Are you traveling to Iceland in winter, but don’t want to deal with the stress of driving in winter conditions? I am getting so many questions from readers just like you, people who are keen to discover Iceland by taking organised day trips from Reykjavik. While you cannot expect to visit the whole country from just one location, you can still see quite a lot of Iceland by taking organised tours and day trips from Reykjavik, also in winter. In this post I want to share my hand-picked selection of the best day trips from Reykjavik in winter. Even if you are making a short stopover in Reykjavik, you can still see some of the main highlights of Iceland. Find out!
Best Iceland winter day trips from Reykjavik
Below you will find a selection of the best and most popular organised winter tours from Reykjavik. For each of the excursions I picked the very best options available based on the length of the trip, the group size, and of course the trip itinerary.
You will see that most of the tours I recommend here are bookable through GetYourGuide, rather than e.g. Viator or directly with a company. The reason is simple – GetYourGuide offers easy cancellation option with a full refund if cancelled 24 hours in advance. And that is a nice insurance to have in Iceland in winter. I did lots of research and listed only the best available tours. So all you have to do is pick one that fits your itinerary, way of travel, and your budget and enjoy your trip to Iceland.
Golden Circle is the most popular day trip from Reykjavik any time of the year, and it can easily be visited in winter as well. What can you expect to see? The three main highlights of the Golden Circle are the spectacular Geysir area with the incredibly active Stokkur geyser that goes off every 5-10 minutes, Gullfoss waterfall and Thingvellir National Park.
The most popular Golden Circle day trips from Reykjavik take about 8 hours, but there are somewhat shorter afternoon trips available as well, or you can opt for a combination trip with for example snorkelling, Blue Lagoon, etc. For the best combination day trips from Reykjavik, see further down. And here are the best Golden Circle tours from Reykjavik:
- Full-Day Premium Golden Circle Tour by Minibus
- Golden Circle Full-Day Grand Tour from Reykjavik
- Golden Circle Afternoon Tour (6hrs starting at +-11AM in winter)
Southern Iceland: Waterfalls, Glaciers, and Beaches
If you have a chance, try to see at least some of the South Coast of Iceland. What can you expect to see? The main highlights of these tours are the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls and black sand beach of Vik (Reynisfjara). The description often mentions a glacier as well, but these tours don’t actually go on the glacier – you will see it in the distance, or in the best case drive up to one of the glacier tongues. You can find my selection of the best glacier and ice caving tours further in this article. In the meantime, here are the best Reykjavik day trips to the South Coast of Iceland.
- Best-rated South of Iceland Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik
- Best-price highly rated South Iceland Tour. Note that this tour is bookable via Viator and has less flexible cancelation policy.
- South Coast Classic: Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik. This tour is the best price/quality option for families: kids 0-11 yrs travel free, older kids pay half the price. Most other tours offer free trips for kids under 7 or 9.
- Iceland’s South Coast Day Tour by Minibus. This tour runs only 3-4 times a week in winter.
South Iceland – Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
I have to be honest with you. I have really mixed feelings about taking a Jökulsárlón day trip from Reykjavik and certainly in winter. To me, the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is nr. 1 among the best must-see places in Iceland. However, it’s such a long drive from Reykjavik! You are going to be sitting on the bus the entire day.
If you have some extra time, I strongly advice to do a 2-day South Iceland tour or even a 3-day tour instead. Most Jokulsarlon day trips don’t even run in winter as the daylight hours are simply too short. But for those who are short on time and absolutely want to see Jokulsarlon, here are the two best (and only) options for Jokulsarlon winter day trips from Reykjavik.
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik. This tour is the cheapest option and runs daily in winter.
- Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Small Group Tour from Reykjavik. Runs on Wednesdays and Saturdays in winter.
Northern Lights Tours
Seeing the Northern Lights was one of the main reasons why I travelled to Iceland in winter. On a good day, you might be lucky and see the auroras in Reykjavik too, but the light pollution makes it more difficult. That’s why you have bigger chances to see the Northern Lights outside of the city. There are many tours available, some go by big bus, some others offer a private 4WD experience (this can be really pricey), or you can even take a boat and watch the Northern Lights from the water.
However, nobody can guarantee that you will actually get to see the Northern Lights. You might think that it’s better to wait to book a tour till you see how the aurora forecast looks like, but the best (= small group) tours actually sell out pretty quickly. So it’s up to you to decide if you want to take the risk. You may want to book your Northern Lights tour at least a couple of days in advance in order to avoid disappointment. Some tours offer a sort of no-aurora guarantee that gives you an option to do a second tour free of charge the next day.
