Last week I shared my first Iceland post on how to plan the perfect trip, and now I need a week off work to sit down and write all of the others that I want to share!
There’s so much that I want to say about our trip to encourage more people visit this beautiful country, continuing today with a detailed insight into our four-day Iceland itinerary.
It’s jam-packed, but it’s the only way that we could see so much of Iceland during our short break. So if you choose to follow this guide then prepare for early starts and late nights, but it is absolutely worth every minute of it!
Read more: Iceland Travel Guide – How to Plan Your Trip
Day one: Fly to Reykjavik, hit the road & go hunting for the aurora
6am: we booked a 6am departure which meant we arrived in Iceland shortly after 9am, ready for a full day of exploring. I’d really recommend that you book the earliest flight possible to give yourself an extra full day.
10am: go and pick up your hire car. We booked ours through Atak which was great, but all of the car hire companies are together in one huge compound just behind the airport, so it doesn’t really matter who you book with. You can walk over in about 10-15 minutes or take the free shuttle bus from outside the airport right at the end of the long walkway.
11am: head into Reykjavik to drop your bags at your accommodation and stock up on supplies. You’ll be driving a lot if you follow this itinerary, so it’s important to keep yourself hydrated and fuelled. We stopped off at the cheap and cheerful Bonus supermarket in the centre of Reykjavik and got food and drink to last a couple of days.
12pm: we then embarked on a three-hour drive north-west of Reykjavik to Snaefellsnes National Park. Here we stopped off at a couple of view points at the south of the park before driving right the way around the ring road to the north, where we found the famous GOT Kirkjufell mountain. We got caught in a snowstorm here, but it’s stunning to see in all weathers!
5pm: by this point it was getting late and we had a tour to get back for, so we made our way back to Reykjavik as the sun set behind us.
8pm: it’s time to go aurora hunting! We booked onto a Small Group Northern Lights Tour with Reykjavik Excursions, which are a hugely popular company for Icelandic tours. This tour departed at 9.30pm from the BSI bus station in Reykjavik and returned about 12.30am. Unfortunately it was a bit cloudy on this night so we didn’t see much, but Reykjavik Excursions will take you back out the next night if you don’t see them. And this is valid for up to a year, in case you return to Iceland another time.
Reykjavik Excursions kindly gifted us admission to this tour in exchange for a mention on my blog. This is not sponsored or paid.
Day two: Drive the Golden Circle & go hunting for the aurora
9am: depart Reykjavik ready for a day of driving the Golden Circle. This route is extremely popular for those visiting Iceland, and you don’t have to travel too far to see everything. You can book a tour for this, however it’s extremely easy to drive yourself providing the weather holds out.
10am: arrive at the first stop; Þingvellir National Park. This is actually where we’d visited for the previous night’s Northern Lights Tour, so it was nice to see it in daylight. This is a huge park with a parking fee, however you can stop a little further along at a free viewpoint and wander along a path to see more of the park. Aim to spend an hour here.
12pm: arrive at the second stop; Geysir. It’s free to park here and is an absolute must-see. The geysers are fantastic and really take your breath away. But don’t underestimate their eruptions – they will soak you and your camera (as you might have seen in my Iceland vlog)! There’s a visitor centre here with food and restrooms. Aim to spend an hour here.
13.30pm: arrive at the third stop; Gullfoss. This waterfall is absolutely incredible. Unfortunately we didn’t have good weather here, imagine extremely high winds slapping grit into your face, but its worth it for the view. Again this destination has free parking and a visitor centre with food and restrooms. Aim to spend an hour here.
3.30pm: arrive at the fourth and final stop; Kerid Crater. This will cost you around £2 per person to see. The colour of the water and the depth of the crater are impressive, so it’s a great spot to wander around and give your eyes a rest from driving. Aim to spend 30-minutes here.
4pm: if you’re visiting between March and September, you can drive 1.5 hours south to the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck. The walk is an 8km round trip (45-minutes each way) so if you stick to your timings and only spend 15-minutes at the plane, you’ll be back at the car at 7.15pm as the sun is setting. DO NOT attempt this trip late in the day if you’re visiting between October and February when the sun sets early, as you’ll end up walking back in the dark. We did this due to arriving later than planned and it was absolutely terrifying to be lost on such a vast beach with no light whatsoever.
Alternative option: skip Sólheimasandur and take an extended drive back to Reykjavik, finding a nice dinner spot along the way.
9.30pm: if you decided to book back onto the Northern Lights Tour, you’ll need to go back to your pickup point at this time. If not, I’d recommend going for a drive and trying to spot them yourself. Just bear in mind that you may need to be out until the early hours of the morning to spot them. We didn’t get back until really late however tried to spot them from the car, but to no avail.
