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.
Best of Akureyri
Beyond the town center, there’s much to discover. You can go rafting on the Vestari-Jökulsá (West Glacial River), stopping by riverside hot springs en route through a rocky canyon. A three-hour drive inland leads to dramatic highland scenery sprinkled with thermal pools and a remote caldera filled with a warm volcanic lake. Off the coast of Akureyri, cliff-lined Grimsey has a tiny village, basalt formations and abundant birdlife, including puffins. The fascinating island is the only piece of Iceland that’s above the Arctic Circle.
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Northern Iceland is a special region offering unique experiences not experienced by those who only visit the country's southern and western portions. In the north, you'll find an idyllic stretch of the famed Ring Road, passing through places like Húsavík, Iceland's whale-watching capital. In addition, you'll discover less-crowded alternatives to the popular Blue Lagoon and can explore Askja, one of the country's wildest regions. But don't worry, the north also boasts waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, and thermal baths!
Winter in Iceland offers many unique activities that you can't always experience in other seasons. Make the most out of the limited daylight with wintry adventures, such as kayaking amongst icebergs, exploring electric-blue ice caves, dogsledding with a pack of Huskies, snowmobiling atop glaciers, hiking in the snow, or tracking the country's wild reindeer population during their annual migration.
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.
This 9-day self-drive adventure is a great alternative to the full Ring Road loop, especially during summer months when Iceland tourism hits its peak. With more than a week, you'll experience a range of incredible landscapes all over the island, like rugged peninsulas, hot springs, volcanoes, lava fields, small fishing towns, and waterfall hikes with only a fraction of the crowds. To shorten this itinerary, skip the East Fjords and fly back to Reykjavík from Akureyri.
Travelers to Iceland typically plan a trip for 8 to 10 days when combining Reykjavík, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri with South Coast and East Fjords. For travelers wanting to visit Reykjavík, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri exclusively, plan a week to eight days for a well-paced trip. Read on for the best itineraries, including Reykjavík, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri and beyond.
Twelve to 14 days is the most popular trip length for Iceland travelers interested in visiting Reykjavík, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Westfjords, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri, especially when also including the Golden Circle, South Coast, and East Fjords. If you're not interested in the Golden Circle, South Coast, and East Fjords, about 10 days are enough for your Reykjavík, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Westfjords, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri trip. A fast-paced highlights trip is possible in eight or nine days for travelers with limited time. Read on for the best itineraries including Reykjavík, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Westfjords, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri and beyond.
Lose the tourists crowding the South in the summer, and hit Iceland’s West and North, instead. This weeklong journey is a great second trip plan for those who’ve already visited popular areas (like the Golden Circle and South Coast). Spend time along the Arctic Coast and explore the remote northeast. Go whale watching in Husavik, tour the geothermal marvel that is Lake Mývatn, discover the fishing towns, black-sand beaches, and cliffs along the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and more.
This seven-day, self-drive winter adventure in Iceland starts with a visit to the Golden Circle, where you'll hike among waterfalls and volcanic craters. From there, take a guided, off-road ATV tour for a wild ride across tundra fields and unbridged streams, then head to the East Fjords to tour the Streiti coastline via Jeep. Relax in the nature baths at Lake Mývatn before concluding your travels with an evening cruise under the dancing lights of the aurora borealis.
If your goal is to reinvigorate your mind and body while connecting with nature, there are few better places for it than Iceland. On this winter getaway, you'll take a road trip along famous circuit routes dotted with stunning scenery like rivers, waterfalls, rugged beaches, geothermal areas, and historic villages. And almost every day of the trip, you'll stop at natural hot springs to relax and recharge.
This seven-day road trip in Iceland is as much a journey through Viking history as a sightseeing tour of incredible natural wonders. Not only will you see highlight waterfalls, beaches, and geothermal sites, but you'll also visit museums and historic locales like the home of Leif Erikson. As a bonus, you'll do some whale watching and go on a photo tour to see the northern lights.
