Grab the car keys and hit the asphalt on an epic 10-day road trip adventure through the winter wilds of Iceland. During this journey, you'll enjoy major highlights, from natural hot springs like the Blue Lagoon to volcanic beaches and thundering waterfalls. But it's not all a scenic drive—you'll also embark on glacier hikes, snowshoeing adventures, whale watching, tours to spot the northern lights, and more.

Highlights

  • Soak in natural mineral springs like the famous Blue Lagoon
  • Hike across the surface of glaciers and explore ice caves
  • Embark on a snowshoeing adventure over volcanic landscapes
  • Go whale watching in Reykjavík and see the northern lights

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Keflavík, Drive to Reykjavík via Blue Lagoon & Reykjanes Peninsula Reykjavík
Day 2 Drive to Hella via Hot Springs, Geysers & Waterfalls Hella
Day 3 Þórsmörk Super Jeep Tour Hella
Day 4 Drive to Vík via Beaches, Waterfalls & Canyons  Vík
Day 5 Drive to Skaftafell via Yoda Cave, Waterfalls, Jökulsárlón Lagoon & Ice Caving Skaftafell
Day 6 Skaftafell Glacier Hike Skaftafell
Day 7 Drive to Hella via Waterfall Hike, Lava Fields, Beaches & Dyrhólaey Arch Hella
Day 8 Snowshoeing Adventure, Drive to Reykjavík  Reykjavík
Day 9 Whale Watching & Northern Lights Tour Reykjavík
Day 10 Sky Lagoon, Drive to Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, Drive Reykjavík via Blue Lagoon & Reykjanes Peninsula

Soak in Iceland's hot springs, including the world-famous Blue Lagoon

Welcome to Iceland! The "Land of Fire and Ice" is a volcanic island on the rim of the Arctic Circle and has become quite the tourist destination over the last few decades. Iceland's wild and untamed beauty is a grand spectacle of Mother Nature, including glaciers, hot springs, spouting geysers, a rugged coast, immense waterfalls, and much more. Besides the natural beauty, Iceland also boasts a rich culture and offers plenty of city fun in its capital of Reykjavík. During your stay, you'll experience the full spectrum of this country's charms.

The adventure begins when you land at Keflavík International Airport, located on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwest Iceland. From there, you'll pick up your rental car and drive to the nearby Blue Lagoon, one of the country's most popular tourist destinations. Surrounded by volcanic fields, the lagoon's milky-blue coloring comes from its rich mineral content, algae, and silica. This benefits your skin and is great for rejuvenation. So relax, enjoy the soak, swim under the human-made waterfall, and maybe treat yourself to a white-mud facial at the on-site day spa.

Afterward, you can visit some other interesting landmarks on the peninsula. One highlight is Krýsuvík, a geothermal area on Iceland's tectonic plates filled with hot springs, steam vents, and mud pots. Similarly, you can visit the bubbling and steaming mud cauldrons at Gunnuhver hot springs, named after a female ghost supposedly trapped here by a priest about 400 years ago. Temperatures at these springs are a balmy 572°F (300°C), so stay well within the marked pathways. Later, you'll drive about 45 minutes to the capital of Reykjavík and check into your hotel.

Day 2: Drive to Hella via Hot Springs, Geysers & Waterfalls

Gullfoss is one of Iceland's most famous waterfalls

This morning, hit the road for the first leg of your grand Iceland road trip. From Reykjavík, it's about an hour to Þingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The route you'll follow is part of the Golden Circle, a 190-mile (300 km) circuit that includes some of Iceland's most stunning natural landmarks. The park is home to Iceland's largest natural lake, Thingvallavatn, which is an excellent stop for a picnic or brisk hike. And if you're feeling adventurous, try diving/snorkeling between the continental plates in the crystal clear waters of Silfra Fissure, where visibility is up to 400 feet (120 m).

But the park's wonders don't stop there. Þingvellir is also the birthplace of Althing, Iceland's parliament, which was founded in 930 CE and is the first such parliament in the world. Part of the stop here involves a walk amid the park's historical sites to learn about Iceland's rich political and cultural heritage. You might even glimpse exotic wildlife, like arctic foxes, reindeer, and birds like ravens and merlins if you're lucky. Also, if many of these landscapes look familiar, that's because many scenes from the hit HBO series "Game of Thrones" were filmed here.

After enjoying Þingvellir, you'll continue east to the Geysir geothermal area. This is one of the country's most active geothermal sites, evidenced by the bubbling mud pits, steam vents, and erupting geysers. The star here is the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts like clockwork every 5 to 10 minutes, reaching up to 130 feet (40 m) high. You'll also stop to marvel at Gullfoss, a two-tiered waterfall that plunges 104 feet (32 m) into a river canyon. End the day with a nice long soak in the Kúalaug, a natural hot spring, before driving to the nearby town of Hella, where you'll overnight.

