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8 days in Iceland: The Best Iceland Itinerary 8 days

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If you’re looking for 8 days in Iceland itinerary that will take you to all the best places in the country, look no further than this guide that covers everything from glaciers and waterfalls to hot springs and black sand beaches.

Iceland is a small country, located in the North Atlantic Ocean, and is home to some of the most incredible scenery on Earth. In this blog post, we’ll share 2 sample Iceland itineraries – one that doesn’t require you to rent a car (our itinerary), and another one from a fellow contributor that showcases an Iceland 8 day road trip itinerary. 

So whether you’re an experienced traveler or this is your first time exploring a new destination, we promise that you won’t be disappointed with Iceland. So pack your bags and get ready for the trip of a lifetime!

How to plan the perfect 8 days in Iceland itinerary: 8 days in the Land of Fire & Ice

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Iceland itinerary 8 days: Covering the best of south, west, and north Iceland

  • Day 1: Arrival + Blue Lagoon + Reykjavik (stay in Reykjavik)
  • Day 2: Golden Circle
  • Day 3: South Coast 
  • Day 4: Activity day***
  • Day 5: West Coast
  • Day 6: Akureyri + North Iceland (stay in Akuyeri)
  • Day 7: Lake Myvatn
  • Day 8: Reykjavik + Sky Lagoon 

8 days in Iceland itinerary: Discover the south, southeast, and west of Iceland

  • Day 1: Reykjavík (stay in Reykjavik)
  • Day 2-3: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
  • Day 4: Þingvellir and the South Coast (part I)
  • Day 5: South Coast (part II) (stay in Vik)
  • Day 6: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach (stay in Hofn)
  • Day 7: Activity Day
  • Day 8: Drive back + Sky Lagoon or Blue Lagoon 

Planning your trip to Iceland for 8 days 

Iceland is a beautiful country located in the North Atlantic Ocean. It’s known for its glaciers, volcanoes, and hot springs. There are plenty of things to see and do in Iceland, so it’s the perfect destination for any traveler, and for all times of the year. 

We have all the information you need to get started in this detailed Iceland travel tips post.

Girl at the Hallgrímskirkja Iceland
Hallgrímskirkja Iceland

Iceland tourist visa

Iceland is not a part of the EU, but as a European state, it follows the Schengen Visa agreement. So if you need a visa to visit most countries in Europe, then the same Schengen visa will apply for Iceland. 

Visitors with US and Canadian passports do not require a visa to enter the country and stay for 90 days; however from 2023, an online authorization – ETIAS – is required prior to travel. 

Getting to Iceland

If you are traveling from overseas to Iceland, especially from Asia, the United States, or Canada, you will arrive at the Keflavik International Airport, located 45 minutes from Reykjavik. 

In order to get to Reykjavik, you can pick up a car rental or book a transfer. Keflavik to Reykjavik transfer: Book here

Best time to visit Iceland

The best time to visit Iceland really depends on what you want to see and do while you are here.

For example, if your primary focus is to see the Northern Lights, then you will want to come during the winter months when there is less daylight, particularly from late September to mid-April. 

Iceland in the spring months

On the other hand, if you want to experience Icelandic nature at its finest – with long days and plenty of sunlight – then you will want to come during the summer months. This is also when you can experience the midnight summer hours (June to early August).  

In general, the shoulder season (May-June and September-October) is a great time to visit Iceland as the weather is more stable and there are fewer crowds. This also means that prices for accommodation and activities will be slightly higher than during the winter months.

Read about Iceland in October

Must add pack for Iceland

No matter what time of year you visit Iceland, you should always pack layers and waterproof clothing. The weather here can be very unpredictable, so it is always better to be prepared for cold, wet, and windy conditions.

Pseudo craters in Myvatn Lake area
Packing for Iceland

If you are visiting during the winter, you will also want to pack some extra warm clothing, including colorful beanies, a scarf, and gloves. And if you are planning on doing any hiking or outdoor activities, make sure to pack comfortable hiking shoes and plenty of sunscreen lotion.

Read: What to wear in Iceland in October

Iceland 8 day Itinerary: Best of the south, west, and north Iceland

  • Day 1: Arrival + Blue Lagoon + Reykjavik
  • Day 2: Golden Circle
  • Day 3: South Coast 
  • Day 4: Activity day***
  • Day 5: West Coast
  • Day 6: Akureyri + North Iceland
  • Day 7: Lake Myvatn
  • Day 8: Reykjavik + Sky Lagoon 

Short on time? Read our 3 days in Iceland itinerary | 5 day Iceland itinerary (with 5 samples)

Day 1: Arrive in Iceland, Blue Lagoon Reykjavik

Welcome to Iceland! 

