Planning a trip to Iceland? Well my friend, you have come to the right place! With my help, you will have the most magical summer in Iceland!
Iceland has always been my #1 dream destination, so it was bitter-sweet to check this one off my bucket list. With massive waterfalls on every corner, dramatic black sand beaches, and native Icelandic horses… Iceland you are a DREAM!
In this 6 day itinerary, you will get to road trip down Iceland’s southern coast seeing all the highlights. I have thrown in a few tours (like Golden Circle Tour & Silfra Fissure Tour), but majority of this itinerary will be self-driving. Keep in mind this is also a summer itinerary, so driving conditions are easily doable, well… mostly.
I say mostly because it is known to be the land of fire and ice! Or what I would like to add: The land of fire, ice & RAIN! It rained 99.999% of the time I was there so if you are terrified of driving in the rain, this itinerary might not be for you.
I have been planning this trip for too long.. so in my totally unbiased opinion, this is my best itinerary yet! Okay, let’s dive right in…
Pssst.. don’t forget to check out my guide on tips for driving in Iceland!
There’s a chance that this post contains affiliate links. I may receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you), that goes directly towards little Rosie’s dog treats!
What to pack for Iceland?
I keep a list of all my winter essentials and favorite finds on this guide here. I am constantly updated it after every cold destination – tried, true & tested! I also have a list of my 10 travel essentials I can’t live without, you can read those here!
The top 5 things I recommend for specifically Iceland are:
1. Travel size umbrella
Like I said before, it rains a lot in Iceland! It is green for a reason! I bring a travel size umbrella on ALL my trips because it’s so small and fits in my over-the-shoulder purse if I need it. I got mine on amazon for extremely inexpensive and comes in a ton of different colors. Click here for the umbrella I bought!
2. Light Rain coat
If you are traveling to Iceland in the summer, the weather is fairly warm on most days but can be very unexpected. I would bring a light rain coat/wind breaker with you that you can easily throw over whatever outfit you’re in. I live in the desert where it NEVER rains, so I bought the least expensive one I could find. Click here for the rain coat I bought!
3. Rain boots
Rain boots are something I didn’t bring but regretted I didn’t. There are a lot of hiking trails along this road trip where you will be popping in and out of the car to walk to waterfalls. You will want shoes that are waterproof and can rinse off any mud easily. Click here for an affordable pair of rain boots!
If you are traveling to Iceland in the summer, the sun (almost) never sets. It will be bright outside 24 hours out of the day, making it hard to sleep! I take Melatonin with me on every trip to help fight jet lag or in this case, the never ending sunlight! It is vitamin that helps you sleep, but doesn’t make you groggy when you wake up like NyQuil or Benadryl would. You can get this at any pharmacy or order it off Amazon here!
5. GPS if you are driving on the northern side of the island
I read a lot of mixed reviews about not having service while driving in Iceland. I lot service a few times, but if you are driving just along the southern coast you should be fine without a GPS. If you are road tripping the entire island, specifically the northern side, the service is extremely spotty. I would highly recommend buying a GPS in this case, and this one is a great option!
Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavik
My best friend, Sierra, and I landed in the quaint airport in Keflavík that looks like a big IKEA showroom (well, all of Iceland really). We picked up our rental car and were on our way!
Driving in Iceland is extremely easy because there is no traffic and there is literally one road down the southern coast (AKA impossible to get lost). I can’t say the same for the winter months, but the roads are in great condition in the summer! All the best sights are so spread out that I feel a car is a necessity. I have used Europcar several times now and highly recommend it! You can browse pricing and available cars here!
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland where all the nightlife, shops, restaurants and history lies (*cough cough* This is where you will be finding a place to stay). All of the colorful buildings never reached more than 5 stories high, other than the focal point of the town: Hallgrímskirkja Church – try saying that 5 times fast!
