Going to Iceland during the coldest months of the year might seem like a crazy idea but I have to say a winter trip to Iceland is absolutely incredible! There are so many unique things that winter in Iceland can offer; ice cave tours through glaciers, northern lights hunting, and such amazing beauty you’ll find yourself repeating, “omg this is so beautiful” at basically every turn. SO, obviously I had to plan a winter road trip in Iceland to see some of the most beautiful winter scenery ever. So if this all sounds appealing to you, hopefully my 6 day Iceland winter road trip itinerary has everything you could ever want!
The Short Version of My 6 Day Winter Iceland Road Trip
I’m going to start this winter Iceland road trip assuming that you’ve already arrived and gotten your rental car. I did this on day 1 because we had an overnight flight and it landed at 6am, so we had a full first day upon landing in Reykjavík.
Winter Iceland Road Trip Map
Want to see these Iceland winter road trip stops plotted out on a map because you’re a visual person? Me too. So check out all the stops I’d recommend for your winter itinerary through southern Iceland here:
The Long Version of My Iceland Winter Road Trip
This Iceland road trip is specific to southern Iceland and avoids any considerable hiking, and the reasons for that are:
- Shorter days mean not as much time to see things and make roadside stops in daylight, so I didn’t want to spend half of my day hiking in one spot
- There’s so much to see in southern Iceland that I wanted to prioritize seeing what southern Iceland has to offer within limited daylight hours vs. rushing through the entire Ring Road (the road that goes around all of Iceland)
- Limited number of days
- I plan on returning in summer with longer days to see the entire beautiful island and drive the full Ring Road
So knowing all of those things, like I said this 6 day Iceland winter itinerary will focus on road tripping through southern Iceland, starting and ending in Reykjavík but driving all the way over to the eastern shore. There’s a lot crammed into this itinerary, but this Iceland winter road trip was an absolute dream and weirdly never felt rushed.
Day 1 • Explore Reykjavík Area, Relax at the Blue Lagoon, & Northern Lights Tour
Drive Route: Around Reykjavík and the western coast (~1 hour drive without stops)
Day 1 of your 6 day winter Iceland itinerary includes relaxing, seeing the iconic northern lights (hopefully), and spending some time exploring Reykjavík.
Relax at the Blue Lagoon
Is the Blue Lagoon touristy? Yes. Is it ABSOLUTELY worth visiting? Double, triple, quadruple yes. I had the absolute best time here with my husband. You have to book a reservation ahead of time, and you should as soon as you know when you’ll be in Reykjavík so that you’re sure to get the time you want. There are 3 reservation levels; Comfort, Premium, and Luxury. We did Premium, which I would advise over Comfort if ONLY for the fact that you had your own line to check in and the line was basically empty vs. the Comfort line having probably 50 people in it.
It’s incredible, and the Blue Lagoon is a must for your Iceland winter itinerary.
Or, book as part of a separate tour:
Reykjavík is such a cool city! I was really impressed with my short time visiting; it’s so beautiful, there’s lots it offers, and it’s simply so unique. It’s unlike any other city I’ve been to and in the absolute best way. Some things I recommend visiting while you’re in Reykjavík are:
- Visit the famous spots of Hallgrímskirkja Church, Sun Voyager, and the real Rainbow Road between Bergstaðastræti and Laugavegur
- Lebowski Bar for a drink if you’re a “The Big Lebowski” fan
- Grab an amazing meal on the waterfront
Northern Lights Tour
You can go out on your own to see the Northern Lights if you want to, and you may end up lucky if you’re prepared for how to find the best conditions! But if you want to better your chances and work with experts who know exactly what to look for, I’d recommend joining a Northern Lights tour.
Full disclosure, I tried to do this on my own without joining a tour and honestly wish I had joined a tour instead. So that’s why I’m recommending it specifically, but feel free to go out on your own and hunt for aurora! Either way, you should definitely try and squeeze in finding the Northern Lights to your winter Iceland itinerary.
Where to Stay in Reykjavík
I stayed at Hotel Holt and it was super cute and pretty reasonable.
Day 2 • Drive the Golden Circle
Drive Route: Reykjavík > Selfoss (~1 hour without stops)
Thingvellir (Þingvellir) National Park
Þingvellir National Park is the home of the Icelandic parliament and also the only place in the world where tectonic plates are separating ABOVE sea level, so you can literally walk – OR SCUBA/SNORKEL – through them. It is wild and beyond incredible.
