Things to do in Terceira island28/06/2023
Costs of a two week trip in Iceland14/07/2023
2 weeks winter itinerary in Iceland
The post was updated in August 2023.
Iceland for me was a real dream come true.
Walking in a place of snow and glaciers, with the northern lights magically appearing in the sky, was something I wanted to do for a long time.
I came to Iceland at the end of February especially to try and catch the northern lights, and a little spoiler - I was not disappointed :)
If you need more convincing why you should fly to Iceland in winter, the perfect post is waiting for you here>>
This post will focus on the route we planned. In reality, I planned the route and Max was just there to enjoy the trip.
We rented a car for about two weeks and went all around Iceland - in winter!
So shall we go?
Day 1&2 - Reykjavík
Landing in the capital city of Reykjavík (it doesn't get any easier with time to pronounce the names of the places), settling in a hostel and a short trip around the city.
Reykjavík has a pretty lively nightlife until quite late, which is quite surprising because it's cold there.
The first evening we went out to eat and drink in one of the local pubs in the city, and I won't lie if I say that in my opinion, the beers in Iceland are some of the best I've had.
The next day we started with an in-depth tour of the city and familiarization with the local food and culture.
One of the things I liked most in Iceland is that the absolute majority of businesses are local businesses and you won't see H&M or McDonalds branches on the street.
On the other hand, one of the things I liked the least is that Iceland is less accessible to vegans and it was not easy for me to find vegan food on the Icelandic street.
Because most of their land is volcanic and does not allow agricultural crops, they sustain themselves on meat and cheese and less so on vegetables and fruits. Meat lovers will enjoy :)
Reykjavík has a card that can be purchased called the Reykjavik City Card, which allows free entry to thermal pools in the city, to museums or galleries, travel by public transport and other local attractions.
There are three variations to the card - 24/48/72 hours and the cost varies accordingly.
What to do in Reykjavik in winter?
The one in the city center - the entrance to it is free and when it is frozen you can skate on the ice.
The Hallgrímskirkja church
Even there the entrance is free, but if you want to go up to the observation deck from where you can see the whole city, you will be charged a small price (small for Iceland that is).
The church is open from 9:00 - 17:00.
Organized tours to view the Northern Lights
In the evening we went on one of the organized tours to watch the northern lights. There was a good forecast for that evening and we went to a spot outside the city to watch the phenomenon. That evening there was one of the best lights of the year, so the rumor says, and we got to see the glow, even from outside the hostel when we returned.
And so, I officially fulfilled one of my biggest dreams :)
Accommodation: Bus Hostel
Day 3 - Reykjanes Peninsula
We started our day by renting a car and doing some shopping for the rest of the trip (this is important when traveling by car for many hours).
After that we continued to the Reykjanes Peninsula which is full of strange lava lands and volcanic activity that will leave you speechless at the sight of the place.
The trip there also allowed us to experience for the first time what it is like to drive on a road full of ice.
Because of the proximity to Reykjavík, you can simply go there and back and still have time to see the interesting things there.
The area also offers ATV trips to the mountains Hafrafell and úlfarsfell, but we decided pass on that one.
Accommodation: Bus Hostel
Day 4 - Hvalfjordur Fjord
We started moving west towards Hvalfjordur - an interesting fjord with a gorgeous view (about an hour's drive from Reykjavík) through the Valley of Skorradalur towards the hot springs of Deildartunguhver.
We stopped at a huge lake that is completely frozen, you can stand in the middle of it and pray that the ice will hold you, and we also got to meet the cute Icelandic horses for the first time.
On the way we stopped in the town of Reykholt which has some church and museum (nice for those who are interested in that kind of thing). In any case, the town is on the way to Borganes, so it's nice to make a little stop there.
Accommodation: Borgens Hostel
Day 5 - Peninsula of Snaefellsnes
After a short tour in the cute town of Borgens, we started driving towards the Peninsula of Snaefellsnes through the famous Kirkjufell mountain.
