Iceland

8-DAY All Over Iceland ITINERARY

Iceland, a Nordic island nation, is defined by its dramatic landscape with volcanoes, geysers, hot springs and lava fields. Massive glaciers are protected in Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull national parks. Most of the population lives in the capital, Reykjavík, which runs on geothermal power and is home to the National and Saga museums, tracing Iceland's Viking history, per Google.

Must do, must see, must try:

BLACK SAND

Prepare for walking, sights and black sand beaches. 

FOOD MUST: FISH

Saltfiskur (Bacalao) and Harðfiskur (Stockfish) are two unbelievably fresh fish types that are worth noting.

HANGIKJÖT

This smoked lamb is delicious and a traditional food of Iceland.

The 8-Day Iceland Itinerary

ACCOMMODATIONS

Hotels, hostels and guesthouses along the Golden Circle listed by day on the itinerary below.

CLIMATE

Hikers should visit in July and August, but the Northern Lights are best seen in February and March, or September and October. Summers are neat for the midnight sun glow that's a little warm.

TRANSPORTATION

You will need a car to make the trip around the Golden Circle. Rent a car with good wheels and a good gas tank.

ENVIRONMENT

Language is Icelandic but most locals some English and more languages

Currency: Icelandic Krona (ISK, kr); if your exchange rate here

LIFESTYLE

Iceland attracts thousands of visitors each year. Besides the Northern Lights, Iceland offers chilling glaciers, beautiful geothermal pools and a photographers dream shot. The atmosphere is ideal for a a romantic getaway that you will need to save up for.

Day one

9 AM - Flight arrives in the morning, as most US flights do

  • Pick up duty-free alcoholic drinks at the airport, its much cheaper than in town

Rent a Car, then explore the Reykjanes Peninsula

  • Relax in the Blue Lagoon; time spent 3-4 hours

    • Different packages: Standard for $62 or Comfort for $82; I'd go for comfort

  • If you have time, stop and see Reykjanesviti, the first Icelandic lighthouse or Krýsuvík-Seltun, geothermal activity with bubbling mud pits

Drive to Reykjavik; from Blue Lagoon is 39 minutes

2 PM - Quick lunch at Lobster Hut, lobster roll is a must ($, Seafood)

Check-in at the hotel then walk around and explore the town

  • or join a Walking Tour​; time spent is 2 hours, free but donations appreciated

  • Walk up to Hallgrimskirkja Church and go to the top for a view you won't forget

  • Main street is Laugaveur, do some window shopping

  • MUST buy an Icelandic sweater, Handknit sweaters, will run you around $200 or more, but are also sure to keep you warm with thick Icelandic wool!

Dinner at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur ($, American), hot dog from the stand at the harbor and get one of everything

  • Option: Drunk Rabbit Pub​ ($$, Irish Pub)

  • Try: Brennivín is a clear, unsweetened schnapps that is Iceland's signature distilled beverage. It is a popular Icelandic liquor and special-occasion alcohol shot, and the traditional drink for the mid-winter feast of Þorrablót

8:30 PM - Whale Watching tour; time spent is 3 hours, $109

Day Two - Start The Golden Circle

Pack-up & check-out, moving from Reykjavik to Hella

7 AM - Breakfast at Stofan Cafe ($$$, Coffee & Tea), Bergusson Mathus ($$$, Cafe) or Sandholt ($$, Bakery)

  • Þingvellir National Park [45-minute drive]; time spent is 3-4 hours

    • Also, known as Thingvellir; this is one of the oldest parliament in the world, quaint Thingvellier church and summer houses

    • If not interested, start your morning with a visit to Reykjadalur hiking trail just outside of Hveragerði Public Park. Reykjadalur directly translates to “steam valley” and it holds true to its name with steam floating in the air everywhere on this hike! (Bring a bathing suit)

8:30 AM - Kerið; time spent is 1-2 hours, $3 - this is a scenic lake that occupies a volcanic crater

