- Maximize your time by flying to Egilsstaðir rather than driving both ways
- Gain a unique perspective (and leave the masses behind) with a domestic flight across Iceland's spectacular landscape
- See the highlights of the South Coast at Jökulsárlón, Skogafoss, Black Sand Beaches, and more
You can do this route in either direction, but we recommend taking a domestic flight to Egilsstaðir at the beginning of your trip, leaving the larger crowds being and exploring remote areas on your own terms. With more time we can offer other suggestions to do along this route, just let us know!
Day 1: Arrive in Iceland, Explore downtown Reykjavik, fly to Egilsstaðir
Arrive early morning at Keflavik International Airport (KEF) and take a taxi, coach transfer, or private transfer to Reykjavik about 45 min away. You will have some time to explore downtown Reykjavik, or stop at the Blue Lagoon if you like (Do this on your way from the airport, you can also do it on your way back on your final day. They can store bags for $5/bag).
Take an afternoon flight from Reykjavik domestic airport (different airport) to Egilsstaðir, where you will pick up your rental car and stay the night. Depending on the timing, you can stay close to Egilsstaðir airport, or drive about 1 hour closer to the coast to Seydisfjordur nestled in a picturesque fjord.
Day 2: Drive to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Stay in Hof
Today you'll drive south along Iceland's famous highway 1 (simply known as the ring road) via Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, to the town of Hof.
After 1.5 hours you reach Djúpivogur. This small town sitting along the fjord makes for a great break. Take a short walk (less than 1 mile out and back) along the shore to the lighthouse on the rocks, where you will also have great views of the entire fjords. If you are up for coffee and a mid-morning snack you may want to try homemade cakes from Langabúð.
From Djúpivogur the road continues for another 1.5 hours, winding along the coastline, to Höfn. Pakkus restaurant opens at noon and is well-known for its langoustines and lobster. While here, you can learn more about Vatnajökull National park at the visitor center and on a clear day will have great views of the glacier.
From Höfn it's another hour to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, the highlight of this day.
Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon is nestled in between the coast and Vatnajökull National park. Keep your ears open to listen for cracks in the icebergs as they float in the blue waters. You have an option to join a boat tour in the lagoon where you will go close to the icebergs, or stay on the land (climb the hill at the parking lot for great views). Head to the beach downstream of the river where you'll see icebergs as they float out to sea and get beached on the black sand. This area makes for some very cool pictures.
Finally, continue your drive to nearby Hof where you will spend the night. While in Hof, check out the “turf church”, which was built in 1883 and belongs to the National Museum of Iceland.
Driving: 4 hr (300 km / 185 mi)
Day 3: Quaint Vik, Skogafoss Waterfall, Stay in Hvollsvollur
Start your morning with a short 20-minute drive to Skaftafell and hit the many trails. One of the most popular is the trail to Svartifoss waterfall, where water falls between huge basalt columns. The views back toward the ocean are great for the entire hike.
The next 1.5 hour stretch to Vik doesn't have many noteworthy stops, and this stretch is probably the least interesting part of this trip as the terrain is fairly flat and you are quite far from the coast until you arrive at Vik.
Vik is the southernmost village in Iceland, with nearby beaches and glaciers. If you have time check out the Reynisdrangar basalt columns at nearby Reynisfjara Beach as well as the famous rock arch in the cliffs at Dyrholaey (hike the trail to the higher parking lot for the best view of the arch and the surrounding area). You can also paraglide in Vik, but you need to plan half a day for it. The town has some good coffee shops and restaurants, including Halldorskaffi (a lively cafe) and Suður-Vík Restaurant (a bit more up-market - great fish dishes).
Then drive 30 minutes further west along the Ring Road to Skogafoss waterfall. You can hike to the top by following a steep trail on the right of the waterfall. If you want to stretch your legs a bit (or a lot) more, hike along the Fimmvörðuháls trail past 26 waterfalls at “Waterfall Way”, and see 2 of the youngest mountains in the world, created by the Eyjafjallajökull eruption in 2010. You can return the same trail back when you run out of time.
The next stretch of the ring road takes you past Eyjafjallajökull volcano, whose eruption in 2010 disrupted global air traffic. Thirty minutes from Skogafoss, at the entrance to Thorsmork Valley, is another famous waterfall called Seljalandsfoss. You can follow the path behind the waterfall (take a raincoat, it can get wet). Spend the night near Hvollsvollur to get an early start for the Golden Circle the next day to beat the crowds.
Driving: 2:45 hr (240 km / 150 mi)
Day 4: Golden Circle: Gullfoss, Geysir, Thingvellir; Optional Northern Lights Hunt, Stay in Reykjavik
Beat the larger tour groups with an early start to the Golden Circle route, with stops at Gullfoss falls, Geysir, and Thingvellir National Park where you can hike through the spectacular landscape. Spend the evening in Reykjavik and optionally join a Northern Lights Hunt or get a taste for Reykjavik nightlife.
Driving: 2:45 hr (200 km / 125 mi)
Day 5: Relax in Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon, Depart
On your final day take some time to walk through downtown Reykjavik at a more relaxed pace. With some extra time, explore more sights along the Reykjanes peninsula. If you didn’t stop at the Blue Lagoon on your way in, take a soak before you head back to the airport and board your flight.
This itinerary packs a lot into 5 days, If you have some more time or want to change anything out, let us know and we can customize it to fit your preferences.