Are you bored with your all-inclusive vacations? Did you ever picture yourself exploring the totally out of this world sceneries of Iceland?
You want to get a bunch of friends together and have the road trip of a lifetime?
No, seriously, do you want to travel to Iceland? The answer should be yes. Yess, you do, trust me on this one! Maybe you don’t know that yet, but trust me, you do.
Whichever continent you are from, you can have my word as Misstourist that you haven’t seen nothing like Iceland before. It’s so unique!
This article is written to give you an idea of what you can see in Iceland making a complete circle of the country (which is an island). For more detailed practical information of how to organize the day, where to stay etc, just click to the link describing each day.
This is an overview so, if you have a bit more (or less) days, you can simply adjust it according to the route suggested below.
- Things to do in Iceland – Itinerary overview
- Days 1-4: Reykjavik, the South and the South-East of Iceland
- Days 5-9: The Eastern Fjords, The North of Iceland
- Days 10-12: The West Fjords
- Days 13-14: the North of Reykjavik
- Bonus – any day, but a MUST DO!
Now, what do you need for your Iceland holiday?
- Tickets to Iceland
- A bunch of friends. (This is optional but highly recommended)
- And a car. (Yes! You need a car to complete the road trip, don’t act so surprised!)
- Some items you should get from home because in Iceland they are expensive
How to rent a car in Iceland
Renting a car in Iceland in top season is tricky. It was for me, especially, since I had a full 2 weeks ahead. There was no luckinvolved here, after going through every possible rental, I found the best rates at Lagoon Car Rental, they even give discounts for one week, two weeks or longer rental periods. They sent this smiley guy to pick me up and take me to their office just a few minutes away from the airport. And they got my name right: check it out!
Also, I found RentalCars to give some interesting discounts for car rentals. If you are renting for 7 or more days, chances are you are going to get some big discount – check the rates for your dates here!
And because I wouldn’t let you go unprepared, my dear reader, I wrote a guide about how to choose a car, and about driving in Iceland!
What to pack for the Iceland road trip?
Iceland is a very expensive country, and that’s why I suggest you to bring with you what you’d need, and don’t expect to buy things in Reykjavik without breaking the budget. That’s just not an option. As long as you bring your essentials, you’ll be fine, and you’ll be able to have a great vacation following this itinerary.
Regardless of the season, you’ll need a few items in Iceland. Also, if you plan to camp, you’ll need some camping gear.
The essential packing list for an Icelandic road trip consists of:
- A good waterproof and winbreaker jacket – a must have in Iceland, I’ve been there in August and although it was the summer, it was cold, raining and windy almost everyday.
- Hiking boots – you’ll need a good comfortable pair, and the prices for these in Reykjavik were plain scary. You are going to hike, walk on ice sometimes and get wet near the waterfalls. Get a good pair!
- Hiking pants for hiking obviously, but also because they are so comfortable!
- A fleece jacket – you will wear it the most throughout your trip.
- A thermos – sometimes you’ll go for hours without finding a place to take a coffee or tea, and I love tea! This was one of my most used items.
- A GPS device – check if your car has one – otherwise it will be at least 10-15USD per day if you rent one, this way you can bring your own and use it back home as well.
- If you are into photography – a great cameraand a tripod are essential.
- In the same category – a GoPro is a cool thing to get. There will be endless opportunities to use that wide angle for spectacular movies and images.
- A power bank is always useful, especially since car chargers can be very slow
- A power transformer, if you come from the US, Iceland is hooked to 220V not 110 and this way you can use your electric devices, if you bring any.
You can skip some items from this list but don’t skip these:
Things to do in Iceland – Itinerary overview
Now, for a more in-depth look on the whole trip, I divided the route into 4 posts. I did this so it’s more readable for you. They are split as follows:
Days 5-9: The Eastern Fjords, The North of Iceland
Days 10-12: The West Fjords
Days 13-14: The North of Reykjavik and the capital
Days 1-4: Reykjavik, the South and the South-East of Iceland
Day 1 – Relax in the Blue Lagoon
Welcome to Iceland, traveler!
First things first! Relax after your flight in the Blue Lagoon for 1-2 hours and visit the city of Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital. Get supplies and a good night sleep, as the adventure is about to begin! Read what, where and how, here!
Day 2 – Let the adventure begin!
