Jump in your car and make your way down the south coast, where you’ll meet your guide to enter a rare, wondrous ice cave in Vatnajökull National Park. This tour is for those want to explore an ice cave and the wonders of the south coast at your own pace.
Enjoy the splendid waterfalls and black sand beach along the south coast, all the way to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Diamond Beach.
You'll meet up with the glacier guide for the ice caving on your second day, hop in a heavy-duty Superjeep, and plow across the countryside to the ice cave. The ice here is around 1,000 years old.
At night, go hunting for the Northern Lights. The area of the National Park is optimal due to its isolation and wide open spaces. You should be able to see the auroras, provided that the skies are clear and geomagnetic activity is high enough to cause this fascinating reaction that results in brilliant, dancing lights.
On your third day, you can explore the glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón, before heading back to Reykjavík. It is one of the most popular spots in Iceland, so give yourself enough time to enjoy the serene beauty of the lagoon.
Iceland's pristine natural environment is its greatest treasure. These places are beautiful beyond measure, and it can be hard to appreciate among chattering sightseers and long lines.
That's why we've included some lesser-known sites alongside the popular places in the tailor-made itinerary for this tour. You will be virtually alone in these locations so that you can enjoy the surroundings properly.
Don’t miss your chance for great value and extraordinary sights on this tour of Iceland. Check availability by choosing a date.
Jokulsarlon is a glacier lagoon in the south of Vatnajokull national park that is easily reached by the Ring Road.
Covered in thick glacial ice until the 1930’s when the glacier started retreating, the lagoon today measures 7 square miles (20 km2). More than 300 feet of ice still breaks away each year, reshaping the lagoon and filling it with icebergs - causing an alarmingly beautiful sight.
The water is freezing cold and contains a mixture of salt and freshwater giving it a blue-green color. There is plenty of fish and birdlife by the lagoon and the vast sand area of Breiðamerkursandur, and hundreds of seals stay there in winter.
Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe covering 8% of the island of Iceland. Vatnajökull National Park - which encompasses the earlier national parks of Skaftafell and Jökulsárgljúfur - is the largest protected area in Europe and believed by many to be the most beautiful place on earth.
In this area you'll find some of the most stunning and diverse sights in Iceland. Among those are Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur, its most active volcano, Grímsvötn, beautiful waterfalls such as Svartifoss by Skaftafell and Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall, stunning canyons such as Jökulsargljúfur and Ásbyrgi, and the breathtaking Jökulsárlon, an ice-riddled glacier lagoon that is one of the most beautiful attractions in Iceland.
The glacier itself covers a surface area of about 100 km2. The thickness of the ice is generally around 400-600 meters, at its thickest around 950 meters. Under the glacier are valleys, mountains and plateuas as well as active volcanoes, most notably Grimsvotn and Bardarbunga, both the largest and most active of these. Then there are Esjufjoll, a glorious volcanic mountain island, surrounded by the glacier on all sides.
Vatnajokull has over 30 outlets, some of the major ones being Dyngjujokull and Bruarjokull to the north and Breidamerkurjokull, Oraefajokull, Skeidararjokull and Sidujokull towards the south. On the west side from the north are smaller glaciers Eyjabakkajokull, Hofsjokull, Flaajokull Heinabergsjokull and Skalafellsjokull.
The highest peak of Iceland then lies to the south, Hvannadalshnjukur in the Oraefajokull outlet, reaching 2109 m, according to latest measurements.
Many rivers have their sources at Vatnajokull, including some of the greatest glacier rivers in the country. To the North are Jokulsa a Fjollum and Skjalfandafljot, to the Northeast are Jokulsa a Bru, and Jokulsa i Fljotsdal and to the south are Jokulsa i Loni, Hornafjardarfljot, Jokulsa a Breidamerkursandi, Skeidara, Nupsvotn, Hverfisfljot and Skafta.
