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Best 7 Day Northern Lights Self Drive Tour of Iceland to a Unique Ice Cave

Northern Lights dancing over the jet-black church at Búðir in Snæfellsnes.
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Description

Details

Tour starts
Keflavík Airport
Starting time
Flexible
Duration
7 days
Ending place
Keflavík Airport
Difficulty
Easy
Available
Sep. - Apr.
Ending time
Flexible
Minimum age
None

Description

Spend a week in Iceland traveling to the best attractions of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the Golden Circle, and the South Coast with this 7-day tour. This tour is designed for those who wish to visit as many beautiful locations as possible. Visiting during the Northern Lights season is the perfect opportunity to tick this natural wonder off your bucket list.

Upon booking, you will receive a personal itinerary guiding you to the country's top locations such as the Golden Circle, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, as well as all three national parks in Iceland, each with its own distinct beauty. 

You'll journey through the wild terrains of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with lava fields, mountains, and the famous Snæfellsjökull glacier. Then you'll adventure into the awe-inspiring attractions that make up the Golden Circle route, which top the list for many travelers to Iceland. The rest of your trip will be spent exploring the beautiful natural landscapes of Iceland's South Coast, and you will even get the chance to enter the famous blue ice cave.

You are behind the wheel on this self-drive tour, so you will have the freedom to create your own adventure. You can add various experiences during the booking process to make the most of your time in Iceland. You can choose to visit the azure waters of the Blue Lagoon, snorkel between two continents, race across the white expanse of a glacier on a snowmobile, visit a rare and unique ice cave in Vatnajökull National Park, or climb inside the magma chamber of a volcano.

This is the perfect way to explore some of Iceland's best attractions, and you will have the time to take it all in at your own pace. There are plenty of stops along this tour that will leave you with countless incredible memories.

Visit Iceland's most iconic attractions and spend your nights searching for Northern Lights with this 7-day self-drive tour. Don't miss out on this winter adventure.

Check availability by choosing a date.

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Included

6 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)
Vehicle for 7 days (Toyota Aygo or similar. Upgrades available)
CDW insurance for super budget level vehicle; other levels also include SCDW and gravel protection insurances
GPS System
Detailed itinerary
Personal travel agent
Taxes
Travelers who book with Guide to Iceland may have a PCR or rapid antigen COVID-19 test prearranged prior to their departure from Iceland, if needed.

Activities

Snorkelling
Caving
Snowmobile
Sightseeing
Northern lights hunting
Hot Spring Bathing
Cultural Activity
Ice Caving
Self drive

Daily itinerary

Day 1
A great cure for jet-lag is a soak in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon

Day 1 - Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik

Welcome to Iceland!

Your car will await you at Keflavík International Airport with a user-friendly GPS.

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 colors, 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.

When you have rejuvenated yourself, it is only a short drive to the city of Reykjavík, where you'll find your accommodation in the downtown area. 

After you've settled in, you can start exploring the city with its many museums, famous landmarks, and quirky shops.

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Day 2
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland is home to the mountains Kirkjufell, photographed here in winter.

Day 2 - Snaefellsjokull National Park

Today you will explore the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, where you will find the picturesque stratovolcano Snæfellsjökull. This volcano is also a glacier and is famous for being the entryway for the subterranean journey in Jules Verne's classic novel 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth'.

For your own chance for a subterranean journey into a volcano, you take a tour to Þríhnúkagígur. If you are traveling in September or October, you can board a tour bus in Reykjavík that will take you to this inactive volcano where you will descend into the now empty magma chamber.

Once you are ready to hit the road, you will make your way to the stunning Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The Snæfellsjökull National Park is full of steep ocean cliffs, beautiful rock formations, narrow canyons, small trickling waterfalls, cute fishing villages, and the beautiful Djúpalónssandur black pebble beach.

Nearby is also the famous Kirkjufell mountain, a favorite spot for photographers to try their hand at their craft. On a clear day, you have a view over Faxaflói bay all the way to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.

Remember to look out for the Northern Lights tonight as you will spend the night in a country hotel on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, an area well suitable for aurora hunting.

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Day 3
Hearing the thundering noises of Gullfoss as water cascades down 32-metres into a canyon is an experience you won't forget

Day 3 - Lava Cave & The Golden Circle

Today it is time to visit torn landscapes, erupting geyser, and a thundering waterfall, all part of the fantastic Golden Circle. 

Start your drive heading south, but before you reach the famous attractions of the Golden Circle, you'll have the option of visiting Víðgelmir, a massive lava tube near the town of Borgarfjörður. The walls of this cave are colored vividly with minerals from the earth, and inside you'll find strangely shaped rock formations and icicles.

You'll then make your way to Þingvellir National Park, a historic site located on the boundaries of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. As the plates move, they tear up the landscape around, causing cracks and fissures in the region.

One of these fissures, Silfra, is filled with meltwater from Iceland's second-largest glacier. You can opt for a snorkeling tour in Silfra fissure, where the glacial water provides incredible visibility that can reach up to 328 ft (100m). You don't need to worry about the cold in Silfra. You'll be given a drysuit to keep you warm.

