Best one week Iceland winter trip itinerary

The Best Iceland Winter Trip Itinerary for One Week

In Europe, Iceland, Trip itineraries by Jurga88 Comments

When I decided to visit Iceland in winter, the first question was what is the best one week Iceland trip itinerary for winter months. We’ve been to Iceland in June and have been caught up in a terrible winter storm with icy roads and road closures in the Northern part of Iceland. So I figured that going on a road trip to the North of Iceland in winter is probably not the best idea and decided to look for a trip itinerary focusing on the South Coast of Iceland.

So this is our Iceland winter trip itinerary with suggestions of what you can see and do on a road trip in Iceland in winter months. We made this exact trip in November last year.

This trip itinerary brings you to all of Southern Iceland’s landmarks leaving you sufficient time for sightseeing and even some hiking. You can find a lot more information about Iceland on our blog, but in the meantime here are a few other posts to help you plan your winter trip to Iceland:

Hiking in Iceland in winter

I never thought Iceland would be so beautiful in winter

 

Our 7 – day Iceland winter trip itinerary and map

Just one thing before I start with our Iceland winter trip itinerary. The days are short in Iceland during winter months, so you cannot do as much sightseeing as in summer. We visited mid November and we always started our day at 8.30AM, before sunrise. And we were back at our hotel at the latest at 5PM and it was already dark. It was light from approximately 9AM till 4PM in November. The days are even shorter in December-January, so keep this in mind when planning your trip.

Suggested Iceland winter trip itinerary map

Our Iceland winter trip itinerary map. Click on the image to enlarge!

 

DAY 1 – Arrival in Reykjavik Keflavik airport and drive to Hveragerdi

As our flight arrived in the afternoon, we drove straight to our hotel in Hveragerdi.

You will need to rent a car for this trip! Find the best deals for car rental here!

Hveragerdi is a small town with a geothermal swimming pool. Ideal way to spend your first evening in Iceland.

If your flight arrives early and you have more time to spare, you could opt to spend several hours at the famous geothermal pool Blue Lagoon (it’s located close to the airport). Hveragerdi pool is a much cheaper and less touristy option.

There are several restaurants in this little town and I recommend eating out as there is more choice and the prices are lower than at the hotels.

Note that we didn’t stay in Reykjavik in the beginning of the trip and drove straight to Hveragerdi where we would stay for 2 nights. Hveragerdi is better located for a visit to the Golden Triangle than Reykjavik and it saves quite some driving time for the rest of your journey further down the South Coast of Iceland.

We stayed at Hotel Eldhestar for 2 nights. It was pretty basic, but we were only there to sleep, so it was ok. You can find the best deals for Hveragerdi accommodation here.

I didn’t tell you before, but the real reason I travelled to Iceland in winter was my long time dream to see Northern Lights. So on the first night already we went ‘hunting’ for auroras. They were very vague and better visible in the pictures than in reality, but it was just the first night, so it gave us hope.

Level 2 aurora display in Iceland.jpg

Aurora display (level 2) on our first night in Iceland

 

DAY 2 – Golden Circle: Thingvellir NP – Geysir area – Gullfoss waterfall

Iceland’s must-do day trip is the visit to the famous Golden Circle. It’s possible to do it as a day trip from Reykjavik as well.

We started our day at Thingvellir National Park.

OXARARFOSS WATERFALL IN THINGVELLIR Iceland

OXARARFOSS WATERFALL IN THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK

 

Then continued to Geysir area where we also had lunch.

Strokkur geyser. Golden Circle Iceland

Strokkur geyser

In the afternoon we visited one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls, the Golden waterfall – Gullfoss.

Gulfoss waterfall Golden Circle Iceland

GULLFOSS GOLDEN WATERFALL

 

DAY 3 – Skogafoss waterfall – Glacier Hiking – Reynisfjara (Vik)

Our first stop was at another iconic landmark of Iceland – Skogafoss waterfall.

Skógafoss waterfall

Skógafoss waterfall

 

We had a quick lunch on the way and continued to Solheimajokull glacier for a guided glacier hike.

TIP: book your glacier hike in advance – this will help you plan your time better and you will be certain you can do this activity. Otherwise it might be difficult to even know where to look.

You can book a 90-minute guided glacier walk here. Alternatively, there are also day trips from Reykjavik that include glacier hiking and ice climbing.

Glacier hiking in Iceland

Glacier hiking was more fun than I had expected

 

Alternatively, you can visit Skogar museum which is divided into three parts: folk museum, turf houses, and transport museum. The turf houses are well worth seeing.

Where to stay in Reykjavik and on a self-drive road trip in Iceland

Turf houses at the Skogar Folk Museum (picture from our summer trip)

 

In summer you could easily do both – glacier hiking and Skogar museum, but in winter your sightseeing time in Iceland is limited and you have to choose and plan well.

After the glacier walk we drove to the beautiful black sand beach at Reynishverfi (near Vik) that is famous for the basalt columns. We stayed on the beach till sunset and drove to our hotel in the dark.