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Day 3: Þórsmörk Super Jeep Tour

Þórsmörk was named after Thor, the Norse god of thunder

Leave your rental car behind this morning as you embark on a rugged off-roading adventure in Þórsmörk (Thórsmörk). Literally translating to "Valley of Thor," this aptly-named mountain ridge sits between the Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull ice caps and was designated as a nature reserve in 1918. The landscapes here are diverse, characterized by impressive gorges, ravines, scrubby slopes, waterfalls, and dried lava fields.

Because the area is inaccessible for regular cars, you'll meet an English-speaking driver/guide near Hella and hop in a customized Super Jeep for a 4WD adventure through the park. During this full-day excursion, you'll explore many of the aforementioned scenic landscapes. Around noon, you'll stop for a picnic lunch in the fresh air.

After eating, you'll continue to scenic viewpoints. Your guide will share insight into the region's geology and point out fascinating landmarks at each one. One incredible site is Gígjökull, a glacier impacted by rushing flood waters when the volcano under the Eyjafjallajökull ice cap erupted in 2010. There's also the option to stop for a side trip along one of the many hiking trails in the park. After a day of driving and hiking, return to the meeting point and transfer back to your hotel in Hella.

Day 4: Drive to Vík via Beaches, Waterfalls & Canyons 

Seljalandsfoss is unique in that there's a trail leading behind the waterfall

After breakfast, you'll continue driving down Route 1 to the far south of Iceland. Today, you'll be touring the natural wonders in and around the town of Vík, which is located on the south coast about 1.5 hours from Hella. Your first stop is at Urriðafoss, a waterfall on Iceland's longest river of Þjórsá. The falls here aren't large, but they do cascade at high speeds over rugged lava rocks. You can also stretch your legs at Kvernufoss, a small canyon near Seljalandsfoss, a romantic waterfall that plunges 200 feet (60 m) into a lagoon. A real highlight here is the hiking trail leading behind these falls.

Next up is Skógarfoss. Located a mile outside the town of Skógar, this thundering waterfall cascades 200 feet (60 m) over a cliff into the Skógá River. According to local legend, a Viking hid a treasure chest behind these falls. Many people have searched for it over the years, but it remains elusive—perhaps you'll be the lucky one to find it. Even if you don't, you can learn more about the region's history with a visit to the Skógar Museum, which features a collection of more than 18,000 fascinating artifacts. From the museum's parking lot you can also access a trail leading up to Kvernufoss, an idyllic canyon and waterfall.

Capping the day is a visit to Seljavallalaug Pool, located just west of Skógar. This 82-foot (25 m) public pool was built in 1923, making it one of the oldest in the country. Situated next to a river and nestled between sloping hills, it's a great place to take a dip, relax, and enjoy the geothermal waters, which remain at 68-86°F (20-35°C). Afterward, you'll drive to your hotel in Vík. Upon arrival, you can take a stroll on the black volcanic beach hemmed in by towering coastal cliffs.

Day 5: Drive to Skaftafell via Yoda Cave, Waterfalls, Jökulsárlón Lagoon & Ice Caving

Spend the day exploring Iceland's south, including venturing inside an ice cave

Hop in the car this morning and hit the road for another full day of sightseeing in Iceland's miraculous south. The first landmark you'll visit is Hjörleifshöfði. Known as the "Yoda Cave," the entrance to this mountain cavern is shaped like the diminutive "Star Wars" character. You can also stop for a hike on one of the trails leading around Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. This geological wonder is famous for its unusual rock formations and towering cliffs that reach up to 328 feet (100 m) high.

You'll also visit landmarks like Skaftafell and Svartifoss, two towering waterfalls. Svartifoss is particularly impressive, as it cascades 65 feet (20 m) over basalt lava columns into a lagoon below. A major highlight is a visit to Jökulsárlón. At 656 feet (200 m), this glacial lake is the deepest in the country, and the icebergs floating in it are over 1,000 years old. You can see these ice formations up close on a boat tour. Afterward, visit the nearby Diamond Beach, a volcanic beach so named due to the iceberg fragments that wash ashore from the nearby glacial lake and sparkle in the light.

The day culminates with a memorable ice-caving experience. You'll meet a guide/driver, then transfer by 4WD up to a glacier. Here, your guide will give you all the necessary equipment and a safety briefing. Then, you'll enter a nearby ice cave for up to an hour of exploration. Marvel at the ice walls shimmering in vivid blue hues, as well as the gleaming stalagmites rising up from the floor. Afterward, you'll return to your vehicle and drive to your accommodation near Skaftafell.

