9 Day Northern Lights Winter Tour of the Total Iceland Experience with Ice Caving & the Blue Lagoon
Reserve this 9-day tour package to experience all the best attractions Iceland has to offer in winter. In addition to visiting the most exciting and popular attractions, such as the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle, you'll have a rare opportunity to see a natural gem, an ice cave in the Vatnajökull glacier.
You will also see the famed Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon that has made numerous appearances in Hollywood blockbuster films. Snæfellsnes, the peninsula aptly nicknamed "Iceland in miniature," is another highlight of this package.
You will also have a free day to explore the capital Reykjavík while also the chance to visit Akureyri, the largest city in northern Iceland, with an included flight. From there, you'll investigate the cratered landscape of the Lake Mývatn area and the strange, elf-blessed formations of lava rocks.
All your accommodation is included in this travel package. You'll be able to customize your trip with additional activities to suit your interests, whether you want to make your vacation a haven of relaxation or cram every evening with something fun.
On your day in the Golden Circle area, you can go snorkeling in Silfra fissure while at Þingvellir. If the waters don't call to you, try the glacier and mountains! You can go snowmobiling on top of Langjökull glacier, the second-largest ice cap in Iceland. Zoom across the ice as fast as you can, or take your time and enjoy the view.
If you're feeling tired but not ready to call it a day, let someone else do the walking. Go horseback riding and get to know the sturdy Icelandic horse. These horses are cutest at this time of year in their shaggy winter coats.
The package is also designed to allow you to often hunt for the Northern Lights throughout your stay, increasing your chances of seeing their fleeting glory.
Don't miss out on this all-encompassing itinerary of Iceland, including a one-of-a-kind ice cave tour! Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival & Welcome to Iceland!
Welcome to Iceland! Your winter adventure begins as soon as you step outside and the refreshing winter chill envelopes you. Be sure to layer up!
You'll be picked up and whisked off toward the capital city.
On your way to Iceland's capital city, you could choose to make a stop at the Blue Lagoon. This world-renowned spa is known for its healing waters, vivid azure colors, and luxurious treatments. It is located in the middle of a moss-covered lava field, giving it an otherworldly atmosphere. If you add the Blue Lagoon, it will be arranged according to your flights. If there is no time to visit the lagoon today, it can be added to another day. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you. There is still plenty to see and do in Reykjavik if you have extra free time.
Settle into your accommodation in the heart of the city center and explore the Nordic ambiance.
If you like, take a complimentary Northern Lights tour in the evening. 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 color against a backdrop of the Icelandic wilderness.
Spend the night in Reykjavik.
Day 2 - The Golden Circle
On this day, you'll begin your adventure in Iceland with the most popular locations of all time: the Golden Circle, a well-traveled route that takes you to Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall.
If you choose to go horseback riding, then your horseback ride would take place at the start of your day before reaching Þingvellir National Park.
Þingvellir National Park is a rift valley located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, torn by the incredible pressure and movement of the earth's crust. The continental divide is a deep gorge, where you can walk directly between the North American and Eurasian plates as they pull apart ever so slowly, year after year.
The cracking and shifting of the land have created deep fissures, such as Silfra, where divers and snorkellers explore the clear water and underground formations. Silfra sits on the peaceful shore of Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. You have the option to go snorkeling here yourself if you like.
The wide-open space here also made it an ideal meeting place for the world's oldest running parliament, founded in 930 AD. For this reason, the park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. In the past, Vikings from every part of the country would gather here to share news and discuss laws.
The second stop on the Golden Circle is another one of geothermal excitement. The entire area is rife with the heat and power found deep inside the earth. Steam and sulfurous gases emanate from vents and fumaroles. Heated water trickles over the rocks. The very ground is warm beneath your feet.
There are many smaller hot springs and geysers here, but the stars of this show are the Great Geyser, resting now after 10,000 years of activity, and Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes with blasts of more than 30 m (100 ft).
The final stop is Gullfoss, called the Golden Waterfall. It is named because of the gorgeous mists churned up by its power, which appear golden in the sunlight. The view is even more spectacular in the winter as the glacial waters burst through snow and ice, relentlessly crashing into the canyon below.
From there, you can also choose to add a snowmobile tour on the nearby Langjökull glacier.
On the way back to the city after a day on the Golden Circle, you'll 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 snorkeling, 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.
You'll return to your accommodation in Reykjavik for the evening.
If you are still dreaming of Northern Lights, add a bus tour that will deliver you to the most likely viewing spots just outside the city.
Day 3 - The South Coast
The south coast of Iceland is filled with breathtaking wonders, and today begins your two-day trip along it. You will be picked up early at your hotel, so be ready and wear clothing according to the weather.
