This 5 day tour offers a fabulous way to explore some of Iceland's best sights and some incredible natural wonders. The famous Golden Circle attractions, great waterfalls, glaciers, an erupting geyser, black beaches, hot springs, the stunning icebergs at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, and a glacier hike on an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull. You also get a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights.
This is a combination tour which links together two hugely popular tours, the 2 Day Snaefellsnes & Northern Lights and the 3 Day Golden Circle & South Coast.
- Golden Circle
- Vatnajökull Glacier
- Diamond Beach
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- A visit to a natural ice cave
- Reynisfjara black sand beach
- Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- Northern Lights
Transport: This tour is operated in a minibus, small groups for a better experience.
Included: Pick up & drop off in Reykjavik, guided tour in a minibus to all highlights with English guidance, hotel room with bathroom for 4 nights, hotel breakfast on 4 mornings, ice caving, glacier hiking and all necessary glacier equipment. *Lava tube caving is an optional extra. Food, other than 4 breakfasts is not included but you can purchase meals at stops on the way.
Bring with you: Warm outdoor clothing, a waterproof jacket and pants, headwear and gloves. Spikes which fit onto your shoes are very useful in icy conditions (ice grips or traction cleats). Good hiking shoes are essential, ice crampons are provided for the glacier hike, it is not possible to fit them to any other kind of footwear. If you don´t have good hiking shoes you can rent them from us when you book the tour online.
Drop-off information: We drop you off at your hotel or a nearby authorized meeting point between 20:00 and 23:00, depending on weather and road conditions.
For further information:
5 Day South Coast Tour, Northern Lights and Snæfellsnes
Note: Due to weather conditions and limited daylight during winter time the itinerary can vary between departure dates. Our guides evaluate the circumstances and weather forecasts and make the best possible decision. There are also times when the tour will begin with the Golden Circle and South Coast and end with the West Iceland part.
Day 1 - West Iceland and Borgarfjörður
You are picked up between 09:00 and 09:30 from your hotel or a nearby meetings point in Reykjavík.
We introduce ourselves and head out of the city, along the way you will see Mount Esja, Reykjavík´s famous mountain. You will also see Borgarfjörður, a scenic fjord on your way to the first stopping point, Deildartunguhver hot spring. An astonishing 180 l/sec of hot water is pumped out at a temperature of 100°C. This vast quantity of hot water is very valuable in a cool climate, the Icelandic people use it to heat their homes and the buildings in the surrounding area. Next, you will visit Reykholt, an important place in the history of Iceland, and the site of Snorralaug, a famous hot spring pool, where it is said Snorri Sturluson bathed. Dabble your fingers and feel the temperature of the water, and learn about Snorri, a very important saga writer, lawyer and historian.
The two waterfalls we shall visit each offer something very different. Barnafoss waterfall is picturesque with a fascinating Icelandic legend attached to it. In English the name means ‘Children´s Falls’, you will be told the story explaining how it acquired this name. Hraunfossar waterfall is totally unique, thousands of small streams flow out through the edge of the lava, creating the dramatic and very wide arc-shaped falls. The pure glacial water has traveled through the lava field from its source at Langjökull, Iceland´s second largest glacier.
You are driven to Snæfellsnes peninsula, on the way to the country hotel where you will spend the night we make a stop to view the stunning basalt columns at Gerðuberg. Hopefully, the northern lights forecast will be favorable and a northern lights watch will be on. You get the chance to enjoy dinner (not included), and a little relaxation time. Your guide will go over the northern lights forecast with you.
Day 2 - Snæfellsnes
We enjoy breakfast at our hotel then head through absolutely epic coastal and mountain scenery to the far west of Snæfellsnes. We will visit the traditional fishing community in the charming village of Arnarstapi, we give you time to take a walk, so you will really be able to appreciate the fabulous scenery. Next up, is an optional tour (extra cost) with a qualified caving guide to explore the subterranean world within the Vatnshellir Cave, in the heart of Snæfellsnes National Park. You will learn how the cave was formed when molten magma flowed beneath lava which was already cooling, there are many incredible lava formations to be discovered. Maybe, you will feel like the character in the Jules Verne story, A Journey to the Center of Earth! You can book the caving tour as an extra when you book your tour.
We enjoy lunch at Hellnar, a really picturesque village surrounded by sensational scenery. Traveling a little more around the coast we will stop to explore the beautiful black pebble beach at Djúpalónssandur. We take a short hike down to the beach to watch the white-tipped ocean waves flowing onto the black pebble beach. These smooth black pebbles are known as Djúpalóns Perlan (which means ‘Deep Pool Pearls’), the beach slopes steeply and the ocean becomes deep very quickly, so those black pearls really have emerged from the deep! The amazingly-shaped cliffs which frame the beach add to the beauty and drama of this place. In the olden days local fisherman would test their strength using the ‘lifting stones’. Those stones have been made famous by numerous World´s Strongest Man competition, maybe, you would like to test your strength?
