3 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Jokulsarlon & Vatnajokull Glacier Ice Cave

3 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Jokulsarlon & Vatnajokull Glacier Ice Cave
Travel along Iceland's fabulous South Coast and see an Ice cave as well as Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon bathed in the soft light of a winter's afternoon.
On this 3 Day Winter Self Drive Tour you can enjoy the northern lights for as long as you want, should you be lucky enough to see them.
A breed unique to Iceland, the Icelandic horse sports a thick coat of fur during winter.
Compressed oxygen creates the shades of sapphire blue in Vatnajökull's ice caves.
Provided that the skies are clear and geomagnetic activity is high enough, you should be able to see the northern lights.
4.6
Based on 10 traveller reviews

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 their 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.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Nov. - Mar.
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Super Jeep, Sightseeing, Northern lights hunting, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Minimum age: 8 years.
  • Highlights: Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Hvítá River, Vatnajökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Dyrhólaey, Strokkur, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Vík í Mýrdal, Svartifoss, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Reynisdrangar, South Coast, Diamond Beach
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible.

Your car will await you at your hotel in Reykjavík or you can choose to pick it up from Keflavík international airport. You will also drop if off at your hotel or at Keflavík international airport.
Included:
  • Accommodation for 2 nights (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 3 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

  • Ice cave tour

  • Crampons and glacier gear for ice cave tour

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Fuel

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


What to bring:
  • Warm clothing and outerwear suited to rainy or chilly weather

  • Winter hiking shoes


Good to know:

This self-drive is set to take place at wintertime. Conditions in Iceland can vary greatly during that season; snow and ice are commonplace, and Iceland has limited daylight hours. We strongly recommend that if you book this tour, you'll opt for a 4WD (4x4) vehicle if you do not have much experience driving in these conditions. If you feel insecure about driving in winter conditions, we recommend a package tour instead.

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.

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.

If you book the extra activities alongside this tour, you will get them at a lower price.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - The South Coast of Iceland


Drive the South Coast to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon on your winter self-drive tour, where you can see the Northern Lights dance in the evening sky.


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. On your way you will pass magnificent waterfalls, the top two being Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. You will also have the chance to see the more elusive Gljúfrarbúi and Kvernufoss falls.

You will also pass the black sands of Sólheimar, in the dark shadow of the great Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano, and its big brother, Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

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!

Keep your eyes open for auroras during the night - you'll be in a great location in the town of Höfn.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Super Budget

HI Hostel Höfn is located in Höfn township. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Guesthouse Hvammur is located in the centre of Höfn town and a short drive from Vatnjökull National Park. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3-star hotel centrally located in 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 2 - Ice Cave Tour with Super Jeep Ride


On a winter self-drive tour, you can travel the South Coast to Vantajökull National Park where you can take a tour to an authentic ice cave.


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.


Day 3 - Skaftafell Nature Reserve - South Coast Attractions


Discover the many hiking trails and tracks at Skaftafell Nature Reserve on your winter self-drive tour.


Today, you have an optional extra activity in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, where you can go on a glacier hike on an outlet glacier of the Vatnajökull ice cap. The hike is not very demanding but rewards you with spectacular views, and incredible chance to experience the ice up close in the company of seasoned glacier guides.

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. You can choose to take a small detour and visit the geothermal areas to the north, or one of the little fishing villages down by the coast, where small seafood restaurants offer the catch of the day. 

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.


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 budget and comfort 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). For quality level, odd number groups will always be allocated a single room.

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. Super budget 2WD vehicles are maximum 5 years of age, and come equipped with a GPS and standard CDW insurance. Budget 2WD, Comfort 4x4 and Luxury 4x4 level vehicles are maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model. In wintertime, all cars have winter tyres. For winter driving, we highly recommend a Comfort level 4x4 vehicle or Luxury 4x4 to combat possible heavy winter conditions.

Super Budget

A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities.

Budget

A basic 2WD vehicle such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4x4

A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. Fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities. Recommended.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized 4WD (4x4) jeep such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all travelling. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. Note that off-road driving is illegal.


Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel tour and package bookings and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person.

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.

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.


Map


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Verified reviews

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This was my first trip overseas and my experience with travel guide was everything I expected. It was a great experience. I need to book a trip that will be a little longer the next time I visit. I'll be coming back to travel guide, for sure!
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Fantastic. Our ice caving guide was really enthusiastic and knowledgeable about the glacier and even though the weather was dreary , the cave was absolutely gorgeous. Would do it again in a heartbeat. Everything was smooth with the car rental . Our hotel was much nicer than expected (we got the "comfort level") and had an excellent breakfast included in the cose and a lovely restaurant for dinner. We loved the way we could pace our days exactly as we wanted. We were there in February and it was gorgeous and would love to go back sometime in the summer.
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It was a really good tour. Everything went very smooth. The guidance and instant feedback was really good. Would recommend guide to Iceland to everyone who wants to travel to Iceland.
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i had contacted guide to iceland tours about 3 months before travel ,i needed them to put together a tour using a private tour guide for four woman that could show us as much as possible within 3 days . i communcated back and forth with johnathan , he was wonderful always responding to all my questions right away , when we arrived we met our private driver solvi, we could not say enough wonderful things about our guide , he was fabulous ,so knowledgeable and patient ,worked on our schedule, nothing was ever a problem even if we made last min changes he was flexible and made everything work , we could not have had a better experience with this company ,trust me you will be in excellent hands ,i speak from experience as have traveled around the world
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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.
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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!
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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!
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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!
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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.
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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.
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3 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Jokulsarlon & Vatnajokull Glacier Ice Cave