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Glacier hiking in Iceland. Photo: Host/Icelandic Mountain Guides
4.8
| 24 reviews

Winter Hiking and Northern Lights Chasing in Iceland

Wrap up warm for a series of spectacular hikes interspersed with thunderous waterfalls, hot spring bathing and aurora gazing

Duration

4 nights

Annual Leave

3 days off work

Group Size

Up to 14 people

Season

Oct-Mar

Location

Iceland

Meeting Point

Keflavik International Airport, Iceland

Classic Accommodation

Guesthouse · Hotel

Customer Reviews

(24)

4.8

Difficulty

Easy

From

From

Hike along tectonic plates and through steaming geothermal valleys to bathe in natural hot springs, rivers and mud pools

Clamber across the Sólheimajökull glacier, try your hand at ice climbing and explore the striking black beaches of Vík

Marvel at icy waterfalls and boiling geysers before spending the evenings spotting the northern lights in starry skies

Bunk down in authentic, family-owned farmstays for a warm Icelandic welcome and tuck into tasty organic produce

Day 1

Welcome to Iceland!

Highway 1 in winter, Iceland. Photo: GettyImages-1134382786

Your host will meet you at the airport. Get in the van and settle in for a road trip across Iceland, taking in the beautiful winter scenery for three hours until you reach the south coast and your first base – a cosy farm guesthouse. The guesthouse is located at the foot of Mýrdalsjökull glacier, with views of the famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano and its glacier. Sit down with the group for a welcome dinner before stepping outside to try and spot the northern lights. The farm offers a great viewing base if it's a clear evening and there is aurora activity in the area.

Day 2

Glacier hiking and ice climbing

Ice climbing in Iceland. Photo: Host/Icelandic Mountain Guides

Hiking

3-4hrs · 10km · 200 up · 200 down

Ice Climbing

2-3hrs

Tuck into a homemade breakfast at the guesthouse before heading off to explore the majestic Sólheimajökull glacier. Clip on crampons to hike over the glacier – your host will expertly navigate your group across the glacier's water cauldrons, ridges and deep crevasses. You'll then reach a suitable spot to rig up the gear for a short introduction to ice climbing. Your guides are seasoned ice climbers, and will safely show you the ropes as you get to grips with using crampons, ice axes and rope harnesses to scale a wall of ice. After your glacial explorations, you'll head to the coast for a hike along the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara, before taking in the beautiful waterfall of Skógafoss on the way back to the guesthouse. Enjoy dinner after an action-packed day; you can head outside again in the evening if the aurora is on display.

Day 3

Waterfalls and the Golden Circle highlights

Gullfoss waterfall, Iceland: Image: Host/Icelandic Mountain Guides

Hiking

2hrs · 6km · 100m up · 100m down

Back on the road, skirting the Icelandic highlands, you'll visit the Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi waterfalls before continuing to the tiny village of Reykholt for a unique lunch in the Friðheimar greenhouse, where varieties of tomatoes are grown year-round despite Iceland's harsh winters. After lunch, it's a lineup of the big hitters: explore the geothermal area of Geysir, witnessing its dramatic spurts of water high into the air, before heading to the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. Settle into your next guesthouse for a delicious welcome dinner, made with their own farm produce.

Day 4

Hike to a magical hot spring valley

Friends relaxing in glacial hot spring, Iceland. Photo: GettyImages-143689808

Hiking

3-4hrs · 11km · 300m up · 300m down

Don't forget to pack your swimmers today! An epic day of winter hiking starts at Thingvellir, where you'll hike along a fault line in the earth’s crust. Continue on to a village called Hveragerði to hike up the Reykjadalur valley, climbing into the hills and arriving at a magical spot with 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 a meal in one of the city's numerous restaurants.

Day 5

Time to head home

View of Keflavik city in winter through airplane window, Iceland. Photo: GettyImages-900699846

Check out of the hotel and head back to the airport in time for your flight home. Alternatively, you might want to stay a little longer to explore some more of the land of ice and fire.

Included

Guides

Expert, English-speaking guides

Accommodation

3 nights in family-run 'farmstay' guesthouses, 1 night in a hotel in Reykjavik

Meals

4 breakfasts, 1 lunch and 3 dinners

Transfers

Arrival transfers from Keflavik Airport to Solheimahjaleiga

Permits

All permits and entry fees

Not Included

Flights to and from the meeting point

Travel insurance

Personal expenses

Some meals as described

Some equipment

Visas where required

Day 1

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 2

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 3

Guesthouse · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 4

Hotel · Twin share

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Day 5

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

What is the food like?

