geysir Geothermal Area lies, giving its name to the smaller geysers that bubble and burst up sky-high all around. The earth is truly alive under your feet in this beautiful location.
Then you will visit the Gullfoss waterfall in Glacier river Hvita, springing from the glacier Langjokull. This massive waterfall plummets in two enormous cascades into the canyon below, its roar echoing in the surrounding cliffs.
If you want to add some extra thrill, you can also choose to go on a snowmobiling excursion to an ice tunnel. In this experience, you will meet your guides at Gullfoss waterfall. You are taken in a modified super jeep to the second largest glacier in the country, Langjokull.
You will then zip off along the wintery expanse of the glacier towards your destination, an ice tunnel. You will then have plenty of time to take in the magical colors these frigid walls project before you head back along the glacier.
You will spend the night in the area nearby.
Day 4 - Under Eyjafjallajokull Glacier
On the next day of your ultimate glacier adventure, you will make your way down Iceland’s South Coast.
This part of the country is known for some of the most breathtaking waterfalls Iceland has to offer. You will pass Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss.
Seljalandsfoss is known for dropping its cascade from a height of 60 metres over the opening of a cave.
Skogafoss is not far from Seljalandsfoss but has an entirely different look to it. Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. It is 25 metres wide and drops a wall of water from a height of 60 metres. During winter, some parts of the falls can freeze, giving it a completely different aesthetic, becoming tranquil and peaceful.
As you continue your journey, you will pass the infamous Eyjafjallajokull glacier volcano, which erupted in 2010. Still, no need to worry, there’s no imminent eruption of this geological wonder happening any time soon.
You will also see the spectacular Myrdalsjokull glacier. Myrdalsjokull is the fourth largest ice cap in Iceland and sits on top of a giant volcano called Katla.
If you would like to get even closer to this natural wonder, you can opt to go on a glacier hike. In this experience, you will be fitted with all the necessary gear you need to traverse this ice giant. You will then ascend the glacier and take in the view from the top.
You can also take a snowmobiling excursion of Myrdalsjokull if you would like to pump a little more adrenaline into your day.
You will eventually reach the quaint Southern village of Vik. Vik sits on the shores of the south and is famous for being the closest town to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. This beach has a shoreline of black, volcanic sand and looks out to the rough crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. If there is snowfall, the black sands contrasting with the white snow create the most incredible snapshots of this unique landscape.
You will spend the night in Vik.
Day 5 - Ice Caves and Glaciers
Today you will head even further through the glacial landscapes of the south towards the east.
You will eventually reach Skaftafell Nature Reserve, encompassed by the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull.
Skaftafell has many popular hiking trails suitable for people of all skill levels, and naturally, it's also known for glacier hiking. You can choose to join an excursion to venture on top of the largest glacier in Europe.
There are two glacial experiences you could take part in today. You could opt to go on a three-hour glacier hike in Skaftafell. You can choose to do this in the morning or the afternoon. In this excursion, you will meet your friendly guide at the base camp and then be taken to the foot of a mighty glacier. You will then ascend it and take in the truly unique view of the surrounding area.
Nothing compares to standing on top of centuries-old ice while taking in the incredible vistas of the almost untouched nature of the south coast of Iceland.
Another glacial excursion you could take today is a visit to the Katla Ice Cave. In this adventure, an experienced guide will drive you in a specially modified super jeep across the lava fields at the foot of Katla. You will then drive straight up onto the glacier towards your destination, the ice cave.
Ice caves form at the edge of glaciers. They are underground river tunnels that are formed during the regular melt-and-freeze cycles of the glacier. Each year, experienced and dedicated guides search for them and maintain them to ensure they are safe for visitors. Entering an ice cave is an incredibly unique experience. It transports you to another world that many people will only ever dream of visiting. No two ice caves are ever the same because they constantly evolve, making them as unique as fingerprints.
Once there, your guide will teach you everything you need to know about how ice caves are formed and why they are so incredibly unique. You will have plenty of time to take in the crystal-like caverns as they twist and turn. You will see almost glowing walls of blues and whites and marvel at this natural wonder before returning to base camp.
You will then travel further east, where you will spend the night in the fishing village of Hofn, where you will spend the night and prepare for tomorrow's adventure.
Day 6 - The Glacier Lagoon and More
Today begins with visiting the crown jewel of Iceland, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
Jokulsarlon is the deepest glacial lake in Iceland. It is fed from glacial water from Vatnajokull glacier.
What makes Jokulsarlon so impressive is that it is filled with gently floating icebergs. These giant pieces of ice break away from the glacial tongue and drift through the waters of the lagoon. As they move, they shift, change and melt, revealing shades of blues and whites that seem to make the pieces of ice glow.
The lagoon is also home to a number of seals who playfully swim in its waters or take a nap on an iceberg.
If you are here in September or October, you can choose to add a boat tour of the lagoon to your day. In this experience, you can hop onboard an amphibious boat and glide into the calm, icy waters to get a closer view of the giant icebergs.
For those who want to get even closer, you might like to opt for a zodiac boat tour. This smaller, more agile vessel allows you to get within meters of these icy blue wonders.
Next to Jokulsarlon is the Diamond Beach. This strip of shoreline gets its name from its jeweled-like appearance. Some icebergs from the glacier lagoon drift along this black sand beach as they head out to sea and rest on the shore like diamonds.
When you have soaked up all you can in this part of the country, it will be time to head back to Reykjavik. Along the way, you could stop at places you may have missed or even revisit your favorites one last time.
Day 7 - Free Day in Reykjavik
Reykjavik is a city unlike any other on the planet. Its heart beats with culture, cuisine, and history. The world's most northern capital city is filled with cozy cafes, fascinating architecture, and street art.
Reykjavik is also a hub of culinary experiences. The city is full of incredible restaurants just waiting to be discovered by you, and these are the perfect place to fuel up before you take in the city one last time.
There are also many museums and art galleries in Reykjavik. You could spend the day learning more about Iceland's Viking settlers and notable figures from Icelandic history.
Today you could go on a horse riding tour in the Icelandic countryside or even see the city from above on a geothermal helicopter tour.
If the weather conditions are good, you could go on a northern lights hunt in the evening, or even enjoy some drinks with the locals in a city famous for its nightlife.
Whatever you choose to do, the day is yours, so make the most of it.
Day 8 - Departure Day
All good things come to an end, and today marks the end of your journey.
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. If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
When it’s time to leave, you’ll drop off your car at the airport and head home—a little bit cooler than when you came, with loads of new and wonderful memories of Iceland.
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.
Some optional activities might require you to have 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 snorkeling or diving.
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximize your chances to see them if the weather allows.
It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is canceled. If your chosen activity is canceled, 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 the ice caves are only accessible from October to March each year.
This self-drive is set to take place in 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.
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.