Make the most of your limited time by driving one way from Egilsstaðir to Vík to Reykjavík—without retracing your steps. On this six-day road trip, take in the dramatic landscapes of the Eastern Fjords, from Seyðisfjörður to Vatnajökull National Park, and enjoy more time seeing new places along the South Coast (Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Skógafoss, and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls) and Golden Circle (Gullfoss, Geysir, and Þingvellir National Park), rather than doubling back. You can embark on this route in either direction, but a domestic flight to Egilsstaðir at the beginning of your trip is more efficient, without large crowds, to explore remote areas on your own terms.

Highlights

  • Visit the eastern fjords in Seyðisfjörður and Vatnajökull National Park
  • Explore Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls and black-sand Reynisfjara Beach
  • Discover South Coast glaciers, including Jökulsárlón, Fjallsárlónsk, and Skaftafell
  • Tour Gullfoss, Geysir, and Þingvellir National Park in the Golden Circle

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrival & Domestic Flight to Egilsstaðir Seydisfjordur
Day 2 Scenic Eastern Fjords - Egilsstaðir to Höfn Höfn
Day 3 Jökulsárlón, South Coast & Vík Vik
Day 4 South Coast Waterfalls, Beaches, & Golden Circle Golden Circle
Day 5 Golden Circle & Back to Reykjavik Reykjavik
Day 6 Morning in Reykjavík & Departure  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavík and domestic flight to Egilsstaðir

Few tourists make it to the East Coast
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: Tour the 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: Explore Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón, 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: Visit South Coast waterfalls, black-sand beaches, and travel to the Golden Circle

Lush waterfalls are on this day's agenda 
The view from above Skógafoss waterfall 

Spend today enjoying more of the popular highlights of the south. The South Shore, between Vík and Selfoss, is full of many popular sights and destinations and is quickly becoming one of the most popular areas of Iceland to explore. Leave the crowds behind by hiking further on the trails away from the parking lots. There is a lot to see. If you are in a rush, prioritize your time at the following:

  • Reynisfjara Beach
  • Skógafoss waterfall (and the Fimmvörðuháls Trail a short way up the canyon)
  • Seljalandsfoss waterfall


While in Vík, toward the water, you will find a black-sand beach with high cliffs on the right side, often boasting soaring and nesting birds. Near Vík, along Route 1, look for the turnoff to Reynisfjara Beach, past a pretty church, as you drive toward the water. This black-rock beach (not as fine-grain as the one in Vík) is most famous for the Reynisdrangar Columns—huge, hexagonal basalt columns rising up out of the sand. Walk 1-2 minutes around the cliffs to the left, as you face the ocean, to find a couple of large caves, as well.  

Then, make your way to the Dyrhólaey arch and cliffs. At Dyrhólaey, there are two parking lots where you can see the famous arch. (The one high on the hill offers the better view.) Take the bumpy, dirt road to your right as you enter. From the top, spot a lighthouse and great views looking further west, along a black-sand beach that reaches as far as you can see. Look for birds flying around; they nest along the cliffside.

Next, along Route 1, locate the powerful Skógafoss waterfall. Skógafoss marks the beginning of the 16-mile Fimmvörðuháls Trail, which ends in Thórsmörk. Admire the waterfall from the bottom, just a 2-minute walk from the parking lot, or if you are up for it, find the stairs to the right and climb up for a different perspective. At the top, walk along the canyon for a bit to see more waterfalls along “Waterfall Way” before turning around.
Note: Depending on snow conditions, this may not be possible.

Your next stop is Seljalandsfoss waterfall, with access from behind just a few minutes from the parking lot. Note that the ground is uneven in a few places, and there are stairs on one side. Standing in a cave under the cliff, witness the water come roaring down 20-30 feet in front of you. Pay attention to the direction of the wind or wear a rain jacket (or both). When viewed from behind, spot two, smaller waterfalls to the right, as well. One is called Gljúfrabúi, which is hidden in a small cave that you can enter. Wear a rain jacket for this one. 

As you leave the South Coast and head toward the Golden Circle Route, consider an evening stop at the Secret Lagoon (Gamla Laugi) in Flúðir, where warm geothermal water flows from the rocks. It’s a great place to end a long day exploring the southern coast.

Only a short detour from Route 1 is Kerið Crater. Hike around the top and enjoy views of its blue lake at the bottom.

Following the full day of active touring, spend the night along the Golden Circle Route. Some restaurants to consider include the following:

  • Friðheimar Farm: Located in Reykholt, this restaurant is only open until 4 pm, and reservations are required; eat in a geothermal greenhouse surrounded by tomatoes
  • Restaurant Mika: This eatery is also in Reykholt
  • Skjol Café: Enjoy a bite near Gullfoss waterfall

Day 5: Discover the Golden Circle highlights and drive to Reykjavík

Strokkur geyser
Strokkur geyser 

Start early to visit Gullfoss and Geysir—before the crowds and buses arrive—and enjoy these magnificent places all to yourself.

At Gullfoss (“Golden Falls”) you can walk along a few different paths to see the tremendous falls from different angles and perspectives. Spend some time here admiring the incredible amount of water that flows over the edge every second.

Next, continue to the Geysir geothermal area, where the Strokkur geyser shoots into the sky, like clockwork, every 5-10 minutes. In between eruptions, walk around the hot pools and steam vents, or climb the small hill above for a great view.

End your tour of the Golden Circle Route at Þingvellir National Park, where the tectonic plates meet. Visit historical Law Rock, where chieftains from all over the country met once a year to discuss laws and issues, some traveling up to 17 days each way on foot or horseback. Þingvellir is also home to the Silfra Fissure, where you can join a snorkel or scuba tour, and dive between tectonic plates in crystal-clear water.

If you didn’t have a chance yesterday, close out the day at Secret Lagoon in Flúðir. Enjoy a relaxing soak in the geothermal waters and a possible glimpse of the Northern Lights (from September-April, depending on the weather).

Then, continue driving to Reykjavík to spend the night. For dinner recommendations, consider the below:

  • Messinn
  • Sea Barron
  • Kol Restaurant
  • The Coocoo's Nest
  • 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 6: Spend the morning in Reykjavik and departure

Get up early and check out these walkable streets
A view of Reykjavik from the church tower

Wake up and enjoy a nice breakfast on your last day in Iceland. Restaurant recommendations include the below:

  • Bergsson Mathús (opens at 7 am)
  • Sandholt (also opens at 7 am)
  • Reykjavík Roasters (for great coffee)
  • Brauð & Co. (if you like bread and pastries)

Walk through Reykjavík‘s compact downtown area, and along the water, past the Sun Voyager Sculpture, and to the Harpa Cultural Center, with its unique, glass architecture. Visit Hallgrímskirkja church on the hill, and take the elevator to the tower for a great view of the city below and panoramic views of the area.

Stroll around Reykjavík Harbour or join a whale-watching tour. Spend some time learning about Iceland’s history at the Settlement Exhibition or the National Museum of Iceland. Snack on a world-famous hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, or hop between cafés.

Then, make the 40-minute drive to KEF to catch your flight home. Arriving 2-2.5 hours before the flight is recommended.

Map

Map of Iceland: East Fjords, South Coast, & Golden Circle - 6 Days
Map of Iceland: East Fjords, South Coast, & Golden Circle - 6 Days