Breakfasts and dinners will be served at your farm stay guesthouses, offering a variety of Icelandic dishes made from local ingredients and prepared by expert chefs, using many products from the farms themselves. You'll try classic Icelandic skyr yoghurt and award-winning organic ice cream made on the farms. On Day 3 you'll sit down for a special lunch at the greenhouses of Friðheimar, where tomato-growing is a speciality. Lunch is served amongst the countless vines, making for a rare food experience. Dinner is not included in Reykjavik on the final day, giving you the chance to explore the excellent choice of restaurants in the city.

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?

Solheimahjaleiga Guesthouse

On the south coast of Iceland, located at the foot of Mýrdalsjökull glacier and with a view of Eyjafjallajökull glacier, awaits the Solheimahjaleiga Guesthouse. This is a cosy, family-run 'farmstay' experience – expect a warm welcome from your hosts, who have been living here for three generations spanning 50 years. You'll stay here for two nights in twin-share rooms in a renovated farmhouse and a converted barn. As this is a small guesthouse bathrooms are usually shared with other rooms. Your hosts will serve breakfast and dinner each day in their restaurant.

Efstidalur

After your Golden Circle antics on Day 3, you'll bunk down in another family-run guesthouse. Run by four siblings and their families, Efstidalur is a working Icelandic farm which welcomes tourists to their guesthouse and restaurant, which serves their own beef and dairy products, including the famous Icelandic yoghurt, skyr. You'll stay in twin-share rooms with a charming countryside atmosphere.

Reykjavik

You'll spend the last night of your trip in Reykjavik at Hotel Leifur Eiríksson, an authentic heritage building set right in the centre of Reykjavík. The hotel is on Skólavörðustígur, one of the most sought-after streets in the city, dotted with various galleries and 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.

Upgrades

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).

The Area

map

Logistics

Starts

Keflavik Airport

16:00 on Day 1

Ends

Reykjavik City Centre

Depart any time on Day 5

Transfers

Your host will meet you at Keflavik Airport at 16:00 on Day 1 and transfer you over to your first farmstay guesthouse. If you are already going to be in Reykjavik you can meet up with your host at their base downtown. On Day 5 you can make your own way back to Keflavik Airport using the popular Flybus service. You can book a ticket in advance online (although it is very easy to buy in person in Reykjavík) – please ask your host for a discount code for online bookings.

Travel options

There are regular flights to Iceland from airports across the UK, Europe, and North America.

Enjoy 12.5% Off Outdoor Gear

In need of a few more items? All bookings receive a 12.5% discount to use at Cotswold Outdoor, Snow + Rock and Runner's Need.

What do I need to bring?

Bags

  • Overnight duffel bag or suitcase
  • Day pack (20-35 litres)
  • Waterproof liner for day pack

Clothes

  • 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
  • Lightweight trousers
  • T-shirts, underwear
  • Thick thermal socks
  • Swimwear (for thermal pools)
  • Sunglasses
  • Something to sleep in
  • Sandals/jelly shoes/beach shoes, for thermal pools

Other

  • Headtorch
  • Universal travel adapter
  • Power bank or solar charger
  • Spare camera batteries
  • Passports (and visas)
  • Travel insurance documents
  • Earplugs
  • Personal first-aid kit (inc. blister treatment)
  • Personal items (biodegradable toiletries, shampoo, sanitary wear etc)
  • Quick-dry towel
  • Alcohol hand-gel
  • Reusable water bottle x1 litre (2 of these if you have room)

Optional

  • Eye-mask
  • Lunchbox
  • Biodegradable wet-wipes
  • Energy bars and snacks
*Requests for optional extras can be made after booking on your “My Bookings” page

Double room in Reykjavik

Payable Before Departure

Double room in Reykjavik

Single room in Reykjavik

Payable Before Departure

Single room in Reykjavik

Optional Private Room Upgrade

Payable Before Departure

Optional Private Room Upgrade

MATTHEW K.(March 2024)
Iceland: Winter Wonderland

Emma was a really informative guide. Loved all of the activities, particularly the ice climbing which was really fun and hike on the last day. We didn't get to see the Northern Lights but only due to the weather for the most part; the first night however was clear, and yet we did not leave the accommodation. I wonder if it's worth planning in a drive, even for half an hour, to somewhere that's secluded, as even looking at the stars was awesome. If I was being super critical, the tour name is slightly misleading; "Golden Circle and south coast adventures" would be more accurate as there is minimal hiking other than on the last day (the walk on the glacier is pretty short due to the time spent climbing). But would still totally recommend this tour and will definitely use the company again.

