Day 1: Reykjavik
For our first week, we chose a hotel outside of Reykjavik. In the first place for tranquility, but if you take an apartment or hotel outside the center, you will save a lot on your travel budget! Our eye fell on hotel Kriunes, located on a small lake in a quiet neighborhood a fifteen minute drive from the center of Reykjavik. There were barely any guests during our stay. Breakfast was the best! We booked on Booking.com, but we got a discount from the hotel on the Booking.com prize. More information about the flights, hotels and some general information you can find here.
You can use the boats of the hotel to kayak on the lake or use their bikes to explore the neighborhood.
There is always water, tea and coffee for free at any hour of the day.
Day 2: Exploring the center of Reykjavik
It is best to plan two days to visit this colorful city.
The world's northernmost capital is nothing like other capitals. The center is quite small and high-rise buildings are lacking, which gives you the feeling that you are walking around in a cozy village. So you can easily explore the city by foot. Recently a system of electric scooter sharing (HOPP) is been introduced, you just have to download the app and then scan the QR code on the scooter and you are on your way. Especially the inhabitants themselves can be seen on these scooters everywhere!
Things to see and to do in Reykjavik:
One of the must-see attractions in Reykjavik is the iconic Hallgrimskirkja church. Standing 74.5 meters tall, this striking landmark offers breathtaking views of the city from its tower. Entering the church is free, if you want to enter the tower, you have to pay an entrance fee.
Stroll around on the Laugavegur...
This is probably one of the most colorful and cozy shopping streets in the world. If the weather is good you can stroll around here or enjoy a drink on a terrace. Don't forget to look around, you will notice great murals!
Another must-visit spot is the Harpa concert hall, famous for its stunning architecture and world-class performances. Entrance is free, and if you're lucky you can witness some rehearsals.
Day 3: Golden circle
These are a couple of highlights you can easily visit in one day when you're staying in Reykjavik.
You take the ring road (N1) to Mosfellsbaer, turn to the right on 36 and follow this road untill you reach Pingvellir, one of the three national parks you find in Iceland and Unesco world heritage. Þingvellir is a site of historical, cultural, and geological significance, and is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland, it can get busy here! The park lies in a rift valley that marks the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the boundary between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. To its south lies Þingvallavatn, the largest natural lake in Iceland. It's possible to go diving in this cold water, but we skipped that, way to cold for us!!
When you drive on and take the 365 on your left, continue on the 37 and then take the 35 you will arrive at the second stop of the Golden Circle: Geysir. No problem if you find this description a bit confusing, there are already signs to this place at Pingvellir!
There are many geothermal areas in Iceland. Haukadalur is one of the best known. Here is the iconic 'Geysir' (the English word geyser (a periodically spouting hot spring) derives from Geysir), which unfortunately has cooled down a bit, but there are other geysers here such as Strokkur that spouts hot water about 20 meters in height every 10 minutes (approximately). We spent a lot of time here, the kids couldn't get enough of watching the geyser! Across the road there is a large shop, restaurant, gas station ... this place is prepared for large numbers of tourists!
... and there is even more natural beauty to admire in this neighborhood. If you follow the road further, you will arrive at Gullfoss not much later. This is a waterfall located in the canyon of the Hvítá river. From the parking spot you go to the waterfall via a hiking trail . This one is breathtakingly beautiful! Take your time to enjoy this one, when the sun is shining you can see rainbows all over the place!
We drove back to Reykjavik via the 35 connecting to the ring road just after Selfoss. The landscape is beautiful to drive through!
Day 4: Iceland Whale watching
We were a bit hesitant to do this. We had already seen whales in South Africa, and of course it remains quite expensive. We were also not sure whether the tours would continue because of the corona. After some research, it turned out that there were still two tours a day instead of 4. And because of his age, Ruben was still allowed to get a ticket on half the price, so it turned out to be a 'yes'. The boat leaves from the old harbor in Reykjavik just behind the Harpa building. It was not necessary to book in advance now, but in a normal corona-free summer this is a necessity! The 3-hour trip eventually turned into 4 hours. Despite the good weather it was freezing cold on the boat, but we didn't got disappoited: whales close to the boat, very impressive ... and hunderds of puffins!
And if you got hungry from an afternoon in the fresh sea air: near the departure point of the boat is a good and very cheap burger restaurant (Hamborgarabulla Tomasar) with a waiter who looks very much like Ed Sheeran ;).
Day 5: West Iceland
The west of the island is also well worth a visit. A regular day trip from Reykjavik gives you a lot of time to explore all the beauty here. North of Reykjavik you can use a tunnel under the Hvalfjördur fjord and thus limit your travel time. We chose to take the tunnel in the morning but drive around the fjord on the way back, which was a good choice. The views are breathtaking!
