Nothing compares to Iceland in winter, and this 10-day self-drive tour takes you to some of its most breathtaking natural wonders and historic sites. Visit Þingvellir National Park for snorkel tours of the Silfra fissure and gushing geysers, then see the Streiti Coastline via Jeep, where you'll traverse remote roads and cross unbridged rivers. Hike the winter shores of Lake Mývatn, completing your trip with a spa day at the Blue Lagoon, where you'll soak in mineral-rich waters and enjoy a mud mask.


  • Snorkel in the amazing underwater world of the Silfra fissure
  • Walk through wondrous crystal-blue ice caves
  • Hike to age-old rock formations on the glacial shores of Lake Mývatn 
  • Enjoy a luxurious spa experience in the restorative waters of the Blue Lagoon 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Keflavík, the Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon Golden Circle
Day 2 Drive to Vík, South Coast Waterfalls, ATV Tour  Vík
Day 3 Drive to Höfn, Canyons & Glaciers Around Vík, Crystal Blue Ice Cave Höfn
Day 4 Drive to Egilsstaðir, East Fjords, Streiti Coastline Jeep Tour, Vok Baths Egilsstaðir
Day 5 Lake Mývatn, Möðrudalsöræfi & Stuðlagil, Hunt for Northern Lights  Lake Mývatn
Day 6 Lake Mývatn & Nature Baths Lake Mývatn
Day 7 Drive to Laugarbakki, Diamond Circle, Húsavik Whale Watching Laugarbakki
Day 8 Drive to Reykjavík via the Snæfellsnes Peninsula Reykjavík
Day 9 The Blue Lagoon Retreat Spa  Reykjanes Peninsula
Day 10 Drive to Keflavík, Depart   

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Keflavík, the Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon

Erupting geysers at Geysir geothermal area

Welcome to Iceland! Upon your arrival at Keflavík Airport, pick up your rental car and head out on the Ring Road, otherwise known as Route 1. This is one of Iceland's main roads, and just like the name sounds, it circles the entire country. Your drive today takes you along Iceland's South Coast and the Golden Circle. Along the way, there are several opportunities to stop and explore.

Start with a visit to Þingvellir National Park, where you'll find the Silfra fissure. Created by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates cutting through Iceland, this is one of the clearest bodies of water on earth. You can view it from land or dive on in with a snorkel tour! See historic Law Rock, where Viking chieftains from around the country met to discuss local laws, then head to the Geysir geothermal area, with its bubbling mud pits and erupting geysers. Later, continue to Gullfoss (Golden Falls), where you can hike the falls or visit the volcanic crater of Kerið.

If you'd like to start your trip with some real relaxation, head to the Secret Lagoon or "Gamla Laugin." Located in the geothermal area of Hverahólmim, it was created in 1891, making it the oldest hot springs pool in Iceland. What makes this place truly special is the rich natural resources of warm water coming from the hot springs. Active geysers provide 100 percent of the lagoon's water supply, and the water flows continuously, replacing itself every 24 hours or so. This results in consistently warm, clean water that stays at around 100°F (38°C) year-round. 

Day 2: Drive to Vík, South Coast Waterfalls, ATV Tour 

Skógafoss waterfall in winter

Today, travel past the panoramic views of Iceland's South Coast, with your final destination being the town of Vík. Plan for several stops on your drive, as you won't want to miss these stunning landscapes. Your first detour will be the waterfall of Urriðafoss, where photo ops abound. Then, head to Seljarlandsfoss. This is the only known waterfall of its kind that allows you to walk behind it, making for a very picturesque view. And farther down the highway, you'll find the towering glaciers and cascading falls of Skógafoss.

As you head east of Skógafoss, you'll reach the village of Skógar. Check out the museum and learn about the history of how people traversed glacial rivers before they were bridged, then take a quick and easy hike from the parking lot to the small canyon of Kvernufoss. Stop in at the Dyrhólaey Peninsula, a nearly 400-foot (120 m) promenade that offers sweeping views of the coast, then it's on to the black-sand beaches of Reynisfjara, home to offshore sea stacks that are also seabird nesting grounds.

For a closer look at Iceland's volcanic beaches and massive glaciers, take a guided ATV tour of the area. You'll start at Arcanum Base (Mýrdalsjökull Base) near the Mýrdalsjökull glacier. After getting outfitted in the provided gear, your guide will lead you along the stunning coastline, where you'll see views of the Dyrhólaey Peninsula and the marvelous Mýrdalsjökull glacier in the distance. You'll also visit the Sólheimasandur plane wreck, where a US Navy plane crashed in 1973. Follow up with a drive to the Jökulsá River and up the foot of the mountain before returning to Arcanum Base. 

