The Ultimate 5 Day Iceland Itinerary

Iceland is such an amazing and beautiful country that should definitely be on your bucketlist! The landscape is unreal – it feels like you’re on another planet at times. Keep reading for my 5-day Iceland itinerary for the most epic road trip full of waterfalls, glaciers, geysirs and hot springs!

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While you won’t be able to drive the entire Ring Road in your 5 day trip to Iceland (unless you seriously rush through everything/skip some sights along the way), you can do about half of it. My itinerary is for driving through South Iceland on the Ring Road going as far as Hofn, and then coming back the same way. The benefit to backtracking the same way on your last day is that if you experienced bad weather on any part of your trip, you’ll have another chance to visit the sights in potentially better weather on your return.
This Iceland itinerary is for 5 days in Iceland in September. If you are visiting in winter you may need to alter this schedule since the days are much shorter!
5 Day Iceland Itinerary Overview
PTO/Vacation Days Needed:

3-6 (depending on if you center it around a weekend or not) Nights: 5Cost: $$$Exchange Rate: $1 USD = $118 Icelandic Krona (as of October

2018)

Day 1: Golden Circle — Selfoss
Blue LagoonGolden Circle (Thingvellir National Park, Bruarfoss, Strokkur Geysir, Gulfoss, Kerid Crater)Selfoss
Day 2: Selfoss — Vik
UridafossSeljalandsfossSkogafossReynisfjara BeachVik
Day 3: Vik — Gerdi
FjaorarglijufurFoss a SiduJokulsarlon Glacier LagoonDiamond Beach
Day 4: Skaftafell Glacier Hike- Gerdi
SkaftafellSvartifossHoffell Hot Tubs
Day 5: Gerdi — Reykjavik Day 6: Depart from KEF
Getting to Iceland:
To get to Iceland, you will fly into Keflavik (KEF) airport which is about 45 minutes from Reykjavik. Many airlines offer cheap flights to KEF (mine was only $350 roundtrip from LAX on Delta!).
Getting Around Iceland:I definitely recommend renting a car in Iceland to get around. If you don’t want to rent a car, you have the option of joining tours from Reykjavik. However, if you want to escape the crowds and make the most out of your 5 days in Iceland, renting a car and driving is your best bet! I included some tips for renting a car in Iceland at the end of this article.
5 Day Iceland Itinerary- Day 1: Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle

You may start reading through my Iceland itinerary and think to yourself “there are WAY too many stops packed into this day” BUT trust me – even though it sounds like a lot, many of the stops are quick landmarks that are right off the road and easy to fit into your day. This is a theme for pretty much every day of my 5-day Iceland itinerary since there are SO many waterfalls and iconic landmarks to be seen that are easily accessible from the Ring Road.
The first day of my 5-day Iceland itinerary will take you from the KEF airport to the Blue Lagoon, around the Golden Circle in a clockwise-direction and ending the day staying in a town called Selfoss.
First Stop: Blue Lagoon
Assuming that you land early in the morning on your first day, after you get through customs and pick up your rental car – head to the Blue Lagoon!

The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions. It’s a man-made luxury geothermal hot spring with milky-blue water located in a lava field only 15 minutes from the airport. The water is the perfect temperature – at 102 degrees F- and contains natural minerals to nourish your skin. The proximity to the airport makes it the perfect thing to do right after your flight- the best way to cure jet lag! Although this is the most touristy thing on my itinerary, it’s also the most relaxing thing. If you get there in the morning you can beat some of the crowds!

Since the Blue Lagoon is so popular, you need to book your tickets ahead of time. There are two types of tickets – “Comfort” and “Premium”. We chose the “Comfort” ticket (It was about $90 USD per person in September) which includes 1 free drink at the swim-up bar and 1 free silica mud mask.

The Premium ticket is more expensive, but in addition to the free drink and mud mask you’ll also receive slippers, a bathrobe and a reservation at the restaurant on site (doesn’t seem like paying more for the Premium ticket is worth it in my opinion).
Upon entering the Blue Lagoon, the first thing you’ll do after check-in is head to the locker room and change into your swimsuit. They have free lockers to hold your stuff, as well as showers and hair dryers. They also have special conditioner that you should put in your hair before you go into the Blue Lagoon to protect your hair from getting dried out from the mineral water – definitely recommend doing this!
Don’t stress about making it right on time from the airport for your reservation – as long as you arrive within an hour of your reserved time, you’ll be fine.

