February 17th – 24th, 2022.
The trip finally happened, and was worth the long wait! After a couple postponements due to COVID-19, the trip was finally a go. I had 15 travellers join me. I hosted the trip through a travel company called ‘TrovaTrip‘, where trips are designed and hosted by topic experts. This was my 3rd hosted trip, the first being to Peru in 2019, and to Patagonia in 2020. Iceland was originally supposed to be in February of 2021, but the world had other plans. I like to say that it was all meant to be and that the timing, and travellers were all meant to travel together for a reason.
I am going to be sharing a detailed packing list of what I brought with me on a Winter trip to Iceland, and then go ahead and share a day to day itinerary of what we did, along with some tips for traveling in the country.
Iceland in the Winter is no joke. It’s cold. The temperature may read a certain degree, but then add in the wind and humidity and it does chill you to the bone. Having appropriate layers, and quality gear will certainly help you enjoy your trip a bit more. No one likes to be cold! My bag weighed in at 43lbs (with a 50lb cap at the airport).
Iceland is a country you can travel to and easily use a larger wheeled suitcase for it. Everyone in my group had a large suitcase, as Winter packing is more bulky and heavy. I used this Expedition 34 Duffel 2.0 from Eddie Bauer.
- Parkas – I brought two with me. Both Eddie Bauer. One shorter red one (Superior 3.0 Down Parka) and one long one (Glacier Peak Seamless Down Duffle Coat). I was going to only pack the shorter red one but was VERY happy I brought a longer one as well, which covered more of my legs, and I found I wore it a lot more walking around the city. With the unpredictable weather having outerwear that is reliable is important, and both good to at least -40C. Both are storm repellent (waterproof) and VERY warm!
- Down Jacket – I brought a down jacket for hiking (Downlight 2.0 Hooded Jacket). This was a lighter option (which is great as it doesn’t take up weight when packing). It is good to -28.
- Windbreaker/Rain shell – I packed a jacket for this, but didn’t end up having to use it as I planned to have it incase it rained while hiking, and needed to put it over my down jacket (above).
- Arcteryx LT Hoody – I packed this to wear on my morning runs. If you don’t plan to run at all I would stick to one ‘puffy jacket’ you would use for hiking/adventuring.
- Fleece – I packed two – one thinner 1/4 zip, which has a 4 way stretch and breathable and another thicker 1/4 zip, ultra-soft and cozy.
- Long-sleeves – I packed two casual cotton long sleeves which I wore in the evenings with jeans, just walking around, and to dinner. I also packed two Lululemon long-sleeves for exploring/running. I did get out for morning runs a few times so used one for my runs and then one for my adventures/exploring/hiking.
- Plaid long sleeve shirt – Perfect to throw over a t-shirt or hoodie (also great for photos if its warm enough some days).
- T-shirts – I packed two t-shirts to have to wear under my plaid, or under a hoodie for a bit more warmth.
- Hoodie – I wore a hoodie on the plane (there and back) and would toss it on in the evenings when at the hotel. Can’t go wrong with a cozy cotton hoodie!
- Leggings – two Lululemon align leggings, and one fleece lined long pair of leggings, from Eddie Bauer.
- Fleece lined pants – also Eddie Bauer. Polar Fleece-Lined Pull On Pants. Storm repellent, which sheds moisture. SO warm. These pants over top of a pair of leggings and you’ll be cozy in the cold.
- Windbreaker pants – I brought a pair of Eddie Bauer Guide Pro pants to wear over top of a pair of leggings. Perfect for hiking/day to day adventuring.
- Jeans – I brought two pairs with me to wear in the evenings.
- Hiking Boots – Eddie Bauer K-6 Hiking Boot is what I brought over with me. Make sure the hiking boots are water proof and warm, with good grip.
- Day to Day warm boots – Soft-Moc Fleece Lined Slip-Ons – To wear when not adventuring or hiking/around town. Easily to slip on and off and warm with the fleece. Anything waterproof and fleece lined/warm would be good. There are plenty of options out there, but the waterproof is necessary as it does get wet and chilly.
- Running Shoes – Waterproof
- Crampons for your hiking boots – The ice is no joke. Packing a pair of crampons was needed, as we wore them almost daily, t different locations throughout the day. You can rent them in Reyjkavik but if you have your own I advise you bring them!
- Swimsuit – If planning to visit any hot springs or if your hotels have a hot tub/sauna.
