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Are you thinking about making an Iceland road trip in winter? Visiting Iceland in winter is a journey you have to plan carefully. Driving the Iceland Ring Road in winter requires even more thoroughly planning since there are more things you have to take into consideration. But here is a complete Iceland winter itinerary for you.
This Iceland Ring Road itinerary is the same schedule we did at the Christmas and New Year’s time. When you have only 10-11 days to spend, you’ll have to choose what you want to see.
This Iceland itinerary skips the Westfjords, which are unreachable most of the time during winter, but includes all the most famous sights in the South and many exciting places in the East and North.
You can also modify this Iceland self-drive itinerary to fit your personal needs and preferences and skip or add destinations to your liking. But this is an excellent core for you.
Essential Things You Should Not Forget When Planning a Trip to Iceland
Do yourself a favor and rent nothing less than a 4×4 car and never underestimate any of the warnings! If the road ahead is marked red,it means the road is impassable. It’s also possible that it’s closed. Don’t ever risk your life by trying to drive those roads despite the warnings!
If the road is marked red, your only option is to wait for the conditions to get better. The Icelandic Road Administration keeps excellent care of the roads and even if the road is marked red the night before you’d have to travel on it, don’t despair. In the next morning, it’ll probably be passable again. This is what happened to us, more than once.
Spend a day (or two) in Reykjavik, because this little, Northern capital offers excellent restaurants, shops, and bars to hang around in. Some of our favorite restaurants were the Grillmarkadurinn and the Lebowski Bar. People are amicable, and the town’s general atmosphere is cozy. You will also get used to the harsh winds you’ll be getting a lot when you hit the road.
Day 2: The Golden Circle
Leave early for the road and go to see all the famous sights in the “Golden Circle” – Geysir, Strókkur, and the Gullfoss waterfall.
The latter is magnificent when it’s frozen, and it’s also one of the Icelandic locations where they’ve filmed the famous HBO series, “Game of Thrones.”
Spend the night somewhere before the town of Vik, if you’re not able to drive that far. We overnighted in Eyvindarhólar in a little hotel which reminded me of “the Great Northern Hotel” in the legendary “Twin Peaks.”
Iceland Winter Itinerary – Southern Iceland
Days 3-4: The Black Sand Beach, Svínafellsjökull, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Drive to the Southernmost village of Iceland, Vik, to see the famous black sand beach and take those legendary, haunting photos of the Raynarsdjangar (the Troll Fingers).
Continue to the Skaftafell National Park and go for a glacier walk to Svínafellsjökull, which is an outlet glacier of the mighty Vatnajökull.
You can’t visit Iceland and not to go for a glacier walk! It’s an experience you’ll remember for a long time. You will get a guide who will take you to an unforgettable stroll along the blue ice that stretches as long as your eyes can see. Put on your crampons and walk into the blue! A guide is mandatory because they know the glacier and its treacherous crevasses that can be miles deep.
After your glacier adventure, drive to Hali to spend the night(s).
During the winter the zodiac boat rides are not always possible, it’s utterly dependable of the ice situation. But you can get gorgeous and surreal pictures from the shore, too! Below are some photographs that we took.
Day 5: Seydisfjördur
Drive all the way up the Eastern side of Iceland to the small town of Seydisfjördur.
It’s a little fisherman town in the lap of a beautiful fjord. If you have the time, you can visit some interesting sights on the way, but take note of the weather conditions. It is about 8 hrs drive (without many stops on the way).
Driving in Iceland in winter can be tiring, lonely and you must stay alert all the time! The wheater can change in an instant, and when the snowstorm arises, the visibility can vary drastically from good to zero. So, be prepared and don’t drive if you’re too tired.
Any Iceland winter itinerary should be made as rational as possible – don’t try to make speed records, rather go at your own pace no matter how much time it’ll take.
Day 6: Myvatn
Drive to Myvatn and on the way stop by for a swim in the best thermal baths of Iceland, the Myvatn Nature Baths. Spend the night somewhere in the region of Myvatn.
The Myvatn Nature Baths are not so crowded as is the famous Blue Lagoon, which makes it a much better option to experience Iceland’s awesome thermal baths!
And when you are in Iceland in December, it’s a magnificent experience to go for a swim to the warm, mineral-rich lagoons while you’re surrounded by pure, white snow. It feels surreal.
We didn’t have snowshoes and it was a bit gruesome hike in the thigh-high snow, but we still enjoyed it and it was a true adventure since we were completely alone in the Dimmuborgir most of the time. It felt like the barriers of the worlds would have been thinner in this place.
Other good sights around Myvatn are Hverfjall and a cave called Grjótagjá – both filming locations of the HBO series “Game Of Thrones.”
After visiting these other-worldly places, drive to Akureyri in Northern Iceland. If you have time, you can visit the waterfall of Godafoss on the way.
This is how it looks like through the windscreen when you’re driving in Iceland in winter amidst a snowstorm. Visibility is just a few meters and the roads are slippery. So drive carefully! The fun starts around 1:00 on this video. Check it out!
Iceland Ring Road Itinerary – Northern Iceland
Day 8: Akureyri
Have a rest and wander around the biggest town in Northern Iceland, Akureyri. This Northern hub of Iceland has some great restaurants, or nearby are some great sights you can go to see. One good restaurant would be Rub 23.
It’s going to be a long driving day from Akureyri in the North to Borgarnes. You will drive all the way down the Western side as far as you can. We stayed the night near Borgarnes, and in the evening we saw some fabulous Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) in the clear night skies.
Day 10: Back to Reykjavik
Drive back to Reykjavik to catch your flight home. Or stay one or two extra nights and celebrate your “impossible” task completed – you drove around Iceland in just 10 days, in winter.
Where to Stay in Iceland?
I’ve dropped a few good accommodations’ names to this post. These are places we stayed during our own Iceland road trip.
But of course, searching TripAdvisor is always a good idea when you’re planning a trip to Iceland.
With this Iceland itinerary 10 days, we aim to provide you an example of a successful road trip itinerary for driving around the famous Ring Road.
Please, do take into consideration that driving in Iceland in winter is always unpredictable and anything can happen. So, reserve yourself enough “buffer-time,” if things go South at some point. Remember that in a worst-case scenario you may have to wait for the roads to open again for a few days.
And always make safety your priority!
Have you completed an Iceland winter itinerary? How was your Ring Road tour in Iceland and how was your Ring Road itinerary? Let us know in the comments!
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