On the way we stopped at Gerduberg basalt columns and of course we climbed them! I quickly pulled out my climbing shoes because if you fall you simply land in the snow :)
After visiting the frozen mountain Kirkjufell , the frozen stream and its frozen waterfall, we continued to the city of Ólafsvík, which is about half an hour's drive away.
Accommodation: Fraser Hostel , the coolest hostel on this island.
Day 6 - Snowstorm
Today was supposed to be a productive and interesting day where we had to get to Snæfellsjökull National Park, but Iceland had other plans for us and we got caught in a blizzard on the way.
All the roads were blocked so we spent the time parking next to a container of fish after the police stopped us and prevented us from continuing our journey.
Finally we went back for another night at the cool Fraser Hostel and spent the rest of the day playing board games and reading books.
Despite the blizzard thing, we still had an interesting day, and honestly it was even one of the nicer days we had on the trip.
Despite the bad weather during the day, we managed to see the northern lights that night again.
Whoever said that you can experience 4 seasons in one day in Iceland was right :)
What we hoped to do in the area before giving up:
- Vatnshellir Cave (a 3-hour tour that leaves in the morning, no need to book in advance).
- A visit to the town of Grundarfjörður where we were also supposed to sleep
Accommodation: Fraser Hostel , which is still the coolest hostel on this island even tonight.
Day 7 - Stykkishólmur
A trip to the cute town of Stykkishólmur or its famous abbreviation - Sticky.
At first we thought of doing the whale cruise there but due to the weather conditions it was canceled so we mainly traveled in the area and on the beaches there.
Day 8 - Vestens Peninsula
We started by driving through the Vastens Peninsula between the amazing fjords of the area, and on the way we stopped to visit a colony of seals (we may or may not have been allowed to go there).
After a short trail we arrived at a gate that was not locked so we concluded that it was possible to enter :)
After a few meters we discovered a cute colony of seals, who seemed to be more amused by our presence than we were by theirs.
From the moment we arrived, dozens of small heads started to appear, emerging from the water and looking at us with huge eyes.
The smile didn't leave my face even as my teeth began to freeze.
From there we continued to the city of Akureyri which is the second largest city in Iceland, where we explored a bit and spent the night.
Days 9&10 - Lake Mývatn
After breakfast and a little walk around the city, we started driving towards Lake Mývatn (about an hour and a quarter drive from the city of Akureyri).
I must point out that this lake is absolutely one of the highlights of the trip, and we spent two whole days in the area with the feeling that we could stay there even longer.
What to do in Lake Mývatn?
The hot springs of course
Unlike the hot springs of the Blue Lagoon, the springs in Mývatn are completely natural, and you have waiters who will come up to you inside the hot spring and serve you a cold beer. (It is recommended to order the excellent Viking beer).
There is something bordering on magical about staying in a hot spring when everything around you is snowy and it's minus degrees cold outside.
An easy climb to the crater of the volcano will bring you to see a very cool crater from above.
There is a neat walking path for the ascent, but for the decent I recommend that you find your inner child and just sit on your ass and slide all the way down on the slippery snow :)
The famous filming location of Jon Snow in Game of Thrones.
You can wander there among all the rocks and lava pillars and take a picture for a cover of a black metal band like we did :)
The Bubbling Mud of Hverarond
This is a pretty cool spot to see geothermal activity (you will probably smell it before you see it).
There are many other cool attractions and sites worth visiting in the lake area, you are welcome to read more information here>>
After the visit to the lake area we started a 3 hour drive towards Höfn, a town where we spent the next night.
We tried to see the Dettifoss waterfall but the way there was blocked.
It turns out that when there are signs that the road is blocked, it really is blocked, so don't try to get there because you will probably get stuck with the vehicle and the rescue will be at your expense.
Even though the road was blocked we still tried it and when we realized that the snow was too much for us, we turned back and continued on our way.