  • Drive from Reykjavik takes 50 minutes

10:30 AM - Faxi Waterfall; time spent is less than an hour, free

  • Drive from Kerið is 30 minutes​

11:30 AM - Strokkur Geysir ("The Churn"); time spent is less than an hour, free

  • Drive from Faxi is 10 minutes​

  • Geothermal geyser that erupts every 8-10 minutes and make sure to stand downwind or be water-proof

12 PM - Gullfoss Falls; time spent is 1 hour, free

  • Drive from Strokkur Geysir is 12 minutes

  • Named as 1 of the world's top 10 waterfalls, view from above by the gift shop and from the parking lot​

1 PM - Lunch at Gullfoss Kaffi ($$, Cafe &Soups)

3 PM - Soak at the Secret Lagoon in Flúðir; time spent is 1-2 hours, $28

  • Drive from Gullfoss Falls is 35 minutes​

5 PM - Check in Hotel Ranga

  • Watch the northern lights, as you enjoy the Jacuzzi and reindeer carpaccio

    • Drive from Secret Lagoon is 40 minutes​

Dinner at Restaurant Árhús ($$, European and Vegetarian friendly)

Day Three - Iceland's south coast

8 AM - Breakfast at the hotel, then pack up and check-out

8:30 AM - Seljalandsfoss Waterfall; time spent is 1 hour, free

  • Drive from the hotel is 20 minutes

  • You can walk behind the sought-after waterfall, if you're water-proof from head to toe

  • If you have time, visit the ​Gljúfrabúi Waterfall just down the way

  • You'll pass Eyjafjallajökull - the volcano eruption that put all flights on hold

    • Drive from Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is 15 minutes

​10:30 AM - Small hike to Seljavallalaug Zwembad; time spent is 1.5 hours, free

  • Drive from Eyjafjallajökull​ 5 minutes

  • Walk to the pool is 15 minutes, unpaved path; one of the oldest swimming pools

12 PM - Lunch at Sveitagrill Miu-Mia's Country Grill ($$, Fish & Chips)

1 PM - The famous, Skógarfoss Waterfall; time spent 2 hours, free

  • Drive from Seljavallalaug Zwembad is 5 minutes

  • Option: 45 minute walk to Sólheimasandur Plane Crash; time spent is less than an hour, free

    • The Black Sand Nature Preserve - continue walking from the plane crash to Black Sand Nature Preserve

    • Drive down the road to Dyrhólaey Lighthouse; time spent is 30 minutes, free

3 PM - Famous Black Sand Beach of Reynisfjara; time spent is 2 hours, free

  • Drive from ​Skógarfoss Waterfall is 30 minutes

  • As you drive to the hotel, look out over the Eldhruan lava fields; drive from the black sand beach is 1 hour​

If you're not super tired and it's not dark, stop to see the Fjaðrárgljúfur (Moss Canyon)​

Check in at the Icelandair Hotel Klaustur

Day Four

Pack up and check-out of the hotel

10 AM - Glacier Tour Day, Into the Glacier-Winter Ice Caves on Vatnajökull; time spent is 4 hours, $200

  • Bring lunch with you​

2 PM - Drive to the town of Höfn; 2 hour drive​

  • Day Option: 4:30 PM - Jökulsárlón-Glacier Lagoon, Boat Tours & Cafe​; time spent is 2 hours, $200

Stay: Guesthouse Hafnarnes

Dinner: Pakkhús ($$$, Scandinavian Seafood), go all out and get the three-course meal

Day Five

8 AM - Breakfast at the hotel, then pack up and check-out

Scenic, long drive along Iceland's East Coast (East Fjords to North Iceland)

11 AM - Drive from the hotel to Egilsstaðir

  • Drive to the store is 2.5 hours

  • Stock up at the grocery store and get gas as this is the only stop​, and stop along the Eastern Fjords for photos

