Iceland in the winter – It’s an experience
Iceland is a beautiful country and with a nickname “country of ice and fire” there is a time when the kingdom of ice play its game. In the winter time snow illuminates Iceland under the night sky most of the day and the only other source of light are breathtaking auroras for the lucky ones.
Going to Iceland in the winter has a lot to offer. You can see this amazing piece of our planet in a different perspective, half-frozen waterfalls, bathing in hot pots when it’s -8 Celsius outdoor, less tourists, a chance to see auroras and much more. But there are couple things you should have in mind as driving on roads covered with snow and ice most of the time, less daylight, which makes driving and traveling around more demanding on your focus, it’s better to stay in hotels and guesthouses rather than in camp sites. So let’s take a look where to go, what to see, how to travel and what having in mind. At the end of the article You can find a basic price overview with a gross budget for such trip.
When you are renting a car in the winter you get a couple great advises from your rental car company. The first is to be mind of all that ice and snow on the roads and heavy winds for most of the time. Driving around is for experienced drivers only. Sometimes roads seem to be clear but you never know when spots of ice appear. There are a number of roads impassable or closed – all inland so you will probably go around Iceland using road number 1 or stay in the south only. On this page you can find actual road conditions, it is great to check every time before hitting the road.
Where to go
Starting with the Golden Circle is the number one choice for most of travelers are the ones with limited time. You will see Pingvellir national park where the boundary between North American and Eurasian tectonic plates lies, experience eruption of the Strokkur geyser while waiting no more that 10 minutes and hear the Gullfoss waterfall, masses of water crashing into the canyon.
As it is not possible to go up to the mountains, let’s go south-east to see another beautiful waterfalls. The first big one called Seljalandfoss let you go around behind its curtain. In the winter the surface is extremely icy so ice grippers are a must. Second and a much bigger one is Skogafoss. Waterfall around 60m high with a viewing platform on the top.
Going further east you will reach Dyrholaey cliffs and the southernmost city of Vik. Place of beautiful black sand beaches and the most photographed church on the Iceland. After a quick visit a short drive gets you closer to the biggest glacier in the country. Vatnajökull is a national park with couple marked hikes taking you as close to the glacier as possible. You can also book a tour to experience walking on the glacier itself or a guided trip to one of the hidden ice caves. One the most breathtaking place in the area is Jokulsarlon lagoon where icebergs from the glacier are floating into the ocean.
There are two groups of tourist. The ones who travel just the Golden Circle and South Iceland as this takes about a week of traveling. For the ones with more time the road takes you on the hundreds of kilometers long drive to the North Iceland. You will pass by Stokksnes mountain, see some fjords by the coast and passing part of the inland. Your journey takes you to the Myvatn lake area probably. A place where – beside hiking around the geothermal area of Namafjal and active volcano called Krafla – visiting a local gem called Myvatn Nature Bath is a must. A little sister of the famous Blue Lagoon but in much more relaxing environment and with less people. Magic bathing there while it’s freezing.
When leaving the Myvatn area the road takes you around one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland called Godafoss – waterfall of the gods. You will pass the city of Akureyri worth of a short visit and your journey should take you at the Snaefellsnes peninsula then. One of the best places to see northern lights on Iceland thanks to high probability having a clear sky there.
We finished our trip with two days in Reykjavik. After two weeks in Iceland we weren’t lucky enough to see northern lights which could highlight the trip. I believe there will be next time to see this miracle of nature. Even though we didn’t see it during this winter journey, it was a perfect opportunity to see Iceland with less tourists while covered with snow.
General info and price overview
Where to stay in Iceland?
I am using Booking.com for the accommodation. As you will be traveling around the country, I am not listing any hotel or B&B. In general, standard price for a 1 night at nice B&B for two people is around 100 USD and around 150 USD at a hotel in the winter time.
Where to rent a car?
For the car rental use Rentalcars.com where all the major rental companies offering their cars for great prices. Smaller car can be rented for around 200 USD per a week and 4×4 SUV for around 350 USD per week in the winter time. Another advantage is that you get full coverage car insurance with them.
How to get there?
For comparing flight prices I am using mostly Kayak.com or CestujZaKacku.cz when traveling from Czech Republic
Where to find more information (cost, opening hours, etc.)?
For more information on traveling around Iceland check official tourism website.
Tags: iceland, photography, romanslavik, travel, winter