8-Day Northern Lights Winter Self-Drive Tour of West and South Iceland with Ice Caving

Free cancellation
24/7 customer support
Perfect travel plan
Fully customizable

Description

Summary

Starts from
Keflavík Airport
Ends in
Keflavík Airport (KEF), Reykjanesbær, Iceland
Duration
8 days & 7 nights
Difficulty
Easy
Available
Sept. - Apr.
Accommodation
7 nights included
Car rental
8 days included

Description

Experience eight days of thrilling adventures in the land of fire and ice with this winter self-drive tour in Iceland. Book this multi-day tour today to see the Golden Circle, immerse yourself in Reykjavik's vibrant city life, and enter an ice cave by the spectacular Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

Allow the professionals to plan for you, yet enjoy maintaining freedom and flexibility when you book this self-drive tour.

To begin your self-drive tour in Iceland, you'll pick up your car rental in Reykjavik or at the Keflavik International Airport. For the next eight days, this car will be your companion on the road, with spacious seats, free Wi-Fi, and an engine fit for the Icelandic terrain.

For added convenience, this widely popular winter package includes seven nights of accommodations that you can upgrade for different comfort levels and perks depending on your budget. You'll also get a comprehensive itinerary detailing the attractions and routes to explore.

Although you'll get a complete itinerary, you can personalize your drive if you prefer spending more time in one place and skip some attractions. A personal travel agent reachable 24/7 can assist you with this, other queries, or in cases of emergencies.

This winter tour highlights some of the most famous places in Iceland, from the Golden Circle to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the South Coast. These scenic routes feature diverse natural landscapes, including waterfalls, rugged cliffs, black sand beaches, and towering peaks.

For example, the Golden Circle boasts the Thingvellir National Park, Iceland's first UNESCO World Heritage site. On the South Coast, two majestic waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, await you with their cascade of 200 feet (60 meters).

Enormous glacier ice-caps, erupting geysers, bubbling hot springs, and roaring rivers rushing through the black desert make your journey through this land of contrast unforgettable.

This trip also has factored in a free day in Reykjavik, offering a chance to experience the northernmost capital city in the world. Reykjavik perfectly blends the cityscapes, nature, and culture with its many shops, restaurants, and cultural attractions, surrounded by seas and mountains.

Besides sightseeing, you can maximize your Icelandic holiday by adding guided activities during the booking process. Choose from Blue Lagoon geothermal bathing, glacier hiking, Silfra snorkeling, a helicopter tour, and more. 

An experience you shouldn't miss is ice caving at the Vatnajokull National Park, near the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Ice caves can only be explored during winter when meltwater freezes on the glaciers.

After a successful winter drive in West and South Iceland, you'll return your car rental at the airport, signaling the end of this great adventure.

If there are any unexpected changes to your travel plans, fret not, as you can cancel your booking up to 24 hours before departure and still receive a full refund.

Enjoy blue ice, black beaches, and icy waterfalls while the bright colors of the northern lights dance above you with this 8-day self-drive tour in Iceland. Check availability now by choosing a date.

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Included

7 nights of accommodation
Continental breakfast on all days
New rental car for 8 days
CDW car rental insurance
Gravel protection car insurance
Unlimited mileage
Unlimited in-car Wi-Fi
Detailed itinerary & travel plan
Personal travel agent
24/7 helpline
VAT & all taxes

Destinations

Reykjavik is the northernmost capital city in the world.Reykjavík / 3 nights
Beautiful coastal geology helps to define the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.Snæfellsnes / 1 night
An abandoned house on the Reykjanes Peninsula presents a striking contrast against a lush green landscape.Southwest Iceland / 1 night
Dyrhólaey peninsula from east to westSouth Coast / 1 night
The Vatnajokull glacier in Southeast Iceland.Southeast Iceland / 1 night