Basalt columns at Reynishverfi black sand beach near Vik in Southern Iceland

Basalt columns at Reynishverfi black sand beach near Vik

Vik most beautiful beach in iceland

Vik beach at sunset

 

We stayed at the beautiful Hotel Laki in Kirkjubaejarklauster area. Really recommended!

DAY 4 Vatnajokull glacier – Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon – Diamond beach

Our first stop was at Svinafellsjokull where we made a short walk to one of the many tongues of Vatnajokull glacier.

Svinafellsjokull glacier - one of the many tongues of Vatnajokull glacier in Southern Iceland

Svinafellsjokull glacier

 

In the early afternoon we reached Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. If there is one place you don’t want to miss in Iceland, it’s Jokulsarlon! We were extremely lucky with the weather and the glacial lake was simply spectacular.

Hiking at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon on a sunny winter day

 

TIP: Don’t miss the Diamond Beach just across the road from Jokulsarlon, and certainly when visiting Iceland in winter. Cold temperatures and the wind turn this coastline into an amazing winter wonderland.

Icebergs on Jokulsarlon beach in winter

icebergs on Jokulsarlon beach

 

We stayed on the Diamond beach till sunset and seeing all those icebergs lit up with the setting sun was an unforgettable experience. I found Jokulsarlon Diamond beach more impressive in winter than the famous Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon itself.

Iceland winter wonderland - Jokulsarlon beach

Winter wonderland at Jokulsarlon beach

 

Our hotel for the night was Hotel Smyrlabjorg. Here you can find more information about Jokulsarlon accommodation.

The amazing Northern Lights display we witnessed that night exceeded all our expectations. But so did all the rest! I loved Iceland in winter and would have loved it just as much even if we hadn’t seen any auroras.

Star shape Aurora Borealis display in Iceland

WE COULD NOT HAVE WISHED FOR A MORE SPECTACULAR AURORA DISPLAY

 

DAY 5 Jokulsarlon – Fjallsarlon – Skaftafell National Park

We started our day early and made a quick stop at Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon at sunrise. We then continued to the nearby Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon. It’s smaller and (much) less visited than Jokulsarlon, but it’s not to be missed!

Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon is one of the must see places in Iceland

Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon

 

We then continued to Skaftafell National Park. Summer or winter, you should not skip Skaftafell. It’s a beautiful area with lots of hiking trails.

During this Iceland winter trip we hiked to the famous Svartifoss waterfall and continued on the Sjónarnípa trail. The views were simply amazing!

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park in winter

Svartifoss waterfall in winter

Hiker at SKAFTAFELL GLACIER AT SUNSET in winter

SKAFTAFELL GLACIER AT SUNSET

 

During our previous trip, years ago in summer, we did the Svartifoss – Sjónarsker – Sel walk and the walk to the glacier Skaftafellsjökull. There are many hiking trails in Skaftafell National Park and quite some of them can be accessible in winter, but it’s best that you inform about current conditions at the visitor centre before starting any walk.

Beautiful sunlit mountain landscape at Skaftafell in Iceland

Hiking in Skaftafell National Park in November

 

We stayed at Hotel Laki in Kirkjubaejarklauster area. It’s the same hotel as on DAY 3.

DAY 6 Fjardrargljufur Canyon – Eldhraun lava field – Seljalandsfoss waterfall

We started our day at another iconic landmark of Iceland – Fjardrargljufur Canyon. It was so cold that I can’t even try to explain it in words, but we still made a short walk at this majestic canyon.

Fjadrargljufur Canyon in Iceland

Fjadrargljufur Canyon

 

Afterwards we drove through Iceland’s largest lava field – Eldhraun – and made a short stop to admire this surreal landscape. Eldgjárhraun, to the east of Mýrdalssandur, is one of the largest lava flows that ever occurred, during a massive volcano eruption in 974. The dimensions of this lava field are immense – some 700km2. For comparison, the total area of Singapore is 648km2.

Lava field in Iceland

Iceland’s largest lava field

 

Continuing our journey back in the direction of Reykjavik we visited Dyrhólaeyjarviti lighthouse and made a coastal walk from there to Kirkjufjara beach below.

Rock formations at Kirkjufjara beach Iceland

Rock formations at Kirkjufjara beach

 

The last stop today was another  famous waterfall – Seljalandsfoss. It had been freezing cold over the last few days and the area close to the waterfall was completely frozen. We could hardly walk or even stand here. Needless to say the path behind the waterfall was closed, but it was still unbelievably impressive. Maybe even more so because it was frozen in winter.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in winter

Seljalandsfoss waterfall in winter

We ended our day and our Iceland winter trip in Reykjavik.

We stayed at the Fosshotel Reykjavik for 2 nights. Here you can find the complete guide to the best price/ quality accommodation in Reykjavik.

DAY 7 Reykjavik – Blue Lagoon

Now I’m not going to make myself popular with Icelanders I suppose, but in my honest opinion, Reykjavik is not that interesting from a touristic point of view. So we didn’t spend too much time in the city. You can read my observations about Reykjavik in one of the previous posts.

Harpa Music Hall in Reykjavik Iceland

Harpa Music Hall in Reykjavik

 

I found that a couple of hours were sufficient to see Reykjavik and went to the geothermal pool of Blue Lagoon in the afternoon.

