Experience Iceland’s signature beauty in winter on this 8-day small group guided tour by minibus!
This epic multi-day adventure takes you all around Iceland on the famous Ring Road as you explore some of the country’s best natural sights. Witness the stunning scenery changing before your eyes as you travel from the Golden Circle to the South Coast, into the Eastfjords and up to gorgeous Lake Mývatn in the north, before heading to the windswept coastlines of the Snæfellsness Peninsula on your way back to Reykjavík.
Winter is the most popular time to travel to Iceland, when the nights are long and dark. During this time of year, you’ll have ample opportunities to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights dancing across the sky, provided that the conditions and weather are favourable. There’s no better place to hunt them than over pristine landscapes, blanketed in a layer of snow.
By day, you’ll unearth scenic wonders as you travel around the Land of Fire and Ice. Volcanoes, black sand beaches, spectacular waterfalls and steaming geothermal areas are all part of what makes Iceland such an intriguing place to visit. Explore the cultural and natural attractions of Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site where historical significance abounds, and delve into the enchantment of Vatnajökull National Park, with its ancient glaciers and fascinating glacial lagoons. You’ll even have the chance to spot some of Iceland’s delightful wildlife, including Arctic foxes playing in the snow, reindeer, sea birds, seals and so much more.
Throughout the tour, your guide will share their breadth of knowledge with you so that you’ll gain an insight into the culture, history and significance of Iceland and its enthralling natural landscapes. You’ll also enjoy the benefits of having your accommodation and transport pre-arranged for you by our travel consultants, taking the headache out of planning.
For those with a keen sense of adventure, there is the option of adding extra excursions during the booking process which will no doubt enhance your experience throughout your journey. Satisfy your thirst for adrenaline on a glacier hike at Sólheimajökull or descend into the depths of a timeworn lava tube in Vatnshellir cave. You can also see the countryside on the back of an Icelandic horse or take your camera into the captivating surrounds of an ice cave in the heart of the largest glacier in all of Europe. With so many activities on offer, you can let go and simply experience Iceland the way that you want, making incredible memories to last you a lifetime.
Breathtaking scenery and magical experiences await you on this Circle of Iceland winter vacation. Do not miss out on the chance to travel around Iceland on this 8-day small group guided adventure. Check availability by choosing a date.
The adventure begins! You’ll be picked up by your guide in Reykjavík before commencing the journey towards the Golden Circle, where breathtaking scenery awaits. Each of the three landmarks on this famous route highlights exactly why we call this the Land of Fire and Ice.
Your first stop will be at Þingvellir National Park, the only UNESCO World Heritage Listed site on Iceland’s mainland. It brims with cultural and historical significance, being the meeting place of Alþingi, the oldest parliament in the world. This extraordinary rift valley is located on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the boundary between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Here, you will be able to witness evidence of thousands of years of continental drift, which has left stunning geological formations and deep fissures filled with glacial water throughout the landscape.
From there, you’ll head to Geysir, a geothermally active region filled with hot springs, steaming fumaroles and mud pots that bubble forth from beneath the earth. Take a short walk around the colourful sinters and get your camera ready to capture Strokkur, a fountain geyser that erupts every 5-10 minutes, spewing hot water almost 20 metres into the air!
Your final destination upon the Golden Circle will be Gullfoss, one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. On a sunny day, this waterfall lives up to its namesake, taking on a golden sheen in the winter light. Originating at the Langjökull glacier, this waterfall drops 32 metres over two astonishing tiers, before cascading through a canyon into the Hvítá river below.
For those who are keen to explore the winter beauty of Iceland’s countryside, there is the option of adding extra activities during the booking process to create the perfect itinerary for your trip to the Golden Circle. Go horse riding on the back of an Icelandic horse or feel the crisp, cool air on your cheeks as you glide across a glacier on a snowmobile. The possibilities are endless.
In the evening, you’ll spend the night at accommodation close to the Golden Circle or in Hella village. Don’t forget to head out tonight to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights, weaving their enchanting glow through the starry night sky.
