6 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Jokulsarlon, Ice Cave & Diamond Beach

The Northern Lights fill the sky and dye the surroundings their colours, particularly over Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
The blue of the ice on the Diamond Beach is so vivid it is almost ethereal.
Self drive tours mean your opportunities to hunt for the Northern Lights are near limitless.
There are shows in several languages that go on at Harpa Concert Hall throughout the year.
The Golden Circle route is easy to drive in winter, making Gullfoss waterfall an easily accessible site.
The Northern Lights are caused by solar particles making contact with the earth's atmosphere.

Take the wheel on this winter self-drive tour, that's frosted with ice and snow for the season! This tour is for those who want the best possible value rental car to experience Iceland's magical south coast during wintertime.

You’ll start your 6-day adventure with the classic Golden Circle tour, before heading on to the glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón, and Diamond Beach to behold some of the finest sights of Iceland’s natural world. As you'll be driving yourself, you can enjoy each location in your own way, and in your own time. 

Book an optional tour in an ice cave in southeast Iceland from November to March. This is a rare and special experience, as the caves are only available for a few months per year. Each cave is investigated by specialists to ensure safe passage through the crystalline wonders inside, from beautiful frost-licked rock formations to entire walls of deep sapphire blue ice.

You can take a stroll on the black-sand beaches of Reynisfjara, admiring the black basalt cliffs, and the towers standing offshore against the endless waves. Find your favourite waterfall, as you'll get to stand next to some of Iceland's most impressive ones.

In the evenings, keep your eyes open for a fabulous display of the Northern Lights! Though it is never certain when they will emerge, they are an unforgettable sight dancing overhead in stripes of green, pink and white.

We know you're looking forward to these elements of Iceland's unique environment, like the ice caves and Northern Lights, and we want to make sure that you see the most popular attractions and a few out-of-the-way spots where you can be practically alone, far from the crowds. It's all included in the custom-made itinerary you'll receive with your tour package. 

Don’t miss this self-drive tour of the most popular locations on the south coast, along with a few special surprises! Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible

Your car will await you at Keflavík International Airport when you arrive. You will drop it off at Keflavík airport, too, when you depart from Iceland.
Included:
  • 5 nights of accommodation (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 6 days (Toyota Aygo or similar. Upgrades available)

  • CDW insurance for super budget level vehicle; other levels also include SCDW and gravel protection insurances

  • GPS System

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Blue Lagoon entry ticket (can be added during booking process)

  • Fuel

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


What to bring:
  • Warm clothing and outerwear suitable for rainy or chilly weather

  • Winter Hiking Shoes

  • Driver's License


Good to know:

Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with a one-year long on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time.

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximise your chances to see them if weather allows. Please be aware that your itinerary may have to be rearranged to fit your arrival date and time better.

It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you. Please note that though the tour is available to book from September to May, the ice caves are only accessible from November to March each year.

Note that Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the wintertime. We recommend you bring shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers. The covers can be purchased in most supermarkets and gas stations around the country.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival in Iceland & Reykjavik


Reykjavík is a city of art and sculptures; the Sun Voyager is the most famous.


After arriving at Keflavík International Airport, pick up your car and head to Reykjavík City. En route, you can stop at the Blue Lagoon spa on the Reykjanes Peninsula, if you added tickets during the booking process. There is no better way to start your holiday than relaxing in this unique spa, basking in the warm water and refreshing your skin with silica masks.

When you feel fully charged by this serene experience, you can head to your accommodation in the capital city of Reykjavík. It may also be worth having an explore around the beautiful and desolate Reykjanes peninsula too. Do not worry if you cannot fit it in, however, as you will have another opportunity to do so at the end of the week.

Spend the rest of the day exploring the vibrant, culture-filled metropolis on your doorstep. Whether you are interested in food, Viking history, art or nightlife, you are bound to find something that suits your taste here.

