3 Day Winter Self Drive Tour | Jokulsarlon & Vatnajokull Glacier Ice Cave

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon bathed in the soft light of a winter's afternoon.
On this 3 Day Winter Self Drive Tour you can enjoy the northern lights for as long as you want, should you be lucky enough to see them.
A breed unique to Iceland, the Icelandic horse sports a thick coat of fur during winter.
Compressed oxygen creates the shades of sapphire blue in Vatnajökull's ice caves.
Provided that the skies are clear and geomagnetic activity is high enough, you should be able to see the northern lights.
The ice caves are only accessible in winter time when the cold ensures their structural strength.

Jump in your car and make your way down the south coast, where you’ll meet your guide to enter a rare, wondrous ice cave in Vatnajökull National Park. This tour is for those want to explore an ice cave and the wonders of the south coast at their own pace.

Enjoy the splendid waterfalls and black sand beach along the south coast, all the way to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Diamond Beach.

You'll meet up with the glacier guide for the ice caving on your second day, hop in a heavy-duty Superjeep, and plow across the countryside to the ice cave. The ice here is around 1,000 years old. 

At night, go hunting for the Northern Lights. The area of the National Park is optimal due to its isolation and wide open spaces. You should be able to see the auroras, provided that the skies are clear and geomagnetic activity is high enough to cause this fascinating reaction that results in brilliant, dancing lights.

On your third day, you can explore the glacier lagoon, Jökulsárlón, before heading back to Reykjavík. It is one of the most popular spots in Iceland, so give yourself enough time to enjoy the serene beauty of the lagoon.

Iceland's pristine natural environment is its greatest treasure. These places are beautiful beyond measure, and it can be hard to appreciate among chattering sightseers and long lines. 

That's why we've included some lesser-known sites alongside the popular places in the tailor-made itinerary for this tour. You will be virtually alone in these locations so that you can enjoy the surroundings properly.

Don’t miss your chance for great value and extraordinary sights on this tour of Iceland. Check availability by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Nov. - Mar.
  • Duration: 3 days
  • Activities: Glacier Hiking, Super Jeep, Sightseeing, Northern lights hunting, Ice Caving, Self drive
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Minimum age: 8 years.
  • Highlights: Golden Circle, South Iceland, Jökulsárlón, Vatnajökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Dyrhólaey, Þingvellir, Strokkur, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Vík í Mýrdal, Svartifoss, Fjaðrárgljúfur, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, Reynisdrangar, Haukadalur, South Coast, Diamond Beach
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible

Your car will await you at your hotel in Reykjavík or you can choose to pick it up from Keflavík international airport. You will also drop if off at your hotel or at Keflavík international airport.
Included:
  • Accommodation for 2 nights (different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)

  • Vehicle for 3 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

  • Ice cave tour

  • Crampons and glacier gear for ice cave tour

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

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Fuel

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


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

  • Winter hiking shoes


Good to know:

This self-drive is set to take place at wintertime. Conditions in Iceland can vary greatly during that season; snow and ice are commonplace, and Iceland has limited daylight hours. We strongly recommend that if you book this tour, you'll opt for a 4WD (4x4) vehicle if you do not have much experience driving in these conditions. If you feel insecure about driving in winter conditions, we recommend a package tour instead.

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. 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.

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 - The South Coast of Iceland


Drive the South Coast to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon on your winter self-drive tour, where you can see the Northern Lights dance in the evening sky.


You can start either from your hotel in Reykjavik or Keflavik International Airport.

On your first day, you will drive down the south coast of Iceland to see all the famous waterfalls there and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara and the cliffs of Dyrhólaey.

The drive to the glacier lagoon is in total about 6-10 hours, depending on how long you decide to stop at each of the attractions, which is the great thing about this self-drive tour. You choose how best to spend your time!

The Golden Circle is here for you, from Þingvellir National Park to Geysir geothermal area, to Gullfoss waterfall. In addition to these famous sites, there are many waterfalls, pretty scenes and small villages for you to stop for a cup of coffee or a short rest from the car at a local museum.

Keep your eyes open for auroras during the night - you'll be in a great location in the town of Höfn.


Preferred accommodation by Jökulsárlón and Höfn

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Super Budget

HI Hostel Höfn is located in Höfn township. Dormitory rooms with shared facilities. Access to cooking facilities on premises. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Budget

Guesthouse Hvammur is located in the centre of Höfn town and a short drive from Vatnjökull National Park. Private bedrooms with shared bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is not included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Comfort

Hotel Höfn is a 3-star hotel centrally located in the town Höfn. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.

Jökulsárlón and Höfn Quality

Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is a 4-star hotel located right between Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Private bedrooms with private bathrooms. Ocean or mountain views. Free Wi-Fi. Breakfast is included.


Day 2 - Ice Cave Tour with Super Jeep Ride


On a winter self-drive tour, you can travel the South Coast to Vantajökull National Park where you can take a tour to an authentic ice cave.


You can choose between a few departure times for the ice cave tour, but we advise you to show up for the ice cave tour at least 15 minutes before your departure. You will reach the ice cave tour on a modified Superjeep, and while you're there, you will be able to enjoy the ice cave and surrounding area for more than an hour. Don't forget your hiking shoes!

The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Diamond Beach are fantastic locations where to spend the rest of the day. You can admire the sunshine gleaming on the ancient ice that breaks off the glacier and makes its way to the lagoon, take pictures of the seals and gulls that play in the area or just take a stroll.

Leave some free time in the late evening for Northern Lights hunting; if there's a clear sky you may see a good display!

You will spend another night in Höfn.


Day 3 - Skaftafell Nature Reserve - South Coast Attractions


Discover the many hiking trails and tracks at Skaftafell Nature Reserve on your winter self-drive tour.


Today, you have an optional extra activity in the Skaftafell Nature Reserve, where you can go on a glacier hike on the Svínafellsjökull glacier. The hike is not very demanding but rewards you with spectacular views!

Driving back along the south coast of Iceland, you're sure to discover plenty of great attractions that you didn't see on your way to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. For example, the beautiful canyon Fjaðrárgljúfur is a short drive from the main road, near the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

At night, when you're back in Reykjavík you can drop your car off at your hotel, or even at the airport in the morning.


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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