Joanna D.(March 2024)
Beautiful scenery but not very active

Super well organised trip and Emma was a great guide who looked after us really well. I would say it isn't an active trip so if you're looking for a challenge this isn't the one for you. Beautiful scenery makes up for it though.

marina f.(March 2024)
overall great - no regrets, but would have liked more hiking

Great trip overall! Jon was a fabulous guide - local guy with tons of historical and local knowledge. He was the only reason I could figure out how to pronounce anything! The group was amazing, and we formed such lovely bonds over our short time together. Only wish we did more active hiking. One day felt like a hop on/hop off bus tour. Hike to the natural hot spring was the the most active and refreshing activity

Maisie A.(February 2024)
Adventures in Iceland

An absolutely fantastic experience. We made so many amazing memories and had so much fun. Jon was a brilliant guide, so knowledgeable and friendly. We would recommend this to everyone you will not be disappointed

Quinton G.(February 2024)
Great trip - could have more hiking

What a great group of people to travel with and Jon our guide was amazing, I wish it had been longer.

My only grumble was that I wanted more hiking, the second day was mostly driving to amazing tourist locations but wasn’t very active.

Callum C.(February 2024)
Jon’s an unreal guide on a great trip

Loved it, the group of people was brilliant, the guide Jon couldn’t have been better, always positive with plenty of stories along the way, and definitely knew the best times to visit certain spots to avoid the crowds. Absolutely loved it. We didn’t get to see the Northern Lights but everything else was so good I really don’t mind! Thanks again Jon!

Hervé(March 2023)

Jon is an excellent guide. Perfect for that short trip.

Ellie(February 2023)

This trip was incredible. We felt so lucky to see everything we saw and our guide, Jon, made this a once in a lifetime experience!

James(February 2023)

Really wonderful trip, which packs in a huge amount of sights. The trek up the frozen valley to the hot springs river was absolutely unreal. And huge thanks to Jon-Yngvi for being an incredible guide and host.

Lucy(January 2023)

Wonderful trip which exceeded my already high expectations. Couldn't recommend our host Jon highly enough, friendly, helpful, very knowledgeable and keen for us all to enjoy ourselves.

David(December 2022)

This was our first MBA trip. We had an excellent time and got to see bits of Iceland we'd never have seen had we gone alone. Our guide Jon was amazing, with a wealth of experience - recounting sagas on the drives, explaining geological events on the walks and making sure we were safe and well fed throughout the trip. I understand he's previously been described as part-man, part-mountain goat. Following him up a hill, I can see why.

The Laugavartan hostel was comfortable and the food was excellent. It was a great base to return to after the day's adventures with a great group of people we got to share the trip with.

Lastly, the scenery was spectacular. I felt Jon made sure we got to areas at the right time of day to miss the big crowds and also showed us places other groups and tourists would never get to. His local knowledge was invaluable.

Unfortunately, it was a bit too cloudy for the Northern Lights, but we tried and had an expedition out on a clearer night where despite there being no lights, we got to experience a little bit of the magnificent serenity of Iceland at night.

We couldn't recommend this trip more and I certainly don't think this will be our last adventure with MBA.

Katherine(November 2022)

Well organised, good fun and a great way to visit the island with a guide full of local knowledge.

Annabel(November 2022)

I'd never been to Iceland and I think I spent the whole time in awe, the landscape was incredible and this trip was such a great way to experience it. Our guide Jon was super knowledgeable, he was always telling wonderful rambling stories (which seems to be a national pastime) and looked after us so well. It's really well organised and we had such a lovely group of people, I booked on my own but it doesn't make a difference as everyone was so friendly. The walks aren't too strenuous, even going on the glacier, it just took a minute to get used to the crampons. That was probably a highlight for me though it's really hard to choose, relaxing in the hot river after the hike to reach the bathing area was also pretty special. I'd definitely recommend!

