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Iceland Itinerary: Over a Week of Icelandic Adventures

Who else dreams of traveling to Iceland? I mean, “I haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on my list” is my life slogan! So, I’ve created an Iceland itinerary full of Icelandic adventures for 9 days, and it can easily be made shorter or longer.

Iceland has been on my bucket list for some time, and I’ve had a tiny bit of extra time…  So, that means I’ve been able to do one of my favorite things — trip planning! Yay!

I originally planned this trip to enjoy with friends, who are also travel enthusiasts. It did not happen, unfortunately. Now, I’m revising the trip and sharing it with you. I hope you go and enjoy Iceland to its fullest! 

By nature, I am a budget traveler with airfare usually being the highest expense. I like to splurge on the excursions and activities that are available as well as at least one meal per day for food, depending, but not so much on where I stay. Still, I avoid staying in dumps (it has happened… yikes!). I do stick to my budget, so I have to decide what is a must and non-negotiable versus what is a splurge and not necessary.

For this particular trip to Iceland, I had originally planned it with the idea of staying in the capital city, Reykjavik, and then renting a car to see various sites. This could save you money by getting a weekly rate or weekly discount at your accommodations versus paying an undesirable rate at each new place, especially if you are paying per person per night (pppn). However, you might consider renting a car and staying further out from the capital, potentially closer to the things you want to do to save on gas expenses and drive time each day. I have provided itineraries to accommodate both plans.

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland

Sample 9-day Iceland Itinerary

Traveling from Reykjavik each day

Day 1:
Depart USA

Day 2:
Arrive at Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik, the capital city. Get some sleep, if arriving early and if desired. Otherwise, get going on adventures! Use today as a “free day” to get your bearings, check into accommodations, and explore Reykjavik.

Hallgrímskirkja
The unique church is situated in the middle of Reykjavík. It is considered the tallest and most recognizable building in the country. The architecture was inspired by the Black Falls, another Icelandic natural wonder.

Blue Lagoon, Grindavík
A geothermal spa that offers the most relaxing natural bathing experience you’ve ever had and is located only 40 minutes away from Reykjavík. The water from the underground hot springs reaches 37–39 °C and is said to be beneficial for one’s health and skin.

Day 3:
Skaftafell Ice Cave, Vatnajökull National Park
The overwhelmingly beautiful ice caves attract adventurers from all over the world. The travel agencies organize trips to the glaciers, from where the caves can be visited. It is a 4 hour drive from capital, which is quite a haul but looks totally worth it!

Day 4:
Maelifell Volcano, Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park
The perfect cone makes Maelifell a classic-looking volcano. During the warm season, snow uncovers a lavish green surface, covered with moss. There is plenty to do and see in the park, which is full of volcanoes, hot springs, and other natural sites. It is 3 hours and 20 minutes from capital.

Reyisfjara Beach
Approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes southeast of Reykjavik is Reynisfjara, a black sand beach. It is surrounded by roaring surf and hexagonal basalt columns that form Reynisfjall mountain. It is on your way to Maelifell Volcano.

Skogafoss Waterfall
If pictures are worth a thousand words… I could go on and on about this waterfall. It is gorgeous and absolutely stunning. It is 2 hours 25 minutes from capital but on way to the beach above.

Day 5:
Snorkeling and/or Hiking all day! See “excursions” below.

Day 6:
Landmannalaugar
The multicolored rhyolite mountains, lava fields, and the Hekla volcano make this a popular tourist destination. The landscapes are unusual and other-worldly. Hiking and
horse riding are the top things to do here. It is a 3 hour drive from the capital.

Day 7:
Kirkjufell Mountain
Near the small town of Grundarfjörður on the western side of Iceland, the
mountain sticks out among the rather plain landscape. You can find waterfalls around it and even gaze at the Northern Lights in the evening. It is a 2 hour and 15 minute drive from the capital.

If you didn’t catch that… See Aurora Borealis!! It might be a late night, but it would be SO worth it. This is MANDATORY for all to see, in my humble opinion.

