If you’re visiting Iceland in winter, it’s possible to road trip in Iceland and drive all of Ring Road! This is a complete 10 day Itinerary for Iceland in winter. Despite what you may have read about road trips in Iceland, you can drive Iceland’s Ring Road in winter and Iceland in the winter is absolutely beautiful.
If you’re planning your Iceland road trip and you’re an experienced winter driver, we recommend doing your Iceland road trip in winter as you can expect lower prices, fewer people, and incredible nature.
Important notes about a winter road trip in Iceland
One of our biggest Iceland tips for winter in Iceland is knowing howto drive on snow and ice. You can click here for our Iceland travel tips for a winter road trip. Doing a self driving tour of Iceland in winter is rough as there’s snow and ice–and iceland in winter is not something to scoff at. Keep reading for our complete 10 Day Ring Road winter Iceland road trip itinerary for with tips for a road trip in Iceland.
Although it’s possible to do a 7 day road trip in Iceland while completing Ring road in summer, ten days is the minimum you will need for a complete Iceland Ring road road trip in winter.
The weather conditions do not make it agreeable and you will need to drive much slower due to bad weather. Similarly, some roads are closed, so you will need to take a lengthier route.
We tried to pace this itinerary to minimize driving in between cities on a given day as driving in winter means driving in the dark most of the time.
The Complete 10 day Iceland Ring Road Winter Itinerary Route
Iceland Winter Road Trip Day 1:
Keflavik & Reykjavik
After landing in Iceland’s main airport, Keflavik International Airport, we encourage you to shop the duty-free alcohol section if you plan on drinking.
Buying duty free beer in the Keflavik airport is as cheap as you’ll find it in Iceland. We recommend stocking up and you can always keep it in your trunk!
After, get your rental car and drive to Reykjavik to do some sightseeing there and spend the night. It might be worthwhile to plan to explore Reykjavik more thoroughly after you’ve ended your road trip when you’re tired and ready for the comforts of a city.
If you’re considering visiting the Blue Lagoon for a swim, you should buy your Blue Lagoon tickets ahead as there are time slots and it can be too full for walk-ins.
If you’re looking to visit Iceland on a budget, we recommend waiting until later in your Iceland trip. (The Secret Lagoon is supposed to be great!)
Iceland Winter Road Trip Days 2 and 3: Visiting the Golden Circle without a tour
Day 2: Silfra & Thingvellir Park
One of the best attractions in Iceland is Thingvellir park. Thingvellir has the world’s oldest parliament, which amazingly took place outdoors.
In winter, you’ll want to wear your crampons/snow boots as the sidewalks through the park can be a bit icy, however you can take a hike around the park to admire the gap between the tectonic plates.
We loved the Öxarárfoss waterfall. There is a nice cafe nearby if you want to buy hot chocolate or lunch.
If you’re looking for an adventure activity in Iceland, definitely look into scuba diving in Silfra or snorkeling in Silfra (if you’re not certified like me). In the gap between the tectonic plates is a fissure filled with glacial waters (ensuring it is a constant, albeit slightly chilly, temperature year round). The water is amazing clean and clear allowing views deep into the fissure. We recommend booking your Silfra tour ahead.
The Silfra water is a constant 32 degrees F (0 degrees C), so you’ll need to wear a drysuit, which is a different experience, if you’ve never worn one. If you’re snorkeling, I recommend bringing your own action camera as renting one can be expensive.
Afterwards, your hair will be wet, so I would recommend doing this towards the end of the day if possible.
Accommodations near the Golden Circle: It’s possible to go back to Reykjavik the same day if you prefer to stay at the same hotel, however you will save money by basing yourself out of Selfoss or one of the surrounding towns on Ring Road.
Day 3: Geysir, Gullfoss, & Selfoss
Day 4: Glacier activites, waterfalls, and Vik
Today will include some driving on Ring Road towards the glaciers in the center of Iceland. Heading east, you will pass the Eyjafjallajokull and Solheimajokull glaciers. Definitely book a glacier walking tour ahead as walking on a glacier is one of the best things to do in Iceland in winter.
Although the glaciers are right there, you cannot not go on the glaciers without a tour. A good guide will be testing the footing every step of the way and there are crevasses where the ice has melted (and snow might be covering it) that you can fall into if you’re not careful.
The Icelandic guides are constantly checking the glaciers for safe routes to ensure the safety of those on the tour, so I encourage you to look into a tour. We did a tour called Into the Blue, which included both ice climbing and glacier hiking.
Afterwards, the town of Vik is a great place to stop and spend the night. Try to give yourself an hour visit the famous black beaches in Vik (Reynisfjara beach).
Try to spot the famous Dyrhólaey archway. You can get a nice view from the Vik i Myrdal Church. It is quite windy here in winter.
Unfortunate Reality: There’s not that many towns in between Vik and the Jokulsarlon lagoon, so you will have limited accommodation options.
We recommend staying in Vik. We decided to travel all the way to Jokulsarlon lagoon after stopping off in Vik, which we would not recommend. Time is an issue due to the little daylight in winter, and we saw the beaches just after sunset when it was dark. We had a long drive through bad winter conditions to in the dark. It is a longer drive in the morning, but at some point you need to decide when you will do the bulk of your driving.
