With 7-9 days in Iceland, we recommend you hit the road and explore the incredible wonders further afield from Reykjavik. We’ve put together these unique one week Iceland itineraries which let you explore a variety of landscapes: volcanoes and lava fields, green pastures and farmlands, scenic vistas above fjords, beaches of every color, glaciers and ice caves, and the rugged interior. Here are our recommended drives, an option for all travelers and seasons.
Iceland Travel Insights
Iceland's recent history tells a surprising story about its fast rise in popularity: Iceland's economic collapse during the financial crisis of 2008 created the perfect storm for its people to hunker down and join forces to rebuild its travel industry, and the subsequent 2010 eruption of Eyjafjallajökull that grounded world air traffic for several weeks, provided an unexpected spotlight on Iceland's powerful, stunning nature. Together, these forces caused a surge in tourism, helping rebuild the Icelandic economy and earning Iceland a top spot on many travelers' bucket lists.
The Ring Road is the most popular way to see and experience a variety of landscapes and sights all over Iceland. Route 1 starts from Reykjavik and circles to Akureyri in the North, to the small fishing villages in the East Fjords, passing Vatnajökull National Park and the South Coast. From this highway, you can also get to all the main detours like Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the remote Westfjords, Thorsmork, and the Highlands.
The Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is a remote wilderness in the northwest claw of Iceland’s West Fjords. A wild gem of green slopes, snow-capped glacier peninsulas, and slate-blue bays, Hornstrandir is largely uninhabited and accessible only in during summer by daily ferry. It’s precisely these features that make it one of the best-preserved parts of Iceland--nothing for miles except green valleys, tufts of dandelions and Angelica, and pebbled shores. If you’re lucky, you may just spot a flying goose or an Arctic fox.
Thorsmork is a mountain range nestled between major glaciers Tindfjallajökull, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull. The ridge, named “Thor’s Valley” in Icelandic, is a dramatic landscape of towering peaks, glacier rivers, and black deserts. Craggy mountains and ice-topped peaks slope down to lush birch forests and mossy gulches. Luckily for visitors, it’s also home to some Iceland’s most beautiful hiking routes.
In Iceland’s East Fjords, you’ll find many peaceful fjords, small fishing villages, and scenic trails tucked away in the hollow of towering mountains. Often overshadowed by more hyped, nearby attractions like the Glacier Lagoon and Myvatn Lake, make no mistake--the East Fjords are definitely worth a few days' trip. Day excursions will take you hiking past waterfalls, kayaking through the fjords, or exploring emerald ponds.
In a wilderness as wild and dramatic as Iceland’s, you’re sure to find countless opportunities for long day hikes. Here's a list of the best day hikes, ideal for a day’s adventure from your road trip around the Ring Road, or from a base camp in the highlands.
If you do one activity in Iceland, make sure it’s a hot spring. Swimming in hot springs or geothermal pools are a time-honored tradition among Icelanders, ever since the days of the sagas. Families, couples, and friends get together regularly to soak, play, and share the latest gossip or news in hot waters. Depending on where you are, hot springs range from natural hot pools carved from the rock, to man-made pools with carbonated thermic waters, to more typical swimming pools, heated with geothermal energy. While the Blue Lagoon can be a bit crowded for some people, this guide will show you the best-kept secrets awaiting you all over Iceland. So don’t forget to pack your swimsuit.
As Iceland’s popularity grows, tourists have discovered what locals have always known: the sparsely populated country is a nirvana for hikers. With miles of trails dotted with geological wonders—flowing waterfalls, sawtooth mountains, massive glaciers, steaming fumaroles, and lupine-studded valleys, to name a few—its surreal landscape is best explored on foot. Here are some of the best areas for hiking in Iceland.
Iceland offers plenty of hikes of any length. Curious hikers who venture just 15 minutes from the highway are often generously rewarded with emerald-green hills, mountain streams, dramatic cliffs and--best yet--no noisy crowds or gargantuan tour buses. Here's a list of the best short hikes ranging from 1-8 miles, ideal for stops along road trips, and to leave the tour bus crowds behind even if you have limited time.
Iceland is a world-class hiking destination. Its colored mountains, green valleys, and windswept cliffs provide the perfect setting for epic multi-day hikes. Since most Icelanders live in and around Reykjavik, and most travelers stay close to the roads, the rest of the sparsely populated country offers plenty of room to roam. These multi-day treks cover some of the most beautiful places in Iceland.
This example driving itinerary is great for the summer when the crowds of the south coast and golden circle area are at their peak and accommodation can be hard to find. Instead, escape to the more remote areas of the country to experience some of the best that Iceland has to offer, with few other people to share it with.
