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Coast, Iceland, iceland coast

🏴‍☠️ Here’s How to Tour Iceland for Beginners – From Four Days Up to Eight

I've been to Iceland over five times and though I have yet to really explore the northern part of the island, I've been able to experience a lot of what this beautiful country has to offer filled with the most diverse landscape, making you feel as if you've been transported to a whole new planet. Below I've compiled the perfect 4 to 8-day tour. Focusing on a bit of the famous Golden Circle and Venturing down through the South Coast and onwards through the Ring Road. Below are some sites you shouldn't miss, the best Iceland flight deals, and budget-friendly hotels you should stay at.

Flights, Hotels, & Rental Car from $505 per person for four days, or $774 per person for eight days.

Published by
Sophie_Coderre·11/9/2023
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*Please note when booking a car, the above itinerary is during the month of January and road conditions vary in Iceland.

Day One: Arrival & Reykjavik

Morning: Arrive at Keflavik International Airport (KEF), Grab a bus to Viking Hotel or similar accommodation in Reykjavik through FlyBus (~$25 per person). Leave your bags in the hotel's luggage storage area.

Or Alternatively,

Grab your rental car (Book Rental Car Here) *Please note that some car rental companies have offices outside of the airport terminals but shuttles can be arranged to get you to the check-in desk.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: Get the Reykjavik City Card for the day for $28. Unlimited bus rides and free entrance to a variety of museums, plus a free ferry ride to Viðey Island.

Then take a bus from the hotel to downtown Reykjavik roughly 440kr or ~$3 one way. Grab breakfast at a local cafe. I recommend Cafe Babalu, it has great food options and quirky decor.

Spend some time walking around the city, exploring important sites, shops, and museums (A really cool museum to visit is Aurora Reykjavik). Visit Kolaportið Flea Market on the weekends.

Lunch: Grab a delicious Icelandic hot dog at the famous Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur stand.

Afternoon: Grab a bus (number 35 bus roughly $3 (440kr) if you don't have the Reykjavik city card or day pass) to Reykjavik's newest hot spot, Sky Lagoon to finish off your day soaking in healing geothermal waters.

Dinner: Recommended dinner at Messinn.

Evening: Stay the night at the Hotel Viking a viking-themed hotel outside of Reykjavik that provides free breakfast.

Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Viking (4/5 on Tripadvisor and Winner of the 2023 Travelers' Choice Awards) or similar

Day Two: Golden Circle

Morning: Enjoy free breakfast at Hotel Viking, then venture to the city center to pick up your rental car. *Make sure to book from Reykjavik, not Keflavik Airport.

🏴‍☠️ Pirate Tip: A lot of car rental companies offer you the option for prefilled tanks. Believe it or not, you often save money by opting to grab this added service. Another thing to note is often times pumps in Iceland will put a temporary hold on your card to make sure you have enough money for gas. Sometimes this deposit charge takes an extended time to clear. Opt for prepaid cards that you can buy inside local petrol stations to avoid these holds.

First Stop: Once you have your car venture to Thingvellir National Park for your first stop. A 45-minute drive from Reykjavik.

Second Stop: From Thingvellir continue onwards to Geysir. Watch the Geysir erupt, with eruptions taking place every 4 to 10 minutes.

Third Stop: From Geysir, take a ten-minute drive up to Gullfoss, the largest by volume waterfall in not just Iceland, but all of Europe.

Fourth Stop & Lunch: A 25-minute drive from Gullfoss, visit Friðheimar Tomato Farm. Make sure to make a reservation far enough in advance, this place books out. I recommend getting the unlimited tomato soup and bread option.

Stop Five: From Friðheimar continue onwards to the Volcanic Kerið Crater Lake which is roughly a 22-minute drive.

Stop Six: A 19-minute drive from Kerið Crater, now we will stop and check in to the hotel we recommend for the evening. The Greenhouse Hotel (4.5/5 on Tripadvisor and winner of the 2022 Travelers' Choice Awards).

Dinner: We recommend grabbing a bite to eat at the hotel restaurant or venturing over to nearby Selfoss for dinner.

Evening: *More of a summer option... but can do in winter as well. If you're up for it, we recommend doing a hike up to Reykjadalur hot spring thermal river, a relatively mild inclined hike that's 3km long. At the top, you can enjoy a dip in the natural hot river.

Accommodation: The Greenhouse Hotel or similar

Day Three: South Coast Tour

Morning: Wake up and grab breakfast at the hotel or on the go in Selfoss.

First Stop: Drive south towards Seljalandsfoss, a roughly one hour and eight-minute drive from the hotel. This waterfall is a personal favorite of mine. You can walk completely around it.

Second Stop: Eyjafjallajökull Volcano & Seljavallalaug Swimming Pool. Park your car at Seljavellir and walk 15 to 20 mins down the valley until you spot the pool. There's no admission fee. Approximately a 20-minute drive from Seljalandsfoss.

Stop Three: Continue onwards to Skogafoss a ten-minute drive from Seljavellir parking lot.