Reykjavík, South Coast, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, East Fjords, Lake Mývatn & Akureyri: Best Itinerary Ideas
Eight to 10 days is a great length for an Iceland trip with stops in Reykjavík, the South Coast, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, East Fjords, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri. Travelers with more time can enjoy extra sights and activities at each stop or explore more of the country—some favored itinerary extensions include the Golden Circle, Westfjords, or West Iceland. Get inspired with the below trip ideas for Reykjavík, the South Coast, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, East Fjords, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri.
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 photogenic self-drive adventure along the Ring Road travels from Iceland's capital to its 2nd largest city on the sunnier north coast, with stops in lesser-known Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Husavik, and Lake Myvatn. This all-season itinerary is especially ideal for anyone interested in the unique geological features of Iceland, with lava fields, volcano hikes, massive waterfalls, and geothermal pools, not to mention cool cultural sites and Scandinavian cuisine.
On this scenic road trip, you'll skip Iceland's busier south coast in order to explore the lesser-known Snaefellsnes Peninsula and northern beauties of Akureyri, Husavik, and Lake Myvatn. This all-season itinerary is especially ideal for anyone interested in the unique geological features of Iceland, with lava fields, volcano hikes, massive waterfalls, and geothermal pools—all there for the taking.
This scenic road trip traverses highlights along Iceland's west and north regions at a more relaxed pace. Starting from Reykjavik, you'll explore the Golden Circle, the lesser-known Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and continue northwest to Akureyri (Iceland's 2nd biggest hub), Husavik and Lake Myvatn for lava fields, volcano hikes, massive waterfalls, and natural hot springs.
Explore the scenic peninsulas, waterfalls, lakes, and more on this eight-day tour through Iceland’s west and north regions. This route, especially, allows you to beat the summer crowds headed to the South Coast and Golden Circle, providing more time to hike and take in magnificent viewpoints in destinations like Glymur Falls, Lake Mývatn, Asbyrgi Canyon, and Dettifoss. Absorb the stunning black-sand beaches and small fishing towns in Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Take more time in the Arctic Coast and remote Northeast, and go whale watching in Husavik. End the trip with a tour of the geothermal highlights of the Reykjanes Peninsula.
The rugged beauty of Iceland was made for road-tripping, which is precisely what you'll do on this 15-day self-drive excursion. You'll be traveling through the west, which is packed full of highlights ranging from waterfalls and glaciers to fjords and natural hot springs. You'll even have time for a detour to the north, where you'll ride horses, take helicopter tours, and drive the scenic Diamond Circle route.
Reykjavík, Golden Circle, South Coast, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, East Fjords, Lake Mývatn & Akureyri: Best Itinerary Ideas
Nine to 10 days is a great length for an Iceland trip with stops in Reykjavík, the Golden Circle, South Coast, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, East Fjords, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri. With more time, you can enjoy extra activities at each stop or a few days in another region like Westfjords, Hvammstangi, or the Reykjanes Peninsula. Get inspired with kimkim's Reykjavík, Golden Circle, South Coast, Snæfellsnes Peninsula, East Fjords, Lake Mývatn, and Akureyri trip ideas below.
For road trip enthusiasts, it doesn't get much better than encircling Iceland along its infamous Route 1 (Ring Road). This quick-paced, self-drive itinerary will take you to the best spots along the 828-mile (1,332 km) route with plenty of detours to work the leg muscles and camera batteries. With a bit more than a week, you'll experience a variety of landscapes, like geysers, hot springs, black sand beaches, volcanoes, lava fields, small fishing towns, and massive glaciers in protected national parks.
If you want to see Iceland's top natural highlights, a self-drive tour is by far the most popular option. Travel at your own pace with plenty of changes to head off the main road in search of your own adventures. This tour also includes the Snaefellsnes peninsula which many call "mini-Iceland" as almost every natural phenomenon in Iceland can be found there, albeit on a smaller scale than elsewhere.
Visit the best of the west and north regions of Iceland on this nine-day trip. Although this route is not recommended for winter travel, it is a great way to skip the summer crowds headed south. Visit the black-sand beaches and fishing towns in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, go on scenic hikes to Dettifoss and Asbyri Canyon, and take in the incredible sights around Lake Mývatn. Enjoy time in the Arctic Coast and less-populated Northeast, along with some whale watching in Husavik. On the way back to the capital, stop in West Iceland’s Borgarnes, and take a memorable hike to Glymur Falls.
