With over 2 million visitors per year for a country with ~400,000 locals, Iceland is a popular small country island to visit. Many visitors aspire to travel around the entire country on the full Ring Road, the main road that wraps around the country, which usually takes 10 days if you don’t want to feel rushed. If you have 1 week in Iceland, the best thing to do is to explore Iceland’s South Coast.
After thoroughly exploring Iceland’s South Coast in 2022, this is my suggested 1-week Iceland itinerary packed with 20+ top attractions and epic day hikes. I share practical tips as well as an Iceland-specific travel planning template.
- Quick Travel Facts for Iceland
- Key Activities in This Iceland Itinerary
- 4 General Tips on Visiting Iceland
- Getting Around Iceland
- Iceland Itinerary with Timestamps
- Iceland Map and Driving Time
- Day 1: Blue Lagoon, Volcano Hike or Reykjavík
- Day 2: Golden Circle, Hrunalaug Hot Spring
- Day 3: Landmannalaugar Epic Day Hike
- Day 4: Waterfalls, Icelandic Horse Riding, Canyon
- Day 5: Glacier Hike, Glacier Lagoons, Diamond Beach
- Day 6: Svartifoss, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Secret Lagoon
- Day 7: Glymur Waterfall Hike, Reykjavík
- My Top Iceland Recommendations
- Planning Template for Your Iceland Trip
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Quick Travel Facts for Iceland
Here is some general information on Iceland to save you travel research time:
⭐ Known for: Iceland is known for stunning and untouched nature (e.g., waterfalls, volcanoes, glacier lagoons), natural hot springs and wild animals (e.g., puffins, Icelandic horses, sheep).
🛂 Visa: A visa is not required for US nationals visiting Iceland up to 90 days.
💬 Language: The official language is Icelandic, but 98% of the population speaks English.
🌎 Time zone: Iceland’s time zone is Greenwich Mean Time.
💰 Currency: Iceland’s currency is the Icelandic Krona and $1 USD = 140 ISK at time of writing. Some major hotels and stores will accept USD and Euros, but you won’t get a favorable exchange rate from them.
🔌 Outlet: Iceland uses the Europlug, the two prongs with round pins, so US travelers will need to bring an adapter (I bought and used this well-rated one).
💧 Tap water: It’s safe to drink Iceland’s tap water. In fact, Iceland has one of the cleanest waters in the world.
💳 Credit card: Credit cards are widely accepted as Iceland has a great credit card infrastructure, but make sure to bring a little bit of cash.
American Express is not widely accepted in Iceland. Make sure to bring a VISA and/or Mastercard credit card.
💵 Tipping: Tipping is not customary, but appreciated in Iceland.
⚠️ Crime: Iceland is one of the safest countries in the world and has a very low crime rate.
☀️ When to visit: The most popular time to visit Iceland is during the summer season, which runs from June to August (40°F-55°F). September to October is fall (30°F-50°F), December to March is winter (25°F-30°F), and April to May is spring (30°F-45°F).
⌛ How long to visit: You’ll need at least 1 week to travel through Iceland’s popular South Coast. With 3-5 days, you’ll be able to visit Iceland’s biggest city, Reykjavík, and the tourist-friendly Golden Circle. You’ll need 10+ days to go around the entire country without rushing.
Key Activities in This Iceland Itinerary
The hikes, tours and activities are spaced out, but this is an active, packed itinerary that you can modify to incorporate more downtime.
- Golden Circle stops: Gullfoss, Geysir, Thingvellir National Park, Kerid crater
- 3 hot springs: Blue Lagoon, Secret Lagoon, Hrunalaug Hot Spring
- 3+ hikes: Landmannalaugar, Vatnajökull glacier, Glymur Waterfall, Fagradalsfjall volcano
- 8+ iconic sites: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Skógafoss, Seljalandsfoss, Svartifoss, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Diamond Beach, etc.
- 2 Icelandic animals: Icelandic horse, puffin
- A city visit: Reykjavík
4 General Tips on Visiting Iceland
Here are four general tips when traveling to Iceland:
- Tip #1: Plan in advance for peak, summer season. The weather in Iceland is volatile in all seasons, but it’s warmer (45°F-55°F aka “light winter”) in the summer and therefore more popular and crowded. Lodging and campervans must be booked months in advance. Popular timed ticket slots for places like Blue Lagoon start disappearing a month ahead.
