Iceland is not only one of the most amazing places we’ve ever been, it’s one of those places we want to go back to as soon as we’re able. We took this trip in April last year and I’m not really sure why we put it off so long considering Iceland has been at the top of my bucket list forever. I think I was a little worried I had built it up too much in my head and it wouldn’t live up to the hype or something. In fact, I should probably tell you that it didn’t so I can keep it all to myself. Iceland was already way more touristy than I expected and we went in the off season. So let me just say that even though some of these pictures may look like we were all alone, we definitely weren’t. There were busloads full of people at every major attraction along the Ring Road unless we went at a weird time of day. That being said, it is still absolutely worth it!
Read on to see the itinerary we followed, which was a slightly nontraditional route for first timers.
The underlined days are linked to other posts I’ve written about our trip to Iceland. Click on any of those for more info about a specific place!
- DAY 1: Arrival & Blue Lagoon
- DAY 2: Silfra Snorkeling & Snæfellsnes Peninsula
- DAY 3: Ring Road
- DAY 4: Waterfalls & Vik
- DAY 5: Glacier Lagoon
- DAY 6: Reykjavik
- DAY 7: Departure
DAY 1: Arrival & Blue Lagoon
Our flight into Reykjavik arrived ridiculously early in the morning–I think it was 6 am. So the only logical thing to do at that time was a visit to the Blue Lagoon. I would highly recommend going at the end of your trip if possible, but it was also a nice way to start our trip. It was hailing when we arrived, but was sunny by the time we left! We then checked into the Skuggi Hotel and spent the rest of the evening walking around Reykjavik.
STAY: Skuggi Hotel
DAY 2: Silfra Snorkeling & Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The next morning, we had booked a snorkeling experience at Thingvellir National Park. If you book the earliest slot, you might not be competing with other groups for time in the water. And definitely buy the pictures! After George lost all the video from his GoPro, I really wish we had.
After snorkeling, most people continue on to see other sites in the Golden Circle like the geysir or Gullfoss. But we decided to do something different and instead drove north to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. It was still light out when we arrived, so we really packed a lot into this day (find out about all the sights in Snæfellsnes by reading this post). After an amazing meal watching the sun set over the harbour in Stykkishólmur, we spent the night at the Hótel Fransiskus Stykkishólmi.
DAY 3: Ring Road
When we set out from our hotel in the morning, our first stop was a visit to a hidden hot spring in Snæfellsnes. Not so hidden that no one knows about it, but a little bit off the beaten track.
Then we got on the road and began our 4 hour journey south along the Ring Road. We didn’t make many stops until we started seeing waterfalls, the first of which being Seljalandsfoss. It was pretty crowded, but still super fun to walk behind the falls. Just make sure you’re wearing waterproof everything!
We got into Vik around sunset and just walked along the beach, watching the puffins fly overhead and debating whether there might be a chance to see the Northern Lights. We decided to check later on, when the night was at its darkest, and went back to get some rest at the Volcano Hotel. When we woke up (in the middle of the night), we did kind of see them but they were so dim and stationary we couldn’t be sure.
STAY: Volcano Hotel
DAY 4: Waterfalls & Vik
After sleeping in the next morning, we paid a visit to Skógafoss and the Skogar Museum (right next door). Skógafoss was by far my favorite waterfall from this trip! And the Skogar Museum was pretty cute. At least it was a fun way to spend a somewhat weird day weather-wise. Trying to find somewhere to eat afterward was a bit difficult, but we ended up at Halldórskaffi which was alright.
We went down to the beach at Vik again for sunset and contemplated going up Dyrhólaey. Of course now I really wish we had, but at the time we were both so tired. We went back to the Volcano hotel pretty early that night and it felt so good to be out of the wind. Although it was great to have two nights in this area, I don’t know if I would recommend the Volcano Hotel for both nights. I know the options are pretty limited, but it just wasn’t our favorite and there are so many great hotels in Iceland.
DAY 5: Glacier Lagoon
We started to head east toward the glacier lagoon the next day with a stop at the Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon on our way. I would definitely recommend a 4×4 for the road leading to the canyon and I was very glad we had one. It was so beautiful, but also crazy windy when we visited. If you go: please, please stay on the path. They are really trying to let the moss and other flora regrow from being trodden on by tourists.
If you’re not too tired for a bit of a hike, there is plenty of time for a stop at the Skaftafell National Park to see Svartifoss Waterfall. This is also where you can go for a glacier walk or ice cave tour. Unfortunately, it wasn’t cold enough for us to see the ice caves.
After checking in at the Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon, we headed out to the lagoon to watch the sunset. But my favorite area was actually the beach opposite the lagoon where giant chunks of ice washed up on the black sand. Also, for the record, the Fosshotel was amazing! Delicious food, beautiful decor and a pretty awesome view.
STAY: Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon
DAY 6: Reykjavik
The drive back to Reykjavik from the glacier lagoon gave us plenty of time to stop at any of the sights along the South Ring Road that we missed passing through the first time. In addition to another stop at Skógafoss, we made time to take a dip in the Seljavallalaug Pool. Built in 1923, this is one of the oldest pools in Iceland. It was a little slimy getting into the pool and the water wasn’t super warm, but it was still a fun diversion from driving!
We got into Reykjavik with most of the day left and you can read about what we got up to in my post here.
STAY: Skuggi Hotel
DAY 7: Departure
Our departure from Reykjavik wasn’t too early in the morning, leaving us time to get some coffee and cinnamon buns on our way out of town. Luckily, Brauð & Co. and Reykjavik Roasters are right near each other. Such a great snack to have with us on the flight!