The second day of your adventure will see you travelling from the Golden Circle to the famous South Coast of Iceland. Along the way, you’ll pass by rolling farmland, undulating lava fields, winding rivers and stunning waterfalls. Of these, Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss are perhaps the most well-known, with both dropping from a height of 60 metres over rocky cliffs.
Thereafter, there is the option of glacier hiking at Sólheimajökull, an outlet glacier situated between the mighty Katla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes. This activity involves an easy walk between frozen ice formations and deep crevasses with an experienced glacier guide, for an exhilarating experience that you’ll never forget. Just be sure to add this excursion during the booking process if you want to discover Iceland’s amazing glacial landscapes. Even if you don’t opt to do this activity, you will still be able to walk around the lagoon at the base of the glacier, where you’ll be able to get up close and personal with rugged moraines and other features left over by the glacier’s retreat.
From Sólheimajökull, you’ll continue on your journey along the picturesque coast. The winding roads will take you by the scenic shoreline until you reach the hauntingly beautiful Reynisfjara black sand beach. Here, the tumultuous waves of the North Atlantic Ocean have carved out tall basaltic columns in the cliffs which overlook the water. You’ll catch sight of fantastic views of the Reynisdrangar sea stacks, as well as the Dyrhólaey rock arch rising high in the distance.
This evening, you’ll be staying in the quaint and charming seaside village of Vík. Settle in for some tasty Icelandic cuisine at one of the cosy restaurants or shop for Icelandic wool and other handmade crafts at the local boutiques. When darkness falls, you’ll have the perfect opportunity to view the Northern Lights, provided that the conditions are right.
On day three, you’ll traverse the black sand desert of Skeiðarársandur, en route for the enchanting icy wonders of the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Vatnajökull National Park. It is here that you will encounter Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and the Diamond Beach in all of their glory.
One of the most beautiful places in all of Iceland, Jökulsarlon is a tidal lagoon situated at the base of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, within the Vatnajökull National Park. It transforms in appearance, depending on currents and the light. On a still day, the mirrored surface can reflect the tremendous icebergs that float within its depths, glistening with hues of electric blue and white. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the shoreline and to take a walk around the lagoon for incredible views of seals hauled out upon icebergs, as well as sea birds hunting for fish.
The tidal nature of the lagoon means that the icebergs that drift within float through a small passageway with the tide, where they are pummelled and reshaped by the waves before being deposited back ashore on a narrow strip of black sand. Oftentimes described as the ‘Diamond Beach’, this is where you’ll find glorious icebergs of all shapes and sizes, resembling jewels glistening in the sun.
In the afternoon, you’ll make an unmissable journey into an ice cave within Vatnajökull glacier, the largest ice cap in all of Europe. Be prepared to explore a wondrous underground world, surrounded by solid ice that glimmers with blue, white and black.
When the night sets in, be sure to train your eyes to the sky in your hunt for the Northern Lights. You’ll then retire to your accommodation in the vicinity of Jökulsarlon.
Today, you’ll leave the icy surroundings of the Vatnajökull National Park behind as you continue the journey into the remote wilderness of Iceland’s Eastfjords. Along the way, you’ll make a stop at Hallormsstaðaskógur forest, an area of woodland that has withstood the harsh conditions since it was preserved in the year 1905. The trees here stand out amidst the starkly barren landscape, with snow covering the branches and sheltering the wildlife within. Nearby is the Lagarfljót lake which, according to Icelandic folklore, harbours a serpentine monster within its depths.
The winding fjords of the east are dotted with small fishing settlements set amidst jet black beaches with mountains looming all around. It’s the perfect place to spot animals frolicking about during winter, including reindeer roaming in herds.
The drive into the east may be long but there is a lot of scenery to keep you occupied as you make your way to your accommodation for the evening. The epic mountain peaks, sweeping fjords and immaculate coastlines make a great backdrop if you plan to set out in the evening, in search of the Northern Lights.
