Iceland Winter Bucket List
It felt like the only life I’d ever known while I was there, but when I touched down at LAX after returning from 2 weeks in Iceland, it felt like my space ship was landing from another planet.
Everything about Iceland is otherworldly- the Northern Lights, the geology, the belief in mystic legendary creatures. Plus there is a TON to do. I filled my trip to the brim with adventure and still had to cut a few things out due to time. If you are looking for a wild winter wonderland, Iceland is it!
Note: All of these adventures are in the south part of the island and within a few hours drive of each other.
Chasing waterfalls pretty much happens whether you mean for it to or not in Iceland, and I’m not complaining. There’s more than 13,000 waterfalls on the island, and two of the most famous are right outside of Reykjavik in the southern uplands. I went to Gullfoss on a tour of the Golden Circle my first day and it was perfect to set the tone for all of the jaw-dropping moments ahead.
Gullfoss spills off the river and plummets down 105 ft (32 m) into a dramatic canyon. It was the most insane display of rushing water I'd ever seen and its story as the first environmentalist act in Icelandic history is inspiring as well. Did you know the entire country is run off of 100% natural energy? I swear you can feel it in the air.
We had a running joke as retreat group the entire trip that everyone in the country is named Thor; and well his mörk or forest valley did not disappoint. Thorsmörk was an unexpected highlight of the trip. The geology was so intricate with river deltas, deep canyons with rich greens and black lava plus we were there to see a beautiful autumn landscape.
I recommend working with an adventure company to see all there is to do as it is vast and there are lots of hidden gems (like where to eat!). Midgard Adventures hooked us up with a 12 person Super Jeep and our guide Siggi was epic.
Snowmobile On A Glacier
I don’t know what was more thrilling, the Super Jeep ride to the glacier or the actual snowmobile ride itself. It was such a fun, adrenaline filled day, and being out in the wild with no one else in sight was an amazing feeling.
Geysir Hot Springs
Iceland is a famous hotspot for geothermic activity, and Stokkur along the Golden Circle is the most active area for it. From geysers shooting water up to 100 feet in the air to mud and sulphur bubbling at dangerous temperatures in the ground, it is a unique experience.
Find Secret Lagoons
Sure you can go to the Blue Lagoon. And you should It was totally worth it. But it’s not the only naturally heated swimming pool in the country. Iceland has so many underrated lagoons just waiting to be explored, like the one we found that’s actually called Secret Lagoon. It’s family owned, quiet, clean and epic on a foggy evening. Most lagoons offer food and drink for purchase and full changing and showering amenities.
As you can imagine, growing food in Iceland poses a challenge. Fridheimer is a massive greenhouse tomato farm that supplies over 80 percent of the tomatoes in Iceland, and it was such a cute stop for lunch! We got a tour of the gardens and ate a delicious lunch with fresh tomato and herb soup, served with a variety of the most gluttonous and fresh bread I’d had in awhile. If you are passing by the area, don’t miss out on this gem!
Icelandic Horseback Ride
One day we booked a horseback excursion to the local farm of Skalakot. It was a charming Icelandic experience. We got picked up at our accommodation and got a tour of the farm and introduced to our horses before riding them to a small waterfall in the countryside. The horses were gentle and sturdy, and we even picked it up to a trot!
Vik Black Sand Beach
Black sand beaches aren’t reserved for only tropical destinations! The black sand is actually volcanic ash, and Vik beach on the south coast of Iceland is insanely beautiful. The beach is famous for its pillar formations which locals believe are petrified trolls. We ended our snowmobiling day here and got to see the sun go down over the wild Atlantic Ocean.
Chase The Northern Lights
It’s good to not set any expectation on your trip, but if you’re traveling in winter, you may as well set yourself up for a chance to see the Northern Lights. We got lucky with clear dark skies and our amazing and comfortable viewing deck in the countryside at Hotel Ranga. Check out my top tips for chasing the Northern Lights!
Iceland is an adventurer’s dream, but the capital city of Reykjavik is charming and fun in its own way too! We spent 4 days cafe and yoga studio hopping throughout the colorful streets, trying to avoid spending way too much money on all of the adorable Icelandic goods and wool clothing. Highlights included practicing at Reykjavik Yoga and Yoga Shala, and yummy vegan eats at Burro, Your Hearts Delight and Kaffi Vinyl.
Leave any other fun bucket list items below in the comments!