8-Day Winter Self-Drive Tour of West and South Iceland
Discover Iceland in the wintertime on an 8-day winter self-drive tour. Hunt for the magical Northern Lights on your journey towards a glacier lagoon and ice caves.
Visit the mystical Snæfellsnes Peninsula and the famous sightseeing trail, the Golden Circle, before travelling along the southern shores of this island, seeing silvery waterfalls and black sand beaches. Before returning to Reykjavík, where you’ll have a free day to explore the city, you’ll see the magical Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the nearby Diamond Beach.
With this package, your accommodations, rental cars and activity will be taken care of for you prior to your arrival. You will also receive a personal itinerary created by local experts so all you have to do is explore this ancient land of Vikings and volcanoes.
If you wish to spice up your journey with an adventure or two, you could add extra trips such as entering ice caves, relaxing at the Blue Lagoon, racing across a glacier on a snowmobile, and even taking a helicopter ride over the city of Reykjavík.
You’ll land at Keflavík International Airport which is located in the south-west corner of the country. After collecting your bags and checking out the duty-free, pick up your rental car and head towards Iceland’s capital, Reykjavík.
On your way to the city, you’ll drive through the lava field of the Reykjanes Peninsula. If you are not too tired after your flight, you can make a little detour to explore this volcanic wonderland further.
Here you’ll find The Bridge Between Continents where you can stand with one foot in N-America and the other in Europe. You can also find the Gunnuhver hot springs which serves as an excellent introduction to Iceland’s geothermal environment.
If you are looking to get better acquainted with Iceland’s geothermal energy, a dip in the fabulous Blue Lagoon is a must. Like an oasis in the middle of the dark, harsh lava field, this luxurious spa offers its visitors tranquility and relaxation. It is the perfect way to cure any jet lag after a long flight to Iceland.
Once you’ve settled into your hotel room in Reykjavík, you can rest up for your adventures on the road tomorrow. Alternatively, you can head a little way out of the city on your rental car to hunt for the beautiful but elusive Northern Lights.
- Reykjavík City — Iceland’s dynamic capital.
- Blue Lagoon Spa — The perfect place to unwind after a long flight.
Now it is time to leave the city behind and explore the wild nature of Iceland. Today, you’ll be visiting the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This relatively small area is packed with diverse attractions such as black pebble beaches, charming towns, and photogenic mountains. We recommend that you start your day early to get the most out of this magical area.
After driving past farmlands and snow-covered fields of West-Iceland, the mighty Snæfellsjökull glacier will start to appear on the horizon. According to one of Jules Verne’s famous sci-fi novels, the entrance to the centre of the earth can be found in the volcanic system beneath this glacier.
Start by you Snæfellsnes exploration by Hellnar, a small and picturesque hamlet known for its jet-black houses. From there, you can visit the black pebble beach of Djúpalónssandur. To get to the beach, you’ll have to take a short walk through a beautiful natural labyrinth of lava rocks.
No visit to the Snæfellesnes Peninsula can be complete without a visit to the famous Kirkjufell mountain. You might recognise this impressive feature as ‘The Mountain like an Arrowhead’ from the popular HBO series; Game of Thrones.
If the skies are clear of clouds tonight, you might catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights dancing over Kirkjufell. Once, you’ve had enough of sightseeing for the day, head to your accommodations which can be found in the area.
- 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.
- Inside the Volcano — Descend into the empty magma chamber of a volcano
Now it is time to head South and visit the three famed sites that make up Iceland’s Golden Circle route: Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and Geysir geothermal area.
On your way to your first stop, Þingvellir National Park, you’ll drive by one of the largest lava tubes in the world, Víðgelmir. This colourful cave is filled with stagliamites and natural ice sculptures. It was also home to a few outlaws a couple of hundred years ago. You can add a tour of this remarkable cave during the booking process if you’d like to learn more and see it for yourself.
Þingvellir is also known as the birthplace of Iceland’s democracy. It is here where Viking settlers gathered to lay the laws of the land over a thousand years ago. This gorgeous area is characterized by rugged lava fields and deep canyons such as Almannagjá which serves as the boundaries between Europe and North America.
One of these canyons, Silfra, is located underwater. During the booking process you can opt for a snorkelling tour of Silfra where you will discover a whole new world just beneath the water’s surface. The visibility in Silfra is crystal clear and this is guaranteed to be one of the more unique experiences you will have here in Iceland.
Once you’ve explored Þingvellir to your heart’s content, head off to the geothermal area of Geysir. Here, you’ll find mud pools bubbling in the colourful ground as well as the erupting hot spring, Strokkur, which blasts off every 5-10 minutes.
Last but certainly not least, you’ll visit Gullfoss waterfall. Meltwater from a nearby glacier fuels this impressive cascade and there are several viewpoints from which you can get a great selfie with the waterfall in the background. The rumbling noises the icy water makes as hit hits the bottom on Gullfossgljúfur canyon will surely echo in your ears as you head to your accommodation in the area.
- 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.
- 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.
After a hearty breakfast, head out to explore some of the wonders found on Iceland’s south coast. Today, you’ll drive be driving in the shadows of two mighty glaciers which cover active volcanoes. You don’t have to worry about the volcanoes, they are very well monitored and everybody in the area will know in advance if they are up to something.