10 days on the road in Iceland is enough time to discover its highlights and off-the-beaten-path wonders. Loop around the famous Route 1 (Ring Road) on a relaxed self-drive adventure, stopping at big cities, active volcanoes, cascading waterfalls, dried lava fields, black beaches, quaint fishing towns, massive glaciers, and the star landmarks along the famed Golden Circle. It's guaranteed to be a gorgeous ride.
This savvy 10-day Iceland tour bypasses the summer crowds in favor of remote road-trip adventures in the west and north. After touring the waterfalls of the Golden Circle, head to the volcanic beaches and rugged cliffs on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, then continue to the far north and the Arctic coast. Discover the fjords of Tröllaskagi, go whale watching in Húsavik, explore the lunar landscapes of Mývatn and more.
This 10-day 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.
On this spectacular self-drive itinerary, you'll hit the four cardinal points of Iceland as you loop clockwise around the famous Ring Road. Stop to explore volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, and glaciers from Reykjavik to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and beyond. Finish the adventure with a rewarding soak in the Blue Lagoon before you depart.
Two of Iceland's more remote and scenically stunning yet lesser-visited regions—Westfjords and North Iceland—are the focus of this scenic 12-day active self-drive adventure, which also includes the mesmerizing Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The non-stop experiences range from clifftop hikes and wildlife viewing to helicopter flightseeing, as well as visits to many of Iceland's iconic and less familiar but equally spectacular sites.
This epic 12-day road trip is a perfect way to absorb Iceland as you traverse all four corners of the country. You'll visit popular spots along the famous 828-mile Ring Road, and head off the beaten path to detour through the Westfjords (great for mountain biking and kayaking). The self-drive loop also includes stops in Iceland's two biggest cities, and numerous natural sites like volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, black sand beaches, glaciers, and more.
This off-the-beaten-path road trip is especially great during summer months when peak crowds head for Iceland's south coast and Golden Circle (and accommodations can be hard to find). Instead, you'll escape to more remote areas of the country, traveling from Reykjavik all the way to its sunnier north coast with stops in Snaefellsnes Peninsula, the Westfjords (by way of car ferry), Husavik, and Lake Myvatn. There's plenty of time to experience unique geological features along the way with lava fields, volcano hikes, massive waterfalls, and geothermal pools, not to mention cool Scandinavian culture and cuisine.
See it all on this adventure that covers the highlights and hidden wonders of Iceland. There's no time to waste, as right when you arrive you'll visit the waterfalls, glaciers, fjords, and beaches on the Golden Circle and South Coast. Continue the journey halfway around the island as you travel north to historic landmarks, coastal cliffs, and volcanic landscapes, before returning to the mother of all hot springs, the Blue Lagoon.
See the magic of Iceland's Ring Road with this 13-day self-drive tour. Start in Reykjavík for whale watching and a vibrant downtown scene. From here, drive the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with its crashing waterfalls and black-sand beaches, then ferry to the Westfjords. Hike the cliffs of Látrabjarg, kayak to Vigur Island, and ride horses along the Westfjords' "Alps." Walk among icebergs at Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, visit breathtaking Seljalandsfoss waterfall, and end with a dip in the iconic Blue Lagoon.
This two-week self-drive adventure will take you around the whole of Iceland—north, south, east, and west. It starts with city tours and nightlife in Reykjavík, then a trip south for off-roading, glaciers, lava caving, and hunting the northern lights. Continue up the rugged Eastfjords and tour the geothermal wonderland of the north before finishing the trip at western waterfalls and the relaxing Blue Lagoon.
This active two-week journey through Iceland goes beyond sightseeing and immerses you in its untamed nature. After soaking in the Blue Lagoon and touring the colorful capital of Reykjavík, you're off on a multiday trek through mountain highlands and lava fields. Continue the adventure on a road trip to the Eastfjords, far off the tourist trail, where you'll marvel at waterfalls, go ice-caving, and see a "lava show."
With two weeks in Iceland, you can complete the entire Ring Road and add incredible 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.