You will probably now think Iceland in winter? OH YES. Iceland in winter is just so cool. It is exciting, special and just different. Everyone looking for a little adventure, excting nature and great photography opportunities should give winter in Iceland a go.
Last year we went to Iceland for a long weekend (see here) at the end of March. With only three full days we explored the south coast and a bit of the east coast.
This year its going to be the big thing, a trip along Icelands Road No.1., the Ring Road with a two day stopover on Snaefellsness Peninsula.
In summer this tour is probably doable in 7 to 8 days. You might think, why not in winter? Do to the fact that Iceland is so close to the arctic circle the weather can be a nightmare. Also Iceland being an island, therefore being exposed to the sea from all directions, the weather can change within minutes and is very unpredictable. So to circle Iceland in winter I would strongly recommend a couple more days. For our trip we plan with 11 days. The last 3 days are planned to spend on the south coast. So in case of any road closures etc. we have enough time to get back to Keflavic airport in time.
How to get to Iceland?
How to get to Iceland? Well either by boat or plane 🙂 Easiest, fastest and cheapest is by plane.
In the winter there not that many options from Germany. Basically two. Wow Air or Icelandair. The first being the cheaper version. WOW air flight times from Frankfurt or Berlin are pretty good with leaving Germany around noon and being in Keflavik at around 2-3 in the afternoon. Be careful when you book flights with both Icelandair and WOW air as every search machine, like skyscanner, momondo etc. usually show prices without any luggage included. The cheapest WOW air flights only include one personal item, like a small bag or a very small bag pack NO cabin baggage. Cabin baggage and/or baggage has to be booked separately, at extra costs. So for flights for two adults, two suitcases and one cabin baggage, 350-500€ are a reasonable price for the off season.
Being a remote island with a small population that is mostly concentrated on two urban areas, Reykjavik and Akureyri, it is pretty much the only option to rent a car to tour the entire island in winter. Sure there are always tours, busses and stuff but a self driving tour is a more flexible option.
Last year in March we rented a compact size car through Hertz. With nice weather and clear roads that was absolutely enough, no 4×4 needed.
This year we decided to be on the safe side and went for a 4×4 with Budget. As March is not high season the rentals are much cheaper than in the summer, but who am I kidding, they are still ridiculously expensive (for US, Canadian or German standards). We ended up paying 777€ for a 11day rental of a Skoda Octavia 4×4 including all major insurances.In the summer, the price would be about 300-500€ more, depending on the month.
To give you an idea about our daily initiary including the planned driving time and distance or some ideas for your own trip I have listed our planned day trips day by day.
The travel times and distances are just a plan, they can vary due to photo stops, road closures etc.
Day 1 International Airport Keflavik (Reykjavik) to Grundarfjörður 258km/2:52h
Day 2 Snaefellsness Peninsula 178km/2:59h
Day 3 Snaefellsness Peninsula to Borganes (via Hraunfossar) 217km/2:43h
Day 4 Borganes to Akureyri 311km/3:41h
Day 5 Northern Iceland (Goðafoss, Myvatn, Húsavík, Akureyri) 247km/3:28h
Day 6 Akureyri to Egilsstaðir (with a detour to Dettifoss) 335km/5:11h
Day 7 Egilsstaðir to Höfn 256km/3:24h
Day 8 Höfn to Hof 109km/1:23h
Day 9 Hof to Vik 156km/1:52h
Day 10 Vik to Selfoss 104km/1:19h
Day 11 Selfoss to Keflavik International Airport 123km/1:40h
Highlights: Glacier Lagoon, Black Sand Beach (Diamond Beach), Northern Lights, Pingvellir National Park, Golden Circle, Godafoss, Dettifoss, Kirjufell, Sneafellsness , Vatnajökull, Vik, Reykjavik, Gullfoss, Geysir, Akureyri, East Coast, Myvatn
To get some more details and information about the highlights on the south and east coast check out my blog posts: