9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave

Book this incredible self-drive tour, to make the most of nine days in Iceland. This tour is perfect for those who wish for the opportunity to see Iceland’s best-known sites, to marvel over its hidden gems, and who desire the freedom to explore in their own time.

On this drive, you will see the world-famous Golden Circle, the diverse landscapes of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and the wonders of the South Coast. You will have opportunities to do more than just sight-seeing, however; as you book, you will find adventures that you can pick and choose to add on to each day, such as snorkelling, caving, snowmobiling and glacier hiking. You will even have the once-in-a-lifetime to visit an ice cave.

Outside of the tours that you will add on and the accommodation you will be heading to, you will be unbeholden to anyone on this journey. The beauty of a self-drive is that you choose when to leave and where to go, without having to worry about departure times or other travellers. To aid you with this, you will receive a custom-made itinerary that will inform you of all the potential sites you can visit in a day so that the journey you plan fits your desires and needs.

This itinerary will not just point out the most famous sites, but little-known places in the Icelandic nature that very few are lucky enough to get a chance to visit. You will, therefore, have the opportunity to escape the crowds and immerse yourself in beautiful, desolate landscapes, something which many coming to Iceland deeply desire.

What is more, as you will often be travelling through the dark hours, your chances of witnessing the Northern Lights is heightened. While there are no guarantees, considering that you have eight nights to search, six of them in the countryside, you have much more opportunity to catch them than most other travellers.

Do not miss this chance to explore Iceland, from its most unique corners to its most famous sites, on this incredible 9-day self-drive tour. Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Oct. - Apr.
  • Duration: 9 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Snorkelling, Caving, Hiking, Snowmobile, Sightseeing, Hot Spring Bathing, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, South Shore, Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajokull, Snæfellsjökull, Vestmannaeyjar, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Þingvellir, Strokkur, Snæfellsnes, Reykjanes, Sólheimajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Höfn, Stykkishólmur, Hellnar, Arnarstapi, Gljufrabui, Keflavík International Airport, Kirkjufell, Búðir, Djúpalónssandur, Diamond Beach
Pickup information:
  • Starting time : Flexible

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

  • Vehicle for 9 days (VW Polo, Toyota Yaris 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

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


What to bring:
  • Warm Clothes

  • Camera

  • Good hiking shoes

  • Valid driver's license

  • Swimsuit and towel


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.

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.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival to Iceland


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


You will arrive at Keflavík Airport on day one, pick up your car, and make your way over to your accommodation in Reykjavík. If you have the time and inclination, you could opt to go to the Blue Lagoon on this day to unwind after the flight or save it until later in the holiday. You could also use the day to explore the geological and geothermal marvels of the Reykjanes Peninsula.

Otherwise, feel free to immerse yourself in Iceland’s quirky capital, with its many boutiques, galleries, museums and bars. Spend the night in Reykjavík.


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


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


On your second day, you will make your way north-west to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. En route, you will be driving past many of West Iceland’s most notable sites, so feel free to detour to destinations such as Barnafoss waterfall and Europe’s highest-flowing hot-spring, Deildartunguhver.

The peninsula itself is often called ‘Iceland in Miniature’ due to the incredible diversity of scenery along the 90-kilometre stretch; you will spend all day heading from one amazing site to another. Notable sites on Snæfellsnes include the most photographed mountain in Iceland, Kirkjufell; the fishing villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar; the black-sand beach Djúpalónssandur; and of course, the mighty glacier and volcano that crowns the peninsula, Snæfellsjökull.

You will spend the night on Snæfellsnes.


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


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


On your third day, you will leave Snæfellsnes for the most popular tourist trail in Iceland: the Golden Circle.

There are three main sites of the Golden Circle, although, with your custom itinerary, you will be able to find many unique and lesser-known places in the surrounding area. The first main destination is Þingvellir National Park, the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on the Icelandic mainland. It was here where the Icelandic parliament was initially founded, back in 930 AD, and the park is surrounded by beautiful geology due to its location directly between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates.

The second point on the circle is the Geysir Geothermal Area. As its name suggests, this valley is home to several geysers, including the one which gave all others their name, Geysir itself. While this one has become largely inactive in recent years, Strokkur goes off every five to ten minutes. The surrounding area is dotted with hot springs and fumaroles.

The final site to reach is Gullfoss. Iceland’s most famous waterfall, Gullfoss is magnificent to behold, falling in two steps into an ancient canyon from a height of over thirty metres.

