Best Iceland winter day trips from Reykjavik

Best Iceland Winter Tours & Day Trips from Reykjavik

In Iceland by JurgaThis post may contain affiliate links, which means that we may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link. More info: Disclosure.

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 in winter, but rather do it by taking organized winter day trips from Reykjavik. So I made this selection of the best winter tours in Iceland that should help you when planning your trip. Find out!

While you cannot expect to visit the whole country from just one location, you can still see quite a lot of Iceland by taking organized 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!

Hand-picked selection of the very best Iceland day trips from Reykjavik in winter

Best Iceland Winter Day Trips from Reykjavik

Below, you will find a selection of the best and most popular organized Iceland winter tours from Reykjavik. For each of the excursions, I picked the very best options available based on the length of the trip, group size, and of course, the itinerary.

You will see that most of the Iceland winter tours that I recommend here are bookable through GetYourGuide, rather than e.g. Viator or directly with a company. The reason is simple – GetYourGuide offers an easy cancellation option with a full refund if canceled 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 winter tours from Reykjavik. 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.

TIP: If you are visiting Iceland in warmer months, you may want to check our hand-picked selection of the best guided tours in Iceland for all seasons.


These are the best winter tours in Iceland:

Golden Circle

Golden Circle is the most popular day trip from Reykjavik at 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 snorkeling, Blue Lagoon, etc. For the best combination day trips from Reykjavik, see further down. And here are the best Golden Circle tours from Reykjavik:

TIP: Make sure to check the best 2-in-1 tours further below, because Golden Circle can easily be combined with e.g. a visit to geothermal pools nearby. It’s a good way to relax after the busy day AND you see more in the same day without having to pay for transportation twice.

Oxararfoss along the Golden Circle - a must in any Iceland itinerary
Oxararfoss in Thingvellir NP
Strokkur geyser in Geysir, Golden Circle, is one of the main landmarks of Iceland
Strokkur geyser

Southern Iceland: Waterfalls, Glaciers, and Beaches

If you have a chance, try to see at least some of the South Coast of Iceland. It’s one of the nicest areas that you can visit as a day trip from Reykjavik, also in winter. 

What can you expect to see? The main highlights of the South Coast 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.

Gljufrabui waterfall near Seljalandsfoss in Southern Iceland
Gljufrabui waterfall
Partially frozen Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland 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.

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.

TIP: If you have some extra time and aren’t bound to staying in Reykjavik, I strongly advise doing a 2-day South Iceland tour or even a 3-day tour instead of two separate day trips to the South Coast and Jokulsarlon. The multi-day tours I linked to above offer a great value as they also include a visit to an ice cave (value of about 200 EUR and one of the best winter activities in Iceland).

Diamond Beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
Diamond Beach at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
Ice caves near Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland
Ice Caves

Northern Lights Tours from Reykjavik

Seeing the Northern Lights was one of the main reasons why I traveled 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.

Taking the Northern Lights tour is increases your chances to actually catch the auroras because they always keep an eye on the radar and will do their best to bring you to locations where the chances of seeing auroras are the highest for that specific night.

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.

Good to know: 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. I advise booking your Northern Lights tour in advance in order to avoid disappointment. If the forecast looks really bad, you can always cancel the tour up to 24 hrs in advance (if you book via GetYourGuide, as we recommend).

TIP: Book your Northern Lights tour at the beginning of your stay in Reykjavik – some tours offer a second tour free of charge the next day if you don’t see the Northern Lights the first time.


Below is the selection of 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 – one of the best price-quality aurora tours. They offer one free retry if you haven’t been able to see the Northern Lights the first time.
  • Northern Lights Luxury Bus Tour. This is a big luxury bus with a glass roof, so you can watch the Northern Lights from the inside. But the price is really high.
  • Northern Lights Tour by Big Bus. This is the best-rated big bus Northern Lights tour that I was able to find. It also includes a visit to the Aurora Museum and a free retry if you haven’t seen the lights on the first day. This tour is much cheaper than minibus tours.
  • Northern Lights by Boat. This tour is quite popular and has really good reviews too. Just beware that it can get really cold on the water. 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.

