Ultimate 10 Day Northern Lights Winter Trip to Iceland's Highlands with Ice Caving
Experience Iceland at its wintery best with this 10-day trip. This package offers you the chance to visit Iceland's most popular attractions such as the South Coast, Golden Circle, and Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and pairs the excursions with adventures in the Highlands, a glacier walk, and visits to two ice caves. Those looking to visit Iceland during the Northern Lights season should grab this chance now.
Along with famous locations such as the Golden Circle, Kirkjufell on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon at Vatnajökull National Park, you'll be taken to the remote and wild Landmannalaugar highlands. There, you can admire the area's colorful rhyolite mountains in pristine winter beauty when they are ringed with frost and snow and unwind in a natural hot spring.
You will get the chance to feel like an arctic explorer. You will strap on crampons and a helmet to hike along a glacier to an ice cave. Along with discovering some of the incredible untouched areas of Iceland, you will get the ultimate sense of adventure in nature.
With this package, you will be able to experience Icelandic nature as the locals do. Get on a super jeep with mammoth tires and head to the heart of this country with otherworldly landscapes. All accommodations are included, and you'll experience all of this in small groups, with highly professional tour guides that will help you search for the elusive Northern Lights in the evening.
If all this wasn't enough, you can also add more excitement during the booking process, such as a 2-hour horseback riding tour in the countryside around Reykjavík on the smooth-gaited Icelandic horse, a choice of helicopter tours for unforgettable views, or a day trip to Mývatn in the north (including flights).
Don't miss this ultimate, mind-blowing wintertime adventure! Check availability by choosing a date.
Day 1 - Arrival - Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik
Your winter adventure begins as soon as you land. The international airport is in Keflavík, on the Reykjanes peninsula, and the drive to the capital city of Reykjavík will take you through an otherworldly, lunar landscape. You'll pass by a black lava field covered with moss and possibly snow.
Your accommodation will be a cozy hotel in Reykjavík's city center, so you can start exploring this quirky city straight away.
If your flight arrives early, you can even choose to soak in the Blue Lagoon before you reach Reykjavík. This milky-blue hot spring stays warm all year round, and its natural silica mud does wonders for your skin! A perfect way to relax after your flight. If your flight arrives late, the Blue Lagoon trip will be arranged on a different day, and instead, you can spend your evening in one of Reykjavík's top restaurants, admire its colorful houses and soak in the Nordic atmosphere.
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.
Day 2 - The Golden Circle
Today you will visit one of the most sought-after routes for travelers to Iceland, The Golden Circle. This group of attractions combines natural wonder with the rich history of Iceland.
You will be picked up at your accommodation by your friendly guide. You will then leave the city behind and head towards a place of enchanting beauty, Thingvellir National Park. This UNESCO World Heritage site is the birthplace of the world’s oldest parliament.
The views from inside Thingvellir are stunning, with dramatic rock faces and vast vistas. You will have plenty of time to explore while learning a bit about the first Icelanders.
Thingvellir also sits at the meeting point between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. It is here that the Silfra Fissure lies. Silfra is an underwater canyon; you can choose to snorkel in its crystal clear waters. The visibility in Silfra can be up to 328 feet (100 meters), which will show you a completely different view of the rich geology and natural beauty of Iceland.
You will then travel to Gullfoss, one of the most visited waterfalls in Iceland. The waters from Iceland’s second-largest glacier, Langjökull, feed this rushing beauty. Gullfoss falls over two levels from a height of 21 meters. Its rushing waters and picturesque view demonstrate precisely why this great natural wonder’s name means ‘The Golden Waterfall.’
After Gullfoss, you will make a stop at the Geysir geothermal area. This area, situated in the Haukadalur valley, perfectly shows Iceland’s volcanic nature. Bubbling hot water flows from the ground here, and the star attraction is the area’s most active geyser ‘Strokkur.’ Strokkur bursts hot water 66 feet (20 meters) into the air almost every 5 minutes.
If timing allows, you might also make one final stop at the Kerið crater lake. Three thousand years ago, a volcanic eruption left a cone-shaped crater here when it collapsed into its own magma chamber. In the many years that passed, the cone filled with water, and today Kerið is beautiful and daunting. Looking into Kerið, you will see red volcanic rock walls contrasted with the azure blue waters filling its interior.
You will then return to your accommodation in Reykjavík, where you can see more of the city in the evening or rest up for another incredible day.
Day 3 - The South Coast Day 1
Today you will leave the city behind you and travel through the countryside towards the famous Eyjafjallajökull glacier. This place made headlines in 2010 when the volcano underneath the glacier erupted, halting much air traffic in Europe. Near here is Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which sits at the foot of Eyjafjallajökull. This magnificent waterfall cascades down 197 feet (60 meters).