Blue Lagoon is extremely popular and touristy, but it’s kind of a must in Iceland so I decided to check it out. After all, there is no better way to end your Icelandic winter trip than sipping a drink while sitting in a hot thermal pool with a mud mask on your face. And before you ask, no, I don’t have a picture of myself with a mud mask…

So this is our Iceland winter trip itinerary for one week in a nutshell. It brings you to the nicest places on the South Coast of Iceland while leaving plenty of time to explore and even do some winter hiking on the way. You could probably squeeze the same Iceland winter road trip itinerary in 4 or 5 days as well, but then you’d have less time left for hiking and sightseeing.

Update: I received so many questions from readers in regards to Iceland itinerary suggestions for shorter or longer trips, so I posted an article with suggested Iceland itineraries for anything between 1 day and 2 weeks. Check it out!

✓ Find the best deals for Iceland accommodation using the form below. Alternatively, check this post for the best accommodation suggestions for Reykjavik and a self-drive trip around Iceland.



Booking.com

✓ Find the best deals for Iceland car rental here!

Disclosure: this post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, we get a small commission if you book a tour using these links. Thank you!

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Best Iceland winter trip itinerary

Most complete Iceland trip itinerary for winter months

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The Best Iceland Winter Trip Itinerary for One Week was last modified: March 24th, 2017 by Jurga

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Comments

  1. Iceland is somewhere we really want to visit but have yet to get to. Love this itinerary which will be so helpful when we do get there. Your photographs are stunning!

    1. Author

      Thank you for a compliment, Tracy. You should definitely put Iceland on the list – amazing destination and so close by.

  2. You do take some amazing pictures of places. I loved Iceland when I went nearly 10years ago. I have been wanting to go back and explore longer and your post made me want to do that.

    1. Author

      I can totally relate, Mel. I’ve been to Iceland twice and would go back again if I get a chance. It’s just so very different from any other place in the world; and even more so in winter.

  3. Wow – you really packed it in! I’m keeping hold of this itinerary though as it’s always been on my bucket list too. I have a ‘northern lights’ story, maybe I’ll share it with you one day 😉

  4. Holy moly…Your pictures are so beautiful!
    I’ll be sharing and pinning this post as its so informative! Thank you for writing it, we are keen to visit Iceland soon and will return to your blog for more tips.
    I think our two kids would love it, too- especially the ‘unusual’ beach!

    1. Author

      Thank you, Nina. You made my day! And thanks for sharing this post. I’m sure you and your kids would love Iceland.

  5. Your photos are incredible! This itinerary is actually really, really helpful. I’ve been looking into Iceland for a while now, thanks for sharing your experience to help the rest of us!

  6. Geysers, glaciers and Northern Lights, Iceland is definitely on my list of places to go – together with way more places than I can afford! Super photos.

  7. I visited Reykjavik a couple of years ago and took a couple of day trips from the city (Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon) as well as a night trip out in search of the Aurora, but you’ve definitely inspired me to see more of this incredible country! 😀

    1. Author

      Iceland has definitely more to offer than Reykjavik or Blue Lagoon and I’m glad to hear that my post inspired you to visit it the second time, Kiara! I always find it such a pity that they advertise it as a stopover destination – it’s so much more than that!

  8. Super gorgeous photos! I love Iceland in winter – I think it’s even more magical with the cold and the snow, and of course there are so much fewer people around than in summer!

    1. Author

      That’s true, Kathi – there are indeed fewer people around in winter, but I was actually surprised to see that there were quite many more than I had expected. June 10 years ago was much less busy than last year in November. Iceland is becoming more and more popular, but it’s so worth it!

  9. This is a great itinerary. I visited Iceland in January, and did the Golden Circle and a few other bits. But didn’t have time to go to the Skogar Museum or the glacier. I’m going to have to go back one day!

  10. Your photos look gorgeous! We visited Rovaniemi last year for 3 days in the hope of seeing the Northern Lights and failed miserably 🙁
    The husband says Iceland next. Hopefully we’ll see them there.

    1. Author

      Northern Lights is a bit of a lottery, Delaine. Basically you need three things: darkness, clear sky and high aurora activity. Darkness is not a problem in winter in the Nordics, aurora is usually pretty active and even activity 2-3 can be quite impressive. Clear skies is not something you can influence of course, but if you have a car and are willing to make an effort, you can always follow the weather radar information and drive to the places that have most chance of clear skies that night. Or – like we did – keep an eye on the aurora forecast website (we used this one for Iceland: http://en.vedur.is/weather/forecasts/aurora/) and spend many sleepless hours outdoors…

  11. I’ve considered visiting Iceland in the winter — more opportunity to see the Northern Lights and all that — but I’m not sure how I’d handle such short daylight hours. But this actually looks really doable. This itinerary seems like the perfect balance (seeing a great deal without running yourself ragged). Definitely bookmarking for later!

    1. Author

      I was also worried about daylight. Somehow I imagined that it was only light for 3 or 4 hours in Iceland in winter. But indeed, it’s really doable and if you plan your days well, you can see and do quite a lot (and have plenty of time to relax in the evening).

  12. Going there in December and am so looking forward to it, especially after reading your descriptions! Stunning photos by the way!