LEARN MORE: Tips for Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland

Northern Lights in Iceland
Northern Lights in Iceland
Spectacular Northern Lights in Iceland in winter
Auroras in Iceland

Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and Laugarvatn Fontana Lagoon

Visiting geothermal pools is one of the musts in Iceland. Below are some of the best geothermal pools that you can also visit on a day trip from Reykjavik in winter.

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 45 minutes drive from Reykjavik and if you don’t have a car it’s best to book the Blue Lagoon bus transfer from Reykjavik. Note that you have to pre-book Blue Lagoon tickets in advance as well. Or you can book a trip that combines Blue Lagoon with a day trip to the Golden Circle (note that you’ll still have to buy the Blue Lagoon tickets separately).

Secret Lagoon is a smaller, less crowded, and cheaper alternative along the Golden Circle. It’s much less fancy than the Blue Lagoon and the two experiences are actually very different, and both unique in their own way. Here you can book Golden Circle tour that includes Secret Lagoon admission tickets.

Another less known, but a really beautiful geothermal pool is Laugarvatn Fontana Lagoon. Its location close to the Golden Circle, make it a perfect day trip from Reykjavik in any season. Here’s a highly-rated tour that combines the Golden Circle with Fontana Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon is Iceland's most popular tourist attraction
Blue Lagoon
Secret Lagoon - a nice half day trip from Reykjavik
Secret Lagoon

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 end October/November. 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 a 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. You may also want to read our complete guide to glacier hiking in Iceland for more information. Check it out via the link below!

LEARN MORE: Iceland Glacier Hike

Here are the best glacier hiking and ice caving winter day trips from Reykjavik:

The best natural ice caves are actually located near Skaftafell National Park or Jokulsarlon area. Those are difficult to visit as a day trip from Reykjavik. So if you don’t plan to rent a car and drive, it’s easiest to visit natural ice caves on a multi-day trip like this one.

Visiting a natural ice cave - one of the best things to do in Iceland in winter
Ice Cave – Image © Anna Omelchenko/ iStock
Glacier hiking in Iceland
Glacier Hiking

Snæfellsnes National Park

Snæfellsnes Peninsula is located North of Reykjavik. This is a wonderful place to visit and here is so much to see and do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula!

However, driving conditions in winter here are usually even more unpredictable than on the South Coast. Therefore, taking an organized day trip is probably the best way to visit the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in winter.

Here is the best Snaefellsnes Peninsula tour that you can do as a day trip from Reykjavik: Snaefellsnes Full-Day Trip.

Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss - must see when visiting the Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland
Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss – Snaefellsnes Peninsula
Ondverdarnes lighthouse in Snaefellsnes Peninsula Iceland
Öndverðarnes Lighthouse in Snaefellsnes Peninsula

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 Secret Lagoon in the dark, some other combinations may not be ideal during the darkest winter months.

More Winter Day Trips from Reykjavik

Here is a small selection of other popular winter day trips from Reykjavik. These are not ‘must-see’, but less touristy and probably well worth it if you have some time to spare after you have seen all the main landmarks.

Silfra Fissure snorkeling in Thingvellir National Park in Iceland
Silfra Fissure snorkeling in Thingvellir NP
Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland frozen in winter
Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon

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!

TIP: If you are looking for accommodation for Reykjavik, take a look at our detailed guide on where to stay in Reykjavik.

More tips for your trip to Iceland:

READ ALSO: Check our Iceland travel guide for even more inspiration and travel tips!

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

Iceland winter tours and the best day trips from Reykjavik in winter
Best Iceland winter tours, excursions and day trips from Reykjavik #Iceland #winter #trip
Best winter day trips and tours from Reykjavik in Iceland


  1. This is so detailed and helpful for my upcoming trip. Thank you!

    1. Author

      Glad you found this useful, Brie. Enjoy your trip!

