Iceland: The Ultimate 5-Day Road-Trip Itinerary

The Ultimate 5-Day Itinerary along the Southern Coast:

Let me start by saying that five years ago, I knew little to nothing about the country of Iceland. I had no plans of visiting and would have had zero clue where to begin when planning  a multi-day trip to this destination.

Boy was I wrong! Iceland has really blown up over the past several years thanks to social media and travel bloggers. Now you have multiple airlines offering hugely discounted airfare into Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavik. Not to mention it is a quick and easy 5-6 hour flight from the east coast.

With limited vacation days, we made the most of our five days and four nights exploring as much of the country as we could.

I wish I could say that we were able to hit everything on my list but that is nearly impossible. Below I have compiled our favorite places we stayed, where we ate, and activities we did to make planning your trip a breeze!

Our trip took place over Labor Day weekend. The weather changes significantly from late summer to winter, and this would affect a lot of the activities we chose along with the roads we were able to drive.

You can check out my Iceland packing essentials list here.

[5-day Iceland itinerary below]

Taking in the views of Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Iceland Itinerary- DAY 1:

  • Overnight flight from Washington Dulles Airport to Reykjavik
    • The flight was a mere 5 1/2 hours. This left us little time but we did our best to get some shut eye. We landed at 6:45AM and it was time to hit the ground running!
  • Blue Lagoon: I heard all sorts of reviews on the Blue Lagoon but in the end, we decided to go check it out for ourselves. Yes, it is touristy. Yes, it gets crowded early-afternoon as tour buses come in. Yes, I would go again in an instant.  This spot is touristy for a reason. In our opinion, it was the perfect activity post-overnight flight to relax and reset. We got the basic package which includes a complimentary drink of your choice and a free silica mask.
    • Tips: Follow the directions and wash your hair beforehand. Put the conditioner provided in your hair and leave-in before you go into the lagoon. You won’t regret it (otherwise your hair will get stiff and hard to deal with).
  • Golden Circle: Another activity that I read all about before we started our trip. The Golden Circle is the perfect road-trip for those with less time in Iceland. All 3 stops can be seen during a 1-day loop.  Each of the below stops were stunning and unique in their own way. However, once we made it further across the southern coast, the sights just got more and more impressive.
    • Stop #1: Thingvellir National Park
    • Stop #2: Geysir Hot Springs: My favorite part about this stop was watching the Strokkur geysir spout water up to 100 feet in the area every couple of minutes.
    • Stop #3: Gulfoss “golden” Waterfalls: If you’re lucky, you’ll see one (if not multiple) rainbows extending across the golden falls.
  • Dinner at Efstidalur Farm Destination: This restaurant stop was a hidden gem. Located not too far from our final stop at Gulfoss waterfalls, Efstidalur Farm was cozy, unique and full of delicious food. Everything on their menu is in a farm-to-table fashion. The burgers were phenomenal (Not shocking given the free-range of cows on their property. Unlike in the U.S. where we question if the cows are grass-fed; here it was a fact and could be seen right in front of your eyes.)
    • Tip: Save a little room and don’t forget to try out their homemade ice-cream served downstairs. It was some of the creamiest, and best ice-cream I have ever had.
  • Stay: Airbnb – As I was not the primary guest on the reservation, I do not have the reservation link but would be happy to provide if you send me a message directly!
Waking up at our hotel in the middle of nowhere Iceland with gorgeous views over the plains and nearby waterfalls
Views looking in at our Fosshotel Nupar on the south coast

Iceland Itinerary – DAY 2:

