Iceland in 7 days: the best winter road trip itinerary

by suitcasestoriesbe
Iceland in 7 days - the best winter road trip itinerary

Northern Lights, glacier hikes, hot springs, and fairytale landscapes at every turn. A road trip through Iceland during winter is magical and a dream coming true! And although days are short and some attractions become inaccessible, most famous spots are still open to visitors. Based on our own Iceland route, we created the best winter road trip itinerary for Iceland in 7 days including the best things to do, our favorite places to stay, and tips on how to get around. This itinerary covers all the highlights of Southern Iceland along the famous Route 1 Ring Road, making it perfect for anyone who wants to visit Iceland for a week.

Read also: Iceland Route: the best road trip itinerary for 10 days

Iceland in 7 days: an overview of our winter road trip itinerary

START Keflavik | END Keflavik

DURATION 7 days

METHOD OF TRANSPORT Rental car booked via Skyscanner

BEST TIME OF YEAR June-Augustus (Long summer days) & December-February (Winter + Northern Lights)

WHEN DID WE GO End of November

HIGHLIGHTS Reykjavík, Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Seljalandsfoss, Sólheimasandur plane wreck, Skógafoss, Skaftafell National Park, Jokulsarlon Glacier + spot where we saw the Northern Lights

Iceland in 7 days - the best winter road trip itinerary
Our 7-day Iceland winter route

Iceland winter road trip itinerary: before you read on

Before you read on, we quickly want to mention that depending on which month you are going during winter, driving conditions can be quite challenging and the weather very unpredictable. It can turn from clear sunny skies into a freezing blizzard in only a few minutes, believe us this happened a few times.  So please be careful, check for weather reports and stay well within speed limits.

Last but not least, we recommend you to book your accommodations well in advance! During winter lot of campsites are closed and the further away you drive from Reykjavik, the fewer the number of hotels and guesthouses. Especially during the Christmas period you don’t want to end up not finding a hotel anymore.

Are you ready to explore magical Iceland? Check the best flight deals to Iceland here.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall during winter

Iceland with a camper van, 2WD or 4WD rental car

If you plan on driving in the Highlands like Landmannalaugar or on F-Roads, we would highly recommend you rent a 4WD especially during winter. We did this winter road trip itinerary with a normal rental car (2WD) with snow tires and had no problems at all. But if you like to drive more off the beaten track or explore some highlights which are not located on the Ring Road, then you better go for a 4WD.

Check the best rental deals here

If you want to drive Iceland during winter with a campervan, you definitely can. The camper vans of Happy Campers are equipped with a good heating system making it possible to sleep all night comfortably in the camper. Just make sure your normal and sleeping clothes are always dry, very dry. Get good Icelandic woolen socks and warm sleeping bags and be sure to keep snow out of the car as it creates moisture inside the car.

Read also: Iceland with a camper van: everything you need to know

Iceland with a camper van road trip itinerary
Best spot for our campervan at Skógafoss waterfall
Iceland with a camper van road trip itinerary
Making a healthy lunch in our camper van

Day 1 – 2: Reykjavík

Travel distance: 49 km – 40min

We flew with WOW Air from Brussels to Keflavik Airport (KEF), where our road trip through Iceland started. From Keflavik Airport, it was a 40-minute drive to Reykjavík, which is the capital of Iceland. Along the way you pass the beautiful Blue Lagoon, which you could visit before going to Reykjavík but we decided to visit it on the last day of our trip.

Funny fact: Reykjavík is one of the smallest capital cities in the world where 2/3 of the Icelandic population lives!

Despite the fact that it is a small city, there is quite a lot things to do where you can easily spend a full day with. We loved strolling around the idyllic streets, hopping into one of the cozy coffee bars, doing some window-shopping and visiting the stunning Hallgrimskirka church. With sunset we went to the waterfront to see the Sun Voyager sculpture, which is the best place to end your day in Reykjavík.

Recommended stay

  • 1 – 2 days

Where to stay in Reykjavík

Things to do in Reykjavík

  • Watch the dancing colors of the Aurora Borealis during a Northern Light tour
  • Visit the Hallgrimskirkja church, which is possibly the most well-known landmark in the city
  • Explore the city on foot and stroll around the idyllic streets
  • Go window shopping in Reykjavik’s most famous street, Laugavegur
  • Make a full tour to the Golden Circle
  • Hop from coffee bar to coffee bar and try the best hot chocolates
  • Enjoy sunset at the Sun Voyager sculpture
  • Walk along the Harpa concert hall at night for a beautiful light show
  • Hop on a Whale Watching tour
Iceland Reykjavik
The cozy and lovely Stofan Cafe
Iceland Reykjavik
Having hot chocolate at Stofan Cafe
Hallgrimskirkja church - Reykjavík
Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavík
Reykjavík
Beautiful ocean views in Reykjavík

Day 2 – 4: The Golden Circle

Travel distance:  59 km – 50min

On our second day in Iceland, we drove from Reykjavík to our hotel near Selfoss, which is the perfect base for exploring the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is the most popular attraction in Iceland and can be done as a day-trip from Reykjavík but we highly recommend staying in this area for at least one night.