During the summer months in Iceland, the sun rises early (3-6am) and sets late (9pm-12am). This gives you more time to explore during the day time.
- Tip #2: If you only have a week, consider skipping the full Ring Road. The Ring Road is the main road that runs around the country and many visitors want to travel the entire Ring Road. It’s feasible to do the full Ring Road in ~8 days, but it’ll be rushed and you’ll skip many sites along the way. With 1 week, I focused on exploring the South Coast and had an amazing time.
- Tip #3: Consider grocery shopping in Iceland. Iceland is one of the most expensive countries to visit (I broke down my Iceland travel expenses in detail) and in some places (e.g., Skaftafell) restaurants close early and are few and far in between. Look for grocery shops like Bonus (budget), Kronar (wider selections) and Netto (fewer selections). Avoid 10/11 as they’re more expensive and target tourists.
- Tip #4: Don’t worry too much about cash, language and cell signal. Iceland has a great credit card infrastructure and you’ll need cash in very few instances. They also have decent to good Wi-Fi at many locations with a few areas that will drop to 3G (e.g., between Vík and Skaftafell). You’ll also get by fine with just speaking English.
Getting Around Iceland
Iceland has a main road, called the Ring Road, running around the country. This is the road you’ll mostly be driving on to travel from one natural site to the next one.
There are several ways to get around Iceland:
- Rent a car. You can rent a car to drive around the Ring Road and book lodgings along the way.
- Travel in a campervan. I’m not a camper and I live in a city, but Iceland is a great place to visit in a campervan and that’s what I did. This thorough Iceland campervan guide explains why and how to campervan.
- Go on tours. Iceland runs many tours from main areas, like Reykjavík. This reduces how much you need to plan, but significantly increases transportation time (e.g., it takes 4 hours to get to the biggest glacier hike from Reykjavík).
- Take the bus. Iceland doesn’t have a bus network that takes you around the entire country, but with some planning, you can travel around the Ring Road on a bus.
- Bike. For the very adventurous-inclined, you can bike the Ring Road and stay at campsites or other accommodations. Very few people do this, but I saw several during the summer months.
Iceland Itinerary with Timestamps
Below is a summary of this Iceland itinerary with my actual timestamps to give you an idea of how long you might need for each activity and how to efficiently sequence everything.
|Day 1||🚐 Arrive and pickup campervan (6-8am)|
🌀 Relax in Blue Lagoon (8-11am)
🌋 Hike an erupting volcano or 🦈 Visit Reykjavík (1:30-5pm)
|Day 2||⛰️ Walk around Kerid Crater (11am-12pm)|
🟡 Tour the Golden Circle (1:30-6:30pm)
🔥 Relax in Hrunalaug hot spring (7:45-9pm)
|Day 3||🚌 Bus to the Highlands (9:10-11:20am)|
🥾 Hike Landmannalaugar (11:30-3:30pm)
🚌 Bus back (4:30-6:30pm)
|Day 4||💧 Visit Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui (11-12:15pm)|
💧 Visit Skógafoss and Kvernufoss (12:30-1:45pm)
🐴 Ride or Feed an Icelandic Horse (2:15-3:30pm)
🐍 Visit Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon (5:15-6:15pm)
🪨 Quick stop at Dverghamrar (6:30-6:45pm)
|Day 5||🏔️ Hike the Vatnajökull glacier (9:20am-3pm) |
💎 Visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach (4:45-6:15pm)
🧊 Quick stop at Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon (6:30-6:45pm)
|Day 6||💧 Hike to Svartifoss (9:30-10:45am)|
🐧 Visit Dyrhólaey arch to see puffins (1:15-2pm)
🏖️ Climb the sea stacks at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach (2:15-3pm)
🥾 Hike part of Waterfall Way (3:30-5pm)
🌡️ Relax in Secret Lagoon (6:30-8:15pm)
|Day 7||🥾 Hike Glymur waterfall (10:30am-1:15pm)|
🦈 Visit Reykjavík (2:15-6:30pm)
Iceland Map and Driving Time
This Google Map has all the Iceland places mentioned in this itinerary. I’ve also included a map of my driving route for each day below.
Driving time and distance: 20 hours of driving and 4 hours of bus riding to cover 933 miles.
Day 1: Blue Lagoon, Volcano Hike or Reykjavík
Day 1 route for this Iceland itinerary (71 miles, 1.75 hours of driving).
