7-Day Winter Self-Drive Tour of the South Coast and Snæfellsnes Peninsula

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Overview

Spend a week in chasing the stunning Northern Lights and exploring geysers, glaciers, and geothermal hot springs with this winter self-drive tour.

See Iceland’s most beloved sites which include the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the attractions of the Golden Circle route, the waterfalls of the South Coast and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. 

Customize your trip by adding optional excursions such as snorkelling between continents, visiting the Blue Lagoon, hiking up a glacier, and entering an authentic ice cave. 

Don’t worry and just have fun! Accommodations, rental car and optional excursions will be booked prior to your arrival. You will even have 24/7 customer service available to you during your trip. 

Book your adventure in Iceland today and create memories that will stay with you forever.

Included

Not included

Itinerary

Sun Voyager Sculpture on the coastline of Reykjavik

You’ll land at Keflavík International Airport, located a short drive from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík. Pick up your car after collecting your bags and make your way towards the city. 

If you want to start your adventure right away, you can take a little detour on your way to Reykjavík and explore the wonderful Reykjanes Peninsula. This little stretch of land is a geological wonder and a photographer’s dream. The landscape is characterized by tuff mountains, craters and ridges which were formed in volcanic eruptions thousands of years ago.

Amidst this harsh scenery lies the geothermal spa, Blue Lagoon. It is a great place to unwind after your flight. Add a trip to the lagoon during the booking process and you can take advantage of the complimentary silica mask and drink and admire the volcanic landscape while billowy steam rises up in the air. 

Once revitalised, continue on to Reykjavík city where you will find your hotel. If you are not too tired and if conditions are right, take a short drive away from the city lights in the evening to hunt for the beautiful Northern Lights.

Highlights Today:

  • Reykjavík City — Iceland’s dynamic capital.

  Optional Activities:

  • Blue Lagoon Spa — The perfect place to unwind after a long flight.

Kirkjufell-under-the-snow-on-Sneafellsnes-itinerary

Today, you’ll visit the mystical Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This area is packed with diverse attractions such as black pebble beaches, glittering waterfalls, lava fields and charming villages. Towering over the whole area is the mighty Snæfellsjökull, a glacier believed to emit mystical energy. 

If you are visiting in September or October, you will have the unique opportunity to start your day by descending into a volcano. You’ll board a bus in Reykjavík which will take you into the mountain where you’ll step inside the now empty magma chamber of an inactive volcano. 

Start your adventure on the peninsula by snapping a few amazing selfies at Gerðuberg cliffs. This wall of basalt columns which form geometric pattern might look like it was once a part of the set of a medieval movie or even Game of Thrones but it is a natural construct, formed by a volcanic eruption thousands of years ago.

From there you could visit the stunning waterfall Bjarnafoss which cascades down a mountainside and then the little hamlet of Búðir, located in the middle of a lava field. There, you’ll find the unusual Búðakirkja church, famous for its jet-black colour which often stands out against a backdrop of the white glacier.

Visit the black sand beach of Djúpalónssandur and watch the roaring waves of the Atlantic Ocean crash upon shore before driving to the other side of the peninsula where Mt. Kirkjufell awaits. This arrowhead-shaped mountain is not only stunning but was also used as a backdrop in the HBO series, Game of Thrones. 

If the skies are clear of clouds, go searching for the Northern Lights before settling into your accommodations in the area.   

Highlights Today:

  • Gerðuberg Cliffs — A large, natural wall comprised of geometric columns.
  • Búðakirkja Church — A jet-black church often photographed with the mighty Snæfellsjökull Glacier in the background.
  • Djúpalónssandur Black Pebble Beach — A secluded bay of dark cliffs and black sand. 
  • Kirkjufell Mountain — A stunning mountain used in HBO’s Game of Thrones.

  Optional Activities:

  • Inside the Volcano — Descend into the empty magma chamber of a volcano

Erupting Strokkur geyser at sunset

Now it is time to head towards Iceland’s most popular natural attractions which are all found on the Golden Circle sightseeing route. These include the national park of Þingvellir, Geysir Geothermal Area and the waterfall Gullfoss. 

Before you arrive at your first destination, Þingvellir, you could stop at the largest lava tube in the world, Víðgelmir. Here you’ll see stagliamites and strange natural sculptures made from hardened lava, as well as learn about the outlaws that made this cave their home. Add a tour during the booking process to see it for yourself.

Þingvellir is Iceland’s first national park, founded in 1930. However, the history of the park reaches back much further. Here you can see remains from the Viking settlers of the land who would gather at Þingvellir to settle disputes and set the laws of this country. 

