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Iceland is easily one of the most captivating destinations ever, and it’s the type of place that will have you coming back more than once. And if you’re looking for inspiration, here’s a perfectly curated 7-day Iceland itinerary.
A place that’s definitely not shy to show off its natural beauty while demonstrating an untamed attitude towards the elements, Iceland is a powerhouse. One of the best ways to experience it all is on a road trip around the country.
But how do you spend a week in Iceland and see everything?
To some, it’s impossible, and to others, it’s an easy adventure. With this Iceland trip itinerary, you’re in excellent hands, and you can rest assured that you won’t miss a beat as you explore this majestic country. From seeing the northern lights to diving into the famous Blue Lagoon, visiting Iceland is unlike anything else.
So let’s get going, then.
Now, before getting to what you’ll be doing on your road trip, getting to Iceland will be the very first entry in your to-do list. Luckily, getting there isn’t difficult at all and is super easy if you’re traveling from Europe or North America.
If you’re coming from Europe, you’ll find that most major cities, such as London, Milan, Amsterdam, and Paris, all have direct flights to Iceland.
However, if you’re flying from the United States, direct flights are only available from Chicago, Minneapolis, Detroit, Washington DC, New York, Newark, Providence, and Boston. If you are flying from Canada, Icelandair operates one daily non-stop flight from Vancouver and Toronto.
While there is more than one way to travel around Iceland, such as a guided tour, the best way to go about an Iceland trip is by renting a car. For the best car rental prices, I recommend checking DiscoverCars.com and RentalCars.com.
Renting a car will give you the right amount of flexibility and freedom to go, do, and see whatever you want.
Driving in Iceland is widely considered a must-do experience, and if you’re looking for an adventure, it’s the perfect way to tackle one week in Iceland.
Having said that, visiting Iceland on a road trip might not be for everyone, and in that case, you should consider joining organized tours or, better yet, multi-day tours. This is ideal if you want some structure to your trip without worrying about road trip logistics.
But don’t worry, I also got you covered. Throughout the itinerary, I also recommend a series of day tours you can do from Reykjavik to see most, if not all, of the most beautiful and essential sights.
Finally, you’ll need to decide when to visit Iceland; for most, this is one of the most challenging parts of planning their road trip.
It’s important to know that Iceland is very much dictated by its seasons, and choosing the wrong one can make your trip less than memorable. Spring (March to Early June) and fall (Late August to October) are not necessarily the best times to travel to the country, as weather patterns are highly unpredictable, but they are also not the worst either.
I’ve traveled to Iceland several times during August and September and have had a great time there. Just a bit more of a moody weather, but that’s typical Iceland!
Summer, particularly from the last week of June to the second week of August, is the best time to visit Iceland, as the weather is mild and sunny. Remember that most people visit Iceland during the summer months, so expect a lot more crowds and higher prices.
If you want to see the northern lights, the best time to visit Iceland is during winter (November to March). But these months also feature some of the country’s harshest and heaviest snows and winds yearly. I’ve had luck seeing the northern lights as early as September, but you have better chances of seeing them deeper into the winter.
It’s time to head out on what is going to be the best road trip you’ve ever been on. From the highlights of Iceland’s southern coast to the standout attractions of the country’s interior, let’s get going on this ultimate Iceland travel itinerary.
Regardless of where you’re traveling from, your trip to Iceland will begin with your arrival at Keflavik International Airport (KEF), about an hour from the capital city of Reykjavik.
Before heading for the welcoming arms of your hotel room, take a slight detour to the world-famous Blue Lagoon. It’s luckily not far from the airport, and if you haven’t rented a car yet, there are shuttle services that run from there to the city center.
The Blue Lagoon is one of those places you’ll either love or loathe. This geothermal hot spring is hands down one of the most popular attractions in the country and a definite must for any worthwhile trip to Iceland. Remember that with this popularity comes large crowds, so it’s essential to book your entry ticket in advance.
