Iceland is a total dream country to visit, especially if you’re keen on the kind of trip that’s a little different from a beach or tropical holiday. That being said, it’s totally huge (much bigger than you might think)! So, I wanted to share our 1-week itinerary to visit Iceland that’ll help you along your way.
Not only that, but there’s also a heap of delicious meals and yummy restaurants that you really can’t miss. Oh, and don’t forget to head out on one of the most spectacular hikes in Iceland, too. Trust me, you’re going to be spoilt for choice.
Honestly, the landscape is like another world! It’s so dramatic and to make things even better, everyone is so friendly and welcoming.
The first time we visited Iceland, we had two main bases, the Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik, both of which are incredible in their own right. Though, seeing as they’re located fairly close to one another, it was somewhat limited as you can only wander so far from your base location; even when you have a car.
The next time we visited however, we had the benefit of hindsight to guide us and developed a more detailed and comprehensive itinerary to see as much as of Iceland as we possibly could in one week. All focusing on the south and west of Iceland that can be much easier to visit on a first-time trip.
Now, to save to you the hassle of organising everything from scratch, I wanted to pop our full 1-week itinerary to visit Iceland. Though, if you want to spend longer, just check out some of our other Iceland posts on some incredible places all across the island. Have the best trip!
1.) Arrive in Iceland
Now, one of the best ways to get around Iceland is by car. So, after booking your car, pop over to the rental centre and head out on the open road. Although rental cars can be a little pricier than other destinations, they still work out much cheaper than booking individual tours around the island. Especially if there is more than one of you.
Truth be told, lots of the best things to do in Iceland are free to see and so all you need is a car to get to them. We can’t recommend this enough, it’s totally worth it.
2.) Laugarvatn Fontana for a dip
This is where they bake bread using underground geothermal heat and it’s so cool to see.
After lunch, go for a dip in the geothermal baths and try the natural steam rooms.
Oh, and if you’re feeling brave enough, take a dip in the nearby ice-cold lake. Personally, I think you need to give this a go at least once. Though, it’s totally chilly. Brrrr!
Address: Laugarvatn Fontana, Hverabraut 1, 840 Laugarvatn, Iceland
3.) See Geysir (In Strokkur) & Gulfoss Waterfall
These two places, along with Thingvellir National Park, all form part of the Golden triangle and seeing the geyser erupt is truly a magnificent experience. It’s really easy to visit by car and you don’t need to go on any long hikes or trails to see them.
They’re totally gorgeous at any time of the year! Just be sure to pack some good hiking shoes. You’ll be walking on lots of wet or muddy trails at times.
4.) Explore Reykjavik
We stayed at the Reykjavik Residence Hotel (we booked this almost immediately after we paid for our flights). It was also brilliant for parking (the car park is almost opposite it) and is centrally located enough that you can just stroll around Reykjavik. Though it has to be said, Reykjavik is generally a very walkable city.
Once here, be sure to check out some of the best restaurants in Reykjavik and even, explore the iconic cathedral (and see the views from the top) and pop out on a whale watching tour.
5.) Drive out of the city (for the Northern Lights)
You only need to drive around 30-minutes from the very centre of Reykjavik to be in complete wilderness. That’s the beauty of Iceland, all this incredible nature is right on your doorstep.
Not only that, but Iceland is also a great place to watch the Northern Lights, too. Now, you can book a tour from the city but we personally preferred to just drive out into the national park and wait for them to appear. This way, you can spend as long or as little as you want and travel totally on your own terms.
Do check out our Northern Lights photography tips before you go.
1.) Whale watching (Reykjavik)
We went with Special Tours for what turned out to be a rather fun afternoon searching for whales in Iceland. It’s a great way to catch a glimpse of the local marine life here and you’ll have a great few hours exploring the open ocean.
Now, it does get chilly but they’ll wrap you up in the thickest of bodysuits before you leave the city. Have fun!
Address: Special Tours, Reykjavik’s Old Harbour, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
2.) Stay at the Frost & Fire Hotel
We stayed here and totally loved it, plus they have a tasty dinner menu that you really can’t miss (which, you can see here)
After dinner, get yourself some wine/beer and nip into one of the geothermally heated hot tubs where, if you’re lucky,
Address: Hverhamar, 810 Hveragerði, Iceland
3.) Look out for the Northern Lights (again)
Trust me, we did this every night as you can’t always be sure on cloud cover or if the lights are coming out to play.
Just be sure to wrap up warm, take your camera and maybe a flask of hot tea, too.
1.) Walk-behind Seljalandsfoss
It’s easily one of the easiest experiences to include on your 1-week itinerary to visit Iceland, especially when heading east.
Plus, this is the only one of the waterfalls on here where you can do that and it’s such a unique experience to actually be able to walk behind such a huge and powerful waterfall.
