With just a few days to explore Iceland, make the most of your time by driving one way from Egilsstaðir to Vik to Reykjavik—without retracing your steps. Relish the chance to see the dramatic landscapes of the Eastern Fjords and more time in new places (rather than doubling back). While you can embark on this route in either direction, taking a domestic flight to Egilsstaðir at the beginning of the trip is recommended, so you can leave the larger crowds behind and explore remote areas on your own terms.

Highlights

  • Hike to waterfalls, explore sculptures, and visit a troll church in Seyðisfjörður
  • Take in the sights at national parks and nature reserves in the East Fjords
  • Visit several glaciers, including Skaftafell and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
  • Explore Reykjavik's funky art scene and enjoy the local dining and nightlife

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival & Domestic Flight to Egilsstaðir Seydisfjordur
Day 2 Scenic Eastern Fjords - Egilsstaðir to Höfn Hofn
Day 3 Discover the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, South Coast, & Vík Vik
Day 4 Tour the South Coast & Explore Reykjavík Reykjavik
Day 5 Morning in Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon Soak, & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive and take a domestic flight to Egilsstaðir

Seyðisfjörður
Seyðisfjörður

Arrive at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) and catch a flybus transfer to the domestic airport for your flight to Egilsstaðir, in the east fjords. If you have more time before your flight, feel free to stroll around Reykjavík—though there will be more time to tour the town later in the trip.

Pick up your rental car when you land in Egilsstaðir and drive over the pass to Seyðisfjörður. After a 30-minute drive over the mountain pass, you’re welcomed with amazing views of the fjord below. Once in Seyðisfjörður, you can hike several trails to waterfalls (two are fairly steep, but only take 5-10 minutes, each), walk inside cool sound sculptures, visit a troll church, and explore the artwork and sculptures around the city. If you arrive later in the day, you can also embark on these hikes tomorrow.

If you're looking for a longer hike, head to the northern side of the fjord and find the parking lot just before the Langahlid Cottages accommodation. Park the car, then start hiking along the trail (which starts as a very rough dirt road). Arrive at the first waterfall in about 10-15 minutes, with several more to spot every 10-15 minutes after that. Hike for as long as you like, and the view back down toward the fjord will keep getting better. If you continue for a full 3 hours or so, you will arrive at a lake at the top (Vestdalsvatn).

Enjoy your first night in Seyðisfjörður and consider the below restaurant recommendations:

  • Kaffi Lára El Grillo Bar (lunch, dinner, and drinks)
  • Nordic Restaurant (breakfast, lunch, and dinner)

Day 2: Scenic Eastern Fjords - Egilsstaðir to Höfn

Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park

As you drive south from Egilsstaðir, you have the option to take Route 1 to Breiðdalsvík or Route 92 to Route 96. While Route 1 is about 40 minutes shorter, the latter, more scenic route—along several picturesque fjords—is recommended.

Take a short break to stretch your legs in the harbor town of Breiðdalsvík, just 1 minute off Ring Road. While here, stop at Kaupfjelagið, where you will find all sorts of small knick-knacks and treats: fresh-baked bread, local, salted fish, wool clothing, mittens, and hats. Or, you can pick up a quick meal during your drive.

This small town of Djúpivogur, sitting along the fjord, makes for a great overnight. Take a short walk (less than 1 mile out and back) along the shore to the lighthouse on the rocks for great views of the fjords. For coffee or a snack, try homemade cakes from Langabúð. For lunch or dinner, Hótel Framtíð has great fish dishes.

From Djúpivogur, the road continues for another 1.5 hours, winding along the coastline, to Höfn. On the way, take a short walking break along the black-rock beach at the Hvalnes Nature Reserve, where you can see lots of birdlife. Try to spot swans—which flock by the hundreds—in the calm waters located below the jagged cliffs.

In Höfn, the Pakkhús restaurant opens at noon, and is well-known for its langoustine and lobster. While here, stop by the visitor center for Vatnajökull National Park, where you can learn more about the national park, the town’s history, and watch a couple of short films (less than 30 minutes to see it all).

On the southern side of town, find a hill that offers fantastic views of the Vatnajökull Glacier in the distance, across the water. This glacier is Iceland’s largest, covering 14 percent of the country.

Relax and enjoy your night in Höfn on your own.

Day 3: Discover the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, South Coast, and Vík

Diamond Beach at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Diamond Beach at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Today, explore the South Coast and discover Iceland's glaciers.

First, stop by Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, where the rock formations look like they’re from another world. There is a trail less than 1 mile from the parking lot, along the ridge of the canyon, that is home to some amazing viewpoints—where the river curves around these strange rock cliffs. Admire the views along the way, and venture as far as you like.

Then. visit Skaftafell, where you could spend many days hiking the trails all around. If short on time, the most popular hike leads to Svartifoss, a thin waterfall surrounded by columns of basalt. The 3-mile hike offers great views alongside the river and toward the ocean in the distance. For further exploration, feel free to join an ice cave tour, a glacier walk, or embark on an ice climbing excursion.

