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Iceland is a magical place that never fails to deliver on dramatic landscapes, Game of Thrones vibes, and breathtaking waterfalls. This one-week Iceland Itinerary is sure to get you to all the best spots on your vacation!
One week in Iceland is not enough to explore this immaculate country, but if that’s all the time you have this Iceland Itinerary is the one for you. If traveling during the winter you will want to take more time on the roads than you would during the summer, which is why I allow this entire week to the south coast. This allows you to truly enjoy your time, and not spend the majority of your vacation on the road. If you haven’t read my list on travel tips before you go to Iceland, (which includes things like how to download the maps before you leave), you can click on this link to get the practical advice you’ll need along the way.
To help you find hidden gems along the way, as well as places to stay, I recommend you purchase Lonely Planet’s Guide to Iceland. It saved our butts while we were traveling over there and gave us loads of insight and history!
Depending on your flight schedule and where you are arriving from, you will likely arrive at the main Iceland Airport, Keflavik at an ungodly hour in the morning like 2 or 3 am if you are on a budget airline, or around 6 am on a standard airline. My suggestion is to book a room for that night and making sure the accommodation has a 24-hour reception so you can get some sleep in those wee hours of the morning! Keflavik airport is only about a 45 minute drive into downtown Reykjavik, making it super easy to pick up your rental car or meet your private driver and head to your hotel or directly to the Blue Lagoon!
Here is where I recommend you stay for your first two nights in Iceland.
Steps away from the main shopping district, the long-awaited Reykjavik EDITION is the city’s newest see-and-be-seen hotel. The 253 stylish rooms and suites (as well as the chic rooftop bar) look out onto impressive, only-in-Iceland views, including Mt. Esja and Snæfellsjökull Glacier, while the specialty restaurant dishes up local and international favorites. The hotel also features a spa, state-of-the-art gym facilities, and nearly 6,000 square feet of event space.
Within a few blocks from the hotel you’ll spot Reykjavik’s colorful stories-high murals. Laugavegur Street, Grettisgata Street, and Skólavörðustígur are the best places to see them.
The Boho Traveller Exclusive Amenities at The Reykjavik EDITION For 2023:
All of the three of the activies we listed below can be done in one day! A nice slow relaxing day, to ease you into Iceland! The great part about road tripping around Iceland is that you can just pull over almost anywhere if you see something beautiful to take photos and marvel in the landscape. Don’t pull over too often though, or you may never reach your final destination! An Iceland Itinerary is definitely about the journey just as much as the destination.
The Blue Lagoon is a MUST DO while in Iceland – many of our clients ask if it is just an overpopulated tourist attraction – and it is busy – but for a very good reason. It’s geothermal blue waters are surreal. The atmosphere is one of relaxation, and contrary to popular belief, the lagoon is very spacious, so it didn’t feel as crowded as expected.
There are plenty of ways to experience the Blue Lagoon. One thing you need to make sure you do is to book your tickets in advance.
If you only have a few days and want to hit up the blue lagoon with a tour group, and maybe knock something else out of the way while you’re in Reykjavik, Viator has TONS of great options for day trips to the Blue Lagoon. One I totally recommend is this Blue Lagoon and Northern Lights Tour! The northern lights can be tricky to find on your own, so if you’re traveling during winter, this can be a great option!
Everything you need to know before you visit the Blue Lagoon can be found in this blog post
Before hitting up the blue lagoon we spend our morning exploring Grindavik area not too far from Reykjavik. There are some beautiful coastal areas and a great place to eat in town. The lobster soup at Bryggjan was to DIE for (seriously, go read all the Google reviews). If there is one place to eat out in Iceland, this is it.
While you are exploring this little peninsula, you can’t miss the Brimketill Lagoon. On a nice summer day, this cold pool which fills at high tide is calm and you can walk up to it. On nasty winter days though, there are waves so big they will immediately sweep you to the Atlantic Ocean. If this is the case, stay on the walkway and hang on to the railing – sometimes the waves even come up that far. It is worth watching the sheer power of the ocean in such a brusque and immense way.
While you are in the land of snow, a glacier tour is a must on your winter Iceland itinerary. Read more about our experience with Icelandic Mountain Guhttps://bohotravel.org/2019/03/10/glacier-hike-iceland/ides here!
The glaciers are unlike ones I have seen anywhere else, so make sure this stop is listed on your Iceland Itinerary.
Right before you reach Solheimajokull is Skogafoss waterfall. (Hint: anything that ends in “foss” in Iceland means waterfall!) This is one of the most beautiful and stunning waterfalls in Iceland. It’s just off the road when you are driving from Reykjavik to Vik.
PLUS It was featured in the last season of Game of Thrones after Jon and Dany go on their Magic Dragon ride. A MUST see!
To reach this unique aspect on the south coast of Iceland, walk around 2 km down a trail – it’s totally flat- and you will wind up at the site of an emergency landed DC plane from the 70’s- really unique and a great place for a photo shoot! Try and capture your own creative take here, instead of getting the basic Instagram shot!
How many places in the world will you be able to walk on a black sand beach? Not many. This is a stunning place for some beautiful beach shots, and also just the sheer shock of walking on black sand. (Being from a place with all white sand beaches – this is wild!)
The biggest draw are these incredible giant basalt columns, they’re formed as almost if they are a natural throne. Super cool! Be careful to not get too close to the water’s edge here – these are some of the most wild and unpredictable waves in the world, and even if it looks calm, a wave can absolutely make a sneak attack at any point in time.
