Itinerary: Five Days in Iceland
Do you ever see a picture on instagram or online and just think, I need to go there!! This happens to me ALL THE TIME! And there was one particular image of Iceland that struck me and changed the way I would plan and think about vacations from then on. I saw this cool picture of someone trekking over a walkway that had been carved out of a cliff by the water and I just knew I somehow had to find this place and live this moment (see below). I began researching all the things you must do in Iceland. The plan was to go with a group of fellow medical students and just do absolutely as much as inhumanly possible. Even while I knew this groups could handle being awake from 6am until 11pm with rigorous activities and little sleep/sustenance (we had survived 3rd year of medical school after all), I realized we didn't have enough time to road trip around the entire country. We only had 5 days after all, so I decided to focus on a few areas and do them really well. I divided the trip up into Southern Iceland, Golden Circle, and Snaefellesnes Peninsula.
**Warning** The itinerary you are about to see is jam packed and intense, this vacation was extreme in my estimation. I sent it to a couple of people who had been to Iceland before and they warned me that we were over-doing it. Little did they know, my group of friends added even MORE to this itinerary. We were lucky that we went in May when Iceland gets a lot of sunshine and you can stay out late doing hikes/activities.
What you need to know upfront:
- The weather is unpredictable and crazy AF, we got caught in hail storms, high speed winds that could literally pull your car door off the hinges when you open it, and more. Come prepared with everything you think you might need as you don't want the weather to prohibit you from sightseeing. If you're debating whether something is overkill, its probably not and you should bring it. There's a saying in Iceland "if you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes."
- Iceland is EXPENSIVE! Like majorly, food, gas, everything. We kept costs down by bringing some food with us from home (ie granola, trail mix, rice/noodles, oatmeal, etc.). There's a limit to how much food you can bring per person into the country but it's reasonable. We also shopped in grocery stores for picnic style lunches and cooked dinner at the house.
- For the first time in history, I did not focus on food or where we would be eating. We literally ate hot dogs at gas stations on the go (its a thing!). Of course, we splurged on a couple of amazing meals highlighted below, but this trip was really about pushing myself physically and focusing less on food was kinda fun.
- Rent a car. This is a must, you want to have the freedom to explore as much of the country as possible. Especially if you're a family or group of friends and can split the costs.
- Bring your adventurous spirit and push yourself.
As one friend told me when I sent this out, "it looks like you fell asleep on your keyboard and typed in random letters." I promise these places are legit!
Day 1 Southern Iceland
Arrived at Reykjavik airport 6am, picked up rental cars, got provisions
1 hr drive + 1 hr hike → Reykjadalur Hot Spring + Picnic Lunch
1 hr drive → Seljalandsfoss (foss = waterfall and this one is pretty special)
Seljavallalaug - this is the oldest swimming pool in Iceland
26 min drive → Skogafoss (another huge waterfall hike to the top!)
12 min drive → Solheimasandur Plane Wreck (maybe skip due to closed down road access and extra hiking)
Spent night in AirBnB near Vik
Day 2 Southern Iceland
- Short drive from AirBnB → Fjaðrárgljúfur (very cool river/landscape)
- 1 hr drive → Skaftafell (hiking, waterfalls, glacier area)
- Hike → Svartifoss Waterfall
- Picnic lunch
- Skaftafell Glacier Tour
- 45 min drive → Jökulsárlón Glacier
- Dinner in Hofn @ Hali Hotel Restaurant
- Long-ish drive back to AirBnB
Day 3 Southern/Golden Circle
- Reynishverfisvegur Region
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Dyrhólaey cool church (these are all within 10-15 min drive)
- Lunch @ Fjorubordid
Golden Circle Time
- From Vik 1 hr 45 min drive → Kerið Crater Lake
- 45 min drive → Gullfoss Falls (major hugest waterfall)
- 10 min drive → Geysir
- 25 min drive → Laugarvatn Fontana (Icelandic Spa!)
- 27 min drive → Þingvellir (Thingvellir National Park)
- Stayed at Lake Thingvellir Cottages
Day 4 Snaefellsnes
- Morning exploring more of Thingvellir National Park - walk/hike, more waterfalls
- 2 hr 45 min drive → Snaefellsnes Penninsula
- Snaefellsjoekull National Park
- Djúpalónssandur (black sand beach)
- Arnarstapi/Hellnar (the picture perfect moment)
- Get the fish and chips from the food truck in town
- Kirkjufell (most famous mountain in Iceland)
- Dinner at Bjargarsteinn
- Stayed in cottages at base of Kirkjufell from AirBnB
- More Snaefellsnes exploring in AM
- Drive to Reykjavik ~3hr
- Blue Lagoon Spa - REQUIRES RESERVATIONS *cheapest in AFTERNOON starting at 6pm and open until like 930ish, touristy and worth it!
- Dinner and Night Out in Reykjavik