Iceland Winter Adventure

Trip Length 7 Days
Group Size 4-14
Difficulty
3

Starting from

$4,599

for REI Members

$5,099 for non-members

Departures

Nov 2019-Apr 2020

The people of Iceland make the most of all seasons, and winter is no exception. Come and explore stunning countryside while it's embraced by winter's icy—and beautiful—grip. Hike the rugged coast, snowshoe across ice-covered lava fields, and walk on crystal-blue glaciers. Along the way we'll be mesmerized by frozen waterfalls, burbling hot springs, and ethereal Northern Lights before retiring to our cozy hotel each night.

Selected by National Geographic Traveler as a 2014 Tour of a Lifetime.

As natives already know, any season is the right season to visit Iceland. This dramatic North Atlantic island is fringed with volcanoes, iced with glaciers and heated by geothermal pools.

Outdoor activity can be found any time of year, making our multisport adventure a perfect way to explore this country. As soon as we arrive, share a reflective moment in the warm Blue Lagoon. In the days that follow, discover a world of fire and ice, as we snowshoe over lava fields in the Blue Mountains and strap on crampons for the Solheimajokull Glacier.

Visit frozen waterfalls and bubbling hot springs. When day turns to night, we set out on excursions to scan the dark skies for the multi-colored waves of the Northern Lights. Spend each night nestled warmly in the comfort of a cozy hotel, enjoying delicious meals and newfound friends.

Considering visiting Iceland during the summer months? Check out our Iceland Hiking trip to see this stunning country between June & August.

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Trip highlights

  • Hike and snowshoe on this active winter exploration of Iceland
  • Strap on crampons for a glacier walk amidst a wonderland of natural ice sculptures
  • Discover Iceland's beautiful winter landscapes, sculpted by fire and ice
  • Search the night skies for multicolored displays of the Northern Lights
  • Take a soothing dip in the waters of the geothermally-heated Blue Lagoon

Activities

This adventure is rated Moderate [3].Participants should be capable of hiking up to 8 miles without major discomfort over variable terrain with some steep grades. It's not necessary to be an expert hiker or snowshoer to participate, and no prior experience is needed for the glacier walk.

Note that high winds, rain, and snow are not uncommon and can make hikes feel more strenuous. Fast-changing weather may change the daily, or even hourly, itinerary of this winter adventure.

  • Hiking
  • Snowshoeing

What's Included

Hotel/guesthouse accommodations (6 nights); all meals as noted on the daily itinerary; guides; group transfer from/to Keflavik Airport; transportation within Iceland; snowshoes; crampons and ice ax (for glacier walk); entrance to all national parks and Blue Lagoon thermal pool.

Accommodations

Hotels or guesthouses: 6 nights

Your Adventure Itinerary

Day 1

Explore the Leidarendi lava tube. Enjoy a soak in the Blue Lagoon.

Arrive at Keflavik Airport in Reykjavik, Iceland by 7am today. We provide one group transfer to our meeting point in downtown Reykjavik. Following an orientation and group breakfast, we drive to Leidarendi cave. Leidarendi is a great example of lava tube geology, with frozen flows of various patterns and formations, small stalagmites and stalactites, and icicles of all shapes and sizes. Most of Leidarendi is accessible on foot, but some crawling is required and we use headlamps. Our next stop is the Blue Lagoon for lunch at the café and time to enjoy the famous spa. This afternoon we continue to our lodging on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. All meals included.

Lava tube exploring: 1.5 hours; Optional spa activities: 1.5 hours; Driving: 5 hours.

Day 2

Discover Snaefellsnes National Park on a scenic coastal hike.

Today's hike on the Snaefellsnes peninsula takes us along local fishermen's trails. We pass old fishing villages, lighthouses and even shipwrecks, which serve as a reminder of how the forces of nature impact the course of life on this island. Panoramic views include dramatic coves, inlets and sea cliffs, which are nesting sites for a host of bird species. We also take in the views of Mt. Snaefellsjokull (4,744'), an 800,000 year old stratovolcano with a small glacier covering its summit. The geology of the peninsula, which includes many lava fields, is the result of 20 volcanic eruptions that occurred pre- and post-ice age. We return to our guesthouse for dinner and overnight. All meals included.

Hiking: 6.5 miles (4-5 hours); Terrain: Dirt and rock pathways; Elevation gain/loss: ~150'; Driving: 2 hours.

Note: Depending on weather conditions, we may switch Day 2 and Day 3 of the itinerary.

Day 3

Snowshoe or hike on the geologically diverse Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

We strap on snowshoes to walk in the geologically diverse Snaefellsnes area. If snow levels are low (which is possible for November and early December departures), our guides will lead us on a beautiful hike in Snaefellsnes National Park.

Next, we visit the Volcano Museum Stykkishólmur to see works of art showing volcanic eruptions. The museum also houses artifacts from the unique collection of Professor Haraldur Sigurðsson, who is famous for his work on the reconstruction of major volcanic eruptions, including Vesuvius in AD 79. Tonight, we stay at a small guesthouse on the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Conditions permitting, we scan the skies for signs of the northern lights. Iceland is one of the world's premier destinations for viewing these dancing, multicolored waves of light caused by the collision of charged particles in the upper atmosphere, and we take advantage of our nights to search for them. All meals included.

Snowshoeing or Hiking: 6-8 miles, (4-5 hours); Driving: 2 hours.

