Overview map of highlights
With this itinerary, you will see all the top places: the Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, Thorsmork, Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir. Some of these attractions tend to get quite crowded, but with the right planning you can avoid the busiest times and enjoy these sights without the huge crowds. You will also see more remote areas like small fishing villages, volcanoes and historical eruption sights, mountain passes and scenic valleys.
Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavik, soak in the Blue Lagoon, and visit a small fishing village
Arrive early in the morning, around 7am (adjust based on your flight schedule). Explore sights in the Reykjanes peninsula, including the Blue Lagoon. Then drive down to Þorlákshöfn, a small fishing village, for brunch in a small cafeteria, Hendur í höfn. If you aren’t too jetlagged, try an introduction to horseback riding. Otherwise, you can continue towards Hvolsvollur in the south to rest at your accommodation.
Day 2: Explore the beautiful and volcanic Hekla Region with a scenic drive
Jump in a super jeep and explore the Hekla Region, known for its beautiful lunar landscape and interesting volcanoes. It’s a bit of a drive but filled with amazing sights all around. The super jeeps are specially adapted 4x4 cars that can reach the remote areas of the highlands, made for your comfort. Optionally explore Fjallabak with Fatbike, as well. Stay in the same accommodation near Hvolsvollur.
Day 3: Hike around Thorsmork and visit the sights of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption
Ride in a super jeep into the beautiful mountain reserve of Thorsmork. The exciting drive crosses several streams before ending in the hiking region of Thorsmork. Pick a hike from 3-5 hours and explore the surroundings. Later, visit the sights of the Eyjafjallajokull eruption, which grounded all flights in 2010 due to the large ash cloud. Stay in the same accommodation near Hvolsvollur.
Day 4: Drive along the south coast past waterfalls and a black sand beach to Kirkjubæjarklaustur
Drive from Hvolsvollur to Kirkjubæjarklaustur in the southeast of the island. Along the way stop at several waterfalls and a black sand beach. You can pick up a snowmobile and ice walk/climb as well. Change accommodation to the Kirkjubæjarklaustur area.
Day 5: Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, hiking in Skaftafell and Vatnajökull National Park
Start with an optional quad biking trip in the morning, followed by a drive to the famous Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon next to the coast. Later head over to the beautiful Skaftafell mountain area for a 3-hour loop hike in Vatnajökull National Park. If you prefer mountain biking to hiking, instead join an afternoon mountain bike tour called “Bikes and Caves”. Stay in the same accommodation in Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
Day 6: Exciting drive over Fjallabak-nyðra mountain pass, hike in Landmannalauga and soak in a geothermal river
This long day starts with a drive over the Fjallabak-nyðra mountain pass through the Landmannalaugar area, located in the center of the southern highlands. You will see beautiful waterfalls and the eruption sights of volcanoes Eldgjá and Laki, some of the most dramatic in Icelandic history. Enjoy a hike in Landmannalaugar, known as “the color pearl of Iceland”, and bathe in a natural geothermal river. Change accommodation to the Hvolsvollur region.
Day 7: Tour the famous Golden Circle, Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, and Lava Tube Caving
Explore the popular sights of the Golden Circle route. While more touristy than other parts of this itinerary, the sights as well worth it. Stop at the Gullfoss waterfall, the Geysir, and Thingvellir National Park. The adventurous can also enjoy some Lava Tube caving. If you get an early start, you can make it back to Reykjavik with time to go “Inside the Volcano” before enjoying a nice restaurant and Reykjavik’s nightlife. Change accommodation to Reykjavik.
Day 8: Walk around Reykjavik’s downtown area, fly home
Enjoy a slow morning as you walk around Reykjavik and see the main sights in the downtown area. Have a nice brunch before taking a private transfer to the airport for an evening flight (adjust based on your flight schedule).
Thanks to our local Iceland expert, Sigurdur Sveinsson, for his insight and suggestions while crafting this itinerary.