- Hike volcanic beaches, sea cliffs, and lava fields in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- Picnic at a waterfall, visit a nature reserve, and eat fresh seafood in Ísafjörður
- Discover vast and tranquil fjords as you drive through western Iceland
- Enjoy the geothermal hot springs and country hiking trails in the Westfjords
- Go sightseeing and enjoy the world-class dining and nightlife scene in Reykjavík
|Day 1||Arrive in Iceland, Drive to Borgarnes & Snæfellsnes||Snæfellsnes Peninsula|
|Day 2||Snæfellsnes Peninsula Beaches & Villages||Snæfellsnes Peninsula|
|Day 3||Lava Fields & Ferry to the Westfjords||Patreksfjörður|
|Day 4||Hike the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs & Visit Rauðasandur Beach||Patreksfjörður|
|Day 5||Picnic at Dynjandi Waterfall, Drive to Ísafjörður||Ísafjörður|
|Day 6||Day Trip to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve||Ísafjörður|
|Day 7||Drive to the Eastern Westfjords & Hólmavík||Holmavik|
|Day 8||Day Trip to Djúpavík & Eastern Westfjords||Holmavik|
|Day 9||Drive to Reykjavík, Optional Activities||Reykjavík|
|Day 10||Visit the Reykjanes Peninsula, Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in Iceland, Drive to Borgarnes & Snæfellsnes
Welcome to Iceland! Located at the edge of the Arctic Circle, this volcanic island is famous for immense natural wonders that range from waterfalls and sea cliffs to black-sand beaches and geothermal hot springs. Steeped in Viking heritage, Iceland today is a progressive European country, committed to renewable energy and protecting the natural beauty that draws visitors from around the world.
Your grand adventure begins immediately with your arrival at Keflavík International Airport. There, you'll pick up your rental car and drive north past the capital of Reykjavík on Ring Road (Route 1) to the colorful town of Borgarnes, located on the Borgarfjörður fjord. On the way, you can choose to make a detour to hike around Glymur Falls, Iceland's second-tallest waterfall at 650 feet (198 m). Once in Borgarnes, you can visit the Settlement Center on a tour. Located in two of the town's most historic buildings, the center recounts Icelandic history and recreates fascinating folklore.
Afterward, continue driving north to Snæfellsnes. This 56-mile (90 km) long peninsula is often referred to as "Iceland in miniature" as it contains many of the wonders the country is known for, like rugged sea cliffs, dramatic rock formations, and otherworldly waterfalls. Before ending the day at your hotel near the town of Hellnar, you can explore some highlights of Snæfellsnes. The Berserkjahraun and Budahraun lava fields are worth visiting, as are the Gerðuberg Cliffs. This area is famous for its row of basalt columns that stand up to 46 feet (14 m) tall and run along a sea cliff for over half a mile.
Day 2: Snæfellsnes Peninsula Beaches & Villages
You'll have the entire day to visit more highlights on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. First, drive to the southwest and Lóndrangar. The unique lava rock formations and coastal sea cliffs here are actually the remains of a volcanic crater that the sea has shaped over time. Its most famous landmarks are two incredible rock pillars, which rise as high as 246 feet (75 m). The peninsula's visitor center is farther up the road, where you can learn more about this area's volcanic system.
A short drive up the coast is Djupalonsandur. This beach is also dotted with towering rock formations, but its volcanic black sands are the real star. It claims an interesting history in the form of a shipwreck from 1948, and back in the Middle Ages, the area was a prominent fishing village. Left on the beach from that era are four stones of various sizes that sea captains used to test the strength of potential sailors.
You can spend the night in the town of Grundarfjörður, which is located near Kirkjufellsfoss, an iconic three-tiered waterfall. Or continue driving to the larger town of Stykkishólmur. On the way, stop at the Shark Museum and taste hákarl (fermented shark), an Icelandic staple. Or, for something less adventurous, enjoy dinner at one of the town's cozy restaurants.
Day 3: Lava Fields & Ferry to the Westfjords
Start the morning with a drive into the 4,000-year-old Berserkjahraun lava fields. After a brief hike around these otherworldly landscapes, you'll continue to the village of Stykkishólmur. Located in the northern region of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, this charming town feels like you've stepped back in time, with its old wooden houses and quiet streets. While here, you can visit the Volcano Museum, hike up to the nearby lighthouse, or take a relaxing dip in the town's geothermal swimming pool.
Later, load your car onto the ferry that runs from Stykkishólmur up to the Westfjords, a region located in the far northwest of Iceland. The ride takes approximately three hours, and during the trip, you'll enjoy breathtaking views of Breiðafjörður bay. Keep an eye out for playful seals and various exotic birds like elder ducks, arctic terns, and puffins. Disembark at the docks in Brjánslækur and continue to the town of Patreksfjörður, where you'll overnight.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Hike the Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs & Visit Rauðasandur Beach
In the morning, drive to the southwest tip of the Westfjords. There, you'll hike along the soaring cliffs of Látrabjarg. It's a five to six-hour trek of moderate difficulty, and there's a lot of scenery to enjoy. Besides great ocean views, this part of Iceland is significant because it marks Europe's westernmost point. These cliffs are also the habitat for millions of seabirds like puffins, razorbills, fulmars, and guillemots. You'll see them as your guide leads you along the cliff's edge.