Start with the most common touristic route that you can take even in one day. So, starting early from Reykjavik, this first day you will see the wonders of the so called “Golden circle”: the Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir and the Gullfoss waterfall.
Do you want to see a perfect shaped crater? Then there is a bonus places available: visit the Kerið crater. Read more about the itinerary of day 2 and which is the best area to spend the night here.
Day 3 – Turf houses and more amazing waterfalls!
In this day you should make your way to the iconic turf house of Kledar. Afterwards, admire the Seljalandsfoss waterfall (try to pronounce that, huh!).
Did you ever see how in movies people go behind the waterfall where there is a secluded cavern? This is your chance, because you can get behind Seljalandsfoss! Don’t forget to visit it’s little sister called Gljúfurárbui down the road, it’s worth it, see here why:
Next, drive a bit more to the Skogafoss waterfall. It’s powerful and impressive, I would have liked to stay even more! You can finish your day after another driving session that gets you to the black sand beach of Reynishverfi. Want to know more details about this day and where to spend the night? Click here!
Day 4 – Hike a glacier!
Iceland is full of glaciers! And today you will get your first feel (and taste, if you really want to taste it) of these ice giants. You will reach the Iceland’s second national park, Skaftafell. There are many activities you can do there, glacier walks being the basic ones. Day 4 should also start early if you are about to take some advantage of these activities. You should really book ahead your glacier activity on Skatafell, especially in the high season. That will take you a big chunk of your day already.
Later on, drive to the Jökulsárlón lagoon, a magical place that gave me one of the best memories of Iceland. You need more info? Of course I wrote it all in details, including areas where you should spend the night:
Days 5-9: The Eastern Fjords, The North of Iceland
Day 5: Discover Hengifoss waterfall and the Eastern Fjords!
Starting from Either Eglissadir, if you chose a long drive, or from the Hofn area, make your way towards the Hengifoss waterfall. Hope you didn’t get tired of them already because it’s impressive, and rather different than the ones you have seen before!
If the time and weather permits it, you can go on a drive around one or some of the Eastern Fjords.
See more details about day 5 and accommodation info here.
You won’t be able to wake up from your admiration, as just 10 minutes walking you will see Selfoss, which is stunning in a different way: it’s quitter, but in the shape of a horseshoe with many falling torrents. Something like Rivendell.
Did you ever wonder how Mars looks like? I think you’ll find your answer at the sulfur smelling fields of Hverarond, a mare 20 minutes drive from Dettifoss.
Just around the corner there are the Mývatn nature baths, also known as the Blue lagoon of the North. I suggest you relax here for one hour or so. It is also cheaper than the Blue lagoon, but I still prefer the first one!
Aaaaaand we’re still not done yet! Make your way around the Mývatn lake and stop to see Godafoss. The third waterfall of the day, fantastic again!
Day 7 – Have a rest in Akureyri
Tired by now? I’d say so, it has been intense! Take it easy on this day and relax in Akureyri, Iceland’s second biggest town. Click for more info about things to do in Akureyri and how to prepare for the next day.
Day 8 – Boots on, it is time for some hiking!
Hiking boots on! It’s time for a special view in Ásbyrgi.
Asbyrgi is a horseshoe canyon with many trails. Take advantage of the wild nature and fresh air and go for a hike. Here is all the info about how to get to Asbyrgi, and where to sleep next.
Day 9 – Spot some whales in Husavik!
How much do you like whales on a scale from 0 to “a whale lot” ?
Huskavik is maybe the best place to do whale watching in Iceland!
And it was one of the best activities in my trip. Description of how to pick the whale watching tour, pictures, and other info wait for you on link:
Here are some options for the whale watching activities in the North of Iceland:
Days 10-12: The West Fjords
Day 10 – Discover the undiscovered – West Fjords
Reach the unreachable. Time to head West, are you ready?
It’s a long drive to IsaFjordur, the capital of the West Fjords, but well worth it!
Besides the ever incredible views along the road, you should be able to see some super relaxed seals. Click here and I’ll tell you exactly where they are!
Day 11 – Meet some Vikings in a fishing village
This day you can get away with only a short drive (yay!). But there are plenty of activities around Isafjordur that you may enjoy.
