Planning a trip to Iceland? Amazing vacation choice and we have a great 4-day Iceland Itinerary for you and great tips and packing lists! Iceland is a magically beautiful vacation spot full of waterfalls, amazing hikes and beautiful black sand beaches – and that is just the tip of the iceberg!
Iceland Itinerary Recommendations
We love to travel and have been all over the world! London, Mediterranean, Alaska and even closer to home in Nantucket. We just love to explore new places and enjoy what the world and nature has to offer!
If you are looking for an active vacation full of incredible sites and experiences, you should put Iceland on top of your list. Iceland is one of the most beautiful places on the planet and we have a great Iceland itinerary to help get your road trip planning started.
We love to travel. Besides our children, it is what we live for! My husband, Adam, and I try to plan a big trip for just the two of us every summer. We have gone to Alaska, London, the Mediterranean, just to name a few.
This past summer, we were planning our trip with our good friends and went back and forth on locations for weeks. We finally settled upon Iceland. It was an up-and-coming hot spot and we were looking for something more active.
Shortly after booking the flight, I started to wonder, why in the world we go somewhere cold when it was finally warm and beautiful where we lived? Well, I am glad I listened to my instinct, because Iceland is a not to be missed trip.
Before we get started, please note that we were only in Iceland for four nights. We are going to share our driving route, but please know, we concentrated on the Southwest side of the country. We decided that, while you could easily spend a few weeks and tour the whole country, we found very inexpensive and short flights to London. London is one of our favorite cities, so we did three additional nights in London (it was only about $125 and a 2.5 -3 hour flight to London).
4-Day Iceland Itinerary
Month Visited: July
Number of Nights: 4 nights
Weather: We had perfect weather. It was sunny and in the low to mid 60’s the entire time we were there. It couldn’t have been more perfect weather.
Day 1: Arrival and Blue Lagoon
After an overnight flight direct from Minneapolis (about a 5-6 hour flight), we arrived at the Keflavik International Airport at about 9 AM Iceland time. After a rather simple customs process, we were on our way to get our rental car.
Car Rental Notes & Advice
- Get an All Wheel Drive car. We found lots of rough terrain during our time in Iceland.
- Be sure to check to if your car is manual or automatic. Many of them were manual.
- Check the damage on the car closely before you take off. All of the cars we saw were beat up by US standards. After several days of driving in Iceland it’s easy to see how this could be the case. We went through with the car rental agent and had her mark down every knick (and there were a ton) and we took pictures for our records in case there were issues when we turned it in).
- Check your insurance. Usually we rely on our own insurance when we travel. But in Iceland, we took it all. We heard nightmares about the damage and people getting charged a lot when they turned in their cars.
- Gas is expensive and gas stations are not common (like you may not seen one for hours). Fill up often.
- We used BlueCarRental – the reviews were good. We got a Mitsubishi Outlander 4×4.
The process was fairly quick and we were on our way.
Our first stop was the Blue Lagoon. We recommend you make the Blue Lagoon either your first or last stop when in Iceland. It’s close to the airport but there isn’t much around the Blue Lagoon. You will also want to get your tickets to Blue Lagoon before you go! They have timed entries and it sells out – not to mention the lines are long is you are going stand by.
=> Get your tickets for Blue Lagoon in advance here => Blue Lagoon Tickets
I’d put this stop on the MUST do list. Make reservations in advance online. The entry times are set in advance but you can stay all day. After a long, overnight international flight, the Blue Lagoon was a great way to relax and the locker room was a great place to get cleaned up for the remainder of the day.
Our next stop….the Hotel Ranga (see here) near Hella. The Hotel Ranga was about a 1:45 drive time from the Blue Lagoon and would be our base for just a day as we continued to trek east. But, it took us much longer to get there.
Initially, we thought we would have lunch on the way, but it turns out we didn’t see too many roadside diners. However we did find a great coffee shop and restaurant: Hafið Bláa restaurant.
On the way, we stopped along the side of the road and did a few hikes (including the Kerio Crater below). The natural beauty of Iceland is what our trip was all about. So we got out of the car often.
We are big TripAdvisor travelers so we kept it open on our phone all day. Along the way we found waterfalls and wonders everywhere, including Urridafoss. Iceland tip: Foss=Waterfall.
We checked into the Hotel Ranga. This was a great hotel. It has a rustic feel, but very clean and well appointed. It is an amazing location, particularly if you are going there to see the Northern Lights, we were not, but we still loved it and highly recommend it. The staff is amazing. They helped us plan our itinerary for the next day over dinner and drinks!
Day 2 was going to be a big day so we wanted to get some rest. However, when it’s light 24 hours a day, sleep is harder than we expected.