Having a great first day in Iceland after a long flight requires a bit of planning. We recommend starting your adventure on the right foot by diving right into all the great things Iceland has to offer. Based on the experience of travelers and the expertise of our local specialists, here are some useful strategies to make the most of your first day in Iceland.
Iceland’s interior is by far its most rugged area. The terrain can be tough, and the F-roads are only accessible by jeeps with 4WD (in Winter, only by modified “super jeeps”). But the increased difficulty level means you will have the place to yourself, as few tourists reach the highlands. Here you will find some of the best hiking destinations: the red and orange volcanic landscapes at Landmannalaugar, strange canyons and other-worldly landscapes at þórsmörk (Thorsmork, “Thor’s Valley”), and some of the top geothermal areas at Hveradalir Geothermal Area where you can wander through the hills walking past steam vents and mud pools.
You can have an epic Iceland experience when you spend 5 days or more in Iceland. Shorter trips are possible but won’t give you enough time to really explore beyond the Reykjavik area and the western section of the South Coast. Starting at 8 days or more you can complete the famous ring road and experience Iceland’s natural beauty in all its glory, seeing incredible sights most tourists miss, like Godafoss Waterfall, the unique volcanic hotspots surrounding Lake Myvatn and the Westfjords.
If you have 4 days in Iceland you can enjoy Reykjavik's city life and then leave the masses behind by heading north to explore beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula with its waterfalls and volcanoes. This way you'll get a great sampling of all Iceland has to offer. Day 1: Arrival, Reykjavik Day 2: Glymur Falls, Borgarnes, Snaefellsnes Peninsula Day 3: Snaefellsnes Peninsula, back to Reykjavik Day 4: Blue Lagoon, Departure
If you are short on time, or perhaps you are looking for an extended layover on your way from Europe to North America or vice versa, your options in Iceland are limited to closer to Reykjavik. Here is a 3-day itinerary that will still let you experience some of the spectacular beauty of Iceland.
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 the 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.
This 5-day self-driving itinerary is a great way to get away from the crowds of the south and explore the more remote areas in the north of Iceland. Maximize your time exploring with a one-way domestic flight from Akureyri back to Reykjavik.
The East Fjords are known for their sweeping landscapes, calm scenic fjords, and picturesque tiny fishing villages. Supplement your explorations with delicious meals made with local ingredients from the waters and land.
With 2 weeks in Iceland, you can complete the entire ring road and add some great detours. This grand tour will take you to all the best places giving you plenty of time to hike, explore, and soak it all in. This 14-day itinerary covers all the major regions except the highlands, which you can see with a couple more days or by spending less time in some of the areas below.
This itinerary packs a lot into 8 days, but if you have limited time and have your heart set on driving the entire Ring Road, then this guide will be your best friend for the journey.
This 7-day itinerary will take you to the north, away from the crowded south coast. On this trip you will enjoy the volcanic Snaefellsnes Peninsula and the scenic and remote Westfjords.
Don’t just stick to the Golden Circle and South Coast. You may see some great sights, but you’ll spend a lot of time in lines and waiting for people to get out of your pictures. To see a side of Iceland fewer travelers see, spend some time in Snaefellsnes, the Westfjords, or the North of the country. You’ll appreciate more of Iceland’s beauty and culture than you can by sticking to the most-visited areas.
Isafjordur is home to some of the best hiking areas in all of Iceland. Whether you’re looking for short hikes with jaw-dropping views, day trips to remote areas, or multi-day backpacking treks where you can camp out away from it all, the heart of the Westfjords has it all. Here are a few hikes to that will really make your time in the Westfjords memorable.
Want to spend your holidays in a winter wonderland, see the northern lights, take a dogsled or snowmobile tour, hike on a glacier, or climb through ice caves? Iceland is the perfect place to spend some time this winter. While daylight is limited and the nights are long, you can experience some truly unique adventures without the big crowds of the peak season.
If you want to see incredible waterfalls you don’t need to go very far: many of the most popular giants are only a brief walk away, and many can be seen from the car. While their easy access means larger crowds, they are popular for a reason and you should take the time to enjoy them.
Iceland is home to many incredible waterfalls, with several just off the main tourist roads. While this makes for easy access, it also means lots of people crowding around all trying to take the same photo. With a little extra time, you can leave the crowds behind and hit the trail to explore some of Iceland’s hidden wonders on your own.
Explore Iceland in 5 days - Seven Optimized Itineraries to help you make the most of your Short Trip to Iceland
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.
Explore the best of the west and south with this 7-9 day itinerary. Hike through lava fields, along cliffs, and up volcanoes in Snaefellsnes. Walk behind waterfalls, on black sand beaches, and on glaciers in the south, and finish with a tour of the famous Golden Circle with tips to avoid the big crowds.
