Day 1: Arrival:
Highlights: Reykjavik Reykjavik City Hall Laugardalur Harpa Concert Hall Hallgrimskirkja
Arrival in Iceland – The world’s northernmost capital city
Approximate distance: ca 50km / 30miles
Once you have landed at Keflavik Airport in Iceland, please pick up your luggage and head through customs. Collect your rental car at the airport make sure you receive a tablet with a protective case and chargers, and proceed to your hotel in Reykjavik. The rest of the day is yours to rest and use at your own leisure.
If you have arrived early today, you have a treat waiting for you! Though Reykjavik may be small, it is a vibrant city full of culture and activities. A great way to shake off jet lag is a swim in one of the city’s outdoor geothermal swimming pools. Swimming areas have lap pools, hot tubs of various temperatures and often a steam bath. This is a great way to enjoy daily life in Iceland.
Since you’re going to be visiting areas with glaciers, we suggest visiting the interactive Wonders of Iceland exhibit at the Perlan Museum. There you will learn interesting facts about glaciers in a fun way, including visiting a man-made ice cave. You can also get a great intro to the power of volcanoes, earthquakes, and geothermal areas. After visiting the exhibit, we recommend checking out the observation deck which provides a 360° view of the city.
Reykjavik City Hall is also a nice place to visit to get to know more about Iceland. A huge 3-D relief map of Iceland shows you the location of the glaciers, mountains, and coastline you will see on your trip.
Please note check-in for most hotels begins at 14:00 (2:00 pm)
Overnight in Reykjavik.
Day 2: Borgarfjordur:
Highlights: Hvalfjordur Fjord Borgarnes Settlement Center of Iceland Deildartunguhver Hraunfossar Barnafoss Haafell Farm
Whale Fjord – Europe´s Most Powerful Hotspring – Magical waterfalls
Approximate distance: ca 101 km / 63 miles
Today head to scenic Borgarfjordur via the Hvalfjordur tunnel. If you don’t want to take the tunnel, you can take the scenic coastal road instead (adds additional 17 km/10 miles to trip). Drive through the town of Borgarnes where you can learn about the first Viking settlers in the area at the popular Settlement Museum. Visit Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring, as well as two beautiful waterfalls, Hraunfossar (the Lava Falls) and Barnafoss (the Children´s Falls). Near Deildartunguhver you can indulge in hot spring relaxation at the new Krauma natural geothermal spa.
Tonight you are well situated to catch a glimpse of the famous northern lights if Mother Nature decides to cooperate.
Overnight: Borgarfjordur area for the next 2 nights
Day 3: Borgarfjordur and Langjokull Glacier:
Highlights: Snorrastofa – Reykholt Husafell Vidgelmir
Langjokull Glacier and Icelandic Sagas
Approximate distance: ca 50 km / 31 miles
Today explore the Borgarfjordur valley region and nearby areas. This area is a hidden gem filled with ever-changing scenery, glacial views, and Viking age history. Langjokull Glacier offers exciting adventures such as exploring a man-made tunnel built into the icy-blue heart of the glacier. You can reach the tunnel by taking an adventurous ride up the glacier in a monstrous 18-wheeled vehicle. Once at the tunnel, you‘ll view a glacier from the inside and learn how these icy wonders are formed.
Another interesting area activity is a guided cave visit at the colorful Vidgelmir lava cave. If you‘re interested in culture, visit nearby Reykholt, home of a medieval chieftain who penned some of Iceland‘s greatest Sagas. Visit scenic Husafell, and stroll on paths with colorful stone paintings created by a local artist.
Overnight in Borgarfjordur area
Day 4: The Golden Circle:
Highlights: Thingvellir National Park Geysir Gullfoss Laugarvatn Fontana Nature Baths
National Park with Geological Wonders – The Golden Falls – Spouting Geysers
Approximate distance: ca 290 km / 180 miles
Today, visit the must-see sites in Iceland! Start with Thingvellir National Park (UNESCO World Heritage Site), famous for its history and geological wonders. This is a great place to linger, especially if you enjoy geology and history! You can visit the Mid-Atlantic ridge and walk between the North American and European tectonic plates. An easy walking trail also will lead you to sites of important historical happenings. Continue your exploration of the Golden Circle area, visiting majestic Gullfoss waterfall, formed by the waters of a glacial river. Just a short drive away is the Geysir hot spring area with its lively bubbling pools and spouting geysers.
While in the area you can enjoy two interesting hot spring bathing experiences. Laugarvatn Fontana has natural steam baths and pools with a nearby lake where you can cool off after a steam bath. The Secret Lagoon is a historical stone-lined natural pool that was once a community swimming pool. Today it has modern facilities but has kept its original old fashioned natural charm. A tiny geyser nearby erupts as you relax in the waters, making for a unique Icelandic experience.
If you want to try Icelandic treats stop at Efstidalur dairy farm, where you can have delicious ice cream in the dairy barn. The building lets you look in on “the girls,” the Icelandic cows whose milk is used for the ice cream.
Continue to your overnight accommodation in the South of Iceland.
Overnight at Hella/Hvolsvollur.
