When you hear the words “road trip” the first thing that comes to mind is often the idea of cruising down a long country road on a hot summer’s day in a convertible, with the wind blowing through your hair. But have you ever thought about how exciting a road trip can be in the depths of winter?
Get a new perspective on life by with a car rental and exploring the wonders of Iceland. In this article we’re going to share some of the highlights of this stunning destination that you can pack into a week on the road.
No visit to Iceland is complete without taking in the Golden Circle – so that should be the first item on your itinerary. Next we suggest the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon before rounding off the trip at Diamond Beach in south-east Iceland.
Pick up your car on arrival at the airport and spend a couple of days in the capital to begin with – have a look at our previous post about where to stay.
There’s more than enough to keep you occupied in Reykjavik but you’ll soon be itching to take to the open road: it’s time for the Golden Circle!
Kick things off with Thingvellir National Park where a variety of possible activities await.If you’re up for it you can dive or snorkel in the Silfra fissure (don’t worry, you’ll be wearing a wetsuit!). If that sounds a bit too much like hard work why not take a leisurely walk – you can even follow the fault line marking the edges of two tectonic plates.
When you’re done with Thingvellir it’s time for some geothermal action in the shape of the famous Geysir. Enjoy the fumaroles and hot springs and then take a look at Geysir’s more active brother, Strokkur geyser, where you can witness 20 metre high eruptions every eight minutes.
End the day at Gullfoss Falls, which translates as ‘the Golden Waterfall’. This is nature at its most powerful and attractive so allow enough time to contemplate its beauty.
On your way to the road you can take a detour to the old crater of Kerið. The crater is now a lake and its bright blue colour is amazing.
Stay the night in the enchanting village of Hvolsvöllur. Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled for the Northern Lights!
Start the next day by driving in the direction of the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano that brought European air traffic to a standstill in 2010 with its ash clouds.
Next up are more waterfalls – Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. Need a break from the elements? Stop by at the Skógar Folk Museum for a cultural injection.
Visit the black sands of Reynisfjara beach on the way to the Sólheimajökull Glacier. The basalt cliffs here are world famous.
Stop off at the village of Vik for some sightseeing before reaching your destination, Kirkjubæjarklaustur, where you can spend the night.
After breakfast head for the stunning Foss a Síðu watefall, visit the Dverghamrar basalt columns and then jump back in the car for the drive over the enormous glacier sands of Skeiðarársandur.
Next on the agenda is Skaftafell nature resort in the Vatnajokull National Park. Another waterfall awaits you in the shape of Svartifoss. We suggest you leave the car and hike in the area – you’ll love it.
After that fresh air continue east to the Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. Often called the most beautiful place in Iceland (no mean feat), Jökulsárlón is genuinely awe-inspiring.
During the winter you can arrange to visit an ice cave in the area too but this must be pre-booked.
Tonight you return to Kirkjubæjarklaustur to sleep.
In the morning you return to the capital after a leisurely drive through amazing scenery.
After checking in, get back on the road to visit the Blue lagoon for a relaxing day of spa treatments. If you feel a little more energetic afterwards you can explore the Reykjanes Peninsula.
If you have more time in Reykjavik you can also visit Elliðarárdalur, Perlan or the Grótta Lighthouse in the city.
As you can see, Iceland has all the ingredients for an incredible winter road trip. I’d get booking, if I were you!