    1. Author

      I don’t know why, but it always makes my day when people say that my blog and pictures inspire them to travel to one or the other destination. Really appreciate your comment, Desiree!

  13. I’m totally in awe of your photos. We did an almost two week road trip around, but the lighting made it hard to consistently photograph, so super impressed. You got to a few places that I didn’t get to although I’d love to visit. Saved for when I finally go back! Love!

  14. Great itinerary, but we only have 5 days in Iceland in December. Which of these places would you skip if you had 2 days less?

    1. Author

      Hi Lionel, in principle you can squeeze this same itinerary in 5 days as well. Leave early in the morning before it’s light and plan to do sightseeing till sunset. Depending on your flights, you could stay in Reykjavik on the first night and do some sightseeing there already and skip day 7 of this itinerary altogether. You could skip Kirkjufjara beach (day 6 here), plan to visit Seljalandsfoss waterfall on the same day as Skogafoss and visit Fjardrargljufur Canyon on day 4, before going to the glacier and Jokulsarlon lagoon. If you are really short on time, do a shorter hike in Skaftafell instead of a long one – there are many hiking trails, but not all of them might be open in December. Hope this helps you a bit. Don’t hesitate to ask if you have more questions.

  15. Beautiful, I wish I had a whole week to stay in Iceland but I will only be there for 2 1/2 days. Glad you got to see the northern lights, living in the subarctic I saw them hundreds of times but they still amaze me every time. If you had to chose between the Golden Circle and the South Coast of Iceland which would you choose?

    1. Author

      That’s not easy, Jasmine. 2-3 days is what most people do, they call it an Icelandic stopover and promote it a lot. The most popular things to do in such a short time are Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle because of its proximity to Reykjavik. Depending on how the roads are, this might be the safest option in winter anyway. Also, you get to see a beautiful waterfall and a geyser that goes off every 5-10 minutes, so it’s really worth it.
      In principle, you can do a part of Southern Iceland ring road in one day too, but you will be spending much more time in the car than sightseeing. I saw an organised day tour that brings you all the way to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and back to Reykjavik, but it’s many many hours in the car. Only you can decide if it’s worth it for you. Whatever you decide, just pick one or two places that you really want to see and concentrate on those rather than try to see everything and only have 5 minutes for each stop. Hope this helps a bit.

  16. How did you find the driving in Iceland during winter? Were there some roads that were very slipper/hard turns? Looks great otherwise and glad you had such a good time

    1. Author

      Hi Raf, indeed we had a very nice trip and I loved Iceland in winter. We were lucky with the weather in November and the roads were generally very good. The ring road was always ok. A small section of the road at the Golden Circle was like a skating rink on the day we were there, and that day I was super happy I didn’t have to drive. I went to Iceland with a (girl)friend and we chose for a small-group tour in order not to have to drive ourselves. The reason? Ten years ago I was in Iceland with my husband and we had a terrible snow storm (in June) and some really bad road conditions, and so my husband only agreed to let me go if I went with a group. 🙂 You can read more about our previous experience in this post: Best time to visit Iceland: summer or winter).
      But don’t let this discourage you. In general, the roads in Southern Iceland are ok, even in winter and they do their best to keep the ring road in good driving condition at all times. Of course, you can never predict the weather, but I wouldn’t let this be the reason not to travel to Iceland in winter.

  17. Wow, I just love your pictures so much. I went to Iceland nearly 10years only for a long weekend. I have always wanted to go back for a week and spend more time there. I love your post and it has given me so many tips and ideas for when I return. Thanks, Jurga

  18. Hi jurga,

    I recently visited Iceland this past May for 1.5 weeks and now I want to visit north Iceland in the Winter since we only explored the south coast. Is this a bad idea since even in the Summer snow storms can be a problem?

    If you you advise against it, would you say that winter is that much different than Summer to justify go in again this November? Thank you!

    1. Author

      Hi David, this is really hard to say. I haven’t been to North Iceland in winter, but I heard about regular road closures on the ring road on that side of the island. I think most people traveling to the North in winter choose to fly to Akureyri and stay there or close to Myvatn doing short day trips instead of going on a road trip. That way you have more flexibility in case the roads would be closed for a while. I actually know someone who’s doing exactly this in a few weeks. I suggest you rent a small size SUV if you’re driving there in winter. One more thing to consider for the Northern part of Iceland. Most of the activities we did there involved hiking, so you might not be able to do a lot if there is snow. If you go there, the beginning of the winter season is probably better than the end.
      As for how different it is in summer compared to winter, I have a post about it: Best time to visit Iceland: summer or winter. Would I go to Iceland in winter after I’ve seen it in summer? I would and I did (but in my case there were almost 10 years in between the two trips)! I found Iceland in winter so magical that I’d go back again without hesitation, just maybe adjust the trip itinerary in such a way that you do different activities and see some new places. You could consider a tour to see the ice caves or riding a snowmobile, and don’t forget Northern Lights – seeing auroras makes the whole trip worthwhile. Hope this helps!