Also, it’s another GoT filming location – it’s part of where they filmed Dragonstone!
Right on the black sand beach, there are a few caves you can explore. Check them out and guess what – they are another GoT filming location as well! (Are you seeing a trend yet?)
All of the experiences below can be done in one day, but it will be a filled up and long day! We started at Svartifoss (the furthest away) because we were not continuing on the ring road any further, so we wanted to drive the long distance earlier in the day instead of making the long trek back to the hotel after we had seen everything. Once you get past Vik, there are fewer and fewer places to stay, so I will list where we stayed (totally recommend because they had a fantastic lamb dinner at a reasonable price, and there was no food or grocery to be found anywhere nearby), and I will list a few other options we considered before we settled on Horgsland Guesthouse!
I feel like I should note here that Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon is my favorite hotel in all of Iceland!
One of the coolest waterfalls I have ever seen. In Skaftafell National Park (you could spend a while here but we chose to do this single trail) there is the moodiest waterfall you will ever meet called Svartifoss. The hike to the fall is uphill most of the way – although not super strenuous. It took us maybe 45 minutes -1 hour in the snow.
After you reach Svartifoss you can continue on, or you can turn back. There are tons of viewpoints near the waterfalls, though you cannot approach it directly. PLEASE do not stray from the path or you will kill the wildlife & vegetation!
Jokusarlon is the lagoon pool at the base of one of the largest glacier in Europe Vatnajokull. The glaciers in this national park have started melting, and as a result, over the last 80 years, have formed this blue water lagoon filled with hundreds (if not thousands) of icebergs.
You can often see seals playing in the lagoon, and occasionally an iceberg floating out to see from the natural river that flows due to the lagoon. Follow the river to see the next stop on your Iceland itinerary.
Across the street (we drove because there was a snow storm happening) is where the icebergs from the lagoon float out to sea. But because of the tides ebbing and flowing, some of the icebergs get stuck on the sand for a while before making their final departure. Because of the glittering ice scattering the beach, it has been dubbed diamond beach, because of the thousands of pieces of ice lying on the black sand. It’s truly magnetic and an incredible sight to see.
So to get back to Selfoss from where you just were (the Skaftafell area) is going to take a while. 4-5 hours probably. You can choose to either have a chill day and just do the greenhouses and a lunch somewhere, or you can go balls to the wall and do something pretty wild, and off the beaten path. Your choice. I’ll give you the balls to the wall option (my choice) first!
*These accommodations have been picked with their prime access to start the Golden Circle!*
Like thermal springs? Well, one off the beaten track that no one is at, in the mountains after a hike is the place for you. The hike *in the summer* isn’t TOO strenuous…but in the winter in knee-deep snow, I won’t lie to you, was a little rough. We did, however, survive, and it was totally worth it. We were two of a total of FOUR people at these springs (we did pass others along the way that were on their way back). The hot river, Reykjadalur was long and winding, and there are even little lean to’s for you to change behind next to it. There are steps to enter the river.
We arrived about an hour before sunset and left at sundown to hike back in the dusk/glow & it was one of my most memorable experiences in Iceland. Be sure to pack a towel & extra socks/hats/ gloves because if something does get wet, you’re gonna want a change!
If you want a relaxing day, you can explore the greenhouses in the Selfoss area. These greenhouses produce most of the vegetation that you get in the grocery stores in iceland. They are very famous for their tomatoes and tomato soup!! Enjoy a cup (or four) and warm up after a long week in the cold Iceland air. Reservations are required. They also make really great fresh juices.
The golden circle is Iceland’s biggest tourist attraction, right next to the Blue Lagoon. You can add on as much to this day as you want or it can be done in as little as 3 hours if you wanted. The 3 items below are the must see’s on this tour. If you don’t feel like self driving or are wanting to spend the night in Reykjavik before your departure I definitely recommend booking a private Golden Circle Tour with Icelandic Horse Riding.
When you first get into the “golden circle” traveling the traditional way, this will be your first stop. walk around the continental rift area and soak in the fact that you are standing between two worlds. You are PHYSICALLY between two continents. The actual earth is literally forming where you are standing…pretty sick right?
Want to get even crazier? Opt to dive or snorkel the continental rift. There are wet suit and dry suit options on dive/snorkel tours. We weren’t brave enough to enter the just above freezing water – but if we ever make a summer trip I think we will do it.
To get the most out of your day and Snorkel in the Continental Rift, Opt for A Golden Circle and Silfra Snorkel Tour! This is an incredible experience and something you won’t want to miss out on!
To simply put it, this is a big ass waterfall. In fact its the largest volume of running water in Europe. You don’t want to miss it, it’s WILD.
So I’ve seen ol’ faithful, and I won’t lie, Geysir left me a little underwhelmed. Maybe because I saw ol’ faithful when I was 11 and was amazed they could count down to the * second * of when she would go off. But if you don’t have this preconceived notion of what geysers should be, the Geysir that named all over geysers is a must add to your Iceland itinerary and lifetime bucket list.
We spent our last evening exploring Reykjavik and enjoying civilization and bars after a week in the basic wilderness. Everyone was warm and welcoming and we had a fantastic time in Iceland – I can’t wait to do it again!
Bye Iceland! See you soon!
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