  • Breakfast at Almar Bakari: Located conveniently right down the road from the AirBnB, this was the perfect local stop before hitting the road. Try their salmon breakfast sandwich and any of their breakfast pastries!
  • Continue the South Coast road-trip on the way to Excursion #1
    • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall: This is a must-stop in my opinion. We encountered 4-seasons of weather during our 30-40 minutes here so go prepared with with rain gear! You can walk up behind the waterfall and look out over the plains. It’s amazing behind behind such a powerful waterfall and it makes for a perfect photo opportunity. Be prepared to get wet!
      • Tip: Don’t stop here. If you are looking at the waterfall, walk to the left and you will come upon somewhat of a “secret” waterfall. You will likely see others doing the same thing so follow their lead. This waterfall can be seen between the crevice of the cliffside and there is just enough room to walk in (wear your waterproof shoes if you have them!).  See photos below.
    • Skogafoss Waterfall: Another famous waterfall that you’ve likely seen if you’ve done any sort of google searches. You can walk straight up to the base of the waterfall and park close by so it’s a convenient stop for those who don’t have a lot of time. If you have an additional hour, take the staircase to the right all the way up to the top of the waterfall. You’ll experience a whole new appreciation for this stunning waterfall and views over the town below.
    • Skogar turf homes: We did not spend a lot of time here other than a few quick photos. If you are interested, you can pay a small fee and explore inside the Skogar museum while walking right up to the green-turf homes.
  • Glacier Hike with Arctic Adventures on the Solheimajokull Glacier
    • Tour length: Approximately 3 hours (1-1.5 hours on the ice)
    • Recommendation: Rent the waterproof pants and waterproof shoes if you don’t have serious gear. You won’t regret feeling warmer and drier during your time on the glacier making for a much more pleasurable experience.
  • Dinner in Vik at Sudur Vik: All you have to do is google this spot and you will see thousands of reviews of what to eat. We were trying to save some money so we went for their pizza and thai curry dish along with some local beer which did not disappoint.
    • Tip: There is often a slight wait so check out the basement “man-cave” bar for a beer!
  • Stay: Fosshotel Nupar
    • Recommended by a friend. This was such an unique hotel experience. We pulled up when it was already pitch-black outside and woke up to find ourselves truly in the middle of nowhere. Step outside of your small quaint room for a sunrise cup of coffee. You’ll see snowcapped mountains in the far distances and waterfalls cascading the mountains to your left.
      • Bonus: Fill yourself up with a delicious and filling breakfast buffet which is included in your reservation!  (There is also a good restaurant for dinner but we got in too late to enjoy)

Geysir Hot Springs on our day one itinerary driving the southern coast of Iceland.

The geysir along the Golden Circle in Iceland before erupting 100 feet in the air

Views of the 'golden falls' along the southern coast of Iceland with a rainbow in the background

Taking in the numerous waterfalls along the southern coast road trip in Iceland

The beginning of our glacial trek with Arctic Adventures in Iceland

Experiencing all four seasons during our afternoon glacier hike in Iceland

The clash between the white glacial ice, volcanic ash and green hills in the distance

Iceland Itinerary- DAY 3: 

  • Excursion #2: Glacial Lagoon boat tour
    • All I can say is WOW when I think about the gigantic glacial ice pieces floating on the lagoon. Just when we thought that we had seen it all, we pulled up to lagoon views that are nearly impossible to explain. These glaciers will not be around forever. They are melting and disappearing faster and faster every single year so go now if you have the chance!  We loved our small boat tour-guide and we even got to see a few seals ‘sunbathing’ on the floating ice chunks!
  • Begin the road-trip back to Reykjavik:
    • Skaftafell National Park (did not have time to explore at this stop but have heard great things!)
    • Lunch at the Soup Company in Vik
      • The perfect, simple stop to warm you up after a cold morning on the lagoon. This stop also gave us a chance to stretch our legs and walk over to black sand beach one last time.
    • Fjaorargljufur (fjords): If you haven’t already seen, go ahead and google the “Justin Bieber music video filmed in Iceland”. A large portion is filmed right at this spot. Since that video was filmed, most of the ‘look-out’ points have been fenced off as too many people were visiting and it was ruining the surrounding nature. Not to mention, it probably is not that safe going up to the edge without any sort of barrier. Regardless, this was a very well-worth it stop and the pictures don’t do it justice.
  • Stay: AirBnB on the outskirts of the city. Check out where we stayed here.
    • If you’ve never done an AirBnB, you can book through my link and we will both get $$ off our next booking! (You will get $40 off your first booking and I will get $20!) 
    • Our AirBnB was a private room in a local’s apartment residence. It was very hands-off and easy once we got checked-in. The location was perfect as it was right near the harbor and an easy 10-15 minute walk into the city center. We didn’t plan on spending too much time in our accommodations as we used every last hour to explore so we tried to stay on a budget.
  • Dinner at Tapas 
    • Right as you enter town, you will see this small and somewhat hidden spot. Lucky for us, our tour guide from the Glacial Lagoon recommended we check Tapas out and we couldn’t have been happier. Forewarning, it is expensive. We considered it our “Splurge dinner” and enjoyed all sorts of Tapas in the cozy, underground restaurant atmosphere. Ask a local if you can’t locate this spot on your own!

