Winter Self Drive Tours

Winter Self Drive Tours

Winter self drive tours allow you to enjoy your Iceland adventure under the ethereal Northern Lights. Fully customised winter itineraries with accommodation, vehicle rentals and all activities booked in advance, allowing you to focus on exploring Iceland’s wondrous terrains and magical ice caves.

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Winter driving in Iceland

With all the necessary preparations made beforehand, you’ll be more than ready to take to Iceland’s roadways during the winter months. Iceland is a fantastic country in which to undertake a winter self drive tour, granted the vehicle operator is confident driving in more difficult conditions.

One of the many blessings that come with driving in the winter is the snow-blanketed scenery; this is Iceland living up to its name, with fields, mountains and rivers masked and sculpted by the frosty elements.

Aside from this staggering beauty, driving in the winter is an adventure in itself, providing the first-hand experience of just how unpredictable and captivating both Iceland’s weather and nature can be. Travelling from one natural attraction to another, you may even have the chance to see the northern lights dancing above.

As with anywhere, driving in Iceland requires a keen awareness of the road rules and potential hazards. The first, and most obvious, is the darkness. It is a legal requirement in Iceland to keep your headlamps on at all times—this goes as much for the black of winter as it does a fully illuminated day in the spring, and has been put in place as a safety regulation due to the country’s ever-changing level of light. Some rental vehicles will have the headlights fixed ‘on’ automatically.

It is advised only to use high beam in pitch darkness, switching to your normal headlight level on the opposite approach of a vehicle—this is to ensure you are not blinding the other driver.

If you are not experienced in driving in harsh winter conditions, it is highly recommended that you get a four-wheel-drive, and make sure that the vehicle is fitted with quality winter tyres.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a 4x4 to drive the ring road or to drive to North Iceland?

Yes, we recommend renting a 4x4 car in winter. For short and easy routes, we offer the option of booking a 2WD, although it is always best to use a 4WD for driving in Iceland in winter.

Is the car fitted with winter tyres?

Between November and March, Icelandic law requires all cars to be fitted with winter tyres. Therefore, your car will absolutely be fitted with winter tyres during these dates. 

Will the car's winter tyres be studded?

Unfortunately, this cannot be guaranteed because Icelandic car rentals are not required to fit their vehicles with studded tyres. Please contact us at info@guidetoiceland.is if you wish for your vehicle to be fitted with studded tyres. Please note that additional charges may apply.

Can I rent tyre-chains to aid me in driving through ice and snow?

No, tyre-chains are illegal in Iceland.

Will I be safe if I have no previous winter driving experience and have never driven in snowy or icy conditions?

Icy roads can be tricky to navigate, and we only recommend winter self drive tours for those with winter-driving experience. If you want to try, nonetheless, we recommend that you limit your travels to Iceland's South Coast. On your trip in Iceland, it’s a good idea to continually check the weather forecast and road conditions for your intended route. Please note that we also offer guided tour packages in mini-buses with English-speaking guides. Many of these guided packages take you through the most popular self-drive routes.

What happens if I arrive late to a tour or cannot make it to a meeting point due to road closures or extremely bad weather?

The good news is that the ring road in Iceland (the major road that circles the whole island) very rarely closes. If, however, other roads which are essential to your itinerary are closed, we will assist you with all the necessary arrangements and help you in any way possible. This is one of the major benefits of booking a self drive tour with Guide to Iceland.If you are encountering any issues, please do reach out to our team via email on info@guidetoiceland.is.

What do the winter self drive tours include?

The self drive packages include all accommodation and car rentals, as well as the support of a dedicated travel agent at Guide to Iceland, should you encounter any issues along the way. It’s possible to also schedule in tours, meals and premium airport transfers as part of your self drive. However, please note that additional charges may apply. 

What insurances are included?

The car insurance package includes Collision Damage Waiver, Super Collision Damage Waiver and Gravel Protection as standard. This is the best coverage and the most limited liability payment option available. It is also possible to add Sand and Ash Protection, which is recommended if you intend to travel along the windy, sandy, South Coast. Please contact your booking agent for further advice.

Should I purchase the sand and ash protection insurance in winter?

We always recommend this insurance as there is no way of predicting whether or not a sandstorm will occur on a specific date. This is especially pertinent if you choose to travel along the South Coast of Iceland.

Does the car have a GPS?

Yes, all cars are fitted with a GPS as standard.

How do I find the sightseeing locations, my hotels and the meeting points for the tours?

You will be given an itinerary which includes all addresses and GPS coordinates of all of the locations of accommodations and tours. Your itinerary will also include some suggestions of places to see along your road trip in Iceland.

There are fewer daylight hours during winter than during summer. Will I be able to see and experience all the points of interest?

We always take this into account when we plan your trip. When we customise your itinerary, we make sure that you can see and experience the very best Iceland has to offer in the given weather and road conditions.