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Embarking on an Iceland road trip is a big bucket list item for many travelers. Iceland’s appeal is undeniable. As a country, Iceland is scenic and safe, and one of those destinations that heals one’s body and spirit with its epic landscapes and thermal hot springs.
Despite the high cost (cover your eyes if you order one too many beers), it’s still very easy to fall in love with Iceland, and I know I would never tire of visiting here. Certainly, Iceland inspires awe in travelers, making them feel as if they’ve been transported to another world.
For a lot of people, a big draw is Icelandair’s free layover where visitors can explore the country at no additional cost for up to seven days. So it doesn’t matter whether you’re only visiting Iceland or building your road trip into a longer Europe itinerary. You can visit Iceland too!
By reading this 6 Days in Iceland Itinerary, you’ll feel even more prepared for a trip to the wondrous Land of Ice and Fire. Let’s get planning!
Table of Contents
Iceland Travel Tips
Over all, Iceland is an easy destination to visit. It’s one of the reasons I heavily encourage new travelers to take a solo trip to Iceland, because the tourist infrastructure is fantastic, and the people are very, very, very kind. Very kind. I can’t emphasize that enough.
However, Iceland is still different than your home country, and it’s always a smart idea to know what to expect ahead of time.
Best Time to Visit Iceland
You’ll have vastly different experiences visiting Iceland in winter instead of summer, and vice versa. I’m not saying one season is better than the other (I loved both my trips), but you will need to temper your expectations.
For example, winter months bring constant darkness, with the exception of late morning and early afternoon, when the sun doesn’t even reach its full height in the sky and casts a beautiful orange glow over the land. You’ll also have snowy conditions.
I’m not saying winter is a bad time to visit. For example, the Blue Lagoon in winter is open and super enjoyable. Winter is also awesome for seeing the Northern Lights, if the weather decides to cooperate (seriously, any tour company that guarantees the Northern Lights is lying to you).
However, you’ll need to be disciplined when it comes to climbing out of bed. I just wanted to sleep literally all hours of the day and night!
Meanwhile, you might have nearly twenty-four hours of sunlight in the summer, but you’ll still encounter unpredictable weather and need to pack layers. Iceland’s scenery is green and lush for a reason. It rains. A lot. And weather forecasts aren’t always predictable. Actually, they never are. My iPhone straight up lied to me, haha.
So, yes, summer will bring glorious sunny days, but you need to expect some wetness too, so pack those waterproof shoes and clothes!
No matter what time you go to Iceland, the most important thing to remember is that there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing.
Getting Around Iceland
Truthfully, for this 6 Days in Iceland Itinerary, you can either rent a car and do your own self-guided tour, or strictly base yourself in Reykjavik and do day trips to the surrounding area.
It honestly depends on how confident you feel driving on roads that might be vastly different than your home country’s. Iceland has a good road system, but sometimes you’ll encounter one way bridges or intense winds on highways, and if you’re not a skilled driver, you might not feel comfortable taking yourself around the island.
Either way, you can accomplish this itinerary. Tours might cost a little more, but you’ll have peace of mind, and a guide who will explain Iceland’s history and geography to you, which is cool.
Where to Stay in Iceland
Iceland has a lot of great accommodation. However, it’s always wise to book in advance for the best places to stay. You’ll also feel a little shocked at prices during high season, but at the same time, you need to accept that prices are higher in Iceland in order to truly enjoy your stay.
Reykjavik, in particular, has a ton of great options for your visit. For more budget-minded travelers, I highly recommend Kex Hostel, which is located close to the waterfront. You’ll be able to connect with other people, locals and visitors alike, and get some top-notch travel advice. If you have a little more money to spend, then you ought to check out Hotel Holt, which is a boutique hotel packed with incredible and original art.
No matter what, thoroughly read reviews ahead of time.
What to Pack for 6 Days in Iceland
Okay, so what you need to pack for Iceland is going to drastically vary depending on the time of the year. Drastically.