As we stayed two nights here, we had plenty of time to visit a lot of beautiful places along the Golden Circle, like Thingvellir National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), the powerful Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. We also stopped at the Kerid Crater and took some pictures at the beautiful Skalholt church.

Recommended stay

  • 1 – 2 days

Where to stay along the Golden Circle

Things to do

Iceland Route - Road Trip Itinerary - Thingvellir National Park
Sunrise at Thingvellir National Park
Iceland Route - Road Trip Itinerary - Kerid Crater
Kerid Crater, hidden gem on the Golden Circle
Iceland Route - Road Trip Itinerary - Geysir
Geysir geothermal area
Iceland Route - Road Trip Itinerary - Gulfoss
The impressive Gulfoss waterfall

Day 4 – 5: Skaftafell

Travel distance: 224 km – 2h 55min

From the Golden Circle, we made our way to Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Be sure to leave early as you’ll pass lots of popular highlights. We first stopped at the beautiful Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls and visited afterward the abandoned Sólheimasandur plane wreck. (the hike from the parking lot to the plane wreck takes about 1 hour one way)

In the late afternoon we arrived in our next hotel called Fosshotel Nupar, which is located a 35-minute drive from Skaftafell. We booked this hotel because of the great reviews about its remote location where you have lot of chance to see the Northern Lights. And we can only agree with this… We got a wake-up call around 11 pm and witnessed the amazing Northern Lights right from our room! So unforgettable!

Recommended stay

  • 1 – 2 days

Where to stay

Things to do

From Selfoss (the Golden Circle) to Skaftafell

  • Visit the Seljalandsfoss waterfall and walk up the stairs to go behind it
  • After visiting Seljalandsfoss, walk to the left for 10 minutes until you reach the hidden waterfall called Gljufrabui (right at the campsite)
  • Stop at Skógafoss, one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland
  • See the abandoned Sólheimasandur plane wreck

At Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Standing in front of the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Skogafoss waterfall
Skogafoss waterfall
On top of the Skogafoss waterfall
On top of the Skogafoss waterfall
Iceland Route - Road Trip Itinerary -Sólheimasandur plane wreck
Sólheimasandur plane wreck
Sólheimasandur plane wreck
Standing on the Sólheimasandur plane wreck
Iceland - Northern Lights at Fosshotel Nupar
Witnessing the Northern Lights at Fosshotel Nupar

Day 5 – 6: Vík

Travel distance: 290 km – 3h 41min

After a good breakfast, we first went to Skaftafell Nature Reserve where we did a short hike to the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall, located about 1.5 kilometers or 45 minutes (one way) from the Skaftafell Visitor Center. Skaftafell is also the place where you can experience the ice blue caves, do lots of glacier walks, try ice climbing and take a scenic flight over Landmannalaugar. Check all Skaftafell experiences and tours here.

Afterward we continued our trip to the stunning Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which is one of Iceland’s most beautiful spots. Across the road you’ll find the black volcanic Diamond Beach, which you definitely need to see to!

In the late afternoon we returned our way to Vik, a small charming fishing village surrounded by impressive mountain landscapes. Here you’ll find a big supermarket, some shops, a few restaurants and the black volcanic beach of Reynisfjara. When we arrived in Vík we first went to the Dyrholaey Lighthouse to enjoy an amazing sunset and had a cozy warm dinner afterward at Sudur Vik restaurant, which has a lovely atmosphere and great food. Perfect spot to end the day with.

Recommended stay

  • 1 – 2 days

Where to stay

Things to do

  • Go with sunset to the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse for the most beautiful ocean views
  • Have a walk on the black volcanic beach of Reynisfjara
  • Hop on a super Jeep and visit the Secret Ice Cave
Diamond Beach
Diamond Beach in opposite of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Beautiful icebergs of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Iceland - Skaftafell National Park Svartifoss waterfall
Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park
Iceland Route - Road Trip Itinerary - Vik
Sunrise at the black volcanic beach of Reynisfjara

Day 6 – 7: Blue Lagoon

Travel distance: 219 km – 2h 49min 

On the last day in Iceland we drove from Vik to the amazing Blue Lagoon, which is only a 20-minute drive away from Keflavik International Aiport. The Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to relax in the warm, mineral-rich waters and look back on the incredible adventure you just have experienced. We booked our tickets to visit the Blue Lagoon in the late afternoon, went for a pizza in Keflavik town and delivered our rental car the next morning in the airport before our flight back home. 

Tip: you can also deliver your camper van or rental car the day before your flight, and book this Blue Lagoon entry ticket including round-trip transfers to your hotel in Reykjavik or Keflavik Airport. 

Recommended stay

  • 1 day

Where to stay

Things to do

Blue Lagoon Iceland
Blue Lagoon

Resources we’ve used for planning our Iceland road trip itinerary

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