8 Day Winter Wonderland | National Parks & Ice Cave

8 Day Winter Wonderland | National Parks & Ice Cave
Purple and green auroras join a canopy of stars to make the winter, night skies of Iceland beautiful beyond belief.
The entrance of an ice cave in Vatnajökull leads into a tunnel full of winter wonder.
The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is located in Vatnajökull National Park, and is one of the most spectacular places to admire the aurora borealis from.
Trickling through lava covered in frosted vegetation are the many rivulets of Hraunfossar waterfall in west Iceland.
The geyser Geysir is largely inactive, and has been for decades, but Strokkur, which is adjacent, erupts multiple times an hour, to heights of forty metres.
Svínafellsjökull is an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull Glacier that stretches into Skaftafell, a Nature Reserve so stunning that it was once a National Park in its own right (before being absorbed into another).
4.6
Based on 15 traveller reviews

Take home unforgettable precious memories from a complete tour of Iceland, from North to South, East to West, in just eight action-packed days. This tour is for anyone who would like to see all Iceland has to offer, from the most famous spots to the lesser-known gems.

This is the perfect tour for those who want to relax, not worry about the road, and take in all the beauty of a new country around them. 

Customise the tour to your desires as you book, to create the perfect holiday for you. You can add various activities, such as horseback riding, snorkelling, and whale watching. See the daily itinerary below for details.

On Day 7, you have a choice to stay in Reykjavík and relax or to jet across the country to Akureyri, the "Capital of the North," for a tour of Lake Mývatn. This tour begins with a stop at the famous Blue Lagoon, and continues through highlights like the Golden Circle, the south coast, Vatnajökull National Park, and Snæfellsnes peninsula. You'll also have many opportunities to hunt the Northern Lights each evening.

You'll spend Day 4 ice caving, a rare treat for visitors to Iceland, only available in the deep winter. These ice caves are carefully searched out each fall by qualified glacier guides, experts who know when the ice is safe and ready to display its dazzling beauty. Each spring, they melt and disappear forever, so you must see them during this limited time. 

Delve into the magic of Iceland in winter, to Reykjavík and beyond! Check booking availability now, by choosing a date.


Quick facts

Tour information:
  • Available: Nov. - Mar.
  • Duration: 8 days
  • Activities: Snorkelling, Caving, Snowmobile, Horse Riding, Sightseeing, Boat Trip, Northern lights hunting, Hot Spring Bathing, Cultural Activity, Ice Caving
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Minimum age: 8 years.
  • Languages: English
  • Highlights: Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavík, Jökulsárlón, Mývatn, Dimmuborgir, Snæfellsjökull, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Eyjafjallajökull, Þingvellir, Hraunfossar, Deildartunguhver, Strokkur, Snæfellsnes, Reykjanes, Sólheimajökull, Mýrdalsjökull, Skaftafell, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Stykkishólmur, Bjarnarhöfn, Hellnar, Borgarnes, Barnafoss, Gerðuberg, Arnarstapi, Vík í Mýrdal, Keflavik International Airport, Kirkjufell, Haukadalur, Grundarfjörður, Námaskarð, South Coast, Diamond Beach
Pickup information:
  • Pickup time : Flexible.

Included:
  • Airport transfer on arrival/departure

  • 5 nights of accommodation in Reykjavík (Different levels available; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed information below)

  • Golden Circle small group sightseeing tour in a minibus (upgrades available with other activities)

  • South Coast 2 day small group minibus tour with ice caving

  • 1 night of accommodation in a country hotel in Vatnajökull National Park during the 2-day south coast tour (breakfast included, private bathroom depending on availability)

  • Snæfellsnes 2 day small group minibus tour

  • 1 night of accommodation in a country hotel on Snæfellsnes peninsula during the 2-day Snæfellsnes tour (breakfast included, private bathroom depending on availability)

  • Blue Lagoon comfort entrance (upgrade to premium level available) and return transfer

  • Northern Lights hunting

  • Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland

  • Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary

  • Taxes

  • Entrance fee to the Vatnshellir lava cave

  • Dinner

  • Lunch


What to bring:
  • Camera

  • Swimsuit

  • Warm clothes

  • Winter hiking shoes

  • Good waterproof outer layers


Good to know:

The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximise your chances to see them if weather allows. Please be aware that your itinerary may have to be rearranged to fit your arrival date and time better.

It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is cancelled. If your chosen activity is cancelled, we will assist you with rearranging or booking other activities when possible, and any potential price difference will be refunded to you.

Note that Icelandic roads and pavements can be slippery in the wintertime. We recommend you bring shoes with slip-resistant soles or ice-grip shoe covers. The covers can be purchased in most supermarkets and gas stations around the country.



