There’s something incredible about a place seemingly untouched by other people. Although the country of Iceland is home to 300,000 people, many will hibernate through the long, dark winters. So when you drive along snow covered roads, it could be hours until you see another car or person. This makes for a very surreal experience, but one that’s unforgettably raw and rugged. Here are some photographic moments from an Iceland road trip in January.

sunrise-iceland-winter-wileen-cotter-wright

The sun is only up for a few hours a day. After landing in Reykjavik, it took until 11AM to start seeing the first rays. But the dimmed light against the snow capped mountains is unreal.

road-trip-west-iceland-eileen-cotter-wright

Cloud cover usually kept sunlight away, but the blanket of snow in the west kept the landscape fairly visible. Drives were long, clear and clam through most of the rural areas outside the capital city.

jeep-at-hotel-husafell-iceland-eileen-cotter-wright

Upon arriving at Hotel Husafell, the road disappeared and we found our car in the middle of an all-terrain vehicle field. We came to a draw with the jeep.

hotel-husafell-fireplace-eileen-cotter-wright

Once inside, modern and minimal luxury enveloped me in a cozy setting. The roaring fireplace inside the property’s high-end restaurant cast a soft glow as a few adventurous winter travelers dined.

dessert-at-hotel-husafell-iceland-eileen-cotter-wright

Icelanders often farm throughout the year using greenhouses so ingredients remain fresh. The chocolate dessert was decadent, served on local pottery.

farm-at-Eyjafjallajökull-volcano-iceland-eileen-cotter-wright

Following the Ring Road south, we first visited the Eyjafjallajökull volcano that erupted in 2010. A plucky, brave farm stands in its wake.

mountains-surrounding-village-of-vik-iceland-eileen-cotter-wright

Onto the beautiful town of Vik are black sand beaches surrounded by craggy mountains. The wind in the winter is enough to knock a grown man sideways.

icelandic horses in winter

Icelandic horses are known as a friendly, approachable breed. Many along the road will trot over to say hello, accepting ear scratches and snacks.

Hallgrímskirkja-church-eileen-cotter-wright

Back in the capital city, it was time to see the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church up close and personal. It mimics the natural design of the basalt formations back in Vik along the southern coast.

couple-iceland-reyjkavik-eileen-cotter-wright

We climbed the water tower in Reykjavik to enjoy panoramic views of the urban sprawl and nature. It was still freezing but well worth the spectacular experience.

Follow more of my adventures on Pure Wander!

a road trip through Iceland photo collage