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 share my hand-picked selection of the best day trips from Reykjavik in winter. Even if you are making a short stopover in Iceland, in addition to the main highlights in Reykjavik, you can also see some of the main highlights of Iceland by taking these tours. See how!
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 winter tours from Reykjavik. So all you have to do is pick one that fits your itinerary, way of travel, and budget and enjoy your trip to Iceland.
TIP: If you are visiting Iceland in the warmer months, you may want to check our hand-picked selection of the best guided tours in Iceland for all seasons.
Best Iceland Winter Tours from Reykjavik – OVERVIEW
- Golden Circle
- Southern Iceland: Waterfalls, Glaciers, and Beaches
- South Iceland – Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- Northern Lights Tours
- Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and Laugarvatn Fontana Lagoon
- Glacier hiking and ice caving
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Best 2-in-1 combination winter tours from Reykjavik
- Themed winter day trips from Reykjavik (horse riding, lava caves, and more)
These are the best day trips from Reykjavik in winter:
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 2-in-1 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 (includes tomato tasting at Friðheimar Farm).
- Golden Circle Full-Day Grand Tour from Reykjavik.
- Golden Circle Afternoon Tour (6hrs starting at +-11 AM in winter).
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 a busy day AND you see more on the same day without having to pay for transportation twice.
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 on 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 the 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:
- Highly rated and most popular South of Iceland Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik.
- 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. One of the best-rated South Coast tours.
- Combination tour of South Coast & Glacier Hike. A great option, especially if you have no time to do the two separately.
READ ALSO: Top Things to See and Do on the South Coast of Iceland
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 no. 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 from Reykjavik 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, has great reviews, and runs daily in winter.
- South Coast and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Small-Group Tour from Reykjavik. This tour is a bit more expensive, but the group size is smaller.
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 instead of two separate day trips to the South Coast and Jokulsarlon. This tour offers great value as it also includes a visit to an ice cave (value of about 200 EUR and one of the best winter activities in Iceland).
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 night, 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 of actually catching the auroras. The tour companies 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 what 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 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 offers the best value of them all.
- 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
Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, and Laugarvatn Fontana Lagoon
Visiting geothermal pools is one of the musts in Iceland (and one of the most popular excursions from Reykjavik in winter). 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 a Golden Circle tour that includes Secret Lagoon admission tickets.
Another less known, but really beautiful geothermal pool is Laugarvatn Fontana Lagoon. Its location close to the Golden Circle makes it a perfect day trip from Reykjavik in any season. Here’s a highly-rated tour that combines the Golden Circle with Fontana Lagoon.
Glacier Hiking and Ice Caving
Glacier hiking is one of the most popular excursions that you can do in Iceland the whole year round. Whereas visiting a natural ice cave can best be done in winter, usually not before the end of October – November. Some winter 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 winter day trips from Reykjavik:
- Glacier Hiking& South Coast from Reykjavik.
- Reykjavík Combo Trip: Glacier Hiking & Ice Climbing Day-Tour.
And here are some of the best winter tours from Reykjavik that visit ice caves:
- From Reykjavik: Langjökull Glacier Ice Cave Tour. Note that this is a man-made ice cave.
- Crystal Ice Cave & Golden Circle. This is a newly-discovered natural ice cave that is closest to Reykjavik.
- Katla Ice Cave Tour from Reykjavik. This is the only natural ice cave that can be visited year-round, and one of the few that you can visit as a day trip from Reykjavik in winter.
The best natural ice caves are actually located near Skaftafell National Park or Jokulsarlon area. Those are difficult to visit on a day trip from Reykjavik. If you don’t plan to rent a car and self-drive, it’s easiest to visit the natural ice caves on a 2-day trip like this one.
Snæfellsnes National Park
Snæfellsnes Peninsula is located North of the city and is another popular day trip from Reyjavik, also in winter. This is a wonderful place to visit and there 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.
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.
Here are some of the best winter day tours from Reykjavik that combine several places/ activities in one day:
- Golden Circle and Silfra snorkeling. This tour is extremely popular and is often sold out, also in winter.
- Secret Lagoon Early Access & Golden Circle: Full-Day Tour.
- Golden Circle and Fontana Wellness Tour.
- Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon Transfer Small-Group Tour.
- Golden Circle and Lava Caving.
- Combo Snorkel in Silfra Fissure & Lava Caving. Great value.
- Golden Circle & Natural Ice Cave.
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 well worth it if you have some time to spare after you have seen all the main landmarks.
- Full-Day Iceland Game of Thrones Tour
- Icelandic Horse Riding Tour in Lava Fields
- Lava Cave Small Group Tour
- Silfra Snorkeling Tours
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.
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:
- Airport transfers: How to Get to Reykjavik from Keflavik Airport
- Budget: How Expensive is Iceland (& How to Save Money)
- Accommodation: Where to Stay in Iceland & Where to Stay in Reykjavik
- Top places: Best Things to Do in Iceland
- Packing: What to Wear in Iceland in Winter
- Itinerary: The Best Iceland Winter Itinerary & Iceland One Week Itinerary & Iceland Ring Road Itinerary
- Reykjavik: Best Things to Do in Reykjavik & Best Half Day Tours from Reykjavik & 1 Day in Reykjavik
- Must-see in the city: Perlan Museum in Reykjavik
- Auroras: Northern Lights in Iceland & How to See and Photograph the Northern Lights
READ ALSO: Check our Iceland travel guide for even more inspiration and travel tips!
