We visited Iceland in the fall of 2019 and spent 7 days drive exploring. It was such an amazing time, I wanted to share with you our epic 7 day self drive Iceland Itinerary to inspire your travels. We rented a car, however many people rent a camper van. The previous week we were in Munich for Oktoberfest so we traveled there from Germany. Typically we are pretty loyal Delta airlines (& partners) customers, but due to cost we flew IcelandAir and would fly them again. We were happy with our experience. They offer many stop over options or cheap flight options to Iceland. This is an 8 day travel itinerary with 7 days worth of “activities”. (The 8th day was a travel day.)
Day One: Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik
We flew into Reykjavik arriving around 3:30 PM. It took awhile to get our rental car so I’m glad I wasn’t too aggressive in scheduling our reservation at the Blue Lagoon.
Since the Blue Lagoon is really close to the Keflavik Int’l Airport (KEF), I recommend that it either be your first or last stop. Be sure to make a reservation in advance and check the hours for your specific day online. On average people spend 2-4 hours there so make sure you’re not too rushed and can fully enjoy the experience. We arrived around 6 PM and it was open until 10 PM that day—it was perfect because as we were just arriving, a lot of people were leaving. It was a lot less busy, which was great!
After relaxing and soaking in the lagoon, we headed to Hagkaup grocery store as it’s open 24 hours and also has the famous Baejarins Betsu hot dog stand inside. So before grabbing hot dogs, we picked up some snacks & food to eat on the go during our travels. It was our first time having Icelandic hotdogs and we were sure to order them with “the works” before heading to our Reykjavik hotel for the night.
[The two main grocery stores you’ll want to stop at while in Iceland are Hagkaup & Bonus.]
That night we stayed in the Reykjavik city center which in hindsight wasn’t the best choice as our hotel didn’t offer parking (it was tough to navigate in the dark where to park!) and we were leaving early in the morning out of Reykjavik. If I did it again, I would pick someplace that was farther out of the city on our way to our early morning adventures unless we were planning to explore Reykjavik the next day.
Day Two: Reykjavik to Vik
Up bright & early! We grabbed breakfast at Braud & Co., we were there upon opening at 6 AM (their cinnamon bread is to die for!!)
As we set off for the day, we explored what’s known as the “Golden Circle” leaving Reykjavik around 7 AM.
45 mins from Reykjavik to Thingvellir National Park to snorkel in the silfra fissure between tectonic plates—(Silfra Snorkel). Started at 8:30 AM until 11 AM. This was literally & figuratively the coolest thing I’ve ever done! One of my top experiences while in Iceland.
From our snorkeling experience it was approximately a one hour drive to Haukadalur Geothermal Field (Strokkur Geyser).
Once we left Haukadalur Field it was a 10 minute drive to Gulfoss waterfall.
It took about an hour and a half to drive from Gulfoss to Haifoss. It was so worth it!
Haifoss was a little more of a rough road to get to and depending on what type of vehicle you have and what the weather is like, it may not be feasible. But, it was one of my favorite waterfalls that we saw throughout our 7 day Iceland trip.
In my opinion, besides the obvious beauty the best part because it was a little more remote and took more effort to get to as that there weren’t as many people there. It was a gorgeous sunny day when we were there. Haifoss was my favorite waterfall we saw on the whole trip. (see below)
Olverk Pizza & Brewery for food & some brews. This brewery is geothermal powered!
Once we let we passed through Selfoss. Selfoss has a Bonus grocery store—if needed. However, we didn’t end up stopping.
Another great stopping point based on a recommendation from a college friend of mine is the Fjorubordid Restaurant for their amazing Langostine soup. This is on my list for a return trip to Iceland!
Back on the road for a little under a half an hour we made our way to Urridafoss (below.)
Once we left Urridafoss we drove a littlel over 50km to the next waterfall Seljalandsfoss (below)
10 minutes prior to Skogafoss, there is a “Bra Fence” in Pjodvegur. It was too dark by the time that we got there so we missed it, but I brought a bra to add to it and missed out. The first bra was placed there in 2012 and apparently it’s quite a sight to see! This definitely will be on my list for next time during the summer when there is a lot more daylight.