🌀 Relax in Blue Lagoon (Morning)
Why: One of the 25 wonders of the world, Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa that’s one of the most iconic places in Iceland.
What to do there:
- Relax and enjoy the hot spring water (there are different water temperatures in this massive spa).
- Get a drink at the spa bar and get a face mask without leaving the lagoon (each ticket includes a complimentary drink and mud mask).
- Blue Lagoon also has a cafe, restaurant, hotel and retreat spa.
Getting there: Blue Lagoon is a 20-minute drive from the Keflavík International Airport, so it’s a good stop at the start or end of your trip. If you don’t have a car or campervan, you can book tours like this one that will provide transportation.
Duration: 2-4 hours is adequate to enjoy Blue Lagoon. I spent 3 hours there after a red-eye flight.
Cost: Blue Lagoon offers tiered experiences at different price points, starting at 11,000 ISDK (~$80).
Book Blue Lagoon in advance; earlier time slots are cheaper and less crowded.
If you don’t want to pay the entry fee, you can also see the blue water from the outside. This hot spring guide has more Blue Lagoon tips.
My take: Some people will argue that there are many hot springs in Iceland and that the Blue Lagoon is touristy (which is true), but the unique milky-blue water color and extraordinary surrounding makes it feel like you’re on another planet, which makes it worth a visit.
🌋 Hike an Erupting Volcano (Afternoon, Option 1)
Why: Seeing an active volcano is a unique experience, so check for volcanic activity during your Iceland trip. Fagradalsfjall erupted a week before my trip and it was a 6-mile hike to see it.
My take: Hiking to an erupting volcano wasn’t originally in my itinerary, but it was such a rare occurrence that I went for it. I’m glad I did because it became one of my trip’s highlights. Seeing lava in real life and feeling how powerful the heat is amazing.
🦈 Visit Reykjavík (Afternoon, Option 2)
Why: Reykjavík is the largest city in Iceland and offers a city landscape in an otherwise nature-heavy country.
What to do:
- Get amazing cinnamon buns at Braud & Co (one of the best I’ve ever eaten!)
- Visit the Hallgrímskirkja church
- Shop at The Handknitting Association for authentic lopapeysa, Icelandic sweaters
- Try Icelandic traditional food, including the infamous hákarl (fermented shark). (I tried a piece and it wasn’t as terrible as everyone makes it sound, but I wouldn’t eat it again.)
Getting there: Being 45-minutes away from Blue Lagoon, Reykjavík is a popular stop after the geothermal spa.
Park at the Harpan Concert Hall when visiting Reykjavík. It’s a spacious garage and costs around the same as street parking. You pay on your way out by entering your license plate number in the pay machine.
Duration: Most people suggest spending half a day to a full day in Reykjavík. It’s a small town that you can walk through in less than a day.
My take: Compared to everything else Iceland offers, Reykjavík pales in comparison so I recommend spending half a day here, or a day at most.
⛺ Lodging for Day 1 / Selfoss Campsite
When settling down for Day 1, pick a location that’s within the Golden Circle area as that’s where we’ll be on Day 2.
Where I stayed: I stayed at Selfoss campsite, which was clean, well-maintained and comfortable. It had hot showers, a spacious kitchen facility (~5 tables) and an area where people leave things they no longer need (e.g., oil, salt, pasta).
Day 2: Golden Circle, Hrunalaug Hot Spring
Day 2 route for this Iceland itinerary (138 miles, 3.5 hours of driving).
⛰️ Walk Around Kerid Crater (Morning)
Why: Kerid crater is a beautiful crater that formed when the volcano collapsed on itself. It’s not considered one of the Golden Circle’s main attractions, so it’s generally less crowded.
Getting there: Kerid Crater is within the Golden Circle area. There’s a parking lot once you arrive.
Duration: 30 minutes to 1 hour is sufficient to visit Kerid Crater. I walked around the entire outer and inner rims in an hour.
Cost: Kerid Crater has a 400 ISK (~$3) per person entrance fee.
My take: If you’ve never seen a crater like this, I highly recommend stopping at Kerid Crater. It’s quite beautiful.
🟡 Tour the Golden Circle (Afternoon)
Why: The Golden Circle is a 190-mile tourist route featuring 3 of Iceland’s top natural attractions not too far from the airport. It consists of:
- Gullfoss, one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland.
