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Winter Self Drive Tours
Relaxing 11 Day Northern Lights Winter Self Drive Tour of Iceland’s South Coast & Snaefellsnes

Relaxing 11 Day Northern Lights Winter Self Drive Tour of Iceland’s South Coast & Snaefellsnes

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

Embark on this winter self-drive tour and take in all that Iceland’s best-loved attractions have to offer. This itinerary is perfect for those who would prefer to travel at a relaxed and comfortable pace with the Northern Lights dancing above, on a road trip to remember.

This journey will be packed with extraordinary nature and take you to fantastic locations; from the Snæfellsnes Peninsula to the Golden Circle and the South Coast.

Not only can you see the remarkable features such as Jökulsárlón glacier and Djúpalónsandur black beach, but you also have the option of adding winter adventure activities such as snowmobiling or glacial hiking, bathing in hot springs and even lava caving as well as visiting one of nature's most striking creations, the ice caves. 

You will have plenty of time to get to know Iceland in depth and in a non-rushed manner. Throughout your travels, you will be following an itinerary which allows you to stay more than a night at pre-arranged accommodations in the most mesmerising locations, mixing adventure and relaxation with flexibility, for a perfectly balanced holiday.  

Wrap up warm and look forward to exploring Iceland in the wintertime. Check availability by choosing a date.

Included

10 nights of accommodation (Different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed information below)
A vehicle for 11 days (Toyota Yaris or similar. Upgrades available)
CDW, SCDW and gravel protection insurances
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
Caving
Snowmobile
Horse Riding
Sightseeing
Northern lights hunting
Hot Spring Bathing
Helicopter
Ice Caving
Self drive

Attractions

Blue Lagoon
Golden Circle
West Iceland
Reykjavík
Jökulsárlón
Hvítá River
Snæfellsjökull
Skógafoss
Seljalandsfoss
Geysir
Gullfoss
Eyjafjallajökull
Þingvellir
Hraunfossar
Deildartunguhver
Strokkur
Snæfellsnes
Sólheimajökull
Mýrdalsjökull
Skaftafell
Silfra
Höfn
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Hellnar
Borgarnes
Barnafoss
Langjökull
Arnarstapi
Hallgrímskirkja
Vík í Mýrdal
Svartifoss
Keflavik International Airport
Kirkjufell
Búðir
Snæfellsjökull National Park
Reynisdrangar
Öxarárfoss
Haukadalur
Grundarfjörður
Vatnshellir Cave
Svínafellsjökull
Lóndrangar
Djúpalónssandur
Harpa – Reykjavik Concert Hall and Conference Centre
Víðgelmir
South Coast
Diamond Beach
Krauma Spa

Daily itinerary

Day 1
The Tjörninn pond in Reykjavík freezes over in the winter and makes for a serene sight.

Arrival & Blue Lagoon

You have arrived at Keflavík International Airport, welcome to Iceland! Grab your bags and pick up your rental car from the agency listed on your voucher, get behind the wheel and go.

You will be crossing the lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula towards Reykjavík, the northernmost capital city of the world.

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.

After you reach Reykjavík and settle into your hotel, why not explore the charming bars and restaurants the Downtown has to offer. As you wander the streets, be sure to keep your eyes to the sky should the weather be clear in case the Northern Lights come out to play.

Day 2
The photogenic Black Church at Búðir illuminated by the Northern Lights playing in the sky.

West Iceland

Wake up and get your adventure on the road. Today you will be exploring the West of Iceland and the beautiful Snæfellsnes peninsula. Head towards the historical town Borgarnes known to be inhabited since the early settlement years.

From here, it is highly recommended that you head to two very different but equally majestic waterfalls that so happen to be neighbours. Hraunfossar waterfall is a series of rivulets gently trickling from the lava plateau. Barnafoss, no more than a stone's throw away, it’s a tempestuous torrent of frothing water carving its way through the rock. Be sure to check out the nearby Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring.

Decide now how to spend the rest of your day. You could pay a visit to the easily accessible Viðgelmir Lava Cave, a colourful cavern teaming with fascinating rock formations and icicles.

Alternatively, you might fancy something a little more chilled-out, in which case, lay back and relax in the geothermally heated waters at Krauma spa. You can also explore a man-made ice tunnel, carved out of Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull.

However you choose to spend your day, you are guaranteed to be bowled over by the wealth of natural beauty around you. Retire for the evening at your accommodation on the Snæfellsnes peninsula and don’t forget to keep an eye out for the Auroras.

Day 3
The frozen plains at the bottom of the most photographed mountain in Iceland, Kirkjufell.

Iceland in Miniature

Today you wake up to ‘Iceland in Miniature’; Snæfellsnes peninsula has been given this nickname thanks to the wealth and diversity of attractions on this modest 90 kilometres of coastline.

