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 tour of West and South Iceland is a fantastic choice for couples hoping to make lasting memories and share once-in-a-lifetime experiences at the ice caves and waterfalls of one of the world's most beautiful countries.
A self-drive tour is an excellent way to enjoy the romance of Iceland in the winter. Book this highly-rated tour and enjoy the freedom and flexibility to travel at your own pace without thinking of the whims of other travelers and the strict agenda of tour guides.
You don't need to spend weeks planning your trip to Iceland, as we'll do the hard work for you. We'll provide a detailed itinerary that takes you across the best sites of West and South Iceland, with plenty of opportunities for hunting the aurora borealis.
You'll also get access to a personal travel agent who can help you with every aspect of your trip - they'll be available 24/7. If your plans change, you can cancel your trip up to 24 hours before your scheduled departure and receive a full refund.
Your car and accommodation are included with this self-drive package, so all you need to focus on is enjoying time with your significant other.
This week-long tour lets you explore the highlights of Iceland's South Coast and the incredible Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Spend a day admiring the miraculous beauty of the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, watching icebergs drifting along in the glacial waters. Relax and unwind in the world-famous Blue Lagoon spa and learn about Iceland's geothermal energy.
Drive the Golden Circle, Iceland's most famous sightseeing route. You'll get to see one of the country's most powerful waterfalls, witness an erupting geyser, and explore the geological wonders of Thingvellir National Park.
Self-drive vacations are excellent in winter because you can hunt for and marvel over the northern lights at your leisure. There's no need to take an organized bus tour. Watching the aurora borealis dance and swirl over Iceland's beautiful landscapes is an experience that'll stay with you for a lifetime.
This winter tour 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 between tectonic plates at the Silfra fissure. Tailor your tour to suit you and enjoy a week of romance in the land of fire and ice.
Immerse yourself in the mystical beauty of Iceland and stay up late watching the northern lights on this seven-day self-drive vacation. Check availability now by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Welcome to Iceland!
Start your adventure in Iceland with a trip to the Blue Lagoon or sightseeing in Reykjavik.
The fun begins as soon as you land at Keflavik International Airport. You’ll collect your comfortable rental car and can start exploring. Depending on your flight’s arrival time, you might have the opportunity to do some sightseeing, but you can go straight to your accommodation in Reykjavik if you arrive late.
If you have time today, your travel agent will book your optional entry ticket to the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. This incredible place is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions.
Relaxing in the milky-blue geothermal waters is the perfect way to get your Icelandic adventure off to a fantastic (and romantic) start. Soak away the stresses of your flight with your loved one and take in the views of the mossy lava field surrounding you.
From here, you can drive around some of the Reykjanes Peninsula. This strip of land in Southwest Iceland has high levels of volcanic activity, and the 2021 and 2022 eruptions of the Fagradalsfjall volcano drastically altered the area’s landscape. You can visit the eruption sites or the Krysuvik geothermal area to see bubbling mud pots and natural hot springs.
When you’ve finished on the Reykjanes Peninsula, you can continue the drive to Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital. The vibrant city is known for its excellent nightlife and fantastic sculptures. Explore the bustling streets near your accommodation as you get to know your way around.
Must-see attractions in Reykjavik include the Hallgrimskirkja church, one of the tallest buildings in Iceland. You can climb the tower to enjoy sweeping views of the cityscape below. Alternatively, head out of the city center to visit the Perlan Museum and Observatory, another excellent place for panoramic city views.
Head to a local restaurant for a traditional Icelandic dinner and enjoy a good night’s sleep at your central accommodation.
Day 2 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Discover "Iceland in miniature" today with a visit to the spectacular Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
After breakfast at your accommodation or in Reykjavik, you'll drive north out of the city toward this stunning area in West Iceland. You can make some detours along the way to admire the views of Faxafloi Bay or stop at the Eldborg Crater to get up close to some volcanic rock.
From here, you'll continue west into the heart of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. This area of Iceland gets its nickname because of the enormous variety and diversity of its natural attractions. It's like a trip around the whole country on a smaller scale.
You'll want to ensure you have enough time to reach the peninsula's western edge to visit Snaefellsjokull National Park, home to a twin-peaked, glacier-topped volcano known as Snaefellsjokull. It's a magnificent place with gorgeous views all around. It also acted as the setting for the entrance to the underworld in the Jules Verne novel Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Other attractions to visit today include the Djupalonssandur black-sand beach, home to volcanic rock formations and striking cliffs. Alternatively, visit the Ytri Tunga beach to see golden sands and try to spot seals swimming in the waters below. You can also visit the picturesque coastal villages of Arnarstapi and Hellnar on the peninsula's southern coastline.