Alternative: If you aren’t feeling the Blue Lagoon option, but still want to visit a hot spring pool on day 1, you can opt for the Secret Lagoon instead. Although the Secret Lagoon doesn’t have the bright blue milky water that the Blue Lagoon has, it is about half the cost of the Blue Lagoon, and may be a more authentic experience. It’s located off the Golden Circle, about 35 minutes from Gulfoss, and is known as the oldest swimming pool in Iceland. The Secret Lagoon contains natural geothermal water surrounded by nature. There are showers on-site, and you can rent a towel and/or swimsuit for an additional cost. I personally didn’t have time to visit (if only I had more time to spend in Iceland!) but I have heard good things about it.
Next: Golden Circle
After the Blue Lagoon, you’ll embark on your journey around the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is one of the most popular things to do in Iceland. The circular route has a few iconic stops along the way and only takes about a half-day to complete. The first stop is only 45 minutes from Reykjavik.
First Stop: Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and is one of Iceland’s most significant historical sites as it was the location of the first Icelandic Parliament. Not only does Thingvellir National Park have historical significance, but it also is the place where the two North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. You can take the trail between the two plates to literally walk between two continents!

If you’re feeling up for an adventure and have time- you can snorkel or scuba dive between the two continental plates at the Silfra Fissure at Thingvellir National Park. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to snorkel or scuba dive the Silfra Fissure on my trip, but I wish that I did! I’ll have to go back someday. There are several tour companies to choose from -, but you can find an example here.
Next Stop: Lunch at Fridheimer
While most of the food in Iceland is nothing to write home about, Fridheimer is different! This was my favorite meal we had all trip and is definitely worth a stop while you are doing the Golden Circle. It’s about 45 minutes from Thingvellir National Park, but only 25 minutes to your next stop after you finish lunch.

Fridheimer is known for their tomatoes- you are literally eating lunch inside their greenhouse surrounded by their tomato plants. Everything on their menu has tomatoes in it- they even have tomato beer! (so if you don’t like tomatoes, this is not the place for you). We ordered the tomato soup (best I’ve ever had in my life) with skewers of chicken and bell peppers to put into the soup, and a flatbread. The tomato soup comes buffet-style: you walk over to this table where there is someone cutting amazing fresh bread and you scoop your own soup from the pot into your bowl (free refills!).

Although people say to reserve a table in advance, we were able to walk up with 4 people and get seated fairly quickly.
Stop #3: Bruarfoss
After lunch, head 25 minutes along the Golden Circle to your next stop- Bruarfoss- which technically means “Bridge Falls”. Note that the word “Foss” in Icelandic means “waterfall” (Bruarfoss, Gulfoss, Skogafoss, etc).

Bruarfoss, in my opinion, is one of the most unique waterfalls in South Iceland. While it’s definitely not one of the biggest waterfalls you’ll see during your 5 days in Iceland, the water is just SO blue. It’s beautiful. Also, it’s somewhat hidden and off the beaten path so it’s a lot less crowded than other waterfalls in the area. Check out the below photo for an aerial view!

If you put Bruarfoss into your Google Maps, it will lead you to a road with a locked gate. Park the car there and start walking! It’s about a 45 minute walk to the falls. The way there can be slightly confusing, but follow the paved road until you see a handmade sign pointing towards Bruarfoss and hang a left. Eventually, you’ll come to a bridge, which will take you to the falls. You will likely see other people in the area coming from the falls or locals walking around, so I recommend asking them for directions to the falls to ensure that you are on the right path.

Stop #4: Strokkur Geysir
The next stop- Strokkur Geysir – is about a 15 minute drive from Bruarfoss. Strokkur Geysir is located in a geothermal area and erupts every 6-10 minutes, blasting water up about 50-60 feet high. There’s a parking lot nearby, and the geysir is just a quick 5 minute walk from your car. The area is surrounded by other small geysirs and geothermal pools. It’s definitely worth checking out for a quick stop along your Golden Circle roadtrip route!

Stop #5: Gulfoss
Your next stop along the Golden Circle route is Gulfoss- about a 25 minute drive from Strokkur Geysir. What makes Gulfoss waterfall (“Golden Falls”) unique is that you’re viewing it from above. The rushing waterfall flows right into a gorge! It’s definitely an impressive sight. Gulfoss waterfall is easily accessible- it’s located right off the Golden Circle road trip route, and there is no hike to get there. You can park in the parking lot, and walk to the viewing area. There’s also a short pathway that you can take for a close-up view, which I definitely recommend!

There is a bathroom facility in the parking lot, however note that it costs money to use it. Instead, I read that you can go inside the visitor center and use the restroom for free if needed.
Stop #6: Kerid Crater
This is the last stop of the day before checking in to your accommodations in Selfoss for the night. The Kerid Crater is 45 minutes from Gulfoss. The Kerid Crater is a volcanic crater lake located along the Golden Circle, with red volcanic rocks surrounding the bright blue water of the lake. It’s truly a spectacular sight! Putting “Kerid Crater” into your maps will take you directly to the parking lot, where you have to pay a small entrance fee (about $3 USD per person) to take the trail up and check it out. The trail takes you on a path around the circumference of the crater, looking down on the lake from above. There’s also a trail that leads down the crater to the base of the lake, however it was raining by the time we got there so we only did part of the top trail.