You are the designer of the day! You could plan your sightseeing around a visit to the mesmerising Vatnshellir cave on a guided tour. In his famous novel, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, Jules Verne imagines that Snæfellsjökull, the glacier volcano that dominates the peninsula, was the gateway to the deep. Awaken your imagination and delve into the depths of the earth.

You could also explore the gorgeous Snæfellsjökull National Park. On the South Coast of the peninsula, you could go to Djúplaónssandur black pebble beach and admire the crashing waves and remains of a historic shipwreck. Heavy lifting stones lie on the beach; in the past, they were used by sailors as a show of strength.

Another option is to pay a visit to the quiet towns of Arnarstapi and Hellnar, all the while keeping your eye out for curious rock formations for which this coastline is famous. You can also make a stop at the Black Church at Búðir which is very photogenic, especially when surrounded by snow and illuminated by the Northern Lights.

On the northern side of the peninsula, be sure to visit the town of Grundarfjörður and admire the ‘most photographed mountain in Iceland’, Mount Kirkjufell. The angular peak of this striking elevation is best enjoyed in front of a small waterfall, Kirkjufellsfoss, that bubbles close to its base and is named in honour of its mountain neighbour.

Spend another evening in the beautiful Iceland in Miniature and prepare for the rest of Iceland tomorrow!

Day 4
Gullfoss in the wintertime takes on a different frozen character every year.

The Golden Circle

Back on the road and you have the Golden circle route to look forward to. This well-loved circuit takes you to Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and the Haukadalur geothermal valley, home to the geysers.

Þingvellir National Park is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Iceland. Historically significant in the heart of every Icelander, it served as the assembly point of the first parliament, the Alþingi, 930 AD. The Alþingi is still in operation today, albeit now in Reykjavík, which makes it the world’s longest ongoing parliament.

It is just as geologically impressive as it is cultural. Þingvellir is defined by the ridge that runs through it which is caused by the pulling apart of the tectonic plates. Iceland sits atop the mid-Atlantic Rift, and it is the only country in the world where you can observe this phenomenon above ground. As you walk through the park, you are actually walking between continents with the North American plate on one side and the Eurasian on the other.

The nearby Haukadalur valley is home to Geysir, the hot spring from which all other similar features get their name, Geysers. Although Geysir itself is sporadically active, you can still get your fill of erupting boiling water from Strokkur, a neighbouring geyser that blasts to a height of 20-metres every 5 minutes or so.

Close by is the second most powerful waterfall in Iceland, Gullfoss. It cascades in two levels and can be observed from many different angles. Whichever way you take it in, you are guaranteed to be impressed by the sheer scale of this thundering behemoth. In the depths of winter, part of the falls freezes into gnarled ice formations which only add to its appeal.

You have a range of activities to choose to enrich your Golden Circle experience. If you’re feeling pumped for adventure and fancy cranking up your adrenaline levels, you could hop on the back of a snowmobile and dash over the glistening Langjökull glacier in style.

Or maybe all the water you’ve seen today inspires you to get submerged? You can opt to go snorkelling in the Silfra fissure and float between the continents. This crack in the earth’s crust has filled with clear glacier water further filtered through the surrounding lava rocks producing waters with approximately 100-metre visibility.

If you’ve had enough adventure for one day, take a dip in the Secret Lagoon, a geothermally heated hot spring close to the charming town Flúðir.

You will spend the evening in the  Golden Circle area.

Day 5
Seljalandsfoss waterfall in nestled in a frozen snowy blanket - it looks quite cosy!

Elements of the South

Your adventure continues, and today you will be making your way along the South Coast of the country famous for its black sand beaches and countless waterfalls plunging from the great heights of the South Highlands. A must see is two of these waterfalls: Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss which both fall from heights of 60-metres, the former in a hypnotic cascade, the latter in a thick thundering curtain.

As you drive, you will have the coast on your right and mighty glaciers covering the interior to your left such as Mýrdalsjökull, Eyjafjallajökull and Sólheimajökull. Get to know the ice caps and opt to go for a glacial hike; feel the ice underneath your crampons and marvel at the remote beauty of the frozen landscape.

Perhaps you would rather delve inside a glacier and sign yourself up for the Katla Ice Cave tour. It's guaranteed to leave you enchanted with the electric blues the way the light shimmers on these awe-inspiring natural features.

You will spend the evening in the Vík area.

Day 6
The gorgeous Northern Lights play across the sky covering the beautiful Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.

Glacier Lagoon

Leaving the charming town of Vík, you can choose to go for a glacial hike in Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Get up early to make the most of the sunshine and spend the morning admiring the magnificent Svínafellsjökull glacier outlet.

Now, prepare yourself for the ‘Crown Jewel of Iceland’, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. There you can watch enormous white and blue icebergs peacefully drift out to sea, scarred in places by veins of black ash from historical volcanic eruptions.