Day 5: Jökulsárlón Lagoon & SuperJeeps to Winter Ice Caves
Depending on how much sunlight there is, the ice will be a blue-ish color although if the ice receives less sunlight, it will be clear! You’ll want to look for the ice caves that form close to the Vatnajokull glacier as some are man-made and the natural thing is absolutely amazing. Dress warmly as the cave is cold.
Afterwards, you can choose to stay at guest houses around the Jokulsarlon, or push ahead to Hofn. (Note: we wouldn’t recommend driving too long if it is dark as it involves driving high up over the fjords in possible bad weather).
Day 6: Langoustine & Egilsstaðir
Egilsstaðir is a fairly large town and there is plenty to see. There’s plenty of restaurant choices and you can buy art from local artisans.
There are a number of myths about the nearby Lagarfljót lake due to the famous Lagarfljót worm. The Lagarfljót worm is more of a …serpent than a worm. The story comes from Icelandic folklore.
Allegedly, a girl put a gold ring underneath a lingworm (a dragon) with the hope that the gold would multiply. However, the dragon grew too much and she threw both the into the lake.
Supposedly, the dragon killed people and two people claimed to have tied its head/tail to the bottom of the Lagarfljót lake, but it remained.
People still claim to see the worm (now) although there’s some really nice hiking in the forest surrounding the lake. Try your best to spot the Lagarfljót worm!)
Day trips from Egilsstaðir (Add 1-2 days)
You can also venture out to neighboring towns, some of which are iconic in their beauty. Add one day if you want to visit the artisan town of Seyðisfjörður. This town is at the foot of a fjord, so it’s famous for its beauty.
You can also try to visit the Skrudur Island (accessible by ferry from Fáskrúðsfjörður) if you’re into birding. This island with its many caves is famous for bird nesting and puffins (in spring/summer only). Sorry!
Important note: We encourage you not to eat puffins as their populations have recently declined and they’re so cute. Although they’re not currently endangered, they’re threatened.
Day 7: Myvatn
I consider Myvatn, one of the best places to visit in Iceland. You can visit the Hverfjall volcano although accessing it winter requires hiking or more time. We also enjoyed the Hverarond mud pits.
You can’t enter the Grjotagja Cave, the filming location from Game of Thrones for Jon Snow’s love scene with Ygritte, as rude tourists have ruined it for the rest of us. We also visited the famous Dimmuborgir for some hiking in the spooky rocks.
Day 8: Akureyri & Northwestern Iceland
If you didn’t get a chance to see Akureyri, you may choose to spend the morning there. Akureyri is one of Iceland’s largest cities although it’s still fair sized. Parking was a bit tricky, so it’s good to ask at your hotel about parking.
If you want to cut down on your driving during the trip, this is a good place to base yourself out of as many tours go out of Akureyri (although transportation is often extra with tours).
Day trips & weekend trips in Northwestern Iceland
Following the trail of Burial Rites in Iceland
Optional sidetrip: The Westfjords (2+ days)
Caution: MANY of the roads in the Westfjords are closed in winter, so check carefully the road conditions before you arrive before deciding to visit this part of Iceland.
There’s one major road in this region that is paved regularly in winter, but depending on its condition, it may be not passable. Save this website: road.is!
If you would like, you can drive north at this point up into the western fjords. Of note is an Icelandic witchcraft and sorcery museum in Holmavik to see the infamous Nábrók magical pants.
(Nábrók were pants made from the skin of a dead man, which were supposed to make the wearer rich. It is debated if this actually happened besides in Icelandic folklore…) Plan to make a day of seeing this region and stay somewhere near Bárðardalur.
In winter, the West Fjords receive no direct sunlight, so if you’re into adventure sports (please get a guide!), this area is almost untouched with glaciers that are supposedly so clear that you can see through them.
There’s a lot of hiking and ice climbing that is possible with a guide. This area is home to native Arctic Foxes and there’s a non-profit Arctic Fox center that can advise on ecotourism in the West Fjord area.
Day 9: Snæfellsjökull peninsula
As you make your way back east, stop at the Shark museum in Bjarnarhöfn. Here the infamous rotted shark meat dish, hákarl, is made. It is your opportunity to see this process in action and try some (if you dare!).
The Greenland shark, the shark used in hákarl, is not actively hunted and it’s often caught along with other fish when deep sea trawlers are fishing. Instead of throwing the sharks, who are unwelcome fish bycatch, the family purchases the sharks and creates hákarl from them.
The ammonia smell is not encouraging, but Jacob enjoyed it and it’s not as terrible as people make it out to be (his words).
That said, the family that runs this quirky museum with a friendly cat used to actively shark hunt. The museum also sells dried fish if you’re looking for a tamer thing to snack on.
Afterwards, head back towards Reykjavik. You may want to stop in Reykholt to see the house of Snorri Sturluson. This general area of Iceland is well populated and you should have no trouble finding a place to stay. You may even choose to go all the way back to Reykjavik.