On this day, you will have the option to partake in one of two tours. While in Þingvellir, you could opt to take a snorkelling tour in the crystal clear waters of Silfra ravine; otherwise, you could join a caving tour, in a lava tube called Viðgelmir. Both are fascinating, unique experiences that cannot be found in many other places around the world.

Spend the night at your accommodation on the Golden Circle.


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 - South Coast to Vík


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


On day four, you will head to the South Coast, and witness the many wonders just off of the main road.

The first sites you may wish to stop at are at two of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls. Seljalandsfoss is a stunning fall, that tumbles in a thin stream from a concave cliff; this unusual shape means that it is possible to fully encircle the water, leading to some unique views and photo opportunities. Skógafoss, a little further east, is a similar height, at around sixty metres, but with a much heavier flow. A staircase beside these falls allows you to experience it from several different vantage points.

You will keep driving on, but keep your eyes peeled as you do; in clear weather, you will be able to see the notorious volcano and glacier Eyjafjallajökull, and in the other direction, across the ocean, you may be able to spot the Westman Islands.

More ice caps will soon appear, and if you wish, you may take a tour on one of them. It is possible to opt for a hike on the glacial tongue Sólheimajökull, or else a snowmobiling excursion on the greater glacier Mýrdalsjökull. Both of these will take you to an incredible, otherworldly landscape, and allow you to explore it in a unique way.

After enjoying one of these experiences, you will continue east. Before reaching the village of Vík, you could make a stop at Reynisfjara black-sand beach, and admire the beautiful surrounding geology, such as the arch of Dyrhólaey and the basalt sea stacks of Reynisdrangar.

You will spend the 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 - South Coast to Höfn


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


On day five, you will drive the rest of the South Coast. The south-easterly corner of the country is renowned for two incredible places: Skaftafell Nature Reserve and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Skaftafell was once a National Park in its own right because of its incredible beauty before it was enveloped by the greater Vatnajökull National Park. Sat in the shadow of Europe’s largest glacier, it has a wealth of scenery, from forests to lava fields, with many hiking trails going through it. One of the most highly recommended will take you to Svartifoss waterfall, the unusual surroundings of which inspired the architecture of Reykjavík’s Hallgrímskirkja church.

If you missed the glacier hike the day before, it is possible to opt for one here.

Following your time in Skaftafell, you will continue onto Jökulsárlón, which many consider this to be the crown jewel of Iceland’s nature. Here, you can watch enormous icebergs fill a serene lagoon as they break away from a glacier, and make their way slowly towards the ocean. The sight is mesmerising. This area is also home to many seals, so as you marvel over the bergs, keep an eye out for these playful creatures.

The coast beside Jökulsárlon is littered in the ice that washed out to sea, giving it its name, the Diamond Beach. It is worth having a walk along here before continuing to the little settlement of Höfn.

You will spend the night here.


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 - The Ice Caves and South East


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


For day six, you will stay in the South-East and, if you selected to do so while booking, witness the ice caves. Ice caves are incredibly rare and unique phenomena that only appear during the winter, thus opportunities to enter them are hard to come by. So long as conditions allow, you will have a guided tour into this otherworldly space. Make sure your camera has charge and memory room, as you will no doubt want to enshrine your memories here forever.

If you did not book an ice-cave tour, there is still plenty to do. You could return to the glacier lagoon or Skaftafell for a better appreciation of them, or else drive a little north to see some of the East Fjords.

Stay another night in Höfn.


Day 7 - Höfn to Reykjavík


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


You will return to Reykjavík on your seventh day, driving all the way back along the South Coast. On this day, you can reference your itinerary, and visit the places that you could not fit into your earlier journey. There are many unique sites just a little off the road, so the long journey can be broken up with many rewarding stops.

Spend the night in Reykjavík.


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 8 - Day in Reykjavík


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


Your eighth day can be spent enjoying Reykjavík’s vibrant culture. There is a wealth of things to do, with walking tours, museums, galleries, restaurants and many shops. If you would rather see more nature, then it is possible to visit the Reykjanes Peninsula, or other sites in West Iceland, such as the town of Borganes.

Spend your last night in Reykjavík.


Day 9 - Departure


9 Day Self-Drive Winter Tour | Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, and Ice Cave


On day nine, you will need to return to Keflavík International Airport to drop off your vehicle. If you are lucky enough to have a late flight, feel free to explore Reykjavík or the surrounding area better, or use the opportunity to unwind in the Blue Lagoon before your journey home.


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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