I’ve written a few essentials here, but if you’re planning on a winter adventure in Iceland, then you need to think about “snow proofing” all your clothing. Trust me, the extra bulkiness in the luggage will be well worth it.
Essentials for 6 Days in Iceland
- Athletic Clothing: You don’t need to wear a ballgown in Iceland. In fact, you’re going for the exact opposite. Leggings, quick drying shirts, and other athleisure pieces are perfect for the outdoors.
- Bathing Suit: Don’t leave your bathing suit at home even in winter. Iceland’s wonderful thermal hot springs are open year round. You don’t want to miss them even if you don’t normally go to the spa at home.
- High Quality Backpack: Ready to go on some hikes? Make sure to invest in a high quality backpack, such as this Oak Creek premium waterproof backpack, so you can keep all of your items (especially electronics) safe from the weather.
- Hiking Shoes: Your footwear is incredibly important in Iceland. In summer, opt for sturdy hiking shoes with a good grip, and in winter, invest in decent snow boots.
- Lonely Planet Iceland Guide: Despite online resources, I’m still a sucker for classic guidebooks, such as Lonely Planet’s Guide to Iceland. They provide great information. Plus, if you buy a physical copy, it looks good on a bookshelf, haha.
- Merino Wool Socks: Since you’ll be hiking, buy a couple pairs of merino wool socks to prevent blisters.
- Sturdy Travel Umbrella: You will want an umbrella in Iceland, but the winds are wild, so get a high quality windproof umbrella even if it costs a bit more.
- Waterproof Clothing & Jacket: Don’t skimp on a rain jacket in Iceland. You’ll have rain even in summer. This waterproof hooded rain jacket is perfect for milder temperatures, where as a heavier parka is great for the winter months.
- World Nomads Travel Insurance: Travel insurance is an absolute necessity for visiting Iceland. The nature is beautiful, but you also need to protect yourself. I personally use World Nomads Travel Insurance whenever I go overseas.
Quick Glance: 6 Days in Iceland
|2||The Golden Circle|
|3||Adventures in the Golden Circle|
|4||Iceland’s South Coast|
|6||The Blue Lagoon, Departure|
6 Days in Iceland: Detailed Itinerary & Guide
This detailed 6 Days in Iceland Itinerary will help you jumpstart the planning process. Now I totally understand some travelers will want to see more regions in Iceland over the course of six days than what I have listed in this post.
Personally, I’m a slower traveler at heart, and this guide reflects my travel style, but feel free to change around some things on your own!
Day 1: Reykjavik, Iceland
Welcome to Reykjavik! The Icelandic Capital is super safe and welcoming, which is one reason why I recommend Reykjavik for solo travelers. You’ll have a wonderful first day here even if you’re jetlagged.
First I recommend seeing Hallgrímskirkja, which is the tallest and most famous church in all of Iceland. Hallgrímskirkja is free to enter, but for an additional fee, you can take a lift to the top of the church to see absolutely beautiful views of Reykjavik that are well worth the cost, particularly when the weather is nice.
After seeing Hallgrímskirkja, go explore downtown Reykjavik and indulge in a bit of shopping and coffee. I loved all the local shops in Reykjavik and even bought a cool shirt at a cat cafe! Don’t forget to take a walk on Rainbow Street. It’s crowded here during the day, but you can still take some nice photos.
Afterwards, take a quiet stroll around nearby Tjornin and don’t forget to stop every-so often to ogle at some street art. Reykjavik has some of the best street art that I’ve ever seen in any city. This beautiful lake is frozen in winter and vibrant in summer, and again, when you’re in this area, it’s worth it to take a dozen or so photographs.
At this point, if you’re hungry, then take a short walk to the center of town for a hot dog. Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is a hot dog stand that is absolutely, positively scrumptious. Don’t let any lines scare you off either! The people move quickly. Just be sure to keep a close eye on your hot dog. Seagulls love them as much as the tourists do.