If you want to get a closer look at glaciers, you can do that by booking one of two tours available today. The first one is a thrilling snowmobile ride on top of Langjökull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. The second one is a glacier hike where you can see the spectacular landscapes on top of Sólheimajökull glacier.
You first stop on the South Coast is Seljalandsfoss waterfall, found under the infamous Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano. This is a high and narrow cascade which falls over a large cave. From Seljalandsfoss, it is a short drive to another waterfall, Skógafoss, which is vastly different but equally impressive.
Cascading down 60-metre tall cliffs, Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. The land underneath the cascade is very flat which does two things: Creates mists which produces rainbows on sunny days, and allows visitors to walk right up to the wall of water and take some unique photos.
Your next stop is Reynisfjara. The roaring waves of the N-Atlantic ocean come crashing upon the jet-black sand of this stunning beach. Surrounding the beach are grey cliffs made of hexagonal columns, the oddly shaped Dyrhólaey peninsula, the mighty Mýrdalsjökull glacier, and the sea stacks Reynisdrangar, towering from the ocean.
You’ll spend the night in or near Vík which is a small and charming town located close to Reynisfjara beach. Don’t forget to check the weather forecast at your hotel’s reception to see if the conditions are good for Northern Lights hunting.
- 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.
- 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
Now it is time to head further East. From Vík, drive away from the two glaciers, Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull, and head towards Iceland’s largest ice cap, Vatnajökull. Your destination today is the glittering glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón.
En route, you will pass Skaftafell nature reserve. This forested area is a hiker’s paradise and aside from the many treks and trails you can go on by yourself, you could also opt for a guided one which will take you up a glacier. Standing on top of the ice cap, hearing nothing but the crunching of ice beneath your crampons is surely an experience you’ll remember forever. Just let us know during the booking process and we’ll reserve a spot for you.
You will then arrive at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Here, massive icebergs which have broken off from a nearby ice-cap, float on a serene, blue lake. If you look closely, you might spot a few seals swimming between these giant bergs.
Nearby is a black sand beach where bits of the ice have washed up on shore. As they glisten in the low sunlight, they look like diamonds on a velvet blanket. The beach has thus earned the nickname; Diamond Beach.
You’ll then spend the night at a country hotel in the area.
- 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.
- Glacier Hike in Skaftafell — Provides you with amazing view of Iceland’s highest peaks, glaciers and winding rivers.
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 can start your day with a once-in-a-lifetime visit to an authentic ice cave. You will meet your guide at Jökulsárlón and be taken to the Blue Ice Cave in Vatnajökull National Park. This is a unique experience where you can step inside a glacier to view its spectacular colours and natural ice sculptures.
You will then continue your journey towards your accommodations in Reykjavík city. On your way, you could stop and explore some of the attractions further or you can discover some new ones such as the historic Skálholt area or Heiðmörk park. The latter of which serves as a perfect spot to look for Northern Lights spotting if the conditions are favourable.
- 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.
- Ice Caving in Vatnajökull Glacier — A unique chance to explore a natural ice cave in Europe’s largest glacier.
Today, you’ll have a free day to explore the vibrant and wonderful Reykjavík.
A walk down Laugavegur shopping street is a must when visiting this city. It is filled with charming shops, cafés, bars, and friendly faces.
If you are looking for a relaxing day, you could explore a museum or two or visit one of the city’s many geothermal swimming pools. The pools are always popular, even in the winter. Us locals love to sit in the hot tubs while breathing in the cool, crisp winter air.
If, however, you are in the mood for some adventure, there are plenty to choose from. You could head to Reykjavík’s old harbour, hop aboard a boat and go searching for the gentle giants of the sea on a whale watching excursion.
Alternatively, you could go and explore the countryside on the back of a horse. The Icelandic horse is a highly intelligent and gentle creature, perfect for both expert and novice riders alike.
If land nor sea interest you, you could take to the sky. You could opt for a helicopter ride which will take you over the city and into the wild nature. You’ll land at a nearby mountain top where you can see the silent panorama of the blue Atlantic Ocean, the surrounding, jagged mountains and the colourful settlement of Reykjavík.
In the evening, you can drive a little way out of the city to search for the magical Northern Lights before returning to your accommodations in Reykjavík.
- Hallgrímskirkja Church — Iceland’s largest church and a landmark building for Reykjavík
- Harpa Concert Hall — A beautiful building which is illuminated in a spectacular light display in the evening.
- Reykjavík Summit Helicopter Tour — Explore the cityscape and surrounding mountains in a helicopter.
- Whale Watching Tour — See the gentle whales in their natural habitat.
- Horse Riding Tour — Meet the Icelandic horse and ride around the countryside outside of Reykjavík.
Today is your last day but if your flight leaves in the afternoon or at night, you’ll have some time for a few last adventures before you go.
A walk downtown is a great way to soak in Reykjavík’s culture and best of all, it is free. The area is filled with cute and quirky buildings which serve as the perfect backdrop for a great selfie. There is also a lot of cool street art if you want to add some colour to your social media account.
When it is time to head for the airport, you will make your way back through the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula. If you didn’t have time on your arrival day, you can add a trip to the Blue Lagoon on this day. It is a fantastic way to bid farewell to this land of ice and fire.
Once at the airport, drop off your car at the service desk, take one last look at the wild lava fields of Iceland, and board your plane. Have a great flight home!
- 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.
- Blue Lagoon Spa — Arrive at the airport feeling relaxed and renewed
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.
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.