Charlotte(November 2022)

I had never been to Iceland before and I'm so glad I went with this trip, it gave me the opportunity to see lots of cool things in a short amount of time and my group were fab too. Our guide was super, he was knowledgeable, fun and had endless stories. The scenery was incredible and I would highly recommend this trip

Philipa(March 2022)

This was a full on trip with a jam packed schedule. Solvi was a fantastic trip leader with a phenomenal knowledge of all things Icelandic.

David(March 2022)

A great trip, hitting the tourist spots but with some good hiking as well.

We had pretty bad weather with heavy snow, rain and strong winds. Our guide was brilliant though, making an extra stop on the first day to take in a sight he expected to be closed due to bad weather the following day and taking us on a really great alternative hike when snow closed the roads.

Becky(March 2022)

Another great trip from MBA! MBA have been fantastic throughout all the covid disruption with me having to delay and reschedule trips. When I had to finally cancel a long awaited trip due to logistics, it was a no- brainer to book with them onto this one. The local hosts were brilliant at answering my pre trip questions and our guide Solvi made the whole experience one to remember for all the right reasons. He adapted the itinerary to work around the adverse weather conditions and did an amazing job keeping us all safe on the hikes. We even got a bonus hike in to some beautiful waterfalls. This was a really packed full trip taking in lots of the famous sight seeing spots as well the main hiking events. Cant recommend this highly enough as a way to see and learn more about Iceland.

Patrick(March 2022)

Great trip with lots of fun and experiences ! Weather set some challenges , but our guide Solvi was brilliant in making changes to suit the conditions and we managed to do everything planned . A great 3 days in a special place . Many Thanks !!

Callum(December 2021)

This trip was amazing. Everyday was incredible. Are guide solvi was brilliant the whole trip clearly love's his job. No northern lights but it was such amazing trip it really didn't matter

Florence(December 2021)

Really fantastic trip, much better than I expected. Lovely group of people, adventure packed days, lulling icelandic stories on the bus & some brilliant hiking. My favourite part if I had to choose was hiking up to the top of the snow covered mountain and swimming in the thermal spring. The brilliant guide, Solvi, made the trip! We didn't see the northern lights but it didn't matter one bit, I'll just have to come back again.

Ffion(December 2021)

Absolutely incredible trip! The trip ran smoothly and the accommodation was comfortable. Our guide Solvi was great and had incredible knowledgable of the history, geography and geology of Iceland. The highlight of the trip was the glacier hike and bathing in the warm river in the Reykjadalur valley. Unfortunately we didn’t get to see the northern lights however the trip was packed with activity to make up for it. Overall I would highly recommend this trip.

Emma(December 2021)

Exceptional trip, packed with incredible experiences. Our host Solvi was exceptional and we were a well matched group. High lights of black sand beach and glacier hike will remain with me for ever. We didn’t see the Northern Lights, that would have been another amazing bonus but there was so much to see and take in, it did not effect the trip at all. Accommodation and food were of a high standard (for hostel). Highly recommend this adventure! Great way to celebrate special birthdays for my daughter and myself.

Ally(December 2021)

An absolutely phenomenal trip. Iceland exceeded all of my expectations and I have come away with some memories I will treasure forever. Our guide Solvi was truly exceptional, he was incredibly knowledgeable in the history, geography and geology of Iceland and went above and beyond with sharing his clear passion for the country and it's landscape. The glacier hike was an absolute highlight, nothing can compare! Accommodation was comfortable and the food was great. The weather didn't allow for any Northern Light sightings, so I just have a great excuse to go back!

James(November 2021)

An exciting and nicely challenging trip to an other-worldly environment. Wrap up warm!

We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity.

What's the number?
It works out on average at 95kg of CO2 emissions per person, including all local transport, accommodation, food, activities, guides, staff and office operations.

The only thing it doesn’t include right now is flights and travel to the destination. We do make an overall estimate across all our customers separately, but as we don’t book flights, have customers from all corners of the world, and no way of reliably knowing their travel plans, we simply can’t include an individual number in the figure on display here. We’ve got a goal to fix that, so that when you book, there is a way to measure and mitigate the carbon emitted by your flight too.

But what does the number mean?
Yep, hard to picture eh? To give you an idea:

  • Driving 1000miles/1609km would be approx. 281kg of CO2 in an average car (or 140.5kg per person if there was 2 of you in it).
  • A return economy class flight London - New York would be approx. 1,619kg (1.66 tonnes) per person.
  • 10 trees in a temperate forest are estimated to remove approx. 250kg of CO2 from the air in a period of 5-10 years.