Pack your short trip to Iceland with adventures away from the crowds while still experiencing the most popular sights. This itinerary is perfect for travelers who have lots of energy and want to make the most of a short visit to Iceland.
The North of Iceland may be the country’s best-kept secret. While crowds of tourists populate the South and Golden Circle, visitors to Akureyri and Lake Myvatn can enjoy the beautiful landscapes and wonderful volcanic areas all to themselves.
Lake Myvatn, in the northeast of Iceland, is packed with volcanic and geothermal wonders. Here are a few short hikes to explore pseudocraters, lava formations, craters, mud pools, and nature baths.
Escape the crowds of the south to experience Iceland’s most dramatic landscapes, where tiny fishing villages sit along calm fjords below towering flat mountain tops.
Take a 1-2 day trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula as a great alternative to the Golden Circle; avoid the big crowds and see more incredible sights along the way.
Paddle through majestic fjords below towering mountains as you spot seals, whales, and birds along the way. Here are a few kayaking options ranging from a couple hours up to a full week of exploring at your own speed.
The South Shore between Vik and Selfoss is full of many popular sights and destinations, quickly becoming one of the most popular areas of Iceland. Below are many of the highlights in order as you would approach them driving west from Vik towards Reykjavik. You start with several black sand beaches--each different in their own way and deserving of a stop--and end with a few breathtaking waterfalls.
The Drive from Egilsstaðir (east) to Vik (south) offers some incredible scenery past calm fjords, thundering waterfalls, beaches with interesting formations, cool cliffs, and spectacular canyons. While it’s possible to drive this stretch in a single (long) day, you would miss some of the best places that Iceland has to offer. Slow down, enjoy the journey, and spend your time exploring the unique places below.
Have less than a week in Iceland and a lot on your bucket list? This itinerary will help you see lots of amazing sights in 5 days. You’ll start off with a spectacular local flight over the heart of Iceland followed by three days of scenic driving along the coast.
Iceland is a rugged place, with much of it inaccessible by a standard vehicle. Drive a Land Rover through unique terrain, over lava fields, and through scenic mountain roads. With these modified vehicles you will explore parts of Iceland not possible with a normal rental car. Explore the dramatic landscapes without the big crowds.
Experience the best of Western and Southern Iceland on this 9-day tour: volcanoes, fjords, red and black sand beaches, glaciers, hot springs, wildlife and more.
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.
If you’re looking for a great one-day hike that combines the best of Iceland into a single trek, look no further. The Fimmvörðuháls trail takes you through some of the most dramatic scenery Iceland has to offer, from a series of canyon waterfalls to a volcanic moonscape. Keep in mind: this day-hike is as long as it is rewarding.
You can’t visit the Land of Fire and Ice without getting to know Iceland’s famous Volcanoes. Sure you could drive to them and look from afar, but where’s the fun in that? Here are 9 unique ways to experience the best Volcanoes in Iceland (plus a bonus if you keep reading!).
Enjoy an active week in Iceland filled with activities and beautiful sights in the south, including remote areas as well as top attractions. Iceland offers a long list of outdoor adventures, whether it's hiking, mountain biking, 4x4 off-roading, lava tube caving, horseback riding, snowmobiling, or soaking in geothermal lagoons.
Glaciers, volcanoes, and geysers are the perfect playground for off-roading in Iceland—and yes, you can drive yourself. Explore Iceland by driving around the country, visiting sites such as Jökulsárlón Lagoon, Thórsmörk Glacial Valley, Vatnajökull Glacier, & Strokkur Geyser.
Iceland is a magical place for children - from horseback riding to volcanoes to whale watching, the options for families are endless. Family travel is easy and safe in Iceland where tour companies welcome children and hotels are family friendly. We've compiled a list of our top year-round activities for families with kids aged 5-16.
Given the rapidly increasing popularity of Iceland as travel destination, the question "When is the best time of year to go to Iceland?" has become as much about taking into account the right weather conditions as it is about avoiding the crowds and finding available accommodation at reasonable rates. Depending on how you weigh these factors, and what you would like to do in Iceland, we'll help you decide which season is right for you.
The Northern Lights are breathtaking…and elusive. Follow these tips to increase the chances you will see Mother Nature’s glorious display.
Dubbed the Land of Ice and Fire, Iceland is a delight for all of your senses, from the deep chill of the air to the smoky smell of the volcanoes to the sights and sounds of the country’s most famous tourist attraction, the Northern Lights. Iceland is a bucket list destination for travelers from all around the world. Here are some Icelandic experiences you won’t want to miss.