Planning a winter trip to Iceland? We traveled to the tiny Nordic island nation for our honeymoon. We did a self-drive trip around the country (15 days/16 nights) starting and ending in Reykjavík.
Need inspiration? Read on for some tips on drawing up your Iceland winter itinerary.
We did a lot of our own research (mostly online) for the trip and would like to share our thoughts on what worked out and what could have been done better. We will also put up links to detailed posts of the major stops/attractions on our route (including a few hidden gems) so watch this space.
The map below broadly shows our trip route beginning near Reykjavík in the southwestern part of Iceland and traveling counter-clockwise around the country’s Ring Road (Route 1).
Day 1: Reykjavík
Arriving into Keflavik International Airport (KEF), renting a car from Lagoon Car Rental and driving to Reykjavík for an overnight halt at Stay Apartments, Bolholt.
Day 2: Reykjavík
A visit to the Reykjavík Botanical Garden and shopping for the upcoming days on the road.
Day 3: The Golden Circle
Heading out onto the Golden Circle; Þingvellir National Park, Strokkur geyser & the waterfall at Gullfoss. A stay at the cozy Lambastadir guesthouse near Selfoss.
Day 4: Vík
Driving towards Vík; the spectacular waterfalls at Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss, a bit of off-road driving near Sólheimasandur & the beautifully decorated Guesthouse Vellir.
Day 5: Höfn
The long drive to Höfn in the shadow of Vatnajökull & a hike in Skaftafell can certainly whip up an appetite for a hearty dinner.
Day 6: Stokksnes
A tip by our hosts at Nyibær Guesthouse leads us to the hidden black beach at Stokksnes & we drive the sea-hugging cliff roads to Egilsstaðir.
Day 7 -8: Mývatn
A short drive to Mývatn gives us some time to explore the hellish landscape of Hverir. An overnight stay at Dimmuborgir Guesthouse and dining with cows at Vogafjos Cowshed Cafe.
Day 9: Grjótagjá & Mývatn
A snowy hike to Grjótagjá & our misadventures near Hverfjall made us want to do nothing but soak our troubles away in the turquoise blue waters of Mývatn Nature Baths.
Day 10: Akureyri
Another short drive brings us to our favorite city in Iceland; Akureyri. Nestled between mountains on the southern shore of Eyjafjörður, this charming little town stole its way into our hearts. Read about our stay at the incredible Akureyri Downtown Apartments in Hafnarstræti, a sushi lunch & a walk around the beautiful downtown area.
Day 11: Hlíðarfjall
Learning how to ski on the slopes of Hlíðarfjall mountain, a most excellent dinner at Kiljan Guesthouse in Blönduós and a night’s stay at the slightly creepy Dæli Holiday Farm.
Day 12: Borgarnes
Returning to the plains of East Iceland for an overnight stay at the clean, functional Egils Apartments in Borgarnes before heading towards the famous Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Day 13: Snæfellsnes
A drive to Snæfellsnes Peninsula takes us into the picturesque seaside village of Ólafsvík. A short respite from the bad weather permits us to explore the hidden white sand beach at Skarðsvík and the impressive Saxholl Crater. We wind down our day with a dip in the local swimming pool and a delicious meal at Hraun Restaurant.
Day 14: Vatnshellir
Checking out the Vatnshellir lava cave on an extremely windy day before returning to Borgarnes. Continued bad weather forces us to stay indoors; an evening spent binge watching Harry Potter movies over cups of hot chocolate is a good evening!
Day 15: Reykjavík
Sightseeing in Reykjavík; the Hallgrímskirkja, the quirky, classy Kol Restaurant and a walk down Laugavegur (Reykjavík’s answer to London’s Oxford Street) to wind down an amazing holiday in beautiful Iceland. Time to head home after a night halt at the Bed and Breakfast in Keflavik.
Some more Iceland winter itinerary posts:
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Thanks Naresh! Stay tuned as we’ll be having more posts up shortly.
Did you self drive?
Was language a problem?