There are parts of the park that are inaccessible during winter due to an increased risk associated with the snow and ice, but that doesn’t mean you can’t explore lots of it still.
We spent an hour or so enjoying the main lookout and walking the pathway between P1 and P2 (the parking lots). It was spectacular, and I can’t wait to return here in summer.
It would be VERY easy to spend your entire day here if you wanted, but we limited ourselves to just those activities so that we had time for the rest of the stops along the Golden Circle.
Geysir is another popular stop on the Golden Circle but in total honesty, we skipped it. I’ve seen lots of similar hot springs (*cough my 3 days in Yellowstone National Park itinerary cough*) and while I’m sure these are super cool, geysers aren’t high on my list of things to see. So, since we wanted to spend more time at other stops along the Golden Circle and on our Iceland winter road trip in general, we skipped Geysir. But it’s directly on the way from Þingvellir to Gullfoss, so it’s a very easy stop if this interests you!
Something I enjoyed about the stops on the Golden Circle was that all of the main stops are very accessible and don’t require a lot of hiking or trekking through the snow, and Gullfoss is no different. This waterfall is impressive to say the least, even when mostly frozen and covered in snow.
Park in the parking lot and before you walk to the viewpoints, make sure to put on your crampons because the spray from the waterfall continuously freezes, so you’ll want extra grip. Additionally, grab all your winter gear because this was the coldest I was during my entire winter trip to Iceland.
There are multiple lookouts to the waterfall and you can explore them depending how close you want to get! I do believe there is a hike down to right next to the waterfall itself that is typically open during summer and I’m almost certain it’s closed during winter because it’s dangerous.
Where to Stay in Selfoss
I stayed at Hotel South Coast and it was also very cute. I remember specifically that their breakfast was great and they had a super cute spa for an inexpensive add-on.
Day 3 • Explore the South Coast & Vík
Drive Route: Selfoss > Vík (~1 hr 45 mins without stops)
The south coast drive of your 6 day winter Iceland road trip might… MIGHT… be one of my favorite days? I don’t know it’s impossible to truly pick a favorite. However it does have some of the most iconic/famous spots on the entire island and is therefore a must-add to your Iceland winter trip.
Seljalandsfoss & Gljufrabrai
These are two gorgeous waterfalls that are right next to each other that are very famous specific for their unique traits each:
- Seljalandsfoss – this waterfall is famous because during warmer seasons you can walk behind it HOWEVER you cannot do this during winter because it’s too dangerous with all the massive icicles that develop
- Gljufrabrai – this is a waterfall hidden back in a cave that you can trek to in warmer seasons HOWEVER it is closed during winter because it’s dangerous due to the ice
So, while the specific reasons these two are “famous” are not accessible during winter, they’re still SO pretty and so worth a stop on your Iceland winter road trip itinerary.
Skógafoss might be the most famous waterfall – if not place – in all of Iceland and that designation is well earned. It’s massive, it’s impressive, and it’s so incredibly beautiful. And despite visiting this road trip stop during winter, you can still get pretty close up to it if you want.
There’s also a hike you can do, where you climb up and off to the right. My brother did this hike during the summer and it was his favorite thing he did on his trip. But given the limited time (shorter days, etc.) we opted to skip it in order to add more stops to our road trip.
This is a beautiful coastal viewpoint but the road was unfortunately closed due to some extreme weather for us. However, definitely add it to your 6 day itinerary, because you won’t want to miss it unless forced to by weather or other circumstances!
This black sand beach is absolutely, without a doubt, stunning beyond belief and a total must-add to your Iceland winter road trip. The black sand against the winter snow is SUCH a beautiful contrast it’s truly hard to describe just how beautiful it is in person. Additionally, there are basalt columns on the beach that make it so unique and special, and unlike any beach I’ve been to. Even ones with basalt columns OR black sand. It’s so cool to have both!
It is important to know though that this is the most dangerous beach in Iceland, because massive “sneaker waves” can develop seemingly out of nowhere. It’s absolutely worth the visit because it is STUNNING, but you will definitely want to keep a safe distance from the water and avoid spots where you can’t retreat back to safety easily (i.e. beyond the basalt columns). Pro tip? There is a sign at Reynisfjara that tells you which zones of the beach to avoid depending on current conditions, so keep an eye on that and prioritize your safety.
Icelandic Lava Show
Want to go to the only place in the world with REAL lava flowing indoors? Then you’ll love this show!
This was SUCH a cool excursion. They took real lava flow material from the last time that Katla erupted and reheat it to display how live lava flow behaves during a volcanic eruption.