When you’ve had your fill of the famous hot spring, make your way to Reykjavik, roughly 45 minutes away. Sitting on the south-western side of the country, it’s ideally located to use as a base for venturing out into the rest of Iceland. After checking in to your hotel, spend the rest of your first day in Iceland roaming the city streets.
While there is abundant culture, cuisine, and history to discover in the city, time is not your friend. To see some of the most striking urban scenes and some amazing scenery, visit Reykjavik harbor and its waterfront as part of a walking tour. If you’re after a whale-watching tour, they depart from the port.
If you’re not keen on a walking tour of the city, there are at least some sights and attractions you should add to your one-week itinerary, including the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church, which is the tallest of its kind in the entire country, and it’s open to the public every day.
Also, visit the Harpa Concert Hall and the Sun Voyager sculpture, and walk along Laugavegur Street, which is the main commercial and pedestrian street in the city.
As the day draws to a close, it’s time to dive into the foodie scene of Reykjavik, and a lot is waiting. You can either participate in a Reykjavik food tour, ensuring you don’t miss any Icelandic delicacy, or head to popular spots like Bastard Brew & Food or BrewDog in the downtown area for a more casual meal.
Day 2 – Wander the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
On the second day of your Iceland road trip, you’ll head out of Reykjavik bright and early to one of the world’s most stunning and renowned landscapes in the country. Easily accessible from the capital city lies the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is roughly a 2:30-hour drive away.
If you’ve rented a car, this day trip will be easy, but if you didn’t opt for a rental, you can always experience the peninsula on this day tour from Reykjavik.
Heading out into the peninsula, your first pitstop should be the Snaefellsjokull National Park. A standout attraction, this vast national park has it all, from idyllic coves to a dramatic black sand beach.
Of course, the star of the show, and where you should take as many photos as possible, is the Snaefellsjӧkull glacier.
Other highlights to look out for include the Saxholl Crater, the Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge (bring water shoes!), Gatklettur, and the famous black sand beaches of Djúpalónssandur.
After leaving the park, visit the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, one of the world’s most photographed and famous waterfalls, so don’t miss the chance for an epic selfie or two.
And, of course, don’t miss including the iconic Kirkjufell mountain behind it. This unique mountain with a cylindrical shape is also a popular spot for seeing the northern lights. Trust me, from experience, the northern lights seen from here look incredible!
Additionally, depending on how much time and energy you have, you can also hike to the top of Kirkjufell. But, be aware that this is a challenging hike that will take at least three hours, but the views from up there are incredible!
After you’re done with the peninsula, head to Borgarnes to spend the night there. Borgarnes is a scenic town located just before entering the peninsula, and as one of the bigger towns around, there are plenty of accommodation options.
If you’re looking for some relaxation, remember that most places like this have a public swimming pool with geothermal water. They’re a great alternative to the Blue Lagoon, which is often crowded and expensive.
As one of the most popular destinations in Iceland, second only to the Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle might be exceptionally touristy, but it’s worth it. Start day three of this Iceland road trip itinerary with a traditional Icelandic breakfast, and prepare for an incredible day.
It’s not hard to understand why the Golden Circle is such a show-stopping attraction when you think of all the natural landmarks it features. Combined with its proximity to Reykjavik and the abundance of Golden Circle tours departing from the city daily, it’s impossible not to love it.
Considering you can tackle the Golden Circle on a day tour from the capital, you can also spend the night in the circle. The Ion Adventure Hotel is a fantastic choice.
There aren’t many stops on this Iceland itinerary that can be considered non-negotiable, except for one – Thingvellir National Park. Make this the first target for the day and get here earlier rather than later. The national park has dozens of waterfalls, old churches, and Icelandic ruins.
And, of course, it’s also the only place on Earth where you can walk and snorkel between two different tectonic plates – the mid-Atlantic rifts. In theory, you are between two continents!
While Thingvellir National Park showcases gorgeous landscapes and numerous hiking trails, you can also try snorkeling in the Silfra. After all the driving, being able to head underwater might be precisely what you need. To make it even more convenient, book this Silfra snorkel tour. If you’re a diver, you can do this tour instead.
