Iceland is a travel hot spot for good reason – it’s magnificent and there is a plethora of things to see and do. From the modern town of Reykjavik to the famous black sand beaches near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Iceland is an island of wonders. We put together a 7 day Iceland Itinerary and made the trek around the Iceland Ring Road in 2016. The photos are so beautiful, I had to share. As far as advice about Iceland travel is concerned, here is my two cents:
- Go to Iceland ASAP. It’s a bucket list trip that will blow you away.
- Spend as much time as possible. Our Iceland itinerary in 7 days could have easily been expanded to a 10 days.
- Rent a car and go around the entire Ring Road. All of my favorite sights were outside of the famous Golden Circle. Driving in Iceland is very easy – great roads and directions. You can follow our Iceland Road Trip Itinerary or find plenty of other self drive itineraries online.
- If you want extra adventure, get a 4-wheel drive. A regular car will allow you to see tons but one of the best parts of an Iceland road trip is seeing the most incredible, massive glaciers, waterfalls, etc… almost completely by yourself. No ropes to keep you from falling in. No tourist paths or bathrooms. Just you and nature.
- Summer is a perfect time to visit for midnight sun, milder weather, easy driving conditions and the ability to see a lot of things because there are so many daylight hours. We often didn’t check into a hotel until 10 or 11pm.
- Fall and Spring offer Northern Lights, lots of sunrises and sunsets, incredible ice caves, and less tourists but it will be colder and weather can affect your plans.
- Pack well. During the summer, there were times we would be in t-shirts and an hour later freezing in a parka, hat and gloves. Bring layers. The weather changes all day. Winter is obviously colder.
Iceland Itinerary Day 1: Reykjavik
Reykjavik, where we stayed the first night and last night of our trip, is a perfect starting point. It’s a charming, walkable town with bright rooftops and Scandinavian design. There are terrific restaurants. Truthfully I was worried that I wouldn’t like the food but there were many delectable options. You’ll also find cute shops, a nice museum and a church like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Reykjavik is known for it’s nightlife and trendy bar scene. If you love a good party, pack accordingly.
Hallgrimskirkja church has an incredible view of the city.
Reykjavik view from the top of Hallgrimskirkja church.
Harpa Concert Hall hosts the Icelandic Symphony and Opera in addition to other events.
The ever popular Blue Lagoon on the outskirts of Reykjavik.
Iceland Itinerary Day 2: The Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a fantastic place to see on a tour of the Iceland Ring Road but it is also a good day trip out of Reykjavik if you have an extra day and need something to do. We took a private photo tour of the area with Bragi from Arctic Shots. They have Northern Lights Tours too. If was nice to have someone that knew all the secret spots and he helped us take our photography to the next level! The best parts about this area aside from it’s beauty, is the close proximity to Reykjavik (about an hour) and the lack of tourists.
Our day started out with seeing the best cows ever. Iceland provides a sensational opportunity to interact with animals.
The expansive coastline is incredibly beautiful with black and white sand beaches.
I love the bright colors in Iceland like this orange lighthouse. The cheery colors probably help in the dead of winter.
It’s very exciting when you get a chance to see puffins. There’s something about them that is so cool.
Kirkjufell mountain is the subject of many photos and was a treat to see in person.
This well kept Iceland Ring Road feels like an invitation to experience this wondrous country.
Our day ended with us trying to find our bed and breakfast in the country under the setting sun at midnight.
Iceland Itinerary Day 3-4: Northern Iceland
Northern Iceland has many visual treats. Even the drive to the north is stunningly beautiful which made the trek interesting. The delightful town of Akureyri, second largest city in Iceland, is a great place to stay for the night. You’ll find some delicious restaurants, cute stores, and you can hop a boat to a whale watching tour if you’d like. Beyond that, the Lake Mytvan Area is chock full of fascinating, active, geothermal wonders. Get gas when you leave Lake Mytvan. You won’t see another station for awhile.
The quaint little town of Akureyri is laid back with such friendly people.
Goðafoss waterfall is breathtaking in the summer but like all things in Iceland, some snow takes it up a notch.
My favorite waterfall of the trip is accessed by 4 wheel drive, off the main road by 30 minutes. Most people don’t know about Aldeyjarfoss but it is in the middle of nowhere and then all of a sudden… Wow!
Otherworldly Hveraströnd Sulphur Springs with boiling mud pits and multicolored clay is like being on a different planet.
These spectacular algae covered rocks look like the inspiration for Teletubbies.
We walked and walked and the ground was actually smoking even though there hasn’t been an eruption since 1970. I just wanted to get out of there in case it was a preview of coming attractions.
Dettifoss, in Vatnajökull National Park, is the most powerful waterfall in Europe.
RELATED: THE 15 BEST ICELAND WATERFALLS
Iceland Itinerary Day 5-6: South Iceland
South Iceland is filled with one amazing view after the next. Even a 3 day trip to Iceland will allow you to experience the South. There is so much to see and do that you can be as busy as you want. Visiting ice caves is a must do in the winter and we unfortunately were sad to miss that. Guess we need to make another trip!
We took a detour off the Iceland Ring Road when we saw Vatnajökull Glacier. Our 4 wheel drive felt like it would fall apart driving over the rocky road but at the end, we were the only people at this peaceful, jaw dropping lagoon at the base of a massive glacier. Just us and quiet stillness that I will never forget!
Jökulsárlón Lagoon is filled with Icebergs that have calved off of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. You can take a boat trip around the vibrant blue icebergs or just view them from the shore.
It seems improbable that glacial ice would be laying on the beach next to the ocean on a sunny summer day – but it does and there is tons of it. The ice drifts down the channel from the Jökulsárlón Lagoon.
Skógafoss attracts a large amount of visitors but you can still get up close and personal to enjoy the view. There is a hiking trail that will take you to the top for an expansive view.
The circular path around the back of Seljalandsfoss allows for sensational photos. Bring a rain coat to this one. You will definitely get wet.
Icelandic horses are on the smaller side but are full of personality and attract a lot of attention.
Iceland Itinerary Day 7: The Golden Circle
This area of Iceland is the most heavily visited. The Golden Circle consists of Geysir geothermal area, Gulfoss Waterfall and Þingvellir National Park (also referred to as Thingvellir National Park). You can rent a car and see all three in one day or you can easily take a guided tour. If you are making a short visit to Iceland, this will give you a sense of the awesome beauty available.
Gulfoss is a two stage waterfall that drops into a canyon. There are multiple vantage points to get a full perspective.
Strokkur Geyser erupts every 4-8 minutes shooting 60-130 feet into the air. It’s quite impressive.
Iceland is divided by the Eurasian and North American tectonic places. Þingvellir National Park contains many fissures caused by the rift. You can walk through some, dive or snorkel in others but mainly appreciate the geology and beauty of this rift valley.
Iceland is a visual cornucopia of mesmerizing sights. There’s no better way to see this amazing country than to drive around the Iceland Ring Road. A 7 days in Iceland Itinerary gets you all the way around the Ring Road but can definitely keep yourself busy for a few weeks if you want a longer trip. If you are a cyclist, there are plenty of people that do cycle-tours too. Start planning early – Iceland is a hot destination.
- ICELAND: A Complete Guide to the 15 Best Iceland Waterfalls
- ALASKA: Alaska Summer Trip Itinerary
- CALIFORNIA: Glamping in Big Sur
- IRELAND: 7 Days in Ireland Itinerary