Stop Four: Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach & Dyrhólaey. With stunning black sand and beautiful basalt columns, this beach is not to be missed. Continue onwards to Dyrhólaey cliff walk.

Stop Five & Lunch: Vik. Continue onwards to the city of Vik where there is a black sand beach and plenty of restaurants and cafes to eat at. A personal favorite is the Skool Beans Cafe.

Stop Six: Check into your hotel for the evening. Suggested: Hótel Kría

Dinner: Have dinner at a nearby restaurant.

Evening: If you're feeling up to it, drive to Sólheimasandur where the famous plane wreck is and embark on a 3 to 4-hour-long hike to the accident site.

Alternatively, you can do a guided hike through Solheimajokull glacier.

Accommodation: Hótel Kría or similar

Day Four: Head Home or Continue East

Morning: Today, you have the option to head back toward Keflavik Airport (roughly a three-hour drive) and maybe stop at the Blue Lagoon along the way, or continue Eastwards on the Ring Road.

Breakfast: Grab breakfast in Vik and stock up on snacks before you embark on today's journey.

Stop One: Svartifoss Waterfall in Skaftafell National Park (2 hr and 36 min drive from Vik).

Stop Two: Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach (a 46-minute drive from Skaftafell).

Lunch: Grab lunch at the top-rated Nailed It Fish & Chips.

Stop Three: Höfn a fishing village an hour's drive from Diamond Beach. Here, you'll spend the evening.

Accommodation: The Milk Factory or similar

Day Five: Continue North

Morning: Grab breakfast at the hotel and continue north. Make sure to pack plenty of food, this is the longest leg of travel.

Stop One: Nearly 3 and a half hours later, you'll arrive in Egilsstaðir where you'll stop for lunch and fuel. Skálinn Diner is a good option with traditional fried food and diner options.

Stop Two: 2 hours and 15 mins later, Mývatn Nature Baths (Entry ticket is around $45).

Stop Three: Skútustaðagígar pseudo craters are about a 19-minute drive south.

Stop Four: Check into your hotel for the evening in Myvatn (a 4-minute drive from the pseudo craters).

Accommodation: Fosshotel Myvatn or similar

Day Six: Akureyri in the North

Morning: Grab breakfast at the hotel and onwards towards Akureyri.

Stop One: 30 minutes into your journey, stop at Goðafoss on your way to Akureyri.

Stop Two: 30 minutes later, arrive in Akureyri, the largest city in northern Iceland. Stop at Forest Lagoon—Iceland's newest geothermal spa (Entry is around $82 per person).

Stop Three & Lunch: Downtown Akureyri. Grab lunch in the city—Ketilkaffi is a great choice. Explore downtown and visit Akureyri Church.

Stop Four: Drive 25 minutes north and visit the Laufas Turf Houses.

Stop Five: Check in to your hotel for the evening, I recommend Hotel Akureyri Dynheimar.

Afternoon: Grab Dinner in the city, opt for a hike with huskies, a whale-watching tour, or an expedition to catch the northern lights.

Accommodation: Lava Apartments Akureyri or similar

Day Seven: Journey to Kirkjufell or Reykjavik.

Today, you have the option to take a detour toward Kirkjufell and Budir. If you decide to drive out here, it'll take you roughly 5 hours. Alternatively, you could head back down to Reykjavik and spend the evening there before grabbing your flight the next day.

Kirkjufell Route

Morning: Grab breakfast in downtown Akureyri, then start heading southwest.

Stop One: Guðrúnarlaug hot spring, roughly a 3 hours and 35 mins drive from Akureyri. This is a natural hot spring free to swim in.

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Stop Two: Drive to Kirkjufell, a roughly 2-hour drive from Guðrúnarlaug.

Stop Two: Continue onwards to Búðirkirkja the famous 'Black Church' (29-minute drive from Kirkjufell).

Stop Three: Spend the evening in Búðir.

Accommodation:

*You'll drive to Keflavik the next day (a roughly 2 hour and 45 minutes drive).

Reykjavik Route

Morning: Grab a hearty breakfast, snacks, and plenty of fuel in Akureyri, and then start driving southwest.

Stop One: 4 hours and 44 minutes from Akureyri is Reykjavik. Spend the night in the city.

Accommodation: Suggested Accommodation: Hotel Viking (4/5 on Tripadvisor and Winner of the 2023 Travelers' Choice Awards) or similar

Day Eight: Back to Keflavik and then Home

Morning: Wake up and grab breakfast near wherever you are staying and then venture to Grindavik (a 40-minute drive from Reykjavik or a 2 hour and 45-minute drive from Búðir).

Stop One: If you have time before your flight, The Blue Lagoon is a must-do. Tickets are roughly $85 and children under 13 years of age get in free.

Stop Two: A 20-minute drive from The Blue Lagoon, you've arrived at the airport where you'll drop off your rental car and grab your flight home. Give yourself plenty of time to check in and go through security.

Total Money Spent Per Person for Flights, Hotel, and Car Rental

For 4 Days: $505.50 per person

For 8 Days: $774.50 per person