If you are travelling in September or October, you can take a boat tour to get closer to these natural wonders. Take an Amphibian tour or the slightly faster Zodiac boat tour, you decide.

You can also pay a visit the Diamond Beach, just adjacent to the lagoon, and you will find some of these icebergs washed ashore, standing in their frozen glory against the contrasting black sand, - unless it’s covered in snow!

You will spend your evening in accommodation close by, don’t forget to look out for the Northern Lights!

Day 7
Anywhere you look in an ice cave, you are guaranteed to be blown away by the shocking blues.

Ice Cave

Today you have the opportunity to see one of the most beautiful attractions in Iceland and a must-see on a winter tour, the fascinating blue ice cave. Located on Europe’s largest ice cap, Vatnajökull, you will feel transported to another world as you are surrounded by ethereal blues and striking ice formations. Don’t miss out as this will undoubtedly be one of the highlights of your trip.

You can decide how to spend the rest of the day. Perhaps you would like to venture to the Stokksnes peninsula to catch a glimpse of the ‘Batman Mountain’ Vestrahorn. The clustered jagged peaks of this elevation have inspired countless photographers so don’t forget your camera.

You could also spend the day in the charming town of Höfn, renowned for its langoustine lobster. If you couldn’t quite believe your eyes yesterday, why not go back to the glacier lagoon at a different time and immortalise the icy giants on camera once more.

At the end of the day, you will be staying in the same accommodation as the night before, near Höfn township.

Day 8
Svartifoss in Skaftafell is a waterfall surrounded by hexagonal basalt columns.

Skaftafell Nature Reserve

Day 8 and you have the whole day to familiarise yourself with Skaftafell Nature Reserve. It used to be a National Park in its own right before becoming part of Vatnajökull National Park and it’s easy to understand why.

Skaftafell is rich in diverse attractions from forests to lava fields, glacial tongues to waterfalls; there really is a lot to take in. The area has been labelled a hiker’s paradise so why not explore some of the shorter paths in the area. One such trail leads to Svartifoss, an impressive waterfall cascading in front of black basalt columns so be sure to find it.

Knowing Skaftafell a bit better, you will then return to Vík for the evening. Go for an evening walk and scout for the Aurora over the black coastline. The elevated church makes for an excellent viewpoint for the Northern Lights.

Day 9
The South Coast in the winter takes on a unique charm as the white snow contrasts with the black beaches.

More of the South Coast

With no end to glaciers, there is no end of glacial activities on offer in this part of the country! Today, you could ascend Mýrdalsjökull, Iceland’s fourth largest ice cap to hop on the back of a snowmobile and race across the white wintery wilderness. This is a promise of adventure that cannot be resisted. 

Whatever you decide upon, don’t miss a visit to Reynisfjara beach famed for its photogenic sea stacks and impressive basalt columns. Watching the waves crash at the shore is thoroughly hypnotising but be careful not to get too close as the beach is famous for sneaker waves and there have been some terrible accidents.

This evening you will say your goodbyes to the South Coast and make your way back to Reykjavík.

Day 10
Reykjavík has a perfect combination of urban bustle and rural parks.

Free Day in Reykjavik

This is your last whole day in Iceland, so why not make the most of it! Watch the capital Reykjavík become even smaller as you soar above the city in a helicopter before going to get an aerial view of a geothermal area close to Reykjavík.

Animal lovers will be delighted at the option to meet the Icelandic Horse, a special breed famous for its fifth gait, the ‘tölt’ as well as its calm and friendly temperament. Suitable for experienced and beginners alike. If travelling before October 31st, you could opt to explore the insides of a volcano and admire the magic of these geological giants from the inside!

Alternatively, you could spend your day exploring the city. You could go to the top of Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík’s most iconic landmark and largest church, to enjoy panoramic views all over the city. Be sure to look into Harpa Concert Hall, a fantastic feat of architectural design and engineering.

There are many art galleries, museums and of course bars and cafes, so there’s no end of things to do. In the evening, why not get a taste for the quirky Reykjavík nightlife.

Day 11
The Sun Voyager in Reykjavík sits before a still sea on a crisp and clear winter day.

Departure Day

The time has come for you to make your way back to Keflavík International airport. Drop off your car at Keflavík airport and go to catch your 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.

Map

What to bring

Warm wind- and waterproof clothing suited for the season
Good outdoor shoes suited for the season
Swimsuit and a towel
Camera
Driving license

Good to know

Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík or at KEF Intl. 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 be subject to a minimum age requirement, require a valid driver's license or additional information. All snorkelling tours require you to know how to swim, and medical documents to be presented.

This tour requires winter driving. If you feel insecure about driving in winter conditions, we recommend a package tour instead.

Please note that Iceland is a country of oppositions. The weather might be fickle and change rapidly and can get quite cold. Wearing proper shoes and overcoats will certainly make your travels more enjoyable.

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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