The park is also renowned for its geology. It is located in a rift valley between the N-American and the Eurasian tectonic plates. The plates are in constant motion and although the movement is too slow to see it with the naked eye, you can still see evidence of this activity in the canyons and fissures that traverse the region. 

Meltwater from the nearby Langjökull glacier travels through cracks in the surrounding lava field and fills up one of these fissures, called Silfra. The water’s journey filters it and makes it crystal clear, thus creating optimal conditions for snorkelers. Silfra fissure is renowned by divers and snorkellers the world over for its unparalleled visibility and for its location between the continental plates. You can add your own snorkelling adventure in Silfra during the booking process. 

After exploring Þingvellir, head to Geysir Geothermal Area. You will see steam rising from the ground and there are many bubbling mud pools and hot springs along the path which leads to the main attraction here: the geyser Strokkur. Don’t worry if you didn’t get a great photo of Strokkur erupting, just wait 5-10 minutes and it will go off again, creating a water column of about 15-20 metres. 

Before you make your way to your accommodations in the area, you’ll stop at the last attraction of the Golden Circle route, Gullfoss Waterfall. As you step out of your car, you will be greeted by the thundering noise of freezing glacial water hitting the bottom of an ancient canyon. The cascade itself is stunning, plummeting down two steps before plunging into a 32-metre canyon, producing a fine mist as droplets bounce back up. 

The waterfall is often considered the highlight of the Golden Circle and the name of the route is derived from the name of Gullfoss, which means “golden waterfall” in Icelandic.  

Highlights Today:

  • Þingvellir National Park — Where Viking settlers would gather to lay the laws of the land. Located in a rift valley between the N-American and Eurasian tectonic plates.
  • Þingvallavatn Lake — Iceland’s largest natural lake and home of Silfra fissure. 
  • Geysir Geothermal Area — A region filled with steam vents, bubbling mud pools and erupting geysers.
  • Strokkur Geyser — Erupts every 5-10 minutes to heights of around 15-20 metres (49-66 ft). 
  • Gullfoss Waterfall — A stunning cascade which falls down in two steps into an ancient canyon.

  Optional Activities:

  • Víðgelmir Lava Cave — Iceland’s largest lava cave at around 1,600 meters (5250 ft).
  • Snorkelling in Silfra Fissure — One of the world’s top snorkelling sites.

Skogafoss at the golden hour in the winter

After breakfast, head out to explore the southern regions of Iceland. Today, you’ll see glittering waterfalls and a hauntingly beautiful black sand beach, while driving in the shadows of two massive glaciers. 

If you wish to start your day with an adrenaline rush, you can head back to Gullfoss waterfall where you’ll be picked up by guides and taken to Langjökull glacier for a thrilling snowmobile ride. You can add this option to your tour during the booking process. 

Your first stop today is the waterfall Seljalandsfoss. This silvery cascade falls in a narrow stream down a 60-metre tall cliff. If you arrive while it is still dark outside, you will see it illuminated by massive spotlights which makes it look like something out of a fantasy novel.

Speaking of fantasy, your next stop, Skógafoss waterfall, was featured in the last season of Game of Thrones. Your chances of spotting a dragon near it might be slim but you will see this tall and wide waterfall plummet 62 metres onto the flat earth beneath. This allows visitors to walk right up to the wall of water and capture some unusual photos. 

During your travels today, you will pass two mighty glaciers, the infamous Eyjafjallajökull and the larger Mýrdalsjökull. If you wish to get better acquainted with glaciers, you can add a glacier hike during the booking process. In the company of a professional guide, you will hike up one of Mýrdalsjökull’s outlet glaciers to witness the stunning view from the top of this ice giant. 

Your destination is the little village of Vík which is located near the beautiful black sand beach of Reynisfjara. Before finding your accommodations, stop by the beach to and watch the waves crash upon the shore and against the massive sea stalks, Reynisdrangar.   

Highlights Today:

  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall — A high and narrow cascade which falls over a concave cliff.
  • Skógafoss Waterfall — A wider and much more powerful cousin of Seljalandsfoss. 
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach — Dark and beautiful beach surrounded by geometric cliffs. 
  • Vík Village — A charming and picturesque village with great ocean views.

  Optional Activities:

  • Snowmobiling on Langjökull Glacier — Adrenaline surging adventure on top of a glacier
  • Glacier Hiking on Sólheimajökull — Learn about the formation and dangers of Iceland’s ice caps

Diamond beach with glacier ice blocks on black sand close to Jökulsárlon in Iceland.

Today you’ll visit the famous glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón. Start by making your way towards Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. 