An essential stop on Snaefellsnes is the Kirkjufell mountain, sometimes called the "most photographed mountain in Iceland." It has a striking conical shape, unlike any other peak in the country. One of the best places to see it is from the nearby Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, named in honor of its mountain neighbor.
If you visit in September or October, you can also head into a dormant volcano with an Inside the Volcano tour. It's a fantastic opportunity to learn more about Iceland's volcanoes and get some incredible photos.
You'll spend the night at a hotel on the peninsula. If the sky is clear and dark, feel free to hunt for the aurora borealis 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 explore the Golden Circle's three sites, the most iconic sightseeing trail in Iceland.
You'll start your day with breakfast at your accommodation or in the area. You'll begin your day's adventure when you're well-fed and ready to go.
The first optional tour for today is a trip to the Vidgelmir lava cave. You'll be able to head deep into the underground world of a volcano, discovering an enormous cavern left behind after an eruption. It's an excellent place to learn about Iceland's volcanic activity.
From here, you'll start exploring the Golden Circle. This route is home to three of Iceland's most famous sights: the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir geothermal area, and Thingvellir National Park.
We recommend visiting Thingvellir National Park first, as it's on the way from the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. It's a stunning area with various geological and geographical structures on display. As you explore the park, you'll see lakes, waterfalls, lava fields, and beautiful mountains.
Thingvellir is between two tectonic plates drifting apart, giving the whole park a unique landscape. Add a snorkeling excursion to your day to get close to the plates. After dressing in a dry suit to keep you warm, you'll swim around the glacial meltwater in the Silfra fissure and enjoy gorgeous underwater views through the crystal-clear waters.
Next, you'll continue to the Geysir geothermal area within the Haukadalur valley or the Gullfoss waterfall. You'll see the mighty Strokkur geyser erupting at Geysir every few minutes. Geysir is inactive, but Strokkur is a safe bet to see the hot spring in action.
The Gullfoss waterfall gives its name to the Golden Circle route, as its name means "Golden Falls." It's a magnificent waterfall that tumbles into an ancient valley with a two-tiered cascade. In winter, ice and snow make the view even more ethereal.
After a busy day, you'll retire for the night at a hotel or hostel within the Golden Circle. If the forecast looks promising, it's worth staying up late to watch out for the northern lights again.
Day 4 - The South Coast & Glaciers
Marvel at the beauty of Iceland's South Coast and enjoy an exhilarating glacier experience on day four of your romantic self-drive winter tour.
After breakfast at your accommodation or nearby, you'll start your journey along the Ring Road to discover the highlights of the South Coast. Start with a stop at the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, a beautiful and serene place with gorgeous photo opportunities.
The waterfall is 200 feet (about 60 meters) tall and is surrounded by stunning scenery. In the summer, you can climb a path into a cavern behind the falls for a unique perspective of this attraction. It's too slippery to do this in winter, but you can enjoy the views of the icy landscape.
From here, you'll continue to another waterfall, Skogafoss. It's about the same height as the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, but that's where the similarities end. Skogafoss is over 80 feet (about 25 meters) wide and incredibly powerful. Comparing the two falls is a fascinating way to start your South Coast journey.
You'll see the beautiful Eyjafjallajokull glacier on your left as you drive along the South Coast. If you want a more personal experience with an ice cap, you can add an exciting glacier tour to your day.
The first option is a thrilling glacier hike on the Solheimajokull glacier (just after Seljalandsfoss). An expert local guide will take you onto the ice for a challenging hike with breathtaking views. Alternatively, you can take a snowmobiling tour of the Myrdalsjokull glacier. Feel the wind on your face as you zoom over the glacier ice and marvel at the icy landscapes around you.
After your tour, you'll continue along the Ring Road until you reach the Reynisfjara black-sand beach, one of Iceland's best-known beaches. Walk along the volcanic sands and look across the Atlantic Ocean to the Reynisdrangar sea stacks. The contrast of the black sands against the white snow and ice is otherworldly.
By the beach is the quaint coastal village of Vik, where you can have dinner. Watch out for the northern lights in the sky above the ocean before retiring to your South Iceland accommodation.
Day 5 - Jokulsarlon & Vatnajokull National Park
Day five of your self-drive tour will show you more of the South Coast and the amazing Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, one of Iceland's best-loved attractions.
From Vik, you'll drive past spectacular landscapes along the South Coast as you enter Vatnajokull National Park, where you'll find most of today's sights. First, though, you can stop at the village of Kirkjubaejarklaustur, which is steeped in religious history. It's a nice place for a break, but you can also visit the nearby Foss a Sidu waterfall for a photo stop.
