9 Day Self Drive New Year’s Eve & Northern Lights in Iceland
Spending New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik is an unforgettable experience as the winter skies are lit up with fireworks that the locals are free to let loose into the air! This package is so much more though, as you get to explore the south and west of Iceland and have great chances of seeing the Northern Lights!
- New Year’s Eve in Reykjavik
- Chance to see the Northern Lights
- Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
- The Golden Circle
- The South Shore
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 1 – 29. December: Arrival – Keflavik – Reykjavik
Upon arrival, you will pick up your rental car and then drive to your hotel in Reykjavik.
Optional : Blue Lagoon, depending upon flight arrival time. Entrance time must be pre booked.
Accommodation: The next 3 nights will be in a 4* hotel in Reykjavik, standard room with private facilities, including breakfast.
Day 2 – 30. December: Golden Circle
The adventure beging with a tour of the iconic Golden Circle , home to the historic Thingvellir National Park, the legendary Geysir Area and the majestic Gullfoss Waterfall, before we head to The Secret Lagoon to have a relaxing bath amidst gorgeous natural scenery.
Golden Circle : visit the historic Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is also geologically significant. It was the original location of Althingi, where a group of Viking nobles convened Iceland’s first parliament in 930 AD. Althingi then met each year to elect the Lawspeaker and sort out various problems between the Viking lords, the modern parliament still has the same name, making it one of the oldest continuously running democratic institutions on the planet. Thingvellir also bisects the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, meaning that visitors will be able to gaze across the ever-expanding gap between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Thingvellir is also home to a plethora of craggy rock formations, glacial waterfalls and much, much more, making it a must-visit during your Icelandic adventure.
We will then continue to the Geysir Geothermal area, which plays host to the now dormant ‘Great Geysir’, which was the first geyser to be mentioned in the English language and gives them all their name. We will also find the very much active Strokkur there, which propels boiling streams of water up to 25 metres into the air every 3-8 minutes. There is no better way to appreciate the awesome power of nature than by seeing this incredible phenomenon in the flesh and it is also an excellent photo opportunity.
The final stop on the Golden Circle Route is the majestic Gullfoss Waterfall (the golden falls), where a roaring cascade of glacial water crashes across three lava steps into an emerald valley below. It gets its name from the golden hue its water takes as it passes over the volcanic rock and on sunny days rainbows form above it, making for a profoundly beautiful sight that will remain with you for the rest of your life. Return to Reykjavik in the late afternoon.
Optional: Fontana Spa
Accommodation: 4* hotel in Reykjavik, standard room with private facilities, including breakfast.
Day 3 – 31. December: Day to enjoy the capital city of Reykjavik & its sights
Spend the day at leisure to explore the city and even buy some fireworks for the evening, because you can!
As evening comes, you can drive to one of the many local bonfires and firework displays https://visitreykjavik.is/new-years-eve-0
When it gets close to midnight, make sure you have found your spot, which could be at your hotel, in the downtown area close to Hallgrimskirkja or even the viewing platform at Perlan and get ready to watch the show as the locals team up to say farewell to the passing year and welcome the new one with an incredible amount of fireworks!
Accommodation: 4* hotel in Reykjavik, standard room with private facilities, including breakfast.
Day 4 – 1. January: Happy New Year! – South Shore Adventure
As you head east, the first major stop along the way is Seljalandsfoss, a unique waterfall in the river Seljalandsá, about 30 km west from Skógar. It is 60 meters high with a foot path behind it at the bottom of the cliff, but with a thin cascade.
Only a few kilometers away from the south shores of Iceland, lies the village of Skógar along the Southern Ring Road. It is a popular summer-resort centre surrounded by unusual scenic beauty. The breath-taking view of Skógafoss waterfall and scenic surroundings and the snow-capped heights of two towering glaciers.
Dyrhólaey is a 120-metre high promontory, not far from Vík. The place got its name from the massive arch that the sea has eroded from the headland. (The name literally means “door-hole-island”).
Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal. With its enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas, Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches. In 1991, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet.
Accommodation: 3* hotel in Vík area, standard room with private facilities, including breakfast. Excellent location for viewing Northern Lights directly from the hotel!
Day 5 – 2. January: Vík – Skaftafell – Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
Heading further east, Fjaðrárgljúfur is a magnificent and massive canyon, about 100 meters deep and about two kilometres long. The canyon has sheer walls, and is somewhat serpentine and narrow. The bedrock in Fjaðrárgljúfur is mostly palagonite from cold periods of the Ice Age and is thought to be about two million years old.
Scenic nature, favourable weather conditions and a network of hiking trails make Skaftafell an ideal destination to enjoy outdoor activities in Icelandic nature. Short and easy trails lead to the waterfall Svartifoss and Skaftafellsjökull glacier.
The highlight of the day is undoubtedly Jökulsárlón. The main Glacier lagoon measures about 7 square miles (20 km2) and until 1932 was covered in thick glacial ice. Then the glacier started to retreat, and nowadays more than 300 feet (100 m) of ice breaks away each year to reshape the lagoon and fill it with spectacular icebergs.