On the way to Höfn there is the town of Egilsstaðir where you can (and should) stop to restock food, as well as the Skálanes reserve which can also be blocked in this season.
Accommodation night 9: Dimoburgir Guesthouse
Accommodation night 10: Hoppen Hostel
Day 11 - Jökulsárlón lagoon
After a short visit to the town, we set off towards the Jökulsárlón lagoon, about an hour's drive from Höfn.
The lagoon is full of small icebergs on which sea lions sun themselves, and their belief is that in the winter it is too frozen there, but in the summer you can sail among the glaciers of the lagoon.
If you cross the road to the other side, you can see another rare sight and that is the black beaches on which huge glaciers rest and sun bathe.
In addition, we took a half day trip to this monstrous Vatnajökull glacier which unfortunately shrinks every year, but the sight is still spectacular.
Not all hiking trails are open to visitors in the winter (but you can take a snowmobile trip, for example).
However you can still get really close to the glacier and hear all the stories about who went in there and died.
Day 12 - visit to an ice cave
We started the day by visiting the craziest ice cave in the world. Every year the shapes of the caves change and this is one of the most spectacular things I have seen.
The entrance to the cave is from Fagurholsmyri and the whole tour including the trip there takes about 4 hours.
From there we continued to the town of Vik where we stayed for the night. The drive there is quite long and winding but passes along the coastline with a fascinating view.
On the way there we stopped at a beautiful stream and decided to do an independent tour of the area and discovered a special frozen waterfall. We filled up with water in the river and continued on our way.
Accommodation: Hotel Katla Vik
Day 13 - The Golden Circle
Also on this day the weather conditions were a bit disappointing and we had to give up the Blue Ice Tour which is a tour between glaciers that also includes ice climbing.
The entire journey is approximately 4 hours and costs around 130 euros (prices may have changed by the time you read this post).
Instead we stopped to visit Dyrhólaey which is a cliff not far from the town of Vik and from there we decided to continue directly to the Golden Circle.
The golden circle includes:
A crazy waterfall and one of the most beautiful in Iceland, which, unlike its other friends, was not frozen :)
The park where the famous geyser is located that you will see in all the photos. You will find yourself waiting for quite some time to get a good picture of the eruption.
A world heritage site where you can walk for hours between the lakes.
There are some other interesting gems in the Golden Circle and you can read about them here>>
In addition, there are paid organized tours to the Golden Circle, but in my opinion you can do it completely independently if you have a car.
Day 14 - The Blue Lagoon
After breakfast in the city we went to return the car.
From there we continued to walk a bit in the city and in the evening we went to visit the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is an artificial complex of hot pools, both indoor and outdoor.
There, too, you can have a beer right in the pools and apply the famous white mud onto your skin.
There are spa complexes, massages and the like for all those who desire to pamper themselves.
I personally liked this complex less than Mitwane's other pools and hot springs. In my opinion, it is more busy and touristy, but if you have time left to spend in the area, then you should definitely visit there.
But it's hard to complain about a spa and hot springs :)
lodging: Bus Hostel
Day 15&16 - back to Reykjavik
Since due to the weather we missed the whale cruise in the town of Sticky, we decided to try our luck in Reykjavik.
This was definitely our last chance to see the whales before returning home, but it seemed at that moment that it was a dream that would remain elsewhere.
After a cruise of more than two hours, in which I mainly try not to throw up in the bathroom, we were unable to see whales because of the cold weather.
We took comfort in one of the restaurants in the port area of the city and then continued to walk around the city to shop for some last gifts for friends and family.
Don't get too worked up for me, I got to see whales a few times during my trip to Mexico.
On our last evening on the island we met two Brazilian brothers with whom we sat and drank beer and spent our last evening in Iceland.
The next day, our flight was supposed to leave in the morning, but when we woke up in the middle of the night to catch the taxi to the airport we were told that due to a snowstorm the road leading there was blocked and no vehicle could get there.
We could no longer get on the flight back home and instead stayed a few more hours playing cards with friends we had met at the hostel.