First, you’ll drive through the black desert plain of Mýrdalssandur where in the South the isolated rock hill Hjörleifshöfði lies. After driving through this desolate land for a while, the white peaks of Vatnajökull will become more visible. 

As you approach the glacier, you’ll notice a wooded area surrounded by jagged mountains. This is Skaftafell Nature Reserve, a part of the larger Vatnajökull National Park. Here, you can join a glacier hiking tour which will take you up a glacier tongue of Vatnajökull. You can add a tour during the booking process and we’ll reserve a spot for you.

Further East of Skaftafell lies Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This azure blue water is filled with white and blue icebergs which gently float in the stream, heading towards the ocean. The bergs have all broken off a nearby glacier and can be as tall as a building. Seals can often be seen swimming amongst them or lounging on top. 

Nearby is the Diamond Beach, a stretch of black sand shoreline littered with small ice chunks which have washed up on shore. As they glisten in the low sunlight, they are reminiscent of the precious stones which lend the beach its name. 

At the end of the day, head to your accommodations in the area or the nearby town of Höfn. South-East Iceland is sparsely populated and so the light pollution here is minimal, making it a great place to hunt for the Northern Lights.  

Highlights Today:

  • Skaftafell Nature Reserve — Encompasses a beautiful scenery of mountain peaks, birchwood forests, thundering waterfalls, and sandy plains.
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon — A calm lake where enormous blue and white icebergs drift slowly towards the ocean.
  • Diamond Beach — A black sand beach where icebergs wash up on shore and glisten in the low sunlight.

  Optional Activities:

  • Glacier Hike in Skaftafell — Provides you with amazing view of Iceland’s highest peaks, glaciers and winding rivers.

Crystal blue ice cave under a glacier

Now it is time to head back to Reykjavík, but not before having a few adventures first. 

If you are visiting between November and March, you have a chance to add a unique adventure to your journey: visiting an authentic ice cave in Vatnajökull glacier. Stepping inside the cave is like stepping inside a blue wonderworld. It is surely a once-in-a-lifetime experience and you are bound to capture some amazing photos to make all your friends at home jealous.  

Once you are ready to bid farewell to South-East Iceland, you’ll start to make your way back to the city. Since you are behind the wheel, you decide where to stop. You can further explore the places you saw in the previous days, grabbing a few photos of them in a completely new light.

Or you can discover new places such as Eldhraun, a lava field which came as a result of one of the biggest eruptions in recorded history. You can also learn more about Iceland’s volcanic history at the lava centre in Hvolsvöllur town. Alternatively, you can stop at the beautiful Skálholt site and learn about its rich history which spans over a thousand years.

You’ll spend the night at accommodations in Reykjavík. If you are not too tired after your adventures on the road, you can check out the city’s vibrant nightlife. No matter if it is a Monday or a Saturday, there is always something happening in downtown Reykjavík be it pub quizzes, cabaret shows, comedy nights or concerts.   

Highlights Today:

  • Kirkjubæjarklaustur Village — A quaint settlement of just under 200 people.
  • Eldhraun Lava Field — Created in one of the biggest eruptions in recorded history.
  • Eyjafallajökull Glacier — A volcano covered by a glacier.

  Optional Activities:

  • Ice Caving in Vatnajökull Glacier — A unique chance to explore a natural ice cave in Europe’s largest glacier.

Women in the silky blue waters of the blue lagoon in Iceland with smoke in the background

Today it is time to head back home with a heart full of memories and a social media account full of new pics. 

If your flight leaves in the afternoon or evening, you have some time to explore Reykjavík a little bit before you go. Just remember to give yourself plenty of time to drive to the airport, return your rental car, and check in.

You could start the day by visiting one of Reykjavík’s many bakeries to try out a tasty treat such as “snúður” cinnamon roll or “kleina”, a twisted doughnut. After that, you can visit the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church or check out the lights at Harpa Concert Hall. 

If you didn’t have time on your arrival day, you can fit in a visit to the Blue Lagoon on this day. Unwinding in the warm, geothermal waters is a sure way to make you feel calm and relaxed before your flight. 

Once it is time to leave, you’ll head through the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula towards the airport. Have a great flight home and come back soon!  

Highlights Today:

  • Tjörnin Lake — A small, scenic lake in the middle of downtown Reykjavík.
  • Laugavegur Shopping Street — A short stretch of road where you’ll find shops, cafés, bars and restaurants.

  Optional Activities:

  • Blue Lagoon Spa — Arrive at the airport feeling relaxed and renewed

Accommodation

You’ll have a choice of three accommodations levels. See details about each one in the boxes below. Accommodations in Reykjavík have been hand-picked by our local travel experts.

