8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves

Get cool on this eight-day and seven-night winter adventure in Iceland. Enter Ice caves by the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, travel the Golden Circle, hike otherworldly glaciers, explore thundering waterfalls and immerse yourself in Reykjavík's vibrant city life!

This self-drive journey takes you to the western Snæfellsnes Peninsula and along the south coast which is home to many of the most astounding and beloved natural attractions in Iceland. You will visit the Golden Circle, drive in the shadow of Eyjafjallajökull glacier and, if you're lucky, all in the glow of the green Northern Lights. Enormous glacier ice-caps, erupting geysers, bubbling hot springs, and roaring rivers rushing through black desert make your journey through this land of contrast unforgettable.

This trip also has factored in a free day in the city, offering a chance to experience the coolest capital in the world and enjoy all it has to offer with its cottage-cosmopolitan vibe, making it an adventure perfect for both the people of nature and the more city slicking cool cats.

Enjoy blue ice and black beaches while green and purple northern lights dance in the arctic sky above you. Join the adventure and let Iceland be yours this winter. Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Nov. - Mar.
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Snowmobile, Sightseeing, Cultural Activity, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajokull, Snæfellsjökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Þingvellir, Snæfellsnes, Reykjanes, Skaftafell, Borgarfjörður, Þingvallavatn, Höfn, Hellnar, Langjökull, Vík i Mýrdal, Reynisfjall, Reynisdrangar, Djúpalónssandur
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 Yaris 2DW 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

  • Lunch

  • Dinner

  • Additional tours


What to bring:
  • Warm clothes

  • Driver's license

  • Camera

  • Swim suit


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. Please note that though the tour is available to book from September to May, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves


Welcome to adventure! The ink black lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula greet you the moment you are out of the airport. To soak away all the kinks and aches of your flight, you'll get into your car and start your journey with a visit to the Blue Lagoon where the azure waters will give you the sensation of floating on a warm cloud, surrounded by snow-topped, ink black lava fields.

Then, it is time to head to the city and enjoy the twinkling lights in the dark of winter. Take a walk downtown, get a cup of hot chocolate and remember to look up, you might just see the Northern lights!


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 - Snæfellsnes Peninsula


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves


Day two marks the start of your journey here in Iceland. You’ll head north from the city to the Snæfellsnes peninsula, which is sometimes called ‘Iceland in Miniature’ due to its geological diversity. 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 centre of the earth is said to be found in the Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano which reigns over the beautiful black sands of Djúpalónssandur and the Lóndrangar rock stacks. As your journey progresses, you will see the towering Kirkjufell mountain and quaint little fishing villages that dot the coast. You’ll spend the night on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, but be sure to step out tonight and scout for the northern lights!


Preferred accommodation by Snæfellsnes

Snæfellsnes Budget

Hof Guesthouse is situated on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, just a few hundred metres from the beach. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom, living room and kitchen. Free access to a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi in public areas. Breakfast not included.

Snæfellsnes Comfort

Fosshotel Stykkishólmur is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Stykkishólmur. Spacious hotel with a view towards the bay. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Snæfellsnes Quality

Hotel Búðir is a 4 star hotel on the southern side of Snæfellsnes peninsula, with a view towards Snæfellsjökull glacier and to the sea. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - The Golden Circle


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves


Today you’ll head south-east and explore the Golden Circle, a route which takes you to three of the most iconic locations in Iceland. During your travel, you will pass through the Borgarfjörður area, known for cavernous lava caves and tunnels. You'll even have the chance to visit one of them; Víðgemir.

When you reach the Golden Circle, your first stop will be the Þingvellir National Park. Situated in a large continental rift valley, at the edge of a lava field, this UNESCO world heritage site is where Icelanders founded parliament in year 930. It has tremendous historical and geological significance and is home to fantastic locations, such as the Silfra cleft, Almannagjá canyon and Öxarárfoss waterfall. There you have the option to take a tour into the abyss and snorkel between the continents in the clear waters of the Silfra cleft.

Next, you will visit the Haukadalur geothermal valley, where the great Geysir 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.

Lastly, you will visit the Gullfoss waterfall in Glacier river Hvítá, springing from the glacier Langjökull. This massive waterfall plummets in two enormous cascades into the canyon below, its roar echoing in the surrounding cliffs.

You will spend the night nearby, in the Bláskógabyggð area.


