Iceland is one of the most special and amazing destinations you’ll visit in your lifetime. I feel confident saying that after having spent time on this unique and beautiful island. There is a reason why Star Wars and Game of Thrones both chose Iceland for filming locations. It is other-worldly and visually stunning in a way that makes you feel you are on another planet.

There are many ways to see the beautiful sites and many people choose to take tours, but I’m going to give you an itinerary to do it on your own. We often saw the large tour buses at the various attractions and I, for one, was thankful I was not on one. I think it’s so much better to rent a vehicle and travel with your own group. It allows you to pace as you’d like and most importantly: Pull over when you are overwhelmed with the random beauty between stops and get out and take photos or enjoy the scenery. It would be a shame in my opinion if you only saw the sites that had parking lots and ticket booths (although those are beautiful too!)

Along with this Iceland Itinerary, be sure to read the two really helpful articles that go along with this for the best tips for planning and packing for your trip!

Important note about this itinerary: This will map you from some of the more famous points of interest, but start your days early so you have plenty of time in between sights to stop off at non-marked places that grab your attention. The whole of the land is truly beautiful and some of the best parts are simply sights you see driving where you decide to pull over and take in a view!

Reykjavik & South Coast Itinerary

Day 1: Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik

Blue Lagoon (3 hours) – Amazing spa with natural hot water infused with silica minerals (Pro Tip: Go straight from airport)

–Drive 45 min—

Reykjavik city time

  • Walk along the waterfront
  • See the Sun Voyager sculpture
  • Check out the Harpa Opera House
  • Walk up to the tallest building: The Hallgrímskirkja church
  • Get a hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

Hotel Suggestion: Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Day 2: Golden Circle (Reverse Circle)

Kerið Crater Lake (1 hour) – Beautiful, colorful crater with a small turquoise pool at the bottom; Small fee for entrance (to pay for conservation)

–Drive 45 min—

Strokkur Geysir & Geysir (1 hour) – The Geyser erupts every 5-10 minutes! Some eruptions are bigger than others. Check it out and the surrounding steaming landscape. You’ll smell a bit of sulfur. There is also a large shop inside with lots of good souvenirs and clothing as well as a cafe. Great coffees!

–Drive 10 min—

Gulfoss Waterfall (1 hour) – Enormous waterfall next to a canyon. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a rainbow in the mist! Lunch available at the café. Parking on street.

–Drive 50 min–

Thingvellir/Þingvellir National Park (1.5 hours) – Beautiful national park with historic sights of the Iceland’s parliament in the 10th century and the divide between exposed tectonic plates. Snorkeling between the rifts is possible in the summer! Pay for parking at the information center.

–Drive 1 hr 45 min–

Hotel Suggestion: The Garage Guesthouse

Dinner Suggestion: Gamla fjósið (Restaurant is 4 minutes from The Garage Guesthouse) – Super friendly service and a good menu. Cozy and the restaurant is actually made out of a cow shed.

Day 3: South Coast Greatest Hits

Seljalandsfoss waterfall (1 hr) – What’s unique about this waterfall is that you can go behind it! Sturdy shoes and rain gear necessary. You will get wet! Pay for parking.

–Drive 25 min–

Skógafoss waterfall (1 hr) – Another one of Iceland’s magical waterfalls. Check out the Fimmvorduhals Trail above the falls (in the summer) and walk for as long as you’d like, then turn around and come back once you’re ready – it goes on for a 1-2 day hike. Lunch available at Hotel Skógafoss café. Pay for parking.

–Drive 30 min–

Dyrhólaey Cliffs & Lighthouse (1 hr) – Drive up the (somewhat treacherous – be careful!) climb to the top and you are rewarded with amazing views of the coast and black sand beaches.

–Drive 25 min–

Reynisfjara black sand beach & basalt columns (1 hr)  – Really pretty black sand beach with the famous Iceland basalt columns! Just below the cliffs. If you’re lucky, you’ll see a puffin!

–Drive 13 min–

Dinner Suggestion: Suður-Vík Restaurant (Suðurvegur 1, 870 Vík-Handelssted) – Cozy restaurant with some comfort foods like mozzarella sticks and pizza as well as Icelandic favorites like Arctic Char. Amazing desserts!

–Drive 35 min–

Hotel Suggestion: The Garage Guesthouse

Day 4: Glaciers & Icebergs

–Drive 3 hrs from The Garage Guesthouse–

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach (1 hr) – Stunning glacier lagoon with the bluest of blue water and icebergs floating on top. Look for seals and listen for the sounds of the icebergs cracking apart! Across the street on the coast is Diamond Beach, named for the sparkling ice chunks on the black sand that sparkle like gemstones! Check out Zodiac for boat rides to actually ride through the lagoon. 

–Drive 35 min–

Lunch at gas station across from Hotel Skaftafell (Hot meals like burgers, soups, etc.)

–Drive 10 min–

Skaftafell Glacier Park (2-3 hrs) – Go to Visitor’s Center and ask for advice on the best route to hike based on your interests. You can hike to the glacier or to a waterfall! Look into guided walks with Glacier Guides to get to areas that are even more special than the standard trails. 

–Drive 1 hr–

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon (1 hr) – Truly magical canyon with sparkling blue water, waterfalls and moss cliffs. Make sure you walk all the way to the end for the payoff. This can be muddy if it has recently rained, so make sure you wear your hiking boots! Don’t miss this one! Make it before daylight is gone!

–Drive 15 min–

Dinner Suggestion: Systrakaffi (Simple, diner-style restaurant for casual food and beers. Another option nearby is Icelandair Hotel Klaustur that is a tad bit fancier.)

–Drive 1 hr 20 min–

Hotel Suggestion: The Garage Guesthouse

Day 5: Back to Reykjavik

Pro Tip: Stop at anything that suits you along the way as you drive back to the city!

–Drive 2 hrs from The Garage Guesthouse–

Reykjavik city time – Check out whatever sites you missed on day one; Do lots of shopping and grab a nice dinner to end the trip!

Hotel Suggestion: Icelandair Hotel Reykjavik Marina

Dinner Suggestion: Grillmarkaðurinn

Day 6: Travel Day

Head back home! (Sad face)

 

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Marissa is a travel consultant and digital marketing professional from Chicago, USA. Her business, Sips & Sojourn, specializes in helping busy people with full-time jobs travel more and travel better. Travel is Marissa's absolute passion but she believes you can hold down a successful career AND travel the globe. Marissa enjoys unique destinations, design hotels, sampling a culture's food and drink and meeting local guides focused on small, immersive experiences.

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