Iceland is a strange place. It’s one of those few places that has a peak season year round. Personally, I think Iceland is amazing in the winter, I mean you have a chance of seeing the northern lights. However, planning a trip to Iceland can be confusing and a bit intimidating, especially in the winter. With extreme temperatures, weather, location restrictions and safety concerns it’s hard to know where to start. For me, the hardest part was dealing with the lack of daylight while traveling in the winter. I felt like I was driving in the dark half the time, but don’t let that stop you! This Iceland winter itinerary was created and used by the Wandering Chocobo and is the perfect way for an independent traveler to see all the major highlights of Iceland in winter while bossing the icy road conditions and lack of daylight. Some of the best highlights in this guide are Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, a secret thermal lagoon, the golden circle, DC plane crash, black sand beach, Reykjavik and Skaftafell National Park.This is your one-stop guide to the perfect winter getaway in Iceland.
For more information on navigating Iceland in the winter, don’t miss my winter driving in Iceland guide. I grew up in Alaska, so let me help you learn to drive a car in the winter before you get started!
Day 1Airport to Reykjavik. Reykjavik Day Tour. Nice Dinner Out. Sleep at Loft Hostel Reykjavik.
Day 2Golden Circle/Ring Road, sleep in Flúðir or a camping location near by.
Day 3South Coast from Flúðir to Skaftafell, stopping at many top spots, including Vik and the Black Sand Beach as well as the DC plane crash along the way. Camp at National Park.
Day 4Glacier Tour. Camp at national park again or fjaðrárgljúfur canyon.
Day 5Drive Back to Reykjavik. Stop at fjaðrárgljúfur canyon & Lava Tube Cave.
Plan AheadHave your camper rental ready to go Book Here. Also have your Glacier Tour Pre-booked ahead of time. See Glacier Guides for more details. If you want to book a N. Light Tour Gateway to Iceland is recommended.
Camper RentalThe total for renting a camper in the off season is $895, excluding insurance and gas. Our total bill paid to KuKu Campers including the insurance and extras like sleeping bags was close to $1,000. Overall it's a great deal considering hotels along the way can get well up over $100 a night. Tip: you can save a few extra bucks by bringing your own sleeping supplies and navigation means, but the few extra $$ isn't worth the hassle in my opinion.
GasGas equates to about $2.50 per liter. Gas is standardized in the country, so you won't find much fluctuation. We filled up about 4 times driving close to 300km a day totaling close to $300 for the trip Tip: Never use the fill up option at the gas station as it will place a rather large hold on your card.
FoodReykjavik has amazing food options, save some in your budget for a gourmet dinner $50-$75 per person. Many places have set menus with booze included. Go all out and enjoy the flavors of the country!Your camper van should have a mini cooler or fridge with cooking supplies. Stop at the grocery store in Reykjavik before heading out. I suggest getting yogurts, cereal, fruit, pasta and soups for quick easy meals. Eating this way and you can easily spend about $50 per shopping trip (2-3) needed. Tip: Booze is very expensive, so cut back down on this trip, save for the moss liquor.
Accommodationalready taken care of with your camper van! Loft hostel will set you back $40 per night for a dorm or $112 for a private ensuite. Tip: Become a hostel international member for $5.
ExcursionsIt depends on the tour your take, but budget $200 per person to cover a full 8 hour glacier tour.
Daily Spending$100 per person to cover any entry into museums, small souvenirs or unexpected costs.
Total for 1 person$1,900 or $380 per day. If you add a second person the cost of the camper is already included so you'd only be looking at an extra $900 total.
DC plane crash
Directions:As soon as you leave Skogafoss head east on route 1. You'll cross a bridge with the marker for Sólheimajökull Glacier just on the other side of the bridge. Check your odometer because 2km from this sign on the right you'll see a gate/mini bridge with beach access. If you cross a second major bridge heading east you've gone too far and you'll need to back track. There will be a fork in the road, take the left of the fork as right will take you into farm land. The plane is hidden by dunes, so you might worry you're lost, but about 4km from the road there it is.
Driving:Driving on the beach is fairly easy. Drive slow and keep an eye out for pot holes. If it is windy the chances of the course sand hitting your windshield are higher. Some of the areas are farm lands and you are not permitted to drive on or near these areas.
Vik & The Black Sand Beach
Vik to Glacier Lagoons
Pro Tip: Keep your eye out for a turn off between the two lagoons. It's off-road and 4x4 required, but if you follow the road back you'll be able to walk right up to the glacier. It's pinned on the map at the end of the page.Head back to Skaftafell National Park when you're ready to spend the night. You can camp in their parking lot or explore their campgrounds. Get a good night sleep and get ready for your day of glacial exploring. There's not a whole lot of food in the area, your options are the hotel or the gas station across the hotel that serves hot good. If you're in a camper van, like me I cooked up a delicious pasta on my cook stove!
There are two entrances to this Canyon. One is the easy drive up where you can enjoy the view from the top. The other road leads to the base, but you can enjoy a walk up the canyon in the morning and it's absolutely breath taking. The hike up can take anywhere from 20 min-2 hours depending on how long you want to spend taking photos. The canyon stretches for about 2km and was created by erosion from the Fjaðrá river. Areas of the canyon can be covered with ice and are roped off due to potential erosion. Obey all signs and walk carefully. We had some pretty terrible weather on the trip and the photos we took don't do this place justice, as it was one of my favorite places in the South.
The lava tube cave, called , is an expansive cave system deep under ground. It can be explored on your own or with a professional tour company. This tube once contained a low viscosity lava flow forming the tube. Now that lava no longer flows the tube is free to roam. Unfortunately during winter this cave can be a little sketchy. If you're uncomfortable in dangerous areas, I recommend hiring a tour company. Large ice pillars and bubbles cover the floor and side of the cave making it very slippery inside. The cave can also be dark. DO NOT ENTER THE CAVE WITHOUT ICE CRAMPS AND A HEADLIGHT. Only part of the cave can be explored in the winter, but in the summer you can trek down several kms of tube.Finding the cave can be a bit tricky. If you use the map below, you'll enter a parking lot and not even realize the cave is in the area, until you look around and find a gaping hole in the ground.Continue back to Reykjavik and enjoy your night on the town!
Lava Tube Cave
Lava Tube Cave
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