Stop #7- Selfoss for the night!
Congrats! You’ve now completed the Golden Circle, and seen some amazing sights along the way to kick off your first day in Iceland. Now, head about 15 minutes to the town of Selfoss, get some dinner and rest up for day 2!
Where to Stay in Selfoss, Iceland:
We stayed at Bella Apartments & Rooms in Selfoss. Since there were 4 of us, it was great to have a bigger apartment-style room for the night. It was super nice, clean, had a full kitchen and washer/dryer and the price included free breakfast! It’s also in a great location- walking distance from quite a few restaurants and stores. Definitely recommend!

Where to Eat In Selfoss:
If you are on a budget for your 5-day Iceland trip, I recommend getting food at the grocery store and cooking as much as you can for meals. The food in Iceland isn’t legendary by any means (most restaurants you go to will have a similar menu of burgers, pizza, and soup) and you’ll be shocked at the prices (about $25–30 USD for a burger).
However, I definitely understand that sometimes you want to relax at the end of the day by going out to a restaurant and ordering food and drinks! In that case, see below for two restaurants that I recommend:
1. Kaffi Krus A local recommended this place to us, and it’s only a short walk from where we were staying at Bella Apartments & Rooms. It has a cozy, intimate atmosphere and has a good selection of food and drinks. They also have a whole glass case of different cakes that you can buy by the slice!
2. Tryggvaskali Restaurant (have fun trying to pronounce that one!) We actually ate here for lunch on our drive back through Selfoss on our last day. The atmosphere is so warm and inviting, as the location is an old house that was converted to a restaurant. You feel like you are eating in someone’s home! This restaurant is definitely pricey, but the food is delicious if you are looking to splurge on a dining experience.

5 Day Iceland Itinerary- Day 2: Selfoss to Vik on the Ring Road

Today starts your time driving along the Ring Road! The Ring Road is the main highway 1 that goes 800 miles around the entire country of Iceland. While you won’t be able to properly do the whole Ring Road in just 5 days (I would say you need at least 7 days), this itinerary takes you as far as Hofn and then back.

On Day 2 you will drive from Selfoss to Vik, which would take a little less than 2 hours without stopping. However, there are definitely some great stops along the way!
Stop #1: Uridafoss

Uridafoss is unique in that it is the most voluminous waterfall in the country! It’s only a little over 15 minutes into your drive, making it the perfect first stop of day 2 of your Iceland road trip. Unfortunately it was raining when we went, so my pictures really do not do it justice!

Stop #2: Seljalandsfoss

Drive another 45 minutes along the Ring Road and you’ll come up to the second stop and second waterfall of the day- Seljalandsfoss. This is one of the most popular and most photographed waterfalls in Iceland – and for good reason! Even though it was cloudy, cold and raining when I visited Seljalandsfoss, it was one of my favorite waterfalls I visited throughout my 5 days in Iceland. It is truly magnificent! I definitely recommend taking the trail to walk behind the waterfall to see it from a different point of view. Make sure you have your rain gear on, because you will get wet!

If you’re looking for more adventure, you can walk a little further from Seljalandsfoss for the hidden waterfall called Gljufrabui. This waterfall is a great spot for photographers and people looking for a more natural experience with far less tourists, as it is harder to get to. Gljufrabui is hidden behind a cliff wall, and you have to wade through shallow water to get there. Unfortunately, due to the bad weather we experienced while at Seljalansfoss we did not get a chance to see this waterfall. Hopefully you will have better luck!
Stop #3: Skogafoss (25 minutes past Seljalandsfoss)

Skogafoss is another one of the most popular and most photographed waterfalls in Iceland. This waterfall is HUGE, dropping almost 200 feet and is about 80 feet wide. Walking up close to the waterfall is an amazing experience, although you will definitely get drenched – make sure you have your rain gear on!

You can also take the stairs to the right of the falls to hike up to the top and view Skogafoss from above, which is really cool!

Stop #4: Reynisfjara Beach (30 minutes past Skogafoss)
Your next stop will be the famous black sand beach – Reynisfjara! This black sand beach is right outside the town of Vik, where you will stay for the night. The black sand along with the iconic basalt columns, crashing waves and amazing views make this beach unique and memorable. Thankfully it stopped raining a bit for us to be able to enjoy the scenery here!

Stop #5: Vik
Vik is a small fishing town adjacent to Reynisfjara Beach along the Ring Road. This village has quite a few options for lodging, eating and activities, and is a great place to stop for the night on your Iceland road trip.

Where to Eat in Vik: There is a main grocery store and liquor store in town if you are traveling on a budget and want to go that route. If not, I have two restaurant recommendations that we tried out that were recommended to us from our Airbnb host:
#1: Sudur Vik Cozy atmosphere, beer on tap and one of the best pizzas I’ve ever had! (The vegetarian pizza with pepperonis added on- #6 on the menu)

#2: The Soup Company Reasonable prices (for Iceland) with a variety of soups to choose from in a fast-casual restaurant atmosphere

Where to Stay in VikThere are several hotel and lodging options to choose from in Vik. We opted for an Airbnb in town. See below for some other options!

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