Daily itinerary

Day 1 - Arrival


Steam rises from the azure waters of Iceland's most popular pool and spa, the Blue Lagoon.


Welcome to Iceland! On your first day on the island, you'll take the pre-arranged bus airport transfer and be driven through the lava fields and sandy geothermal plains on your way to Reykjavík, the capital city.

Once you have stowed your luggage and freshened up at your hotel in the city centre, you'll be able to spend the rest of the evening enjoying the city. If you like, you can hop on a Northern Lights tour on your arrival night. A visit to the Blue Lagoon can also be arranged on your first day if you arrive early.

There is a special Aurora forecast every night during the viewing season, so your guide will search out the most likely places to see these magnificent glowing lights in the sky.

If you would like to take advantage of this complimentary Northern Lights tour, you may choose what kind of Northern Lights experience you prefer: By boat or by bus.

Go for the boat tour in the Old Harbour, to see the dancing lights over the ocean while the wind plays with your hair, or choose a bus tour to head out into the countryside under cover of darkness and watch for glimmers of colour against a backdrop of the Icelandic wilderness.

Spend the night in Reykjavik.


Day 2 - The Golden Circle


The valley that Gullfoss falls into becomes snow-coated as winter takes hold of south Iceland.


On your second day of vacation, you'll visit the Golden Circle, three locations that together form the most popular tourist route in Iceland: Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall.

You can choose to go on an optional horseback riding tour in the morning, before heading to Þingvellir National Park. You'll visit one of the largest horse farms in the Reykjavik area and make friends with the shaggy Icelandic horse, a breed known for its sturdiness in the winter and its smooth gait. You'll appreciate both qualities as you ride the trails, admiring views of mountains, volcanoes, and snowy plains.

Þingvellir National Park is a wonderland of natural beauty and historical significance. It is also a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site in honour of the world's first parliament, founded there in the 10th century. Remnants of Viking booths and assembly structures can still be seen on the grounds here.

In addition, you'll find Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland, with Silfra fissure on its shores. Silfra is a deep crevasse filled with sparkling water from an underground river, and a popular diving and snorkelling site. If you like, then you can book a snorkelling tour here and explore the crystal clear waters.

You can also stroll the divide between the two tectonic plates, the North American and Eurasian plates. The forces of the earth have created great cracks here, visible in the steam vents, rivers, and waterfalls which have been carved into the land.

The theme continues at Geysir geothermal area. Here, the pressure of the earth shifting throughout the ages has burst forth in features like the famous geysers, steam vents, fumaroles and mud holes, all fizzing with energy.

The Great Geysir, for which the place is named, has almost gone silent after 10,000 years of activity, but Strokkur is a large geyser which erupts every few minutes, spewing hot water as high as 40 m (131 ft).

Gullfoss waterfall is the final scheduled stop of the day, a beautiful waterfall fed with the power of glacial meltwater. You can get as close to the waterfall as you would like, admiring it from afar or taking the walking path along the falls to feel the spray on your face as the water forces through the winter freeze, past blocks of ice and piles of snow.

If you're looking for some thrill, then give snowmobiling a try! Zoom across the ice cap of Langjökull glacier, snowball fight with your fellow travellers and admire the views of Iceland, dressed in her winter finery.

However, if you'd rather relax, on the way back to the city, you can make a stop at the Blue Lagoon, for a sensory experience unique to Iceland. Release all your tension, letting the azure water soothe tired muscles and joints.

Please note that if you have arranged additional activities with your Golden Circle tour, such as snorkelling, horseback riding or snowmobiling, your visit to the Blue Lagoon will be scheduled on your arrival or departure day instead, so you will have time to take full advantage of its restorative powers. The Lagoon is world-famous for its healing, mineral-rich waters - This is not a place you want to rush.

Again, if you are still longing to see the Northern Lights, you can add another tour in the evening. You'll go beyond the city limits, away from the lights and noise of civilisation, to search for these wonders of light.

You'll return to your accommodation in Reykjavik for the evening. Get plenty of rest, for tomorrow is filled with non-stop action!


Day 3 - The South Coast


The midnight sun provides endless opportunities to explore the many wonders to be found at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, a destination in the south-east of Iceland.


The south coast of Iceland is the most popular location for sightseeing because it contains so many beautiful features. Today, you'll begin a 2-day exploration of its marvels down south.

Departing from Reykjavik, you'll make your way along the coast, past the lava fields and black cliffs that provide the austere backdrop of Iceland in the winter months. Farmland abounds here, though most of the sheep and horses may be inside for the season.

You'll visit two spectacular waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss. Seljalandsfoss is best known for the walking path which extends behind the falls, allowing you to look out at the hills beyond from behind a veil of softly flowing water and trailing icicles. Just be careful when walking the path; in winter, it can become quite icy.

