Have only 5 days to explore Iceland? Most people stay in and around Reykjavik and do day trips, While there are plenty of great things to see and do in that area, staying near Reykjavik will have you experience Iceland along with all the crowds and tour buses.

There are many better ways to uncover Iceland’s nature, beauty, and power.  Our network of travel experts and local operators have designed these unique 5-day itineraries that take you off the beaten path to let you see Iceland in a way that few travelers do.

Expert tips to plan your trip:

In order to make the most of your 5-day trip to Iceland, we have developed a few effective strategies that help you beat the crowds and see Iceland from a unique perspective:

  • Upon arrival, skip Reykjavik and drive north to Snaefellsnes or follow the South Coast, then explore for a few days before making your way back to Reykjavik for the end of your trip.
  • Combine a one-way domestic flight to get to a more remote location with a drive back to Reykjavik (the views over Iceland are incredible!).
  • Use a return flight to one of Iceland’s remote airports to maximize time in a region away from the crowds while minimizing driving.

Below are 7 itineraries that use a combination of these strategies, which will help you enjoy Iceland like few people do. And for more, see all of our Iceland 5-day tours and itineraries.

Option #1: A Taste of Everything: Snaefellsnes Peninsula, South Coast, Golden Circle

Cover a bit of everything during your time in Iceland: Lava fields, craters, cliffs, and caves along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, black beaches, arches, waterfalls and canyons in the south, and Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir geothermal area, and Thingvellir national park along the Golden Circle. This tour sticks to more of the popular sights (which means more people), but it gives you a taste of the top sights only a few hours from Reykjavik.

  • Day 1: Reykjavik to Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Glymur Falls, Settlement Center at Borgarnes, Gerðuberg Basalt Cliffs)
  • Day 2: Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Búðakirkja and Budhahraun Lava Fields, Arnarstapi and Hellnar, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Londrangar Cliffs, Djúpalónssandur Black Sand Beach, Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall and Kirkjufell Mountain)   
  • Day 3: Golden Circle (Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss Waterfall, Secret Lagoon)
  • Day 4: Gullfoss to Vik (Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Skogafoss Waterfall and Fimmvörðuháls Hike, Dyrholaey Arch and Cliffs, Reynisfjara Beach, Vik Beaches)
  • Day 5: Vik back to Reykjavik

If you have a few more days, consider our 7-day self-drive tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Golden Circle, and South Coast.

Total driving: 880km, 11.5hrs

Option #2: South Coast Drive to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

If you want to see the sights along the south while sticking a tighter budget, you can drive out and back. You won’t be able to make it past the Glacier Lagoon (no Hofn, or pretty fjords of the east), but you will save by not buying a one-way domestic flight and paying extra for a one-direction car rental.

  • Day 1: KEF to Vik
  • Day 2: Vik to Glacier Lagoon / Hof Area
  • Day 3: Hof to Skaholt / Golden Circle
  • Day 4: Golden Circle to Reykjavik
  • Day 5: Reykjavik

Total Driving: 850km, 10.5hr

Option #3: Volcanic Highlights away from the Crowds: Snaefellsnes, Akureyri, Lake Myvatn

See the best of the volcanic and geothermal wonders of Iceland without the large tour groups of the south coast and Golden Circle. Start with a 2-day tour of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula filled with lava fields, beaches, cliffs, waterfalls, caves, and craters all along the beautiful coastline. Next head north to Iceland’s second city, Akureyri and spend time at Husavik, the whale watching capital, see the spectacular waterfalls of Godafoss (“Waterfall of the Gods”), Selfoss, and Dettifoss, Europe’s most powerful, and finish with Lake Myvatn, a geothermal and volcanic wonderland complete with a relaxing nature bath. Save time by flying from Akureyri back to Reykjavik.

  • Day 1: Reykjavik to Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Glymur Falls, Settlement Center at Borgarnes, Gerðuberg Basalt Cliffs)
  • Day 2: Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Búðakirkja and Budhahraun Lava Fields, Arnarstapi and Hellnar, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Londrangar Cliffs, Djúpalónssandur Black Sand Beach, Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall and Kirkjufell Mountain)   
  • Day 3: Drive to Akureyri (4.5hr), explore Akureyri
  • Day 4-5: Lake Myvatn, Husavik, Godafoss, Dettifoss, Fly back (waterfalls, lava fields, rock formations, mud pools, craters, nature baths)

Read more in our detailed 5-day Itinerary to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Akureyri.