For budget-level, single rooms will be allocated to bookings for one person.  Shared twin/double or triple room(s) will be arranged for two or more people. Groups with an odd number of participants will be allotted a single room in quality-level. Children and teenagers will be arranged in the same room as their parents. Additional cost may occur if additional room(s) is needed.

For this tour, the levels reflect the choice of accommodations in Reykjavík. Accommodations outside of the capital cannot be upgraded and therefore the levels below do not apply. The accommodations outside of Reykjavík all include a private bathroom and breakfast. We do our best to accommodate special requests, but additional costs may incur.

Rooms with shared bathroom located in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels. Located near the popular attractions. Breakfast not included.

Rooms in three-star hotels or quality guesthouses, very close to popular attractions. Private bathroom and breakfast included.

Rooms in four-star hotels or superior rooms in quality three-star hotels at fantastic locations near popular attractions. Private bathroom and breakfast is included.

Car

You’ll have a choice of three options for your rental car. See details for each option in the boxes below.

The vehicles for all levels are current models, no older than two years. They all come with standard CDW insurance, Gravel Protection (GP), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. They also come equipped with a GPS and free Wi-Fi with unlimited data, to which you can connect up to 10 devices. You will also get 24-hour roadside emergency services from the car rental agency. In the wintertime, all cars have winter tyres.

The driver must hold a valid driving licence which they have had for at least 12 months before the date of the rental. Age requirement varies for each level, and you can find more information on that in the boxes below.  

Please note that off-road driving is illegal in Iceland.

Basic 2WD vehicle such as a Toyota Yaris, good for city driving and shorter trips. Fits 2 travellers & light luggage. No Highland capabilities. Driver must be at least 20 year old.


Basic 4×4 jeep or SUV. Fits up to 3 travellers with 2 large pieces of luggage. Decent for snow and off-asphalt driving. Basic highland capabilities. Driver must be min. 20 years old.

Large 4×4 like a Toyota Land Cruiser. Comfortable up to 4 travellers with 4 large pieces of luggage. Full highland capabilities. Driver must be min. 21 years old.

Map

Optional Activities

Women in the silky blue waters of the blue lagoon in Iceland with smoke in the background
Blue Lagoon Comfort Entrance
Includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask, use of towel and 1st drink of your choice.
 
Blue Lagoon Premium Entrance
Includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, silica mud mask, use of towel, 1st drink of your choice, second mask of choice, slippers, use of bathrobe, table reservation at Lava Restaurant, and sparkling wine if dining.
 
View from inside the crater of a volcano in iceland
Inside the Volcano
Descend into the magma chamber of a 4,000 year old volcano. To get to the volcano, you have to be able to hike for 45-50 on uneven surface. All safety gear is provided as well as Icelandic meat soup to warm you up after the trip (vegetarian options available). Minimum age is 12 years. NOTE: Only available in September & October.
 

2 snorkelers holding hands in Silfra

Snorkeling in Silfra
Snorkeling between continents in crystal-clear water. Includes a tour with a certified PADI divemaster, all necessary snorkelling gear, Silfra admission fee, and hot chocolate to warm up after the dive. Minimum age 12 years. 
 
 
The vidgelmir lava cave in the west of iceland is one of the biggest that you can visit
 
Viðgelmir Lava Cave
One of the largest caves in Iceland. Tour includes an English speaking guide and use of caving equipment such as a helmet and headlamp. No age limit.
 
snowmobiles under the sun on Langjokull glacier in Iceland
Snowmobiling on Langjökull
An exhilarating tour on top of a glacier, no previous riding experience needed. Included is a one-hour snowmobile ride with a guide and use of overalls. Two people share a snowmobile and the driver needs to bring their driving licence. Age limit for passenger is 8 years.
 
 
Glacier Hiking on Solheimajökull
A fun and easy glacier hike. No previous experience needed. Tour includes an English speaking glacier guide, use of helmet, crampons, ice axe and other necessary safety equipment. Minimum age is 8 years.
 
Glacier hiking in Skaftafell national park is a must do when visiting the area
Glacier Hike in Skaftafell
Easy glacier hike, suitable for most people. No previous experience needed. Tour includes an English speaking glacier guide, use of helmet, crampons, ice axe and other necessary safety equipment. Minimum age is 8 years. 
Crystal blue ice cave under a glacier
Ice Caving in Vatnajökull
Explore a cave in Europe’s largest glacier. Includes a tour with a certified glacier guide and all necessary glacier gear such as crampons and helmets. Minimum age is 8 years.

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