  19. Hi Jurga!

    Amazing pictures and you were indeed very lucky with the weather. I am planning to go to Iceland in early December this year with my husband. May I ask if you planned the day trips before going there or whilst you were there? I would love to do all the things suggested here so please let me know.

    Many thanks.

    Prejal.
    x

    1. Author

      Hi Prejal, I think I would plan most excursions in advance, especially the ones you really don’t want to miss, or if you are not flexible with the timing at a certain place.
      Glacier hiking or ice caving is just difficult otherwise – some companies are located somewhere else and only come there if they have a booking, some others only leave at certain times or only if they have a certain number of people, so it’s better to arrange this beforehand if you want to be sure.
      If you want to do the Northern Lights tour, you may want to wait and see what the aurora forecast looks like before you book. On the other hand, if the aurora forecast looks good, it can happen that most tours get fully booked quickly. But this is something you can also easily do without a tour if you have a car.
      Blue Lagoon is very popular, so it’s probably also best to book in advance.
      We had most things pre-booked and it was easy not to have to think about anything, just follow the itinerary. My friend wanted to go on a whale watching/Northern Lights tour from Reykjavik on the last night of the trip and they were all fully booked.
      As for the rest, you don’t need to book much if you have your own car. If, however, you are staying in Reykjavik and planning to do lots of day trips, then yes, I would book them in advance. It has several advantages: 1. You can research and plan everything from home rather than having to do all of this in the evening when you’re tired after the previous day. 2. It’s often cheaper if you book in advance, also you have a better overview on what’s on offer and how much it costs. 3. You are certain that you can do the activities you really want to do. The only disadvantage I see is that indeed you don’t know how the weather will be like, but in Iceland you never know. It might be cold and rainy in the morning and then beautiful in the afternoon, so it’s just something you have to deal with. Dress warm and have fun!

      1. You’re an absolute star Jurga! Thanks a ton for answering in such detail! I think weather-wise I am fine as here in London we’re already bracing for the short days. I will try and send you some pictures when I get back and if they’re any good. Have a lovely day ahead! xx

        1. Author

          Now you make me blush 🙂 Glad I could help and yes, please let me know how your trip was! Hope you have a great time in Iceland.

  20. Hi Jurga,

    Beautiful post and very helpful. I’m planning a trip for January with my daughter. Its such a spectacular but totally unknown country for me.

    I wonder whether you rented a car and drove between the different night stays and then paid for day tours in the area? Or did you book a tour for the whole time? I’m worried that the 6 days tours are too rushed.

    And… any tips on how to find the right tour?

    Thank you so much for your kindness in sharing all that information.

    1. Author

      Hi Nava, I’m not sure how many of my Iceland posts you read, so in a nutshell: we visited Iceland twice: once on a 10-day self drive trip in June and once on a week organized trip in November. On the first trip we prebooked the hotels only. The second trip was completely organised with tours and excursions all booked in advance. I liked both, but in winter I was there with my (girl) friend and we didn’t want to drive, so we booked an organised trip. It was great and I would do it again! I loved how relaxed it was not having to plan or worry about anything.
      You can do it by car, but I’d definitely stick to the Southern part of the island if you decide to do that. As for the roads, nobody can tell you in advance how the driving conditions will be in January.
      How to find a good tour? I have a suggestion for you, but first some things to consider. Small group tours are always better. ALWAYS. You really don’t want to be traveling around on a bus with 40 other people all with different interests. Second, don’t worry about it being ‘too rushed’ – just pick a tour that fits your travel plans and doesn’t try to cover the whole country in 6 days. Better see less but have more time to explore, rather than try to see everything and end up sitting in a car/bus all the time.
      I found a nice winter trip in Iceland with Intrepid – Northern Lights Escape for 6 days. The itinerary looks pretty good to me (covering all ‘musts’ and leaving some free time in Reykjavik), max group size is 12, but there is a minimum age requirement of 15 (wouldn’t know why, but anyway). I see that many of their trips for January are already fully booked though, so depending on how flexible you are this might not fit you.
      For the rest I don’t really have much experience with group travel. I know that Icelandair has some organised tour packages, but I found them to be a bit unpersonal when I was researching for my trip. But it is definitely an option.
      Another option is to just stay in Reykjavik and book day trips from there. You’ll be spending more time in a car, but you can see quite a lot that way. Here are some winter day trip ideas from Reykjavik. If you plan well, this may not be more expensive than an organised tour, and it gives you complete flexibility to pick the day trips and activities that appeal to you the most.
      Hope this helps a bit!
      PS These are affiliate links and if you book a tour using these links, I get a small commission. While small, it helps to run this blog. Thanks.

  21. Jurga, what a treat. I’m very thankful for this great information.
    I’ll check Intrepid for February or March (thru your post, of course).
    Have a happy holiday season!

  22. I am going to Iceland for spring break and the Blue Lagoon is on my list, but what did you do with your belongings? Are there lockers? I am traveling alone and I do not want to leave my backpack in the open.

    1. Author

      No worries, Malia. There are lockers where you can leave everything. If you’ve ever been to a big water park, it’s a bit like that. In fact, you get a bracelet/key and it can also be used to pay for drinks for example, so you don’t have to take anything with you into the pool. Many people take their towels though because it’s so cold outside and then leave them next to the pool while they bathe. You can rent a towel there if you don’t have one, or bring one from your hotel to save some money ;).