The area around the glacier is highly varied. The highland plateu to the north is divided by glacier rivers which see massive floods in the summer. This is a highly volcanic region, where the volcanoes Askja, Herdubreid, Kverkfjoll and Snaefell tower over the scene. In this area is also the Jokulsargljufur preservation area with its magnificent canyon and the mighty glacier ricer Jokulsa a Fjollum where you'll find stunning waterfalls such as Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall. Further north are the Hljodaklettar echoing caves and the horse shoe-shaped Asbyrgi canyon, among other incredible sights.
Broad wetlands lie near the glacier and in the vicinity of Snaefell, further east. Particularly notable is the Eyjabakkar oasis, one of the largest nesting places for pink feeted geese in the world and located north of the Eyjabakkajokull outlet. To the east is also the stunning Jokulsarlon.
South of Vatnajokull, majestic mountain ridges characterise the scene, with outlet glaciers lying between them and reaching onto the lowlands. The Skaftafell preservation area is located there, with its rich flora and home to the beautiful waterfalls Hundafoss and Skogafoss, the latter famed for its with its magnificent columnar basalt formations.
To the south lies the vast sand desert Skeidararsandur, reaching all the way to the sea. The glacier river Skeidara runs through it and the sand was indeed created by great glacier bursts from Skeidara, with its origins in volcanic activity at Grimsvotn.
To the west of Vatnajokull there is strong volcanic activity as well. Some of the world's greatest fissure and lava eruptions happened there, at the Eldgja volcanic chasm and the Lakagigar craters in the 18th century. Vonarskard pass, to the northwest is also worth checking out, a highly colourful geothermal area that connects the North and South of Iceland.
Fans of the James Bond films might recognize the glacier from A View to a Kill and the stunning Jokulsarlon from Die Another Day, though the events of the former were supposed to take place in Siberia.
Scenes by the Wall in the HBO fantasy series Game of Thrones were also shot by Vatnajokull and further scenes were shot at lake Myvatn, another Iceland's major attractions.
Skogafoss is one of the biggest and most beautiful waterfalls of the island with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters.
This is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland for travellers to visit. It is located in South Iceland, not far from Skogar, which itself features a highly interesting regional museum. Due to the amount of spray the waterfall often produces a single or double rainbow on sunny days.
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.
The 120 meter high promontory Dyrholaey is the southernmost part of the mainland, only a short drive south of the Ring Road. It offers a breathtaking view and features spectacular outcrops and rock formations.
A notable attraction is the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the heartland, giving the island its name (‘dyr’=door’). One daredevil pilot even flew through it!
Dyrholaey has an abundance of birdlife, the most common being puffins and eider ducks. You can also enjoy the black beach, where the waves can provide an impressive sight. As these can be very wild, we do however advise uttermost caution.
The world-famous Reynisfjara shore, near the village Vik in Myrdalur on Iceland's South Coast, is widely regarded as the most impressive black-sand beach in Iceland.
To reach Reynisfjara you can either drive there yourself. Here you will find the largest and cheapest car rentals in Iceland. Or you can join this summer tour to the South coast, or this winter tour to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Reynisfjara is a black pebble beach and features an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns resembling a rocky step pyramid, which is called Hálsanef. Out in the sea are the spectacularly shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. The area has a rich birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
The waves at Reynisfjara are especially strong and unpredictable, and fatal accidents have occurred at this beach, so people are advised to take extra care when visiting the area.
According to folklore, two trolls attempted to drag a ship to land but were turned to stone as daylight broke, turning them into the Reynisdrangar stacks, clearly visible from the beach.
Starting time : Flexible
Accommodation for 2 nights with private facilities and continental breakfast
Vehicle for 3 days (4x4 Toyota Rav4 or similar)
CDW and SCDW insurance along gravel protection for car rental
Car colleted at airport / Hotel pick up
Ice cave tour - Ride on a Super Jeep to the cave
Crampons and glacier gear
Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
Warm clothing and outerwear suited to rainy or chilly weather
Sturdy shoes for walking/hiking
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.
