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

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

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Perfect travel plan
Fully customizable
Car & accommodation
Tour starts
Keflavík Airport, Flexible
Duration
8 days
Available
Sep. - Apr.
Minimum age
None

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.

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 2WD or similar. Upgrades available)
CDW and SCDW insurance along gravel protection for car rental
GPS System
Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
Taxes

Activities

Glacier Hiking
Snorkelling
Caving
Snowmobile
Sightseeing
Cultural Activity
Ice Caving
Self drive

Attractions

Blue Lagoon
Golden Circle
Reykjavík
Jökulsárlón
Hvítá River
Vatnajökull
Snæfellsjökull
Faxaflói
Skógafoss
Seljalandsfoss
Geysir
Gullfoss
Eyjafjallajökull
Þingvellir
Strokkur
Snæfellsnes
Reykjanes
Hvannadalshnúkur
Mýrdalsjökull
Skaftafell
Borgarfjörður
Þingvallavatn
Höfn
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Hellnar
Langjökull
Vík í Mýrdal
Keflavik International Airport
Kirkjufell
Reynisfjall
Reynisdrangar
Öxarárfoss
Haukadalur
Lóndrangar
Djúpalónssandur
Ytri Tunga Beach
South Coast
Diamond Beach

Daily itinerary

Day 1
The skyline of Reykjavík glows a golden hue across the frozen Tjörnin Pond in winter.

Welcome to Iceland

Welcome to your adventure! The ink-black lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula greet you the moment you are out of the airport.

On your way to Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colours and luxurious treatments. It is located 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 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.

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!

Day 2
Nicknamed 'Iceland in Miniature', the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has diverse landscapes and features, including spectacular mountains such as Kirkjufell, pictured here in midwinter.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula

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!

Day 3
The effects of the constant 'twilight' that the few hours of sun in Iceland's winter bring allows for brilliant photo opportunities at locations such as the Geysir Geothermal Area in south Iceland.

The Golden Circle

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.

Day 4
Near the village of Vík Í Mýdral is the black sand beach Reynisfjara, which overlooks the mighty mountain Reynisfjall and the basalt columns of Reynisdrangar.

Under Eyjafjallajökull Glacier

Continuing your journey, you will head to the lowlands and trail the south coast.

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. Or you can take a snowmobiling tour to the Mýrdalsjökull glacier, whizzing over the white planes for a taste of ultimate freedom.

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.

Day 5
The fiery skies of Iceland at dusk in midwinter reflect in the mirror-like surface of the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, contrasting spectacularly with the azure icebergs.

To the Glacier Lagoon

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.

Day 6
One of the marvels of south-east Iceland is the Diamond Beach, where blue icebergs rest on black sands, contrasting beautifully with the swirling white surf.

Ice Caves and Other Marvels

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.

If you are here from November to March, 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!

If you are here outside of this time, there is still plenty of sightseeing to do at the glacier lagoon. You should also check out the Diamond Beach, an area next to the lagoon where icebergs meet the ocean. Some of them rest on the black sand of the shoreline giving it a jewelled appearance.

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.

Day 7
A free day in Reykjavík can be spent taking tours, exploring the culture, or seeing stunning nature within the city, such as in its many parks.

Free Day in Reykjavík

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
The aurora borealis reward those who search for them the hardest, and a self-drive tour provides endless opportunities for guests to hunt them.

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.

Map

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 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.

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.

Accommodation

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.

Super Budget

Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

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, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars. All levels come equipped with a GPS and 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. In wintertime, all cars have winter tyres.

Budget 2WD

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.

Budget 4x4

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.

Comfort 4x4

A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as a Toyota Rav4, or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travellers 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.

Luxury 4x4

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.

Van

A large 9-seater van such as a Renault Trafic (2WD manual), Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD automatic, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travellers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.

Meals

You can now add meals to your booking. Select to include dinner on every night as an optional extra, and we will provide you with vouchers as part of your booking confirmation. We will choose from top-rated restaurants that fit with your vacation itinerary and make your reservations for you. At the restaurant, you will be offered a set menu, from which you can choose from meat, fish or vegetarian options. If you would prefer something else, the voucher will act as a credit that you can redeem at the restaurant against menu items that are not part of the set menu. Please notify the restaurant on arrival about any dietary requirements. Vouchers are non-refundable.

Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost. The cost of your cancellation insurance depends on the duration of your tour or package. A base cost of 5,000 ISK per person is applied to all tours and packages with a duration of 5 days or less. An additional 1,000 ISK per person will be added to the insurance cost for each day after. The cancellation must be made more than 48 hours before the listed starting time on your voucher. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact info@guidetoiceland.is and declare full cancellation. COVID-19 Related Cancellations If you need to cancel your booking due to COVID-19 related reasons, the cancellation insurance provides further protection for your booking. If you purchase a self-drive tour or guided tour package along with the cancellation insurance, you will also get a full refund. If you test positive on arrival, to get the full refund after arrival, please email us at info@guidetoiceland.is with your booking details and your test result within 4 hours after you receive the test result. If your flight gets cancelled due to COVID, to get the full refund, please email us at info@guidetoiceland.is with your booking details and your flight cancellation confirmation prior to your scheduled flight departure time. Please note that this insurance covers the cancellation of the whole tour or package. Individual services cannot be cancelled and refunded separately, but are all covered and refunded in case of a full cancellation.

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