5 Days in Iceland: Complete Itinerary

5 Days in Iceland: Complete Itinerary

Have you been looking for the Best 5 Days in Iceland itinerary?

 

Welcome to the land of fire and ice! Iceland is an absolutely stunning country, celebrated for its breathtaking landscapes, vibrant culture, and unforgettable adventures. As travel enthusiasts who just returned from our Icelandic adventure, we understand the ins and outs of crafting the perfect itinerary to ensure you make the most of your 5-Day Trip in Iceland. From chasing the Northern Lights to soaking in the Blue Lagoon’s geothermal waters, we’ve curated a comprehensive guide tailored just for you. Whether you’re a thrill-seeker or a nature enthusiast seeking tranquility, this itinerary is designed to cater to all your travel desires. Let’s dive into the wonders that Iceland has to offer and make your journey a memorable one.

Table of Contents

Getting to Iceland

Fly Play
Fly Play | 5 Days in Iceland

Getting to Iceland is easier than you think. With daily direct flights from major cities in the US and Europe, it’s a convenient destination to reach. If you’re flying from the US or Canada, our recommended airlines are Icelandair or Play, as they offer affordable fares daily. While many travelers may think they’re flying into Reykjavik, you’ll actually be flying into Keflavik International Airport. From there, you can take a 45-minute shuttle ride or rent a car to reach the capital city of Reykjavik. We recommend Reykjavik to be your hub during your Iceland stay.

How to Get Around Iceland

Ring Road
Ring Road | 5 Days in Iceland

Once you land at Keflavik Airport, we suggest you rent a car to give you the freedom to explore at your own pace. The roads are well-maintained, and with GPS navigation readily available, getting around will be a breeze. If you plan on touring all of Iceland, you can take the famous Ring Road around the entire country. However, if you’re there during the winter, the best way to get around is by utilizing public transportation to Reykjavik, then taking group tours to other parts of Iceland. Winters in Iceland can be harsh and unpredictable, so it’s better to take public transportation and leave it to a local to get you around.

5 Days In Iceland Itinerary

Day 1: Reykjavik in One Day

Reyjkavik | 5 Days in Iceland

Start your Icelandic adventure by exploring the charming city of Reykjavik, the world’s northernmost capital. Stroll through the colorful streets, including a walk on Rainbow Road, within the city center. In Reykjavik, you’ll find many streets lined with quirky shops, cozy cafes, and vibrant street art. 

 

 

If you’re ready for breakfast, consider checking out BakaBaka, a popular local bakery known for their delicious pastries and breads. We had delicious French toast and bacon there, so we’d highly recommend it! Te & Kaffi is also another cute cafe, which we went to multiple times!

 

 

After breakfast, head to the iconic Sun Voyager sculpture, a symbol of hope and exploration located on the scenic waterfront. Close by is the Harpa Concert Hall on the water where you can catch a show or simply admire the unique architecture. It’s open daily so you can walk inside to check it out and maybe shop a little! There’s also a kid’s play area for anyone exploring Reykjavik with their children. The Harpa Concert Hall boasts an impressive view of the harbor and the surrounding scenery.

Sun Voyager
Sun Voyager | 5 Days in Iceland

From there, head to Hallgrimskirkja, the largest church in Iceland with its unique architectural design inspired by basalt columns. One of the best things to do in Reykjavik is to take a tour of the church or simply enjoy the panoramic views from its observation deck. Also within Hallgrimskirkja is a beautiful organ, known for its incredible acoustics. We enjoyed just sitting inside the church and listening to the organist. Sometimes when you’re walking in a new city, it’s nice to sit back, take a break, and live in the moment. 

 

After working up an appetite with your morning adventures, head to one of Reykjavik’s charming cafes or bistros for a delicious Icelandic lunch. Indulge in traditional dishes like seafood soup, lamb stew, or freshly caught fish served with locally sourced vegetables.

 

For a taste of authentic Icelandic cuisine, visit one of the city’s renowned eateries such as Saegreifinn, known for its mouthwatering lobster soup, or Café Loki, where you can sample traditional delicacies like fermented shark and smoked lamb. Fermented shark is probably the most well-known Icelandic dish and is a must-try if you’re open to trying new things! We also ate at a really good restaurant called La Poblana if you’re craving Mexican food during your stay. 

 

After a nice lunch, set out to explore Reykjavik’s rich cultural heritage and vibrant arts scene. Begin your afternoon at the National Museum of Iceland, where you can immerse yourself in the country’s fascinating history and learn about its Viking roots, medieval sagas, and modern-day achievements.