- Geysir, a rare, steaming vent that erupts every ~5 minutes. This was my favorite of the three.
- Thingvellir National Park, a historic site notable for its volcanic landscape, being the site of the world’s first parliament and a key background for Game of Thrones. I drove through it quickly, which was not a bad decision given all the volcanic areas I later saw.
Getting there: Given it’s popularity, all three Golden Circle main attractions have a parking lot once you navigate to the Google Map locations above.
The Golden Circle’s three main attractions each have a nearby center with bathrooms, food and a gift shop.
Duration: The Golden Circle can be done in about half a day (4-6 hours).
Cost: Free. None of the Golden Circles main attractions have an entrance, parking or bathroom fee.
🔥 Relax in Hrunalaug Hot Spring (Evening)
Why: Hrunalaug is a quaint hot spring that fits ~20 people max and is embedded in a valley, so you have a beautiful view while warming up.
Getting there: Hrunalaug hot spring is located inside the Golden Circle area, which makes it a good stop to do while touring the Golden Circle.
Duration: 1-2 hours is sufficient to enjoy this small hot spring.
Cost: Hrunalaug hot spring costs 1000 ISK (~$7) cash per person. This is the only place I needed cash all trip.
My take: Hrunalaug hot spring is easily crowded, but is surrounded by a beautiful valley that makes it unique and worth a visit. If it’s too cold, you might want to skip it due to lack of facilities. Here’s how Hrunalaug compared to other hot springs.
⛺ Lodging for Day 2 / Gaddstadaflatir Campsite
When settling down for Day 2, consider staying near Hella since that’s one of the few places the bus to the Highlands leaves from for Day 3.
Where I stayed: I stayed at Gaddstadaflatir campsite the night of Day 2. This Hella campsite was simple and well-maintained. It had no showers and a fairly small kitchen facility, but it had a spacious campground.
Day 3: Landmannalaugar Epic Day Hike
Day 3 route for this Iceland itinerary (128 miles, 4 hours of bus riding).
🥾 Hike on Landmannalaugar (All Day)
Why: The Highlands is an area in the middle of Iceland that’s largely uninhabited and composed of volcanic desert. It’s an extraordinary area, and Landmannalaugar is a stunning, unique and (somewhat) accessible part of it.
The hike: Landmannalaugar has several trail options. For a hike that you can fit in a day, do the Brennisteinsalda-Blahnukur loop, a 3-6 hour loop (depending on how fast you go). I’m a fairly strong hiker and took 4 hours to complete it. It’s steep at points, but beautiful with gorgeous views, constantly changing landscapes and unique colors.
Getting there: You need four-wheel drive (4WD) to visit the Highlands, which my campervan didn’t have. I took the Hella bus to Landmannalaugar in the morning (9:10-11:20am) and took it back after the hike (4:30-6:30pm). Note that the route is seasonal.
During peak season, the Hella bus to Landmannalaugar wasn’t full, so booking ahead may not be necessary. You lose cell service about half way through the bus ride.
Cost: The round-trip bus ride was $115 during peak season. The camp at Landmannalaugar has a bathroom facility (500 ISK, ~$4), a hot spring and a few, limited food options.
My take: Hiking Landmannalaugar is one of my all-time favorite hikes, so I highly recommend it. It’s also a great way to see the Highlands if you’re not spending a lot of time there.
⛺ Lodging for Day 3 / Gaddstadaflatir campsite
When settling down for Day 3, you want to stay somewhere in or between Hella and Vík.
Where I stayed: I stayed at the same Gaddstadaflatir campsite the night of Day 3 since the bus returns to Hella and I was too tired to drive after hiking.
Day 4: Waterfalls, Icelandic Horse Riding, Canyon
Day 4 route for this Iceland itinerary (157 miles, 3.75 hours of driving).
💧 Visit Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui (Morning)
Why: Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui are some of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls. There’s a short ~10-minute walk trail connecting the two.
- Seljalandsfoss is one of Iceland’s most unique waterfalls because you can walk around it; you’ll get very wet if you do so. People who were prepared wore full rain gear.
- Gljufrabui is a waterfall hidden inside a cave. During peak season, you’ll have to wait in line to use the stepping stones into the cave. You can bring water shoes to skip the line.