The second waterfall, Skógafoss is equally beautiful and is supposedly the location of buried treasure (according to local legend)!

Reynisfjara black sand beach is next. The ocean waves hammer the black sand beach just as viciously in winter as they do in summer, and should be respected as such. We encourage all guests to be cautious and keep a 20-30 metre distance from the dangerous waves. Black basalt cliffs rise high over the sand and imposing black columns loom over the shore. These are said to be the remains of two trolls who were caught in the light of the rising sun after leaving their cave to investigate a shipwreck.

Beyond the beach, you'll make your way to Skaftafell Nature Reserve, part of Vatnajökull National Park. A beautiful wooded area, rare in Iceland's barren terrain, full of hiking paths which criss-cross the land. Skaftafell is nestled just beside Vatnajökull glacier, giving you a great view of the icy tundra, cracks, crevasses and all. From the trail, you can see Iceland's highest peak, Hvannadalshnúkur.

Finally, you'll stop at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Chunks of ice crack away from the edges of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier high above, floating down to the lagoon and eventually out to sea.

The ice is stunning, not only because of its enormous size, but you'll be able to see the pure blue ice from the heart of the glacier, untouched by the UV rays which turn the rest of the ice white. Seals and gulls often play here, as well. Keep your camera ready!

In the evening, if the sky is clear and conditions are right, you might get lucky with the Northern Lights.

You'll spend the night near either Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon or Skaftafell Nature Reserve.


Day 4 - Ice Caving at Vatnajökull


Ice caves, which open under Vatnajökull glacier from November to March under normal conditions, are wonderlands of colour, texture and ice formations.


Today's activity will be one of the rarest and most wondrous in Iceland: a chance to explore a natural ice cave. You'll jump into a modified Super Jeep which is built to handle the icy winter driving, to take you to Vatnajökull glacier.

There is a short hike from the parking area to the cave itself, so be prepared to walk and wear sturdy hiking boots. It's best if they come up over the ankle, to ensure that your feet stay dry during the experience.

Every year, specialists scour the area around the glacier, looking for ice caves which can be safely entered. Some say they listen to the "breathing of the ice," as the melting and freezing of the ice occurs daily, and can change the layout of the cave rapidly.

No two ice caves are the same, and there is no telling where or when one might appear. The same is true for when they melt in the spring. Once a cave is gone, it is gone forever, creating a one-of-a-kind experience for each cave.

The cave walls are formed out of beautiful, crystalline blue ice, decorated with frosts of lace, spiky icicles and ice sculptures formed by the whims of Nature itself. You'll spend around 45 minutes in the ice cave so make sure that you dress warmly! You'll get a helmet, so wear a winter hat that is not too bulky, so that it will fit under the helmet.

After the breathtaking experience of the ice cave, it is time to head back to Reykjavík. On the way, there will be another stop at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon to admire the midday light. You might also see seals playing on the ice in the sunshine.

As always, in the evening you will be on the lookout for Northern Lights, and your guide will make every effort to find them. You’ll return to Reykjavík for the night.


Day 5 - Tour of Snæfellsnes Peninsula


Above the black church of Buðir in west Iceland, the Northern Lights snake across the night sky in winter.


Today, you're off to the western coast, to the beautiful Snæfellsnes peninsula. You'll be picked up at your accommodation and whisked along the coast to Ytri-Tunga, a beach with a well-known seal colony where dozens of seals sun themselves on the rocks.

You'll visit Rauðafellsgjá, which is a big narrow crack reaching deep into the roots of the mountain Botnsfjall.

After that, you'll view the charming homes of two fishing villages, Arnarstapi and Hellnar. At Hellnar, you'll spend an hour or so walking along the picturesque cliffs by the sea.

After taking in the sights of Snæfellsjökull National Park, for a small additional fee you'll have the option of another caving experience, this time with a lava cave called Vatnshellir. You'll be able to go deep into the ground and explore the cave which was created by volcanic eruption 7,000 years ago, walking past lava flakes and rock formations.

Next, you'll get some sun on your face at Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík, two beaches which were once fishing centres in Iceland. You can discover incredible rock formations and the strangely shaped pebbles which cover the beach. Finally, you will hike to Lóndrangar, a pair of black basalt columns which soar to a height of 70 m (230 ft).

You'll stay in another seaside village, Ólafsvik, for the night.


Day 6 - Snæfellsnes Tour Continues


Wrapped in snow and ice, features of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula such as Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss develop a more dramatic form of beauty.


On Day 2 of your Snæfellsnes adventure, you'll return for a tour of other photographic opportunities like the unusual Kirkjufell mountain. You'll also visit Gerðuberg basalt column.

