Yesterday, I prepared a itinerary for a customer that wants to spend 12 days driving around Icelandin January. For the first week this client is doing activities around Reykjavik, such as a Horseback Riding Tour and Snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure but for the Ring Road this is the itinerary.
You might want to rent Ice Spikes for the trip which makes walking on slippery paths easier: http://outfitters.is/en/product/kahtoola-microspikes/ but also possible to buy them for around 7,000 ISK
You can shorten the tour by fewer stops and not staying 2 nights when I suggest it. The daylight is around 6 hours so this might require some driving in darkness but this is not too intense itinerary so you should be fine. I will update this post for the summer where you can enjoy more light, more activities and some detours from route 1.
Drive to Hveragerði and stop for a hike to Reykjadalur and have a dip where a hot spring meets a river. Very popular during s
mmer time but should be quite this time of year. After the bath drive to the south coast of Iceland and visit Seljalandsfoss & Gljúfrabúi Waterfalls and further along the coast stop by Skógarfoss.
After that you drive to Vík and visit Reynisfjara, Reynisdrangar and Dyrhólaey
Stay in Vík
On day 2 we can offer a snowmobile tour at Myrdalsjökull, which is a fantastic thing to do
Drive to Fjarðárgljúfur for a stop and after that Skaftafell (Vatnajökull´s Glacier National Park) and do a hike from there.
If you do the tours on this day you need to save the hiking part in Skaftafell till the day after.
Hiking paths S1 should always be accessible but the route to Svartifoss (S2) might be slippery in certain conditions.
Stay close to Skaftafell
There is a Glacier exploring tour that we can recommend and that is
If you do the hike (or if you don´t) your next stop should be Jökulsárlón (Glacier lagoon). They are not operating tours on the lagoon at this time of the year but should still be a magnificent sight.
Stay close to Höfn.
This day I suggests that you drive to this place http://www.wilderness.is and stay 1 or 2 nights there (the second night if you want to have a extra relaxing time in the wilderness 😉 )- they have interesting accommodation options, awarded exhibition and hiking options in the area.
This might however be weather dependant but unless the weather has been too bad the days before you should be fine. And if the condition does not allow it, you will have no problem cancelling the accomodation)
Drive from your accommodation to Dettifoss. The roads are supposed to be open from route 1 but always drive carefully. The roads to Dettifoss are not serviced at this time and might close in heavy snow. From Dettifoss you drive to Mývatn area and have a dip in Mývatns Natural Bath (the little sibling of the Blue Lagoon).
Mývatn area is such a beautiful area and you would want to visit Skútustaðir, Námafskarð, Grjótagjá, Dimmuborgir to name a few.
This area is very beautiful and I would suggest 2 nights in the Mývatn area.
Drive to Húsavík, a small town north of Mývatn and from there you drive to Ásbyrgi (subjected on conditions). In Húsavík (often named the Whale Watching Capital of Iceland) you can enter their Whale Museum. I would however not suggest a Whale Watching Tour in January since sightings are rare because of the giants of the sea have (mostly) migrated away from Iceland
Ásbyrgi is a very beautiful spot in Iceland and if the condtions allow it do a walk in the area.
Drive to Akureyri and stay the night there.
Stay in the town of Akureyri for the day. Go to their swimmingpool, visit museums and walk around town. http://www.visitakureyri.is
There are some hiking options in the area, which you can find at the website above.
If you are into skiing, Akureyri´s facilities are good and close to town. You can rent skis/snowboards there.
Stay another night in Akureyri
Drive to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Visit the small towns and do a hike between Arnarstapi and Hellnar.
It is possible to do a cave exploration tour in the area.
Drive on the north part of the peninsula and visit some of the towns there and stay in Stykkisholmur.
Golden Circle 🙂 and end up in Reykjavik.
The Golden Circle includes visit to Þingvellir with all it´s geographical and natural significance. Next stop is at the Geysir area (which all geysers in the world are named after) where you find Strokkur, one of the most reliable geyser in the world and after that Gullfoss (the Golden Waterfall). On your way back to Reykjavik you can stop at Kerið crater.
Drive from Reykjavik to the Blue Lagoon and visit Seltún, Kleifarvatn, Gunnuhver, Reykjanesviti and the town of Grindavik (this particular client will not have visit the Blue Lagoon before the road trip starts)