  2. Hi Jurga,

    Your blog is really helpful. I read like tons of others and nothing came close to how detailed yours was.
    I am a solo traveller and plan on visiting Iceland for a period of 7 -14 days (yet to decide ). I do not want to drive but i still want to cover all the places that you’ve listed in your article . Could you please recommend the best way i can do this and if there is like one tour that covers it all.. Also, is public transport/ cheap transportation available readily between these places as i’m unsure of how to commute from one place to the other..

    1. Author

      Hi Akansha, I have something just for you!!! A few days ago we announced a small group tour that my friend (Icelandic tour guide) has created especially for the readers of Full Suitcase. You can read a bit more about it on Facebook or directly on their website where you can also book it if you are interested.
      It’s a winter tour that includes everything that we cover in our winter itinerary and a few other things like a visit to an ice cave and Reykjanes Peninsula, etc.
      This is just one tour, especially for our readers, and there will be no other this winter. You should arrive in Iceland on February 29 at the latest and it takes 7 days. You can stay longer and explore Reykjavik and maybe take a day trip to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula after that if you want to see more.
      It’s ideal for people who don’t want to drive and want to experience the best of Iceland in winter. Otherwise, in any case, you have to take multi-day tours or day trips from Reykjavik (see suggestions in this article), because public transport is really not an option for sightseeing in Iceland.
      PS If you are interested in this tour and book it before the 1st of Decembern mention ‘Full Suitcase’ and you’ll get free private airport transfers included (value +-400 USD (taxi costs about 200 USD one way).

  3. Jurga,
    Your article is very enjoyable and informative. My husband and I will be visiting Iceland April 24-27 and staying in central Reykjavik. He can walk, but has mobility issues and uses a small, foldable, motorized chair to assist with endurance. I am wondering if the Afternoon Golden Circle tour would be able to accommodate wheelchair? Also do you know if the Flybus is handicapped accessible or if there is any other economical way to get from KEF to Reykjavik? If you could share the name of the local guide and contact info you mentioned, that may also be beneficial for us as large groups makes it much more difficult to get around. Do you know any details about the Sumardagurinn Fyrsti (Norse first day of summer!) festival that I think will be celebrated while we’re there? Any info on these areas you could provide would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Author

      Hi Belinda, I’m afraid I can’t help you out a lot as I really have no idea how accessible buses or tours are. Flybus (and most other buses I saw) is just a regular passenger bus, not one that has any special equipment for wheelchairs I’m afraid. Public transport will probably be better equipped, but you can’t see much with that…
      The local guide I know and trust is Kjartan from Glacial Experience. He runs private tours only, so it’s not cheap, but in your case, I think it might be one of the better options as I really don’t think you’ll find many group tours that will be able to accommodate you. Send him an email, tell him I sent you, tell him all your concerns, and I’m sure he’ll do his best to show you the best of Iceland in a way that you can enjoy it.
      As for the festival, I’m afraid I can’t help you. All the best and I hope you have a wonderful trip!

  4. Dear Jurga,

    Thank you for an amazing article.
    I am visiting Reykjavik on the 16 Jan in the eve and leaving on the 20th.
    17 th is my girlfriend’s 30 birthday so want to plan something truely special as an experience for her.

    Can you suggest what I can plan on the 17? I don’t mind if it’s a bit expensive.

    Thank you !


    1. Author

      Hi Rupert, it’s a bit difficult for me to advise something since I don’t know what your girlfriend would like. Does she like some pampering? In that case, a visit to the Blue Lagoon with some spa treatments might be an option. Or one of the other lagoons – see more options in this article.
      Do you like adventure? Then visiting ice caves is probably something that you both would remember for a long time… The problem with ice caves is that there aren’t that many of them easily visited as a day trip from Reykjavik, but if you search here, maybe you’ll find one that you like.
      Maybe also try to book a Northern Lights tour as well. Some are more luxurious than the others, so you can make it more special I suppose.
      Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy your trip!