Lunch and dinner can be purchased in a number of places. Accommodation is close to the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón. Prices are listed per person in double rooms. Please add an extra supplement if an odd number is chosen. Reserve early as there is very limited availability.
You can start either from your hotel in Reykjavik or Keflavik International Airport.
On your first day, you will drive down the south coast of Iceland to see all the famous waterfalls there and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara and the cliffs of Dyrhólaey.
The drive to the glacier lagoon is in total about 6-10 hours, depending on how long you decide to stop at each of the attractions, which is the great thing about this self-drive tour. You choose how best to spend your time!
The Golden Circle is here for you, from Þingvellir National Park to Geysir geothermal area, to Gullfoss waterfall. In addition to these famous sites, there are many waterfalls, pretty scenes and small villages for you to stop for a cup of coffee or a short rest from the car at a local museum.
Keep your eyes open for auroras during the night - you'll be in a great location in the town of Höfn.
You can choose between a few departure times for the ice cave tour, but we advise you to show up for the ice cave tour at least 15 minutes before your departure. You will reach the ice cave tour on a modified Superjeep, and while you're there, you will be able to enjoy the ice cave and surrounding area for more than an hour. Don't forget your hiking shoes!
The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Diamond Beach are fantastic locations where to spend the rest of the day. You can admire the sunshine gleaming on the ancient ice that breaks off the glacier and makes its way to the lagoon, take pictures of the seals and gulls that play in the area or just take a stroll.
Leave some free time in the late evening for Northern Lights hunting; if there's a clear sky you may see a good display!
You will spend another night in Höfn.
Today, you have an optional extra activity in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, where you can go on a glacier hike on the Svínafellsjökull glacier. The hike is not very demanding but rewards you with spectacular views!
Driving back along the south coast of Iceland, you're sure to discover plenty of great attractions that you didn't see on your way to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. For example, the beautiful canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur is a short drive from the main road, near the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
At night, when you're back in Reykjavík you can drop your car off at your hotel, or even at the airport in the morning.
Guide to Iceland has a wide selection of vehicles and seeks to provide you with the best available car from our preferred rental operators, who offer the highest quality vehicles and service to our guests. Our self-drive packages include a newer model, usually a maximum of 2 years old and equipped with a GPS and basic CDW insurance. See the categories of available vehicles below. We recommend a comfortable 4X4 as a minimal standard for winter traveling due to icy and challenging road conditions. In the booking process, you can also upgrade to an automatic model for free.
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. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities.
Due to increased demand for travel services in Iceland and low availability, travel companies in Iceland can not guarantee specific accommodations. However, given the wide influence of Guide to Iceland within the travel industry we can always provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking. Below you can see our first choice of accommodations that are on offer. Otherwise we will find you alternatives of the same standard. The earlier you book the higher quality we can provide. Our first choice is a standard room at Hótel Höfn and during holiday season (Christmas time) it is a standard room at Smyrlabjörg.
The tour was amazing. The fact that it was a self driving tour allowed us to go at our own pace and yet hit all the places that were recommended on the itinerary. Driving in Iceland was extremely easy, even in March, the road was well maintained, directions are easy to follow and we got lucky enough to see the Northern Lights while driving along the coast on our first evening. I found it important to carefully review the booking information as we had some communication challenges with our booking agent at Guide to Iceland but with everything being in writing, it was easy to rectify and everyone has been very accommodating. I would definitely recommend Guide to Iceland to anyone who wants to experience Iceland and be semi-guided in their visit of the country.
