This 5-day tour is a fantastic way to explore some of Iceland's most famous and well-known attractions. Glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, and Northern Lights are just a few out of many natural wonders that'll leave you stunned on this trip.
Our five-day tour from West to East is a great way to explore some of the most staggering and coveted sights in Iceland. Snaefellsnes Peninsula, named the ultimate winter destination by Travel & Leisure, invites you on a journey through unique and offbeat rural landscapes. Besides, the South Coast is a sightseeing paradise with a vast amount of marvels: waterfalls, glaciers, national parks, and black volcanic beaches - sights that’ll take your breath away.
West Iceland in the Winter destination of 2019
Best tour of 2019 in Northern Lights category by TourRadar
Customer reviews on Tripadvisor
Beautiful sights and a great tour guide
We booked their 5 day snaefellsnes peninsula, south Iceland and northern lights tour. Our tour guide was Karl and was amazing. He certainly enhanced the trip and made for a better experience. His knowledge of Iceland was incredible and certainly was one of the group, not simply someone doing a job so a big thank you to Karl. Would highly recommend the tour. Some great sights and activities including the glacier hike.
Reviewed by Jassim A
We’ll take off from Reykjavík around 9:00 a.m. and start our thrilling adventure exploring the sights of West Iceland. First, we’ll visit the dramatic Hraunfossar Waterfall, where the water cascades through a semicircular, arc-shaped stack of black lava rocks. Next on our agenda is Reykholt, a small, historic town that is pivotal to Iceland’s past, and its famous hot spring pool, Snorralaug.
If the weather conditions allow us, we’ll cap the day off with a pursuit of the Northern Lights. We’ll spend the night at a hotel in Snæfellsness Peninsula where tomorrow’s adventures await.
Snæfellsnes has a tremendous diversity of scenery. Anything from jagged yet tranquil bays and rugged cliffs to lustrous glacier tongues can be found here. We’ll go caving in an ancient lava tube cave (optional activity), traverse a black pebble beach with the most stunning cliff formations, and visit that favorite mountain of photographers, Kirkjufell. At night we’ll embark upon a hunt for the Northern Lights.
On the third day of our tour, we’ll hit the Golden Circle route. There, you’ll find the enchanting Thingvellir – one of the most geologically wonderful places in the world. You’ll have a chance to stand right where two tectonic plates meet, explore the geothermal energy plant and dip a foot into Iceland’s biggest lake, Thingvallavatn.
We’ll also visit Gullfoss, a truly majestic waterfall, located in the Hvita River canyon. This magnificent torrent falls down 105 feet (32 meters), in surges of raw, untamed power. Neighboring hot spring Strokkur spouts magnificent jets of steam upwards every few minutes in a spectacle that will leave you slightly damp yet stoked, so make sure you bring waterproof clothing.
Afterward, as we travel deeper into the South of the country, we’ll witness Seljalandsfoss waterfall: an adjacent waterfall that hides treasures in its depths. The day will be capped off with the famous black sand beach, Reynisfjara. As we wave goodbye to the trolls turned into stone in the water, the Sun sets, hinting that tonight might be a good time to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
On the fourth day, once well-rested, we’ll continue our tour to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, where you’ll be left awestruck by the icebergs of various shapes and colors, floating in the lagoon. Afterward, we’ll look for scintillating ice monoliths on the glistering-in-the-dark Diamond Beach.
Next, we’ll hike on Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe and explore a natural ice cave. Our guide will provide you with all the necessary equipment and instruct you on the safety guidelines before we head off. As he’s leading us through the glacier, he’ll also share some fascinating information about the age and formation of the glacier. The glacier hike is a very weather-dependent activity, so if the accessibility and weather conditions would be unsuitable, the glacier hike will be replaced with similar activity.
On the final day of your tour, as we travel deeper into the South of the country, we’ll witness the magnificent Skógafoss waterfall. The day will be capped off with the famous black sand beach, Reynisfjara. As we wave goodbye to the trolls turned into stone in the water, the Sun sets, hinting that tonight might be a good time to get a glimpse of the Northern Lights.
On our way back to Reykjavik, you’ll have a chance to soak in more of the incredible landscapes of South Iceland. The bus will pass by remarkable moss-covered lava fields and snow-capped mountains.