Yes. Driving in Iceland is the best way to get around because there is little to no public transport between cities. Even in a large city like Reykjavík, buses are the only form of public transport (Iceland has no train system). We covered 2320 km during our drive.
Language is surprisingly not a problem in Iceland. Almost everyone speaks fluent English because it is apparently mandatory as a second language in their schooling system.
we plan to go on a trip this october (mid october). did you rent a 4×4 car or just a compact? how was the road condition in february? i read somewhere that during the winter, all rental companies provide winter tires on the car free of charge. do you know when this begins?
please excuse my auto-cap; i cannot seem to fix it…
thanks in advance for your response 🙂
Thanks for visiting our blog! We rented a 4×4 car and would strongly recommend doing so if you’re traveling in winter. Not sure what the conditions would be like in October but if you plan to drive the Ring Road, it is possible that you will encounter roads that are snowy (especially in the north of the country). In these situations, a 4×4 has a real advantage. Yes, most (if not all) car rental companies offer free winter tires but we’re not sure when exactly that kicks in. Would be advisable to check with the car rental company.
Our blog’s CSS theme shows all comments in uppercase. It annoys us as well but we’ll get around to fixing it shortly.
All the best for planning your trip. Do post more comments if you have other questions.
That’s a great plan to follow, you saw so much! I’m almost pleased I haven’t been to Iceland yet so I can use your itinerary. 🙂
It really was an awesome trip. The only parts of the country we missed visiting were the Westfjords which are inaccessible in winter. Don’t put off your trip for too long. 🙂
Iceland is so high on my bucket list and this itinerary sounds better than I imagined! Thanks for sharing!
We’re glad you liked it. Thanks a lot.
I’d love to spend this much time in Iceland – I’m quite jealous! Great ideas you’ve put together in this itinerary for what to see and do! #feetdotravel
Thank you very much Ava. Do try and visit; it’s a lovely country.
This is a really useful post for visiting Iceland, very comprehensive. Have pinned for future reference! #feetdotravel
Great itinerary and fantastic that you managed to circumnavigate the island which not many people get to do. Did you find that you had enough time to see everything you wanted?
Yes, we thought the number of days we spent in each location was adequate. We wouldn’t have minded an extra day in Akureyri or Ólafsvík since we really loved these two towns.
Wow thanks for sharing your entire itinerary it allowed us to realise how much we could do next time we plan to visit Iceland! Thanks for sharing a comprehensive and informative post! We found it very useful:) You made us want to be in Iceland now! Patrick and Cécile from http://www.travel4lifeblog.com
Thanks very much Patrick and Cécile for your lovely comments. 🙂
We absolutely loved Iceland when we visited, and it was knee-deep in snow so we are glad we did a tour! We did say we wanted to return though when the snow had gone so we could see the beauty of the land when it was green and plan to do a self-drive tour so your itinerary is most helpful. Thank you for sharing your information and tips. #feetdotravel
We echo your feelings. The desire to make another trip during the summer months is hard to shrug off! Do remember to visit the Westfjords and maybe you can give us tips for our summer holiday as well. 🙂
What a great itinerary! We will be pinning this for our trip to Iceland one day, we wouldn’t want to miss out on any of this! I love that you did a full circle around the coast. 🙂
Great Iceland Itinerary and one that I would use to help plan my trip. Liked how you drove a car to get around which I feel you can cover more areas to see. I am excited to visit one day and will have to decide which time of year would be great for me. Thanks for sharing! 🙂 #feetdotravel
I went to Iceland recently but only stayed in Rekyjavik! Getting out and seeing the golden circle was by far the highlight so I’d LOVE to do the whole loop! I guess that means I’ll just have to go back at some point 😀
It’s absolutely worth doing the full tour. Do write about it and send us a link if you do make another trip.
I am so keen to go to Iceland next year and have always wondered what would be the best way to go about it. I always knew I want to hire a car and your itinerary seems like it covers a lot of great places. I will definitely keep an eye out for more info on this!!