  23. Hi Jurga,

    Thank you so much for sharing your itinerary and amazing photos, it is very inspiring! My partner and I will be going to Iceland in late January for 1 week and we are planning to hire a 4×4 SUV and explore. Your itinerary looks perfect and I was wandering how easy it is to find these sites/attractions without being on a tour? It looks so remote – are the waterfalls and national parks well signed and is there parking nearby? We will probably book day tours for the glacier hike and to explore an ice cave but otherwise we will just be following GPS/maps.

    Thank you.

    1. Author

      Hi Tim, everything listed in this itinerary is pretty easy to find and it’s well signposted. Most waterfalls and other landmarks are pretty close to the Ring Road, usually just literally off the road and parking is ample, certainly in winter. The only things that might be a bit more difficult to find is Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon and the lava field, since it’s a bit off the main road. My best advice is to look it all up on Google maps in advance, take a regular paper map with you and you’ll be ok. GPS should also work just fine, so if you have one with maps for Iceland, take it with you.
      As for the glacier hiking and ice caving, check my post about winter activities in Iceland for more info (if you haven’t done so yet). Book both as soon as possible to avoid disappointment.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

      1. Thank you so much Jurga – this is very helpful! We will definitely book the glacier hike and ice cave tour from your link. I can’t wait to explore Iceland and hopefully snap a few photos as good as yours!

          1. Hi Jurga,

            We followed your itinerary almost exactly and we had the holiday of a lifetime! We stayed at some different accommodation and we missed the canyon and lava field on the final day ( instead we saw the DC plane wreck and stopped by the Secret Lagoon), however your itinerary was great and we were amazed at how much we saw in 1 week (and how much more there is to see!). It was an amazing experience and I couldn’t recommend it enough everyone. I’ve already started sending your link to our friends. Thank you so much for your suggestions and for creating such a useful itinerary.

            Tim

          2. Author

            Thank you so much for your feedback, Tim. Glad to hear you had such a nice trip and that you used this guide to make the most of it. That’s what this blog is about – to help others make the most of every trip!

  24. Thank you for sharing. Will visit Iceland from 12/22 to 12/30 with my son. Debating whether I should rent a car or just stay in Reykjavik do day trip or driving. if I chose driving for 2 days, which part you recommend driving (I’m think about 2 day 1 night to south coast or golden circle. Also for car rental is that has to be 4W drive? Any car rental place to recommend?

    1. Author

      Hi Mindy, in 7-8 days you can do quite a lot (day trips or driving). If you choose to do a road trip, then use this itinerary, it’s the best I can advise you for a winter trip.
      If you only drive for 2 days, consider what you will be doing on the other days. Day tours are probably the best option in that case, since Reykjavik itself is not a place that you need 7-8 days for (read also my post about Reykjavik if you hadn’t seen it yet).
      What to see in 2 days if driving? I’d head all the way to Jokulsarlon lagoon since that’s a place not to be missed. You can see some waterfalls (Skogafoss, Selfalandsfoss) along the way. Depending on how much time you have, pick any other place from this itinerary here that interests you the most and try to combine it with Jokulsarlon: Vik beach, the canyon, Skaftafell NP… The days will be very short though, so consider that.
      Read also our post about the amazing winter activities in Iceland – most can be done as day trips from Reykjavik.
      As for the car rental, I don’t have any specific recommendation for Iceland. We use this search engine for most of our trips and it’s usually the best deals we can find: Momondo. And yes, I would recommend at least an SUV for Iceland in any season. 4×4 is not a must for the Ring Road though, so you have to consider whether it’s worth the extra cost for you.
      Hope this helps! Enjoy your trip!

  25. Did you find that you were in the car a lot for this itinerary? I am thinking of using this itinerary but maybe adding another overnight in Jokulsarlon. If you had to add an extra overnight somewhere in your trip, where would it have been?

    Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Justine, no, it wasn’t too much time in the car. Maximum an hour or two in one go if I remember well. Get a guidebook and see what other nice places you can visit on the road in between the landmarks (there aren’t many, but there are a few less-known waterfalls, small churches or nice short walks you can make), and make some short stops here and there to stretch the legs. This itinerary is good for winter, depending on the time of the year you visit, you might not even need that much time to see all these places. When we were in Iceland in summer, we constantly had the feeling that we had too much time since the days were endless… 🙂
      Anyway, for winter trip I wouldn’t change much. If you have one extra day see if you can book an ice caving tour (read more about Iceland winter experiences) or you could do a bit more hiking in Skaftafell. You can find a few suggestions in this post: My Top-10 Must-see Places in Iceland
      If you go in summer, I would definitely add the tour to see puffins.

  26. Great article. We will be travelling at the end of September/ early October in 2017. Would we be able to do this itinerary as well?

    1. Author

      I don’t see why not, Kim. The days will be longer in September/October, so you’ll have more time to explore the places I mentioned in this itinerary, or at least you won’t have to drive in the dark every morning and every evening. The places mentioned here are all must-visit places along the South Coast of Iceland, and can be visited year-round.

