This 5-day itinerary lets you experience the main highlights of Iceland: Iceland’s capital Reykjavik, the scenic South Shore, the famous Golden Circle, the popular Blue Lagoon, many other glaciers, waterfalls, natural formations, and if you’re lucky the elusive Northern Lights.

Day 1: Arrive in Iceland

View over Reykjavik
View over Reykjavik towards the mountains

Fly into Keflavík International Airport and transfer to downtown Reykjavík (approximately 45 minutes). Most travelers choose the flybus (a coach that drops you off at your hotel), or rental car. Private transfers are also available, but Uber is not available as of September 2016.

Check into your hotel and explore the downtown area or rest away any jetlag. In case you arrive in the early morning (which is typical for flights from the United States), downtown Reykjavik has some great coffee shops. Sandholt (located smack in the middle of downtown on Laugagevur 36) opens at 6.30am.  

Day 2: Reykjavik by day Northern lights hunt by night

Northern Lights
Northern Lights Hunt

During the morning and day, you can join a planned city walk, enjoy some of the many great restaurants Reykjavik has to offer (do not miss the famous hot dog stand), see the sights, shop, or just relax. If you want to “relax like a local”, find one of the many geothermal swimming pools in Reykjavik.

In the evening go for a Northern Lights hunt! The Northern Lights tour in Iceland takes you to see a spectacular natural phenomenon which happens during the winter months (September to April). The Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis, are caused by the interaction of particles from the sun with the upper atmosphere near the North Pole.

There are several ways to do Northern Lights Hunts, ranging from coach tours to private jeeps. We can help you make the right choice for you based on your preferences and budget. Before you go, be sure to read these tips for viewing and photographing the northern lights.

Note: the locations visited during the Northern Lights tour vary from day to day depending on weather conditions. Because this tour is weather dependent, sightings are not guaranteed.

Day 3: The South Shore

Skógafoss waterfall
View of Skógafoss from the start of the Fimmvörðuháls trail

Take your rental car and drive the scenic South Shore at your own pace. The drive along the south coast of Iceland is one of the country’s most scenic regions. You will drive as far as Vík, a charming small village. Along the way you can stop at the gorgeous Seljalandsfoss waterfall (60m/196ft), which you can walk behind and through to the other side. You can also stop at the majestic and much­-photographed Skógafoss waterfall, with its 60m/196 ft drop. The hiking trail to the right of the waterfall offers spectacular views and forms the start of the famous fimmvörðuháls hike. Other highlights include the stunning Mýrdalsjökull glacier, the black sand coastline, and the impressive Reynisdrangar rock formations near Vík.

Day 4: The Golden Circle

Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park, along the Golden Circle Route

Today you will drive back along the shore and explore the famous Golden Circle route, staying the night near Gullfoss Waterfall. The Golden Circle allows you to visit some of Iceland’s most stunning sights, starting with the Geysir geothermal area where the Strokkur geyser shoots a column of water up to 30m (98 ft.) into the air every 4­8 minutes in a thrilling display of nature’s forces. The visit continues with Gullfoss waterfall (Golden Falls), created by the river Hvítá, which tumbles and plunges into a crevice some 32m/105 ft deep.

The Golden Circle also includes Thingvellir National Park, an historical and geological wonder where the American and Eurasian tectonic plates are pulling apart at a rate of a few centimeters per year. You will also find many cafés along with a farm that makes and sells its own ice cream.

Day 5: The Reykjanes Peninsula, The Blue Lagoon, and departure

Gunnuhver Geothermal Area
Viewing platform in the Gunnuhver geothermal area

Today you'll check out from your hotel and drive to the Blue Lagoon. Soak and relax with an option for an in-water massage while you re-live the past 4 days. The Blue Lagoon is recognized as one of National Geographic’s 25 “wonders of the world” and is a unique source of geothermal seawater. The Blue Lagoon temperature stays the same all year, around 37°­-40°C (98°­-104°F).

We recommend you drive the Krisuvik way to explore more sights on the way to the Blue Lagoon and to the Airport. You can visit the Gunnuhver geothermal area, Seltun Geothermal area, Krisuvikurvatn lake, and the Bridge between Continents where North ­America and European tectonic plates meet are along the way.

Afterward, head to the airport to board your flight back home after some wonderful days in Iceland and memories you’ll never forget. Goodbye for now!

Thanks to local Iceland expert Bjorn Gudmundsson for providing this itinerary.  

Recent Trip Reviews

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Iceland last minute trip , Iceland - Nov 9 - Nov 13, 2017

Traveler: Nazy F. - Local specialist: Preeti Bhide

Had an incredible incredible time on our self-driving trip around Iceland and everything was planned so perfectly with just the right amount of time. The trip was perfectly tailored to our needs and the couldn't have been more seamless.

Emanuela was so nice/knowledgeable and happy to answer any and all questions I had.

Tom's 5-day trip to iceland, Iceland - Sep 15 - Sep 19, 2016

Traveler: T H. - Local specialist: Bjorn Gudmundsson

We thoroughly enjoyed the trip and appreciated the recommendations for restaurants and hotels. We don't usually use a travel agent, but for Iceland it was hard to know what to fit in for a quick 5 day trip, and Bjorn was great. Very easy to work with and responsive to our requests. He not only arranged airport transfers, he also set up a ride to the rental car, made sure we had a gps loaded with key spots, and gave us a phone to use with his contact info as well as all the other information we needed.