2.) Visit Skogafoss
Not too far Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss is perched on the historic cliffs where the sealine once was. It’s totally awe-inspiring to see and totally huge.
Now, if you want to avoid the majority of the crowds, head across here in the early morning or late afternoon. Also, if you’re visiting in Summer, you can easily head here later in the evening as it stays light very late.
3.) Go on a glacier hike
The tour we were meant to do was with the folks over Atarcanum but this was the one item we couldn’t do in the end due to the storm in Iceland when we visited.
They come very highly recommended so I have no reservations in recommending them but alas, that storm meant that we’ve had to add this to our growing list of reasons why we need to return to Iceland.
The glacier walk and ice climbing base are by Sólheimajökull glacier about 28km west of Vík and 6 km east of Skógar. Just remember, If you’re heading here from Reykjavík, it is about 160 km and the driving time is about 2 hours.
Address: Ytri Solheimar 1, 871 Vik.
4.) Visit the beautiful Dyrhólaey and Vik Beach
The drive to the next stop after this is a long one and this stop is definitely an Icelandic must-do.
The coastal scenery here is so dramatic and nothing short of amazing.
5.) Check into Hotel Laki
There’s a restaurant and bar here for you to have dinner and subsequently, warm your cockles by the roaring fireplace.
Address: Efri-Vík, 880 Kirkjubæjarklausturi, Iceland
Hotel Laki is located on road 204. Only 4 km from highway number 1 just south of Kirkjubæjarklaustur.
6.) See the Northern Lights
Hotel Laki, and the surrounding rural areas, were great for seeing the Northern Lights.
You can see the Northern Lights from your room at Hotel Laki. Alternatively, you can head up to the balcony upstairs where you’ll have an unrestricted view of the Northern Lights.
You get where I’m going to with this – the choices are endless. We saw the Northern Lights here and it was incredible. Though you don’t need to stay at Hotel Laki to see them, so if you choose somewhere else to rest your head that will work totally great, too.
Wherever you stay, just be sure to include some northern light spotting on your 1-week itinerary to visit Iceland.
1.) Glacier cave hike
2.) Drive up to Jökulsárlón
Jökulsárlón is another amazing sight you have to see in Iceland and one place that’s great for a little stop before you start heading back east towards Reykavik.
There’s also a lagoon boat tour that you can get right from the shore edge and it’s pretty cool. Now, it’s not a whole-day kinda spot, but it’s still well worth stopping to see the floating icebergs.
3.) Visit Geysir and Gullfoss or Höfn
In case you missed it on the first day… or if you just haven’t gotten your fill of those two amazing sites. This is great to include if you’re heading back west.
Alternatively, if you want to head further west, drive and stay in Höfn that’s pretty gorgeous. The landscape around this area of Iceland is just so beautiful, especially around Stokksnes.
1.) Go Horse Riding at Hestheimar
Icelandic horses are very unique to the country. You see, you can’t import horses into Iceland and if you export horses, they’re never allowed to return back to the country. What?!?
That all being said, there’s no better way to see the Icelandic countryside than ambling around at your own pace on these horses.
We went horse riding at Hestheimar during the tail-end of a storm! Which, I have to admit, made it all the more exciting.
Address: Ásahreppur 851 Hella Ísland, Iceland
2.) Check into the Blue Lagoon
We always spend at least one night here, though it can be pricey than most other spots in Iceland, it’s a total treat that we loved!
You not only get to stay here and have your own private blue lagoon (which opens earlier and closes later than the general one), you also get free access to the general lagoon, too.
Address: Blue Lagoon, 240 Grindavik, Iceland
3.) See the Northern Lights
Yes, again! 😉
You can do this from your Blue Lagoon hotel room balcony/patio…. or even from the Blue Lagoon itself. We did this and floated around in the Blue Lagoon in the hotel and just watched the lights above. It was bliss and easily one of the best things to include within our 1-week itinerary to visit Iceland.
1.) Spend the day the Blue Lagoon
You’ve earned the ‘down-time’ after all and there’s no better way to spend it than chilling at the Blue Lagoon. We spent the whole day here and totally loved it.
2.) Dinner and music in Reykjavik
Reykjavik has such an interesting music scene and pretty good live music spots, so it’s worth checking this out. Take a wander down the ‘main street’ and you’ll see exactly what I mean.
After a night on the town, pop to the famous Baejarins Beztu Pylsur (hot dog stand) that’s by the harbour. It’s become something of an institution for locals and visitors to grab a quite bite!
1.) Explore Reykjavik
This is your chance to see the city at your own pace and carry on from where you left off last night right before your flight leaves from Keflavik Airport (around 30-minutes away).
Now, your 1-week itinerary to visit Iceland might be complete, but maybe next time you can explore some more by driving the whole coastal road of Iceland (see below).