3-Day Small-Group Tour | Golden Circle, South Coast, Glacier Hike, & Ice Caves
Experience the best Iceland has to offer in the winter with this 3-day tour of the Golden Circle and South Coast. Aside from witnessing fantastic sights of waterfalls, glacier lagoons, and black sand beaches, you’ll get to try your hand at glacier hiking as well as exploring an authentic ice cave. This is the perfect excursion for all adventurous travellers in Iceland during the Northern Lights season.
This tour combines sightseeing and adventure. You’ll travel in a comfortable minibus, ensuring that your group-size will be small and the experience personal. Your local guide will take you across Iceland, to Vatnajökull National Park, stopping at some of the country’s most beautiful natural attractions en route. Included are two adventure excursions: glacier hiking at Skaftafell and visiting the blue ice caves at Vatnajökull National Park.
Also included in this tour is pick up and drop off in Reykjavík, and two nights of accommodation in a comfortable country hotel with private bedrooms and breakfasts the next morning. The hotels are in a prime location for spotting the Northern Lights, and your guide will let you know each night if conditions are favourable.
See the beauty of the Icelandic nature in the winter — with its partly-frozen waterfalls and snow-covered mountains — before strapping on crampons for a glacier hike and a visit to an ice cave. Book now to reserve your spot on this fantastic 3-day tour.
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What to bring
You will be picked up in the morning by your friendly, English-speaking guide in a comfortable minibus. Get cosy because you will spend the next three days looking out of the window at the wintry countryside, seeing snow-capped mountains, mighty glaciers, and Icelandic horses. There is free Wi-Fi on board the minibus. That means you’ll be able to post all the photos you will undoubtedly take during the next three days immediately to your social media accounts.
Today you will travel Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route: the Golden Circle. The first stop is at Þingvellir National Park, where Viking settlers of the country would gather over a thousand years ago to settle disputes and lay the foundations for what is now Iceland’s parliament, Alþingi.
Þingvellir is not only historically significant but also a geological wonder. Iceland sits on two continental plates, the Eurasian and the North American, and they meet at Þingvellir National Park. The plates interact with one another, driven by strong forces within the Earth, and the result is a unique but stunning landscape of lava fields, canyons and fissures.
From Þingvellir you’ll travel to Geysir Geothermal Area where you can see bubbling mud pools, boiling hot springs, hissing steam vents, and, more importantly, erupting geysers. The most active geyser here is Strokkur which erupts naturally every 5-10 minutes, reaching heights of about 15-20 metres (49-65 ft).
The last stop on the Golden Circle route is Gullfoss Waterfall. This beautiful cascade is fed by Iceland’s second-largest glacier, Langjökull. As it falls over two steps into a deep canyon created in the last ice-age, tiny droplets of water fly up, often creating a small rainbow when hit by the sunlight.
At the end of the day, you’ll head to a cosy country hotel in the area. The hotel is far away from any light pollution, perfect for hunting the elusive northern lights. Your guide will let you know if the weather conditions are good for spotting the dancing auroras.
After breakfast, you’ll hop back on the minibus to continue your journey. Today, you’ll be travelling along the southern coastline of Iceland, visiting waterfalls and glaciers.
Your first stop will be at the beautiful waterfall Seljalandsfoss, which falls in a tall but narrow stream over a concave cliff. In the winter months, the semi-frozen cascade is often dotted with icicles that glisten in the low sunlight.
From there, you’ll travel to another waterfall, Skógafoss, which is more powerful than its neighbour Seljalandsfoss but equally as stunning. The river Skógá plunges down a 60-metre cliff and lands onto a flat ground underneath. This means that you can walk right up to the curtain of water for some amazing photographs.
You’ll then continue your journey east. Dark desert plains will take over from the quaint countryside until the massive Vatnajökull glacier starts to appear on the horizon. You will stop here at Skaftafell Nature Reserve for a fun and exhilarating glacier hike on top of one of Vatnajökull’s outlet glaciers.
Armed with crampons and walking poles, you’ll scale the glacier, enjoying the spectacular sights that appear in front of you. Vatnajökull is not only Iceland’s largest glacier but also Europe’s. It encompasses valleys and mountains, including Iceland’s highest peak, Hvannadalshnjúkur.
After an adventurous day, you’ll head to a nearby hotel in the countryside. If the conditions are good for Northern Lights spotting, your guide will let you know before you retire to your room.
Now it is time to head back to the city, but not without having a few fantastic adventures first.
After breakfast, you’ll board the minibus again and head to the beautiful Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Here, you’ll witness enormous icebergs float on a serene lake. Keep an eye out for resident seals which can often be seen swimming between the bergs or lounging on top of them.
A short walk away from Jökulsárlón is the Diamond Beach. Dotted on this stretch of black sand coastline are countless of smaller icebergs which have washed up onshore. In the low sunlight, they glisten like precious stones on a velvet blanket.
You will then head up the glacier, to explore a stunning blue ice cave found there. The ice caves on Vatnajökull are a natural phenomenon that is only accessible in the wintertime. They are comprised of unbelievably blue walls which appear to sparkle as the sunlight hits them, so make sure to keep your camera on hand.
Once you’ve wandered through the corridors of the glacier, you’ll hop aboard the minibus which will take you back to the south coast of Iceland, stopping at the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. Here, the North Atlantic Ocean’s massive waves crash violently upon the shore and against the rock pillars of Reynisdrangar, showcasing just how brutal the Icelandic nature can be.
You’ll then reach Reykjavík in the evening or late afternoon where you’ll be dropped off at or near your accommodation.