- Underwear – Can never have too many I always say! Packed 10 for a week.
- Socks – I packed 5 pairs for a week. GOOD wool socks that breathe, and I packed a couple running socks.
- Toque/beanie – I brought a couple different ones – as we wore them every single day.
- Mitts/Gloves – I brought two good pairs, one thinner pair of gloves for our hikes and another pair of VERY warm mitts to wear day to day. I made sure my mittens were waterproof!
- Head Buff/ear warmers- I don’t go anywhere without one or two. Versatile Buffs.
- Ski goggles – This may seem silly, BUT we all wish we had a pair for the snowstorms/insanely windy days.
- Hiking poles – depending on how much hiking you plan to do. I didn’t bring mine because the hikes we were doing weren’t ‘crazy’ long or difficult, and I wasn’t planning to have a heavy pack on.
- Towel – A lighter one if you plan to do your own hot spring visits. Blue Lagoon provides them for you if thats the only one you plan to visit, though there are private hot springs all around the island you can visit too!
- Backpack – 30L is a good size. I always bring a backpack traveling, on the plane, for my camera gear, laptop etc. I used my backpack everyday for layers, snacks and water.
- Fannypack – for day to day. I never go anywhere without my fannypack these days.
Most hotels have a blow dryer, if this is something you need (you can check this in advance too – most hotels list this on their amenity list).
- Full frame camera – Canon mirrorless RP. With extra lenses. Extra batteries and charger.
- GoPro – Extra batteries and necessary cords.
- Iphone – & charging cord.
- Power adapter – make sure you have the correct one for Iceland!
‘The power outlets used in Iceland are Type F. This type of outlet is recessed; meaning the faceplate of the outlet is deeper in the wall. Type F outlets and are round with two small holes that fit a Type F electrical plug (also known as a Schuko plug). The Type F plug fits into the outlet has two 4.8mm round pins spaced 19 mm apart. The Type F outlet and plug type are commonly used in Northern European countries. Type C plugs are also used in Iceland and are similar in appearance to Type F, although they are being switched out more and more for Type F.
Electricity in Iceland is 230 Volts with alternating electric currents of 50 cycles per second (50 Hertz).
If you are traveling from the United States or Canada it is important to note that the electrical outputs are half that of Iceland. For example, electrical devices from the United States are usually 120V and 60 Hz so be sure to check the voltage range on your devices. This information can usually be found labeled on the back or bottom of electronic devices.’ – Power Adapter
Day to Day Itinerary
February 17th – Day 1 – Arriving in Reyjkavik – Skuggi Hotel
630am – We all flew in first thing in the morning and got a shuttle to our hotel. TrovaTrip pre booked shuttles for the group, though this can easily be done online. We arrived at our hotel at 8am, which was well before check-in. If you plan to arrive at this time, and are coming from a ways away, with quite a bit of time change, I would advise you email about a potential early check- in to your hotel, OR even pay for a night before so you can check in and get cleaned up, organized, unpacked etc. Our group wasn’t able to check in until 3pm that day, and most coming from 7/8h hours time change, so we were walking zombies around town for 7 hours. Many hotels also serve a buffet breakfast which is convenient!
We loved Skuggi Hotel as it was right in the heart of downtown, and you could easily walk to all the shops and restaurants.
Morning – Walking tour of Reyjkavik. Some people booked ahead of time, though ended up paying more then we did when we booked in person, as we weren’t paying a third party. This was a 3 hour walk, about 5kms of easy terrain, in a small group with a great guide.
Lunch – at Kaffi Loki. Located across the street from the Hallgrimskirkja church in downtown Reyjkavik, where the tour started. A traditional Icelandic home style restaurant serving classic Icelandic cuisine.
We checked into our hotel at 3pm and freshened up before dinner. I suggest having a day in the city before you start touring around, and a full day after incase you’re wanting to grab any souvenirs and rest before flying home.
Dinner – Bastard Brew & Food – A 10 minute walk from our hotel.
February 18th – Day 2 – Golden Circle
6am – Solo morning run to explore Reykjavik. I like being able to move my legs a bit before a travel day starts, its also a great way to see new places.
9am – Left the hotel with all our luggage as we were moving to a new hotel for the night.
Thingvellir National Park – We started at Bingvellir, where we got to see the only place on Earth where tectonic places split apart (here at the pace of almost 2cm per year). This area of Iceland is made up of mountains, lakes and forests (which are no where near like the forests we have in Alberta). You can also find the ruins of historic buildings.