Thanks so much. Glad you found this useful!
Great itinerary that brings back some mwmories. We had mostly the same but we adventured it isafjourds as well where we almost got stuck because of the snow storm. Iceland is an amazing country that I would love to return one day.
We had our own share of Iceland’s famously unpredictable weather. While we were out on the Snæfellsnes peninsula, we got caught in a wind storm. It was freaky being pushed around by 60 km/hr winds! Thanks for stopping by! 🙂
It´s so great you were able to do the Ring Road in winter! Sometimes the weather conditions in Iceland are quite complicated…. I did this trip in summer (and the weather was still far from perfect) and I remember driving somewhere around East Fjords and taking one of the local roads – and it made me think how the whole villages could stay isolated if it snows hard in this area… Absolutely loved this country anyway!
You are brave to visit Iceland in winter! I would love to go, but we get enough snow and ice here in Canada, so I’d rather visit during the summer months. Would be interested in more about the Botanical Gardens. Thx for the great post!
I love a detailed plan! This is so useful. We hoped to visit here at the end of this year but it wasn’t meant to be 🙁
Hopefully we’ll get here in the future though so saving this for then. Thanks for the inspiration!
This is so helpful! I’ve been to Iceland for a week, but I would love to go for longer, there’s just so much to see!
Great post Siddharth. Iceland seems an interesting place to visit and you details of day by day trip is awesome. Though weather looks real extreme here…
FYI – Pins on your pinterest board – amazing…
Off late Iceland is making all the right noises in India. A friend of mine who had been there told me how you can see so much of variety despite the small size of the nation. The itinerary which you shared, I think, covers the best of Iceland.
Sounds like a nice self drive. Never been on the radar, but would love to take photos of snow and buildings. I would 4×4 it in a heart beat.
Great tip to actually go on your own around the island. Well, some road trip you’ve had! The best way to see the place, any place, is to go off the beaten path, of course. 🙂 Didn’t know it could be done by car in a bit more than two weeks. Thanks!
Did you eat delicious Atlantic lobsters in Hofn? so good.
Yes! We did. We have written a post about it – http://siddharthandshruti.com/langoustines/
Oh mY! I loved this itinerary. Thank you for saving up so much of my time and give me an absolutely well planned and thoroughly tested itinerary. I am definitely going to follow your footsteps for this!
Iceland has been on our bucket list for a long time. We’d love to take a couple’s road trip like you two. Your itinerary is so helpful. We appreciate your insights on what worked and what didn’t. We bookmarked this fantastic post. Hopefully we can make it later this year.
I would love to go to Iceland one day, having seen so many photos of stunningly beautiful landscapes. We’ve just returned from 2 months on the road in Australia, so would probably look to self drive in Iceland too. Thanks for sharing such a detailed itinerary. Will definitely help towards our plans when we eventually get round to going.
This is a great itinerary. It’s a coincidence that yesterday only I was wondering if it’s possible to spend a good vacation in iceland during the winters. And here I stumble upon your article. I have already bookmarked it 🙂
Wow!What a great itinerary!You guys were able to pack so much fun and adventure in just 15 days.Thanks for sharing such a well planned trip.This is really helpful.Sounds like you guys had a gorgeous roadtrip!
Looks like you travelled a very similar route to us, only in reverse.
We travelled on the cusp of Autumn into winter, and the biggest difficulty we found was finding accommodation that was open. AirBnB was usually okay (but expensive like everything on the island except the National Parks), but official hotels, hostels or guesthouses we’re often closed for the low season.
We even had one cabin we had pre-booked in Blonduos where they’d forgotten we were coming! LOL
Yeah. We faced similar issues. Finding restaurant/cafes that were open was difficult and even if they were open, they shut really early.
Iceland + winter? This place looks like such a winter wonderland! It’s one of the most beautiful places we’ve been to and Iceland didn’t fail to surprise us!
Thank you for the great itinerary. Can you talk more about the costs of the trip
Car rental, accomodation, food etc