Iceland’s main airport is the Keflavik International Airport, located about 45 minutes from the capital city of Reykjavik. Most flights from North America arrive in Keflavik in the morning. 

Arriving at the Keflavik International Airport for 8 days in Iceland itinerary
Keflavik Iceland Airport

We suggest booking a transfer to get to Reykjavik. A bus transfer is one of the affordable ways to get to the capital city, without renting a car or paying for a taxi. 

Keflavik to Reykjavik transfer: Book here

If interested you can also stop at Blue Lagoon spa, which is located about 15 minutes from the Keflavik airport. 

Tickets: 

The Blue Lagoon is a man-made thermal spa and is known for its healing waters. We recommend making a reservation prior to your visit to the Blue Lagoon. Their tickets get sold out fast (and sometimes weeks in advance), so plan ahead of time and make your bookings online.

Girl at the Blue Lagoon
Blue Lagoon

There are 3 types of packages available for purchase at the Blue Lagoon. The basic or the Comfort Package is all you need. In this, you get access to the waters, public changing facilities, a silica mask, a drink, and a towel. 

No worries, if you have bags on you – there is a luggage storage room at the Lagoon entrance area where you can store your backpacks and suitcase. Storage fees start at 800 ISK.

After spending time at the Blue Lagoon, proceed to Reykjavik and check in to your hotel. Our recommendations, 

Girl at Center Hotel Plaza
Center Hotels Plaza Reykjavik
  • Center Hotels Plaza: This is one of the best places to stay in Reykjavik, and if you choose one of the deluxe rooms, you will be greeted with a panoramic view of the entire city.  The hotel offers free breakfast as well and is within walking distance of many attractions. When taking tours, you will be a 3-minute walk to the meeting point Bus no 1, and 3. Book your stay here
  • Guesthouse Sunna: Sunna is a fuss-free, and clean guesthouse located next to the tallest church in Iceland. Parking is also available on-site, and paid breakfast. Loved the views of the Hallgrimskirkja from the suite. Check out more review
  • Room with a View Apartments: Located on the main street of Reykjavik Laugavegur, we stayed here on our very first trip to Iceland. The rooms are spacious and walkable to various city attractions, and restaurants. Book your stay here

Sightseeing tips in Reykjavik, 

Hallgrímskirkja

Visit the world’s largest church in Iceland – Hallgrímskirkja. There is no cost to go inside or around the building. To enjoy spectacular city views, take the church lift to the top which costs 1 000 ISK.

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran church and is open every day.

Reykjavik City Hall and Tjörnin

The striking Reykjavik City Hall is located on the shores of Tjörnin, the city pond. It’s a great place to take photos, relax and feed the ducks!

Get the 20+ free things to do in Reykjavik, perfect for a stopover for one day in Reykjavik Itinerary or more. A budget friendly way to see more of Iceland.
The Pond

Inside the City Hall, you can admire a large mural by Icelandic artist Hálfdan Pétursson. The mural depicts the country’s history and culture.

The Sun Voyager Sculpture

The Sun Voyager is a sculpture located on the waterfront of Reykjavik. The steel and glass structure denotes a dreamboat, or an ode to the Sun, and is meant to represent a dream of hope and progress. 

Get the 20+ free things to do in Reykjavik, perfect for a stopover for one day in Reykjavik Itinerary or more. A budget friendly way to see more of Iceland.
Sun Voyager

You can walk around the Sun Voyager or take photos. 

Perlan

Perlan is another of Reykjavik’s iconic buildings. The observation deck offers 360-degree views of the city and surrounding mountains. The site is made of a museum, man-made ice cream, and a large planetarium. 

There is also a café, restaurant, and gift shop inside Perlan. The cost of admission is different for the museum, and tours at the Perlan Wonders of Iceland. 

  • You can select one of the two exhibits. Wonders of Iceland exhibition, including access to a real indoor ice cave, the 360° observation deck, and the Water in Icelandic Nature exhibition
  • Or Áróra – Northern Lights Planetarium Show, including access to the 360° observation deck
Arctic Char, rye bread: Food tour samplings
Arctic Char, rye bread: Food tour samplings

In the evening, enjoy a traditional Icelandic meal at one of Reykjavik’s many excellent restaurants. You can also book a three-hour food tour, that offers five samples of Icelandic delicacies including a beer! Here is what I booked

Read: How to spend one day in Reykjavik itinerary

Day 2: The Golden Circle

On day 2 of the Iceland 8 day itinerary, opt for a Golden Circle tour. This route includes a national park which is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a waterfall (or more), and a geothermal area. 

You can join a full day tour from Reykjavik, or drive there yourselves as well if renting a car. 