Our group hiked to a Pigvellir waterfall along the trail, which allowed us to stretch our legs a bit.
Geysir Visit – We walked around a geothermic area, and observed and photographed several water sprouts from Strokkur, the most active geyser in Iceland.
Lunch – at the local restaurant across the street from the geyser.
Gullfoss – This was our last stop of the day, where the milky Hvita river drops into a volcanic fissure, displaying Gullfoss, a very powerful waterfall! We spent time walking around it and taking in the views. In the Summer you can walk down closer to it, though in the Winter the trail is blocked off due to the snow and ice/danger below.
Transfer from the waterfall to Land Hotel – 1:15 minute drive. On the way we stopped to see some Icelandic horses, which you can see all over Iceland. Many people refer to them as Icelandic ponies but locals don’t love when you call them that. They are indeed ‘horses’. Fun fact: once a horse leaves Iceland it can’t ever come back!
Land Hotel – We LOVED this hotel. It is relatively new, opening a few weeks before COVID hit. The perfect place to watch the northern lights, if the sky is clear and the aurora is on high alert! They have a sauna, and are soon opening a gym. They have a great selection of food at the hotel restaurant too.
February 19th – Day 3 – Lava Fields
Our journey continued along the south coast of Iceland. Due to the weather our itinerary had to change a little bit. If you plan to travel Iceland in the Winter you have to come with an open mind and flexibility because plans can change at any time, due to road conditions and weather. I will write up our original plans here:
Breakfast – Complimentary at the Land Hotel.
Lakis Lava Field Sightseeing – The original plan was to do a short afternoon hike in Skaftafell National Park Area, but the weather didn’t allow us too. We instead stopped quickly and walked out onto the lava fields. I recommend hiking here if the weather calls for it and you have the time.
Skogafoss – We did have the opportunity to visit Skogafoss, even though it was crazy winds we were able to get out and see the falls and hike up to the top. I highly recommend crampons, if hiking here in the Winter time. The stairs are quite steep to the top, but it is great seeing it from both angles. The group were such troopers throughout this weather madness.
‘When visiting Skogafoss Iceland in Winter, you must be extremely careful. The combination of the water, snow, and cold coat the rocks at the base of Skogafoss Waterfall with dangerously slippery ice. It is still possible to walk on the ice to reach the base of the waterfall, but you must be aware and be super careful’. – Iceland Trippers
Checked into Hotel Skaftafell at around 5pm. Dinner at the hotel. I went for a little walk around the property with Miguel after dinner.
February 20th – Day 4 – Skaftafel Hotel
The weather was WILD during our time in Skaftafel, with winds up to 200+km/hr, and snow blowing for 2 days, so we ended up changing the itinerary around a little bit, and having to skip out on a couple hikes. We were supposed to hike Svartifoss and in Hveradalur for a hot springs hike. Even though we had to pass up a couple hikes we made the best of the days!
Morning – I woke up and looked out the window only to see our van trailer flipped over. The wind was blowing so hard all night and we knew we probably were going to be stuck at the hotel all day. THIS ended up being the case.
Breakfast – Skaftafell Hotel
After breakfast I headed back to my room for a little full body workout.
As a group we all played some games like ‘Heads Up’ and ‘Fruit Bowl’. Drank a lot of coffee and ate snacks and had some great conversation in the lobby/gathering areas!Lunch – Skaftafell Hotel
Some of us decided to go outside and brave the elements for a little ‘yoga’ session (pictured below), and attempt hiking up a tiny hill. The winds were so strong that I was able to ‘sit’ on the wind. I am sure from the inside of the hotel, looking out some people in it thought we were CRAZY, but we didn’t mind, it was just nice to have some fresh air time and laugh A LOT. It is tough to even put this experience into words (my group can speak to this). Not everyone came for this part, but they all did join on a little hike before dinner.
Fagurhólsmýri Hiking trail – The best part of the Skaftafel hotel is their hiking trail right behind it that leads back to the glacier. It’s about a 15-20 min hike along a well-marked trail to where you can see the glaciers and small lagoon with the mountains in the background. With the wind speeds it took us quite a bit longer to reach the end of the trail. Again everyone in the group joined and together we made it to the top view point. People falling over from the wind speeds, and helping each other up. What memories!