First, you will see Seljalandsfoss waterfall, a stunning high and narrow waterfall that tumbles from a cliff with a large cave behind it. You can walk behind the waterfall and enjoy the view, but mind your steps: the rocks can be slippery with ice in the winter! Next, another stunning waterfall: Skógafoss. This one is even bigger than Seljalandsfoss and is the last in a long row of impressive waterfalls that cascade down from the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano that looms over the south coast.
Eyjafjallajökull is a glacier with a volcano underneath the ice cap. In 2010, European air travel was shut down for several days because of its eruption.
After you've had your waterfall fix, you'll head to Reynisfjara, a gorgeous black sand beach with stunning vistas of rock formations and ocean waves. The rocks at Reynisdrangar, beyond the coast, stand strong against volatile Atlantic Ocean waves. This location is stunningly beautiful but also dangerous due to its unpredictable waves. Don't get too caught up in taking pictures, and make sure to stay a good distance away from the surf, so you don't get captured by a sneaky wave and brought out to the freezing Atlantic ocean!
You'll have a lunch break and then continue further east, past a large extension of black sand plains, the results of a single volcanic eruption. This area is home to one of the biggest pseudo-crater collections in the world. You'll see the impressive Vatnajökull glacier right next to these enormous sand plains.
Finally, you'll arrive at the stunning Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. The lagoon is stunning in low light, the floating ice sparkling in shades of gold. When an iceberg has just tumbled into the lagoon, you'll be able to see the gorgeous deep blue color of the ice. To finish off the day with even more spectacular sights, you'll go hunting for Northern Lights in the evening if the sky is clear. Your accommodation will be in a cozy country hotel either near Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon or Skaftafell Nature Reserve.
Day 4 - Inside the Blue Ice Cave
Today, you will participate in one of the rarest and most extraordinary experiences in all of Iceland. The cave, rising out of the snowy landscape like an Ice Queen's castle from a fairytale, is yours to explore!
You'll first take a cool ride in a modified truck built to plow through the winter snow. There is a short hike from the parking area to the cave itself, so be prepared to take a morning walk in the brisk air. Wear sturdy hiking boots that come up over the ankle to ensure that melting snow does not find your socks and that the crampons you're provided with fit nicely over the boots.
Each autumn, specialists search the area around Vatnajökull glacier, the largest glacier in Iceland, hoping to find these natural ice formations, large enough to traverse and admire the wonders inside safely.
Throughout the winter, the changing temperatures cause the ice to melt and refreeze, changing the shape of the cave constantly. Each cave is unique, ever-shifting, and beautiful to behold - an entire cave made of pure blue ice.
You'll spend around 45 minutes exploring the ice cave, provided with all necessary equipment and with the support of your knowledgeable guide. You must dress warmly and remember to wear a winter hat that is not too bulky, as it needs to fit under your caving helmet.
After this one-of-a-kind excursion, you'll return to Reykjavík for the evening. On the way, you'll make a second stop to admire Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. Occasionally, seals like to sun themselves on the icebergs so make sure you look out for them.
On the drive home, keep your eyes on the skies for another chance to spot the Northern Lights. It is always a lovely surprise when they appear!
Day 5 - Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Today, you'll begin your 2-day, in-depth exploration of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, an area of such beauty that it is often called "Iceland in miniature" as many Icelanders believe it has all the features which make Iceland so beautiful.
You'll be picked up from your accommodation and taken first to the beach at Ytri-Tunga, which is home to a large seal colony.
In the winter, it is a place of solitude. As you stand on the rocky beach and look out at the ocean, let your thoughts drift like the ocean waves.
Your next stop is Rauðafellsgjá, a fissure on the eastern side of Mt. Botnsfjall. A nearby stream feeds the fissure, nourishing the plants there. As a result, the walls inside are covered with moss during the warmer months. For now, the imposing cliff walls are traced with ice and snow.
After passing two historic fishing villages, you'll spend an hour wandering the picturesque cliffs at Hellnar.
Then, you'll go to Snæfellsjökull National Park, where for a small additional fee, you have the option of another experience deep in the caves: this time, a lava cave formed more than 7,000 years ago, Vatnshellir.
You'll then embrace the wide-open spaces at Djúpalónssandur and Dritvík, two beachfront areas. Finally, you'll make one last hike to Lóndrangar, a black basalt formation more than 70 m (230 ft) high.
You'll rest in a country hotel for the night, in the village of Borganes.
Day 6 - Kirkjufell and lava waterfalls
On your second day in Snæfellsnes, you'll see even more of the region's fascinating topography.