  5. Hi Jurga,

    Thank you so much for the detailed article. I’ll be in Iceland from 26th December to 1st January (I’ll reach on 26th December evening so you can count it out). How can I best use the 5 days, 5 night available? I’m looking for budget trips and tours. Also, could you suggest some tour guides you’ve had a good experience with?


    1. Author

      Hello, if you haven’t booked your hotels or anything else yet, then it’s really last minute. I suggest looking into a multi-day tour like this 5 day South Coast trip or this 3 day trip + add some time in Reykjavik. None of these are cheap, but they include accommodation, transport, and quite some tours that would cost you quite a lot separately as well.
      If you rather stay in Reykjavik the whole time, you can just opt to do day trips. Here you can find my hand-picked winter day trips from Reykjavik. All the most popular places that you can visit from Reykjavik in winter are covered in that selection.
      Just a note – Christmas/New Year is extremely busy in Iceland, so I urge you to book your hotels/tours asap. Traveling on a budget is already not easy in Iceland, but finding affordable accommodation on such short notice won’t be very easy either. If you don’t know where to start, you can checl my Iceland accommodation guide, but I think at this point you really just have to go to and see what’s still available for your travel dates.
      PS that’s advantage of multi-day tours, they have accommodation covered. In that case you only need to find hotel for the nights you’ll spend in Reykjavik.
      Hope this helps.

  6. Hi Jurga,

    Thanks for this winter trip itinerary, but can you help me what will be my itinerary for 4 days & 3 nights? for example December 9 – 12?

    Thanks a lot!

    Appreciate your reply! 🙂

    1. Author

      Hi again, Stanley. I didn’t see that you posted two separate comments – a lot to catch up after a few days traveling…
      Anyway, if you have 3 full days in December I really recommend a 3-day trip like this one. It’s the best way to see a lot without having to waste all the time going back to Reykajvik. Also, you stay outside the city for 2 nights which gives you a good chance to catch the Norther Lights. This tour also includes a visit to an ice cave, which should be really special.
      If you rather stay in the city and do day trips, you can do pretty much the same. Just keep in mind that staying in Reykjavik = more time spent in the car in the dark. In that case, you could do something like this (see suggested tours in the article):
      Day 1: Reykjavik + Northern Lights tour.
      Day 2: Golden Circle + Blue Lagoon or Secret Lagoon.
      Day 3: South Coast
      Day 4: Additional excursion, either glacier hike, ice cave, or Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

      Whatever you do, book ASAP. Tours do sell out, but also affordable accommodations in Reykjavik can be really hard to find last minute.

  7. Hi Jurga.
    I am planning my trip to Iceland, and I found so many great tips at your blog!
    So I just want to say thank you and congratulations for such a good and helpful content.
    This will definitely be my guide.
    And double congratulations being able to make this trip with your kids, plus having time to register everything. That’s a lot of effort!

    Thanks a lot for sharing your experiences.
    Kind regards

      1. Hi Jurga, thanks for the invite!
        I have requested to join
        See ya

  8. Hi Jurga,

    I am planning to reach on 12th December around 1 PM and would be staying in Iceland for three nights and would like to cover Jokulsarlon d south coast n d golden circle , but really clueless as how to wrap up considering the time I have….can you please guide