Day 6: Skaftafell Glacier Hike

Today, you'll get to hike across the surface of Europe's largest glacier

In the morning, you'll drive to the nearby Skaftafell Nature Reserve, an outlet glacier extending from Vatnajökull. Covering an area of 3,130 square miles (8,100 sq km) this is Europe's largest glacier by area. Except you won't merely be admiring this ice cap from afar—instead, you'll strap on crampons, grab an ice axe, and hike across its surface.

Upon arrival at the glacier, you'll meet your guide and receive your equipment. After a safety demonstration, you'll step onto the ice and embark on a walk over what will seem like an alien planet. The scenery on this three-hour excursion is spectacular, as you'll pass ice formations, glacial ridges, and deep crevasses. Afterward, you'll drive back to your hotel in Skaftafell. 

Day 7: Drive to Hella via Waterfall Hike, Lava Fields, Beaches & Dyrhólaey Arch

Explore the black beach and sea stacks at Reynisfjara 

Today, you'll get to hike between the Skaftafell and Svartifoss waterfalls. This 2.5-mile (4 km) trail takes you through the heart of Vatnajökull National Park, leading through valleys, along crystal-clear streams, and up to Svartifoss. These falls are nothing short of breathtaking, as they plunge 65 feet (20 m) down otherworldly basalt columns.

Next, you'll drive to the Eldhraun lava field. This enormous field of moss-covered lava rocks resulted from a fissure eruption in 1783 and is believed to have been one of the greatest lava flows in history. Back on Route 1, you'll see a turnoff for Reynisfjara Beach. Like Svartifoss, this black beach is famous for its Reynisdrangar sea stacks—huge basalt hexagonal formations rising up out of the sand. You can hike around the cliffs here and enjoy ocean views as well as explore a couple of large caves.

Also near Vík is Dyrhólaey, a massive rock promontory and natural arch home to colonies of puffins. You can stop to admire the panoramic clifftop views looking out to the ocean, plus the arch is one of the most Instagrammable coastal features in Iceland. During summer, you can even see whales and dolphins frolicking in the ocean below. At the end of the day, you'll drive back to Hella, where you'll overnight.

Day 8: Snowshoeing Adventure, Drive to Reykjavík 

Explore Iceland's landscapes with a pair of snowshoes

It's time for another exciting outdoor adventure. On this full-day guided excursion, you'll experience the winter wonderland of Iceland as you hike over snow-covered lava fields in the Hengill volcanic area. It begins when you strap on a pair of snowshoes and head out into the snowy plains. Not only will you get to enjoy sweeping views of this vast snowy expanse, but there will be plenty of opportunities for fun, like sliding down hills. Midway through the hike, stop at a scenic locale for a hot beverage and hearty lunch.

Throughout the tour, your local guide will offer fascinating insights into the second-largest volcanic area in Iceland, as well as the history and geology of the area. After a few hours of snowshoeing, the circuit trail will lead you back to the starting point. There, you'll get back in the car and make the return trip north to Reykjavík and check into your hotel.

Day 9: Whale Watching & Northern Lights Tour

Travel outside the city and marvel at the northern lights

In the morning, you'll join a whale watching boat tour that leaves from the Old Harbour in Reykjavík and heads out on Faxaflói bay. The most common species seen during winter here are minke whales, dolphins, and humpback whales.  When you return to the harbor, you can spend the rest of the afternoon relaxing or touring Reykjavík on your own.

When the sun goes down, you'll board a minibus and go on a hunt to spot one of the world's most famous natural phenomena: the northern lights. The bus will drive outside of the city, far from any light pollution, to ensure the best chance of glimpsing this spectacle. The best time to see this psychedelic display of light, which is caused by solar storms interacting with the earth's magnetic field, is from August to mid-April.

Day 10: Sky Lagoon, Drive to Reykjanes Peninsula & Depart

Pass Reykjanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, on your drive to the airport

Today marks the last day of your Iceland adventure, but it's not quite over yet. In the morning, you'll drive over to Sky Lagoon, a natural hot spring located on a harbor south of Reykjavík. During the visit, you can take part in the Seven-Step Ritual. This involves alternating between soaks in the hot springs—whose temps hover around 100-104°F (38-40°C)—and cold plunges. Following this is a trip to the sauna and then stepping out into a refreshing cold fog mist. Completing the sensory experience is a body scrub and one last soak in the geothermal lagoon.

Afterward, you'll drive back to the Reykjanes Peninsula. Other highlights you can stop at here include Reykjanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, which dates to 1878. Nearby is the Bridge Between Continents, a footbridge over a fissure separating the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Feel free to stop and take a quick stroll between two continents. Later, you'll continue to the airport, drop off your rental car, and catch your flight home. Safe travels!

More Great Iceland Itineraries

Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Iceland? Check out these other Iceland itineraries, explore more ways to spend 10 days in Iceland, and learn about the best time to visit Iceland.

Map

Map of Active Iceland Winter Road Trip - 10 Days
Map of Active Iceland Winter Road Trip - 10 Days