A snowy road on the Snæfellsnes peninsula

Winter self-drive tours in Iceland

An Iceland winter self-drive tour gives you the freedom to explore this snowy wonderland whichever way you like. All the wintry packages featured here include a rental car, places to stay, and more.
  • Long nights, ideal for seeing the Northern Lights
  • Detailed itinerary included with all trips
  • 24/7 helpline whilst you’re in Iceland
  • Best Price Guarantee on all self-drive trips
About our self-drive Iceland winter trips

About our self-drive Iceland winter trips

If you’re thinking about Iceland self-drive tours, winter is an incredible time for one. See snowy mountaintops, frozen lakes, and glistening glaciers. Or relax in a geothermal spring as the Northern Lights swirl above you. Iceland’s most popular attractions remain open all year round. Roads are also cleared regularly, so don’t be fooled – an Iceland winter self-drive is more than doable. The best part? You have the freedom to go and spot the Aurora whenever you want! At Iceland Tours, we’ve been arranging winter trips for more than 40 years. Benefit from this knowledge and experience and let us take care of all the planning. All you need to do is pick your package, book your flights, and off you go!

  • Get rental car and accommodation included
  • Choose your own departure date
  • Enjoy breakfast included every day
  • Secure your trip today with 5% deposit

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See what hundreds of fellow travelers have to say about their trips with Iceland Tours.

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FAQs about Iceland winter self-drive tours

Self-drive is the most popular way to see Iceland, and winter is no exception. Here we’ve rounded up the answers to some common questions about road tripping around the country in wintertime.

Definitely! Iceland offers you a winter wonderland full of natural marvels like the Northern Lights, icicle-decked waterfalls, and snow-dusted black sand beaches.

Winter is also filled with culture. You could experience exciting events like the Airwaves music festival, Icelandic Christmas celebrations, and New Year’s fireworks.

So you can spend your days exploring unforgettable nature, and then dip into Icelandic culture come evening.

Self-drive trips are possible in the winter months, but they offer a completely different experience from summer road trips.

You’ll be enjoying Iceland in its winter costume, with the possibility of seeing snow and ice. Days are also shorter, but this means you get more hours of darkness, which is ideal for chasing the Northern Lights.

Road conditions can be challenging in wintertime, especially in the snowier months of January and February. That said, main routes are cleared regularly, especially around major attractions.

If you’re not a confident winter driver, a multi-day trip from Reykjavík or a guided group tour comes highly recommended. With these trip types, you’ll be traveling by bus, so you can forget all about the driving and just enjoy the view.

Most people don’t need a permit for driving in Iceland. The exception is if your license is in non-Latin script, like Chinese or Arabic. In that case, you’ll need to apply for an international driving permit in your home country.

If you plan to drive the Ring Road around the whole country, we would recommend at least a 7-day Iceland trip.

In the winter though, you might want to allow more time due to the shorter days and weather conditions. A 10-day itinerary would be ideal for a winter Ring Road trip.

There’s a chance that you might need to make some adjustments to your itinerary due to the winter weather, which can sometimes mean that roads are inaccessible.

The key here is to be flexible and perhaps have a few alternative activities planned. Luckily when you book with Iceland Tours, you get an itinerary packed full of suggestions so you’ll never be short on ideas!

Iceland is a true winter playground with no shortage of things to do. Here’s just a few ideas for what you could get up to:

  • Spend long evenings hunting down the Northern Lights
  • Enter the magical world of subglacial ice caves
  • Spot half-frozen waterfalls along the south coast
  • Gaze at icebergs drifting out to sea at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
  • Explore ‘Iceland in miniature’ on the Snæfellsnes peninsula
  • Watch hot springs bubble and gush in West Iceland
  • Head to the Reykjanes peninsula and see fresh-formed lava fields
  • Relax in a warm natural pool as the snow falls around you
  • Walk where molten rock once flowed in a lava cave
  • Follow in the footsteps of Vikings at Þingvellir National Park
  • Try local delicacies at Reykjavík's best restaurants

In need of even more inspiration? Check out these Iceland winter must-sees and must-dos.