Day 8:
Gullfoss Waterfall (#1 thing to see according to one website!)
This majestic waterfall is extremely popular. It is located in a canyon of the river Hvítá and forms three step terraces. The name Gullfoss means “Golden Waterfall” because the water looks golden brown in the sun at times. There are no rails, so be careful while enjoying the natural beauty. It is a 1.5 hour drive from the capital.

See Aurora Borealis again or try again, as no sighting is guaranteed. I mean, it is so cool! You might just want to soak it in once more.

Day 9:
Leave to go back home from Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik

Sample 9-day Iceland Itinerary

Traveling around Iceland each day

Day 1:
Depart USA

Day 2:
Arrive at Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik
Skaftafell Ice Cave, Vatnajökull National Park

Day 3:
Maelifell Volcano, Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park
Reyisfjara Beach
Skogafoss Waterfall

Day 4:
Landmannalaugar

Day 5:
Snorkeling and/or Hiking all day! See “excursions” below.

Day 6:
REST and do what you want

Day 7:
Kirkjufell Mountain
See Aurora Borealis!!

Day 8:
Gullfoss Waterfall
Explore Reykjavik, the capital city

Day 9:
Leave to go back home from Keflavik International Airport in Reykjavik


*You could easily make either of these itineraries shorter by narrowing down what you want to do OR into 10 day trips (or more!) to allow for more rest or a slower sight-seeing pace in order to explore the Icelandic country.

Getting There

You may have to drive/fly/bus/teleport to your respective start city but then you would be on your way to Iceland, so it’s worth it!

According to Skyscanner.com, major airlines who fly directly to Iceland include Icelandair, jetBlue, Fly Play, Delta, Alaska Airlines, AirBaltic, KLM and Air France. From the US, direct flights go out of New York, Boston, and Washington DC. 

Getting Around

The main way to get around is by air or car. There is a bus system but it’s not that convenient and it’s expensive. Plus, a car gives you freedom to go where we want and when. This will come in handy since several excursions are a few hours drive away. There are many car rental agencies in Iceland to choose the perfect ride.

Currency

At the time of publication, 140.9 Icelandic Krona (ISK) = 1 US dollar. I use a currency converter app on my phone whenever I travel to keep up to date on this.

Accommodations

Hostel: According to Kayak.com, the average hostel in the capital city cost $88 per night while a hotel costs $410
Hotel: Can be very expensive but might be worth it
Airbnb: Wide price range and plenty of location options all over the island 
VRBO: same as Airbnb but possible less options farther away from the capital

Remember to look or ask about a discounted rate for staying in the same establishment for several nights in a row, typically a week.

Food

There doesn’t seem to be many Icelandic foods worth going out of the way for, unfortunately. A few options worth trying would be puffin, fermented shark, and Skyr yogurt.

There aren’t a lot of restaurants in Iceland, and they can be expensive. Fast-food places are more prevalent, convenient, and economical by being in or around a filling station. However, some establishments will be what you can find in the States, like Subway and KFC.

One of your best options is to buy food from a local grocery store and make your own meals. This can save time and money.

What to Wear

Appropriate clothing will depend on the time of year and the season you see Iceland. From a general Google search, the most common recommendations include layering clothes, windproof and waterproof apparel, sturdy shoes, a hat, and light jacket.

Excursions

The very good news is that most of what you may want to see and do in Iceland is free! National Parks are free of charge, and some museums are free as well. You shouldn’t have to rent equipment unless you did something crazy like ice climb, so just pack necessary clothing for hiking that you already own and you’re well on your way!

Top excursions that should be on your “must do” list is snorkel between the continental plates and relaxing at the Blue Lagoon. You could easily make these the only excursions you do that cost money.

  1. Snorkeling (or Diving) Silfra and Golden Circle Combo — snorkel between continental plates and go hiking. Keep in mind it is an all-day excursion (8-10 hours) to do both. Various tours can take you and have various price tags, too.
  2. The Blue Lagoon — packages vary on price depending on what you want, what time of day you go, and when you book. The cheapest option just gets you in the door.

Comment to let know if you use this information to plan your Icelandic adventures or road trip! Send pics, too :)

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