 

 

Next, wander through the charming streets of the Old Town, popping into local galleries and boutiques. If you’re in the mood to swim in one of Reykjavik’s geothermal pools, we recommend Vesturbaejarlaug, which is close to all the attractions. Overall, Reykjavik is a very walkable city, so everything is close by. The city feels even smaller when you ride around on one of the Hopp scooters all across town. They go about 20 miles per hour and are so fun!

 

hallgrimskirkja
Hallgrimskirkja | 5 Days in Iceland

Next on your day in Reykjavik is treating yourself to a memorable dinner at one of the city’s top restaurants. Whether you’re craving international cuisine or traditional Icelandic fare, Reykjavik has something to satisfy every person.

 

For a fine dining experience, reserve a table at Dill, a Michelin-starred restaurant, where you can indulge in  Nordic cuisine made with locally sourced ingredients. Alternatively, opt for a cozy bistro-like Fish Market, known for its creative seafood dishes and warm hospitality. We also recommend Hlemmur Matholl, voted the best food hall in Reykjavik, where there are many different options if you can’t decide what you’re in the mood for! This is also a great option for groups that disagree on what they’d like to eat. Some of the restaurants inside include Skal, Fuego, Flatey Pizza, Krost, and for dessert, Gaeta Gelato!

 

After dinner, take a stroll along the waterfront, soaking in the sights and sounds of Reykjavik by night. 

 

Harpa Concert Hall
Harpa Concert Hall | 5 Days in Reykjavik

When the sun sets, check out a Northern Lights Tour, which is one of the best things to do in Reykjavik! You can’t visit Iceland without hunting down the elusive Aurora Borealis, a natural wonder of the world. Your tour guide will take you to the best spots for viewing the lights, and provide hot chocolate and blankets to keep you warm while you wait. Keep your camera ready, as the Northern Lights can often be unpredictable and appear suddenly. 

For us, a Northern Lights Tour was an absolute must and it was more difficult to see them than we originally thought. If you don’t succeed the first time, they will allow you to try again on another day free of charge, but you need to make sure the KP Index is strong. The KP Index measures the forecast of geomagnetic activity. If the KP Index is low, you still have a chance to see them, but they may not be super vivid. No matter what, this tour can not be missed while you’re in Iceland in the winter, as the geomagnetic activity is stronger and there are longer periods of darkness.

 

After a thrilling evening chasing the lights, head back to your accommodation at one of Reykjavik’s many boutique hotels or guesthouses. This will conclude your one day in Reykjavik and your first day in Iceland. Get some rest for another exciting day tomorrow!

 

One of the best Iceland quotes to describe the elusive Northern Lights:

 

“The Aurora Borealis is a fickle phenomenon. A week can pass without a flicker. Then bang! The Northern Lights come on like a celestial lava lamp.” – Nigel Tisdall

Northern Lights Bus Tour
Northern Lights Tour | 5 Days in Iceland

Day 2: Golden Circle Day Tour

Gullfoss Falls | 5 Days in Iceland

Head on a classic Icelandic adventure with a Golden Circle Day Tour, exploring some of Iceland’s most iconic natural wonders.

 

Start your Golden Circle road trip with a drive towards Selfoss to visit Kerid Crater, a stunning volcanic crater lake surrounded by vibrant green slopes. In the winter, the crater lake is frozen and it is also a beautiful site to see amongst the snow. The Kerid Crater is approximately 6,500 years old and was formed by a volcanic explosion. It is around 55 meters deep and contains a strikingly blue lake at the bottom. Take a walk around the rim and snap some photos of this unique landscape. You could also take stairs all the way to the bottom of the crater, but if you’re here in the winter, make sure to watch your step! 

 

Next on our tour, we marveled at the powerful geysers of the Geysir Geothermal Area, including the famous Strokkur geyser that erupts every few minutes.  The Geysir Geothermal Area is home to a variety of hot springs and geysers, making it one of the most active geothermal areas in the world. The Geysir was a really fun and exciting piece of the day and we had a good time trying to time some quirky videos!

 

From the Geysir Geothermal Area, our Golden Circle tour will continue with a visit to Gullfoss Waterfall, one of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls. Gullfoss Waterfall is glacier-fed by the Hvítá River and is an incredible natural wonder, easily making it one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. We’re from Niagara Falls, so we know what it means to have iconic waterfalls nearby. The surrounding scenery was absolutely stunning and it just had a magical feel to it. 

