This is a series focusing only on itineraries— you won’t find recaps or in-depth stories here (I’ll link to any that I write about, of course!), just a list of what I did and where I went to help inspire anyone who might be planning a similar trip.
6 Day Iceland Itinerary
Last year, a good friend of mine from college and I decided, on a whim, to visit Europe over the summer. When we found a good flight deal to Reykjavik, we jumped at the chance to spend a week driving around the island, even though we’d originally thought we’d headed to places like London or Paris or Amsterdam.
Neither of us knew a lot about Iceland, and none of our friends had been. We started planning our trip from scratch, relying heavily on Pinterest, Google, and Lonely Planet. A lot of the information we found focused on slow travel, but we had limited time and wanted to see more of the country than many of the itineraries listed.
The good thing about visiting Iceland in July is that we had nearly 23 hours of daylight to work with, allowing us to fit a lot more into our trip than if the days had been shorter.
I included what we did below, and it’s pretty fast-paced. This style of travel is not for everyone but it worked out great for us. As part-time travelers with limited vacation time, we got to see a lot, and still had time to hike, explore, and take in the natural beauty of some of the most stunning landscapes I’ve seen.
DAY 1: KEFLAVIK, BLUE LAGOON, REYKJAVIK
- Arrive Keflavik around 8 AM via overnight flight
- Rent a car at the airport and drive to the Blue Lagoon
- Drive to Reykjavik
- Spend afternoon & evening exploring the city:
- Hallgrímskirkja Church for a birds’ eye view of the colorful city;
- The Sun Voyager Statue;
- Harpa Concert Hall;
- Tjörnin Lake & the Green Church
- Food: Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (famous hot dogs) and coffee at The Laundromat Cafe (free wi-fi!)
- Bars: Kaffibarinn & The Lebowski Bar
- Overnight: Airbnb in central Reykjavik (use this code to get $20 off your first Airbnb stay)
DAY 2: SOUTH COAST DRIVE
- Leave Reykjavik and head to Seljalandsfoss & Gljúfurárfoss waterfalls
- Hike to Seljavallalaug Pool (this post has a great map to help you find this natural spring)
- Bring a swimsuit and towel as the pool has facilities you can use to change. We spent about 2 hours here between the hike there and back and the swim.
- See Skógafoss & Kvernufoss (you’ll also be able to see the Turf Houses at Skogar Museum)
- To get to Kvernufoss, enter Skógar from the N1 and instead of turning left to Skógafoss, keep straight. At the end of the road, you’ll see the Hotel Edda. Turn right toward the Skógar Folk Museum. Keep driving until you get to a sheep fence. Leave your car here. Behind the last museum building, close to the hillside, you’ll see a small, slightly sketchy ladder that will get you over the fence. Now, you have a fairly easy 15-minute hike to this secret waterfall. There is a slight rock scramble, but I was able to do it in running shoes. This fantastic post is how I discovered this isolated spot.
- Dyrhólaey Headland Natural Reserve to spot puffins (during the summer months, only)
- Black sand beach at the Reynisdrangar Pinnacles in Vík
- Overnight: Hotel Edda Vík
DAY 3: JOKULSARLON GLACIER
- Drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon (Leave early and drive straight to Jökulsárlón with stop at Fjallsárlón Glacial Lagoon)
- Take a boat tour of the Lagoon and visit the beach across the street to see icebergs on the sand
- Backtrack to Selfoss: Hike in Skaftafell National Park to Svartifoss Waterfall
- Spot Foss á Síðu Waterfall from the road
- Hike in Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon:
- There are signs advertising the canyon, but they are not large or obvious. Take the 206 road to Lakagigar (locals call it the Laki Road), and drive just past the Hunkubakkar guesthouse. When you get to the canyon, you’ll see a sign advertising your arrival and a bridge that crosses the river.
- View Eldhraun Lava Field along the drive
- Overnight: Geirakot Farm in Selfoss Area via Icelandic Farm Holidays
Note: If we didn’t have 23-hours of daylight, it’s unlikely we would have been able to accomplish as much as we did this day—we didn’t get to our farm house in Selfoss until 11:30 PM. I recommend breaking this drive into two days or trying to stay a little south of Vík.
DAY 4: THE GOLDEN CIRCLE
- Leave Selfoss and do the Golden Circle Drive:
- Stop at Kerið Volcanic Crater
- See Geysir and Strokkur Geysers
- Hike around Gullfoss Waterfall
- Get ice cream at Efsti-Dalur II Farm
- Try to find Bruarfoss Waterfall (spoiler: we were successful thanks to this post!)
- Participate in the Laugarvatn Fontana Rye Bread Experience at 2:30 PM
- Hike in Þingvellir National Park
- Return to Reykjavik
- Overnight: Airbnb in central Reykjavik
DAY 5: SNAEFELLSNES PENINSULA
- Drive around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula:
- Overnight: Keflavik Ace Guesthouse (great hotel close to the airport for early morning flights!)
Note: I loved, loved, loved this day. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula, or the Snuffaluffagus Peninsula as I called it because Icelandic words are HARD to say, is often referred to as “Iceland in miniature” and it’s easy to see why: jagged coastlines, black & gold sand beaches, mountain peaks, lava fields, hot springs; you could easily spend all of your time in Iceland here. In fact, I highly suggest spending more than one day on the Peninsula. While we did almost everything we wanted in one day, we felt a bit rushed toward the end.
DAY 6: SAY GOODBYE TO ICELAND
- Leave from Keflavik Airport around 9 AM knowing you already want to come back to Iceland one day soon.
What are your tips for an amazing Iceland road trip? Or, is Iceland on your Travel Bucket List?