We’ll pick you up at 9:00 a.m. at your hotel or your chosen pickup point. We’ll drive along the scenic West Coast where you’ll be able to soak in the beautiful rural scenery of Western Iceland. The first stop of the day will be at Deildartunguhver, t...)
We’ll pick you up at 9:00 a.m. at your hotel or your chosen pickup point. We’ll drive along the scenic West Coast where you’ll be able to soak in the beautiful rural scenery of Western Iceland.
The first stop of the day will be at Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring in Europe. The hot spring keeps at a constant 206 degrees Fahrenheit (97 degrees Celsius) and pumps out a whopping 47.5 gallons (180 liters) of water every second. The hot spring is used to provide heating and hot water to neighboring areas. We will stop at Krauma Geothermal Baths where you can relax. The entrance ticket is an optional extra. For those that do not wish to visit Krauma, we will stop at a nearby horse farm where you will be able to pet Icelandic horses.
In the area around Deildartunguhver, there are a number of walking paths to protect you from getting too close to the hot spring. While the landscape is very picturesque, you should always stay on the pathways. Our next stop will be at the historic site of Reykholt, here you will find a hot spring pool, Snorralaug, treasured as the bathing spot of Iceland’s most famous poet and politician, Snorri Sturluson.
Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls
Our next stop will be Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls. Hraunfossar (“the Lava Waterfalls”) is a vast collection of smaller waterfalls cascading through the cracks of lava formations. Barnafoss (“Children’s waterfall”) is known for a folk legend as the site where two children tragically drowned once upon a time.
The falls create a very dramatic landscape, cradling the waters that flow from Langjokull Glacier. Our day ends with a visit to Gerðuberg, a cluster of basalt columns. This majestic wonder of nature was formed by flowing lava that was perpetually cooled by the sea water.
If the northern lights and cloud forecasts are favorable an evening northern lights hunt will be on!
Your accommodation for the night will be in Borgarnes.
*Please note that the order of the itinerary can change, we do sometimes start with the South Coast part of the tour and end with West Iceland.
After a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we’ll continue our tour toward the western part of Snæfellsnes. On the way there, you’ll be taken back by stunning marginal and alpine scenery. Our first stop of the day is at the small and charming fishing vill...)
After a hearty breakfast at our hotel, we’ll continue our tour toward the western part of Snæfellsnes. On the way there, you’ll be taken back by stunning marginal and alpine scenery. Our first stop of the day is at the small and charming fishing village, Arnarstapi. Here, we’ll take a short walk and explore the surrounding area.
Then, you’ll have a chance to wander through Vatnshellir Cave (optional activity with extra cost), which lies under the ground in Snæfellsnes National Park. The cave is a lava tube tunnel around 8,000 years old. Your certified caving guide will explain its formation and the fascinating features that lie in hidden spots. This experience takes you about as close as you can get to the story of Jules Verne’s book A Journey to the Centre of Earth.
Our next stop will be at Hellnar, a picturesque village where we’ll have lunch. Then we’ll continue to the beautiful black pebble beach at Djúpalónssandur. The beach is landlocked by tall, rugged cliffs that look outward to the Atlantic Ocean. There, you’ll notice inky, sleek pebbles and the roar of waves as they wash the shore.
When traversing the beach, be careful not to be drawn into the ocean as the power of the water is truly majestic. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the remains of an antique British trawler Epine, shipwrecked in 1948.
At the end of the beach, you will also find famous lifting stones. Back in the day, men of a nearby fishing village were challenged to test their strength by lifting the stones. Would you be able to lift them? After the strength contest is over, we’ll head to the photogenic Kirkjufell Mountain and cap off our day with a stunning view of the mountain. Then we return back to Reykjavik for the night.
First on our agenda for today is the Golden Circle. We’ll start with Thingvellir National Park, one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of its complex geological nature and history. The unique landscape of the rift valley was created over time by ...)
First on our agenda for today is the Golden Circle. We’ll start with Thingvellir National Park, one of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of its complex geological nature and history. The unique landscape of the rift valley was created over time by continual turbulent interactions between the two tectonic plates underneath: the North American and the Eurasian plates.
It’s also home to the world’s longest-running parliament, the Althingi, established in 930 c.e. Don’t forget to look out for the largest natural lake in Iceland, Thingvallavatn.