 

If you’re doing well on time, another cool stop on your Golden Circle tour is the charming town of Skalholt. This small village is home to the historic Skalholt Cathedral and a cultural center, providing insight into Iceland’s past and present. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about the country and its people. Plus, the town itself is picturesque with peaceful countryside views.

 

To conclude your Golden Circle Day Tour, visit Thingvellir National Park, where you can walk between the tectonic plates along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Tabbed a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, you must include it on any Golden Circle day trip. At Thingvellir National Park (þingvellir National Park), you can discover the Thingvallavatn (Þingvallavatn), Iceland’s largest natural lake, and view the Langjokull glacier in the distance. This park is also the site of Iceland’s first parliament in 930 AD, making it not only a geological wonder but a historical one as well.

 

After Thingvellir National Park, make your way back to Reykjavik where you can relax and reflect on your incredible day exploring Iceland’s Golden Circle.

Geysir
Geysir Geothermal Area | 5 Days in Iceland

Day 3: Iceland South Coast Adventure

Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Beach | 5 Days in Iceland

Venture along Iceland’s breathtaking South Coast, where rugged cliffs, black sand beaches, and majestic waterfalls await.

 

Begin your day with a visit to the iconic Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. Something really cool about Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is that you can walk behind it! You won’t see this many places, so take advantage of this unique opportunity! In the winter, it could potentially be blocked off by snow, but in the summer you will have unlimited access. Make sure to bring your camera for some amazing photos!

 

Another one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland is Skogafoss Waterfall. About a 25-minute drive on the Ring Road from Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, this powerful waterfall is a must-see. With a width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters, the sheer force of Skogafoss is truly impressive. You can even climb up the stairs to get a closer look at the top of the waterfall and take in the stunning views from above.

 

Next, explore the landscapes of the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. It was insanely cool to see the Reynisdrangar rock formations. When we went, it was a code red kind of day, so you need to make sure you stay far away from the water! It’s extremely dangerous, so grab your pictures, enjoy the scenery, and don’t venture too close to the waves. It’s also a great spot for birdwatching, with puffins and other seabirds nesting in the cliffs above.

 

Afterward, take a break and relax in the charming coastal village of Vík, known for its colorful houses and stunning views. Grab a bite to eat at one of the local cafes or restaurants, such as Smiojan Brugghús or Halldorskaffi.

 

As evening approaches, head back to your accommodation in Reykjavik for a well-deserved rest after an exciting day.

Skógafoss | 5 Days in Iceland

Day 4: Snaefellsnes Peninsula Day Trip

Kirkjufell mountain
Kirkjufell Mountain | 5 Days in Iceland

On day 4, we recommend a Reykjavik to Snaefellsnes Peninsula day trip. Also known as “Iceland in miniature”, Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a popular day trip option location in Western Iceland. The nickname “Iceland in miniature” is because it encompasses so much of what Iceland is about in one small region. Make sure to start very early so you don’t miss all of the great sights the region has to offer. 

 

From Reykjavik, your 2 hour journey begins at Arnarstapi, a small fishing village with stunning views of the ocean. Visit the beach at Arnarstapi and you’ll find this eroded circular stone arch, called Gatklettur. The village is also known for the Arnarstapi Cliff, which very much resembles the Cliffs of Moher in Ireland!

 

Before leaving Arnarstapi, make sure to visit the famous Budir Black Church, which dates back to 1703. It has been dismantled and rebuilt and the church, with the current church standing since 1987.

 

After your morning at Arnarstapi, head over to Snaefellsnes National Park, a natural wonderland filled with diverse landscapes. Here you can hike along lava fields and discover hidden waterfalls. A main attraction is the Vatnshellir Cave located in Snaefellsjökull National Park. This lava tube is over 8000 years old and offers a unique underground experience. Your guide will lead you through the cave’s intricate formations and tell you about its geological history. 

 

Within Snaefellsnes National Park you must also go to Djupalonssandur, a mesmerizing black sand beach steeped in history and myth. Take a walk along the beach and admire the unique rock formations, including the famous “lift stones” used by fishermen to test their strength. According to folklore, Kerling or the Troll Woman can also be found in one of the rock formations on Djupalonssandur Beach.

 

Djupalonssandur is not the only beach in Snaefellsnes National Park. You can also head to Skardsvík Beach, a stunning white sand beach with crystal clear waters. It is a great spot for swimming and enjoying the beautiful Icelandic scenery if it’s warm enough in the summer!