You learn a lot about the area, Katla’s previous eruptions, what the plan for Vík is in case of another eruption, and more during this experience. I had a blast, and couldn’t recommend this enough.
Where to Stay in Vík
I stayed at Hótel Kría here and it was probably my favorite hotel of the entire road trip. It’s absolutely beautiful and has a good restaurant on-premises.
Day 4 • Drive the Southeast Coast to Glacier Lagoon
Drive Route: Vík > Höfn (~2 hours 30 mins without stops)
I feel like the drive over to eastern Iceland from Vík is definitely where the southern Iceland winter weather can get a little crazy. So it’s important to be flexible with your plans for these days on your itinerary.
This canyon – that I will truly never be able to pronounce – is magical even covered in snow. The drive here is via a side road that you definitely have to drive slowly on and be careful, but it’s so worth it.
You’ll get up to the canyon and there are three different viewpoints you can trek to. This is probably the most actual walking/hiking we did while we were there, but it was probably a mile total at most.
Comparing this view in summer to winter is crazy; it’s such a snowy wonderland and I am so glad it was a stop on our road trip tour.
Consider a Glacier Hike/Walk at Skaftafell
This is something I didn’t do but looking back I probably could have made it work and wish I would have! You might be doing an ice cave tour the next day of this 6 day Iceland winter itinerary, but a glacier walk would also be so, so cool and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. So, if you think you can make it work, this Iceland winter tour would be so cool to add to your itinerary.
Sunset at Jökulsárlón (Glacier Lagoon)
Glacier Lagoon is very appropriately named, and seeing it at sunset is honestly stunning. Head straight to the parking lot of Jökulsárlón to see all of the glacier icebergs floating in the lagoon, and if you’re lucky you might see some seals as well!
I actually visited Jökulsárlón multiple times over days 4 and 5 of this 6 day itinerary, and sunset was my favorite time.
Glacier Lagoon is also right next to Diamond Beach, but definitely wait until the next morning for that. It’ll be worth it I promise.
Where to Stay in Höfn
Ekra Glacier Lagoon is where I stayed out here and it was super cute. It was a guesthouse vs. a full-scale hotel and it was lovely.
Day 5 • Diamond Beach & Vatnajökull Ice Cave Tour
Drive Route: Höfn > Vík (~2 hours 30 mins without stops)
This day is full of ice and it’s SO cool. Two absolutely iconic spots and activities in one day of your 6 day Iceland winter itinerary? You’re going to LOVE this day.
Sunrise at Diamond Beach
The reason I told you to wait until sunrise to visit Diamond Beach is because the colder temperatures overnight bring more of the iceberg chunks onto the beach and they are at their biggest and most impressive first thing in the morning.
This is an iconic spot that really lives up to its reputation if you go early in the morning. The later in the day you go, the more the icebergs can either melt or be rained on or be affected by other elements. So, basically, they become less impressive as the day goes on. So like I mentioned, I absolutely recommend getting to Diamond Beach for sunrise and starting your day here.
Vatnajökull Ice Cave Tour
An ice cave tour within a glacier is one of the main reasons I wanted to visit Iceland in winter in the first place, and it did not disappoint.
I took this tour which had us ride a super jeep from Jökulsárlón out to Vatnajökull (Europe’s largest glacier) where you’ll trek out to the glacier and then tour the ice caves within.
Not only is the ice cave itself just… amazing… but the short hike out and back is super stunning as well.
Day 6 • Return to Reykjavik & Relax at Sky Lagoon
Drive Route: Vík > Reykjavík (~2 hours 30 mins without stops)
This is the final day of your Iceland winter road trip and is mostly about driving back to Reykjavík while also ending the trip with an incredible spa day just like you started it with.
Sky Lagoon is another stunning thermal bath retreat near Reykjavík. This one sets itself apart from the Blue Lagoon because of the unparalleled views.
We ended up not having enough time to visit here on our last day because we left Vík a little later than we had planned, so we couldn’t make it work before we had to go to the airport. But, when I return to Iceland or if we had just two more hours, I absolutely would have added this to my winter itinerary.
Or book Sky Lagoon as part of a larger day trip:
Hotels I stayed at on this winter road trip:
So there you go, my full 6 day winter Iceland road trip itinerary. As always, if you have any questions please reach out. And to see my Iceland winter trip from closer up, check out my story highlights on Instagram and my Iceland playlist on TikTok. You’re going to have the absolute best winter trip to Iceland and I am so excited for you!