Map

Attractions

Seals hauling out at Ytri Tunga.Ytri Tunga Beach
Búðakirkja Church bathed by the Northern LightsBudir
Lóndrangar under the midnight sun.Lóndrangar
Djúpalónssandur Black Lava Pearl Beach is a beautiful place on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.Djúpalónssandur
Snæfellsjökull glacier above the black church at Búðir village.Snæfellsjökull
Mount Kirkjufell on Snaefellsnes peninsula is one of the most iconic mountains in IcelandKirkjufell
Þingvellir National Park is Iceland's only UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the major stops along the world famous Golden Circle sightseeing route.Thingvellir
Geysir is a dormant hot spring in the geothermal area, Haukadalur Valley, found in South Iceland.Geysir
Long-exposure photo of Gullfoss waterfall on a cloudy dayGullfoss
Þingvellir National Park, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on Iceland’s mainland, is birthplace of the country’s parliament.Kerið
Seljalandsfoss on the South Coast of Iceland bathed in the otherworldly light of the midnight sun.Seljalandsfoss
The mighty Skógafoss waterfallSkógafoss
Reynisfjara beach and Reynisdrangar cliffs in winterReynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Arial view of Reynisdrangar and Mt. ReynisfjallReynisdrangar
Skaftafell Nature Preserve can be found in Öræfasveit, the western region of Austur-Skaftafellssýsla in Iceland.Skaftafell
Svartifoss in Skaftafell Nature Reserve in summer.Svartifoss
Jökulsárlón is one of Iceland's most popular and unique attractionsJökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
The icy diamonds of Diamond BeachDiamond Beach
Image of the town on Heimaey, Westman Island.Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands)
Kleifarvatn is the third largest lake in Iceland.Kleifarvatn
KrýsuvíkKrýsuvík
Gunnuhver is one of the geothermal areas on the Reykjanes Peninsula.Gunnuhver

Activities

Glacier Hiking
Snorkelling
Caving
ATV
Snowmobile
Horse Riding
Whale Watching
Sightseeing
Boat Trip
Northern lights hunting
Hot Spring Bathing
Cultural Activity
Helicopter
Ice Caving
Self drive

Travel details

Travel dates

Travelers

Car

Car

Small car

Small car

Category
small car
Transmission
People
Large bags
Medium car

Medium car

Category
Medium
Transmission
People
Large bags
Premium car

Premium car

Category
premium car
Transmission
People
Large bags
SUV

SUV

Category
JEEPSUV
Transmission
People
Large bags

Personalize your itinerary

Day 1 – Reykjavík

Day 1

Day 1 – Reykjavík

  • Reykjavík - Arrival day
  • More

Welcome to your multi-day winter adventure in Iceland.

After arriving at the Keflavik International Airport, you'll pick up your car rental to begin the first day of your self-drive tour. Your destination for this day is Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, 31 miles (50 kilometers) away.

The ink-black lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula greet you the moment you are out of the airport. Otherworldly volcanic landscapes dot this Icelandic peninsula because of the area's active volcanism and geothermal fields.

An optional activity in the area is geothermal bathing in the Blue Lagoon. For an extra cost, you can purchase a comfort package or premium package, depending on your budget. Both entrance tickets entitle you to access the lagoon facilities, silica mud masks, and towel or bathrobe use.

The Blue Lagoon is a world-renowned spa known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It's 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's 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.

Then, it's time to head to the city and enjoy the twinkling lights in the dark of winter. You might see the northern lights before retiring for the night in your cozy accommodation. Iceland is one of the best places to see these polar lights, so take advantage of this opportunity.

If you're still up for an evening adventure, take a walk downtown to explore the vibrant streets of the Icelandic capital. Near your accommodation are restaurants and charming cafes where you get a cup of hot chocolate or local dishes like smoked lamb.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 2 – Snæfellsnes

Day 2

Day 2 – Snæfellsnes

  • Snæfellsnes
  • More
  • Ytri Tunga Beach
  • Budir hamlet
  • Londrangar Basalt Cliffs
  • Djupalonssandur black pebble beach
  • Snaefellsjokull
  • Kirkjufell Mountain
  • More

Day two marks the start of your journey in Iceland outside the capital city. You'll head north to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, 85 miles (136 kilometers) from Reykjavik. Due to its geological diversity, the peninsula is sometimes called 'Iceland in Miniature.'