Day 2: The Golden Circle
It’s a good thing it doesn’t get dark. Day 2 was packed for us and could have easily been split into two days. But we had a tight schedule and needed to get to Reykjavik for that evening. Our day 2 itinerary:
- Seljalandsfoss. We seek out waterfalls when we travel. But I’ve never seen one like this. You can see it from the front and from behind. A few tips. The water is COLD and you will get wet. Make sure you have a waterproof jacket and hiking boots. The rocks are slippery, so hiking books are a must. Tip: if you hike inland along the cliff for 10 minutes you can find a second hidden waterfall. It’s located in a cave that’s not that hard to find if you try!
- Vik. Next we drove further east to the black sand beaches (Reynisfjara Beach) in Vik. Honestly, we thought we would be there for about 15 minutes and move on. Boy were we wrong. It’s spectacular. Basalt Columns are amazing and the rock formations in the Ocean appear make believe. We hiked along the beach and over some rocks and the adventure seemed endless. But we had a full day ahead of us and had to move on.
- Dyrolaey. You can see the amazing stone arch from the beach in Vik but up close is worth the drive and short hike. There’s a light house there too, but it’s the scenery that makes it worth the stop.
- Skogafoss. It’s amazing and you can walk right up to it. We only spend a few minutes here but you can hike to the top if you are game. We had to keep moving.
- Gulfoss. We called this one the Rainbow Waterfall. It was a beautiful sunny day, so everywhere we looked there were rainbows hovering around it. This one you can view only from the top.
- Geysir. A short drive from Gulfoss and you can see the Geysir. It’s pretty cool and erupts every 20 minutes or so. Note: this is a good area to find food, we had a snack but should have had dinner. Finding a restaurant wasn’t easy and we didn’t eat until we made it to Reykjavik.
- On the way back we stopped briefly at the Þingvellir National Park (the continental divide). this is basically where the North American tectonic plate and Eurasian tectonic plate meet. After a long day in the car we were all a bit exhausted and didn’t spend much time here.
- After a long day, we had a very smooth check in process for our comfortable apartment in Reykjavik. There were four of us, so we opted to go with a two bedroom apartment rather than a hotel. The apartment was great – perfectly located and had a full kitchen. Finding a parking spot on the street was rather easy. We had a casual dinner at a local pizzeria and called it a night.
Day 3: Húsafell, Snowmobiling, Ice Caves and Waterfalls
After an epic day in Iceland, we got off to a bit of slower start. Coffee at Te & Kaffi, a quick stop at the local convenience grocery and we were off to Snowmobile on a Glacier and then to tour the inside of a glacier. https://intotheglacier.is/tour/snowmobile-tour at Langjökull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. Click here for Snowmobile & Ice Caves or See here for just the Ice Cave Tour
Another long (2 hour), but beautiful, drive from Reykjavik, we arrived in Húsafell. The last 20 minutes of this drive was an a gravel, rough road. The roadway was not well marked and we had very limited cell service.
To make matters worse, our GPS did not have the roadway marked. We managed to navigate it old school—with a map and directions. Note: Download and print the map and directions in advance.
We we finally arrived at the meeting place for our tour, we were outfitted with snowmobile suits, helmets and gloves. We jumped on a monster truck that drove us to the snowmobiles. From there we were off and running.
After 15 minute snowmobile ride we reached the top of the glacier. It was amazing! Felt like we were LITERALLY on top of the world! Check out my Facebook Live from the top of the glacier (can you believe I had better cell service there than I sometimes do in my house!)
We entered the glacier through a giant pipe. Inside was crazy, we walked through a maze of ice tunnels. Note: It’s cold and a bit cramped deep in a glacier, however, I am usually claustrophobic and did just fine. Tough it out, it is totally worth it. They even have a chapel in there where you can get married!
A short snowmobile ride back down the glacier and we were back in 60 degree weather. We decided to take an impromptu hike on our way out of the Langjökull area. There was plenty of places to roam. We found some smaller waterfalls and lots of beautiful scenery. It still amazes me that 10 minutes after being on a glacier, we are hiking to a waterfall!
We took the opportunity on the way back to fuel up the car and make another grocery stop (good thing, because we were starving)!
That night, we spent that evening wandering Reykjavik. We found several great restaurants, bars and shops. Everything was very European and expensive. We ate that night at Burro Tapas and Steaks. Probably one of my favorite meals in Iceland. Everything we got was delicious!
Day 4: Thrihnukagigur Volcano & Reykjadalur Hot Springs
Yesterday we were in a glacier–today we would be much lower in to a dormant volcano.
Today’s drive to Inside the Volcano was much easier than yesterdays – only 30 minutes and all well marked roads and our GPS was spot on. Inside the Volcano is an unbelievable journey deep down into Thrihnukagigur volcano.
It begins with a fairly moderate 2 mile hike (each way) from the meeting spot to the volcano. The path is well maintained and the scenery was drastically different than the other places we’ve been in Iceland. Being lowered into a volcano is not something you can experience anywhere else in the world. It was a surreal experience.