We were going to try to get to Skogafoss, but because of the daylight fading, we decided we would fit it in the next day.
When you’re considering when to visit Iceland, the summer has a lot more daylight so you can see more and fit it into a lot shorter time period. Even considering the time of year we visited (end of September into October), I feel my itinerary is pretty aggressive.
We stayed in Vik for the night.
Day Three: Vik to Hofn
We ate breakfast that was included at the hotel before checking out and leaving for the day.
Since it was too dark when we reached it the prior day, we back tracked a little to visit Skogafoss.
Black sand beach (we decided to skip the Solheimasandur plane wreck as it takes awhile to get out to it.) But, I’d definitely check it out if we return during the summer.
Dyrholaey unique peninsula with scenic views from the (lighthouse). It’s very windy so make sure you’re bundled up!
Reynisfjall—Mountain with picturesque setting (back drop for the black sand beach & basalt stacks that are nearby.)
Reynisfjara view point
Reynisfjara beach—beach cliff & glacier
Reynisdrangar– black sand beach, cliff glacier & volcano
Vik I Myrdal Church
Joksulsarlon Glacial Lagoon/Ice “Diamond” Beach
Jon Riki Brewery & restaurant—When we got there, even though it said it was open online it was closed. Honestly, I was pretty disappointed by this as it looked pretty awesome from what I saw online.
Stayed in Hofn for the night. There is a Netto Grocery store in town if needed.
Day Four: Hofn to Seydisfjordur
We ate breakfast at the hotel as it was included.
This day was mostly driving, not a lot of stops pre-planned and a total of a 3 ½ hours to drive. We ended up taking our time and stopping off at many picturesque places to snap photos as shown below. It was really nice to have a day where we were taking in the beauty but at a more leisurely pace.
Halfway between Hofn/Seydisfjordur you can take the 40 minute ferry from Djupivogur to Papey Island where you can see puffins. However, because of the time of the year we were there it wasn’t worth it and I didn’t even look into if ferries were available. Typically, the puffins are there from May-August. So definitely planning on going there if I return in the summer. (I feel like a broken record that needs to return in the summer! Haha)
Our main location for the day was VOK Geothermal baths—and my favorite geothermal bath that we visited during our time in Iceland.
We hung out here for a long time. It was so relaxing! Especially after the drive that made me really nervous up and over the mountain pass. So thankful that my husband is a rockstar driver and puts up with me gasping when I get nervous!
While there, we had the chance to talk to several different couples & a local tour guide which was really fun. The couple we talked to for awhile comes to Iceland frequently and even brings food with them so they’re able to stay for a longer amount of time and not break the bank with Iceland restaurant prices.
Leaving Vok Baths, it’s just a 30 min drive to our destination for the night of Seydisfjordur.
Gufufoss is just 4 minutes west of Seydisfjordur. We were the only ones there so it was so perfect and the lighting was beautiful as the sun was starting to set. It was so beautiful and serene. Definitely a nice change of pace from some of the more popular waterfalls closer to Reykjavik.
We stayed at Hotel Aldan in Seydisfjordur and ate dinner at the Nordic Restaurant. Seydisfjordur was easily my favorite city we stayed in during this whole trip. So colorful, quaint and beautiful! It’s the most well known for the blue church with the rainbow path.
Check out my instagram post that talks about Seydisfjordur in detail.
Day Five: Seydisfjordur to Arkogssandur
Just one last look at the cute blue church & we headed out to Arskogssandur for the day.
Stop 1 Fardagafoss
You’ll notice in the photo below, the square with the 4 squiggly lines in the corners is a symbol when you see it on signs indicates a place of interest. So, an overlook, waterfall etc. This makes it easy to identify places you’d likely want to go towards or stop at if you don’t have a very detailed plan.
The town of Egilsstadir—gas up & grab anything we needed. 2 hours 20 min drive to the next destination.