This beautiful place stands halfway between reality and fiction, as its remarkable landscapes are shrouded in myth, lore, and legend. The mythological passage to the Earth's center in Jules Verne's book, Journey to the Center of the Earth, is said to be found in the Snaefellsjokull glacier volcano, which reigns over the entire peninsula.  

On the southern shores of Snaefellsnes, the beautiful black sands of Djupalonssandur and the Londrangar rock stacks will welcome you. The North Atlantic waves constantly hit these coastal locations, adding a haunting scene to their allure.

Nearby are Hellnar and Arnarstastapi, two coastal villages with rich fishing culture and history. You can quickly visit these settlements to explore their charming houses and cafes. This is also your chance to meet friendly locals and learn more about their culture.

As your journey progresses, you'll see the towering Kirkjufell mountain and the quaint town of Stykkisholmur. While Kirkjufell is one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland at 1519 feet (463 meters), Stykkisholmur is the peninsula's center of commerce and tourism.

You have two options if you want to partake in an activity today. Firstly, you can embark on a breathtaking whale-watching tour from Snaefellsnes. This adventure allows you to see dolphins, seabirds, and perhaps even some great whales, such as humpbacks and sperm whales.

Alternatively, you can rejuvenate at the Krauma Spa in West Iceland. This geothermal spa overlooks Deildartunghver, the highest-flowing hot spring in Europe.

You'll spend the night on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Be sure to step out tonight and scout for the northern lights.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 3 – Southwest Iceland

Day 3

Day 3 – Southwest Iceland

  • Southwest Iceland
  • More
  • Thingvellir National Park
  • Geysir geothermal area
  • Gullfoss waterfall
  • Kerid Crater
  • More

On day three of this winter tour, you'll head southeast and explore the Golden Circle, a route that takes you to three of the most iconic locations in Iceland. 

Before reaching the Golden Circle, you'll traverse the Borgarfjordur area, known for its cavernous lava caves and tunnels. You'll even have the chance to visit one of them, Vidgelmir, if you opt for a lava-caving experience.

A lava-caving tour introduces you to the magical world under Iceland's landscapes. These optional tours are guided, so you'll be in the hands of local experts to ensure safety and enjoyment.

When you reach the Golden Circle, your first stop will be the Thingvellir National Park. This UNESCO world heritage site, sitting on a rift valley, is where Icelanders founded parliament in 930. It has tremendous historical and geological significance and is home to fantastic locations like the Silfra fissure, Almannagja canyon, and Oxararfoss waterfall.

Here, you can walk between the continents and snorkel in the clear waters of the Silfra fissure. Participants need to be comfortable in the water and be able to swim.

Next, you'll visit the Haukadalur geothermal valley, where the great Geysir lies, giving its name to the smaller geysers that bubble and burst sky-high year-round. Although Geysir is inactive these days, its neighbor, Strokkur geyser, shoots up boiling water every five to 10 minutes to as high as 66 feet (20 meters).

Lastly, you'll visit the Gullfoss waterfall in the 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 don't go snorkeling in Silfra, you could go on a thrilling snowmobiling tour from Gullfoss on the surface of Langjokull glacier. This exciting ride is perfect for adventure seekers.

You'll spend the night near the Golden Circle.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 4 – South Coast

Day 4

Day 4 – South Coast

  • South Coast
  • More
  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
  • Skogafoss waterfall
  • Reynisfjara black sand beach
  • Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
  • More

Continuing your journey on day four, you'll head to the lowlands and onward to the South Coast. The South Coast is one of the most visited regions in Iceland due to its wealth of natural attractions and proximity to the capital city.

A trip to the South Coast of Iceland opens with back-to-back sightseeing of two magnificent waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. These two attractions are famous for their breathtaking water cascading from cliffs of 200 feet (60 meters). They become more beautiful in winter, with ice and snow covering the surrounding landscape. 

Not far from these delights are more natural features of the region. You'll drive under the shadows of the Eyjafjallajokull glacial volcano and its big brother, Myrdalsjokull glacier.