  27. What kind of a vehicle would you recommend. Do we need to splurge for the 4 wheel drive SUV or would a compact be ok. We will be there mid-September. Thanks!

    1. Author

      It all depends on your itinerary, Kate. If you follow the itinerary I described here, then you’ll be ok in any vehicle in September I think. If you want to travel inland, then you definitely need a 4WD. A small size SUV might be a good option in between. If it snows, I would definitely advice to take an SUV, but – normally – there shouldn’t be any snow/ice in September on the South Coast. Hope this helps.

  28. hello, thanks a lot for your blog
    quick question, do I have to pay a tour to visit sko’gafoss or can I do it on my own? Thanks

    1. Author

      Hi Carlos, all the waterfalls in Iceland are free to visit. But you do need a car in order to get there, or you can book one of the many day trips depending on your interests.

  29. Hello Jurga
    Thanks alot for the great tips, its was a great help to us, we are really passionated about Iceland.

  30. Hi, Jurga! Thank you very much for sharing your experience. It looks really awesome!! If you can, could you answer me a couple of questions? Since you’ve visited Iceland in several occasions, what would you recommend me to do in case you have one more day? I am thinking about doing the west fjords and then head south and only leave Reykyavik for the last day. Is it a little bit too much? Is it dangerous to drive in the dark in Iceland? As well, I am very interested in doing the ice caving tour in Vatnajokull. Is it possible to do it in your tour and what would you take out from the tour to make this dream of mine of walking inside an ice cave possible?
    Thank you very much Jurga for your help and your more than kind collaboration in one of my dream trips.
    Ruth

    1. Author

      Hi Ruth, I’m not sure I can tell you what to do. A lot depends on the time of the year you travel and how many hours of daylight you have. Driving after the dark in itself is not a problem, but if you’re not familiar with the area and if the roads are bad in winter, then you probably don’t want to do it too much…
      You can definitely leave Reykjavik for the last day, it’s really not such a big place and you can see all the highlights in half a day.
      As for the ice caving tour, inform where they start and at what time they leave, see if you can book one for the day you want and then plan the rest of the itinerary around it (I hear that those tours are very popular, so better check that first).
      If you have to skip one day of this itinerary, I really don’t know which one, that would depend on your interests I suppose. If hiking is not your thing, then skip Skaftafell. Otherwise maybe the Dyrhólaeyjarviti lighthouse andtheo Kirkjufjara beach (although that’s just a few hours). Some of the places on this itinerary are close to each other, so you can skip one from one day and one from another day and save a day this way…
      Sorry I can’t help you more. It’s really about making choices and your own preferences. I think that sometimes you enjoy the trip more if you do less, but take your time to really see the place. So first make a selection of your ‘musts’ and then start from there. Have a nice trip!

  31. Hi Jurga,

    Thank you for the amazing blog post. I especially loved your pictures! My girlfriend and I are taking my parents with us to Iceland in late Feb. I noticed that there was a lot of hiking in your itinerary. Which hikes do you think would be doable/worth attempting for my parents, who are more elderly? Are there any short 10-15 minute hikes which are worth a look? Do you think my parents will be able to enjoy Iceland even if they cannot do too much hiking? Thank you in advance 🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Tony, don’t worry too much, your parents will definitely be able to enjoy Iceland (just dress warm and waterproof).
      Most of the highlights from this itinerary do not require much hiking at all as they are very close to the car park. For example, all the waterfalls are just a few steps away from the car, but if you want to you can hike a bit more. At Skogafoss or Gullfoss you can climb up for different views, but the nicest view is at the bottom anyway. The geyser is just a short flat walk of 2-3 minutes. The Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon – you can see a lot from the car park, or you can walk around a bit, but it’s not difficult either, same with the beach across the road. Vik beach – it’s a stroll on the beach, you can choose how far you walk, the basalt columns are just 2-3 minutes from the car park, if you go all the way to the back it will maybe be another 10min max. The Canyon – you can walk along it, but you can see the canyon without doing the walk just as well. Most other stops along the way are just short walks of 100-200m, sometimes even less. At Thingvellir NP you can walk to the Oxararfoss waterfall, that would be 10-15min from the car and then back. You can also leave your parents at the bottom and let them cross the bridge to the other car park and then go get your car and pick them up there (you’ll figure it out once you get there). Svinafellsjokull which I described here was also 5 min from the car, and so was the Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon.
      The only place where you really have to hike is Skaftafell NP. Not sure how much hiking you can do in February anyway, but you can always stop at the visitor centre and see what the possibilities are.
      When we did the glacier hike in Iceland, there were people of over 70 in the group and they were also a bit worried, but they managed just fine.

  32. Thank you so much for posting this itinerary! My husband and I are scheduled to go to Iceland next month and we are getting very excited! We have 2 hotels booked and they are both on the south coast. After reading your post, I’m kind of wishing they were a little further apart, but I’m sure we will be able to see a lot of the landmarks on your list. FIngers crossed for the Northern Lights! That was the first thing that had us looking at Iceland, but now I know there is so much more there to see!