Driving: 1000km, 13hr

Option #4: Northern Highlights: Akureyri, Lake Myvatn, Waterfalls, and Geothermal Hotspots

For a unique Iceland experience, avoid the crowds of the south completely. This Trip has it all: volcanoes, waterfalls, hot springs, nature baths, whale watching, fjords and more. Below are 2 great ways to experience to north: all the highlights with only a fraction of the people. You can maximize your time by taking a domestic flight over the beautiful highlands of the interior to Akureyri, or you can drive one way and fly from Akureyri back to Reykjavik.

  • Day 1: Reykjavik (Laugavegur street, Hallgrimskirkja, Harpa Culture Center, Sun Voyager Sculpture, Harbor)
  • Day 2: Drive to Akureyri (4.5 hours)
  • Day 3: Godafoss, Husavik, Ásbyrgi Canyon, Dettifoss. Stay in Myvatn
  • Day 4: Lake Myvatn, evening in Akureyri: waterfalls, lava fields, rock formations, mud pools, craters, nature baths)
  • Day 5: Back to Reykjavik (or 45 min domestic flight)

Read more in our detailed 5-Day Self-Drive to Akureyri, Myvatn, and Waterfalls of the North.

Driving: 350 km, 5hr with flights from Reykjavik to Akureyri

Driving: 1120 km, 14hr if driving from Reykjavik and back. (4.5hr each day)

Option #5: Snaefellsnes, Westfjords, fly back

Explore the west coast of Iceland with a few days in the Volcanic Snaefellsnes Peninsula before taking a car ferry past Flatey island to the remote Westfjords, home to some of the most dramatic landscapes in all of Iceland. There you can hike along the jagged cliffs at Londrangar, home to some of the most active bird light, see black, golden, and red sand beaches, and visit the powerful Dynjandi Waterfall with several other waterfalls below. Spend a couple nights in Isafjordur, a great base for hiking, kayaking, and day trips across the fjord to the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve only accessible by boat and trail. Make the most of your time with a one-way domestic flight from Isafjordur back to Reykjavik.

  • Day 1: Reykjavik to Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Glymur Falls, Settlement Center at Borgarnes, Gerðuberg Basalt Cliffs)
  • Day 2: Snæfellsnes Peninsula (Búðakirkja and Budhahraun Lava Fields, Arnarstapi and Hellnar, Snæfellsjökull National Park, Londrangar Cliffs, Djúpalónssandur Black Sand Beach, Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall and Kirkjufell Mountain)  
  • Day 3: Southern Westfjords: (Ferry to Westfjords, Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs, Rauðasandur Red sand beach, Breiðavík Golden Beach, Patreksfjörður)
  • Day 4: Dynjandi Waterfall, Ísafjörður
  • Day 5: Explore Ísafjörður: (Kayaking, Hiking, sail/hike in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve)

Follow this itinerary in more detail in our guide to 7 days exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Westfjords, and Golden Circle.

Ferry Schedule (Stykkishólmur to Brjánslækur)

Off Season

  • 15:00-17:30, no trips on Saturdays.
  • 4,230 ISK adults ($37); 4,230 ISK cars (book in advance)

High-Season

  • 09:00-11:30 and 15:45-18:15
  • 5,760 ISK adults ($50); 5,760 ISK cars (book in advance)

Option #6: Escape to the remote Westfjords

To really explore off the beaten path, fly to Isafjordur in the Westfjords and the crowds will almost disappear. Set up a home base in Isafjordur and seek out hikes and dramatic landscapes on day trips.

  • Southern Westfjords: Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs, Rauðasandur Red sand beach, Breiðavík Golden Beach, Dynjandi Waterfall (could spend a night in Patreksfjordur)
  • Hiking around Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
  • Kayaking around the fjords or to Vigur island to see the birdlife
  • Hiking around the mountains above Isafjordur

Option #7: One-way tour of the south: Egilsstadir, Glacier Lagoon, Vik, Golden Circle

Make the most of your limited time by driving one way from Egilsstadir to Vik to Reykjavik without retracing your steps. You’ll pay a bit more for a domestic flight and one-way car rental, but you get a chance to see the dramatic landscapes of the eastern fjords and get more time seeing new places rather than doubling back.