In Myrdalsjokull, you can opt for a glacier hiking experience if you want an up-close and personal exploration of its otherworldly features. Atop Myrdalsjokull's outlet glacier, Solheimajokull, you'll conquer deep crevasses, ridges, snowy plains, ice walls, and more.

Your second option is to take a snowmobiling tour at the Myrdalsjokull glacier, whizzing over the white planes for a taste of ultimate freedom. Operating a snowmobile is easy, so even first-timers can join.

After any of these glacier adventures, you'll continue driving toward Vik. Vik i Myrdal is a small village famous for a nearby black sand beach called Reynisfjara. This long stretch of volcanic sand boasts picturesque sea stacks and basalt cliffs constantly pounded by massive Atlantic waves.

Before resting for the night, you can explore the village and walk up to the local church to get a panoramic view of the landscape. With the right weather and sky conditions, you can also have an excellent opportunity to spot the northern lights in this area.

When ready, you'll retire to your cozy South Iceland accommodation.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 5 – Southeast Iceland

Day 5

Day 5 – Southeast Iceland

  • Southeast Iceland
  • More
  • Skaftafell Nature Reserve
  • Svartifoss
  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
  • Diamond Beach
  • More

Day five of this winter road trip takes you deeper into the remote southeast areas of Iceland. Today, you'll begin exploring the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull.

Before leaving Vik village, you can take a thrilling buggy tour along the black sands of Reynisfjara beach. This optional activity is perfect for thrill-seekers who want an unforgettable experience on Iceland's most famous black coast.

From Vik, you'll journey through the black sands of Skeidararsandur to reach the Skaftafell nature reserve, which the great Vatnajokull embraces in all directions. 

Skaftafell is famed for its many hiking trails suitable for all skill levels, perfect for glacier hiking adventures. If it strikes your fancy, you can join a glacier hike with an experienced guide for a trip onto the rugged yet impressive glacier landscape. During this breathtaking expedition, you'll witness intricate ice formations and crevasses, immersing yourself in the glacier's sheer power and ancient history.

Otherwise, you can take a unique ice-caving tour higher up the glacier. Ice caves are rare, beautiful phenomena you can only explore in a few places on Earth, like Iceland. Venturing into an ice cave allows you to glimpse the glacier's heart. It offers a surreal and magical experience amidst dazzling blue ice formations, a once-in-a-lifetime adventure.

Next, you'll drive past Iceland's tallest peak, Hvannadalshnjukur, and reach the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. The massive floating icebergs are impressive as they slowly drift from the glacier to the sea, where the waves polish them before being washed ashore.

Although you can start exploring the lagoon, you'll have more time to see the deep lake the next day. You can then continue driving a bit further to your Southeast Iceland accommodation to prepare for tomorrow's adventure.

If the skies are clear, you can hunt for the aurora borealis. The magical lights are even better to admire when they shine their reflection in the sea.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 6 – Reykjavík

Day 6

Day 6 – Reykjavík

  • Reykjavík
  • More
  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
  • Vestmannaeyjar / Heimaey
  • More

Start day six by visiting the Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon, famous for its thousands of icebergs. Glacier melts from one of Vatnajokull's outlet glaciers, constantly filling up the lagoon and making it as deep as 656 feet (200 meters).

You can take a boat tour amongst the icebergs to get an even more intimate experience with this beautiful place. These icebergs feature different sizes and colors, from as small as the palm of your hand to as big as buildings.

To the south of Jokulsarlon is a long stretch of beach where some ice chunks end up before melting into the sun. The pieces of ice shining like crystals against the black sand beach is how this attraction got its name, Diamond beach.

If you're here from October to March, you also have the chance to visit a magnificent blue ice cave, a naturally formed feature in the Vatnajikull glacier. You can join a super jeep tour and head high onto the glacier to the cave, hidden deep within the ice cap.

The ice caves are empty underground river tunnels that freeze, so they are only accessible in winter when the rivers of summer meltwater have run their course. Your guide knows the glacier like the back of their hand, so this will surely be an experience to remember. 