Preferred accommodation by the Golden Circle

Golden Circle Budget

Héraðsskólinn Boutique Hostel is centrally located within Laugarvatn village. Private rooms with private or shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Golden Circle Comfort

Hotel Litli Geysir is a 3 star hotel located right across from Geysir geothermal area. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Golden Circle Quality

Hotel Grímsborgir is a 4 star hotel in the countryside, south of Þingvellir National Park. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms and a terrace. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Under Eyjafjallajökull Glacier


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves


Continuing your journey, you will head to the lowlands and trail the south coast. You'll have the option to start you day in style and take a snowmobiling tour to the Langjökull glacier, whizzing over the white planes for a taste of ultimate freedom.

As you continue your journey, you'll pass two magnificent waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, you will drive under the Eyjafjalajökull glacial volcano, and its big brother, Mýrdalsjökull glacier. If it strikes your fancy, you can even have a glacier hike for an up close and personal glacier experience and join a glacier hike at the roots of this ice giant.

You will then reach Vík, a village lying by Iceland's most famed black beach, Reynisfjara, which is guarded by two massive rock stacks that are said to be the remnants of petrified trolls. Surely, the immeasurable power of the North Atlantic will amaze you as one enormous wave after the other crashes on the shore.

You’ll then spend your night in Vík.


Preferred accommodation by Vík

Vík Budget

Puffin Hostel is centrally located in Vík. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms and a common lounge area. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Vík Comfort

Hotel Katla is a 3 star country hotel that's situated 5km to the east of Vík. Comfortable private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a hot tub and a sauna. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Vík Quality

Icelandair Hotel Vík is a 3 star hotel centrally located in Vík. Stylish private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or cliff views from each room. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 5 - To the Glacier Lagoon


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves


On this day you will journey through the black sands of Skeiðarársandur to reach the Skaftafell nature reserve, which, to the east north and west, is embraced by the great Vatajökull, Europe's largest glacier. Skaftafell is famed for its many hiking trails which are suitable for all skill levels—and, of course, glacier hiking. If it strikes your fancy, you can join a group of seasoned glacier hikers for a trip up onto the broken, impressive glacier landscape.

Next, you will drive past Iceland’s tallest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, and reach the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The massive floating Icebergs are impressive to behold as they slowly drift from the glacier to sea, where they are polished by the waves before being washed on shore, where they lie scattered like jewels on the black sands of the Diamond Beach, south of the Lagoon.

A bit further east is the town of Höfn, where you will spend the night, and prepare for tomorrow's adventure.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Gerði Guesthouse is located about 13km east of Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi in main building. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3 star hotel centrally located within the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn 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 6 - Ice Caves and Other Marvels


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves


Start the day by visiting the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon. Take your time to marvel at the blue ice and see if you can spot a seal or two, playing amongst the icebergs. This is where you have the chance to visit the amazing Blue Ice Cave, a naturally formed cave in the Vatnajökull glacier, by joining a super jeep tour and heading 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 his hand, so this will surely be an experience to remember!

On your way back to Reykjavík, you’ll have the chance to visit all the sites you might have missed, before spending an evening in the world’s coolest capital.


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 7 - Free Day in Reykjavík


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves


Filled with quirky cafés, funny and colourful houses of corrugated iron, wall art and fascinating culinary culture, Reykjavík has something to offer everyone. You now have the day to get to know it a little bit better!

Stroll downtown and hunt for the best coffee (locals take their coffee very seriously) or visit the museums and learn about the country's Viking settlers.

You can head out to the Faxaflói Bay and meet some larger locals on a whale watching excursion or opt for a more adrenalin pumping options like horseback riding or a helicopter trip.

If weather permits, you can head out on an evening northern lights hunt on your own, and enjoy their dance. If the air is too chilly, how about some local drinks, or a taste of Reykjavík’s famous nightlife? Whatever your choice, the city is sure to impress!


Day 8 - Departure Day


8 Day Winter Self Drive | Northern Lights and Ice Caves


All good things come to an end, and today marks the end of your journey. Should your flight leave in the afternoon, you could enjoy a last look at the country in the Reykjanes geopark, go for a morning visit to the Blue Lagoon, or just relax in town.

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.


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

Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models, maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model, free of charge. All cars have winter tyres. For all winter driving, we highly recommend a Comfort level 4x4 vehicle or Luxury 4x4 to combat possible heavy winter conditions.

Budget

A small 2WD vehicle fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions, such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar.

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.


Map


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