Getting there: Most people navigate to Seljalandsfoss and park there. To avoid the crowded parking lot, you can park at the neighboring Gljufrabui‘s free parking lot and walk 10 minutes, but I suggest still paying for parking at Seljalandsfoss to help maintain the waterfalls.
Duration: 30-60 minutes is sufficient to visit both waterfalls, while accounting for the time you need to wait in line. I visited both in ~45 minutes.
Cost: Parking at Seljalandsfoss costs 700 ISK (~$5). There’s no entrance fee otherwise.
My take: Seljalandsfoss is very cool to walk around, especially if you’ve never visited such a waterfall. Gljufrabui was very crowded during the peak season and I can’t say it was worth waiting in line for.
💧 Visit Skógafoss and Kvernufoss (Early Afternoon)
Why: These are another two very popular waterfalls.
- Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls. The water force is so powerful you’ll get wet walking close to it. Right next to it are the staircases leading to the Waterfall Way hike, an easy 10-mile hike where you can see 25+ waterfalls along the route.
- Kvernufoss is a less well-known (less crowded) idyllic, hidden waterfall next to Skógafoss. This is one of my favorite waterfalls because of its surroundings. You can access this waterfall after a short 5-minute walk.
Getting there: Once you navigate to Skógafoss and Kvernufoss, note that they have separate parking lots that’s a 3-minute drive away from each other.
Duration: You’ll need 1-2 hours if you want to visit both waterfalls, climb up Skógafoss’s stairs and walk part of the Waterfall Way.
Cost: Skógafoss’s parking lot is free, but the bathrooms cost 200 ISK (~$1.50). Kvernufoss has a separate parking lot that costs 750 ISK (~$5), but is near a museum with bathrooms; the parking ticket gives you access to the museum bathroom.
My take: The power of Skógafoss’s waterfall is amazing. Kvernufoss’s surrounding made it one of my favorite waterfalls in Iceland.
🐴 Ride or Feed an Icelandic Horse (Afternoon)
Why: Icelandic horses are short and have a unique gait that people say lends to a much smoother ride.
Getting there: There are several places that offer riding or feeding an Iceland horse. I took a Vík horse riding tour since it was highly rated and the location was convenient for me.
Duration: The tour lasted 1 hour.
Cost: The tour cost $80 per person.
My take: I’ve taken a few horse riding tours in different countries and this tour is good for beginners; it’s controlled and slow-paced.
Signal gets weak (turns to 3G) on the Ring Road between Vík and Vatnajökull glacier area. Make sure to download the Iceland map (via Google Maps offline feature) before you leave Vík.
🐍 Visit Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon (Late Afternoon)
Why: Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is a unique, serpent-shaped canyon that has three viewpoints. This canyon became famous when Justin Bieber featured it in one of his music videos (unfortunately, the rush of visitors destroyed the canyon’s surrounding grass, which is why some of the area is roped off).
Getting there: Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon has two parking lots. I would park at the higher one so you’re closer to the highest viewpoints, which I think is the best view. The lower parking lot has a bathroom.
Duration: 1 hour is sufficient to see the canyon at all three viewpoints.
Cost: Free. Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon doesn’t have parking, entrance or bathroom fees.
My take: Like many other things in Iceland, Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon is really beautiful to look at. The man-made viewpoints make it feel less natural than other sites.
🪨 Quick Stop at Dverghamrar
If you want to break up your drive a bit, you can stop for a brief visit at Dverghamrar, the dwarf cliffs with a legend behind it. It’s not a must-see and it’s small, but it’s not popular so it’s very rarely crowded.
⛺ Lodging for Day 4 / Svinafell Campsite
When settling down for Day 4, consider driving to and staying near Skaftafell since that’s where you’ll have an early start from on Day 5.
Where I stayed: I stayed at nearby Svinafell campsite. It’s a beautiful, but crowded campsite during peak season (but not as crowded as the Skaftafell campsite). It has hot showers (2 outdoor ones plus 1 in each bathroom) and a spacious kitchen facility that gets busy during peak meal times.
Day 5: Glacier Hike, Glacier Lagoons, Diamond Beach
Day 5 route for this Iceland itinerary (76 miles, 2 hours of driving).
🏔️ Hike the Vatnajökull Glacier (Morning and Early Afternoon)
Why: Vatnajökull is Europe’s biggest glacier. There are not many places in the world like Iceland where you can easily access a glacier. Also, Iceland’s glaciers are receding due to climate change, making them less accessible over time.
