Winter Hiking and Northern Lights Chasing in Iceland
Wrap up warm for a series of spectacular winter hikes, interspersed with hot spring baths, thunderous waterfalls and northern lights gazing
3 days off work
Up to 16 people
Keflavik International Airport, Iceland
Hostel · Guesthouse
This trip is open to anyone with basic fitness levels, no previous hiking experience necessary
Hike between tectonic plates, across glaciers, along black sand beaches and through valleys scattered with hot springs
Spend evenings gazing at the northern lights and star-filled skies from your base beside a geothermal lake
Bathe in a multitude of natural hot springs, mud pools, thermal spas and even a hot river!
Expert, English-speaking guides
3 nights in a hostel in Laugarvatn and 1 night in a cosy Reykjavik guesthouse
4 breakfasts, 3 lunches and 4 dinners
Airport transfers from Keflavik Airport to Laugarvatn and from Reykjavik to Keflavik Airport
All permits and entry fees
Flights to and from the meeting point
Some meals as described
Flexible - arrive any time on Day 1
Flexible - depart any time on Day 5
Your host will meet you at Keflavik Airport on arrival on Day 1 and transfer you over to your base for the trip at Laugarvatn. On day 5 your host will pick you up from your Reykjavik accommodation and transfer you back to Keflavik Airport in time for your onward flight
There are regular flights to Iceland from airports across the UK, Europe, and North America
Hostel · Twin share
Day 2 – Day 3
Hostel · Twin share
Guesthouse · Twin share
What is the food like?
All meals are included in the trip price, except dinner in Reykjavik on the last day where you'll have the chance to explore the excellent choice of restaurants in the city. Breakfasts will consist of porridge, muesli, bread, jam, cheese, ham, tea and coffee. There'll be a range of snacks and sandwich items for you to make a packed lunch on days 2 and 4. This will include various breads with a lot of the usual suspects for fillings: ham, salami, cheese, pâté, peanut butter, Nutella, tomatoes, cucumbers, smoked salmon, hummus and more. We recommend you bring along a lunchbox, to avoid your sandwiches getting squashed on the hikes and to cut down on plastic and foil use. Evening meals are prepared by the guide with a little help from the group, chopping vegetables and doing the dishes. The lunch on day 3 will be at a local country restaurant with options including Atlantic Wolfish in a creamy sauce with rice and vegetables, lasagna, or roast lamb.
Vegans, Vegetarians and most food allergies can be catered for. Please let your host know of any dietary requirements in advance.
What is the accommodation like?
Your base for the adventure is Laugarvatn Hostel, nestled in the small lakeside town of Laugarvatn and perfectly located as a launchpad for the Golden Circle big hitters: Thingvellir, Gullfoss, and Geysir. The hostel sleeps up to 70 people in single, double or twin rooms with private bathrooms. You'll be staying in twin rooms unless you add-on a private room upgrade, or you may also request a double room. There is a living room, bar area and high-speed internet for whenever you need to rest your neck from watching the northern lights outside.
The last night of your trip will be in Reykjavik at Hotel Leifur Eiríksson, an authentic heritage building set right in the center of Reykjavík. The hotel is on Skólavörðustígur; one of the most sought-after streets in the city and dotted with various galleries and designer shops. Across the street from the hotel is the iconic church and Reykjavík's most famous landmark, Hallgrímskirkja. Breakfast is included here on your final day of the trip.
For solo travellers looking for their own space, an optional private room can be booked for an extra charge. See Optional Extras for the price. Please request this at the time of booking (this is subject to availability).
Welcome to Iceland
Your host will meet you at the airport, pop you in the van and drive for 90 minutes, through volcanic landscapes and snowcapped peaks, to your accommodation at Laugarvatn - your base for the next 3 nights. Meet up with the rest of your group for a welcome dinner, where your guide will run you through the plan for the next few days. Waste no time later this evening, taking a short hike away from the hostel for your first bout of northern lights hunting.
Hit the Golden Circle
2-3hrs · 10km · 200 up · 200 down
After breakfast, take a short drive to the Thingvellir National Park. You're in for a treat: it's home to some of Iceland's best scenery and most famous geological wonders. Your first hike will take you between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates: literally hiking between two continents! Soak up the beautiful views and learn exactly why Thingvellir is a UNESCO world heritage site. After the hike, you'll set off to explore the other two sites which make up Iceland's famous 'Golden Circle'. First up, the spouting springs of Geysir and later the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. Experience some of Iceland's premier tourist attractions, in the relative emptiness of winter, ideal for snatching clear glimpses and great photos of these awesome sights. Head back to the hostel for dinner and spend another evening looking out for the northern lights. You can also visit the geothermal baths of Fontana spa a few minute's walk from your base which can be an amazing place to see the northern lights if they turn up while you are relaxing in the thermal pools.