Afterward, continue driving along the coast to Rauðasandur. This beach is unusual because its sands are red and golden rather than volcanic and black. The vivid hues derive from pulverized scallop shells, creating a stunning contrast between the mountain cliffs and the ocean. As you continue traveling around the Westfjords coast, you'll spot other interesting landmarks, like the Garðar BA 64 shipwreck, which is Iceland's oldest steel ship. At the end of the day, you'll return to your hotel in Patreksfjörður.
Day 5: Picnic at Dynjandi Waterfall, Drive to Ísafjörður
Enjoy a hearty Icelandic breakfast, then say goodbye to Látrabjarg and drive northeast for about two hours to the Dynjandi waterfall. The route passes some fine scenery, and you'll ascend a ridge offering panoramic views. Then drive down to the fjord where the falls are located. You can't miss them, as these cascades plunge 330 feet (100 m) down a rocky mountain and are up to 197 feet (60 m) wide at the bottom. Below this are a few smaller waterfalls in an area that's a nice spot for a picnic lunch.
After enjoying the scenery, continue north to the historic fishing village of Ísafjörður, where you'll overnight. Once you've checked into your hotel, you can explore on your own. Perhaps stroll around Ísafjörður's well-preserved town center, then visit the Maritime Museum to learn about the seafaring history. If you like, it's a short drive up the coast to the village of Bolungarvík, where you'll find Bolafjell, a coastal mountain offering great views over the fjords.
Day 6: Day Trip to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
This morning, embark on a full-day group hike to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. This 227-square-mile (589 sq km) area of unspoiled coastal wilderness is home to the arctic fox (Iceland's only native mammal), set against a backdrop of soaring peaks as jagged as broken glass. Hornstrandir is one of the most remarkable places in the country and remains so in part due to its inaccessibility. The area is only reachable in the summer months, and to take part in this hike, you need to plan ahead, as they don't leave every day. At the end of the afternoon, return to Ísafjörður in time to enjoy a fresh seafood dinner.
Day 7: Drive to the Eastern Westfjords & Hólmavík
Say goodbye to Ísafjörður this morning and continue road-tripping up to the eastern end of the Westfjords and the town of Hólmavík. The three-hour drive takes you along scenic fjord landscapes, and there are a few great places to stop along the way and stretch your legs. Just outside Ísafjörður, for example, is the town of Súðavík, home to the Arctic Fox Center. This research center features exhibits on the history of the arctic fox and even rehabilitates orphaned foxes.
From the center, head south to Valagil waterfall. Formed from layers of ancient lava, the surrounding ravine is said to be named after the falcons that once nested there. It's an easy 1.25-mile (2 km) hike from the parking area through the valley and to the falls. Continue east and perhaps stop in at the nearby Saltverk Salt Factory and learn about traditional salt processing.
Eventually, you'll arrive in the town of Hólmavík, where you'll overnight. Once you've checked into your hotel, you can enjoy this town's highlights. Fans of the occult will love the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. It recounts the history of the craft and its place in Icelandic folklore, as well as the witch craze that swept Iceland in the 17th century.
Day 8: Day Trip to Djúpavík & Eastern Westfjords
After breakfast, you'll leave on a day trip to Djúpavík. It's a short drive north to reach this old fishing town, and once there, you can tour landmarks like its early 20th-century Old Herring Factory. Another great option nearby is Krossneslaug, one of the most popular hot springs in the Westfjords. Later, you can stop at the Munaðarnesm farm, which looks out over the fjords and the Drangaskörð rocky peaks on the horizon. Then maybe go for a hike along Reykjaneshyrna, a mountain on the fjord whose trails also offer incredible views. At the end of the day, you'll return to Hólmavík.
Day 9: Drive to Reykjavík, Optional Activities
You've visited some of the most remote parts of Iceland, now it's time to experience its dynamic urban center. In the morning, you'll start the drive south toward the capital of Reykjavík. It's about a three-hour drive, but there will be opportunities for stops along the way. Don't miss Hraunfossar (Lava Falls) and Barnafoss (Children's Waterfall), regarded as some of the most spectacular waterfalls in Iceland.
Once in Reykjavík, you'll check into your hotel. Then you can head out on foot to see why this dynamic capital is so popular. Its colorful downtown is filled with fine museums and galleries, like the Northern Lights Center and Maritime Museum. Head to the waterfront to snap photos of the impressive Sun Voyager dreamboat sculpture and perhaps tour the Harpa Concert Hall. While there, you can join a whale watching tour from Reykjavík Harbour or visit Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland's tallest church, which sits on a hill overlooking downtown.
Day 10: Visit the Reykjanes Peninsula, Depart
The fun isn't over yet. In the morning, you'll drive from Reykjavík to the Reykjanes Peninsula, near the airport, for a self-guided tour until it's time for your flight. Highlights include lava fields, fishing villages, and the UNESCO World Heritage Reykjanes Geopark. This hotbed of geological activity is the only place on Earth where the Mid-Atlantic Ridge is visible above sea level.
The most famous destination on this peninsula is the Blue Lagoon. If there's time, stop for a soak in its milky blue waters, which hover around a luxurious 98-104°F (37-40°C). The experience is heightened by the sheer blanket of steam and mist perpetually hovering above the water. Speaking of that water, its rich mineral content, algae, and silica offer many health benefits. It's even a proven treatment for psoriasis.
Other locales you may want to visit include Reykjanesviti, the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, built in 1878. Nearby is a footbridge over a fissure separating the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. A walk across it means you're taking a stroll between two continents. Afterward, drive to the airport, where you'll drop off your rental car and catch your flight home. Safe travels!