From there, drive on out to Geysir geothermal area, where you'll find the active geyser Strokkur. Strokkur erupts in a water column every 5-10 minutes, reaching heights of around 49 - 66 ft (15-20 meters). You'll have plenty of opportunities to capture the perfect photo of this amazing display of nature.

A short drive from the Geysir area is the magnificent Gullfoss waterfall. Spanning the entire width of the Hvítá river, this cascade features two distinct drops in succession, creating two 'steps' for the water to plunge down.

The thundering noises of glacial water hurling down 105 ft (32m) into an ancient canyon will be echoing in your ear as you make your way to your accommodation near Laugavatn lake. Be sure to look up in the sky at night for a chance to spot the dancing Northern Lights.

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Day 4
The land under Skógafoss waterfall on the South Coast is very flat, so you can walk right up to the wall of water

Day 4 - The South Coast & Glaciers

On your fourth day, you'll start traveling the stunning South Coast of Iceland. Today, you'll drive past mighty glaciers to visit some of the country's most beautiful attractions.

Start your day by heading to Seljalandsfoss waterfall, a high and narrow cascade that falls over a concaved cliff face. This gorgeous waterfall is lit up by strong lights in the winter, making it seem even more magical. 

You'll travel past Eyjafjallajökull glacier on your way to the next attraction of the day, Skógafoss waterfall. This waterfall has a more classic shape than his sister site Seljalandsfoss. It is much wider, and the land under it is very flat, so you'll be able to walk right up to the wall of water.

If you'd like to get to know glaciers better, today is the day to do so. You can opt for a snowmobile tour on the massive Mýrdalsjökull glacier, which covers the volcano Katla. You'll get your blood pumping by whizzing across the white expanse with snow-topped mountains in the distance. 

You could also opt for a glacier hike on top of Sólheimajökull, one of Mýrdalsjökull glacier tongues. Fill your lungs with the cold, crisp mountain air as you traverse past blue crevasses and snowy peaks, blackened by ash from past volcanic eruptions.

Before you make your way to your accommodations near the village of Vík, stop by the stunning Reynisfjara. This black sand beach is surrounded by cliffs of hexagonal basalt columns that are both strange and beautiful at the same time. The massive Reynisdrangar sea stacks are out in the ocean as the North-Atlantic waves crash upon them with full force.

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Day 5
The green, pink and purple colours of the Northern Lights as they dance above Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Day 5 - Jokulsarlon & Vatnajokull National Park

From Vík, the journey continues eastward towards the beautiful Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Vatnajökull National Park. 

While journeying towards the massive Vatnajökull glacier, you will drive past the charming village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur and the waterfall Foss á Síðu before reaching Skaftafell Nature Reserve, where beautiful glacier tongues crawl down narrow valleys.

If you missed the glacier hike yesterday, you could opt for another one today from Skaftafell, where you'll trek across the ancient ice of the glacier tongue, discovering icy canyons and intricate ice sculptures.

From there, you'll drive to the crown jewel of Iceland, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here, massive icebergs that have broken off a nearby glacier float on the serene waters of the lagoon before they drift off to the ocean.

At the end of the day, you will spend the night in countryside accommodations near Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, surrounded by stunning vistas and, hopefully, the Northern Lights.

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Day 6
The sun adds more colours to the beautiful blue ice cave in Vatnajökull National Park

Day 6 - Ice Caving & Reykjavik

You'll start your day in the gorgeous Vatnajökull National Park. 

If you are traveling between October and March, you will have the rare opportunity to visit an authentic ice cave. Seize the chance! These caves are only accessible for a short period as they flood with the rising sun. You can plan a visit during the booking process and start the day immersing yourself in the infinite shades of blue of the ice cave.

Head back to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon as it looks completely different in the midday sun. You'll get a better view of the amazing colors of the bergs, the crystalline blue and pearly white, as they float by in the daylight. You might even spot a seal or two lazing about on the icebergs or the shore.

Close to the lagoon is a black sand beach where smaller icebergs have washed up onshore. As they glisten in the sunlight, they might remind you of diamonds on a satin blanket, which is why the beach has earned the nickname 'The Diamond Beach'.

In the afternoon, you'll start making your way back to Reykjavík city. On your journey, you can stop at your favorite places along the South Coast. You can also refer to your personal itinerary and discover new places along the way.

You'll then spend a night at accommodations in Reykjavík. If you arrive early, you could check out the city's vibrant nightlife scene.

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Day 7
When the snow falls on Reykjavík, the city turns into a winter wonderland

Day 7 - Farewell

Now it is time to bid farewell to Iceland. If your flight leaves late, you might have some time to squeeze in a few last adventures. Just remember to give yourself enough time to drive to Keflavík International Airport, return your car, and catch your departing flight.

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.

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What to bring

Warm and waterproof clothing
Winter hiking shoes
Swimwear & towel
Driver's license

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.

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.

Super Budget 2WD

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.

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 (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.

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 Mercedes Benz Vito or similar (4WD manual). Comfortable for 5 to 7 travelers and perfect for winter driving. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.

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