This is a perfect day for taking photos of your Icelandic adventure, as you will visit numerous attractions, like the uniquely shaped mountain Kirkjufell and the hexagonal columns at Gerðuberg.
HBO series Game of Thrones fans might recognize Kirkjufell mountain as 'the mountain shaped like an arrowhead'. However, those who have not watched the series can still appreciate its beauty.
The impressive rock wall of Gerðuberg is made of massive columns that form geometric patterns in the cliffs. Their unique, hexagonal shape serves as a great reminder of how strange but amazing Mother Nature can be.
In the Borgarfjörður area, you'll see two waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Barnafoss, the "children's waterfall," was named as such because two children tragically drowned there in the early 20th century.
The day will finish with a visit to Deildartunguhver, the highest flow hot spring in Europe. You'll pass through the charming village of Borgarnes on your way back to Reykjavík, where you will spend the night.
Don't forget to save some energy for another Northern Lights tour, if you are so inclined.
Day 7 - Lake Myvatn in the North
Today, you'll leave the land entirely for a short flight across the country to the town known as the "Capital of the North": Akureyri.
Make your way to Reykjavík Domestic Airport for your morning departure. This tour officially begins in Akureyri, and your tour guide will meet you at the airport there.
You'll go directly to the Lake Mývatn area to explore this strange landscape of volcanic craters filled with snow and a frozen lake waiting silently for spring.
After taking in the Skútustaðagígar craters, you'll visit the Dimmuborgir lava field. The formations here - forming holes, towers, and strangely shaped crags of lava rock - are called the "Dark Cities" because of their unsettling appearance. It is said that the elves hide here, and sometimes trolls, too.
Next, you'll see the underground hot spring Grjótagjá, steaming in the chilly air.
Hverir, a geothermal field, is your next destination. This area does battle against the cold of winter all season long, with bubbling hot springs and gaseous fumaroles keeping up their activity despite the weather.
Now that you've experienced the temperamental beauty of the earth, you'll enjoy its more soothing qualities with a long soak in the geothermal pool of Mývatn Nature Baths outdoors so that you can enjoy the scenery.
After another flight from Akureyri in the evening, you'll spend the night in Reykjavík.
Day 8 - Free Day in Reykjavik
Take advantage of this free day to explore Reykjavík. Many small businesses and quirky shops offer everything from specialty cheese and baked goods to Icelandic wool crafts, books, volcanic jewelry, and other keepsakes. The Little Christmas Shop (Litla Jólabúðin) on the main shopping street celebrates Christmas all year round!
You'll never be hungry in Reykjavík. Many restaurants and cafés have unique seafood dishes and lamb or coffee beans roasted in small batches for the finest flavors.
You can chart your own course, and wander where the city takes you, from Harpa Concert Hall overlooking the Old Harbour, where you can hop on a short whale-watching cruise, to the distinctive spire of Hallgrímskirkja church, where you can ascend the spire and gaze out over the entire city. Pop inside Reykjavík's City Hall to see a large 3D map of Iceland and get tips from the traveler information center about live music in the evening.
You may also want to visit various theatres, art galleries, or museums that showcase Iceland's vibrant art community, history, and culture.
At night, once again, you may book an extra bus tour to view the Northern Lights. Sometimes they can be shy, and you may want to take every opportunity to see them. Spend one more night in Reykjavík.
Day 9 - Farewell to Iceland
On your final day in Iceland, use any extra time you have for one last meal, a cup of coffee, or some final souvenir shopping on the streets of Reykjavík.
For those who have a later flight and choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today, you will finish off your stay unwinding before you head to the airport. This is the perfect place to relax as you bathe in the warm, mineral-rich waters as you look back on the incredible adventure you have just taken in the land of fire and ice. If your flight is later, there are plenty of things to do in Reykjavik. If you have an early flight back home, we wish you a pleasant journey.
Whatever you choose to do, we hope you will remember Iceland fondly and come back soon!
What to bring
Good to know
The Northern Lights are a natural phenomenon, and therefore cannot be guaranteed, but this itinerary is designed to maximize your chances to see them if the weather allows. Please be aware that your itinerary may have to be rearranged to better fit your arrival date and time.
Some optional activities might need a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you need to know how to swim and present medical documents should you choose to go snorkeling or diving.
It can happen, in the case of extreme weather, that an activity is canceled. If your chosen activity is canceled, 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.
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.
Dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostels. Located in the capital region. Breakfast is not included.
Private rooms with shared bathroom in guesthouses or hostels such as Capital Inn Guesthouse. Located in the capital region. Breakfast is not included.
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.
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.