Here’s a comprehensive guide on hiking a glacier in Iceland.
💎 Visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach (Late Afternoon)
Why: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a stunning must-see destination in Iceland. Some of the ice here is over 1,000 years old. Diamond Beach is a nearby black beach with ice chunks floating in it. The ice comes from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier slowly melting.
Getting there: After you navigate to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, be aware that the parking lot is very crowded during peak season and the bathroom lines can get long. From there, you can walk or drive over to Diamond Beach.
There are several food stalls that close at 5pm near Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. You can also take boat, kayak and ice cave tours from here.
Duration: 30-60 minutes is sufficient to visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach.
Cost: Free. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach do not have entrance, parking or bathroom fees.
My take: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon feels and looks unreal in real life and is one of my favorite stops, despite the crowd. Diamond Beach is also a cool stop. The ice in the ocean was neat, but I was personally more amazed by how soft the black sand was.
🧊 Quick Stop at Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon
If you want to see another glacier lagoon that’s less popular, you can do a quick stop at Fjallsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This lagoon pales in comparison to Jökulsárlón, but the glacier mountain background is breathtaking. The lagoon is a 10-minute hike from the parking lot.
⛺ Lodging for Day 5 / Svinafell Campsite
When settling down for Day 5, you can stay at the same location near Skaftafell since we’ll start Day 6 nearby.
Where I stayed: I stayed at the same Svinafell campsite.
Day 6: Svartifoss, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, Secret Lagoon
Day 6 route for this Iceland itinerary (244 miles, 5.5 hours of driving).
💧 Hike to Svartifoss (Morning)
Why: Svartifoss is a unique waterfall falling from basalt columns formed by lava cooling and contracting.
Getting there: Svartifoss one of the more popular sites in the Skaftafell area, but the trail head isn’t clearly marked. Look for a start with an uphill climb. The hike is almost entirely uphill and will take you straight to the waterfall.
Svartifoss gets crowded, but even during peak season, starting at 9:30am meant I had the hike mostly to myself.
Duration: The uphill hike should take 30-60 minutes, depending on how fast you go.
Cost: Svartifoss doesn’t have any entrance fee, but you need to pay for parking at Skaftafell’s visitor center.
My take: Svartifoss was a nice short, rewarding hike. The viewing platform is not big, so I recommend trying to get there earlier and beating the crowd.
After seeing Svartifoss, you will start to head back west in Iceland’s South Coast. If you want to do the full Ring Road, you would continue east and north from here.
🐧 Visit Dyrhólaey Arch to See Puffins (Early Afternoon)
Why: The popular Dyrhólaey Arch near the town of Vík is one of the best places in Iceland’s South Coast to see puffins. 50% of the world’s puffin population live in Iceland.
Getting there: Dyrhólaey Arch has a big parking lot. You have to walk further down to the cliff area to see the puffins. The best time to see the puffins is in the early morning or even, but I saw plenty of them in the early afternoon.
Duration: You can spend anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour at Dyrhólaey Arch, depending on how long you want to look at the puffins.
Cost: Free. Dyrhólaey Arch has no entrance or parking fee.
My take: Seeing puffins in real life is really cool (I didn’t even know they could fly; I thought they were more like penguins) so I think visiting Dyrhólaey Arch for to see them is worth it. I wasn’t as impressed by the arch itself.
🏖️ Climb the Sea Stacks at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach (Afternoon)
Why: The sea stacks at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of Iceland’s most iconic and photographed spots. It’s an incredible view. The color of the sea stacks can really vary depending on the weather.
Getting there: Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach has big parking lot with a cafe right next to it. Walk down to the beach and the sea stacks will be on your left.
Duration: You can spend 15 minutes or 1.5 hours at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. I was there for 45 minutes mostly climbing the sea stacks.
Cost: Free. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach doesn’t have a parking or entrance fee.
My take: The sea stacks are an iconic sight, so it’s worth seeing them in person. Given how crowded and popular they are during peak season, it was hard to enjoy the view, so I mostly enjoyed climbing them.
🥾 Hike Part of Waterfall Way Hike (Late Afternoon)
Why: The Waterfall Way hike is an easy ~10 miles hike where you can pass by 25+ waterfalls along the way.