You'll now have the opportunity to visit the Skaftafell nature reserve, a designated area within Vatnajokull National Park. It was formerly a national park in its own right, and there are plenty of things to see here, from glacier tongues to sparkling rivers and striking lava formations. Don't miss a trip to the Svartifoss waterfall to see some hexagonal basalt columns.
If you haven't enjoyed a glacier hike yet, you'll have another opportunity to do so today. It's an excellent way to see more of the Skaftafell nature reserve and make the most of the area's jaw-dropping views.
When you've finished at the nature reserve, head to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, the "crown jewel of Iceland." The lake here is the deepest in Iceland, but most people visit to see the icebergs floating in the lagoon waters. Ice breaks off from the tongue of the Vatnajokull glacier and drifts through the lake.
The icebergs here can be as tall as multi-story buildings. Some of them also drift onto land at the Diamond Beach. The ice looks like enormous precious gems on the sands, and it's an incredible place to take photos with your partner.
The waters of the glacial lagoon are also home to numerous seals. See if you can spot any as you soak in the views. It's worth staying at the lagoon until the sun goes down, as the northern lights often appear here. It's a genuinely incredible place to witness the aurora borealis on display, so make sure you have a spare battery for your camera!
When ready, you can check into your accommodation in Southeast Iceland and get a good night's rest before another exciting day tomorrow.
Day 6 - Ice Caving & Back to Reykjavik
Today, you'll return to Reykjavik for your final night in Iceland, but not before enjoying more of the South Coast and the ice caves within the Vatnajokull glacier.
If traveling between October and March, you can start the penultimate day of your trip with the once-in-a-lifetime experience of exploring a crystal-blue ice cave under a glacier. These incredible formations appear as the glacier ice melts and refreezes every year.
After a short hike on the glacier, your expert guide will lead you into a world of vivid blue colors and beautiful natural light. You'll get a deeper understanding of the formation of Iceland's glaciers as you experience the romance and mystique of an ice cave.
You can spend the rest of your day at your leisure. You need to drive back to Reykjavik, and it's a pretty long drive at about 235 miles (roughly 380 kilometers). Take your time and break it up with sightseeing stops along the way.
Many travelers want to return to the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon for a second look. If you arrived late the previous day and it was already dark, now is an ideal time to see the lagoon in a different light.
You can also stop at any sights you missed on your drive to the east or return to your favorite spots to take more photos.
When the sun goes down and the night creeps in, you'll have the chance to watch out for the northern lights as you drive to Iceland's capital. Check the forecast for cloud cover before you start your journey so you can pause at a picturesque place to take it all in.
You'll arrive back in Reykjavik and can spend the rest of the evening as you like. Go for a final dinner in the cosmopolitan capital or get a drink at one of the city's best bars. Check into your downtown accommodation whenever you're ready.
Day 7 - Time to Say Goodbye
Spend your final day in Iceland sightseeing in Reykjavik, exploring the Reykjanes Peninsula, or relaxing at the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa.
Depending on your flight's departure time, you might have time to visit a few final attractions in Iceland's capital. Stroll down to the Old Harbor for sea views and look at the Harpa Concert Hall and Conference Center. This striking structure, with its geometric glass facade, not only hosts a variety of performances throughout the year but also offers guided tours where you can learn about the architectural wonders and history of this iconic building.
You can also walk down the Laugavegur shopping street to pick up some souvenirs before you leave. While there, don't miss the opportunity to explore the vibrant street art that adds color and creativity to the city landscape. The area also hosts several art galleries showcasing the work of local artists, providing a glimpse into the contemporary art scene in Iceland.
If you have more time, consider visiting the rotating Perlan glass dome, which offers panoramic views of the city and surrounding areas. Another option could be to enjoy a relaxing dip in one of Reykjavik's many geothermal pools, a popular leisure activity for locals and visitors alike.
If you have more time today than on your arrival date, this could be the best time to visit the Blue Lagoon spa. It's an ideal place to reflect on your adventure and relax before your flight.
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 this fantastic country.
We wish you a safe flight and hope to see you again in Iceland soon!
What to bring
Good to know
Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavik City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with at least one year of on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better suit 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 of seeing them if weather conditions allow. In cases of extreme weather, certain activities can be canceled at short notice. If this happens, we'll assist you with rearranging or replacing the activity. Any potential price difference will be refunded to you.
Please note that this tour is available to book from September to May, but the ice caves are only accessible between November and March. Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the winter.
We recommend bringing shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers, which you can purchase in many supermarkets and gas stations around Iceland.
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 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.