Next, the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn is an opportunity to see (and taste) Iceland's rich history in fishing. The museum is filled with historical artefacts and boat parts, and Bjarni, who runs the project, is happy to share his wealth of experience from a lifetime as a fisherman. He will also share with you the legendary hákarl ("rotten shark") and a taste of local Icelandic schnapps to wash it down!

After that, you'll visit the Borgarfjörður area to see two waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Hraunfossar is a series of waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming over a lava field, created by an eruption of a volcano lying under the glacier Langjökull.

To end the day, you'll admire Deildartunguhver, the highest-flow hot spring in Europe.

Then, you'll be driven through the town of Borgarnes on the way back to your hotel in Reykjavík.


Day 7 - Your Choice: Reykjavik vs. Myvatn Day Tour


Part of the Diamond Circle in north Iceland is Námaskarð Pass, where fumaroles steam and hot springs boil.


On this day, you have the option of slowing down and taking it easy in the capital for the day … or exploring the far north!

Option 1 - The Quirky & Stylish Reykjavik

Spend your time sightseeing in Reykjavik. Find your favourite exhibition at a museum such as the National Museum or the Saga Museum, both of which are dedicated to history and culture. If you are thirsty for more, there are many art museums in the city to satisfy your taste.

Sample the wares of the local cafés, coffee shops and restaurants throughout the day. Don't forget to try a traditional Icelandic hot dog, the pylsur. Remember: Ice cream is the perfect treat for an Icelander, no matter what time of the year.

You can add a whale-watching tour on this day, leaving from the Old Harbour. The waters are active with minke whales and porpoises, while birds nest on the cliffs of the small islands in the bay.

Option 2 - The Geothermal Wonder of Lake Mývatn

You'll fly from Reykjavík Domestic Airport to the "northern capital" of Iceland, Akureyri. Once there, you'll witness North Iceland's most stunning sights, such as Lake Mývatn and Goðafoss waterfall, and the Námaskarð geothermal area.

You'll be picked up by your tour guide in Akureyri and taken to the famous Goðafoss waterfall, named after a local legend in which the law-speaker of Iceland threw his carved idols of the Norse gods into the water on his way home from the Þing parliament meeting in 1000 AD. That year, Christianity was lawfully declared as the official religion in Iceland.

Lake Mývatn is next: a winter wonderland of craters and the frosty lake, which in warmer weather is home to thousands of birds. You'll pass through the geothermal area by Námafjall mountain, called Námaskarð.

Vast sandy plains, emptied by the sulphurous energy of the huge geothermal field, dominate the landscape. You'll find the ground beneath your feet pleasantly warm as you wander among the hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pools.

The tour includes 2 flights: one to get you to Akureyri in the morning, and the one which returns you to Reykjavík in the evening. It's all arranged for you, so everything is hassle-free.

Before you go to bed, once more snug in Reykjavík, you can try one final time to catch the Northern Lights in all their glory by booking an additional bus tour.


Day 8 - Farewell to Iceland & Departure


Reykjavík's skyline glows, bringing light to the long, dark nights of Iceland's winter.


On your last day, take one last look at the quirky shops of Iceland, have a bite to eat, pick up last-minute souvenirs and take a few final photos of the landmarks around town.

If you have a later flight, you may want to stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way to the airport if you haven't fit it in your schedule already. It is the perfect way to say goodbye and relax before your flight home.

We hope you've had a wonderful time in Iceland, and come back soon!


Accommodation in Reykjavik

See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary. Super budget level accommodations will be arranged in hostel dorm beds. For budget and comfort levels, bookings for one person will be arranged in single rooms, and bookings for two or more people will share a twin/double or triple room(s). For quality level, odd number groups will always be allocated a single room. If you are travelling in a group, but prefer a single room, please make separate bookings. Teenagers and children will be arranged in the same room with parents. If additional room(s) is needed, additional costs will incur. For multi-day guided tours, accommodation cannot be upgraded and the levels below do not apply. Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. If our preferred partners are fully booked at the time of your booking, we will find another suitable accommodation for you of similar level. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.

Super Budget

Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostels. Located in the capital region. Breakfast is not included.

Budget

Private rooms with shared bathroom in guesthouses or hostels such as Capital Inn Guesthouse. Located in the capital region. Breakfast is not included.

Comfort

Rooms with a private bathroom at three-star hotels such as Hótel Klettur, or quality guesthouses. Located in the city center or in close vicinity. Breakfast is included.

Quality

Rooms at four-star design hotels in the city center with a private bathroom at the absolute best locations downtown such as Hotel Alda. Breakfast is included.


Cancellation Insurance

This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person. The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to info@guidetoiceland.is no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation. Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.


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8 Day Winter Wonderland | National Parks & Ice Cave
 
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