I visited Iceland almost three years ago, but I still get so many questions about my trip there. The landscape of the country and the natural beauty completely blew me away. I traveled to Iceland with Pangea Dreams on a content creation trip back in 2016. I remember that my goal was by the end of the trip was to hit 8,000 followers on Instagram, goal achieved!
Iceland is a country made for adventure and road trips. If you love the outdoors and exploring, Iceland needs to be on your list! Below is a breakdown of my jam-packed 10-day itinerary for The Ultimate Icelandic Adventure!
Day 1: Hraunfossar & Barnafoss, Akranes Lighthouse
As soon as we arrived in Iceland, we hit the ground running. Our first stop was to pick up our rental car at MyCar Rental Iceland. We also rented Wi-Fi hotspot, something that is essential in Iceland. There are long stretches of road with nothing around, so having Wi-Fi let us get work done on the road and allowed us to have GPS for directions. We created some amazing memories in our Toyota Land Cruiser over the next 10 days in Iceland on an unforgettable road trip.
Once we piled all of us into the car, we headed to the hotel to drop off our bags before starting our adventure. Luckily, the first stop wasn’t far from our hotel. Hraunfossar & Barnafoss waterfall is only a 7 minute walk from Hotel Husafell, our hotel for the first four nights of the trip. It is nice when a perfect photo op is basically in your backyard! It made for a pretty epic start to the trip! The beauty and the power these waterfalls hold left me feeling completely stunned.
Our last stop was at an old lighthouse in Akranes, right on the western coast of Iceland. The lighthouse sits on these slick black rocks which really contrast with the water for photos but walking on them was treacherous. We were constantly saving one another from a slippery fall! From May to mid-September, you can climb the bigger of the two lighthouses from 10:00 – 18:00. The rest of the year it is only open from Tuesday through Saturday and from 11:00 – 17:00.
The coastline here is amazing. It’s rocky and the rain made for moody skies. Far too often we let something like rain put a damper on a trip, but we decided to just embraced it. When you put it all into perspective WE ARE IN FREAKING ICELAND! After arriving that day and hitting the road right away, we drove the last hour back to the hotel and collapsed into our beds for the night.
Day 2: Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik Foodie Tour, Kirkjufell & Horse Farm
The next morning started with a drive into Reykjavik, located a little under two hours from the hotel. We went straight to Hallgrimskirkja, the most famous church in Iceland. You can go inside the church and go up in the tower, but we just took some photos outside because of how busy it was and because we just loved the exterior architecture so much. This church is seriously impressive. It took 41 years to build, and the nature in Iceland inspired its look. It’s actually meant to mimic the basalt columns found on Black Sand Beach. You have to see this for yourself if you go to Iceland – it is magic to see it with your own two eyes!
After getting some pictures at the church, we took a foodie tour around Reykjavik. Note: Food and drinks in Iceland are expensive, so plan that into your budget or bring lots of snacks with you. You can eat cheaper in places like bakeries and gas stations, but restaurants are more expensive than you might expect.
Wake Up Reykjavik took us on our food tour around the city. The tour costs 13,900 ISK (about 115 USD) and lasts about 3 hours (the evening tour is shorter). The tour takes you all over downtown Reykjavik and lets you try 10 different cuisines that are local to Iceland. Some stops are the typical must-visit restaurants while others are the secret places locals go to eat.
If you want to take this tour, book in advance since they sometimes fill up and they keep the groups small. This tour was definitely a highlight of the trip for me. I recommend it to everyone who visits, and my mom even booked the tour when she went there last year! The tour is led by an Icelandic native so he fed us tons of Icelandic history during our walk.
One of the things that he mentioned that really shocked me was that there is little to no crime in Iceland. On the tour, he told us the prison recently closed to build a new one. Anyone convicted before the new one opened got a letter with a date to show up at the new prison. Everyone showed up when it opened! How crazy is that? They even told my mom this same story during her tour! Because the cost of living is so high in Iceland, it’s actually way cheaper to be in prison!
We found out on this tour that the food game is strong in Iceland. By the end, our bellies were full of the best food Iceland has to offer. As a bonus, we even got to enjoy some macaroons! I tasted a few
After stuffing ourselves with delicious food, we jumped in our Land Cruiser to head north to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to see Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss at sunset. You may recognize these locations from Game of Thrones; Kirkjufell Mountain is known as the Arrowhead mountain in Season 7 and the waterfall makes an appearance in season 6.
On the way, we stopped at Laxnes Horse Farm. The
The drive from Reykjavik to Kirkjufellsfoss takes about 2.5 hours, and the landscape makes you feel like you are driving on another planet. Iceland shows off at every turn, and drives tend to take longer since you want to stop and take pictures along the way. The entire trip we would sit there with our jaws open saying “is this planet earth?!