Day 2: The Golden Circle & Attractions
Are you excited to see some Iceland’s epic nature? I hope so! We’re getting started right.
The Golden Circle is one of the most popular routes in all of Iceland. And it’s easy to understand why that’s the case! Natural wonders are around every corner. And if you’re self-driving, a 4×4 isn’t required to complete this route, so don’t worry much about upgrading your rental car.
To begin, Thingvellir National Park is an incredible park that is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It is home to Alþing (Althing), which is the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th centuries, so in addition to nature wonders, you’ll learn a bit of Icelandic history too. There are some nice walks in this area that are suitable for all fitness levels.
What makes Thingvellir National Park unique, though, is its location on a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates: making it the only place in the entire world where it’s possible to stand between two continental plates.
Afterwards, do the brief drive to see Geysir. This is a very highly active hot spring area that is super cool to watch and take videos. It’s also very amusing just watching tourists wait with their phones for the geysir to go off.
You don’t need to plan any specific time of day to see the hot springs shoot up. Eruptions happen frequently (like every ten minutes). It’s easy to feel small against nature’s power in this area. Keep your distance, though. Tourists are constantly burned here.
As for waterfalls, Gullfoss is absolutely beautiful and worth a stop. Keep in mind that some paths toward the waterfall may be closed in the winter months. The waterfall is actually two separate falls leading to a stunning cascade effect.
Gullfoss is popular and the visitor’s center gets crowded at peak times. For a quieter waterfall, take a short drive over to Faxafoss. Its more remote location means that you’ll have fewer tourists to worry about, and you can also enjoy a peaceful moment in nature.
Without a doubt, the Golden Circle is an important stop on this 6 Days in Iceland Itinerary.
Day 3: Adventure Travel in the Golden Circle
If you’re in decent physical shape, the Golden Circle is the ideal place to try some adventurous sports in the great outdoors. Iceland’s tour guides are highly qualified, so you’ll be able to feel adventurous in a safe environment. Know your limits, though.
As for specific examples, one of my favorite things to do in Iceland is … snorkel. Yes, snorkel.
For instance, snorkeling in nearby Silfra is one of the coolest experiences that you can have in Iceland. I did this in the winter months, and the water and views are just … spectacular and so, so, so clear. You really need to see for yourself. It’s best to do a guided snorkeling Silfra excursion with a qualified guide that also includes underwater photography.
Snorkeling in Silfra is very fun even if you’ve never snorkeled in your life. Tour guides are patient and helpful.
Another cool activity to do in the Golden Circle is horseback riding. Icelandic Horses are famous icons of this country, and can be found almost everywhere on the island. If you’re based in Reykjavik, you can easily book a slot on an Icelandic Horseback Riding Tour, whereas self-drivers ought to do their research and privately book in advance.
Keep in mind that this isn’t an exhaustive list. You can also go caving or rafting depending on the time of year, or plan out hikes. No matter what just practice safety precautions. Nature is not to be trifled with.
Day 4: Iceland’s South Coast
Your next adventure will take place on Iceland’s wild South Coast. You will legit feel as if you’re a character in Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones as you drive throughout this region.
Iceland’s South Coast is home to several of the country’s most popular waterfalls. For instance, Seljalandsfoss waterfall is very popular with visitors, because you can actually walk behind it. Just be careful if the footpath is under construction. It’s very, very, very slippery, and I actually wouldn’t recommend going behind the falls in winter when ice coats the path.
Another popular waterfall is Skógafoss waterfall, which is only a 30 minute drive away from Seljalandsfoss. Skógafoss is special, because it has the distinction of being one of the tallest waterfalls in the country. You can walk very close to the falls. Skógafoss definitely a “must see” on your 6 Days in Iceland Itinerary. And, according to folklore, a secret treasure chest is buried behind the falls. Don’t try to find it, though.
Once you’ve had your “full” of waterfalls, then you’re going to explore some otherworldly black sand beaches at Reynisfjara.