Spend your first night in downtown Reykjavík, and remember to search the skies for the Northern Lights.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

Reykjavík Budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 2 - Golden Circle Attractions


Rural settlements in west and south Iceland, not far from Reykjavík, are great for Northern Lights hunting.


Start off on your trip by visiting the famous Golden Circle, beginning with Thingvellir National Park. Here you can walk along the fault line created by two tectonic plates splitting, you can embrace your sporty side with snorkeling or diving in the Silfra fissure, and you can learn more about Iceland's political history.

Your next destination is the geothermal area of the famous Geysir, with its fumaroles and hot springs, alongside the more active Strokkur geyser, which erupts as high as 40 m (131 ft) every few minutes.

Last but not least, you will stop off at the magnificent Gullfoss Falls. Its name fittingly means “The Golden Waterfall”, and a walk down to its edge offers a view of nature's spectacular combination of power and beauty.

From there you head to the main road, stopping at the old explosion crater Kerið, which is home to a vivid blue lake.

Spend the night in the beautiful village of Hvolsvöllur, and again, remember to gaze at the night sky in search of the auroras.


Preferred accommodation by Hvolsvöllur

Hvolsvöllur Super Budget

Árnes HI Hostel is located close to the village of Hella. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Budget

Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur village. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Hvolsvöllur Comfort

Hotel Hvolsvöllur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in Hvolsvöllur village. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Hvolsvöllur Quality

Hotel Rangá is a 4-star hotel situated between the towns Hella and Hvolsvöllur. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Views towards Rangá river or Hekla volcano. Free access to outdoor hot tubs. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 3 - South Iceland Waterfalls - Black Sands - Klaustur


The South Coast of Iceland by night is ominous and beautiful with its daunting black rock formations.


As you continue your journey, you will drive towards Eyjafjallajökull, the volcano that made world headlines during its 2010 eruption, when enormous ash clouds brought European air traffic to a standstill.

You will then visit the beautiful waterfalls Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, before taking a highly recommend trip to the nearby Skógar Folk Museum.

Drive on towards the Sólheimajökull glacier before taking a slight detour to witness the black sands of Reynisfjara beach, where you can discover wind-chiseled basalt cliffs and witness the full force of the North Atlantic Ocean.

Consider a short stop in the village of Vik, before reaching your final destination of the day, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, also called simply Klaustur. There is hardly any light pollution in the area, making Northern Light viewing optimal on clear nights.


Preferred accommodation by Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Super Budget

Vagnstaðir Hostel is located within walking distance from the beach and has a great view of the sea and surrounding mountains. Dorm accommodation with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Budget

Klausturhof Guesthouse is centrally located in Kirkjubæjarklaustur town. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Comfort

Fosshótel Núpar is a 3-star hotel with panoramic views of lava fields, mountains, and the glacier tongues of Vatnajökull glacier. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Quality

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in the Kirkjubæjarklaustur town. Modern private rooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 4 - Ice Cave - Svartifoss - Diamond Beach


The textures of the ice caves can be explained by scientific processes, which you guide will tell you all about.


On your fourth day, you will pass the picturesque waterfall Foss á Síðu, as well as driving by the nearby Dverghamrar basalt columns, before taking the road over the vast glacier sands of Skeiðarársandur.

Further down the road, visit the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, which is found within the Vatnajökull National Park. Once there, you can go on a short hike to another impressive waterfall, Svartifoss, as well as having plenty of other hiking opportunities in the area, including the chance to go on a guided glacier hike.

About 40 minutes further east is the truly magnificent Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. Jökulsárlón is widely considered to be the most beautiful place in Iceland, and you will probably want to spend as much time there as possible.

Today, you have the chance to visit the ice cave in this area as well. This extra activity is available from November through March and needs to be booked well in advance due to its popularity.

Once you're done enjoying the blue ice and its magic, spend another night in Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Keep a lookout for the Aurora!