Day 3: Drive to Höfn, Canyons & Glaciers Around Vík, Crystal Blue Ice Cave

Crystal ice caves at Diamond Beach

As you depart Vík, take the time to visit some of the glaciers, waterfalls, and canyons in this region before making your way to your final destination of Höfn. First, stop at the canyon of Fjaðrárgljúfur and hike from the nearby trailhead for views of the river. Then, continue to Skaftafell Nature Reserve, home to the stunning views of the Svartifoss waterfall. A quick, 3-mile (5 km) hike will take you to the falls, with breathtaking views of the river and glacier along the way. Make a quick stop in the town of Hof to see the Hof Turf Church, a 700-year-old church with a turf-covered roof, before continuing to Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. 

At the lagoon, your immediate view will be the jaw-dropping sight of icebergs floating in the sea and beached on the black-sand shores of Diamond Beach. You're also likely to see seals, porpoises, or small whales in the lagoon's waters. Diamond Beach is home to natural ice caves, which are well worth touring. Breiðamerkurjökull, or "Breidó" to the locals, is a glacial tongue that flows down the mountains and is responsible for the creation of the lagoon, beach, and caves. Your guide will transport you to the glacier (dress warm!), where you'll walk to the caves and explore the stunning blue ice formations.

Day 4: Drive to Egilsstaðir, East Fjords, Streiti Coastline Jeep Tour, Vok Baths

Driving the East Fjords

Today's drive takes you through the region known as the East Fjords, following the rugged coastline as you view the spectacular mountains and valleys. This region is home to some of Iceland's most notable history, with a few "must-see" stopping points. Visit the town of Fáskrúðsfjörður to learn about the 19th-century French fisherman who settled here, or tour the Icelandic Wartime Museum in Reyðarfjörður. You can also stop in the village of Breiðdalsvík and see the Old Fish Factory car museum. 

After your arrival in Egilsstaðir and your hotel check-in, take a look around the town and surrounding countryside. Egilsstaðir is the largest town in the region, and its sister town of Fellabær is just across the bridge. You can hike to the nearby waterfall of Fardagafoss or visit Vök Baths and experience floating geothermal pools in a spa-like atmosphere. Foodies can give reindeer meat a try at a local restaurant or enjoy vegetarian food from locally grown produce. 

For more of the East Fjords, take a road trip around the lake shores of Lagarfljót, where, according to local legend, a beast called the Lagarfljót Wyrm lives. Nearby, Hengifoss waterfall offers restful and scenic views of the countryside. And if you're up for a little adrenaline rush, take an off-road Jeep tour along the Streiti coastline. This 4WD expedition traverses remote roads and crosses unbridged rivers as you explore the region's history and geology. You'll visit Breiðdalur (Broad) valley and stop at Beljandi waterfall for photos of the winter landscape.

Day 5: Lake Mývatn, Möðrudalsöræfi & Stuðlagil, Hunt for Northern Lights

The northern lights in Iceland

This morning, you'll visit Möðrudalsöræfi and Möðrudalur farm. At an altitude of more than 1,500 feet (469 m), this farm has a higher elevation than any other in Iceland. Stroll the surrounding trails and embrace the silence while views of Mount Herðubreið, known as the "Queen of Icelandic Mountains," loom in the distance, or visit a tiny church there, built by the farm owner in 1949.

Later, make a stop at Stuðlagil canyon, located in the municipality of Fljótsdalshérað. This is one of the most impressive basalt formations in the country, with the contrasting glacier waters of Jökla making it exceptionally beautiful. You can visit the Stuðlagil Observation Platform for views of the area, or if you want to get even closer to the natural wonders of the canyon, stop at Klaustursel farm and hike in. The hike also allows you to see Stuðlafoss waterfall, which is surrounded by majestic basalt columns. 

Your drive ends at Lake Mývatn. Encompassing more than 14 square miles (36.5 sq km), this is Iceland's fourth-largest body of water, with the highest concentration of volcanic and geothermal sights in the country. Tonight, head out on an evening tour to hunt one of Iceland's most amazing phenomena: the aurora borealis, or northern lights. Your guide will transport you via Jeep as you search for the best views of these dancing veils of light, which come from tiny particles, protons, and electrons that escape into the earth's atmosphere and hit molecules, creating a magical glow.

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Day 6: Lake Mývatn & Nature Baths

Take a dip in the Mývatn Nature Baths

Relax at Lake Mývatn today, a place where you'll find no shortage of things to see and do. Take a hike to Dimmuborgir, an area of lava rocks that resemble ancient towers, or walk along the lake and see the unusual rock formations. You can also visit nearby lava fields, trek to the volcanic crater of Hverfjall (Crater Mountain), or take a dip in natural thermal pools that are tucked inside a cave. 

Later, you can warm up with a revitalizing bath in the aqua-blue waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths. Built in 2004, this alkaline lagoon maintains a temperature of around 104°F (40°C) and is rich in healing minerals. You can swim and relax in the warm waters or take advantage of the nearby steam baths, which are vented to allow in natural geothermal steam. Finish the day with a light dinner at the on-site café.