Hverfjall Crater—It was quite the trek up & extremely windy at the top but a great view! 10 minutes to the next location
Grjotagja Cave—isolated cave with hot water and fissures above in the crust of the earth.
Be sure to bring your own towel! For some reason, most of the people at this geothermal bath seemed to be really old. It was like a retirement home had a field trip or something (lol). We enjoyed the view & they had a great beer selection though!
Once we Myvatn baths it was a 45 min drive to Godafoss waterfall (30 mins prior to the town of Akureyri.)
We didn’t end up going here—if we would have had more time or visited in summer where light wasn’t an issue I wanted to also check out GeoSea. This is another gem I’m saving for a return trip!
We passed through the town of Akureyri– There’s a BONUS grocery store if needed! Then continued on to our destination for the evening in Arskogssandur.
We stayed at an igloo Air b n b—glamping style!
After settling in at the igloo, our Beer Spa Reservation was at 7 PM. This was a combination, beer spa, restaurant & brewery. So we had our beer spa experience then sampled additional brews & had dinner afterward.
To top off this night, we saw the northern lights faintly while we glamped in the igloo accommodation. But sadly, we didn’t do a great job capturing a photo. Just another reason to go back, I guess!
Day 6: Arskogssandur to Grundarfjordur
We left the igloo Air b n b as the sky was lit up with a gorgeous sunrise.
This day didn’t quite go as planned. We were supposed to drive along the Snaefellsjokull Peninsula, stopping at some view points and exploring Snaefellsjokull National Park. But, due to Hurricane Lorenzo being off the coast it was insanely windy and we felt our car literally get picked up as we were driving along. We decided to look up the nearest Vinbudin (read more about the liquor stores in Iceland on my previous post.)
We waited outside until it opened napping and reading in the car. Once we got some food at the grocery store & beer, we checked into our accommodation in Grundarfjordur and hung out drinking beer & wine and listening to music.
Not very often during travel do we take the time to unplug and do things such as this. Usually it’s very go go go wanting to see as much as we can to maximize our time. So, although it wasn’t the plan it was still nice and a chance to relax and reflect on the experiences we had thus far on the trip.
Day 7: Grundarfjordur to Reykjavik
We left Grundarfjordur to head to Reykjavik to explore for the day. Leaving our accommodation by 7 AM and got into Reykjavik around 9:30 AM with a lot of time to explore.
First things first, we started the day in Reykjavik by getting some coffee at Reykjavik Roasters & Braud & co (again).
Then we walked to the Hallgrimskirkja church—you can climb it to see a view of Reykjavik. I felt it was worth it—however, keep in mind it’s usually pretty busy and we had to wait. It wasn’t too long of a wait though.
Despite, the insane wind due to Hurricane Lorenzo being off the coast we trekked to the Sunvoyager along the shore.
We also were able to grab one last hotdog at the original Baejarins Betzu stand. I’m a huge fan of ordering these with the works! It includes ketchup, sweet mustard, crunchy fried onions, raw onions & a remoladi (mayonannaise based sauce with sweet relish.) Even if you don’t ordinarily like hot dogs, trust me when I say these are different and at least try one!
Then we walked around Reykjavik and visited a few craft breweries.
RVK Brewing Company, Aegisgardur (This brewery actually did a collaboration brew with a similarly named brewery near us in Minnesota and that was how we first heard of this brewery and added it to our ongoing travel list!) Barion Bryggjan
We rounded out our day in Reykjavik by having dinner at Islenski Barinn where we tried fermented shark and other Icelandic dishes.
We stayed outside of Reykjavik closer to the airport at The Northern Light Inn in Grindavik. At this point the wind was really bad. We were flying out the next day somewhat early but had a longer layover at JFK before continuing home to MSP. Our flight ended up being delayed about 4 hours which worked out better because then our layover was a lot shorter and we were able to sleep in quite a bit.
I hope you enjoyed the details of my 7 day Iceland itinerary I planned & went on in the fall of 2019. When planning a trip to Iceland, exploring the ring road in Iceland could be extended much longer than just a week. More itineraries for other destinations coming soon!