  • If you have time, take a drive to the town of Seyðisfjörður

    • Required - mountain pass from ​Egilsstaðir to access this adorable harbor town

    • Save time and skip this stop

2 PM - From the gas station to Dettifoss Waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park; time spent is 1 hour, free

  • Drive from gas station is 2 hours

  • Stop at Dettifoss Parking East for amazing photos; walk along the paved path for 20 minutes to Selfoss Waterfall, a prettier waterfall 

4 PM - Visit the Námafjall Hverir, geothermal area with bubbling pits

  • Drive from waterfalls is ​1 hour

5 PM - Continue down the way to Mývatn Nature Baths; time spent is 2 hours, $38

  • Drive from Námafjall Hverir is 5 minutes

  • Traditional naked bathing in ultra-hot water​

Have dinner here or at the hotel

7 PM - Check in to the hotel, Dimmuborgir Guesthouse

Take an evening stroll around Lake Mývatn the volcanic lake

Day Six - Explore Mývatn and the Northeast

8 AM - Breakfast at the hotel, then pack up and check-out

9 AM - Make a loop around the lake to Skútustaðagígar (craters)​; time spent is 1 hour, free

  • Drive from hotel is 10 minutes

10:30 AM - Goðafoss Waterfall, one of the most spectacular waterfalls; time spent is 1 hour, free

  • Drive from craters is 31 minutes

  • Access from Ring Road​, don't miss the sign and sadle, this is the last waterfall you'll see

12 PM - Stop in the town of Akureyri for some quick souvenirs before another long drive

  • Drive from waterfall is 43 minutes​

  • Get lunch and snacks too

​2:30 PM - Visit the Byggðasafn Skagfirðinga in Glaumbaer; time spent is less than an hour

  • Drive from town is 1 hour​

  • Cute museum of irregular turf houses, you can take pictures from outside

Explore Snæfellsnes Peninsula | Nicknamed “Iceland in Mini”

5 PM - Hvitserkur; time spent is 1 hour, free

  • Drive from turf houses is 1.5 hours​

  • Must see the rhino-shaped rock formation and get the best view of the West Fjords​

7 PM - ​The colorful fishing town Stykkishólmur

  • Drive from Rhino Rock is 3 hours​

Check-in at Harbour Hostel and enjoy the evening discovering the town 'made of many islands' 

Day Seven

6 AM - Early morning, pack up and check out; first stop is ​the famous Kirkjufell Mountain; time spent is 2 hours, free

  • Drive from the hotel is ​35 minutes

  • You'll pass a cute town, Grundarfjörður​ and stop if you need gas

​10 AM - Next stop is Búðakirkja, the black church is right off the Ring Road; time spent is 1 hour, free

  • Drive from the mountain is 30 minutes

  • If you want more photo stops, visit the church in Hellnar and get some coffee​

  • Before this is the beautiful spot Lóndrangar, a lava field paired with rock formations​

​11:30 AM - ​Golden sand beaches at Ytri Tunga Beach; time spent is 1 hour, free

  • Drive from the black church is 20 minutes

  • Seals, best time to see them is June and July​

By 1 PM, start the journey back to Reykjavik

  • Stop in ​Borgarnes for gas and some shopping; drive to this town from the beach is 1 hour

2:30 PM - Back in Reykjavik, drive back is 1 hour

Check into the hotel and then explore the city more, and you can walk everywhere

Dinner at Icelandic Fish & Chips ($$$, European)

If you're feeling adventurous and want to get out of town one last time, book a night at the Buubble Hotel and sleep under the stars, literally

Day Eight

Full breakfast at Cafe Paris ($$, American); VOX Restaurant for the breakfast buffet ($$$$, Scandinavian); Snaps Bistro ($$$, French)

​Head to the airport and return the rental car; drive from town to the airport is ​43 minutes

Goodbye Iceland. Head home. 

helpful links
Travel a GO-Go

Use the Google map on the left to get a lay of the land and see all the fun spots that you'll visit. Download the free PDF by clicking the icon below to have this itinerary at your finger-tips. 

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