Getting there: The Waterfall Way hike is located up the staircases next to Skógafoss and not very well known (I barely saw anyone 45 minutes into the hike).
Duration: The hike will take several hours, but it’s an out and back, so you can turn around anytime you want. I only hiked for ~1.5 hours so that I had enough time to make it to the last stop, Secret Lagoon, before they closed.
Cost: Free. There’s no entrance or parking fee for the Waterfall Way hike.
My take: I would mostly recommend doing this hike if you really love waterfalls and can’t get enough of them. The hike itself is not that interesting, but you get to see a lot of waterfalls.
🌡️ Relax in Secret Lagoon (Evening)
Why: Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland (made in 1891) and it’s relatively affordable for what it provides. Many people say that Secret Lagoon feels hotter than Blue Lagoon.
Getting there: Secret Lagoon is located in the Golden Circle area and has a big parking lot.
As a heads up, Secret Lagoon has a communal shower and you’re required to shower nude before getting into the pool.
Duration: 1-3 hours is a good amount of time to spend in the Secret Lagoon.
Cost: The entrance fee for the Secret Lagoon is 3,000 ISK (~$20).
I visited three hot springs and compared them in depth.
⛺ Lodging for Day 6 / Thingvellir Campsite
When settling down for Day 6, consider staying in the Golden Circle area for an early start in that area on Day 7.
Where I stayed: I stayed at Thingvellir Campsite. This is a small, isolated campsite next to a beautiful lake. It doesn’t have hot, running water or a kitchen facility, but it has bathrooms.
The campsite is only for tent campers and not campervans (but I didn’t realize this when I stayed there). Instead, you can stay by nearby Thingvellir – Nyrðri Leirar.
Day 7: Glymur Waterfall Hike, Reykjavík
Day 7 route for this Iceland itinerary (119 miles, 3 hours of driving).
🥾 Hike Glymur Waterfall (Morning and Early Afternoon)
Why: The Glymur Waterfall hike is an interesting, moderate 4-mile hike involving a log crossing, a cave pass, some steep moments and different viewpoints of the waterfall.
Getting there: Glymur Waterfall is a 1-hour drive from Reykjavík. It has a medium-sized parking lot that I heard gets crowded by 11am. I went on a rainy day and it was mostly empty the entire time I was there.
Duration: The Glymur Waterfall hike takes ~3 hours to complete.
Cost: Free. Glymur Waterfall doesn’t have a parking or entrance fee.
My take: Glymur Waterfall is a great moderate hike because of all the things you get to see and do (e.g., the log crossing). This hike is more about the journey than the destination; the waterfall will not be the most impressive one you see in Iceland.
🦈 Visit Reykjavík (Afternoon)
If you didn’t get to visit Reykjavík at the beginning of your trip (see Day 1), it’s a great stop for the end of your trip to get settled down.
⛺ Lodging for Day 7 / Grindavik Campsite
When settling down for Day 7, consider staying within an hour or two of driving time from the Keflavík International Airport (KEF) to easily fly out the next day.
Where I stayed: I stayed at Grindavik campsite, which is a very modern campsite. It was overcrowded when I visited because the nearby volcano, Fagradalsfjall, was erupting. Overall, it was the most modern campsite I stayed at and even has an outdoor grill.
My Top Iceland Recommendations
- Favorite Golden Circle attraction: Geysir – unique and much more powerful than I imagined (plus, ~5 minutes per eruption is a short wait).
- Favorite Hot Spring: Blue Lagoon – the blue water and size makes it feel like you’re on another planet. Given its location, it’s also an easy stop to make before or after your trip.
- Favorite Hike: Landmannalaugar – the stunning views and variety of landscapes make this one of my favorite hikes ever.
- Favorite Iconic Site: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon – the giant icebergs floating in the water are cool on their own, but this site is beyond stunning with the glacier mountain background.
- Favorite Food: Icelandic hot dog – Iceland food is expensive, but their hot dogs are affordable, have a nice skin crunch to it and the ketchup tastes better.
Planning Template for Your Iceland Trip
To help make your travel planning easier, you can download my template for free and use it as a starting point. The template has country-specific information shared in this post.
The template is built on Notion, which is what I use for all my travel planning (I’m not paid to say this; I just like the tool). If you don’t have Notion, creating an account is free.
If you have any questions or thoughts, feel free to leave them in the comments below!
More Iceland Travel Guides