We stayed in an Airbnb that was between the Church and the square and it was sooo convenient. Hopping out to get a quick bite to eat, meeting a tour group up at the church, or watching the World Cup in the square, everything was only a 10 minute walk away.. which means by the times your hands freeze over you’re already to your destination, yipee!
Feed your hungry belly with pizza and local Icelandic beer, which you will soon learn how expensive Iceland is! A simple “happy hour” beer is around $10 USD. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya!
TIP: Buy some alcohol and breakfast items at the Duty Free store at the airport. It is by far the cheapest option and will save you loads of money!
End the day window shopping and bar hopping along Laugevegur and be prepared to completely loose track of time. If you are going to Iceland in June, the sun doesn’t set! It will feel like 2pm when it’s 11pm… VERY dangerous if you are out bar hopping!
Day 2: Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
You can’t go to Iceland without going to the Blue Lagoon! I am still shocked by the number of people and travel bloggers that told me to skip the Blue Lagoon because it is not a “real hot spring.”
Well… DUH! There’s a swim up bar for goodness sake!
If you think of the Blue Lagoon that negatively, of course you would want to skip it, but I encourage you to look at it like a spa day. There’s a locker room to hold all of your belongings, a free face mask, sauna, steam room, and a free drink of your choice with entry. This will be the perfect day to get rid of your jet lag (and hangover).
Make sure you book your entry well in advance. I booked ours about 2 weeks in advance and a lot of time slots were already taken. The lagoon is always busy but never feels over crowded because of the large area and guest cap they enforce!
Day 3: Golden Circle Tour & Thingvellir National Park
Today you’ll wake up nice and early to meet your group for a tour to Thingvellir National Park / Golden Circle. Having a rental car, you could easily do this on your own, but all the history and facts you learn on a tour is the best souvenir to take home!
I encourage you to book with Extreme Iceland and do the Silfra Fissure and Golden Circle combo tour. You will start with a beautiful & scenic drive out to Gulfoss Waterfall. Gulfoss is massive and impressive and will make you feel incredibly small! Even hundreds of feet away you will still get soaked by the powerful mist.
Next stop on the tour is lunch and to see the still active, Strokkur Geyser. The pictures do not do the height of this geyser justice! It erupts every 6-10 minutes, so you’ll probably get to see it multiple times depending on how long you are there.
Fair warning: This area smells AWFUL! You have doubtingly smelled sulfur before, but in a nut shell… it smells like rotten eggs. There are high amounts of sulfur in the water that comes directly from the ground and that’s heated by volcanoes (AKA hot springs or geysers).
Last stop of the tour was the part my friend, Sierra, was least excited about… Snorkeling glacier water in Silfra Fissure. What doesn’t sound appealing about that?!
The tour guide will gear your up in wet suits AND dry suits (which will take you longer than the actual snorkeling part), tell the history of the national park and why the Silfra Fissure is so clean.
Spoiler: The glacier water is filtered through volcanic rock underground for 40 YEARS before ending at the fissure. I thought that was so neat!
The initial shock of putting your face in the water is something you will never forget. The feeling of being on a different planet will wash the numbing pain away! The swim itself is only about 15 minutes, so yes, you can push through it, I believe in you!
I always try to incorporate something a little bit out of my comfort zone on every itinerary, so this definitely checked the box.
This is the only guided tour in Iceland that I have planned for you. If you like doing guided tours, I encourage you to look for more here!
We ended the day watching Iceland play in the world cup. There are only 350,000 people in all of Iceland and I believe all of them were watching it in the square that day! Sierra and I blended right in with our matching Iceland hats too, ha! You will obviously be going at a different time of the year than us, but there are always little festivals going on in the square.
Day 4: Southern Iceland
The drive to Vik is only about 2 1/2 hours. The several stops on the way, Taylor Swift’s new album, and breathtaking scenery made this the easiest drive ever!
Your first stop will be Kerid Crater – The perfect stop to stretch your legs because you can walk around the top rim and bottom rim!