Note: If you decide to dive or snorkel, consider that it will take half of your day, which means you won’t be able to explore some of the other Golden Circle areas unless you’re fine having a really long day.
An easy addition to your week in Iceland itinerary is your next stop after Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area. The region surrounding Geysir brims with restaurants, tourist shops, and, of course, a namesake Geysir.
Parking is free of charge, and finding a spot should be easy. After parking, head for the Geysir view area, where you’ll witness an eruption of water sprays and steam every few minutes.
After Geysir, head to your next landmark – Gullfoss Waterfall.
Nothing can quite prepare you for the scenery at Gullfoss Waterfall, and, unsurprisingly, it’s one of the world’s most famous waterfalls. Beyond its sheer size, the chance of spotting a 360° rainbow courtesy of the water spray resting over the golden-hued rock formations is incredible during the summer months.
Don’t call it a day before visiting some of the other famed locations along the Golden Circle. Visit Kerid Crater, where you can walk the loop around the edge or descend into the volcanic crater as part of a hiking trail. Remember that you’ll need to pay $2 for parking here (roughly 400 ISK), but it’s a great detour after the Gullfoss Waterfall.
There are also some geothermal hot springs that you can add to your Iceland road trip itinerary, the two most noteworthy being Secret Lagoon and Laugarvatn Fontana. And if you have a sweet tooth, grab some ice cream from Efstidalur, a sustainable dairy farm close to Hella Town.
If you spent the night along the Golden Circle, you’re set up for a relaxed morning. If you’re still based in Reykjavik, it’s time for an early morning as you depart for the southern coast of Iceland.
Southern Iceland is a mashup of some of nature’s most vibrant wonders, ranging from a rainbow-ringed waterfall to a 4,000-year-old glacier and a black sand beach. It’s recommended that you focus on three to five major attractions on the south coast to make exploring the region more manageable.
Note: While you can roam around the southern coast of Iceland as a day trip from Reykjavik, you should consider finding accommodation for the night in Vik.
First up is another of the most famous waterfalls in the country, Seljalandsfoss, just a few minutes off Route 1. Towering to 196 feet, the waters plummet into the equally stunning Seljalands River. This is one of the few waterfalls that you can actually walk behind. A raincoat is definitely recommended.
Sitting next to Seljalandsfoss is another grand waterfall, Gljúfrabúi Waterfall. It’s far less crowded and just as beautiful. Next up, as you tour the south coast, is the well-known Skógafoss waterfall, where you can view the 196-foot waterfall or venture up the 525 steps to see it from above.
You’d think that in a country packed with waterfalls, finding a hidden one would be nearly impossible. Think again as you can head east from the Skogar Museum, hop over a fence (it’s legal), and follow a path to Kvernufoss (or the Hidden Waterfall).
A definite highlight of Southern Iceland is the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse atop a rugged cliff. Aside from being a pretty visual treat, from the lighthouse, you gaze directly down onto the world-famous Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Thankfully it’s close to Vik, so you can take your time here taking it all in.
One week in Iceland wouldn’t be the same without getting up close and personal with the basalt rocks, basalt cliffs, and the black sand of Reynisfjara. If you’re on a self-drive trip, your next stop is Vik (and the recommended spot to spend the night), but if you’re on a full-day tour from Reykjavik, this will be the last stop before returning.
Your fifth day of this Iceland 7-day itinerary picks up where day four left off, on the country’s southern coast. As if this stunning country doesn’t have enough amazing places to visit, wait until you glance at the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon.
This glacial lagoon tends to become the standout attraction for many people’s Iceland itinerary. This isn’t solely because of how strikingly beautiful it is but also because of its various epic adventure opportunities.
Note: For an alternative experience, you can delve into the ice caves of Vatnajökull National Park. Here, you’ll get to see the glaciers move and descend into them at your own pace.
After spending time admiring the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, head further south towards Diamond Beach. Although not strewn with literal diamonds, the ice formations on the beach create the illusion of thousands of precious jewels dotting the sands. If you’re on a winter trip, you’ll get the most out of the beach, but summers are just as lovely.