Day 5: South Coast:
Highlights: Eyjafjallajokull Skogafoss Skogar Museum Reynisdrangar Cliffs Vík Hofn
Thundering Waterfalls – Black sand beaches – Sea Cliffs & Stone Arches
Approximate distance: ca 435 km / 270 miles
Travel along the south coast, one of Iceland’s main farming areas. You will see many farms and shaggy herds of Icelandic horses as you head along the Ring Road. See the magnificent waterfall Skogarfoss, site of hidden treasure. Nearby is Skogar Folk Museum, well known throughout Iceland for being the best of its kind with a collection of mementos from this region’s past housed in beautifully-preserved old turf-roofed buildings.
Make a stop in Vik village where you can admire stunning views of a black sand beach and the black basalt columns of Reynisdrangar. You will also see glaciers from the road, including Myrdalsjokull and Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajokull.
Continue on to Hofn, a bustling fishing town located under the watchful gaze of Vatnajokull Glacier. It is always interesting to take a walk by the harbor and see the daily life. The town is known for the excellent quality of its langoustines (Norway lobsters). Several restaurants serve this specialty. One place popular with locals and visitors alike is Pakkhus, a casual restaurant located in a renovated 1930s warehouse. It has a relaxed charm and decor that people enjoy, as well as a great selection of courses.
Overnight in Hofn area.
Day 6: Vatnajokull National Park:
Highlights: Vatnajokull Vatnajokull National Park Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon Skaftafell National Park
Vatnajokull Glacier – Western Europe’s Largest National Park – Glacial Lagoon with Icebergs
Approximate distance: ca 200 km / 125 miles
Your hotel is perfectly situated to make a full day of exploring glacial wonders in Vatnajokull National Park, Western Europe‘s largest national park. Visit the park‘s majestic Skaftafell area, which is located between two glaciers and offers several winter hiking possibilities. Continue to Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon, where blue, white, turquoise and black-streaked icebergs shift and dance. The mystical lagoon is enormous and has been the backdrop for many major feature films and programs, including Game of Thrones. It is a special place for photographers who enjoy the challenge of catching the icebergs in just the right light conditions. Don’t forget to keep an eye out for seals resting amid the glaciers.
The Diamond Beach nearby has recently become popular, especially for photographers. Icebergs from the Glacier Lagoon wash up on the beach here. The contrast of crystalline ice against the black sand is striking. This is also a good area to glimpse seals.
Another intriguing area to see floating glaciers is the Fjallsarlon lagoon (The Iceberg Lagoon). The nearby Fjallsjokull glacier is the source of the huge chunks of ice drifting in the lagoon. Fjallsarlon is often much quieter than the Glacier Lagoon, so a great place to visit if you want to experience the mystic beauty of glacier lagoon in a quieter setting. During the day you can get something to eat at the new Frost restaurant located near the glacier (generally open between 10:00 and 17:00 (10 am and 5 pm).
Another interesting place to visit is the Thorbergur Centre, dedicated to the life of a popular 20th-century Icelandic author. The building has been designed to look like a shelf of old-fashioned books and is a popular photo stop. The restaurant is also a great place to visit and features meals made with ingredients from nearby farms. One of the specialties is farm-raised Arctic char. The museum and restaurant are open in the winter daily except Mondays and holidays between 12:00 and 17:00 (12 pm to 5 pm).
Tonight, if the weather conditions are optimal, you might catch northern lights playing across the sky.
Overnight at Kirkjubaejarklaustur area.
Day 7: South Coast to Reykjavik:
Highlights: Seljalandsfoss Selfoss Hveragerdi Hellisheidi Geothermal Plant Eyrarbakki
Seljalands Waterfall – Volcano Center – Geothermal Village
Approximate distance: ca 344 km / 214 miles
Drive along the scenic south coast back to the west. En route, visit Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall that you can walk behind. You will also be passing through the landscape of Eyjafjallajokull volcano, famous for its 2010 eruption. Perhaps you will visit the new Lava Centre, an interactive exhibit where you can learn about how powerful volcanoes and earthquakes have formed Iceland.
The Bobby Fischer Center in Selfoss is dedicated to the world-famous American chess master who defeated Russian Boris Spassky in the 1972 Match of All Time in Iceland. Bobby Fischer lived his last years in Iceland and is buried in a nearby cemetery. During the winter, you can call in advance to make an appointment to visit the museum.
Visit Hveragerdi, a hot spring village famous for its geothermal greenhouses where flowers and vegetables are grown year-round. You might visit the historical Skyrgerdin (Skyr Factory), where you can see the original way that skyr (a delicious dairy product unique to Iceland) was made—and sample some of the products. Return to Reykjavik in the late afternoon/early evening.
Overnight in Reykjavík.
Day 8: Departure:
Highlights: Reykjavik Keflavik Viking World The Blue Lagoon
Return to Keflavik International Airport**
Approximate distance: ca 50km / 30miles
Breakfast at your hotel. Drop off your car at the airport before your flight home. We recommend leaving your hotel approximately 3 hours prior to the departure of your international flight. The rental car should be returned to the airport service area which is located only 2 minutes from the airport building. A shuttle will then transport you to the departures hall.
If your flight departs late in the afternoon, we recommend spending the morning either exploring the city of Reykjavik or explore the Reykjanes Peninsula. Several natural wonders such as Gunnuhver hot spring, the Bridge Between Continents, Reykjanesta cliffs and Reykjanesviti lighthouse can be found in close proximity to Keflavik International Airport. You could also use the time to visit the famous Blue Lagoon or Viking World Museum before heading to the airport.