Visit Iceland in winter or early spring and there’s always a chance you’ll spot the Northern Lights. These colorful ribbons dance and billow across the sky, and are a completely natural phenomenon.

To maximize your chances of seeing the Aurora Borealis, you need plenty of darkness and clear skies. They also often appear on very short notice, and only if solar activity is high.

On a self-drive tour, you have the freedom to jump in the car and head away from the city to hunt them whenever you like, and for as long as you like.

Read these guides on the best time and best places to see the Northern Lights to help plan your aurora hunt.

All of the self-drive winter trips featured here include:

  • Rental car of your choice
  • Accommodation level of your choice
  • Unlimited in-car Wi-Fi
  • Two drivers included as standard
  • Breakfast every day
  • Detailed itinerary

What’s more, you also get access to a 24/7 helpline whilst you’re in Iceland. This comes in especially handy if you need to make tweaks to your itinerary due the winter weather.

When you book with Iceland Tours, you can pick your preferred level of accommodation at checkout. There are 3 levels to choose from:

  • Budget – Guesthouses and country hotels, with shared bathrooms
  • Comfort – Hotels or guesthouses of around 3 stars, with private bathrooms
  • Quality – Hotels or guesthouses of around 4 stars, with private bathrooms

Breakfast is always included, no matter which accommodation level you choose. Find out more about the difference between the levels on our accommodation page.

It’s straightforward to book a winter vacation with Iceland Tours. Check out the packages on this page and find one that takes your fancy.

Then on the package page, enter your tour dates and the number of people in your group. At the next step, you can pick your rental car and preferred accommodation level.

You can also customize your trip with extra days in Reykjavík before or after your self-drive tour. Add guided tours and activities on these days to get even more out of your time in Iceland.

Once you’ve booked, you’ll get a confirmation email from us. Now you can book your flights and start counting down to your trip!

It’s fair to say that winter in Iceland is chilly, but perhaps not as cold as you might expect. At the start of winter in October, temperatures in Reykjavík average around 5°C (40°F). The coldest month is February, which sees averages around 1°C (33°F).

In the countryside, temperatures often dip a few degrees lower. Another thing to keep in mind is windchill, which will make it feel colder than the thermometer suggests.

Snow and ice are definite possibilities, especially outside of Reykjavík. The snowiest month is February, although there is a chance of snowfall at any time during winter.

Winds are strong and constant, but this is no problem if you dress right! Keep reading for our packing tips.

Want to know more about Iceland’s climate? Check out this Iceland weather guide.

Winter inevitably brings shorter days in Iceland, which is great news if spotting the Northern Lights is top of your list.

Days technically start getting shorter after the summer equinox in June, but proper night doesn’t return until the start of September. Instead, there is a drawn-out twilight each morning and evening.

On 1 October, the sun rises at around 7:30 a.m. and sets just before 7:00 p.m., giving you about 11.5 hours of daylight. This is ideal for spotting the aurora in the late evening.

By 21 December, sunrise is at around 11:30 a.m. and sunset is at 3:30 p.m. This works out as just over 4 hours of daylight. It’s also on this date that the days start getting longer again, slowly but surely!

It pays to be prepared in wintertime so you’re warm and comfortable for the length of your trip, no matter what the elements throw at you. Here’s a suggested packing list:

  • Thick and warm winter coat
  • Waterproof layers
  • Thermal layers, like sweaters and fleeces
  • Sturdy hiking boots
  • Wooly hat, scarf, and gloves
  • Warm underlayers and extra pairs of socks
  • Swimsuit, for the hot springs
  • Sunglasses, for the low sun
  • Moisturizer

The sun stays low in the sky in winter, just popping above the horizon before dipping back down again in the evening. It’s a good idea to bring along a pair of sunglasses so you’re not dazzled when driving.

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