  • Day 1: Domestic Flight to Egilsstadir (Seydisfjordur Fjord, Hengifoss and Litlanesfoss waterfalls)
  • Day 2: Eastern Fjords to Hofn (Majestic Fjords, Djúpivogur Fishing village and Lighthouse, Hvalnes Nature Reserve)
  • Day 3: Hofn to Vik: (Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach, Hof, Skaftafell and Svartifoss, Fjadrargljufur Canyon)
  • Day 4: Vik to Golden Circle:(Reynisfjara Beach, Dyrholaey Arch and Cliffs, Skogafoss Waterfall and Fimmvörðuháls Hike, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Secret Lagoon)
  • Day 5: Golden Circle and Reykjavik (Gullfoss Waterfall, Geysir Geothermal Area, Thingvellir National Park)

Read more in our detailed 5-day itinerary of highlights from east to west.

Total Driving: 800km, 10hrs

Conclusion: Make the most of your short stay in Iceland

If you only have a week or less for your visit to Iceland you can make the most of your time without the crowds by using some more creative itineraries listed above. We would be delighted to help you put together your trip by connecting you to a trusted Iceland-based operator in our network.  

 

Map

Map of 5 Days in Iceland - 7 Unique Self-Drive Itineraries
Map of 5 Days in Iceland - 7 Unique Self-Drive Itineraries

Recent Trip Reviews

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Mital

Explore iceland in 5 days - seven optimized itineraries to help you make the most of your short trip to iceland , Iceland - Nov 18 - Nov 24, 2018

Traveler: Mital P. - Local specialist: Preeti Bhide

We have had a great experience booking through with kimkim. The entire team has been extremely helpful and onboard since day 1. A special thank you to both Herbert and Preeti!

Snowmobiling was certainly the highlight of the trip and I would most definitely recommend that to anyone considering a trip to Iceland.

Explore iceland in 5 days - seven optimized itineraries to help you make the most of your short trip to iceland , Iceland - Nov 1 - Nov 7, 2018

Traveler: Sanjeev S. - Local specialist: Preeti Bhide

Our trip to Iceland would not have been so easy and enjoyable without the help from Preeti and team Kimkim. When the topic of travelling to Iceland with friends & family came across I started my research and planning, having traveled many different places in the world and my love to plan trips, I was not sure if I will be open to use someone's help. My first interaction with Preeti changed my mind, Preeti and Kimkim team took all the input from me and my group and planned a itinerary, which... read more

Our trip to Iceland would not have been so easy and enjoyable without the help from Preeti and team Kimkim. When the topic of travelling to Iceland with friends & family came across I started my research and planning, having traveled many different places in the world and my love to plan trips, I was not sure if I will be open to use someone's help. My first interaction with Preeti changed my mind, Preeti and Kimkim team took all the input from me and my group and planned a itinerary, which we modified until we got it right with my group, Kimkim team was very patience all along. They even asked us to change our route from our final itinerary to what would make our drive more efficient. Our group of twelve visited West, Golden triangle and South coast of Iceland. We enjoyed the Lava fields, Diamond beach, hot pods near Reykjavik and of course a spectacular Northern lights near Vik. The drives in Iceland were very beautiful and how can we forget the horses and FLUFFY herd of Sheep. I am not sure we could have visited all these places and stayed in the locations of our own in our seven days without the help from Kimkim team. I will highly recommend Kimkim to anyone. I will try Kimkim again for all my other trips as well.

Explore iceland in 5 days - seven optimized itineraries to help you make the most of your short trip to iceland , Iceland - Sep 3 - Sep 8, 2018

Traveler: Terri C. - Local specialist: Christina Degener

Fantastic, couldn’t have asked for better planning or customer service. Thank you so much for all your great recommendations and we can’t wait to get back to Iceland! We will certainly be a returning customer.

Explore iceland in 5 days - seven optimized itineraries to help you make the most of your short trip to iceland , Iceland - Sep 3 - Sep 8, 2018

Traveler: Lauren C. - Local specialist: Christina Degener

Our trip to Iceland was excellent! Christina made a wonderful itinerary for us and the entire experience was seamless. We felt like we received a great value for the price. Thanks! LC

Explore iceland in 5 days - seven optimized itineraries to help you make the most of your short trip to iceland , Iceland - Aug 8 - Aug 13, 2018

Traveler: Lesley A. - Local specialist: Preeti Bhide

We really enjoyed the itinerary and the hotels that were selected. Would have appreciated a bit more detail and tips. For example the day trip to the waterfall, where there was no opportunity to get lunch, a note suggesting to take a picnic lunch would have been helpful. Also some detail on the timing of activities would help plan the day better - seal colony viewing duration, whale watching duration etc.