Romantic 7 Day Northern Lights Self-Drive Getaway in Iceland with Ice Caving & Waterfalls
Discover the wonders of Iceland in winter, and witness the beauty of the Northern Lights on this seven-day romantic getaway. This slow-paced self-drive vacation is a fantastic choice for couples hoping to make lasting memories and share once-in-a-lifetime experiences in one of the world’s most beautiful countries.
You’ll be provided with an itinerary of the most exclusive sites across west and south Iceland. The joy of a self-drive tour, however, is the fact that you have the freedom to tailor every day to the desires of you and your partner, without thinking about the whims of other tourists and the strict agenda of tour guides.
You can thus spend as long as you like seeking the Northern Lights over the icebergs of the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon; go off the beaten track to find the hidden wonders around the Golden Circle; find your perfect picnic spot amongst the many sites of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Self-drive vacations are particularly alluring in winter because you can hunt for and marvel over the aurora borealis each night privately, at your own leisure, without having to go on a bus tour. Watching the Northern Lights as they dance and swirl over Iceland’s beautiful landscapes is an experience that will last with you for a lifetime
This particular trip also provides you with the exclusive opportunity to witness another Icelandic seasonal phenomenon, the ice caves. These otherworldly formations are as rare as they are spectacular and will allow you to share an intimate, unforgettable moment with your partner that you can treasure forever.
You can create more special memories by adding adventures such as snowmobiling, lava caving, and even snorkeling.
Immerse yourself in the romantic, mystical beauty of Iceland beneath the Northern Lights on this self-drive vacation. Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik
Your adventure begins as soon as you pick up your car, waiting for you at Keflavik International Airport. From here, you'll head to the nearby Blue Lagoon, an ethereal spa where you can relax after your flight and enjoy the restorative powers of the azure, mineral-rich water; there is no better place to start a romantic holiday.
After that, you can make your way to Reykjavik, but as this tour is all about freedom, you are welcome to seek out the sites of the volcanic Reykjanes Peninsula first. Otherwise, you can spend the evening exploring the quirky capital, enjoying its architecture, culture, and public artworks, such as the Sun Voyager.
You'll spend your first night in a hotel in the city.
Day 2 - Snaefellsjokull National Park
On your second day, you'll set out to explore a region nicknamed 'Iceland in Miniature' because of its unbelievable diversity: the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. As you head north towards it, you are welcome to detour to explore some sites of west Iceland, such as Faxafloi Bay and the Eldborg Crater.
You will still want plenty of time on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, however, not least to reach its most famous feature, which sits on its tip. The twin-peaked subglacial volcano of Snaefellsjokull is so spectacular that it is now a National Park and is most renowned for being the primary setting for the Jules Verne novel 'A Journey to the Centre of the Earth'.
On both the north and south shores, the attractions leading up to this magnificent site are similarly beautiful, if not quite as well known.
For example, Kirkjufell mountain, featured in Game of Thrones, is a favorite site amongst photographers; Djupalonssandur is a stunning black sand beach with a fascinating history; the abandoned village of Hellnar is a place of windswept serenity. At many of these sites, you'll find plenty of romantic, private spots to unwind.
You'll spend the night at a hotel on the peninsula. If the sky is clear and dark, and you aren't all tuckered out from a day of exploration, feel free to hunt for the auroras over some of the area's magnificent landscapes.
Day 3 - Lava Cave & The Golden Circle
On the third day of your romantic Northern Lights getaway, you’ll set off to explore the three sites of the Golden Circle, the most iconic sightseeing trail in Iceland.
However, those with a taste of adventure can organize a lava caving excursion first, where you will descend into Vidgelmir and witness the stunning subterranean world beneath Iceland’s landscapes.
The Golden Circle is famous for three incredible sites, showing a different side of Iceland’s nature. Gullfoss is a magnificent waterfall that tumbles into an ancient valley; in winter, beautiful ice armors the rocks surrounding it.
Meanwhile, the Geysir Geothermal Area is a wonderland of hot springs, including the geyser of Strokkur, which erupts every ten minutes or so. Finally, Thingvellir is a national park between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, filled with lava fields, forests, ravines, and springs.
Those seeking a unique winter excursion can opt for a snorkeling tour in one of these springs, Silfra, to witness its crystal clear views and swim between the continents.
Just off the Golden Circle are plenty of cultural and natural sites that those on guided tours rarely get a chance to see, but you are welcome to locate at your own leisure. Many of these, such as the Fontana Spa and Secret Lagoon, has a romantic ambience, making them perfect for couples.
You’ll retire for the night within the Golden Circle.