Preferred accommodation by Kirkjubæjarklaustur

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Super Budget

Vagnstaðir Hostel is located within walking distance from the beach and has a great view of the sea and surrounding mountains. Dorm accommodation with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Budget

Klausturhof Guesthouse is centrally located in Kirkjubæjarklaustur town. Private bedrooms with shared bathroom. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Comfort

Fosshótel Núpar is a 3-star hotel with panoramic views of lava fields, mountains, and the glacier tongues of Vatnajökull glacier. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Kirkjubæjarklaustur Quality

Icelandair Hotel Klaustur is a 3-star hotel centrally located in the Kirkjubæjarklaustur town. Modern private rooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 5 - Back to town


Those who want to see and comprehend the effects of the volcanic activity in Iceland should explore the Reykjanes Peninsula.


If you set out in the early morning of Day 5, you can aim to reach Reykjavík by the afternoon. This drive, along Route 1, is incredibly scenic, going past the black sand beaches, waterfalls, and glaciers that you witnessed on day 3. You can take your time to enjoy anything you missed, or return to any places that you wanted to spend more time at.

Once back in Reykjavik, you can explore the museums, galleries and cultural sites you may have missed on your first day. This is also a great time to return to the Reykjanes peninsula and see its sights; it has large geothermal areas, bird-watching cliffs, fascinating geological formations, and many places of stark, untouched beauty. 

Spend your last night in Reykjavík, and perhaps make the most of it by dining in one of the city's delicious restaurants.


Preferred accommodation in Reykjavík

Reykjavík Super Budget

Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostel. Located in the capital region. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Breakfast not included.

Reykjavík Budget

Capital Inn is a 2 star hotel 3 km out of the city centre, with a short walk to Kringlan shopping mall and Nauthólsvík geothermal beach. Private bedrooms with a washbasin but shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Reykjavík Comfort

The Fosshótel chain has four 3-4 star Hotels located in and around the city center of Reykjavík. There is a short walk from all of the hotels to attractions, cafés, restaurants, museums and the nightlife. All offer private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Reykjavík Quality

Alda Hotel is a 4 star hotel situated on Laugavegur, Reykjavík's main shopping street in the city centre. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free access to a fitness room with a sauna and a hot tub. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 6 - Grótta Reykjavik - Keflavik Airport


Even in winter, the seascapes of Iceland can be flat and serene.


On your departure day, you can drop off your car at the airport in Keflavik. If your flight is in the evening and you have a few hours to spend wandering, consider exploring some of the highlights of downtown Reykjavík, such as the City Hall, Perlan, Elliðaárdalur, Harpa Concert Hall, Hallgrímskirkja church or the Grótta Lighthouse. You can also visit spots of interest nearby, such as the Reykjanes geothermal area if you didn't do so the previous day.

Come back soon! Sjáumst seinna! 


Accommodation

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 budget and comfort 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). For quality level, odd number groups will always be allocated a single room. 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.

Super Budget

Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels. Located in the region of the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Budget

Rooms with shared bathrooms in farmhouses, guesthouses or hostels, with good locations near the best attractions. Breakfast is not included.

Comfort

Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.

Quality

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.


Car

Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour. All our vehicles are new or current models. Super budget 2WD vehicles are maximum 5 years of age, and come equipped with a GPS and standard CDW insurance. Budget 2WD, Comfort 4x4 and Luxury 4x4 level vehicles are maximum two years of age, and come equipped with a GPS, CDW, GP and SCDW insurances. You can also upgrade to an automatic model. In wintertime, all cars have winter tyres. For winter driving, we highly recommend a Comfort level 4x4 vehicle or Luxury 4x4 to combat possible heavy winter conditions.

Super Budget

A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo, Hyundai i10 or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities.

Budget

A basic 2WD vehicle such as VW Polo, Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities.

Comfort 4x4

A medium sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as Toyota Rav4 or similar. Fit for most travel, and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. This vehicle has basic highland capabilities. Recommended.

Luxury 4x4

A large sized 4WD (4x4) jeep such as Toyota Land Cruiser or similar, fit for nearly all travelling. This vehicle has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. Note that off-road driving is illegal.


Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person. The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to info@guidetoiceland.is no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation. Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.


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