Taking in the views from our boat trip in the glacial lagoon on the east coast of Iceland

Standing in front of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon after a half-day excursion on the water in Iceland!

A massive chunk of glacier in the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland on our boat tour.

All dressed up in warm layers thanks to Arctic Adventures for our boat ride on the glacial lagoon in Iceland

Gorgeous road trip views with waterfalls in the distance and wild icelandic horses

Gloomy views overlooking Fjaorargljufur fjord in Iceland along the southern coast road trip

Iceland Itinerary – DAY 4: 

  • Excursion #3: Glacier Snowmobiling with Arctic Adventures
    • This is an all-day activity. We got picked up early downtown by our tour guide. It was approximately a 1.5-2 hour drive to the base where you receive all of your gear. You then hop into a super-lifted off-roading vehicle to take on the treacherous terrain before you arrive at the 2nd largest glacier! I highly recommend this activity if you love a bit of adrenaline and if you’ve never been snowmobiling. This was one of the pricier activities we chose to do so if you are wanting to save money, I would suggest the glacial lagoon boat tour and/or the glacier hike!
  • Dinner at Sushi Social (expensive but oh-so-good!)
    • Go to this spot even if all you do is split 2-3 rolls and have a beer. The atmosphere is awesome and the sushi hit the spot.
  • Dessert at Eldur Og Is Original: Go to this spot for crepes and ice cream. If you have a sweet tooth, you can’t miss out!

Snowmobiling on top of a massive glacier on the south coast of Iceland

Iceland Itinerary – DAY 5:

  • Breakfast at Braud & Co.
    • Typically there’s a line but it’s worth the wait. Try out the giant cinnamon roll!
  • Wander the streets of Reykjavik
  • Warm up in the vintage, cozy coffee shop of Reykjavik Roasters. Enjoy a oat-milk latte while you’re at it.
  • Lunch at GLO. Healthy vegan restaurant downtown.
  • Grab a hot-dog on your way out of town! I am not a hot-dog fan typically but even I can admit that the hotdogs served up on the streets of downtown Reykjavik were pretty tasty.

Having breakfast at one of the best spots in downtown Reykjavik - Braud & co for fresh pastries

A classic looking  white and red church on the coastline of Iceland

Stunning waterfall along the south coast of Iceland that we walked all the way to the top

Taking in all of God's glory in a beautiful sunset during our Icelandic road trip

Downtown views of the colorful buildings in Reykjavik, Iceland

Strawberry crepe at Eldur Og Is in downtown Reykjavik
Strawberry crepe with fresh icecream at Eldur Og in downtown Reykjavik

Views overlooking the city of Reykjavik, Iceland

For more adventure trip inspiration, check out our Peru hiking itinerary.


  1. October 15, 2018 / 2:48 am

    Love all of your photos and tips! Making me miss Iceland even more!

    • admin
      October 16, 2018 / 2:05 am

      Thank you- I wish we had more time there but it makes for an even better reason to stopover in Iceland on a future Euro trip!