Take in Iceland's winter wonderland with this five-day, self-drive tour. See crashing waterfalls and ice caves along the Ring Road and visit the city of Vík for glacier hikes and ice climbing. Then it's on to the Golden Circle and astonishing views of the aurora borealis dancing in the night sky. Snorkel in the underwater world of the Silfra fissure and relax in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon before closing your trip on the Reykjanes Peninsula, with its erupting geysers and bubbling hot springs.


  • See the famed "dragon glass" of Katla Ice Cave
  • Take in the awe-inspiring aurora borealis on a guided hunt for the northern lights
  • Enjoy a snorkeling adventure in the famous Silfra fissure
  • Relax in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Keflavík, Drive to Vík & the Katla Ice Cave Vík
Day 2 Skaftafell Ice Climbing & Glacier Hike Vík
Day 3 Drive to the Golden Circle & Hunt the Northern Lights Golden Circle
Day 4 Drive to the Reykjanes Peninsula, Silfra Snorkeling & Blue Lagoon Reykjanes Peninsula
Day 5 Drive to Keflavík & Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, Drive to Vík & the Katla Ice Cave

A low winter sun over Vík

Welcome to Iceland! Upon your arrival at Keflavík airport, pick up your rental car and head out on Iceland's Ring Road, otherwise known as Route 1. This is one of Iceland's main roads, and just like the name sounds, it circles the entire country. Your final destination today is the city of Vík, a three-hour drive that takes you along Iceland's South Coast and to some of its amazing waterfalls, landmarks, and surrounding countryside. 

Your first stop will be the waterfall of Urriðafoss, located on the Þjórsá River—an excellent place to rest and take photos. From there, continue to Seljarlandsfoss. This is the only known waterfall of its kind that allows you to walk behind it, making for a very picturesque view. Farther down the highway is Skógafoss, where you'll find the nearly 200-foot high (60 m) falls alongside towering glaciers and frozen landscapes. According to local legend, there's a buried chest of gold under the waterfall, so keep an eye out for possible treasure!

Not far from Vík, take a short diversion via Route 218 to the Dyrhólaey Peninsula, a nearly 400-foot (120 m) promenade that showcases some of the most amazing views of the southern coast. After leaving Dyrhólaey, your last stop before Vík will be Reynisfjara Beach. Ranked among the world's best beaches, this stretch of black sand is home to Reynisdrangar, offshore rocky basalt sea stacks that are the nesting grounds of various seabirds. From here, you'll be right next door to Vík, and you can head to your hotel and get settled.

Later today, you can take a guided tour of Katla Ice Cave, located in Kötlujökull Glacier, which sits atop the Katla Volcano. After donning the provided equipment and going over safety, you'll be taken for a walk on the glacier and then into the cave of "dragon glass" made famous by the television series "Game of Thrones." You'll see the layers of different colors within the ice, and your guide will share the history of the glacier and cave. After the tour, head back to your hotel to relax for the evening.

Day 2: Skaftafell Ice Climbing & Glacier Hike

Ice washed up on Diamond Beach

Your driving adventure continues with a 2.5-hour drive to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and Skaftafell. Depart Vík, traveling east on Route 1, and make your first stop at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. View the otherworldly rock formations, or take a hike from the nearby trailhead for views of the river. Then, continue to Skaftafell nature reserve. Located about 86 miles (139 km) from Vík, the park is home to the dramatic falls of Svartifoss. You can hike around the park or make the quick, 3-mile (5 km) hike to the waterfall, which takes you past scenic views of the river and glacier.

For a closer exploration of the glacier, you can take a guided tour with ice climbing and hiking. You'll traverse Skaftafell's outlet glacier, an icy giant that extends from the Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. Your guide will provide you with the necessary equipment, and you'll hike across the ice field, checking out the deep crevasses and natural glacial sculptures. You'll also get a chance to try your hand at climbing with ice axes while learning about the history of the glacier and the park. 

