Putting together a good travel route for Iceland is quite a challenge. There are so many beautiful things to see and it is quite difficult to estimate in advance how much time you will spend on everything. To make it easy for you, we share here the ultimate travel route for Iceland, whether you are staying for 3 days, a week or two weeks. Hereby you won’t only tick off the most beautiful sights of Iceland but you also make a few nice hikes. Because that is the perfect way to enjoy the rugged landscapes that Iceland has.
3 Days – For those with only little time
Day 1 – Arriving at Reykjavik
Most flights arrive at Keflavik airport late in the afternoon, making little time to start your exploration the very same day. The best way to make most of your day is picking up your rental car and visit the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal pool is one of the most popular bucket list items to tick off amongst tourists. It is located a short drive from the airport and Reykjavik. Since it is open till midnight, it is the best way to relax after a long day of traveling.
Day 2 – The Golden Circle
Today your adventure in Iceland really kicks off. The Golden Circle is a tour of sights near Reykjavik. First, Thingvellir National Park is on the schedule. Thingvellir is a fault line of two tectonic plates that move a few millimeters further apart each year. This is the fault line between the Eurasian continent and the American continent. The next stop is Geysir, a geothermal area where the Strokkur geyser sprays water up to a height of 20 meters every 5 to 7 minutes. A special natural phenomenon to see! From here it is only a short drive to Gullfoss, a giant waterfall that is 20 meters wide.
Day 3 – The most beautiful waterfalls of Iceland
Iceland has hundreds of waterfalls and today 4 of the most beautiful are planned: Seljalandsfoss, Gljúfrabúi, Skógafoss and Kvernufoss. The first two and the last two are within walking distance of each other. They are all beautiful and unique in their own way. After visiting the waterfalls you can walk up the stairs at Skógafoss and a beautiful hike is waiting for you behind it. This trail is part of the two-day Fimmvörðuháls Hike.
Tip! Spend the night in Phakgil campsite.
7 Days – For those who visit Iceland as a short getaway
Day 4 – Phakgil
The campsite in Phakgil is a remote one, but maybe one of the best ones to stay at without renting a 4×4. The road leading to it is an adventurous one, but scenic! From the campsite there are three different trails. The longest one is leading to the Myrdalsjokull.
Day 5 – Vik
Vik is renowned for being the wettest village in Iceland, but there are still lots of reasons to visit. The notorious plane wreck on the black sand beach is one of them. Reynisfjara beach is another. In recent years the aircraft has transformed from a secret spot into a fairly busy Instagram location. Do you want to have the plane wreck to yourself? Then you have to get up early and be in the parking lot around 7 o’clock.
Day 6 – Skaftatell NP
Skaftatell NP is part of the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest ice sheet in Europe. This is one of the top destinations in Iceland when it comes to hiking. Don’t miss the Svartifoss, a waterfall which is surrounded by columns of black basalt. These basalt columns were created because lava cooled very slowly and as a result the molten rock could crystallize. Adventurous souls can also embark on a glacier hiking tour.
Day 7 – Diamond Beach
Jökulsárlón is the largest glacier lake in Iceland and the pieces of ice float directly from the lake into the sea. Then these large and small pieces of ice wash up again on the black beach. This beach is full of pieces of ice that sparkle in the sun. That is why this beach has been named Diamond Beach. In the afternoon you can travel back to Reykjavik or if you are traveling longer you can head further to the next stop.
14 Days – For those who drive the Ring Road in Iceland
Day 8 – Borgarfjörður
Borgarfjörður is located in the northeast of Iceland, a region well known by hikers. There are numerous hiking trails here, which can be easily combined to multi-day treks. Even if you are not that into hiking, there is a very good reason to visit this part of Iceland. Borgarfjarðarhöfn is a little harbor located at the end of route 94. Here, during summer months, you can see the largest puffin colony in Iceland. There are over 10.000 of these often-photographed little birds.
Day 9 – Dettifoss
It’s quite a drive from Borgarfjordur towards the Dettifoss, but along the way you can make a stop at Stuðlagil Canyon. A short detour from the Ring Road is required plus a 4 km hike from the parking lot. As a reward you will be able to tick off one of the few hidden gems of Iceland. Head further towards the Dettifoss, one of the most powerfull waterfalls in Europe.
Day 10 – Myvatn
Myvatn is a lake area where many tourists stay for quite some time. It is one of the best places to enjoy a thermal pool and it has quite some attractions to explore as well. A must visit is Hverir, one of the three major geothermal plains. Due to the thin crust of the earth there is still a lot of volcanic activity. Take a walk along the mud pools and hot sulfur springs, where you will be able to enjoy your eyes on this colorful and hilly landscape. Other attractions in the area are Grotagja Cave and the crater Hverfjall.
No time to complete the Ring Road? See Myvatn as a trip from Reykjavik!
Day 11 – Whale watching
Northern Iceland is one of the best regions to go whale watching. Husavik, Akureyri and Hauganes are only a few locations where tours are offered in the chance to spot humpback whales, minks, orca’s, dolphins and maybe even a blue whale.
Day 12 – Rafting
Adrenalin junkies will love this one. The Austari-Jökulsá Glacier River is rated IV+ and is one of the most challenging rivers to raft in Europe.
Day 13 – Kirkufjell and Snæfellsjökull National Park
Before heading back to capital Reykjavik, make one last detour towards the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. On the tip you will find the Snæfellsjökull National Park, one of the three national parks in Iceland, and named after the glacier located here. Another popular must see attraction is Kirkufjell, the Matterhorn of Iceland.
Day 14 – Reykjavik
Your last day in Iceland is best spent in its capital. Visit the Hallgrimskirkja, its shopping streets and the Harpa, the center of the vibrant music scene of Reykjavik. In the Harpa you can see Iceland in a Box: A Visual Tour. A film, which is fifteen minutes long and takes you back to all the natural beauty Iceland has offered you during these last few weeks.