If you are here outside this time, there's still plenty of sightseeing at the glacier lagoon. Take your time admiring the lagoon and icebergs from different angles.

After a wonderful time in the Vatnajokull National Park, you'll drive back to Reykjavik. Time permitting, you can still visit some sites you might have missed on the South Coast before spending an evening in the Icelandic capital.

For example, you can make quick stops in Hveragerdi and Stokkseyri settlements to see their exciting museums.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 7 – Reykjavík

Day 7

Day 7 – Reykjavík

  • Reykjavík
  • More

In contrast to your previous days, your penultimate day in Iceland is more laid-back and requires less driving time. Instead, you'll find yourself in Reykjavik, exploring its vibrant streets and unique cultural attractions.

Filled with quirky cafes, funny and colorful houses of corrugated iron, street art, and fascinating culinary culture, Reykjavik has something to offer everyone. You now have the day to get to know it better.

Stroll downtown and hunt for the best coffee (locals take their coffee very seriously) to warm up for the day. This will help shield you against the cold winter season. Additionally, don't forget to visit Baejarins Beztu stand to sample one of the most delicious hot dogs in the world.

You can visit the city's various settlements and art museums to learn more about the country's rich Viking history. You can get discounts for these venues and even free admission to some galleries and pools with a Reykjavik City Card, which you can organize when booking.

You can also elect for admission to the Whales of Iceland exhibit and FlyOver Iceland experience. The former has life-sized models of all the whales, dolphins, and porpoises around the island with comprehensive information on these gentle giants of the sea.

Meanwhile, the latter is a simulated ride where you fly over a screen depicting Iceland's beautiful scenery, with special effects such as wind and scents.

You can also opt for a more adrenalin-pumping option like horseback riding through stunning countryside landscapes, whale-watching from the harbor, or a geothermal helicopter trip with a landing. You can also book a northern lights hunting cruise for the evening for a final show of the aurora borealis over the ocean.

Whatever activities you book for this day, you will have an excellent time in Reykjavik. Retire to your city center accommodation at the end of another fantastic day.

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Experiences

Accommodation

Day 8 – Reykjavík

Day 8

Day 8 – Reykjavík

  • Reykjavík - Departure day
  • More
  • Kleifarvatn
  • Krýsuvík
  • Gunnuhver
  • More

All good things come to an end, and today marks the end of your journey in the land of fire and ice.

On day eight of your self-drive winter tour in Iceland, you'll head back to the Keflavik International Airport to return the car rental and catch your flight home. Fortunately, you can still pack your day with sightseeing and a few activities if you have a later flight.

With many hours before your departure, you can still fit some last-minute souvenir shopping into your itinerary. Laugavegur street in the downtown area is the best place to go for its many options of souvenir shops, boutiques, and food places. Depending on your budget, you can find cheap tokens and more expensive items in the area.

If you didn't visit the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa on your first day, you could do it on your last day. You'll finish off your stay unwinding before you head to the airport. The Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in its warm, mineral-rich waters. 

While geothermal bathing, you can reflect on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice. Take some photos here as it's the most famous place in Iceland outside Reykjavik.

Besides the Blue Lagoon, there are more things to explore in the Reykjanes Peninsula or the town of Keflavik. For example, you can drive to Kleifarvatn lake to see its beautiful landscape and lava mountains and to Krysuvik to witness its bubbling mud pools and steam vents surrounded by snow.

When it's time to leave, you'll drop off your car at the airport and head home with loads of new and beautiful memories of Iceland. We wish you a pleasant journey home and hope to see you again soon.

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What to bring

Warm and waterproof clothes
Driver's license
Winter hiking shoes
Swimsuit & towel
Camera

Good to know

Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavik city or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license and a one-year-long on-road experience are required. Gravel protection is not included if you choose a Toyota Aygo or similar. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit 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 for snorkeling or diving, and participants need to be comfortable in the water and be able to swim.

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 yearly.

This self-drive is set to take place in wintertime. Conditions in Iceland can vary significantly 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 nationwide.

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