After exploring this marvelous rift valley, we’ll continue southwest toward Haukadalur Valley and the geothermal area of Geysir. We’ll spot Strokkur, a still-active geyser, which still erupts up to 25 meters every few minutes without fail.
Next, we’ll visit the majestic waterfall, Gullfoss (the Golden Waterfall). At the beginning of the 20th century, a few Englishmen sought to acquire the waterfall and build a hydroelectric plant, taming the power of the Hvita River. Fortunately for everyone, due to lack of funding their plan fell through and to this day the waterfall remains untouched and in all of its natural glory.
As we continue along the Ring Road, a view of the infamous volcano Hekla opens up as we drive to our next stop, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. The path leading up to the waterfall is brief and it takes us right behind it. There, breathtaking views of the surrounding areas are exposed and on a sunny day, a rainbow can be seen encircling the waterfall. Seljalandsfoss drops for about 196 feet (60 meters), so waterproof clothing is recommended.
We’ll finish the day off with a hunt for the Northern Lights and continue to our hotel close to a small town, Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
We continue through the rural landscapes, passing farms here and there, onward and eastward. On the drive, we’ll pass magical, moss-covered lava fields. Today we’ll embark upon glacier adventures, hiking on Vatnajokull Glacier, exploring a natural ic...)
We continue through the rural landscapes, passing farms here and there, onward and eastward. On the drive, we’ll pass magical, moss-covered lava fields.
Today we’ll embark upon glacier adventures, hiking on Vatnajokull Glacier, exploring a natural ice cave and visiting the magical Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Glacier hiking adventures are always somewhat flexible and very dependent on the local weather conditions, which can be unpredictable.
We’ll visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and nearby Diamond Beach. There, you’ll encounter icebergs of many shapes and sizes floating in the lagoon or resting on the black sand beach in the elusive fading late afternoon shadow. If you’re lucky, you might spy a seal bathing among the gilded grains of black sand.
After that, we’ll go to Skaftafell and hike to Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajokull. We want to make sure you have the best time exploring the glacier, so your certified glacier guide will decide when it’s best to embark on your adventure. Also, keep in mind that the temperature inside the ice cave is well below the freezing point, so please have warm clothes with you.
Vatnajokull Glacier Hike and Ice Cave Visit
We strap on our ice crampons and get ready for the magic moment – setting foot on the glacier! Your experienced guide will explain this unbelievably vibrant, moving, and living world. You will see incredible crevasses which wend their way, twisting and turning through the glacier. These labyrinths are constantly forming in tune with the dance of nature. See the great moulins, which descend deep into the glacier, and the stunning naturally formed ice cave. Make sure you have your camera with you’re sure to catch some truly inspiring photo opportunities throughout your hike.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
The accommodation for the night will be in Kirkjubæjarklaustur. If the forecast is favorable, we’ll keep our eyes out for the Aurora Borealis.
Please note: the glacier hike is a very weather-dependent activity, so if the accessibility and weather conditions would be inappropriate, the glacier hike will be replaced with similar activity.
After nourishing breakfast, we’ll slowly make our way back to Reykjavik by visiting the main highlights on the south shore of Iceland. If the road conditions allow it, we’ll make a small detour to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon first. After that, we’ll stop a...)
After nourishing breakfast, we’ll slowly make our way back to Reykjavik by visiting the main highlights on the south shore of Iceland. If the road conditions allow it, we’ll make a small detour to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon first. After that, we’ll stop at the iconic Elhraun lava field before heading to Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.
Here at Reynisfjara, you’ll be able to witness the immense power of the Atlantic Ocean. You’ll also be able to visit a black basalt cave and admire Reynisdrangar basalt stacks rising from the sea. According to the legend, it’s nothing else than trolls who were turned into rock by the rising sun.
After that, our tour takes us to Skógafoss, an amazing 60-meter tall waterfall falling into the pool below. It is believed that deep into this pool, below the waterfall, lies the Viking treasure. You’ll also be able to take 527 steps leading to a panoramic view above the falls.
After the South Coast tour, we’ll begin the journey back to Reykjavík. We’ll have a chance to visit more sites as we travel through the south back to the city. We’ll get back to Reykjavík between 16:00 (4:00 p.m.) and 19:00 (7:00 p.m.).
Proper hiking boots are absolutely essential for glacier hiking, as it’s not possible to fit crampons on any other kind of footwear. If you don’t have hiking shoes, you can rent some from us when booking the tour. Please keep in mind that hiking boot...)
