I would highly recommend spending at least seven days in Iceland. It’s the perfect amount of time to see the southern (or northern) region of the country. Check out this post for tips on how to plan your own road trip and make sure to read up on 10 things I wish I’d known before going too!
How much does it cost to visit Iceland?
Visiting Iceland is NOT cheap and it’s especially expensive if you visit during high season. We chose to travel in March to avoid the crowds and splurged on hotels, dinners out, our SUV rental, tours, etc. All in all Javi and I spent around $1,800 each on the trip (excluding airfare). Keep in mind our entire trip was organized through Guide to Iceland (comfort level package) so this likely incurred extra costs. If you’re traveling on a budget I’d recommend visiting Iceland in a small group of four or five people—you’ll be able to split the car rental cost, gasoline, and book budget friendly apartments. You can also save money on food by bringing snacks from home and stocking up on supplies at the local supermarket once you arrive.
Accommodation: $50 – $200 per night
Rental car: $100 – $200 per day
Gasoline: $400 (for the eight days)
Food: $200 – $300 per person (excluding breakfast)
> Our breakfast was included at our hotels.
> We brought snacks from home and purchased bread, meat, cheese at local supermarkets for lunch.
> We paid at least $30 per person for dinner (expect to pay $40 – $50 if you order beer or wine).
Tours: $512 (4 tours in total)
> Premium Entrance Blue Lagoon: $100 per person
> Sólheimajökull Glacier walk (Tröll Expeditions): $99 per person
> Vatnajoküll – Skaftafell glacier walk (Icelandic Mountain Guides): $99 per person (I think you’ll get the best price if you choose the glacier walk + ice cave tour package)
> Ice cave tour (Guide to Iceland): $214 per person
Day 1: Reykjavík & Blue Lagoon
Once you arrive at Keflavík Airport you should pick up your rental car and head straight to the Blue Lagoon. Most people arrive after 12pm so consider going early to avoid crowds. Don’t forget the Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland and they usually sell out of entrances. We booked the premium package ($100) three months in advance. This package includes a silica mud mask, algae mask, bathrobe, towel, flip flops, a drink at the bar in the lagoon, and a reservation + free sparkling wine at the LAVA Restaurant. If you’re not planning on eating at the restaurant then the comfort package ($70) is probably the right choice.
The Blue Lagoon is a total tourist trap but we enjoyed the experience (they serve beer lol). If you’re on a tight budget you can check out the natural hot springs scattered across Iceland (for free) or the public, geothermal swimming pools located in each town. After your visit to the Blue Lagoon you can head to Reykjavík for the night.
Day 2: Snaefellsjoküll National Park
Head to Snaefellsnes Peninsula on your second day in Iceland. There are tons of things to see in this area so you’ll need six to eight hours for sightseeing. At the end of the day you can stop at Stykkishólmur for the night. There is a fabulous seafood restaurant named Sjavarpakkhusid in this town so go there for a meal if possible!
Búðir – village (sightseeing = 1 hour)
Arnarstapi – village (sightseeing = 30 min – 1 hour)
Lóndrangar – basalt cliffs (sightseeing = 1 hour)
Snæfellsjökull National Park – park / volcano / glacier (sightseeing = 1 – 2 hours)
> Snæfellsjökull Glacier
> Djupalonssandur Creek – 4 stones, lava formations
> Lóndrangar basalt cliffs
> Vatnshellir lava tube
Kirkjufell – mountain (1 – 3 hours)
Stykkishólmur – town (30 min – 1 hour)
Day 3: The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle encompasses Iceland’s three most famous attractions; Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss waterfall. You’ll need around five or six hours to see everything. Flúðir is a good spot to spend the night.
Þingvellir National Park – tectonic plates/gorge, waterfall, historic site (sightseeing = 1 – 2 hours)
Laugarvatn – village (30 min – 2 hours if going to spa)
Gullfoss – waterfall (sightseeing = 1 hour)
Geysir – geysers / hot spring (sightseeing = 45 min – 1 hour)
Kerið – crater (sightseeing = 30 min – 1 hour) – 400 KR / $4 to see it
Flúðir – village with secret lagoon / hot spring (30 min – 1 hour)
Day 4: South Iceland
The two waterfalls on this route are some of the most iconic in Iceland. You can even walk behind Seljalandsfoss for a 360° view. After visiting the falls you can plan to schedule a glacier tour at Sólheimajökull Glacier. Sólheimajökull is known for its unique grey veins of ash that have been created after centuries of volcanic eruptions. If you don’t want to reserve a tour you can also drive to the parking lot and walk 15 minutes to the tip of the glacier tongue for a view. I wouldn’t recommend trying to walk on the glacier without a guide. At the end of the day you can stay at Vík and stock up on food at the local supermarket.