We drove to Borgarnes. A small village where, according to our travel guides, there is not much to see here. But we found it very quiet here and there is a beautiful coastline. You can take beautiful walks here and there is one tiny museum about the history of Iceland that is definitely worth a visit. The museum has a cozy restaurant where you can join the buffet at very reasonable prices. During our lunch, the American ambassador also stopped here for a visit, which resulted in a nice selfie for my daughter with an interesting background :)
We took road 50 back to Reykjavik, through the inland. Not easy to always find our way here, but even when we didn't know where we were anymore, the view was 'wow'! Along this road near Borgarbyggo there is a real troll path, including a giant chair, a troll pot and some funny statues. The whole troll walk is only a few kilometers and certainly fun to do with children! In Saurbaer we reached the fjord again and we followed road 36 around the fjord. When you have the time a stop at Glymur is a great chance to witness one of the highest waterfalls of Iceland.
Day 6: West Iceland: Reykjadalur
A visit to the power plant of Hellisheidi. It is a flash steam combined heat and power plant (CHP) located at Hengill in south-west Iceland and it is the third-largest geothermal power station in the world. The plant is located close to the ringway so easy to reach. The exhibition is quite spectacular, you can expore it on your own or take a guided tour.
When you follow the ring road from the power plant in the direction of Vik, you will pass the little village of Hveragerdi. The whole region is a geothermal hotspot. Everywhere you see plumes of smoke rising. A walk to Reykjadalur, a hot spring, starts 4 kilometers outside the village. The walk is only 3 kilometers, but the way up is almost completely uphill (the way back is fun and easy!), so you have to take some time here. The hot springs themselves are wonderful to enjoy, nothing better than relaxing in the wonderful warm water in the middle of nature!
There are no changing rooms at the springs themselves, so bring a large towel if you want privacy!
We also saw tours that did the hike by horse. To us it seemed a bit scary to sit on a horse that has some difficulty with the steep slopes with sometimes a deep ravine along the side. But it is also a possibility.
Day 7: South of Iceland: Vik
We leave Reykjavik behind us and drive to Vik in the south of Iceland. It's an easy drive as the ring road is perfect, no chances of getting lost here!
Not far before our next sleeping place we pass the waterfall of Seljalandsfoss, one of the most beautiful and spectacular waterfalls in Iceland. The special thing here is that you can also walk behind the waterfall, so a raincoat is also a must on sunshiny days!
We stay in a fantastic place: The Garage. Just a few miles from Skoga and perfectly located for further exploration of southern Iceland. We booked this apartment at Booking.com. To get a fabulous place like this you have to book early!!
Day 8: South of Iceland: Vik
A few kilometers from our apartment lies the small village of Skoga. From the ring road you can see the spectacular waterfall named after this village: Skogafoss. The waterfall is 60 meters high and 25 meters wide. On a sunny day, a beautiful rainbow ensures that you can make stunning pictures. You can also witness the entire spectacle from above when take the a stairs on the right side of the falls. This place is also the start (or end) point of a multi-day walk that connects to the hiking trails from Landmannalaugar. On the first part of the hike (7 kilometers untill you reach a bridge which crosses the river) you can see no less than 26 waterfalls!
This place is a touristic hotspot, which means that you can also camp here, choose from several restaurants, there is a shop, ....
On the way back to our apartment we find the real hidden gem of this area: the hotsprings of Seljavallalaug and the eldest swimmingpool of Iceland.
You reach these hot springs by a small street about 10 kilometers before Skoga (if you drive towards Vik). There are no directionsigns, but your GPS will find the place if you enter the name of the source. The springs are located on a private property, it is requested not to stay longer than 3 hours. So staying overnight is not allowed here. After a walk of about one kilometer from the parking spot you will arrive at the source. A changing room is provided, but don't expect too much of it! The water in the pool is wonderful! You can also cool down in the cold river that flows along it. A little further there are a few small sources, they are perfect if you prefer a private swimming pool!
Day 9: Black beaches and a plane wreck
Not far from Vik is another special place: a plane wreck of a DC-3. This plane was on its way to America in 1973, but ran into problems due to a fuel shortage. It managed to make an emergency landing and everyone was unharmed. But no one has bothered to remove the wreckage. In the meantime it has become a tourist attraction. Even in corona time it was quite busy. We didn't find the plane itself very special, but the walk to the plane and back was quite tough! The wreck is about 4 km from the parking place. Walk 4 kilometers straight ahead, without shelter, a chilly wind and bright sun. Fortunately, there are markers because otherwise you would think you got lost! It's a special experience. Don't underestimate this hike!
Day 10: Vik and Reynisfjall
Time to explore Vík today. The village of Vík is the southernmost village in Iceland, located on the main ring road around the island. It has only 300 inhabitants but it's a location that attracts a lot of tourists every year.