Proper hiking boots are absolutely essential for glacier hiking, as it’s not possible to fit crampons on any other kind of footwear. If you don’t have hiking shoes, you can rent some from us when booking the tour. Please keep in mind that hiking boots cannot be rented on the day of the hike.
Have warm outdoor clothing, a waterproof jacket and pants, headwear and gloves with you at all times. Good hiking boots are recommended.
We always recommend booking a multi-day tour starting at least one day after arriving in Iceland. If you’re flying in from the US or will be landing early (4-6:30 am) you should be able to join the tour, but some risks would follow (i.e if the flight gets delayed) and could, therefore, miss out on the tour.
Most of the hotels we use during our tours are remotely located and therefore ideal for spotting the northern lights. If the forecast is in your favor, then it is more than likely that you will be able to see the magical show put on by the dancing northern lights during your tour with us. Most of the hotels offer a Northern Lights wake-up call-up on request if the lights are spotted.
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon; therefore, we can unfortunately never promise they will be seen. Their appearance depends upon atmospheric and weather conditions. The best time to see them is between September and March when it’s dark and clear. The sky needs to be as dark as possible, so the best places to see them are well away from city lights (that’s where we are going!).
For more information on the Northern Lights, please look at our blog about Northern Lights.
If you are not sure that you have suitable gear for your tour, we offer some necessary items for rent. For most of our multi-day tours, we rent out waterproof jackets and pants as well as hiking boots. You can book these items and more under the selection “Extras” in the booking widget when booking your tour on our website.
If you have already booked the tour and wish to add some rental gear to your booking, you can do so at least 24 hours prior to your tour starting by using our customer portal - My Adventures, or contacting our customer care.
We drive on average around 300 km (186 miles) per day on our multi-day tours. You will be spending approximately 4-5 hours in the car each day. We do of course stop on multiple locations throughout the tour for sightseeing, activities, bathroom breaks and lunch stops.
We do welcome participants of all ages older than the listed minimum age for each tour. We have people of ages ranging from 8-99 years joining our multi-day tours. Our average group usually consists of participants between the age 20-55 years. We do get a lot of solo travellers joining our tours, as well as families and friends.
If you have difficulties participating in any of the activities included in the tour, for example, a glacier activity, you are more than welcome to skip it. You can explore your surroundings in the meantime or wait elsewhere. Our guide should be able to drop you off at a nearby place where there are some services available.
For multi-day tours, each participant is allowed to bring a small backpack and 1 piece of luggage weighing a maximum of 20 kg (44 lbs). If you have more or heavier luggage with you, you will need to book storage for the surplus luggage before you arrive, there is a small fee for using this facility. Luggage storage in Reykjavík can be added during the booking process of your order in the extras section.
* The combined dimensions of each bag must not exceed 158 cm (62 in).
Breakfast is included at all the hotels we stay in during the tour. The breakfast will be a typical breakfast buffet, offering bread, toppings, cereal, yogurt, fruits, coffee, and tea etc.
Your guide will also find a good place for the group to eat lunch. We always try to choose places that have a wide selection of dishes on the menu, so there will be options available for everyone. The dinner is usually at the hotels we stay at for the night.
If your tour includes accommodation, breakfast is always included during the tour at the hotel/guesthouse restaurant.
Meals and beverages are otherwise not included on your tour. (Unless it’s specifically stated in the description of the tour)
On our multiday tours, we will be making stops at restaurants and convenience stores where you will be able to purchase all necessities. Cash is not necessary, as credit cards are almost always accepted. Having a small amount of cash doesn’t hurt though.
A single supplement is available if you want to have your own room, but you are not required to pay a single supplement. If you are a single traveler and do not wish to book a single room, you’ll be roomed with another traveler of the same gender.
When booking with Arctic Adventures, you are guaranteed an accommodation at a nice country hotel and/or a guesthouse. The hotels we have partnered up with are all of the same standard and offer nice rooms with made-up beds. The rooms come with private or shared bathrooms, depending on your booking. The standard room is a twin room but it’s possible to request a double room or a triple room, with no extra charge.
If you are traveling solo, you will have to add the single room fee if you wish to have a single room.
All hotels have free Wi-Fi. Towels, a hairdryer and a kettle are accessible at all of the hotels. Hotel breakfast is included!