Day 4

Marvel at Iceland's winter landscapes and search the night skies for the Northern Lights.

The main road to Gullfoss (Golden Falls) provides access to some of Iceland's most spectacular natural wonders. We visit the magnificent double waterfall, which is partly frozen in wintertime. Close by is the Great Geysir, which is only active a few times each week, and Strokkur which erupts every 10 minutes, spouting water almost 70 feet in the air. Mid-day we drive to Friðheimar to visit a greenhouse that uses geothermal heating to grow tomatoes. Following a tour of the greenhouse, we’ll enjoy a lunch of freshly made tomato soup, surrounded by fragrant tomato plants. This afternoon we head to Thingvellir National Park. Thingvellir became Iceland's first national park in 1928, due to its historical significance and haunting natural beauty. Here we witness the divergent drift of the American and Eurasian plates. A five kilometer wide strip of land between the plates has sunk over 180 feet in the past 10,000 years and a rift valley has formed. Conditions permitting, we take a short walk in the rift valley. All meals included.

Hiking: 3 hours; Terrain: Dirt and rock pathways; Driving: 5 hours.

Day 5

Strap on your crampons and take a walk on Solheimajokull glacier.

Our day begins with a stop at Solheimajokull, an outlet glacier extending from the great Myrdalsjokull glacier. This is a wonderland of ice sculptures, crevasses, and long, narrow ridges. Accompanied by our experienced mountain guide, we strap on crampons and grab ice axes before making our way up the icy ridges. We witness firsthand some of the powerful forces that have shaped Iceland's unique geography over the millennia. Some of the crystal blue ice visible in the glacier is over 1,000 years old. Its remarkable color is the result of hundreds of thousands of tons of compression squeezing all oxygen out of the ice. En route to our hotel we stop at Skogarfoss and Seljalandsfoss, two particularly photogenic waterfalls. If atmospheric conditions are favorable, we head out in search of the aurora borealis tonight. All meals included.

Glacier walk: 5-6 miles (4-5 hours) depending on conditions; Terrain: Snow, ice and scree; Elevation gain/loss: 350'; Driving: 3.5 hours.

Day 6

Snowshoe in the remote Blue Mountains or hike to a valley of hot springs.

Our adventure continues in the Blue Mountains, where we snowshoe over snow-covered lava fields. During our walk, we explore ancient volcanic craters including Thrihnjukar, a dormant volcano which last erupted over 4,000 years ago. All of Thrihnjukar's magma has drained away as though a plug was pulled at the bottom of the magma chamber, making it the only hollow volcano in the world.

If snow levels are low, we will instead head to Reykjadalur, a beautiful valley teaming with geothermal activity. Here we will hike among steamy fumaroles and boiling mud pots. For those willing to brave the cold air, there may be an opportunity to soak in the hot springs.

In the late afternoon we return to Reykjavik. Your guides will provide a one-hour walking tour of the city’s notable sights and landmarks before we enjoy a final Icelandic dinner to celebrate newfound friends. All meals included.

Snowshoeing: 5-6 miles (4 hours) depending on conditions; Terrain: Snow and possible ice; Elevation gain/loss: 300'; Or, Hiking: 5 miles; Elevation gain/loss: 1,152’; City walking: 1 hour; Driving: 1.5 hours.

Day 7

Tour vibrant Reykjavik before catching your flight home.

The morning is free for sleeping in, sightseeing or shopping. We provide one group transfer to Keflavik Airport, for trip members departing on a late afternoon flight to the U.S. Breakfast included.

Iceland Winter Adventure Departures

Gear list

The key to staying comfortable while on an active trip is layering. To get maximum comfort with minimum weight, you need versatile layers that mix and match to create the right amount of insulation, ventilation and weather protection. Try to bring only what is necessary—this will help you and the field staff.

What to pack

Packed by REI

  • Glacier Walking Gear
  • Helmet
  • Ice Traction Devices
  • Ski Goggles
  • Snowshoes
  • Trekking Poles

Packed by you (Required)

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Travel Documents

  • Airline Tickets (Confirmation and Itinerary)
  • Final Bulletin (Emailed Prior to Departure Date)
  • Valid Passport

Contact Us

Feel free to give us a call at 1-800-622-2236 should you have any questions regarding the gear list. The staff at our stores and Direct Sales (1-800-426-4840) will also be happy to help you with gear questions. Or check out REI Expert Advice, which has great information to help you prepare for your trip.

Meet your guides

Kristján Björn T.

This nature enthusiast and artist from a small town in Iceland has been guiding trips since 1998. Kristján is a qualified mountaineer and is fond of the extreme environments found throughout Iceland. He enjoys sharing his country's beauty with guests.

Meet your guides

Pétur G.

Pétur has been guiding in Iceland since 2001. He grew up in the Breidafjordur archipelago, which is famous for being Iceland's only marine conservation area. Pétur is an experienced hiker and nature enthusiast, and has trekked throughout Nepal and Africa.

Adventure Expert

Janel

The raw nature of Iceland is the perfect backdrop for our winter activities and how cool is it to eat your lunch near the top of a glacier or witness the green glow of the northern lights at the foothills of Mt Hekla.

Bschmelz

The best trip ever! I am already planning to go back.


Our guides Kristjan and Orri made this trip truly exceptional. They were professional, good-humored and fun-loving, creative, resourceful, flexible, and sincere. Their high-level expertise in mountaineering was obviou...

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