After a few hours, we were informed that the airport could finally be reached, and after some haggling there with the officials, we were able to board a flight back home and thus ended our journey in Iceland :)
Accommodation: Bus Hostel
General information regarding our route in Iceland
Usually a trip to Iceland should be a little more planned than other places because it's less cool to get stuck on the road without a (cheap) place to sleep, especially in the winter when it's problematic to open a tent on the road, unlike in the summer.
We did the route around the island in a clockwise direction for the simple reason that we booked the visit to the ice cave a long time in advance and according to the dates this is the route that worked out for us.
There is nothing different about doing the route counterclockwise if it suits you better.
Accommodation during the trip in Iceland
I booked the reservations for almost all the hostels in advance.
In the winter, the prices can fall to half of what they are in the summer, however - you should order in advance.
Through the Agoda website you can find really attractive prices, just pay attention to the cancellation conditions of each individual hotel.
I highly recommend booking accommodations that allow cancellation without penalty.
For more places to stay, I really recommend looking through an association like Agoda - click on the following banner to get to the site:
Weather on a winter trip in Iceland
We went to Iceland in February, so in terms of the trip route, I made sure to space it out as much as possible because in Iceland's winter, you never know what kind of weather you will encounter.
In addition, it is really not fun to travel under pressure (not the style of travel I like for myself).
I suggest you try and make the most of the days on your trip, and believe me - you won't be bored there :)
In terms of attractions, of course it is not possible to do all the attractions or get to all the places due to roadblocks, but there are some notable advantages in my opinion to a winter trip to Iceland - from watching the northern lights, visiting ice caves to looking at the most alien landscape you will see in the world.
Car rental in Iceland in winter
To be honest, we had less of a problem finding a good car in the winter, probably because the number of visitors is significantly lower than in the summer.
In any case, of course my recommendation is to book a car as much as possible in advance to get the best prices.
For attractive prices for car rental in Iceland, click on the following banner:
Flight to Iceland
Today there are very cheap flights to Iceland, when I traveled it cost around $400 with a connection in a central European city.
You can check through the Skyscanner search engine for flights at really affordable prices.
Don't judge me, but I ordered the flight dates according to the moonrise in an attempt to maximize the chance of seeing the northern lights, so I was willing to pay a little more to make a dream come true.
I don't know if this really had any effect other than making me go crazy in my head, but I did it :)
Travel costs in Iceland
So, as I mentioned, a trip in the winter can cost even half of what a trip in the summer.
The main expenses are mainly accommodation and car rental, the prices of which drop significantly in these months.
To reduce some of the costs, we mainly shopped at the supermarket and cooked in the hostels (most of which are equipped with kitchens with all the necessary equipment), and avoided staying in hotels as much as possible.
A total trip of 16 days including the flight, car rental and the attractions we chose cost us about NIS 8,000 per person.
A winter trip in Iceland is a completely different world from a summer trip, but don't let the cold scare you (if it didn't scare me, you'll be fine)..!
There's nothing like swimming in a warm pool when it's so cold outside. Iceland is full of hot pools and you will find at least one in almost every town you visit, and it was definitely our main entertainment during the cold nights of the trip.
And if you still haven't been convinced to travel in Iceland in winter, you should read the 10 reasons why you should travel in Iceland in winter>>
I am attaching a link to a website in Hebrew with a lot of information about Iceland that really helped me in planning this whole cold journey - Another Iceland .
The photos in the article were taken by me, except for the photo of me freezing on the glacier in the Black Shores and the photo of us being tough metalists, both of which were taken by dear Max :)
I have a confession..
Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means that if you book something through them, the prices are the same, AND you are getting me closer towards my first million ;)
My dream is to make a living from this blog, and I hope that while I help you fulfill your travel dreams, you can also help me get closer to my dream.
So if you appreciate the content you read and you trust the value of my recommendations, I would love for you to book your travel reservations through those links.
Enjoy your trip :)