A quick trip off the main road will bring you into Hof, where you can check out Hofskirkja, the Hof turf church. The practice of covering the roof with turf dates back to medieval times throughout Europe to protect from the harsh weather.

Just a few minutes before Jökulsárlón Glacier, you will find another glacier lagoon about 10 minutes from the parking lot—Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Here, you are much closer to the glacier than at Jökulsárlón, and you’ll have better views of all the cracks and crevices.

Next, visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, with the chance to witness one of the most unique sights in Iceland: icebergs floating out to sea, and beached on the black sand. Climb the hill for a better view of the entire area.

Follow the river under the bridge to the ocean, and find many smaller icebergs along the black, sandy shores of "Diamond Beach," where the waves crash, creating a memorable sight. You may be fortunate to see seals, porpoises, or small whales that sometimes hang out in the lagoon or near the shore.

Between Kirkjubæjarklaustur and Vík, locate the lava ridge, Laufskálavarða, with hundreds of small piles of rocks, also referred to as fortune stones. These piles of rocks were originally intended to bring good luck to travelers crossing the Mýrdalssandur desert. Get out of your car here to walk around and explore the piles before continuing on to Vík.

Next, reach Vík. While the town itself is fairly small, its proximity to several great sights more than makes up for it. You can even explore the area in the evening, after the large crowds dissipate, or before the crowds arrive the next day.

If you arrive in Vík early today, you can take it easy or explore some of the nearby black-sand beaches and basalt cliffs, or save those discoveries for tomorrow.

Restaurant recommendations in Vík include the below:

  • Gamla Fjósið/Old Cowhouse
  • Hotel Ranga Restaurant
  • Friðheimar
  • Svarta Fjaran/Black Beach Restaurant

Day 4: Tour the South Coast and explore Reykjavík

Raufarhólshellir
Raufarhólshellir

Today, drive back along the southern coast toward Reykjavík to spend your last evening with a delicious meal and a taste of the nightlife. Consider the below destinations on the South Coast along the way:

  • Reykjadalur hot spring river (just after Selfoss): Reykjadalur (“Smoky Valley") is home to an active, geothermal area and hot springs. Hike from the trailhead north to Reykjadalur for less than an hour before you arrive at a hot river coursing through the valley. The water temperature can vary by location, so find a spot that's right for you.
  • Seljavallalaug pool: A short distance after Skógafoss, make a detour to Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest swimming pools in the country, built in 1923. Look for the small sign to Seljavellir. A short, scenic hike will take you to the relaxing pool.
  • Urriðafoss: As you reach the end of your South Coast drive, consider one last waterfall sighting. While Urriðafoss may not be considered as stunning as Skógafoss or Seljalandsfoss, it makes up for it in other ways. Urriðafoss is the largest-volume waterfall in Iceland, both very wide and very loud. It’s only a short trip from the Ring Road and a great finale to exploring the south.
  • Kerið Crater: Just a quick detour from Route 1 on your way back to Reykjavík, hike around the top of Kerið Crater and enjoy views of its blue lake at the bottom.
  • Raufarhólshellir lava tunnel: Explore Raufarhólshellir, Iceland’s most famous and longest lava tunnel, with a tour. There is a 1-hour option, as well as a more adventurous, 3-4-hour expedition to the bottom of the cave.
  • Hellisheiðarvirkjun: Hellisheiði Power Plant is the newest and largest of Iceland’s six power plants. Obtain tickets to the Geothermal Energy Exhibition upon arrival. Tours start at about 30 minutes long.
  • Mýrdalsjökull Glacier: For a memorable adventure, gain access to Mýrdalsjökull via the Sólheimajökull outlet, the most popular place in the country for ice-climbing and glacier hiking.

Following the last of your nature tours, take some time to explore Reykjavik. Walk through compact downtown to check out the unique street art scene. Head to the water for the Sun Voyager Sculpture and the Harpa Concert Hall, with its unique, glass architecture. Visit Hallgrímskirkja, a church on the hill, and take the elevator to the top of the tower for a great view of the city below and panoramic views of the area.

For delicious lunch and dinner recommendations, consider the below:

  • Messinn
  • Sea Barron
  • Kol Restaurant
  • The Coocoo's Nest
  • Kaffivagninn (lunch only)
  • Café Loki

If you are interested in checking out Reykjavík’s nightlife scene, visit the following bars:

  • Craft Cocktails
  • Mikkeller & Friends
  • Skúli Craft Bar
  • KEX Hostel Bar (live music on weekends)

Day 5: Morning in Reykjavik, Blue Lagoon soak, and departure

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

Spend your last day exploring more of Reykjavík. If the need arises to escape inclement weather, consider visiting a few museums in town, such as the Northern Lights CenterSaga MuseumMarine Museum, or Whales of Iceland Exhibition

Next, make a stop by the Blue Lagoon on your drive to the airport, where you can enjoy a geothermal soak before you fly home.

Map

Map of East Fjords, South Coast, & Reykjavik - 5 Days
Map of East Fjords, South Coast, & Reykjavik - 5 Days