Next you will visit the famous and much photographed, Mount Kirkjufell,which has featured in so many photos and paintings. On our journey back to the Reykjavík area, where you will be spending the night, we keep an eye out for the northern lights if the forecast is suitable.
Day 3 - The Golden Circle and South
Your day begins with the famous sights of the Golden Circle. Þingvellir (Thingvellir, also occasionally known as Þingvellir) is listed by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, due to its unique history and amazing geology. The Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet right here in Þingvellir National Park. However, they have been slowly moving apart, creating the rugged cliff of the Almanngjá gorge, you actually walk through this rift valley when you explore Þingvellir. Alþingi, the historic Icelandic Parliament was founded here in the year 930, making it the oldest still operating parliament in the world.
We pay a visit to the Geysir area in the scenic valley of Haukadalur. Great Geysir, the hot spring which gave us the English word ‘geyser’, is not active now, Strokkur, a nearby geyser erupts every 5 to 10 minutes, sending superheated water around 25 m high - a moment not to be missed. Next on the agenda, and completing the sights of the Golden Circle, we will stop at Gullfoss Waterfall. You will feel the power at the roaring Hvítá river (‘the White River’) thunders through the majestic canyon, dropping 32 m in two stages.
If visibility is good, you will see views of Hekla, a notorious volcano mountain. Next up is an opportunity to walk behind the cascade of the unique Seljalandsfoss waterfall, giving really unusual photo possibilities. We recommend you put on rainwear for this activity! We will also stop at Skógafoss waterfall, these voluminous but graceful falls descend 60 m into the calm Skógará (river) below. Finally, on a day with so many highlights, you will see Reynisfjara, one of the most beautiful black sand beaches in Iceland, with great basalt columns, and a basalt column cave. Off-shore you will see the towering Reynisdrangar basalt peaks out in the oceans as the Atlantic waves power onto the soft sand. Crafty ‘sneaker’ waves appear from nowhere so stand well back from the tide-line!
Your accommodation for the night will be at a country hotel near Vík, a little coastal town. We hope the northern lights forecast will be good!
Day 4 - Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Ice Caving
We continue our journey through glacial desert scenery, the like of which you have probably never seen, as we head towards the first glacier adventure - exploring a natural ice cave in Vatnajökull glacier. Your certified glacier guide will issue your ice caving equipment and take you through the safety information before escorting you into the magic blue/white world of a natural ice cave. Every winter fresh ice caves are formed by the forces of nature, but this is an evolving world with new ice features appearing. Your guide will explain how the cave and its features were formed, and why blue ice is blue!
The Icelandic weather is unpredictable and we want you to have the best possible experience traveling in Iceland. Therefore, your guide will decide the best way to organize the tour, so it is possible that you might visit an ice cave on day three, if your guide feels conditions would be better then. We have a little leeway which allows us to make the best of things. You need to make sure you are dressed warmly for your ice cave visit, the temperature inside is always below freezing.
The final glacier highlight of the day is Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. You will see incredibly shaped icebergs, some larger than houses, floating on the glacier lagoon, sometimes seals can also be seen. The icebergs calve off the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, they then float slowly across the lagoon to the nearby ocean. Some come to rest on the black sands of the nearby Diamond Beach, where they glitter like diamonds, a stunning sight in the mystical late afternoon light.
Your hotel will be in the Skaftafell area, hopefully, the conditions will be good for a northern lights watch, we have to wait and see but fingers crossed!
Please note: ice caves are natural wonders which are constantly changing and are, thus, unpredictable. We will visit an ice cave on the tour and the choice of cave is based purely on the conditions and safety considerations.
Day 5 - Glacier Hike and South Shore
We enjoy breakfast at our hotel then get on our way to the glacier! The great ice-dome of Vatnajökull is the mightiest glacier in Europe. There are many glacier tongues or outlet glaciers which reach down from Vatnajökull, stretching out like the fingers of an icy hand. These outlet glaciers are fabulous for glacier hiking, our specialist glacier guides will choose the most suitable one for your hike. Your guide will issue you with all necessary equipment, including ice crampons, then you are off on an exciting walk across the ice! See and learn all about the wonderful ice features including the networks of crevasses which riddle their way through glaciers. Marvel at this white wonderland which is always evolving and moving - your time on the ice will pass very quickly!
Proper hiking boots are required, it is not possible to fit ice crampons to any other kind of footwear. You can hire sturdy hiking boots when you book your tour, they CANNOT be rented from the location on the day. The glacier hike is easy, if you are capable of hiking at a slow pace for an hour you can do it.
At the end of your glacier hike we need to think about heading back to Reykjavík. There is an opportunity to see more places as we journey back to the city, with the chance to make some additional stops – fitting around the weather and conditions, we know that during the winter, in Iceland, the forces of nature are somewhat in charge. We get back to Reykjavík in the evening between 20:00 and 23:00, the timing depends upon the conditions on the day.
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