 

If you’re interested in some cool and unique lighthouses, you can also visit the Ondverdarnes and Svortuloft Lighthouses, both of which are also located within Snaefellsnes National Park. The Ondverdarnes Lighthouse has stood tall since 1907 and is a popular spot for bird watching, while the Svortuloft Lighthouse offers stunning views of the surrounding cliffs and ocean.

 

If you are doing well on time, visit the nearby fishing village of Olafsvík, where you can learn about Iceland’s fishing industry and try some fresh seafood for lunch!

 

Afterward, make your 20 minute drive over to Kirkjufell mountain – one of the most photographed spots in all of Iceland and one of the best things to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Also, known as “Church Mountain”, the iconic shape of this mountain against the backdrop of Grundarfjorour town makes for an unforgettable view. The shape of the mountain gives us a little Harry Potter vibes and looks like it could be a wizard’s hat!

 

By now, you’ll surely be tired and wanting dinner. Visit the charming town of Stykkisholmur, which is known for its natural beauty and birdlife. Don’t forget to try some local fresh seafood from Sjavarpakkhusio or a traditional Icelandic hot dog from Meistarinn Hot Dog Stand. 

 

From Stykkisholmur, you’ll make your way back to Reykjavik for the night. This day trip is a crazy one filled with so much beauty and iconic landscapes, but you’ll definitely be tired! Thankfully, day 5 has a lot of rest and relaxation in store. 

Day 5: Blue Lagoon Relaxation

Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon | 5 Days in Iceland

After a crazy day 4, end your Icelandic adventure with a day of relaxation at the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, near the village of Grindavík.

 

Spend your day soaking in the rejuvenating waters of the Blue Lagoon, surrounded by stunning volcanic landscapes. The warm, milky blue waters of the Blue are rich in minerals and known for their healing properties. We had our doubts, but Maddy had mild eczema on her hands, and after a couple of hours in the Lagoon, it completely disappeared! Crazy stuff!

 

While at the Blue Lagoon, you can also Indulge in a range of spa treatments, including massages, facials, and silica mud masks, for the ultimate relaxation experience. For most packages, it comes with a silica mud mask and a drink at the swim-up bar in the Lagoon. It was a very funny scene to see all the mud masks on people’s faces, but after wearing them for approximately 10 minutes, our skin definitely felt rejuvenated!

 

After a day of luxury, enjoy a farewell dinner at the Blue Lagoon’s onsite restaurant, where you can savor delicious Icelandic cuisine while reminiscing about your unforgettable journey through Iceland.

 

In the evening, you’ll head back to Reykjavik for one last night before departing from this incredible country. Take this opportunity to reflect on all of your amazing experiences and memories from your Icelandic adventure. This trip to Iceland was one we will never forget and we honestly can’t wait to go back one day.

 

Best Time to Visit Iceland

Sólheimajökulll Glacier | 5 Days in Iceland

For travelers interested in coming to Iceland, the best time of year to visit depends on your interests. If you are keen on witnessing the Northern Lights, winter, particularly from late September to late March, is ideal due to the extended hours of darkness. 

 

On the other hand, if you’re looking to engage in outdoor activities such as hiking, camping, or exploring Iceland’s beautiful landscapes in mild weather, summer, from June to August, is the perfect time. Regardless of the season you choose, Iceland’s unique charm and natural beauty are sure to leave you with unforgettable memories.

 

For more information on the best and worst times to visit Iceland, check out Mindful PNW Travels!

Iceland Weather By Season

Kerid Crater
Kerid Crater | 5 Days in Iceland

Winter (December to February): As mentioned before, this is the prime time for viewing the Northern Lights. The temperatures can drop well below freezing, but the stunning snow-covered landscapes make it worth it. Plus, you’ll have fewer crowds to contend with and a better chance of spotting wildlife such as reindeer and arctic foxes. Geothermal pools can also be enjoyed in the winter, so that’s a bonus!

 

Spring (March to May): This is when Iceland begins to come back to life after the long winter months. The days start getting longer, and you can experience both winter activities like skiing or snowmobiling and spring activities like whale watching.

 

Summer (June to August): With average temperatures ranging from 50°F – 60°F, summer in Iceland is the most popular time to visit. The days are long (almost 24 hours of sunlight) and the countryside is lush and green. It’s also the best time for activities like hiking, camping, and horseback riding.

 

Fall (September to November): As the summer crowds dwindle, fall brings cooler temperatures and stunning autumn colors. This is a great time for photography enthusiasts as well as those looking for a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle of tourist season.

No matter what time of year you choose to visit Iceland, make sure to pack layers as the weather can be unpredictable!