You will then move onto Skógafoss, another waterfall that’s 18 stories high. During the last ice age, this waterfall sat on the coastline of Iceland, but the expanding island has moved it further inland.
You will then travel further south along the coast. As you travel, you will witness the mighty waves of the Atlantic Ocean as they smash into the black volcanic sands of Reynisfjara Beach. You will stop here for some further sightseeing, where you can look at the strange basalt rock columns and the odd sea stacks just offshore.
After a break, you will continue along the road, passing through barren lava fields, rolling hills, and magnificent plains. You will eventually arrive at Jökulsárlon glacier lagoon. This incredibly deep lake is the birthplace of many icebergs. The massive pieces of ice float in this lagoon as they shift and change on their journey out to sea.
Next to this lagoon is the Diamond Beach, so-called because of the smaller pieces of ice that rest here on the black sand, giving it a jeweled appearance.
You will then retire to your accommodation not far from the glacier lagoon area, just in time to grab some local cuisine for dinner. Remember to make sure you look towards the sky in the evening for a chance to catch the northern lights if the conditions are right.
Day 4 - The South Coast Day 2
Today will be filled with adventure and excitement. You will have the once-in-a-lifetime experience of exploring an ice cave. Before you set off, it's important to make sure you have good hiking shoes. You should aim to wear shoes that cover your ankles to prevent your feet from getting wet in meltwater.
Ice caves are a naturally forming phenomenon. They are caused by the regular melting and freezing cycles of glaciers. One incredible aspect of ice caves is that no two are ever the same; they are as unique as fingerprints.
You will begin your day by meeting your guide, who will equip you with all the necessary gear to tackle this exploration. You will then set off to find this hidden wonder. Once you enter the ice cave, you will experience a completely different world. You will be greeted with ice walls that almost form a winter cathedral. The colors can vary depending on the day, and this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.
You will have plenty of time to explore before heading back to the base. You will then make your way back to Reykjavík. You will have a chance again to witness the incredible coastline of Iceland's south.
You will then arrive at your accommodation in Reykjavík. Don't forget to look towards the skies if the conditions are suitable for another chance to see the northern lights.
Day 5 - Landmannalaugar Super Jeep Day Tour
Today will be all about discovery in luxury. You will take a trip to visit another natural jewel of Iceland, the Landmannalaugar geothermal area. You will be picked up at your accommodation in Reykjavík by a super jeep. This large vehicle is built with luxury and is perfectly capable of handling the rugged terrain of the day.
You will then journey to the Þórsádalur valley, here you will see Hjálparfoss waterfall. This twin cascade results from two streams from the Fossá river merging in the basin of the waterfall. Hjálparfoss sits in a lava field north of the Hekla stratovolcano.
You will then travel to two beautiful lakes; the first is Ljótipollur. This is a crater lake made of rock that is a vibrant red color, contrasted perfectly with the azure blue of its water. The second lake is Frostaðavatn, which provides the opportunity for some incredible pictures. It is a popular subject for photographers from around the world.
As you continue to travel in comfort and style, you will be greeted by the magnificent and unique beauty of the Landmannalaugar area. This part of Iceland’s southern Highlands is nestled in the black Laugahraun lava field. Landmannalaugar is filled with rhyolite mountains. This type of volcanic rock creates a full spectrum of dazzling colors. You will see shades of green, pink, red, and even golden yellow.
You will have the chance to hike up one of the area’s many trails before you take a relaxing dip in a natural hot pool.
Before you head back to Reykjavík, you will stop at Þjófafoss waterfall in the Dómadalur valley. The comfortable super jeep you travel in is one of the only vehicles capable of reaching this destination. You will also visit one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, Hekla.
You will then travel back to Reykjavík in both comfort and style.
Day 6 - Thorsmork Super Jeep Day Tour
This part of your trip might see you getting used to luxury as you will be picked up again in a comfortable super jeep. Today you will get to explore a hidden valley between 3 glaciers called Þórsmörk. This part of the country is named after the Norse god of thunder and fertility, Þór (Thor), and boasts some of the most incredible and untouched views you can imagine.
You will start by once again heading south along the gorgeous Icelandic coastline. You will make a stop again at the spectacular Seljalandsfoss; this is a great chance to get some more pictures of this natural beauty if you didn’t get enough earlier. You will also visit a lesser-known waterfall, Gljúfrabúi. Visitors often miss this cascade because towering cliffs partially hide it, so a stop here means you will be taking advantage of a well-kept secret.
You will then make your way through incredible untouched landscapes and river crossings into the valley of Þórsmörk. Mountains and glaciers will dominate your view. You will take a hike up the Valahnúkur mountain to be greeted by even more breathtaking views.