They include visiting fishing villages of Suðureyri, Flateyri. Taking food tours, cooking classes and learning the secrets of Viking sushi. All the info is here.
Day 12 – on the edge of Europe
You might have been missing waterfalls by now, right?
There is one that you should not miss in the West Fjords and that is Dynjandi waterfall (also known as Fjallfoss). It’s your first stop of the day and it’s of course unique and worth visiting.
If you want, you can also visit Látrabjarg, Europe’s most western point. It is an enormous bird cliff that is also a home for puffins, adorable birds that are so close, you can almost touch them!
Beware, that you do need a 4WD normally to reach it, but if not, you can arrange a tour.
Find out on this link which way to take next and all the extra info you’ll need:
Days 13-14: the North of Reykjavik
Day 13 – There is still so much to see!
Day 13 already, and still more amazing things to see and do!
Wake up early and go see the Hraunfossar & Barnafoss waterfalls. Believe me, they will amaze you again, even after seeing so many other impressive waterfalls.
If you manage to plan it well enough. On your way to Reykjavik, stop to see the out of this world boiling (!!) river.
All described and pictured for you here.
Day 14 – Don’t forget about Reykjavik
Day 14 concludes the tour of the island. It has been a long drive, but totally worth it.
We are heading back in Reykjavik,but do not be sad, there are still many great activities you can take before your flight back.
Your visit of the capital does not have to break the bank, check out my guide called “Reykjavik on the budget”.
UPDATE: I now also have an article that will help you book ALL hotels in Iceland in under 10 minutes – they are sorted by cities and prices for your convenience and they all have great reviews!
Bonus – any day, but a MUST DO!
Here are some amazing tours that you should consider taking! I did not post them by a specific day, because you can take them in many places, but it would definitely be a miss if you don’t do it!
UPDATE: Read my new blog post 10 Best Tours You Have to Take in Iceland
1. Horse riding in Iceland
It does not really matter for me WHERE in Iceland you will do horse riding, but please promise me you will do it!
Icelandic horse is a breed developed in Iceland. They are special – something in between a pony and a horse, and VERY cute! They have been brought by the Viking colonists over 1000 years ago to the island, and they have not been bred with any other race ever since!
You can find some Icelandic horses outside Iceland (expensive) but you CANNOT find any normal horses inside Iceland. It is done in order to protect the breed, to keep it clean. It is illegal to import horses in Iceland. Point.
Just look at this, how can you not adore them?
No wonder why I was so excited to see them, to pet them and obviously to ride them!
It was great and I really can recommend that experience to anyone who likes horses! Even though my horse knew oh-to-well what to do and I found it hard sometimes to manage it. After all, Icelandic horses have quite a wild spirit, even if treated in a farm.
P.S. if you are afraid to ride horses, no worries, it is not a big deal. But at least stop from time to time when they pasture to look at them, and maybe you’ll find the courage to pet them!
P.S.S. If you cannot choose which Iceland horse riding to choose, I recommend this one or this one. They are both close to Reykjavik and you can be sure about the conditions the horses are kept and the staff qualification.
COST: It really depends from the company and the tour you are taking (private or in a group), but it should not be more than 40 EUR per hour for group horse riding.
2. Whale watching
Other cool things to do – whale watching! The best place to do it in Husavik. I wrote quite an elaborated piece about my experience here! But, if you are not reaching Husavik, you can try your luck in Reykjavik. They too know how to spots whales, this is a good environmentally certified whale watching company.
Or, if you want to combine the whale watching and horse riding together in one organized tour – this one is for you!
3. Silfra Fissure Snorkeling
Don’t miss your chance to snorkel one of the TOP 10 diving spots in the world!
Silfra Lava Fissure is the place where American and European continental plates meet, and guess what? You can swim in between them!
I haven’t personally done that yet, but swimming in the crystal clear water between 2 techtonic plates is one of the main reasons I want to come back!
This tour has a PADI certified snorkeling guide, all gear and admission fee included.
If you are looking for road trip itinerary around Iceland, this guide will give you an idea of the things you can do there during two weeks.
You can use it as it is or you can make your own trip from the main points I sketched here.
Either way, you are in for a wonderful adventure!
Check out the more detailed posts about each regions:
Have you been to Iceland?
Would you add something to this “Things to do in Iceland” list? What is your favorite/most desired activity in Iceland?
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