Here are the best Northern Lights tours from Reykjavik. All these tours offer free cancellation up to 24hrs in advance, so if the weather is bad or aurora activity is really low, you can cancel it the day before.
- Northern Lights Hunt from Reykjavik by Minibus
- Reykjavik: Northern Lights Tour by Luxury Jeep
- Northern Lights Tour By Bus – this tour is much cheaper, but you are traveling with a big group and flexibility is therefore limited.
- Northern Lights by Boat. This tour seems to be quite popular and has really good reviews too. Just beware that it’s extremely difficult to get any good pictures of the auroras from a boat. You need a tripod and long aperture for the Northern Lights, and so ideally you stand on a solid surface. If you want to learn a bit more about photographing the Northern Lights, check this post: How to find and photograph the Northern Lights – beginner’s guide.
Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most popular attraction. Yes, it’s expensive, and yes, it’s busy. But there’s nothing better than to soak in a hot geothermal pool after a long cold winter day. Blue Lagoon is located about 45min drive from Reykjavik and if you don’t have a car it’s best to book Blue Lagoon entrance tickets with a bus transfer. This option costs the same on all the websites and is the most popular one as it gives you the most flexibility as to how long you want to stay there. Alternatively, you can visit Blue Lagoon in combination with one of the other day trips – see the best options further down.
Glacier hiking and ice caving
Glacier hiking is one of the year-round excursions that you can do in Iceland. Whereas visiting a natural ice cave can only be done in winter, usually not before December. Some excursions are more adventurous and offer ice climbing as well. I don’t know about ice climbing, but glacier hiking and ice caving can be done by anyone in a reasonable physical condition. Kids under certain age are not allowed (varies per tour). As for older people, we had a couple of 70 year olds in our group on a glacier and despite their concerns they had no difficulties with it. Safety equipment is provided, but you have to wear sturdy waterproof walking shoes to fit the crampons on.
And since I sometimes get this question – no, it’s really not a good idea to walk on a glacier without a guide.
Here are the best glacier hiking and ice caving winter day trips from Reykjavik:
- Glacier Hiking Experience from Reykjavik
- Reykjavík Combo Trip: Glacier Hiking & Ice Climbing Day-Tour
- From Reykjavik: Langjökull Glacier Ice Cave Tour. Note that this is a man-made ice cave.
- Glacier Snowmobiling and Ice Cave Tour from Reykjavik. This is the only natural ice cave tour that I found departing from Reykjavik
Snæfellsnes National Park
Snæfellsnes National Park is located North of Reykjavik. The roads here are usually even more unpredictable than on the South Coast. So taking an organised day trip is probably the best way to visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula in winter.
- Snaefellsnes & Cave exploration Full-Day Trip
- Snæfellsnes Peninsula Full Day Tour
- Whale Watching and Waterfalls: 2-Day Snæfellsnes Tour.
Best 2-in-1 combination winter tours from Reykjavik
Sometimes it might be interesting to combine several excursions in one. It not only saves you time, but money as well. Below are some of the best combination tours that you can do from Reykjavik in winter. Just beware that the daylight hours are short in winter. While it’s perfectly ok to enjoy the Blue Lagoon in the dark, some other combinations may not be ideal during the darkest winter months.
- Reykjavik Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle Tour
- Golden Circle and Silfra snorkelling. This tour is extremely popular and is often sold out, also in winter.
- Viking Horse-Riding Tour and Blue Lagoon
- Secret Lagoon Early Access & Golden Circle: Full-Day Tour
Themed winter day trips from Reykjavik
Here is a small selection of other popular winter day trips from Reykjavik:
- Full-Day Iceland Game of Thrones Tour
- Icelandic Horse Riding Tour in Lava Fields
- Reykjavik: Sled Dog Ride with Transfer
So, this is my hand-picked selection of the best tours, excursions and day trips that you can do from Reykjavik during the winter months. If you are visiting Iceland in winter, make sure to also read our guide on what to pack and what to wear in Iceland in winter. Right or wrong clothing can make or break your trip so travel well prepared. And before you leave on a trip – don’t forget your travel insurance!
If you are looking for accommodation for Reykjavik, take a look at our guide to the best accommodation options in Reykjavik and along Iceland’s Ring Road.
Disclaimer: 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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