Vík is one of the wettest places in Iceland. The cliffs west of the black beach are home to many seabirds, if you're lucky you can spot puffins here which burrow into the shallow soils during the nesting season. Offshore you can see impressive basalt rocks, remnants of a once more extensive cliffline Reynisfjall.
You can reach the beach from the town or by a little road that starts about one mile before Vik (if you come from the Reykjavik-side).
This place is a real touristic hotspot, you're never alone here, shop and restaurant at the beach: check!
But the views are spectacular and a beach is always fun, even if it's black instead of white!
A few miles after Vik you can find another hidden gem: the road to Pakgil, road 214. It's no F-road, but it's a tricky one to do with your rental car (we tried!). Pakgil is located between the Mýrdalsjökull glacier and the Mýrdalssandur plain. It's like being on another planet! Parts of this area were the set of Games of Thrones. This breathtaking valley is home to some of the country's most impressive natural wonders, including towering mountains, sparkling glaciers, and crystal-clear rivers. Pakgil is truly a nature lover's paradise, with plenty of opportunities for hiking, camping, and wildlife spotting. Go and discover this stunning, breathtaking part of Iceland!!
Day 11: Vestmannaeyjar islands
A visit to the Vestmannaeyjar islands. Close to the Seljalandsfoss starts the road to the ferry (about 12 km). If you want to take your car on the ferry (the only way you can get around the island is by car!) you have to book the ferry way in advance.
The trip to the largest island, Heimaey, takes about 30 minutes. This island has a population of 4,135, most of whom live in the main town, Vestmannaeyjabær. The other islands are uninhabited, although six have single hunting cabins. Vestmannaeyjar came to international attention in 1973 with the eruption of Eldfell volcano, which destroyed many buildings and forced a months-long evacuation of the entire population to mainland Iceland. Approximately one fifth of the town was destroyed by the lava flow. There is a museum on the island where you can witness this event by video's, pictures and remains of houses, very impressive and absolutely worth a visit!
There are many hiking trails on Heimaey, on of them leads to the top of the Eldfell and gives you a magnificent view over the whole island.
This place is also very good for puffin-spotting, we saw dozens of them.
Day 12: Jökulsarlon: diamond beach and floating ice
Today day we drive all the way from Vik to Jökulsarlon, about 200 km (and back!) for another true gem.
It was a beautiful route with some beautiful glaciers and waterfalls on the way. After almost two weeks filled with the most beautiful waterfalls, we get used to it a bit and we don't stop anymore everytime we see one. The glacier of Jokursalon really defies all imagination, it is breathtaking. Pieces of ice break from the glacier into the gigantic lagoon, and at low tide the ice flows towards the sea. You are not alone at this place, even in corona time we found it quite busy here. You can take boat trips on the lagoon, not cheap, and you can actually admire the spectacle from the shore perfectly. Some pieces of ice are still scattered on the beach a little further. Just before this glacier is the one of Fjallsarlon. Also very beautiful, but much quieter! You can also take boat trips here. There is a restaurant here (which we did not really like ...).
Day 13: Dyrholaey
One last place in the Vik neighbourhood we didn't visit: Dyrhólaey. The word itself is Icelandic for door hill island. In fact, Dyrhólaey is the southernmost point in mainland Iceland. It was formerly an island of volcanic origin. The peninsula has an elevation of 120 metres and the Dyrhólaey Lighthouse sits at the top of the formation facing the sea. There is a road that lead to the top but it's only accessible for 4x4 cars. So we went by foot. An easy hike with a lot of puffins sitting only a few meters away from us! Time to make some pictures here!
To the north you can see the big glacer Mýrdalsjökull from the top, to the east, the black lava columns of the Reynisdrangar come out of the sea, and to the west the whole black coastline in the direction of Selfoss is visible. In front of the peninsula, there is a gigantic black arch of lava standing in the sea. A spectacular place!
Day 14: Blue Lagoon
Time to get back to Reykjavik. We made a reservation at the Blue Lagoon for the afternoon (Always do! This place is very popular and number of people is limited!). Best way to end an Icelandtrip! It's a bit expensive. But kids up to the age of 13 don't have to pay. And you can take all the time you want! We did spent the whole afternoon here. Because we had a 7am flight the next morning we booked an hotel in Keflavik. We stayed at Bergas Guesthouse, perfect if you have an early flight!
Day 15: Back home
Time to return home on our privat jet with a lot of beautiful memories and a lot of plans for the next trip to Iceland!
Here you find some general tips when you want to travel to Iceland!
Do you like roadtrips? Check out our other itineraries here!
Hi! We are Bart, Kris, Lore and Ruben. We are a family of 5, yes, we also have a dog named Spike.
Maybe we can inspire you to explore a bit more of all those beautiful corners of our planet? Go to our trips and find out!