The lagoon is open to the sea and so contains a mixture of salt and freshwater, giving it a unique blue-green colour. There are hundreds of seals here in the winter and the lagoon supports many species of fish including krill, herring, trout and, occasionally, salmon.
Accommodation: 3* hotel in Jökulsárlón area, standard room with private facilities, including breakfast. Excellent location for viewing Northern Lights directly from the hotel!
Day 6 – 3. January: Return drive to Reykjavik along the south coast
On the way back you´ll have the chance to visit any places of interest that you didn´t have time for on day 4. There also plenty of activity options in and around Vik, see some of the options below!
Time at leisure in the capital:
Reykjavik is by far the largest municipality in Iceland and as well the capital city of the country. The capital area has about a total of 60% of Iceland’s population, which is about 320.000 people.
Ingolfur Arnarson, the first settler of Iceland according to Landnama, the Book of Settlement, built his farm on the peninsula where the city stands today. Arnarson is said to have decided the location of his settlement using a traditional Norse method. He cast his high seat pillars into the ocean when he saw the coastline, then settled where the pillars came to shore, though not many scholars would argue that this romantic story is fully credible. The town got its name “Smoky Bay” after the columns of steam that rose from the hot springs in the area and made such a deep impression on the first settlers.
Accommodation: 3* hotel in Reykjavik, standard room with private facilities, including breakfast
- Glacier Walk on Sólheimajökull glacier
- Snowmobile tour on Mýrdalsjökull glacier
- ATV tour
- Zip Line
- Horse back riding on a black sand beach
Day 7 – 4. January: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
This 90- km long peninsula comprises a world of diversity. Friendly towns and villages, spectacular mountains, a multitude of bird species nesting on treacherous cliffs, beaches of sand and pebbles popular among horsemen and rock skimmers, remnants and relics scattered here and there of times and ways of life long past.
The Snaefellsjokull National Park is at the westernmost part of the peninsula, including the mystical glacier Snaefellsjokull, as well as other unique sites such as Djupalonssandur, Thufubjarg and more.
In 2008, the communities of Snaefellsnes Peninsula were the first in Europe to receive certification from EarthCheck, an international benchmarking system for sustainable travel and tourism.
Grundarfjörður’s beautiful landmark, Mt. Kirkjufell, is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Its isolated position jutting out into the sea makes it a focal point for tourists and seamen alike.
Accommodation: 3* hotel in Stykishólmur area, standard room with private facilities, including breakfast – Excellent location for viewing northern lights directly from the hotel.
Day 8 – 5. January: Stykkishólmur – Borgarfjörður region
Stykkishólmur – Borgarfjörður – Reykholt – Hraunfossar – Barnafoss– Reykjavík
Departing Stykkisholmur, head back east towards the Borgarfjörður area. The main attraction are the waterfalls Barnafoss and Hraunfossar. Barnafoss means “Children’s waterfall”, and the story goes that there were two children in the Hraunsás household who were supposed to stay home while the parents went to church for Christmas Mass. When the parents returned from mass, they discovered that the children had disappeared (possibly because the children got bored and decided to go out).
They then followed the children’s tracks to this waterfall at the stone natural bridge where the tracks disappeared. The mother concluded that the children must have fallen into the river and drowned. Then, the mother had the arch destroyed in order to ensure no one else faces a similar fate.
Hraunfossar waterfalls (Lava Falls) in Borgarfjordur are an exceptionally beautiful and unusual natural phenomena. The water seems to magically appear from the lava but is actually a clear cold spring that surges through the ground and runs in rapids down into the Hvita River.
This series of waterfalls is formed by rivulets streaming over a distance of about 90 meters (300 ft) out of the Hallmundarhraun, a lava field which flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under Langjokull glacier. The waterfall is recognisable by its turquoise blue waters, lending the surrounding environment a distinctive colour.
Accommodation: 3* hotel in Reykjavik, standard room with private facilities, including breakfast.
Optional tour: Lava Tube Cave Tour
Day 9 – 6. January: Departure day
Time to head to the airport where you return the car. Depending on your departure time, you might have the chance to visit the Blue Lagoon before heading home!
Dates & prices
Departure day: 29. December
Price per person: 184.000 ISK
Supplement for single room: 64.000 ISK
Included in the package price:
- 8 day car rental RAV4 4WD with unlimited mileage, GP, TP, CDW, SCDW, tax; pick up/drop off at Keflavik airport
- 3 nights accommodation in 4* hotel in double/twin rooms with private facilities, breakfast included
- 5 night accommodation in 3* hotels in double/twin rooms with private facilities, breakfast included
- Detailed itinerary with multiple daily options based on accommodation location
- Service and VAT
Good to know:
- The Northern Lights are a naturally occurring phenomenon that no-one can control. Seeing them is always dependent on weather conditions, Northern Light activity on any given date, but also some planning! You can see the aurora forecast every day here.