Chase waterfalls and glaciers in the south of Iceland
4-5hrs · 10km · 100m up · 100m down
Today's adventures are packed full of glaciers, waterfalls and volcanic sand beaches on Iceland's beautiful southern coastline. First up is Sólheimajökull Glacier, where your guide will lead you out on to the glacier itself, hiking with crampons through a frozen wonderland of white, blue and crystal clear ice. You'll get up close and personal with deep crevasses and water cauldrons as you make your way across the glacier. Later on you'll drive a little to the east to visit Reynisfjara, a wild stretch of coastline with volcanic sand beaches and spectacular basalt sea stacks. You'll hike along Black Beach (yes, the sand is black!) to see the spooky plane wreck there. On the way back to Laugarvatn, there are yet more feasts for the eyes as you stop to admire the waterfalls of Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, completing your waterfall trilogy for this part of Iceland.
Hike to a magical hot spring valley
3-4hrs · 11km · 300m up · 300m down
Don't forget to pack your swimmers today! Starting at a village called Hveragerði, you'll hike up the Reykjadalur valley, climbing into the hills and arriving at a magical valley of hot springs, mud pools - and even a warm river to bathe in. Spend some time here picking your favourite spot for a dip and maybe brave a plunge in one of the cold natural pools. Later you'll drive back to Reykjavík to shower away the mud, before heading into town to enjoy a few well-earned drinks and meal in one of the numerous restaurants.
Time to head home
Check out of the guesthouse and head back to the airport in time for your flight home. Or use your spare time to explore some more of the land of ice and fire.
All our adventures take place in wild places. Things can go wrong in wild places. Your perfectly planned itinerary may change a bit (or a lot) if the weather turns, someone gets hurt, or a volcano erupts. Usually though, changes make it all the better.
15% Off Outdoor Gear
In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 15% discount on us to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock, Runner's Need, and Cycle Surgery.
What do I need to bring?
- Main backpack 50-75 litres
- Day bag 20-35 litres
- Waterproof liner for day bag
- Hiking boots (worn-in)
- Casual shoes for evenings
- Waterproof jacket
- Waterproof trousers
- Warm down/synthetic filled jacket
- Breathable wicking layers
- Thermal base layers, woollen is best
- Fleece jacket or similar
- Buff or neckscarf
- Warm thermal gloves
- Thick woollen hat x 2
- Lightweight trousers/shorts/skirts
- T-shirts, underwear
- Thick thermal socks
- Swimwear (for thermal pools)
- Something to sleep in
- Sandals/jelly shoes/beach shoes for thermal pools
- Universal travel adapter
- Power bank or solar charger
- Spare camera batteries
- Passports (and visas)
- Travel Insurance documents
- Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
- Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, sanitary wear etc)
- Quick-dry towel
- Alcohol hand-gel
- Reusable water bottle x1 ltr (2 of these if you have room)
- Biodegradable wet-wipes
- Energy bars and snacks
The northern lights are a natural phenomenon, with fluctuations in the strength and visibility of the displays. As with all things that depend on mother nature, sightings can never be guaranteed. If there is a thick cloud, the lights will be obscured. That said, winter in this part of Iceland is very dark with long nights and barely any light pollution, so your chances here are up there with anywhere in the world.
This is a light adventure trip and, while the hikes are frequently dotted throughout the itinerary, they are easy-going and easily managed by anyone with basic fitness. There's a mixture of hiking, sightseeing at some of Iceland's most epic sites, relaxing in hot springs and night-time northern lights viewing
Sure can! Over 50% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.
Winter in Iceland is cold, but not frighteningly so. The average temperature in the non-mountainous areas and along the coasts is around freezing. Temperatures can exceed 0 °C / 32°F quite often, even in winter, so rain can fall at times instead of snow. You'll likely experience both as part of Iceland's infamously fickle weather. The fringe months of winter, September and March are warmer than October-February. Iceland can occasionally experience brief bouts of colder weather being pushed in from Greenland, which can lower the temperatures to up to -15 °C / 5°F, so come prepared with many layers and a good, warm winter jacket with adequate insulation and both waterproof and windproofing. Days are very short between November and February, with barely any sunlight at all, perfect for northern lights viewing and an otherworldly feel while out on the hikes.
Each day, you can leave your main bag in your room at the accommodation in Laugarvatn; you'll only take a day bag out with you each day. If you are arriving early and wish to store luggage in Reykjavik before the trip starts, there are four centrally located places in Reykjavik where you can store luggage. Speak to your host about the options, or you can pre-book here.
We’ve teamed up with the guys at World Nomads to offer insurance designed for adventurous travellers across 140 countries that includes overseas medical, evacuation, baggage and a range of adventure sports and activities. To get yours sorted, click here.
We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book the trip, just to cover you for any last minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!
All of our group adventures are especially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded.
"I cannot recommend this highly enough! The people on the trip were amazing. Easily the best trip I've ever been on!" Charlotte, 2019, Trustpilot.
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Cancel up to 31 days before departure and we'll transfer your deposit into credit for a future booking.
Free Date Changes
Free date changes up to 31 days before departure.
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