    1. Author

      The distances are not impossibly big on the South Coast, Laura. So with two hotels and some good planning, I’m sure you will manage to create an itinerary for yourself that allows you to see a lot without having to spend too much time in the car. Have a great trip!

  33. Hi Jurga,

    I will be visiting Iceland at the end of Feb for a week by myself. I am considering renting a car and driving the southern route along N1. I read the weather conditions can be unpredictable. How were they for you? In your experience, would you have driven solo?

    Thank you so much for this post. It is very helpful!

    1. Author

      Hi Jenny, glad you found this information useful for preparing your trip. I have more posts on the blog talking about driving and the weather conditions, here is one: https://fullsuitcase.com/iceland-summer-vs-winter/ If you read through the comments you’ll find this question addressed once or twice already. Please check there for more advice.
      In general, the Ring Road in the South should be ok to drive even in winter, but of course nobody can predict the weather. Try to keep your itinerary somewhat flexible (by not booking a different hotel for every night of your trip) and see how it is when you get there.
      As for traveling solo, I think Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world for solo travellers, whether you are driving or not. Just consider the cost, because renting a car in Iceland can be quite expensive, and in winter you really should get a bigger car. On your own you might be better off just booking organised day tours and not having to worry about the road conditions. You can find some ideas in this post: https://fullsuitcase.com/winter-experiences-iceland/
      Hope this helps.

  34. We went to Iceland last spring, it was really amazing! Thank so much for your work and info! It was my second time i have visited Iceland but after reading your inspiration and want to jump on the plane again.

    1. Author

      Thanks, appreciate your comment, Wouter. Iceland is one of those places I don’t mind to go back to again and again either.

  35. Thank you for this post! 4 friends and I are planning a trip during our Spring Break in March and found this immensely helpful as we really had no idea what to look for. I do have two questions though if you wouldn’t mind taking a minute to answer. Were all of these places you visited (beaches, water falls, glaciers) packed with tourists or did you find them to be relatively peaceful? Also, was there somewhere specific you went to see the Northern Lights or did you just go outside and away from light sources. Again, thank you so much!! This has been really helpful in giving us an idea of where to plan to visit.

    1. Author

      Hi Kaitlyn, when we visited in November none of the places were busy with tourists. We were not the only ones anywhere, but it wasn’t busy. I don’t expect it will be any different in March, maybe a bit more due to it being Spring Break, but it won’t be packed. I hear that in summer it’s getting really busy though..
      As for the Northern Lights, no we didn’t go anywhere specifically. We watched the aurora forecast almost hourly every evening when the sky was clear, and on the days/times when the aurora forecast was showing higher activity (3 and more), we just went outside and waited. Sometimes the auroras lasted just a few short seconds, the other times the spectacle continued for a long time. Sometimes it would stop and begin again in half an hour or so, so there was a lot of waiting involved. 🙂
      You can find some tips in regards to Northern Lights here: https://fullsuitcase.com/photograph-northern-lights-beginners/ And here are some tips on what to wear and what to pack: https://fullsuitcase.com/iceland-packing-essentials-winter/

    1. Author

      No, not in winter. We were there in June once and were caught in a terrible snow storm with road closures, so it didn’t seem like such a good idea. 🙂 If you want to visit that part of Iceland in winter, I think flying to and back from Akureyri and keeping your schedule very flexible would be my best suggestions. Myvatn area is the nicest to see up North, but it’s mainly hiking, so again – not really ideal in winter.

  36. Thank you for this very inspiring post. If you don’t mind me asking, how much do I need to budget for a trip like this? Also, how long was the drive between each place as only one of us drives? Many thanks 🙂

    1. Author

      Carla, the budget is really difficult to estimate for me. It depends on how many people travel (=share car rental/hotel cost) and what type of accommodation you choose, also on the season. Take a look at this post for accommodation options in Iceland, you can quickly check what the hotels cost on Booking.com and that will give you an idea of the cost. Check here for the best car rental deals. Then add the two and you’ll know in big lines what the trip costs. Add another 400-500EUR/pp/week for 2-3 excursions (Blue Lagoon, glacier hiking, or similar) and food.
      As for driving, the distances are not big on the South Coast, usually it’s 1-2-3 hours drive between the places I described here. People even do Reykjavik – Jokulsarlon trip in one day, in that case it’s a really long drive. But if you follow this itinerary it’s really relaxing – more exploring rather than driving.
      Hope this helps.

  37. Thanks for the blog and with this, it made my plan easier. But i have a question. Can I do ice caving on the 4 day base on your itinerary?

    Thanks.

    1. Author

      Hi Joe, glad you found this useful. I think you can, it all depends on when you travel, i.e. is ice caving available in that period (check this post for more info) + how long the days are, also on where you’re staying. Try to book a hotel close to Jokulsarlon – see this post for suggestions. Also, check from where ice caving trips leave and how much time you need to get there.

  38. HI Jurga,

    I was wondering if you were able to use credit/debit cards for most of your trip, doing something similar next week.

    1. Author

      James, you can pay for a toilet using credit card in Iceland. Not joking – there’s one toilet you have to pay for (at Gulfoss or Thingvellir if I remember well) and they take credit cards. Credit cards are used everywhere, in principle you don’t even need any cash.

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