From soaking in natural hot springs and watching the Northern Lights to exploring glacier caves and scuba diving between tectonic plates, Iceland has it all.
From black beaches covered in thousands of transparent icebergs, to cavernous glaciers and steaming geysers, Iceland offers up countless unique natural marvels.
During the colder and darker months, the land of fire and ice becomes even more of a spectacle.
The mercury may be falling at this time of year as the hours of daylight shrink away, but it’s also the best time to witness the famous Northern Lights blaze across the night sky.
Some of the rougher roads leading into the centre of the country will be snowed over, only accessible by the most heavy-duty vehicles, but the main motorways leave the best bits of the country open for business.
This is where visitors can have an epic adventure into some of the most remote regions in the world, or simply treat themselves to a relaxing spa treatment in one of the island’s many natural thermal pools.
Follow this guide to see all the best bits on offer this winter.
The Golden Circle
This scenic driving route is popular among tourists because the roads are always well maintained, making it easier and safer than ever to catch all the impressive sights along the way.
You can do the entire route in a day as long as you leave early and prepare for a night-time drive back to your accommodation. Head into Thingvellir National Park to see where two tectonic plates meet or, more accurately, are slowly drifting apart.
Silfra, set within the heart of the region, is the only place in the world where you can safely snorkel or scuba dive between two tectonic plates. The unique location makes the waters here some of the clearest in the world – perfect for diving.
The enormous waterfall that is Gulfoss is another site you can’t miss and really should see early on in the day before the light is lost.
Surrounded by whimsical ice formations and snow, which contrasts so well against the thunderous waterfall, it is best seen during the winter months.
And just down the road from here you’ll find the geysers. These are fascinating natural formations where the pressure beneath boiling hot pools of water continually forces them to explode upwards. It’s mightily impressive and a little bit terrifying.
You’ll also discover several natural springs dotted about the area, but the very best would be at Hveragardourinn. This is an especially unique spot because, instead of jumping into a hot pool, you relax in a naturally heated flowing river.
The further bathers move up, the hotter it gets, so they can always find the perfect temperature. Just prepare for some sulphurous smells.
Iceland’s capital is starkly different from the wilderness surrounding it – a modern metropolis full of world-renowned museums, music halls, stunning architecture, and brilliant food and drink spots.
Check out the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral and take a lift to the top for breathtaking views across the city, sea and countryside. Then discover the city’s ever changing facades, adorned in all kinds of street art and temporary sculptures.
You’ll eat the best cinnamon bun in your life at Brauð & Co before tasting all of Iceland’s local fishy delicacies and more modern fusion restaurants. Then spend your nights darting from one bar to another, experiencing Reykjavik’s booming music scene and nightlife.
If you’re wanting to go out and explore then get yourselves over to one of the many glaciers in Iceland.
During winter, the bejewelled ice caves are more easily accessible, with more and more being naturally created each year.
Take a tour throughout Vatnajökull glacier or the man-made labyrinth carved into Langjökull glacier – this is a large scale ice sculpture, with carved rooms, statues, and ‘furniture’ throughout. You can even take more guided tours on top of the glaciers, hiking along trails of varied levels of difficulty.
And if speed is more your thing, then jump on a snowmobile up in the mountains or ride a sleigh pulled by huskies.
A trip to the famous Blue Lagoon should be on every ‘treat yo’ self’ itinerary. Yes, it is touristy, but they always restrict the number of people who can enter, ensuring plenty of space to float about and relax.
Try the silica and mud masks, have a floating massage, and jump from one steam room to the other for a bit of fun. There’s even a waterside bar serving champagne and cocktails.