What are we doing about it?
Our trips are relatively low-carbon by design, and we're working with all our hosts to develop long term carbon reduction plans. We partner with the World Land Trust to ensure this trip achieves Net-Zero emissions. We also support their Buy an Acre programme, helping local communities to buy and protect natural habitats in perpetuity, ensuring the protection of the reserve and its wildlife.

Want to know more?
Amazingly, no international travel company has ever publicly published their carbon measurements before, as far as we know. We believe that must change, quickly. So we’re openly sharing the method we used in the hope that other companies will be able to more easily follow suit and build on what we've done so far. You'll find it all here.

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 locations, relaxing in hot springs and night-time northern lights viewing. You don't need any experience of ice climbing – this will be a beginner-friendly introduction which can be enjoyed by everyone.

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.

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 September and March are warmer than October to February. Iceland can occasionally experience brief bouts of colder weather being pushed in from Greenland, which can lower the temperatures down to -15°C / 5°F, so come prepared with many layers and a good, warm winter jacket with adequate insulation which is both waterproof and windproof. 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.

The elements can be unpredictable and occasionally your guide/host may need to revert to 'Plan B' if it is not safe to follow the planned itinerary. An alternative excursion will be offered in place of any missed activities and will be chosen based on the specific conditions encountered and the availability of services. For instance, the ice climbing cannot be undertaken in high winds: Plan B could involve an all-terrain vehicle (ATV) ride on Black Beach (if available) or if outdoor activities are off the cards entirely then you might visit the Lava Centre. Your guide will discuss the options with you if necessary.

As the Icelandic Tourist Board explains in this video, it's confined to the Reykjanes Peninsula and not affecting travel at all. Iceland is open for business and perfectly safe.

Sure can! Over 70% of our travellers travel solo, it’s a great way to meet like-minded people.

Each day, you can leave your main bag in your room at the accommodation; you'll only take a daypack 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.

Our recommended travel insurance provider is Campbell Irvine.

Travel insurance is compulsory for all of our adventures and you are required to provide your policy information before departing.

Your insurance should include adequate protection for overseas medical treatment, evacuation/repatriation, your baggage and equipment and the specific activities involved on your adventure. We also strongly recommend it includes cancellation and curtailment insurance, should you be unable to join your trip for specific reasons such as illness.

We fully endorse Campbell Irvine as their insurance offers all of the above, so get in touch with them or call on 020 7938 1734 to get your insurance sorted. We suggest that you book travel insurance as soon as you book your adventure, just to cover you for any last-minute life changes. We know you’re an active lot and injuries do happen!

We automatically convert prices from the local currency that a host receives to your chosen currency. We update our exchange rates on a daily basis so this does mean that prices displayed on the site are subject to currency fluctuations, which is why you may see them change over time.

If you wish to change the currency you pay in, head to the bottom of the page.

All of our group adventures are specially designed for adults to enjoy (18+) as we want these adventures to bring together outdoorsy people who are truly like-minded. Children can be accommodated on some private departures.

You're always in good company on one of our adventures.

Our trips are typically made up of a mixture of solo travellers and small groups of 2 or 3 friends, with most in their 30s-50s.

Our sociable adventures are solo-friendly by design and naturally attract outdoorsy people with a shared mindset; a love for adventure, a desire to push themselves and meet awesome, like-minded people along the way.

It’s this camaraderie that has so often turned a great adventure into a life-changing one.

Don't just take our word for it:

  • 95% of people rate the group dynamics on our trips 5/5
  • 90% of people recommend joining a trip to make new friends
  • 75% of people have met people on our trips that they would now consider friends

See here for more info about the Much Better Adventures tribe.

Interested in a more exclusive experience? Opt for a 'Private Group' through the dates and prices tab to book this adventure for just you and your chosen companions.

Our team of Adventure Hunters create exclusive adventures with highly vetted, specialist hosts. We only work with independent, local in-destination experts who know the very best places to explore and how to stay safe. See here for more info about the local teams we partner with.

TRIP DEPARTURE DATES

October 2024

Wednesday • 30th October 2024

to Sunday • 3rd November 2024
Guaranteed to run

Wednesday • 13th November 2024

to Sunday • 17th November 2024
Guaranteed to run

Wednesday • 11th December 2024

to Sunday • 15th December 2024