Looking for a complete Winter Itinerary for Iceland? Here is is the ultimate itinerary filled with adventure, included things to do, where to stay, and what to eat.
Day 1: Travel and Arrival We arrived in Iceland and grabbed a cab to our hotel in Reykjavik. Note: Only take a cab to the city if you have a group to split the cost, otherwise grab the flybus. After a quick nap at the hotel we walked into the city and explored around. Here are some great places to visit:
Walk into random stores, you’ll find some fun shops around downtown.
Hallgrimskirkja (famous church)
Lunch: Cafe Loki (near the church)
Icelandic Phallological Museum (that’s what it sounds like)
Dinner: Old Iceland
Once done exploring the city we went back to the hotel, grabbed our swim suits, and took the short cab ride over to Sky Lagoon. If you are heading into Reykjavik on your first day in Iceland I highly suggest you end your day at Sky Lagoon. If you want to do the whole 7 step process be sure to give yourself a few hours to enjoy the process at your own pace, but on this day we just did the lagoon and it was the perfect way to end a long day of traveling and exploring.
Day 2: Arctic Adventures - Golden Circle We booked this 4 day tour with Arctic Adventures. But if you don’t care about seeing the volcanic area or doing a separate northern lights tour then book this 3 day tour. We loved our tour, the people on it were all amazing (though, our own group was 2/3 of the whole group), the guide was a blast and was super honest with how the weather was going to be and even took us on some extra adventures based on what we liked.
Our day started off with a pickup from our hotel before grabbing the rest of the group and heading off to the golden circle. Thingvellir National Park rift valley, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Geysir. We made a quick stop near Laugarvatn Fontana where our guide showed us the geothermal areas that they cook bread and how you can feel the lake water is boiling in some areas but cold only a few feet away. As we made our way along the south coast we stopped at Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, and Reynisfjara Beach (Black sand beach). Ending our night by arriving for a late dinner at our lodging and relaxing in the common area with our new friends..
Day 3: Arctic Adventures - Glacial Hike and Northern Lights After a light breakfast at the hotel we made our way to Jokulsarlon Glaicer Lagoon where we got to walk along the icy path admiring the lagoon. While we were walking around our guide was talking to other guides and found out that there was a small herd of reindeer just a few mins out of the way of our next stop. He knew we wanted to see them, so he took the group to have a look before we drove to our next stop. Diamond beach is a black sand beach where the glacial ice washes up, you can visit on either side of the river but we decided to go to the west side, which looked to have the bigger chunks of ice.
Jokulsarlon Glaicer Lagoon
Once we were done at the beach we made the drive over to the meeting point for our Skaftafell Glaicer hike where we spent the rest of our day hiking on a glacier and exploring the ice cave. The weather for our hike was absolutely incredible, blue skies, no wind, and plenty of sunshine; we couldn’t have asked for better weather. During our hike our guide showed us the spot where during the summer they will do a viking pushup; laying their ice axe across the glacial stream and lowering themselves down to get a drink of the fresh water before doing a pushup to get back up. While the stream wasn’t flowing very much there was just enough water flowing where we could make a slushy area so that all of us could do a viking pushup and grab a drink. The glacier hike took a majority of our day, but we were still able to make it back to the hotel with a good amount of time to be able to relax, eat dinner, and share drinks over glacial ice.
After dinner we spent the next 4 hours watching the northern lights dance across the sky. The lights started out as just barely visible, but as the night went on they grew into brilliant green shooting across the sky and culminating in huge bursts of color overtaking the entire sky. This entire day was incredible!
Day 4: Arctic Adventures - Embracing the elements Todays weather was in direct contrast to the beautiful clear day we had yesterday. The majority of our day was spent driving back to Reykjavik with a few stops to see some sights and enjoy the crazy weather that Iceland provided us. We made a quick morning stop at Fjadrargljufur to enjoy the beautiful canyon and the icy path that lead to it.
After a long drive we made our way to Vik where we grabbed lunch at the local cafe/supermarket and then went up to experience the weather at Reynisfjara Viewpoint and Drholaey Lighthouse. These are great vantage points to view the black sand beach, on a clear day I’m sure its very peaceful, and on a day with bad weather you get to test the weatherproof aspect of your clothing, while feeling the harsh wind and rain, strong enough to literally blow you over (not an overstatement, it happened). The rest of the day was spent driving back to Reykjavik to be dropped off at our hotel in the city center.
Day 5: Exploring Reykjaviks Food
Today we were scheduled to hike the Fagradalsfjall eruption site and then head out to hunt the northern lights, but all of that was cancelled due to bad weather so we decided to make our own food tour of Reykjavik. See the list of delicious places we tasted.