We absolutely loved this self-driving tour! Every single bit of the tour was amazing! Our vehicle (Nissan Qashqai) was great: 4x4, studded winter tires, provided by a very friendly local rental company in Keflavik. Rental rep delivered vehicle right to our hotel with an external GPS (built-in one did not allow to punch in coordinates from the itinerary provided), gave us all sorts of useful information on top of the itinerary provided by the Guide to Iceland. And off on our way we were. South coast is phenomenal to explore! Worth the drive and every single penny. We stayed in Smyrlabjörg - amazing hotel that had buffer-breakfast with lots of options included in the tour. Its restaurant offered a ton great options for dinner as well. We fell in love with Iceland :) thank you for everything!
We choose the self-driving tour becouse we wanted to organize the south coast tour ourself and not to be dependent on the schedule of a guided trip. Everything worked just perfect with Guide to Iceland. Before we booked we had some questions which were answered always immediatelly. The booking and the following communication was easy and we were even addressed in our language. You get all the vouchers you need via Mail and additionally an itinerary which is specially tailored according to what you have booked in detail. Although it contained all the major information (important sights along the route, hotel information...) the itinerary could be a bit in more detail concerning the informations about the sights. The organization worked perfect. The car rental company delivered the car directly to our accomodation in Reykjavik and picked it up again 3 days later exactly at the mentioned time. The selected hotels enroute were nice and the activities (ice cave tour, glacier hike) were very impressive although we had very bad luck with the weather, but of course that`s nobodys fault. I definetely recommend the self-driving tour when you are just a small group or a couple because are on your own and you can decide what and how long you want to do the things. Guide to Iceland provides a well organized frame and you can fill it or even add more things you want to do. With your own car you are totally free. Thanks for everything!
Guide to Iceland was an excellent choice for my group of 4. We did the winter 3 day self guided tour which included the ice cave, and accommodations in Höfn. The booking agents where really helpful and were flexible to add additional car rental dates and were almost always available. The self drive experience was good four our group since, some of us had already been to Iceland and we wanted to selectively pick the locations we pleased, which are also recommended on our 10 page itinerary. As for the experience, we were able to see the northern lights on our way to Höfn, which was amazing, and visited the Crystal Ice cave. I definitely recommend the self drive tour for a group of 2-4 or more. It is very flexible, and the staff will take care of the car booking, hotel booking, and ice cave visit. This south coast tour is suggested to visit the major attractions such as the golden tour, Vik, Jökulsárlón lagoon, Höfn, to name a few. The best thing about this is that your group is in charge of tour schedule, apart from the ice cave appointed activity. We would definitely do this again in a different route. Driving in Iceland is very easy, and you will be tempted to stop in almost any direction on rout 1. The scenery is very majestic, and the beauty of it all, is that you control your own schedule. Note, if you are hunting for the northern lights, we recommend extending your Iceland vacation for 5 or more days, including this 3-day tour, or you can select from guide to Iceland's duration package or customize it to fit in your own 5 day schedule like we did. Thank you Guide to Iceland!
Overall, We had a great trip! The car rental company met us right at the airport. Our questions were answered promptly and a lot of detail was given. The hotels were arranged by Guide to Iceland all great, very clean and comfortable (especially Fosshotel, love it !) , and the car were nice and comfortable as well but GPS are not really help and we lack of addressed on some hotel and location, it bring us to the wrong direction. The ice cave tour was also a lot of fun. Tour guide are really friendly, but the cave are too small and crowded only can fit 2 groups of people but it is a good experience to go into the cave, probably Once in a Lifetime. The sights were all magnificent, unfortunately we could not see the northern lights due to weather condition. I would definitely recommend this service to anyone thinking of exploring Iceland.
guide to iceland was not really available during our tour, and the fixed itinerary provided was not really accurate, we had to pickup and drop off the car at the rental's office, not directly at our accomodation, hotel was over 1 hour from the glacier lagoon, not precisely close to it, and our glacier hike got canceled the very same morning of our scheduled date... guide to iceland was really a no show during our time in Iceland... i personally had to make the calls and align with the service provider when our tour was canceled, and I was actually told Guide to Iceland shouldn't have offered that tour at this time of the year. I would recommend to save your money and tour around Iceland on your own.