Day 4 - The South Coast & Glaciers
The fourth day of your adventure will take you along the South Coast, where you can expect to find countless attractions inland and spectacular views out to sea. As this is a slow-paced vacation, you'll spend three days in total getting to know this beautiful region.
The first major attraction you will come to is a Seljalandsfoss, a tall, gentle waterfall. It is famous for the vast cavern that opens behind it. The water that feeds it comes from the glacier of Eyjafjallajokull, which can be glimpsed at as you travel.
If you wish to have a more personal experience with an Icelandic ice cap, you can opt into a glacier-hiking tour on Solheimajokull, found just after Seljalandsfoss. You'll be led by an expert guide, who will welcome you to a world of gleaming, colorful ice and spectacular views.
Another choice is to visit the ice caves on the volcano of Katla, a particularly appealing option for those coming outside of midwinter when the crystal blue ice caves are closed. A final way to explore the icecaps is on a thrilling snowmobiling tour, where you will race across their snowy surfaces.
The next site on the South Coast is the magnificent Skogafoss waterfall, which is about 197 ft (60m) tall and produces an enormous cloud of spray. After marveling over its power, you can move along to one of the world's most beautiful non-tropical beaches, Reynisfjara.
This stretch is renowned for its otherworldly black sands, enormous waves, and the dramatic sea-stacks of Reynisdrangar said to have once been trolls frozen in the sun.
By the beach is a quaint village of Vik, where you will spend the night.
Day 5 - Jokulsarlon & Vatnajokull National Park
The fifth day of your tour will take you along the rest of the South Coast, culminating at the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, which is often nicknamed the crown jewel of Iceland's nature.
After leaving Vík, you will pass through some spectacular landscapes as you make your way towards Vatnajokull National Park, where most of today's sites can be found. However, the first attraction you'll reach is the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, which is steeped in religious history. Next to it is a similarly historic farm. Foss a Sidu, a beautiful waterfall, sits next to it.
You'll then have the opportunity to visit Skaftafell, a nature reserve in the National Park. This area is filled with natural wonders, including glacier tongues and lagoons, sparkling rivers, and lava formations. The most beautiful of these are the hexagonal basalt columns that surround 'the black waterfall', Svartifoss.
After exploring the nature reserve to your heart's content, you can continue along to the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Iceland's deepest lake, it fills with icebergs breaking from a tongue of Vatnajokull glacier, often as tall as multi-story buildings. They are spectacular to admire from the shores and made all the more beautiful by the resident seals.
Adjacent to the lake is the ethereal, romantic Diamond Beach, the black sand stretch of coastline where these icebergs wash up after finally reaching the ocean.
Both Jokulsarlon and the Diamond Beach are fantastic places to remain after the sun sets in the hope of seeing the auroras dancing above. Your accommodation will be in this area.
Day 6 - Ice Caving & Back to Reykjavik
If traveling between October and March, your sixth day will begin with a winter adventure like no other: exploring the crystal blue ice caves under Vatnajokull glacier.
These incredible formations are very rare around the world. A visit to one will envelop you into a world of vivid blue colors and beautiful lighting effects and allow you to experience firsthand the inner workings of Iceland’s beautiful glaciers.
After your guided tour into this spectacular place, the rest of your day is free; though you have to get back to the capital in the evening, where you will be retiring, what you do before getting there is entirely up to you.
Most guests want more time marveling over the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon because of its sheer, unreal beauty. Still, you have the opportunity to return to any South Coast sites you want to admire again.
Of course, as this is a self-drive vacation, you can also address your itinerary and seek out the hidden gems just off the main road that most visitors overlook. If you are looking to find a private, romantic spot out in remote nature, now is a great time to do so.
As your day comes to a close, you will likely still be on the road, so be sure to look for dark corners en route where you can hunt for the Northern Lights.
Day 7 - Farewell
Sadly, your seventh day is your final one in Iceland. You will have to return your car to Keflavik International Airport in time for your flight.
If you have a late departure, however, you have several options for how to spend your last day. While you could simply enjoy the city of Reykjavik, making the most of its shops, restaurants, galleries, museums, and art, the adventurous can squeeze in a final excursion.
You can opt for a helicopter tour from the domestic airport to witness Iceland’s magnificent winter landscapes from the sky. If traveling before the end of October, you could even take the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to descend into the vast, colorful magma chamber of a dormant volcano.
You could also use your last hours to explore the volcanic, geothermal wonders of the Reykjanes Peninsula before dropping off your vehicle and saying farewell to your exclusive, romantic time in Iceland.
Enjoy your flight and come back soon!
What to bring
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.
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.
Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.
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 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.
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.