When we got to Kirkjufellsfoss, we took the path up and around the waterfall. The mountain is across the road from the waterfall, so you have to follow the path across the bridge to get the view of both. This also lets you enjoy the waterfall from every angle. To our surprise, the waterfall was a lot smaller than we expected. It always seemed so much larger in pictures. Nonetheless, it didn’t disappoint, and the sunset views from there were so impressive!
After the waterfall, we drove back to our hotel and enjoyed a late dinner before climbing into bed after another wonderful day in Iceland.
Day 3: Langjokull – Inside a Glacier
We had an early start to get over to Seljalandsfoss to start our tour for the day. Seljalandsfoss is the waterfall that is famous because you can walk behind it. You can also visit Gljufrabui which is a few minutes walk from Seljalandsfoss. Prepare to get wet at both of these waterfalls though from the mist.
Our tour was with Southcoast Adventure and took us into the glacier. Going inside of a glacier is a must if you visit Iceland! We explored inside of Langjokull, Europe’s second largest glacier. Being surrounded by ice was such a unique experience. The ice tunnels and caves here were so impressive. They even go as far as having a wedding chapel with insane acoustics. Now you know this would never be my vision for a wedding, but that’s a thing for some people. Whatever your vision, anyone can appreciate the true beauty of an ice wedding chapel!
Day 4: Best Things to Do in Reykjavik on a Free Day
After being on the go so much the first three days, we enjoyed relaxing a bit on the fourth day. We walked back over to Hraunfossar since it was so close to our hotel. It was nice to just enjoy the beauty of Iceland and take it in.
Later in the day we headed into downtown Reykjavik again to walk around. We found some colorful houses, and since I’m a sucker for them, I had to get some pictures! Reykjavik is such a cute town, and it was so nice to just walk around and see what we could find.
At Hotel Husafell, we enjoyed one last midnight swim under the northern lights. The geothermal pools here were the best way to relax after a long day of hiking and exploring. This hotel made for the perfect base for us to explore this area of Iceland. I highly recommend it if you decide to visit.
Day 5: Thingvellir and the Golden Circle in Iceland
After checking out of our hotel, we did what everyone does when they come to Iceland – head to the Golden Circle. There are three main stops on the Golden Circle: Thingvellir, Geysir, and Gullfoss. We only stopped at Thingvellir this day, but we returned another day for the other two stops.
Thingvellir was located about an hour and a half from the hotel. Thingvellir is known for having the continental divide. You can even snorkel or dive in it at Silfra. The water is freezing cold (not kidding, it was 0 degrees
The water is crystal clear and you can see all the way to the bottom just from standing next to the dive site. Silfra actually holds the record for the clearest visibility – you can see up to 100m! It’s insane how clear it is but don’t expect to see much marine life. It’s far too old for anything to live.
Since Tracy and I are dive certified, we decided to brave the cold. We couldn’t pass up the opportunity to touch the two tectonic plates of Eurasia and North America. Yep, we were touching two continents at once! It was an opportunity of a lifetime, but from now on I will stick to warm water dives only. It’s a lot more pleasant temperatures!
Other popular stops in Thingvellir include Oxarfoss Waterfall and the Flosagja Fissure. Both are near the Silfra dive site. You can walk or drive to them from Silfra. Oxarfoss is along the path to the right and the Flosagja Fissure runs throughout this area of the park. The main thing to enjoy in Thingvellir is all of the views. I am still completely in awe of the beauty of Iceland.
Day 6: Exploring Southern Iceland – Skogafoss, Solheimsandur Plane Wreck, Black Sand Beach
Day 6 again started early with a two hour drive over to Skogafoss to be there early. This waterfall can get crowded later in the day with tours and is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. If you plan to get close to the waterfall, plan to get wet from the mist (and protect your camera!) You can also climb the stairs to the top of the waterfall to enjoy a view from above.
From there we continued to the nearby Solheimasandur Plane Wreck. This place has become incredibly popular on Instagram, so it is good to get an early start here if possible. It is a 7 km (4 mile) walk round trip, but there is a path to follow and it is pretty flat. I felt like I might be on the moon as we hiked out to the plane wreck. Luckily, no one was harmed when this plane crashed here.
After walking back to the car, we followed Ring Road to Dyrholaey and Reynisfjara. In the summer, you can see puffins at Dyrholaey. There is a lighthouse at the top, and the path near that lighthouse has a perfect view over the black sand beach. It is a popular Instagram photo spot. If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, you can easily drive to the top. If not, walking is your best option.
