Planning Your Trip to Iceland
Iceland's natural wonders are endless, meaning you'll want considerable time for exploration—and sites of interest are often multiple hours of drive time apart, meaning you'll be spending large chunks of time on the country's scenic roads.
Any traveler could spend weeks getting to know Iceland, but given the reality of limited vacation days, 5-7 days are recommended for a satisfying trip. In this length of time, you can make a northern road trip from Reykjavik to Akureyri, or drive the south coast via Vik to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. One idea for getting the most out of five days is to hop on a local flight to one of Iceland’s small domestic airports and drive back to the capital.
Shorter trips are possible, too—even three days gives you time to explore outside Reykjavik—and with more than a week you can truly maximize your time. Check out other great itinerary options for everything from a long weekend to a multi-week sojourn below.
In order to decide when to visit Iceland, take into account seasonal weather patterns, hours of sunlight, and crowds. You can find all the details in the Best Time of Year to Visit Iceland.
Iceland in Less Than 3 Days
If you have three days or less you won’t really be able to leave the crowds behind since you will be spending most of your time in and around Reykjavik with a possible quick tour of the south coast or a Golden Circle Tour. Here is a three-day itinerary that includes a long day exploring the South Coast, or alternatively a shorter day touring the Golden Circle.
Iceland in 4 Days
With four days you have the opportunity to explore a little bit of Iceland beyond the heavily visited areas around Reykjavik. Head north to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to see a side of Iceland that most mainstream travelers tend to miss. Or, if you are into hiking you can head along the south coast and complete the epic Fimmvorduhals hike, which takes you over a glacier next to the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano into the dramatic Thorsmork Valley, where you can spend the night and explore its endless hiking trails the next day.
Iceland in 5-7 Days
If you have five days or more, lots of opportunities to see Iceland in interesting ways open up, assuming you plan carefully. Options include driving to the North to explore Akureyri and Lake Myvatn, or driving along the south coast via Vik to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
Here is a collection of five-day itineraries that will help you pack the most in this short amount of time. If you have six days you can extend these itineraries with side trips, and with a week you can reach the Westfjords overland, spend some time there and still get back in time to catch your flight. Or, if you want to push it you can squeeze in the entire ring road, although that will require some long days of driving and you won’t have much time to enjoy all the great stops.
See these five- to seven-day itineraries for more ideas.
Iceland in 10 Days or More
With eight days, you can cover all of Iceland via its famous ring road. The more days you have, the more side trips you can take on this route. Refer to the 14-day ring road itinerary for ideas. Other options in the eight to 10-day range include combining Western and Southern Iceland and a more in-depth exploration of Southern Iceland.
If you have more time, a good starting point is the two-week ring road itinerary which you combine with variations like this tour through the highlands. You can also consider multi-day hikes such as the Laugavegur Trail or a trek through Hornstrandir Nature Reserve.
See these 10-day and 2-week itineraries for more ideas.
More Great Iceland Itineraries
Looking for more inspiration for your trip to Iceland? Check out these other Iceland itineraries, with outdoor adventures, self-drive trips, and best-of tours to hit the highlights.