Café Babalú - Quaint coffee spot with a really cool star wars themed bathroom
Braud & Co - Cinnamon rolls!!!
Fjallkonan Kra - Their afternoon tea is delicious
Baejarins Beztu Pylsur - The Famous Hotdogs
Matholl Food Hall - Lots of choices in one place
Day 6: Silfra Snorkel It was -5C (23F) and snowing out this morning so we decided it would be a great day to go for a swim. We had a relaxing breakfast at Brikk Bakery, then caught our ride to Silfra. During our ride the guides let us know how the day would go, what to expect, and of course we signed our lives away on the release forms.
The fun part then came of getting dressed into the dry suits. We dawned our sleeping bag like jump suits and then squeezed our way into the dry suit. Being in those dry suits is definitely a squeeze, the suit itself was not tight, but the arm and neck holes have to be tight in order to keep the water out; because most of our neck holes were not tight enough the guides had to put chokers on us to make it tighter. With a short trek over to the entry point, we slowly made our way into the cold water and snorkeled our way down the river. The water is the clearest in the world, over 100m of visibility, and it is a spectacular experience.
We made it back to Reykjavik mid-afternoon and had some time to relax before our dinner reservations for an 8 course tasting menu at Grillmarkadurinn. The food was delicious but was expensive, around $100 per person and $85 for the wine pairing if you want to add that; even with the price tag I would still suggest it to others, everything was amazing.
Day 7: Snaefellsnes Today we went on a private tour with Polar Front Adventures out to the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Our guide from our Arctic Adventures tour, by complete happenstance, ended up being our guide for this tour as well. The weather today was pretty bad again, the road actually closed behind us as we made our way out of town. We all watched the wind blow crazy and the snow come in and out, completely covering the road and only having a few feet of visibility at some points. Our guide spent the day taking us to all of the top places and making a loop around most of the peninsula.
Some of the places we visited were
YTRI TUNGA BEACH
Budakirkja (Black Church)
Hotel Budir for a delicious lunch
This was a great day, we spent all of our time in the car talking about random things, learning different facts and history about Iceland; and we spent our time out of the car enjoying the sights and getting pelted by the crazy weather.
Day 8: Parting ways Today our friends were getting ready to travel back home , but we still had a few more days left in our trip so we rented a car to do some of our own exploring. The beginning part of our day was spent picking up the car and seeing a few sights that we missed around Reykjavik while our friends got their covid tests done. After driving our friends to the airport we still had a few hours left of daylight to be able to explore the Reykjanes Peninsula. Luckily todays weather was good so we didn’t have to worry too much about huge gusts of wind or blinding snow. We made a few stops along the peninsula.
The Bridge Between Continents so that we could admire the gap between the North American and Euroasian tectonic plates from a 3rd angle, and so that we could stand on either end and say that we were lovers separated by continents. Gunnuhver Hot Springs, which is another geothermal area that we found along the way. Valahnukamol, which is a beautiful area to walk around and take in the views, but most people probably know this as the location where Rachel McAdams and Will Ferrell filmed the opening scene for Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga. We grabbed some dinner at a little fast food joint inside of a gas station in Grindavik, which actually had a pretty decent burger and had some really good fries. Finally making our way to our AirBnB at Solvangur Icelandic Horse Center.
Day 9: Sky Lagoon Again Today we had planned on doing the Volcanic area hike on our own but the weather wasn’t cooperating with us, so we decided to just have a leisurely drive over to Reykjavik where we grabbed some last minute souvenirs and a bunch of pastries to eat for breakfast the next day. The afternoon was spent at Sky Lagoon for a second time, but this time we did the entire 7 step process, which is something that I would highly recommend. If you aren’t aware of the full process it goes
Cold water plunge pool
Sauna with panoramic water views
Cold water mist
Cleansing body scrub
Once done with the 7 step process we relaxed a while longer in the Lagoon and enjoying some delicious cider from the bar. We spent quite a while longer in the lagoon as we relaxed, enjoying the views, and the company of one another. We had purchased a date night package which included entrance to the 7 step process, our drinks at the bar, and a charcuterie board from the cafe which was also very delicious and the perfect end to our time. Our evening was spent very slowly driving back to our AirBnB, as the weather was still not cooperating, and grabbing a delicious Lobster Pasta dinner at Rauda Husid, where we pretty much had the restaurant to ourselves.
Day 10: Departure Day Todays plan was originally to get to Blue Lagoon as it opened, but because we were last minute planners all of the reservations were booked, so we completely missed out on the Blue Lagoon this trip. But that was ok, we had a leisurely morning, packing our bags, eating the pastries we bought the day before, exploring Gardur Old Lighthouse, getting our covid tests done, and eventually arriving at the airport for our flight home.