Southern Iceland with Northern Lights
A fully packed trip for those with limited time, which lets you experience the wild and fascinating Icelandic landscape. Hiring a car makes it easy to access cascading waterfalls, black lava beaches, vast glaciers and of course natural hot springs. Total driving distance: 608 miles.
Departures 2022-2023: All year; daily or weekly
Direct flights from Boston (BOS), Chicago (ORD), Denver (DEN), Minneapolis (MSP), New York, (JFK), Orlando (MCO), Seattle (SEA) and Washington DC (WAS). Connecting flights from other airports in the USA is also available.
Please note: On this vacation we cannot guarantee that you will see the aurora. While driving around Iceland there is a lot less light pollution which enables you to see the lights in a different way with the best time of the year to see the Aurora being between late august to mid-april.
Aurora visibility is often dependent on cloudiness so if you want to be on your toes and know when to keep an eye out, check out the Icelandic Aurora forecast.
Pay on spot:
The Blue Lagoon – Hveragerdi
You arrive at Keflavík airport where you pick up your rental car. Kick off your Iceland vacation by taking a dip in the world famous Blue Lagoon straight from the airport (must be booked in advance). The Lagoon is like a crystal blue oasis in the midst of barren lava landscapes on the way from the airport to Reykjavík, and gets its water from springs over 6561 feet below the surface of the Earth. Enjoy the warm (91–102°F) and mineral rich water in the outdoor pool, or make use of the geothermic indoor pool, sauna and restaurant as well.
Re-energized from bathing in the healing waters of the Blue Lagoon, make your way to your hotel in Hveragerdi for your first night in Iceland.
Hveragerdi - Hella/Hvolsvöllur - Kirkjubæjarklaustur
After breakfast at your hotel, leave the capital city and travel south following road no 1 (riksveg 1). You will pass through the towns Hveragerdi, Selfoss and Hella. East of Hvolsvöllur you will reach the two waterfalls Seljandsfoss and Skógafoss, two stops not to be missed. At Skógar you will also find a museum giving interesting insights into how Icelandic people lived in the past as well as in current times. You can also explore the glacial tongue Solheimajökull and the bird cliffs of Dyrhólaey, where many migrating sea birds nest, among them the famous puffins during spring and summer.
The black lava beaches on the South Coast are renowned, and you can take a walk along the Reynishverfi beach or on the little beach in the village Vik. Be careful when walking too close to the waves, their powerful pull can easily drag a person out to sea!
After Vik you pass through the black sand dessert Mýrdalssandur and later the enormous lave field Eldhrayn, which was formed during the big volcanic outbreak in 1783. You later arrive at Kirkjubæjarklaustur, a small town in beautiful surroundings. You can stop here to take a look at the so-called ”church floor”, formed by strange basalt cliff formations reminiscent of a lime floor and situated just east of town. Overnight stay in or nearby Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
Kirkjubæjarklaustur - Vatnajökull - Kirkjubæjarklaustur - Vík
Start you third day by driving to the area at the foot of the Vatnajökull glacier. On the way west you can see Dverghamrar, a belt of basalt columns a few kilometres from Kirkjubæjarklaustur. Continue east from here over Skeidarásandur, a wonderful viewpoint with views over Europe’s larges glacier, Vatnajökull.
Past this wide stretch of dessert is Skaftefell National park, a beautiful area resting at the foot of the Vatnajökull glacier known for its unique natural flora and lush green vegetation, like an oasis between the black desert and the glacier. There are a number of walking paths you can take from here, for example through the park to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall, or to the edge of the glacial tongue Skaftafell. Further east you get he the magical glacial lagoon Jökulsárlon, where enormous icebergs released from the glacier float in the still blue water. It is possible to take a boat trip of 30-40 minutes here to get right in between the icebergs.
Drive back via Kirkjubæjarklaustur to Vík or nearby, where you stay overnight.
Vík - Gyllene Cirkeln - Reykjavík
During today you will visit some of the most famous and interesting attractions Iceland has to offer. Follow road no 1 through Hella until you pass the river Thjórsá, and then continue on in the direction of Fludir. If there is enough time and you are interested we recommend a visit to the volcanic crater Kerið as well as the historically important Skálholt.
From there continue on to the world famous geothermic area of Geysir, where Strokkur, the most active of the geysers, has regular outbreaks every 5 minutes. Close by the Geyser area is the majestic waterfall Gullfoss, ”the golden waterfall”, many described as Iceland’s most beautiful. Next stop is Þingvellir national park, an area interesting both historically and due to its fascinating geology, as it’s the meeting point of the North American and European continental plates. Overnight stay in Reykjavík.
Return home (4n) or extra day in Reykjavík.
Breakfast at the hotel. Return either early in the morning or in the afternoon. You drive from Reykjavík to Keflavík Airport (approximately 45 minutes) and leave the car at the airport when departing.
If you have chosen to extend your trip by an extra night then you will have some extra time to explore the most northerly capital city in the world. Stroll around town and discover an array of restaurants, cafés and cosy shopping streets. Culture vultures will find that the city offers a wide range of museums to explore. The evening can be spent tucked away in a cosy pub or throwing some moves on a rocking dance floor. Reykjavík is known for its buzzing night life.
Return home (5n)
Return flights either early in the morning or in the afternoon. Drive from Reykjavík to Keflavík airport (approx. 45 mins) and leave the car there in connection with your return flight.
Toyota Yaris Sedan
Skoda Octavia Sedan
Skoda Octavia Station Wagon
Dacia Duster 4WD
Toyota Land Cruiser GX 4WD
You can choose between two different types of accommodation on this trip. If you book two or more rooms then they will all need to be of the same type.
Room with shared shower/bathroom
If you choose this option, you will stay at a guest house, farm-stay or basic hotel. Breakfast will be served at all accommodation types. The guest houses usually have a shared common room and often also offer a small restaurant and bar. The hotels usually have their own restaurants where you can order food à la carte. Most of the hotels and guest houses offer free Wi-Fi.
The rooms do not have their own shower/bathroom, but do have a washbasin with hot and cold water. Shower and bathroom facilities are shared with other guests. Beds are made and the rooms are furnished with a wardrobe, chairs and table.
Room with private shower and toilet
If you choose this option, you will stay at a three-star hotel or a better guest house. All the forms of accommodation serve breakfast and many have their own restaurant and sometimes also a bar. The hotels usually offer an à la carte option. Most of the hotels and guest houses offer free Wi-Fi.
The rooms have their own bathroom with a shower or bath. Beds are made and the rooms are furnished with a wardrobe, chairs, table, telephone, radio and TV.