On day five, you’ll arrive at Lake Mývatn, a geothermally active area in the north of Iceland. Affectionately dubbed ‘north of the wall’ following its depiction in the HBO series, ‘Game of Thrones’, this region is a wonderland of diverse, volcanic landscapes.
At Dimmuborgir, you’ll have the chance to wander through the remnants of a vast lava field, between enormous rock formations that reach high into the sky. These dramatic sculptures resemble dark castles or a mediaeval fort and are steeped in folklore, purportedly home to Iceland’s supernatural elves, also known as the ‘Huldufólk’ or ‘hidden people’.
From there, you’ll continue around Lake Mývatn to Námaskarð Pass, a geothermal area, where billowing steam rises from hot springs, fumaroles, bubbling mud pots and multicoloured sinters. There will be plenty of time to explore the unearthly surroundings, as the smell of sulphur penetrates the atmosphere. The local custom here is to bake a moist dark rye bread by burying the dough in metal containers around the geothermal springs.
In the afternoon, there will be the option of taking a dip in the Mývatn Nature Baths. This large, open-air complex of geothermal pools is the perfect way to relax after a long day of exploring. Remember to add this activity during the booking process if you want to submerge yourself in these mineral-rich waters.
Afterwards, you’ll board the bus bound for Iceland’s second largest city outside of the country’s southwest, with a stop at the magnificent Goðafoss waterfall along the way. The drive will take you through the snowy peaks of Víkurskarð mountain pass, following which you will have spectacular views of Eyjafjörður, one of the longest fjords in Iceland. Eventually, you’ll arrive in Akureyri, in time to delve into the many museums, shops and cafes that line the charming streets of this northern fishing port.
You will spend the evening in the Akureyri area.
On this day, you will continue your journey into the west of Iceland, passing by spectacular fjords and through vast expanses of farmland. There will be a stop at the quiet village of Hauganes, where you’ll find yourself surrounded by fantastic scenery. At the harbour, traditional fishing boats bob about peacefully. Meanwhile, the nearby black sand beach can appear to reach far into the ocean at low tide.
Hauganes is a popular spot for whale watching. There is the option today of booking a whale watching tour, which will take you out into the waters of the fjord to spot Humpback whales, Minke whales, Harbour porpoises, White Beaked dolphins, Orcas and Blue whales in their natural feeding grounds.
If you’d rather stay ashore, then there is the option of heading for a dip at the Bjórböðin Beer Spa. This is where you can soak in hot springs with a cold beer in hand. It’s the perfect holiday destination for beer lovers, which offers the possibility of bathing in a bath of warm beer. You can also partake in a number of beer yeast treatments, which have been touted to be very beneficial for hair and skin!
After you have finished exploring Hauganes, you’ll head further into the southwest, towards a rocky coast where you will find the majestic Hvítserkur rock stack. At high tide, it appears to rise directly from the waves, resembling a dragon drinking from the sea. At low tide, it stands in a bed of black sand, offering visitors the chance to wander closer. The shoreline here is famous for seal watching. A short walk will take you by many seals, hauled out upon the beach.
You’ll then continue your journey onwards until you reach your accommodation in the town of Borgarnes, where you will stay for the next two nights. In the evening, be sure to look upwards for a chance to watch the Aurora dancing in the sky.
On day seven, you will have plenty of time to explore the area around Reykholt, the gateway to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Your first stop will be at the Deildartunguhver thermal spring, which is Europe’s most powerful hot spring. The ground here is tinged red by the minerals in the soil. Meanwhile, steam rises forth from fumaroles while a hot river bubbles and boils. Huge pipes transport the geothermal water from this spring to the local communities nearby. At a stand by the parking lot, you’ll be able to purchase fresh, handpicked Icelandic tomatoes grown in greenhouses powered by this energy.