Once you're back on the road, take a quick diversion to the town of Hof and visit the Hof Turf Church, a 700-year-old church that boasts a turf-covered roof. Upon your arrival at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, you'll see the amazing sight of icebergs floating in the sea and beached on the black sand shores of Diamond Beach. You'll also get a chance to see seals, porpoises, or small whales in the lagoon's waters. Afterward, drive back to Vík and rest up for the continuation of your Iceland tour tomorrow. 
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Day 3: Drive to the Golden Circle & Hunt the Northern Lights

The aurora borealis over Iceland

Today, you'll head along the southern coast and toward Reykjavik, Iceland's capital and largest city. Film buffs can visit Hjörleifshöfði Cave, nicknamed the "Yoda Cave" due to the Yoda-shaped silhouette you can see inside and the fact that the movie "Star Wars Rogue One" was filmed in the area. If you're after more waterfalls, don't miss Urriðafoss and Gljúfrabúi. For more education on Iceland's history, stop in at Skógar and visit the museum there. Afterward, you can take a nearby hiking path to Kvernufoss, a small canyon with incredible views. 

This evening, you'll have the opportunity to see one of Iceland's most amazing phenomena: the aurora borealis or northern lights. Your private guide will take you on an expedition to find the best views of these dancing veils of light in green, white, or red. You can visit geothermal bathing areas, take an evening boat tour or snowcat tour, or hike into some of the more unique sightseeing areas. Created by tiny particles, protons, and electrons that escape into the earth's atmosphere and hit molecules (causing them to glow), this is a magical spectacle to behold! 

Day 4: Drive to the Reykjanes Peninsula, Silfra Snorkeling & Blue Lagoon

Silfra Snorkeling
Snorkel in the crystal clear waters at Silfra 

Continue along the Golden Circle today to the Reykjanes Peninsula, stopping along the way to explore the famous Silfra fissure via a snorkeling tour. Located in Þingvellir National Park, this fissure was created by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates cutting through Iceland. Filled with glacial water that has been filtered underground for decades through-hardened, porous lava rock, and with nearly 400 feet (120m) of visibility, it is one of the clearest bodies of water on earth.

Later, explore more of the park and see why it is so geologically and historically significant to Iceland. Visit Law Rock, where Viking chieftains from all over the country met once a year to discuss laws and issues, then head to the Geysir geothermal area, with its bubbling mud pits and erupting geysers. After watching the eruptions, enjoy a walk through the Haukadalsskógur forest, visit the Tree Museum, or relax in the natural hot springs at Kúalaug. Later, head to Gullfoss (Golden Falls), where you can hike the falls or visit the volcanic crater of Kerið.

No trip to Iceland would be complete without a visit to the Blue Lagoon! Warm up at the end of the day with a relaxing soak in a blend of seawater and geothermally heated water, rich in silica, minerals, and algae, all while surrounded by a lunar lava landscape. Take a dip under the man-made waterfall, or enjoy an iconic white silica mud face mask. The lagoon is said to cure/improve numerous physical ailments and is even internationally recognized as a psoriasis treatment facility. 

Day 5: Drive to Keflavík & Depart 

Sunset over the Garður Lighthouse

It's time to depart Iceland today, but if you have time before your flight, visit some of the highlights around the Reykjanes Peninsula during your drive back to Keflavík Airport. Stop at the Krýsuvík geothermal area for a short stroll with views of the steam vents and hot pools, or visit Gunnuhver Hot Springs, where you'll find some bubbling mud pools. Temperatures are extremely hot, so stick to the walkways and viewing areas. While here, continue about five minutes to the cliffs and stop at Reykjanesviti Lighthouse for amazing views of the countryside. 

Walk the Bridge Between Continents (Europe Miðlína), an area that really showcases Icelandic geology. The Reykjanes Peninsula is on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which pulls apart a few centimeters every year. You can cross the bridge between the continental plates and look down at the gap below. And just before you reach Keflavík, make your final stop at Garður Lighthouse—the perfect spot to stretch your legs before dropping off your car and boarding your departing flight. Safe travels! 

More Great Iceland Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Iceland? Check out these other Iceland itineraries, explore different ways to spend five days in Iceland, or learn about the best time of year to visit Iceland.


Map of Iceland Winter Highlights: Vík, Golden Circle & Reykjanes - 5 Days
Map of Iceland Winter Highlights: Vík, Golden Circle & Reykjanes - 5 Days