You take a type of elevator, which is more like what is used outside of sky-scrappers to clean the windows, into the opening of the crater. Once you get down there, it is HUGE. The ground space is equivalent to almost three full-sized basketball courts planted next to each other and the height is such that it would easily fit full sized Statue of Liberty into the chamber. So like I said – it’s huge!
This tour is NOT TO BE MISSED!
As is always the case when we travel, we seek out one last adventure. The Reykjadalur Hot Springs in Hveragerdi, provided the perfect opportunity. It was about a 15 minute ride from the volcano tour, but seemed like it may be cool!
Know before you go, this hike was pretty aggressive. Truth be told, we had hike over 4 miles already and had we known the actual distance we needed to hike to get to the hot springs, we might not have gone (2 miles each way). The hike is steep at first and gets less aggressive the further you travel. It took us about an hour, perhaps a bit longer to get to the hot springs – but it was well worth it!
Seriously beautiful (I’m personally glad I didn’t know how hard or long it would have been or I may not have gone). It was really cool – there was a spot where the hot springs and the super cold water from the glacier meet, to make the perfect place to take a soak and relax!
Note: We saw a lot of talk of “changing rooms”, so we had bathing suits in our backpacks. Icelandic changing rooms were just a small piece wood panels–not rooms at all (and they only cover two sides of you!!)
After wading in the hot springs we started the hike back. Given that it was mostly downhill, it took us under an hour.
The ride back to Reykjavik from the hot springs was only about 45 minutes. We spend our last night eating, drinking and wandering the streets of the City. We went to a really good restaurant called Public House Gastrobub for Japanese Street Food. Sounds strange, but really good and worth a visit!!
Day 5 – Departure to London
We flew out early and headed off to one of our favorite cities. For only about $100 US we were able to fly to London. We understand that some airlines actually offer free stopovers in Iceland.
Heading to London – Check out our London 5 Day Itinerary post.
Heading to Italy – Check out our Rome in a Day and Amalfi Coast post.
What to pack for a trip to Iceland
We were in Iceland at the beginning of July and had amazing weather (affiliate links)
- Fleece Lined Stretch Pants
- Hiking Pants – I LIVED in these
- Hiking boots
- Hiking socks
- Bathing suit
- Rain jacket – I loooove this rain jacket. It packs down to nothing and is really easy to throw in your backpack.
- Packable Down Jacket – great if you run into colder weather. Easy and light enough to carry with you.
- Hat and gloves
- Long sleeve shirts, short sleeve shirts and tank tops for layering (yes, I did wear a tank one day during a hike)
- Travel Adaptor
- Car charger with multiple ports – this was THE BEST. Especially if you are using your GPS, it sucks the heck out of your battery. AND there was no fighting for the charger – everyone had a spot.
- Camera – however, we just used our iPhones
- Portable Back-up Mobile Phone Battery
Other Great Tips for Iceland:
- Snacks – Food was super expensive and hard to find. You could be driving for hours and not pass anything. Lucky for us, our travel companions had this covered! They brought tons of grab and go snacks, Kind Bars, peanut butter, chips, etc. The more you can bring the better. We made a few stops at local grocery stores, but everything is imported, so the prices are very high. We picked up apples, peanut butter and some other snacks. These snacks were our lunches almost every day. We also picked up some breakfast foods that we enjoyed in our apartment. That way we didn’t need to search for breakfast as our mornings started pretty early.
- Phones – we would have been completely lost without our phone GPS. While the signals were not always great, it was super helpful to have our GPS available when driving around barely marked roads.
- Money – I couldn’t even tell you what the money looked like in Iceland. We literally charged every single thing we bought. Check with your credit card company and make sure you have no international charges on your card.
- Want someone to plan your trip and tours for you? This website has some GREAT options!
(Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to book, we will receive a small commission at no cost to you.)
Looks like an amazing trip!!
Thank you! It was!!
What a wonderful vacation. Gorgeus trip.
Hi Jenn! Thanks for the great tips. I’m in a book club with Jessica Meltzer Bearkat and she passed along your blog. My husband and I are headed to Iceland in August and this has been really helpful with the planning (esp the links for packing) thanks again!
Hi Jenn! Thanks for the great tips. I’m in a book club with Jessica Meltzer Bearkat in Chicago and she passed along your blog. My husband and I are headed to Iceland in August and this has been really helpful with the planning (esp the links for packing) thanks again!
Oh that is awesome! Please give Jess an HUGE hug from me!! If you have any questions at all, Jess has my contact info! Have the best trip – it is amazing!
You are amazing Jenn! I am sorry I am just now learning about how great you are and your blog, but I will for sure follow you and recommend you to others!!!!!
Love you, Risa!