Eager to visit Iceland, but don’t have a ton of time to spare? Then this 5-day itinerary is for you! My fiance, Drew, and I have been eyeing a trip to Iceland for awhile, but with other trips already scheduled and wedding obligations we weren’t sure if we would be able to make it to Iceland this year, but we made it work!
We landed early on a Tuesday morning and hit the ground running. We used Blue Car Rental for our car rental as they were the least expensive option while including all needed coverage and meeting Icelandic insurance requirements. Since we were visiting at the end of March, our car came equipped with studded tires.
Stop 1: Þingvellir National Park
Relatively close to Keflavik International Airport, Þingvellir National Park is the perfect first stop. Located at the site where two continental tectonic plates meet, there’s plenty to see and do here. You can hike to Öxarárfoss and explore deep valleys and cliffs. If you’re feeling super adventurous, you can dive or snorkel in the rifts between the tectonic plates.
Stop 2: Strokkur Geysir
Located in a geothermal area, Strokkur is a geyser that erupts every 5-10 minutes, reaching heights as high as 130 feet. Since the geyser erupts so frequently, this is a fairly quick stop where you can hit the restrooms and grab a bite for the road.
Stop 3: Gullfoss
Complete your journey on the Golden Circle by visiting Gullfoss. Definitely a sight to behold whether it’s frozen in the dead of winter or rushing forcefully during the warmer summer months.
That evening we stayed at the Stracta Hotel Hella where we relaxed in the hot tub and enjoyed a filling breakfast the following morning.
Stop 1: Seljalandsfoss
Seljalandsfoss is easy to find as it’s visible from the road. What makes Seljalandsfoss special is the path that takes you behind the waterfall for a different perspective. Prepare to get wet!
Another special treat at Seljalandsfoss is the hidden waterfall, Gljúfrabúi. Facing Seljalandsfoss, walk 1/3 of a mile to your left and you will have the option to climb the side of a cliff or duck through a gorge. It’s worth it!
Stop 2: Skógafoss
A short drive from Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss is an impressive waterfall. You can view from the bottom, but don’t miss the hike up the stairs on the side of the waterfall. The view from the top makes for great photos.
Stop 3: Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
I hope you wore your walking shoes because you’re in for a 4-5 mile roundtrip hike from the parking lot to the wrecked US Navy DC-3. Dress warmly as the walk is very windy. Despite the blustery weather the day of our visit, the trail to the plane crash site was fairly busy and once we reached the site there were at least half a dozen other tourists milling about.
We spent another night at Stracta Hotel Hella and were thankful for the hot tub to relax in after logging so many miles that day.
Stop 1: Dyrhólaey
A great place to stop and view the enormous black arch of lava standing in the sea. Unfortunately, it was pouring the morning we visited with wicked strong winds, so seeing the arch was a bit of a challenge, but we enjoyed standing on the edge of the cliffs overlooking the ocean.
Stop 2: Reynishverfi Rocks
Basalt rock formations sprout out of this black sand beach near Vik. We were in awe of the natural beauty and spent a bit of time dancing around the beach and jumping from the rocks.
Stop 3: Fjaðrárgljúfur
One of the highlights of our trip, Fjaðrárgljúfur is a stunning canyon that is worth visiting all year round. You can hike around the edge of the canyon to take in as much of the spectacular views as possible. At the end of the trails there are are two smaller waterfalls which feed the river that runs through the canyon. The road leading to the parking for Fjaðrárgljúfur advises use of a 4×4 vehicle, which I would definitely recommend during the winter months.
We finished the day by grabbing famous Icelandic hot dogs at a local gas station and caught some zzz’s at Icelandair Hotel Klaustur.
Stop 1: Jökulsárlón
We left Klaustur to make the long drive to Jökulsárlón for sunrise. I was super excited to visit the glacier lagoon and it didn’t disappoint. I’ve never seen anything like it in my life–the ice was so blue and it was interesting to watch the large chunks of ice float slowly by.
Stop 2: Svartifoss
We were so glad we got an early start because the hike to Svartifoss took a bit longer than we anticipated. However, the hike is beautiful and totally worth the extra time. The hike involves walking up a bit of an incline where you pass a smaller waterfall, beautiful fields, and overlook interesting geological formations. Svartifoss is surrounded by basalt rock columns which make it unlike any other waterfall we’ve ever seen.
Stop 3: Sólheimajökull Glacier
We finished the day with a glacier hike through Icelandic Mountain Guides. We strapped on crampons and grabbed a pick ax and traipsed around the Sólheimajökull Glacier for several hours and absolutely loved it.
We finished the day in Vik where we grabbed a bite at a local pub and rested our heads at Icelandair Hotel Vik.
From Vik, we slowly made our way back to Reykjavik, making stops along the way at scenic view points and befriending Icelandic ponies.
Stop 1: Hallgrímskirkja
To get the best view of Reykjavik, visit Hallgrimskirkja and pay 900 ISK to access the tower. You can see all of Reykjavik from the tower which is centrally located in the city.
Stop 2: Reykjavik
We spent a few hours walking around the city and exploring shops before grabbing a quick bite at a local restaurant. Although Reykjavik is a lovely, albeit small, city, we were glad that we elected to spend more time exploring other parts of the country.
Stop 3: Blue Lagoon
We closed our trip at the Blue Lagoon. Be sure to buy your time slot in advance as they don’t take walk-ins and time slots fill quickly. We had a 5 p.m. reservation and we spent a little over 2 hours relaxing in the hot springs and enjoying the silicon masks. It was a great way to unwind at the end of a very busy trip!
I loved visiting Iceland and we’re eager to return to explore the fjords and other beautiful spots in the western and northern parts of the country. I hope you enjoy your trip as much as we enjoyed ours!