The black sand and rocks are thanks to Iceland’s many volcanos. Garðar cliff is located on this beach, and seeing the epic rock formations is great photography practice. You will also love observing the waves on the beach. Keep a safe distance, though. “Sneaker waves” are quiet and violent, and easily pull people into the ocean. There is a color coded warning system at Reynisfjara’s entrance. Take it seriously if the red light is on.
Last but not least, you will want to drive to Svínafellsjökull glacier, which is part of Skaftafell Nature Reserve. You can either walk up to the glacier or book a guided tour to take an actual glacier hike. Do NOT attempt to hike on the glacier itself without a knowledge guide. You don’t know the weak areas in the ice and could end up dead.
Day 5: Reykjavik, Iceland
Once you’re in Reykjavik again, you should take advantage of the city’s many cool museums. You have a lot of different choices even though Reykjavik is a relatively small city. So cater to your particular interests!
One of my favorite museums is The National Museum of Iceland. This museum has several well done exhibits that invite visitors to learn about the history of Iceland. This museum makes 1200 of cultural history accessible.
Other wonderful options include Perlan, which is one of the highest ranked museums in Reykjavik and fully explains Iceland’s incredible nature, and The Reykjavik Maritime Museum, located on the Old Harbor.
Once you’re finished educating yourself at the museums, then you should pamper yourself, and take a quick cab ride to the outskirts of the city to unwind at the Sky Lagoon.
Iceland is ideal for wellness travel. Even if you’re not the type of traveler to go to spas, you need to go to the thermal hot springs in Iceland.
The Sky Lagoon is manmade (but still jaw dropping) and juts out over the North Atlantic. As a visitor, you will complete seven ritual steps, including a sauna and salt scrub, that result in complete and total relaxation. The Sky Lagoon sells out, so it is imperative that you book your tickets in advance.
Public transportation is spotty to the Sky Lagoon, so you either want to drive your self-rental or have your accommodation call you a taxi.
Upon your return, why not experience Reykjavik’s nightlife? Alcohol is expensive here, for sure, but I found that the craft beer scene is absolutely thriving. Have a seat at one of the local breweries (you must try Bastard Brew & Food) and make a couple new friends.
Day 6: The Blue Lagoon & Departure
Our 6 Days in Iceland Itinerary is coming to end. Alas.
The good news is that most international flights don’t leave KEF until the early evening. So, if you’re from North America, then this is the perfect opportunity to go to the Blue Lagoon. And hey, if you’re staying overnight and flying early the next morning, it’s still a good excuse to go to the Blue Lagoon.
Keep in mind that the Blue Lagoon is not located in Reykjavik, so don’t except to wake up and walk here. The Blue Lagoon is far away, around a forty minute drive, from downtown Reykjavik, so it’s important to either drive yourself or book transfers in advance.
Blue Lagoon reservations are even more important on popular dates. I almost missed the Blue Lagoon on New Year’s Day, because I waited too long to book. Booking in advance causes you to lose some spontaneity on your last day, but knowing you have a ticket is worth it. I personally thought the comfort package was more than enough.
At the Blue Lagoon, you will shower and then enjoy the thermal waters. You will need to take off your swim suit to shower, but recently, the Blue Lagoon installed private barriers so you don’t need to shower in front of anyone.
Do not wash the conditioner out of your hair and if you have long hair, tie it up. The Blue Lagoon is great, but the water will dry your hair into straw if you’re not careful.
As a visitor, your entry ticket includes one drink, as well as free face masks. You can pay more for fancier face masks but this is entirely up to you. Stay in the lagoon as long as your heart desires. If you plan to spend the full day, you could even go to the on-site restaurant, although I hear it isn’t exactly a cheap affair, haha.
No matter what, have a great time taking in the beauty of the Blue Lagoon.
I hope this 6 Days in Iceland Itinerary helped inspire you to plan a beautiful trip. You will absolutely fall in love with Iceland. I promise! Have fun!