Reynisfjara is only a few minutes away. It is another popular spot on tours, so plan for a crowd in the middle of the day. You can still find a spot to get your shot though as the basalt columns spread out over a good section of the cliff.
As you walk along the beach here, you can also enjoy a view of the Reynisdrangar rock formations out in the water. While you are on the beach, be aware of the waves in this part of the beach as they can catch you off guard. As I walked along the beach, I felt as if I had stepped into a black and white film. The white foam of the water and the white haze in the sky contrasted with the black sand and rock formations.
Our day was not over yet though. After checking in to Geo Hotel Grindavik and having dinner, we headed back to Reykjavik for a bar crawl. Reykjavik was about 45 minutes from the hotel, and the bar crawl started around 10 p.m. We met at Jacobsen Loftið, one of the best cocktail lounges in Reykjavik. The bar crawl lasts about 3 hours and costs (about 125 USD). It takes you through local bars and restaurants and lets you enjoy some live music before the night is over. After a long but wonderful day, we headed to bed ready to see what the next day would hold.
Day 7: Golden Circle Self-Drive Tour
Our Golden Circle tour started with a
From Gullfoss we headed over to Geysir, located about 10 minutes away. This area is another part of Iceland that feels like you might be on another planet. The steam rises from the ground constantly because of all of the geothermal activity. I tested my agility running through the active hot springs all to get the shot I wanted. You can also watch Strokkur erupt every few minutes. It shoots water about 30 meters (100 feet) into the air.
Did you know one of the most popular things to do in Iceland is go to Fridheimar for the tomato soup? They grow the tomatoes for all of Iceland and most of Europe all year long in a greenhouse. The soup was delicious and the perfect way to warm up. Plus they make all homemade bread, perfect for dipping and the ultimate comfort food! Cost for unlimited soup and bread, 2290 ISK (about 20 USD).
Our last stop was the Kerið Crater, more proof of the endless beauty Iceland has to offer. You can take a pathway right to the edge of the volcanic crater where you take in the rust colored slopes leading down to the bright blue-green water. You can walk all the way around the crater and even down to the water’s edge if you follow the path. If you come here on your own, there is a small entry fee to pay for the private land to be maintained.
Day 8: Fjadrargljufur Canyon, Skaftafell & Svartifoss Waterfall, & Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
To get to all of these sites required an early start, a late finish, and a lot of driving and snacks in between. The first stop was 3.5 hours away from the hotel but well worth the drive. Fjadrargljufur Canyon’s views were some of the most epic of the trip with the water carving its way through the canyon. You felt as if you were in a land untouched by man and stepping on land dinosaurs once roamed. I may have even broken the rules by jumping the barbed wire fence to get the best view and the best shot.
After hiking for a couple of hours, we returned to the car for an hour drive to Skaftafell to see Svartifoss waterfall. This waterfall is surrounded by the basalt columns that are common throughout Iceland and that inspired Hallgrimskirkja’s design. The hike to get there is an easy 5.5 km (3.4 miles) hike with beautiful views along the way.
Our last stop for the day was Diamond Beach and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. It was only a 45 minute drive from Skaftafell, and we stayed and watched the sunset here. Seeing the sun reflect off of the pieces of ice on the beach makes it sparkle. The pieces of glacier floating in the lagoon make for a beautiful backdrop for photos.
If you know me, you know I love buying things to decorate when I travel. I fell in love with the blankets that represent the Icelandic landscape at Geo Hotel Grindavik so much that I bought two of them to take home. It paid off when we were at the glacial lagoon as I could use them to stay warm.
After watching the sunset, we had a long 5 hour drive back to the hotel where we gladly fell into our beds before starting all over again the next day.
Day 9: Thorsmork & Eyjafjallajokull with Adventure Patrol
Our last full day in Iceland included a full day tour with Adventure Patrol. You will want waterproof shoes and a wind and waterproof jacket for this full day of adventure and exploring. I was completely soaked and frozen to my bones, but I kept telling myself it was part of the adventure.
This tour ventured off the beaten path with hikes through
Day 10: Relaxing in the Blue Lagoon
We ended our time in Iceland in the best way possible – relaxing in the Blue Lagoon. We arrived at 8 a.m., and I’ve never felt so relaxed heading to the airport. It was the perfect start to the last morning of our trip and the perfect way to loosen up my tired muscles from our hikes over the last few days. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end such a memorable trip.
Iceland is an incredible country full of places waiting to be explored. It is made for people who love the outdoors and have a sense of adventure. I couldn’t believe how fast the time flew by, and I hope to go back one day to see more of this amazing country.
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