The next location where you will stop is Reykholt, a sleepy village with historical and cultural significance. It was the home of one of Iceland’s most famous authors, Snorri Sturluson, who resided there in the years 1206-1241. You’ll have plenty of time to explore the local landmarks, including an old church and the Snorrastofa museum, which is dedicated to celebrating Sturluson’s life.
Thereafter, you’ll visit two incredible waterfalls, one of which will be unlike any other that you have seen in Iceland. Hraunfossar, also known as the ‘lava falls’, is not just one waterfall but rather, it is a series of rivulets that seep out from the porous rocks of a lava field. It feeds into the gorgeous glacial Hvítá river, the source of the famous Gullfoss waterfall on Iceland’s Golden Circle.
A short walk from Hraunfossar will take you to Barnafoss, a waterfall that also flows out from the lava plain. Its turquoise water is especially spectacular when surrounded by snow and ice.
After exploring these two waterfalls, you’ll head back to your accommodation where you’ll retire for the night.
This will be your final day in Iceland and you will spend it on the spectacular, windswept coastlines of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. This region is often described as a ‘miniature Iceland’, owing to its many diverse landscapes where lava fields, waterfalls, mountains, rugged cliffs and extraordinary sea stacks dominate the scenery, beneath the shadow of the Snæfellsjökull glacier looming upon the horizon.
In the morning, you’ll visit Gerðuberg, a giant cliff face of hexagonal basalt columns. Spanning over a kilometre and standing at up to 14 metres (46 feet) in height, these massive formations make for a truly breathtaking sight.
You’ll then continue onwards through the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, to the Ytri-Tunga beach. What makes this beach so unusual is that it has golden sand, which is quite a rare sight in Iceland. It’s a magical place when covered in a dusting of snow, surrounded by lava fields. Dramatic, tall mountains make for a pretty backdrop while seals swim close to the beach.
From there, you’ll head to Djúpalónssandur, a beautiful beach in its own right with black pebbles instead of sand. To reach the beach, you’ll pass by towering lava formations. Astounding geological formations may be found here. There are a number of trails to walk upon with spectacular views of Snæfellsjökull glacier and volcano in the distance.
Your next stop will be the 8,000-year-old Vatnshellir lava cave, where you’ll have the opportunity to journey into the centre of the Earth! This activity will take you 30 metres underground into a subterranean cavern of stalactites and stalagmites. There are four caves in the system to explore on this fascinating and educational tour, so be sure to add it during the booking process if you want to see something unique!
Finally, what is a trip to Iceland without a stop at the famous Kirkjufell? Its conical shaped peak is at once recognisable, having starred on the ‘Game of Thrones’ series for a number of episodes. You’ll have the chance to walk around this picturesque mountain, including its photogenic waterfalls, before boarding the bus for the return journey to Reykjavík. It is anticipated that you’ll arrive back to Reykjavík in the early evening. In case of any delays or bad weather conditions, we recommend that you do not plan to fly out of Iceland on the same night. Instead, there is plenty to do and see around Reykjavík. This will be your last chance to experience the delicious local cuisine and vibrant nightlife. We hope you’ll have had a pleasant stay in Iceland!
Customers travelling on their own will receive a single room. Reservations for 2 people will be allocated a double room. For bookings of 3 or more, triple rooms will automatically be allocated. For example, a group of 8 will receive 2 triple rooms and 1 double. If these arrangements do not meet your requirements, please contact the provider.
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 advised that there is no specific Northern Lights hunt on this tour, but your guide will notify you if the conditions are favourable and advise you on how to best spot them.
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.
Please note that only pick up and drop-off from designated pick up locations in the greater capital area is available, not from Keflavík International Airport. Therefore, we do not recommend attempting to start this tour on your arrival day in Iceland. Arrival time back to Reykjavík at the end of your tour can vary depending on weather and traffic.
It is highly recommended that you do not book your flight home the same night as bad weather or delays could affect your journey. Please be sure to arrange accommodation for this evening and an airport transfer the next day to take you to Keflavík International Airport for your departure.
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.