    1. Author

      That’s a really short time, taking into account that the days are very short. On your first day, by the time you’re out of the airport and on your way to Reykjavik, it will probably be getting dark already… So on your first day I’d just stay in Reykjavik and maybe take a Northern Lights tour in the evening.
      That being said, one of the options – the best one in my view – would be to join a 2-day tour that goes all the way to Jokulsarlon. So you can start on Dec 13th and see the nicest places along the South Coast. Advantage of a tour like this is that you sleep along the South Coast, thus driving less in the dark, and sightseeing more when it’s light. It also includes ice cave excursion and gives you a good chance to see the Northern Lights as you stay outside the city.
      This means, however, that you wouldn’t have a chance to see the Golden Circle, but in my opinion South Coast is worth it more.
      If you still rather see both places it’s also possible, by taking two separate day tours from Reykjavik: Jokulsarlon day trip on one day and Golden Circle day tour the next day. This option, especially the day when you go to Jokulsarlon, will have A LOT of driving in the dark.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Hi Jurga,

        thanks a ton for your inputs but would it be wise to cover golden circle with blue lagoon considering it will be pitch dark when I reach there n would be cold ….Any suggestions.

        1. Author

          While you can easily visit and enjoy Blue Lagoon (or any other geothermal pool, like Secret Lagoon or Fontana Lagoon) in the evening, you won’t see much on the Golden Circle in the dark. But Blue Lagoon has nothing to do with the Golden Circle, actually, it’s not even in the same direction…
          What you can do is go to the Blue Lagoon on the day you arrive in Iceland (can even take a bus there straight from the airport). Alternatively, when you are looking for a day trip of the Golden Circle, you can book one in combination with one of the geothermal pools (see the 2-in-1 tours section in this post), and that way visit it all in one day.

  9. My husband and I are making our first trip to Iceland in September and are finding lots of helpful info on your site, so thank you for that! We intend to drive to Jokulsarlon from Reyjavik and spend the night so we can explore the area more at our leisure. Can you suggest a good, nearby town to spend the night in that is convenient to Jokulsarlon, but does not go far beyond it? Thanks so much,

    1. Author

      Hi Ursula, there aren’t really any big towns next to Jokulsarlon, the closest small town is probably Hofn. As for where to stay, check this Iceland accommodation guide – Jokulsarlon section – where I listed a couple of hotels that are closest to the glacier lagoon. The best-located hotel in the area is Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon.

  10. Very helpful information about Golden Circle in Iceland. The natural beauty of Gullfoss Waterfall is so attractive for all. Yes, Geysir Hot Spring Area is another tourist attraction in Iceland. Before three months I have visited to Iceland with my husband. We travelled and stayed there 5 days and used your post to guide us. Thank you for this great post.

  11. I dont hve any comments but would like to know what are some of the day tours your company offer in May this year

    1. Author

      Hi Jenny, we don’t offer any tours 😉 – this is just our travel blog where we share our travel experiences and tips. Most of the trips mentioned in this post are actually year-round activities, except for the Northern Lights, snowmobiling, and ice caving. The ‘musts’ are the Golden Circle and the South Coast and Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Glacier hiking can be done the whole year. If you have more time, Snæfellsnes peninsula is nice too. See the links above for more details. You can book the tours through GetYourGuide and there you always can see the dates that are available.
      In May you could also try to do a whale watching tour and also go looking for puffins if you like wildlife.
      Hope this helps.

  12. Looks awesome. I’m adding this to my list of things to do when we make it to Iceland.

    1. Author

      Great. Good to hear you found this useful, Piers.

  13. I am so jelly! Iceland is like TOP bucket list for us! This guide is awesome and we need to visit soon!

  14. This is a fabulously detailed itinerary of things to see and do in Iceland. It is great to know that you can still visit and enjoy a destination like Iceland in winter,

    1. Author

      You definitely can, Sharee! I loved Iceland in winter, it’s a true winter wonderland.

  15. Hi, Jurga! Yet another great article I really enjoyed reading! You put an impressive list here. There is something for anyone. I can only imagine how many people appreciated this guide of yours, it can really simplify logistics of this trip. Great job with all the details and your opinion on each place, so one can choose what suits their needs the best.

    1. Author

      Thank you, Nigel. I always put lots of time and effort to research my blog posts and hope that it truly helps others to plan and make their dream trip.

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.