Day 7: Drive to Laugarbakki, Diamond Circle, Húsavik Whale Watching

Whale watching in Húsavík

Tour the Diamond Circle today, a magnificent 155-mile (250 km) driving route that takes you through some of North Iceland's most spectacular landscapes. Visit Goðafoss (Waterfall of the Gods), where you'll take in endless views and can walk down to the water's edge via a small footpath. Then, travel to Vatnajökull National Park to see Dettifoss, considered one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. 

Discover the astonishing valley of Vesturdalur with the bizarre rock formations of Hljóðaklettar, the otherworldly volcanic fields of Krafla, the geothermal area of Hverir, and the black lava formation at Dimmuborgir. Or check out lesser-known sights such as the Tjörnes Peninsula, where you'll find fossils and bird nests, and the lush valley of Hólmatungur

This afternoon, stop in the town of Húsavík. Considered the whale capital of Iceland, there are regular whale watching tours departing from here, with opportunities to see more than 23 species in and around the harbor. Join a tour on some of the newer, carbon-neutral ships that are both quieter (nicer for whales) and non-polluting (nice for everyone). Húsavík is also Iceland's oldest settlement and has multiple museums and galleries, as well as a relaxing geothermal swimming pool. Later, head to the village of Laugarbakki, where you'll overnight. 

Day 8: Drive to Reykjavík via the Snæfellsnes Peninsula

The capital city of Reykjavík

Head south, making the 2.5-hour drive from Laugarbakki to Reykjavík, Iceland's capital city. There are numerous stopping points along the way, so make sure you give yourself plenty of time to see the sights. Start by driving to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, where you'll be able to see natural wonders such as Reykjanesfólkvangur Preserve, with its crater lakes and bubbling geothermic fields, then head to the town of Húsafell, where you can hike Mount Strútur, taking a guided tour of the ice cave at Langjökull, or catch views of Hundavaðsfoss waterfall. 

Your next stop is the town of Akranes, a historic fishing village founded more than 1,000 years ago, which sits at the tip of the peninsula separating the fjords of Borgarfjörður and Hvalfjörður. Visit the Akranes Folk Museum to learn about the region's history, or walk out to see more of the fjords. While Hvalfjörður actually translates to "Whale Fjord," you're not likely to see any whales, although you may see seals, birds, and other marine life. From here, Reykjavík is just a quick 45-minute drive. 
Once you check in at your hotel, take a walking tour of the city. This once-small trading post has evolved into a modern hub with plenty of amenities. Head downtown, where you'll find eye-catching street art, restaurants, and bars. Visit the waterfront and check out the Sun Voyager, a large metal sculpture that replicates a Viking longship, then see Harpa Concert Hall with its cool glass architecture. For wide-open views, stop at the church of Hallgrimskirkja, where you can take an elevator up to a tower overlooking the city. Or, if you want to get out on the water, take a whale watching tour from the harbor!

Day 9: The Blue Lagoon Retreat Spa

Blue Lagoon
Warm up at the Blue Lagoon

The healing waters of the Blue Lagoon are known around the world, and it has become one of Iceland's top attractions. The lagoon is said to cure or improve numerous physical ailments and is even internationally recognized as a psoriasis treatment facility. Today, you can take it to the next level with a visit to the lagoon's award-winning Retreat Spa. This five-hour escape into luxury includes entry to the lagoon, as well as several subterranean spaces within the resort, private changing areas, beverages, massage, and access to the spa restaurant.

Spend your afternoon soaking in the relaxing blend of seawater and geothermally heated water, rich in silica, minerals, and algae—all of which promote restorative healing to body and mind. Enjoy a white silica mud mask, or take a dip under the man-made waterfalls, all while surrounded by the beauty of Iceland's winter landscapes. Later, enjoy international cuisine at the Spa Restaurant or a light snack at the café. Enjoy your last evening in Reykjavík before your departure tomorrow. 

Day 10: Drive to Keflavík, Depart

Goodbye to Iceland!

It's time to leave Iceland today, but if you have time before your flight, you can get in some last-minute sightseeing along the Reykjanes Peninsula as you drive to Keflavík Airport. Stop at the Krýsuvík geothermal area for views of the steam vents and hot springs, or visit Gunnuhver Hot Springs, where you'll find steamy, bubbling mud pools (be sure to stick to the walkways as temperatures are quite hot!) Afterward, make a stop at Reykjanesviti Lighthouse for more views of the countryside. 

Walk the Bridge Between Continents (Europe Miðlína) for a taste of historic Icelandic geology. The Reykjanes Peninsula is on the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, which pulls apart a few centimeters every year. You can cross the bridge between the continental plates and look down at the gap below. And just before you reach Keflavík, you can visit Garður Lighthouse—the perfect spot to walk around before dropping off your car and boarding your flight home. Safe travels! 

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Map of Iceland Winter Discovery: Golden Circle, East Fjords & Reykjanes Peninsula - 10 Days
Map of Iceland Winter Discovery: Golden Circle, East Fjords & Reykjanes Peninsula - 10 Days