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Wednesday 11th of January 2023
We will be coming from the US and arrive early April 2nd and leave the 8th in the late afternoon. We have kids ages 6,11, and 6 adults. We will be in Reykjavík and plan on doing day trips. We would like to see the northern lights, the blue lagoon, and a circle tour. Can you help us decide which days would be best to do each thing? I know I’d like to do the northern lights early in the week so if we need to rebook we can.
Not sure with the time change which day that would be best. Also, not sure if doing the blue Lagoon on its own day or the last day before going home makes more sense.
Thanks for your advice.
Thursday 12th of January 2023
Hi Melissa, you have plenty of time for those excursions, so I think you can even do more than this. Anyway, I would book them all as early in the trip as possible. In case the weather is really bad and they get cancelled or if you don't see the Northern Lights and want to try again, it's always better to have a few extra days for that. Also, some Northern Lights tours offer a second try free of charge if you don't see them the first time. For example, this bus tour or this small-group tour. Another reason to book aurora tours early in your trip is that April is really the end of the season. The nights get shorter and shorter and so there is less chance to see them as it doesn't get dark enough later in the month. But the first week you still have good chances, so fingers crossed! Also, all the tours we recommend offer free cancelation or rescheduling (if there's availability), so you can always adjust your bookings as the trip gets closer based on the weather forecast. For the Blue Lagoon, you can do it in combination with the Golden Circle, e.g. a tour like this. Or you can do the two separately. There are also many other tour combinations, also with other hot pools like e.g. this Golden Circle tour with Secret Lagoon. If you go to the Blue Lagoon separately, you can book entrance tickets with transfers from Reykjavik. You really need to book entrance tickets in advance! I also highly recommend Sky Lagoon, but they don't allow kids under 12 so that might be trickier. One other day trip to consider is the a tour of the South Coast. It's really worth it! Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!
Monday 12th of December 2022
Thank you for detailed itenary. However after reading the post I see that planning a trip in Winter for 4 days is not possible without booking tours. Can you please help guide best top things we cannot miss in our 4 days trip to Iceland in month of January or February.
Thank you again for guidance
Monday 12th of December 2022
Hi Nish, a self-drive trip is possible, but not advisable in the winter if you aren't comfortable with potentially bad road conditions, snowstorms, etc. So, indeed, in that case, it's best to take tours. With 4 days in winter, I highly recommend the following (not necessarily in this order): One day in Reykjavik city. A 2-day tour for the South Coast, Jokulsarlon, and an ice cave. A day tour to the Golden Circle, potentially in combination with the Blue Lagoon. If you don't want to do the 2-day tour, you could just opt for a South Coast tour or one that visits Jokulsarlon and quickly stops at a few other places, but with 2 days, you'll see so much more and spend less time in the car. Plus, you'll be out of the city for one night and have better chances to see the Northern Lights if the conditions are right. An alternative to the two tours above is a 3-day tour that covers pretty much the same places. With a 3-day tour, you'll have even more time outside the city, so more chance for auroras and even less time in the car since you don't have to return to Reykjavik. Hope this helps. Have a great trip!
Monday 5th of December 2022
Thank you for your blog and the article, this is amazing and extremely helpful! Me and my friend are planning to visit Reykjavik in February. He can drive, so we are planning to rent a car from the airport. So I have a question - do you think it's possible to cover most of the amazing places in Iceland without booking a tour? For example, just drive to Golden Circle and see the geysers and waterfalls by ourselves? Do you think we can stay somewhere around the area of Gullfoss waterfalls so we don't have to return to Reykjavik the same day or even travel South to Black sand beach the next day?
Looking forward for an answer!
Tuesday 6th of December 2022
Hi Alina, if your friend has winter driving experience and is comfortable with driving in any conditions (ice, snowstorms, wind...), then yes, renting a car can be a good option. Just stay flexible and always check if there are any official warnings on driving conditions. You can find more info in our guide to driving in Iceland in winter. You may also want to read our tips for visiting Iceland in winter. For where to go, check our Iceland winter itinerary for some ideas on how to plan your time. If you are driving, it's best not to go back to Reykjavik, indeed, and just make a road trip. Good luck with the planning!
Friday 19th of August 2022
Thank you so much for yet another very informative & helpful travel guide! I stumbled on your blogs when I was researching travel to London. This is why when we are planning a trip to Iceland, I checked out your blog :)
This time I've a rather sensitive question. I notice that you highly recommend tours through getyourguide. When I checked reviews about them, there were many bad reviews. Could you comment on this? Did you personally use their tours?
Thank you! Your advice/ comments is much appreciated!
Friday 19th of August 2022
Thank you for taking the time to reply my query. Much appreciated! Your comments are clear & give us the assurance that we could go ahead with booking through GYG.
Friday 19th of August 2022
Hi Yin, I recommend tours via GYG because we personally use them all the time. It’s a huge company- like Booking for hotels that is really trustworthy, has excellent customer service, and great cancellation/ refund policy. We never had a problem when booking via them, which is not something I can say about booking directly with smaller companies for example. Sometimes, small local companies have to cancel tours (weather or other reasons) and sometimes your plans change; in all these situations it’s so much simpler and easier to get your money back if you didn’t book directly. It’s also good to have a strong intermediary like GYG in case something doesn’t go as planned. It’s not just our experience and something that we saw a lot in the recent years, especially when people were canceling because of changed travel plans. You’ll always find negative reviews about any legitimate company. But we personally never had a problem with GYG and I never had one single reader complain either. Hope this helps to put you at ease. Good luck with the trip planning and enjoy Iceland!
Sunday 15th of December 2019
This is so detailed and helpful for my upcoming trip. Thank you!
Monday 16th of December 2019
Glad you found this useful, Brie. Enjoy your trip!