3 Day Northern Lights Winter Self Drive Tour of Iceland to Ice Cave & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
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 road trip is perfect for those who 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.
Day 1 - The South Coast of Iceland
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, 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 about 6-10 hours, depending on how long you decide to stop at each attraction. But this 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.
Day 2 - Ice Cave Tour with Super Jeep Ride
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
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 an 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.
What to bring
Good to know
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. 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 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.
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.
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.
Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.
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.
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) insurance. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars.
All levels come equipped with 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A large 9-seater van such as a Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD manual, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travelers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.