Where to Stay in Iceland

1. ION City Hotel

Located in the heart of Reykjavik, ION City Hotel offers modern and stylish accommodations. With its central location, guests have easy access to popular attractions such as Hallgrimskirkja Church and the National Museum of Iceland. The hotel also has an on-site restaurant serving up delicious Icelandic cuisine.

 

2. Frost & Fire Hotel

If you’d like to go off the beaten path of Reykjavik, you can opt for a more scenic and tranquil stay at Frost & Fire Hotel, which is situated by a river in Hveragerdi. This cozy hotel offers rooms with stunning views of the surrounding nature. Guests can also enjoy the hotel’s geothermal swimming pool and spa.

 

3. Silica Hotel

Located near the famous Blue Lagoon, Silica Hotel is perfect for those looking to unwind and relax in the mineral-rich waters. The hotel offers comfortable rooms with access to its own private lagoon, as well as a restaurant and bar serving up tasty Icelandic dishes.

 

4. Apotek Hotel

Situated in the heart of Reykjavik’s lively downtown area, Apotek Hotel is housed in a historic building that was once a pharmacy. The hotel combines its rich history with modern amenities to provide a unique and luxurious stay for guests.  

 

5. Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon

If you’re looking to be located closer to the western side of Iceland, Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is situated near one of Iceland’s most famous attractions – Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. This modern hotel offers comfortable rooms with serene views of the surrounding mountains and glaciers.

If You Have More Than 5 Days in Iceland

Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park | 5 Days in Iceland

If you have more than 5 Days in Iceland, you may opt to take the above trips slower or grab a rental car to travel to all parts of the island! For a taste of the remote Westfjords, head to Isafjorour, a charming town surrounded by towering mountains where you can explore dramatic fjords and experience a slower pace of life. 

 

Often named the “Capital of North Iceland”, Akureyri offers a vibrant cultural scene and is known as the gateway to the stunning Lake Myvatn area, famous for its geothermal wonders and birdwatching opportunities. 

 

On the complete other side of the country from Reykjavik, you can travel to the Eastfjords, which boast picturesque fishing villages like Seyoisfjorour and scenic drives along rugged coastlines. 

 

Another popular spot in Iceland is Vatnajökull National Park, which features Europe’s largest glacier and national park. If you’re looking for a unique thing to do here, a popular attraction here is an ice cave tour! Ice caves can be found throughout the country so do a Google Search to find the one nearest you! No matter where you go in Iceland, you’ll be amazed by its natural beauty and unique culture. 

FAQs About 5 Days in Iceland

Aurora Borealis | 5 Days in Iceland

How many days in Iceland is enough?

The number of days you spend in Iceland will depend on your personal preferences and itinerary. If you want to see the popular tourist attractions and take part in various activities, we recommend staying for 5-7 days. However, if you are looking for a more relaxed trip and want to slow down and road trip the entire country, we suggest staying for 10-14 days.

 

What currency is used in Iceland?

The official currency of Iceland is the Icelandic Krona (ISK). It is recommended to exchange currency before arriving. Credit card is accepted pretty much everywhere in Iceland, but you always want to have some cash in hand if necessary! 

 

Is it safe to travel alone in Iceland?

Iceland is known for being one of the safest countries in the world, making it a great destination for solo travelers. The crime rate is low and the locals are friendly and helpful. However, as with any travel destination, it’s always important to take precautions and be aware of your surroundings.

 

What type of weather can I expect in Iceland?

Due to its location near the Arctic Circle, Iceland has a cool temperate climate year-round. The summer months are mild with average temperatures ranging from 50-60 degrees Fahrenheit (10-15 degrees Celsius). 

 

Winters can be cold with temperatures averaging around 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0 degrees Celsius), but rarely dropping below 14 degrees (-10 degrees Celsius). It’s important to pack layers and waterproof clothing as rain and wind are common in Iceland, regardless of the season. 

Final Thoughts on 5 Days in Iceland

If you’re planning a 5 Days in Iceland Trip, you’re in for a treat! The land of fire and ice offers a unique blend of natural wonders and cozy charm. From the breathtaking landscapes to the warm hospitality of its people, Iceland is a place that will leave you in awe. For us, Iceland was so unique compared to anything we’ve ever done. Since we’re based in New York State people typically opt for vacations with warm climates, so this was certainly a change. We absolutely loved Iceland and we’ll be back! So pack your bags and embrace the unpredictable weather, and get ready to create unforgettable memories. Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below. Safe travels!

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