After your full day, you will once again travel back to your accommodation in Reykjavík, ready for rest, or even some time to enjoy the city’s vibrant nightlife.
Day 7 - Enter the West
Today you will begin an adventure in Iceland’s west, an area known for vast lava fields, mysterious caves, flowing waterfalls, white and black sand beaches, historical sites, and a spectacular glacier.
You will be picked up in a minibus from your accommodation in Reykjaví. Then, you will go west. As you head towards your destination, you will have the chance to get a closer look at the mountain that overlooks the world’s most northern capital, mt Esja. You will also see the remnants of an abandoned naval base from WWII that the British once occupied on your journey.
Your next landmark will be Borgarfjörður, where Vikings settled over a thousand years ago after leaving Norway. You will stop in the Reykholtsdalur valley, which is a geothermal hot spot. Europe’s most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver, is situated here. Next, you will experience a bit of history as you head to the village of Reykholt, where, in the middle ages, Icelandic poet, law speaker, and historian Snorri Sturluson lived.
Not far from Reykholt are two waterfalls, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Each of these falls is entirely different, Hraunfossar trickles down a broad cliff face, and Barnafoss is a rapid waterfall creating gushing torrents of water.
You will then head to your accommodation where you can get some rest and prepare for another full day.
Day 8 - Snaefellsnes Peninsula - Iceland in Miniature
Today you will continue your journey into the west as you experience the magical Snæfellsnes peninsula. This part of the country has affectionately been referred to as 'Iceland in miniature' because it has most of the landscapes and natural formations available in a very small space.
From your accommodation, you will head towards this peninsula. The first point of interest will be Gerðuberg Cliff. This large wall of basalt columns is a fascinating sight to see. Each column has a hexagonal shape that formed naturally as lava cooled thousands of years ago.
The next stop is the Ytri Tunga beach. This area is unusual for Iceland because it has white sand instead of black volcanic sand. This is because the western part of Iceland is the oldest part of the country. This is also one of the best places to see seals sunning themselves.
You will then travel to the village of Arnarstapi. This place is surrounded by massive basalt cliffs, ravines, and caves, many of which rich in folklore. You will take some time to journey along the coastline to watch the Atlantic Ocean waves crash against dramatic rock formations, particularly the rock arch Gatklettur.
You will then journey to the black pebble beach of Djúpalónssandur. You will trek through a maze of natural lava pillars that look like they could be the setting of a fantasy epic. You will then reach the beach with its millions of smooth black pebbles. As the ocean washes on the shore, you might even hear the music the water and pebbles make together. Keep an eye out for the shipwrecked fishing trawler that made this its final resting place half a century ago.
Next, it's time to head to the inspiration of the famous Jules Verne novel 'Journey to the Centre of the Earth.' You will follow in the footsteps of this acclaimed novel's main characters as you enter the lava cave called Vatnshellir. This cave was created by the path of flowing lava 8,000 years ago.
Once you have reached the surface, you will head towards the north side of the peninsula, where you will see one of the stars of HBOs' Game of Thrones,' Kirkjufell mountain. It was 'the mountain the looks like an arrow's head' in the series, and it's even more astonishing to see in person.
You will then travel through Hraunsfjörður, a beautiful fjord surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
You will spend the night back in the capital of Reykjavík.
Day 9 - Relax in Reykjavik
You'll have a day of discovering Reykjavík's hidden gems within your itinerary. This day may fall in between your other planned tours.
As you will always be staying in the heart of Reykjavík, you should make the most of your proximity to the exciting city center. There are plenty of museums, galleries, cafés, bars, theatres, designer shops, and street art to admire and explore. And don't forget the restaurants! The seafood and lamb are local delicacies.
This day also offers great possibilities if you just can't get enough of adventure. If you feel like exploring, you could join a tour to Lake Mývatn in the north and visit some of Iceland's most impressive lava fields and geothermal sites. If you'd rather stay in the city, you could go on a helicopter tour for a final view from sky-high. Another amazing option is to visit the ice tunnels in Langjökull glacier in the western highlands.
Whale watching is also available and horse riding for those who like to keep close to the ground, and Reykjavík also has several public outdoor pools that are warm all year round, so you can relax in a sauna soak in a hot tub, and meet the locals. Treat yourself to an Icelandic hot dog afterward. You can also choose to visit the Blue Lagoon today instead of doing it on your arrival or departure day.
Day 10 - Reykjavik and Departure
If you are lucky enough to have even more time in Iceland, you may do your last-minute shopping and soak in the clean Nordic air before going to the airport for your departure.
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.
We hope you had a wonderful stay in Iceland and will see you again. Perhaps next time you will visit in the summer, and compare the country's beauty in each season!
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.