The second stop is Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This waterfall was extra amazing because you can walk all the way behind it! You do get pretty wet, but you can be dry when you’re dead… That’s Iceland’s version at least.
TIP: Don’t forget to look at the little waterfall next door: Gljúfrabúi! So many people didn’t even realize it was there because they were so mesmerized by Seljalandsfoss. It’s only about a 10 minute walk to the left.
To see Gljúfrabúi, you’ll have to walk through a narrow canyon to get to. I always crack myself up when I call and waterfall “little” in Iceland because I am comparing them to massive waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss & Gulfoss. Being from Las Vegas, I should be more grateful – I would hike hours to see a waterfall half the size of Gljúfrabúi!
After you leave Seljalandsfoss, the drive to Vik is stunning. You will catch yourself saying “Oh my gosh, this is beautiful,” about 100 times! We were also sooo lucky to have the sun finally peak out of the steadfast cloudy sky.
Stop for lunch at Vik’s famous black sand beach, Reynisfjara. The picturesque beach, cathedral rocks & Icelandic horses training on the beach will make this one of your top memories in Iceland.
We ended our night getting a bottle of wine and relaxing in the hotel hot tub! A tour group just checked in and had the same idea as us. We got to meet people from Switzerland, Texas, Australia and even another Las Vegas native!
If you are staying the night in Vik, there are only a few hotels in the area because it is a very small town. I stayed at Hotel Katla and couldn’t recommend it enough! The hot tub was SO good to us after a long day of driving and hiking! Click here to view pictures and pricing of Hotel Katla.
Day 5: Back to Reykjavik
If you are going to take in anything from this ENTIRE guide, take this… Drive an hour out of the way to see Fjaðrárgljúfur Slot canyon. It is one of the most breathtaking sites I have ever seen and one extra hour is completely worth the drive!
I felt like I could have sat there and stared at this canyon all day. Just wow, take a look at this picture that doesn’t do it any justice:
After walking along the pathway to the back of the canyon, there is a lookout point where you will get the full picture of the towering green cliffs carved by 9,000 years of glacier water, all fed by a single waterfall. Fjaðrárgljúfur had such an enchanting feel – like something out of a movie scene where a unicorn is frolicking along the river below, ha!
You will stop at Skogafoss on the way back to Reykjavik. This is the fun part of the vacation where you get to work off all those beers you drink few nights before & climb 400+ stairs to the top, wheee!
I shouldn’t have been nearly as winded as I was, but it’s the elevation….. right?!
Don’t get me wrong, Skogafoss was extremely impressive but what impressed me the most was the domino effect of waterfalls that all led to Skogafoss. All of the smaller waterfalls above were still so enormous but the size of Skogafoss made them look so small.
Don’t forget to stop to meet the ever-so-friendly Icelandic horses & take a photo shoot in the “Nootka” fields!
Day 6: Fly Home
Pick up some final souvenirs, pack your bags and head out to breakfast at our favorite coffee shop, Café Babalú! This cafe felt so homey with its colorful walls, mismatching furniture and postcards from people all over the world! Which reminds me, I will have to send a Las Vegas one too!
Phew, that was a lot of knowledge. And guess what, you’re not done yet:
- If you have a couple extra days to spare, I would recommend adding on a glacier tour. I’ve heard wonderful things and is not too far from Vik. You can browse glacier tours here!
- Also recommend walking to see the plane crash site near Vik. It’s about 5 miles round trip, so we didn’t have enough time but also looks very cool!
- Deciding between summer and winter in Iceland is always tough because everyone always wants to see the northern lights. BUT getting to experience the phenomenon of the “Midnight Sun” was something I will never forget.
This Iceland road trip itinerary is all you will need to have the perfect summer in this beautiful country! Seeing the highlights of Iceland’s southern coast should be on everyone’s bucket list!
Want more on Iceland? Don’t forget to check out my tips on driving in Iceland!
Thanks so much for stopping by! ?