Day three: go on a group tour to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
7.30am: for our third day, we booked onto a second tour with Reykjavik Excursions to visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This route can be done without a tour, but it’s a 10-hour round trip without stops, and the weather can become risky, so personally I think a tour is the best idea. We met at the BSI bus station in Reykjavik bright and early.
9am: stop off for a quick 10-minute break at the Lava Centre. This is a great little stop which is really informative if you’re interested in Iceland’s real-time tectonic plate and volcanic activity, particularly as you’re close by to the famous Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanoes. You can grab a coffee and use the restrooms here.
9:30am: stop at Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls. Here you’ll have 15-minutes to explore the falls. When the weather is ok and it hasn’t been too icy, you can walk around the back of the waterfall. There are restrooms here.
10.15am: stop at Skogafoss, another of Iceland’s famous falls. Here you’ll have 30-minutes to explore, and it’s up to you if you want to climb the 500 or so steps up to the top. We did and I had to seriously re-evaluate my fitness levels afterwards. There are restrooms here.
11.15am: stop at Vik for 15-minutes.. This town is gorgeous and is home to a vast black sand beach and views of the famous rock formations in the distance. I would have liked more time here, but it’s a tight schedule due to the distance you’re travelling. There are restrooms here.
12:15pm: stop at a mossy lava field for 15-minutes to snap a few photos of a vast plain which was coated in lava hundreds of years ago. This is quite a common sight across parts of Iceland.
1.15pm: stop at a service area by Svínafellsjökull Glacier for a 45-minute lunch break. You can purchase lunch inside or bring a packed lunch and sit on the grass with views of the surrounding glacier. There are restrooms here.
3pm: stop at Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon for 45-minutes. This is the main destination of the trip and is worth the (very) long drive! It is a stunning lagoon at the base of a ginormous glacier, filled with icebergs. You may even spot a seal if you’re lucky (we did!). There are restrooms here.
4pm: stop at Diamond Ice Beach, just across the road from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, for 30-minutes. This black sand beach is famous for being home to icebergs which float in and out with the tide. Though it can be dangerous here, as the week prior to our visit a lady sat on an iceberg and got swept out to sea. Luckily she was rescued, but it proves the dangers of the Atlantic ocean in the Icelandic weather.
4.30pm: board the coach for your journey back to Reykjavik, stopping for a 45-minute dinner at about 7.30pm. And if you’re lucky, the tour guide will keep an eye out for the Northern Lights on the way home. We were extremely blessed that night, as about 10pm, just 30-minutes from Reykjavik, we spotted them and spent an hour gazing up at the sky in awe. I was so emotional as it was our last night and I was convinced we’d leave without seeing them!
12am: arrive back to Reykjavik. It took a little while to get home due to the unplanned stop and a series of drop offs. In total we were out on the tour for just short of 18 hours, which is why I think it’s best to take a tour instead of drive, unless you’re able to book accommodation at the other end.
12.30am: then if you’re on an adrenaline high like us, head back out in your own car to try and spot the Northern Lights again! We drove to Reykjavik Lighthouse and saw another great light show.
Day four: explore Reykjavik, visit the Blue Lagoon & fly home
9am: most places will have you check out around 11am, so we left our Airbnb at 9am to get a quick two-hours exploring the town of Reykjavik. If you have longer you can do a walking tour, however we decided to see what we could by ourselves. Highlights include the Hallgrimskirkja Church, the Sun Voyager sculpture and the many gorgeous coffee shops and bakeries. I highly recommend the cinnamon bun from Braud&Co!
12pm: arrive at the Blue Lagoon for your pre-booked timeslot and spend a couple of hours paddling around, enjoying your experience of Iceland’s most famous geothermal natural spa. It is quite commercialised, but still a very unique experience. It will cost you anywhere from £50 per person upwards depending on which package you choose. Note: a towel is included with your ticket so there’s no need to pack one.
3pm: leave the Blue Lagoon and make your way back to the airport to drop off the car and check in for your late afternoon/early evening flight. If your flight is later in the evening, see if you can spend longer at the Blue Lagoon or perhaps go for an extended drive. Don’t forget to get fuel on the way as the car rental company will want a full tank!
And there we have it – my ultimate four-day itinerary for Iceland. I wasn’t kidding when I said it was jam-packed! In all seriousness, we were exhausted after this trip, but we left with heads full of amazing memories and hearts full of emotion for this incredible, diverse country. I cannot recommend it enough.
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