February 21st – Day 5 – Skaftafell National Park, Vatnajokull National Park
7-8am – Breakfast at Skaftafel
9am – Meet in lobby to depart to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
‘Jökulsárlón literally means glacial river lagoon and that is what Jokulsarlo glacier lagoon is, a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. It developed into a lake when the surrounding glaciers started receding into the Atlantic Ocean. Huge blocks of ice break off the glacier and float on the lagoon’. – Iceland Trippers
We wandered around for a bit, took some photos and then 45 minutes later met up with our Ice Cave tour guides for an ice cave adventure! The Ice Cave visit was an optional add on, though everyone chose to partake. The guiding company was ‘Local Guide‘, which I highly recommend.
Lunch – At Glacial River Lagoon – there is a small shop that has sandwiches and hotdogs/drinks.
After visiting the ice caves we had to quickly hop over to ‘Diamond Beach‘, which is on the other side of the highway from the glacial river lagoon. The weather window was small, as a storm was rolling in so we maybe had 20 minutes to explore the beach. SO happy we were able to see it, even if it was for a short time. This was one of my favourite parts of Iceland, when I visited it 7 years ago.
We then headed to a new hotel ‘Foss Hotel‘. Checked in and then all had dinner together, and stayed up later playing cards and chatting. I love these trips and the conversation!
February 22nd – Day 6 – Seljalandsfoss, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Vik
Morning workout – A few of us decided to get up early to get a workout in before breakfast.
Kirkjubaejarklaustur Waterfall – Our first stop of the day.A quick walk from the side of the highway.
Fjardárgljúfur Canyon – a 2 km (1.24 mi) long canyon in the South-East Region of Iceland. The canyon is about 100 meters deep and through it runs a small freshwater stream. It’s known to be one of the most picturesque places in Iceland.
Fun fact, it is best known as the location of Justin Bieber’s video, “I’ll Show you.” Since the video was released, the visitation numbers to this canyon have increased by A LOT!
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach – I was so excited to get back to this beach. A must stop. From the black sand itself to the rock pillars/formations it is extremely picturesque. Watch out for the tide, it likes to sneak up on you. I could have easily spent hours here hanging out.
Lunch – The town of Vik – Just down the road from Reynisfjara, is the little town of Vik. A great stop for lunch. We stopped at Smidjan Brugghus, a brew pub, after going up to Myrdal Church, an awesome lookout point above the town.
Seljalandsfoss – A waterfall along Iceland’s southern coast is fed by melting water from the famed glacier- capped Eyjafjallajokull volcano. This powerful waterfall cascades into a pretty meadow. However, the path that runs behind the curtain of water is the main attraction. There you can enjoy a truly unique viewpoint of the waterfall’.
In the Winter the path behind the waterfall is closed due to ice/snow and dangerous conditions.
Drive to Reykjavik – After our stops we then started our drive back to the capital, to check into the same hotel we stayed at the first night.
February 23rd – Day 7 – Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon
Morning run – I love running when I travel, as I am able to see more of the areas in which I am visiting. Myself and two others from the group went for a little 6km in Reykjavik before getting ready for the last day at the Blue Lagoon.
Breakfast – Skuggi Hotel
Blue Lagoon – ‘When visiting Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is the perfect place to unwind after busy days sightseeing. Don’t risk the chance of tickets selling out, and instead, guarantee your spot by pre-booking an entry ticket. This flexible experience allows you to choose from Comfort or Premium packages, and add on transfers if required. Once you get the Blue Lagoon, spend hours relaxing in the mineral-rich geothermal water pools. Guarantee entry to the Blue Lagoon by pre-booking a ticket Spend time relaxing in geothermal outdoor pools Flexible experience—choose from Premium or Comfort entrance Entry includes a towel, drink, face mask and other perks with premium entry’ – www.viator.com
This was the perfect way to end the week trip to Iceland. A way to unwind and just to soak in all the memories and enjoy a few laughs, drinks, and face masks. I never had the chance to make it to the Blue Lagoon during my first trip to Iceland, so this was a treat.
There was a handful of us who decided to stay one more night, so a group got an air bnb together downtown and myself and a friend got a hotel not far from them. We wandered the city together, got hot dogs and reminisced about the week. The group got along so well, which always makes my heart happy! These trips are about connecting with like minded folks. So many come on group trips because they are unable to find others willing to travel with them, or just aren’t sure where to begin when it comes to planning trips, and then finding others who may feel the same.
If you have ANY questions about Iceland, or about group travel in general, feel free to comment on this blog post OR email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.