If you’re doing a day trip from Reykjavik, you can do this comprehensive day trip that includes all of the south up to the Glacier Lagoon. It does repeat some of the spots visited on the previous day, so plan accordingly so you don’t waste your time revisiting places.
Or, you can instead do this two-day tour of the south coast, glaciers, ice caves, and the glacier lagoon!
If you plan to spend the entire day around the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, then it’s recommended that you book overnight accommodation in the charming town of Höfn. Grab a room at either the Seljavellir Guesthouse or Milk Factory.
Read next: How to Visit Askja
On day six of your trip to Iceland, start your morning exploring the town of Höfn. Those of you who opted for a rental car should take the opportunity to venture to Stokksnes, a majestic peninsula half an hour from the town.
Within this peninsula, you’ll easily spot tall mountains rising sharply out of the ground next to the black sand beaches the south of Iceland is known for.
These mountains, locally called Vestrahorn, are gorgeous, and while you have to pay a small entrance fee to reach them, if you’re even just a little bit of a photographer, it’s worth it.
But now, we must make our way back towards Reykjavik through the same road that brought us this way. But don’t worry; the drive back will still have some interesting spots to stop and admire.
One of these is the eye-catching Svartifoss Waterfall located in Skaftafell National Park. If time allows, head out on the hiking trail leading to the falls from the visitor’s center.
Your next pitstop on this trip to Iceland is Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, believed to have been formed at the end of the last Ice Age. Here, you can hike any of the numerous trails, all of which have ample points where you can take some epic photos.
Calling it a day, it’s time to drive back to Reykjavik. As you reach the city, it should be time for dinner, and there’s no better place for it than the Staff Kitchen and Bar. Be sure to give their tapas plates a chance, and don’t be shy of their wine list, it’s quite extensive.
Assuming your flight back home is in the afternoon, you can spend your final morning in Iceland, either in Reykjavik or visiting Reykjanes Peninsula. If you decide to stick to the capital, there are a few things to fill your morning.
Adrenaline-chasers should definitely head for the FlyOver Iceland Experience close to the Harpa Concert Hall. When you’re done, make a beeline for the Perlan – Wonders of Iceland Museum, or consider booking a puffin and whale-watching tour from the harbor. Alternatively, you can grab a ticket for Sky Lagoon to get a last feel of the hot springs.
On the other hand, if you’ve had enough of Reykjavik on this Iceland itinerary, choosing to explore Reykjanes Peninsula is a great idea. This region, just outside of the city, is like experiencing the entire country in one place.
Some highlights of the area to visit include the Valahnukamol Cliffs, the Bridge Between Continents, the Seltun Geothermal Area, and the Fagradalsfjall volcano. Although not possible to see all of it before your flight leaves, try to include as many as you can to put the cherry on top of this Iceland itinerary.
Knowing what you’ll be doing on this Iceland itinerary is one thing, but booking the perfect accommodation to match your adventure is a different task. Here are some of the best options for overnight stays to consider for your road trip itinerary:
- Ion City Hotel – A modern and refined high-end hotel in the city center.
- 101 Hotel – Situated near the Icelandic Phallogical Museum with very affordable prices.
- The Hotel Lotus – An affordable hotel option close to Kringlan Shopping Center.
- Ion Adventure Hotel – This super modern and well-located hotel with a striking outdoor swimming pool.
- Vik Apartments – Picturesque hotel with spacious rooms and private balconies.
- Black Beach Suites – Stunning suite hotel a few minutes walk from the black sand beach.
- The Barn – Exceptionally chic and fancy, it’s one of the best hostels that’s perfect for budget travelers.
That’s a wrap on the ultimate Iceland itinerary. Although there’s a nearly limitless supply of sights and experiences in the country, this 7-day road trip through some of the biggest attractions in Iceland.
It should be enough to have you planning your second visit halfway through your first. Iceland awaits. Are you ready?
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