Seljalandsfoss – waterfall (sightseeing= 30 min – 1 hour)
Skógafoss – waterfall (sightseeing = 30 min)
Sólheimajökull – glacier (sightseeing = 1 – 3 hours)
Reynisfjara – black pebble beach (sightseeing = 15 – 30 min)
Reynisdrangar – basalt sea stacks (sightseeing = 15 – 30 min)
Vík – village / seaside community (30 min – 1 hour)
Day 5: Jökulsárón & Diamond Beach
Jökulsárón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach were my favorite places of the trip. Giant icebergs break from Breidamerkurjökull Glacier and fill the lagoon year-round. You’ll see variations of iceberg colors ranging from electric blue to powder white and some even have grey streaks of volcanic ash in them. The icebergs wash up on on the beach (just across the road) and as they begin to melt they look like diamonds against the black sand. I’m assuming this is why tourists began calling it Diamond Beach. 😉 You’ll be able to find a place to stay near Höfn for the night.
Kirkjubaejarklaustur – village (sightseeing = 30 min) – supermarket!
Skaftafell National Park – sightseeing time depends on if you want to hike
Svartifoss – waterfall (sightseeing + hike = 2.5 hours) – easy hike
Jökulsárlón – glacier lagoon (sightseeing = 30 min – 1 hour)
Diamond Beach – across the road from Jökulsárlón (sightseeing = 30 min – 1 hour)
Höfn – fishing village (sightseeing = 30 min – 1 hour)
Day 6: Svínafellsjökull Glacier + Ice Cave
In our original itinerary we combined Jökulsáron and the ice cave tour on day 5. However, I would recommend doing the Svínafellsjökull Glacier and ice cave tour package on day 6. The tour package option is more budget-friendly and you’ll save time driving back and forth between the two locations on day 5. Keep in mind ice cave tours are only available from November to the end of March. After an exciting day of exploring you can plan to sleep at Stokkseyri or drive all the way back to Reykjavik for the night.
Svínafellsjökull Glacier – glacier + ice cave
Vestmannaeyjar / Heimaey – volcanic islands + see crater (sightseeing depends on if you want to visit the islands)
Stokkseyri – village / lighthouse / culture house (sightseeing = 1 – 3 hours)
Hveragerði – hot springs / town (3 – 5 hours to hike / see town)
Þorlákshöfn – fishing town / horses (sightseeing = 1 hour)
Vestmannaeyjar / Heimaey – volcanic islands (at least one full day)
Stokkseyri – village / lighthouse / culture house (sightseeing = 1 – 3 hours)
Day 7 & 8: Reykjavik
I would save Reykjavik for the last day of your trip in case you encounter delays on the road (Iceland’s weather is crazy). Plan to spend at least one, full day exploring Iceland’s capital. I highly recommend doing a free walking tour too—we enjoyed learning about Iceland’s history and current political scene. There are a lot of different activities you can do in and near the city so you may be able to cover all these items over a two-day period (depending on when your flight leaves on day 8).
Free walking tour
Hallgrimskirkja – go to top of tower
Harpa Concert Hall
Aurora Borealis tour (Northern Lights)
Reykjanes Peninsula (sightseeing time = 1 – 3 hours) > 1 hour drive
> Kleifarvatn – lake
> Krýsuvík – geothermal area / colored hills / hot springs / crater lakes
> Gunnuhver – mud pools / steam vents / lava fields / bridge between continents
So there you have it! The perfect 7 – 8 day road trip itinerary for Iceland. 🙂 All of the sites are listed in the order we visited them and I’ve included links to the various tour companies and packages my family used on our trip. Make sure to check out my posts on what you need to know before your road trip and my tips for planning the best visit possible. Happy exploring!