You can book a full-day tour of the Golden Circle Route, along with Secret Lagoon

Another option is the Golden Circle Kerid Crater + Blue Lagoon tour 

Thingvellir National Park

Start your day with a stop at the Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the location of the world’s oldest parliament. 

Thingelliver National Park Chase waterfalls & northern lights,soak in geothermal spas, meet horses & pluffy sheeps & explore Reykjavik's colorful lanes in your 3 day Iceland Itinerary
Thingelliver National Park

It is located in southwest Iceland, about an hour from Reykjavik. The park is home to hiking trails, waterfalls, and geothermal pools. It’s also one of the few locations on the planet where you may trek between two of the earth’s tectonic plates.

Many like to hike in Thingvellir National Park to get to Öxarárfoss Waterfall. This trail is 2.6 miles long with an elevation gain of 744 feet. It takes about an hour and a half to hike. 

On a tour, you will have to skip this hike, but you can add a snorkeling excursion that takes you through the North American and Eurasian Plates.

Book here: Golden Circle with snorkeling in Silfra (equipment provided)

Gullfoss

From there, continue on to Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s prettiest waterfalls. This waterfall is found in the Hvítá river canyon in Southwest Iceland. 

It is 0.6 miles from the parking lot, with an easy to moderate incline. The total time for this hike is about 20 minutes. There is also a restaurant on-site, and washroom facilities are available. 

Gullfoss

There are two viewing platforms to see this beautiful waterfall. Ensure you are wearing a waterproof jacket and shoes so that you are not drenched. The falls come with a great force, and sometimes you can see a rainbow along with a lot of mist. 

This leads to slippery viewing areas, and although they are guardrails you should still be careful when you are walking around. 

Also, located near the viewing platform at Gullfoss is a sculpture and informative plaque about Sigridur Tomasdottir, who was an Icelandic environmentalist. She is known for her efforts in preserving the Gullfoss waterfalls, from industrialization.

Geothermal area

Finally, visit the geothermal area of Haukadalur to see the erupting geysers, Strokkur and Geysir. These two geysers are the most active in the park and erupt every 10 minutes or so.

Add-ons to the Golden Circle Route

Kerið Crater is another stop on the Golden Circle route. The crater is easily accessible along the Golden Circle route, and the edge provides a spectacular view.

To visit Kerid, you must pay a modest entry fee of 400 ISK (around $3.20, or EUR2.60). The entrance charge is used to maintain and protect the valuable crater. For free, you can stroll about the lovely surroundings as long as you want in return for the entrance fee.

Many tours also stop at the Secret Lagoon or Blue Lagoon. So this way you can make the most of your trip in a single day. 

We have already covered the Blue Lagoon. Now the Secret Lagoon is a cheaper alternative to the popular Blue Lagoon. The tickets are not too expensive, and they don’t have special packages or anything like that.

Secret Lagoon Chase waterfalls & northern lights,soak in geothermal spas, meet horses & pluffy sheeps & explore Reykjavik's colorful lanes in your 3 day Iceland Itinerary
Secret Lagoon

The Secret Lagoon is a natural lagoon and is one of the oldest in the country. There are change facilities as well as a restaurant and bar on-site, where you can relax and break the journey before traveling back to Reykjavik. 

Plan to have dinner in one of the main street restaurants in the capital city. Pick for the day: Cafe Loki.

Day 3: South Iceland

Explore the highlights of South Iceland, including the stunning and bucket list waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, and the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara, including a stop at the cutest village of Vik.

Girl at Skogafoss waterfalls near Reykjavik
Skogafoss

If you have a rental car, you can follow directions to Seljalandsfoss first (1-hour 45-minute drive), and then the Skogafoss, followed by time at the Reynisfjara black sand beach, and Vik (1.50 hours). 

Without a car, you can book a full-day tour of the South Coast. There are many attractions along this route, and tours also offer guided activities like glacier walking, horse riding, and hiking excursions. We have listed them below,

Seljalandsfoss waterfall

Seljalandsfoss is one of the iconic waterfalls in southern Iceland. It is a popular spot as you can walk behind the cascading falls and even enjoy a hike in the nearby areas.  

The waterfall is located about 130 kilometers (about 80 miles) south of Reykjavik, on the road to Vik. It is completely free to access the site of the waterfall and view it. Parking costs 800 ISK.

To get to the falls, you don’t have to hike, it is just a short walk. If you wish to walk behind the waters, ensure you have waterproof clothing and shoes – the area had rocks that you have to climb unto, and it is slippery – so exercise caution as you go.

Skogafoss

Skogafoss is the next waterfall on your south coast itinerary. It is located about 28 kilometers (17.4 miles) from Seljalandsfoss. Skogafoss is fed by the glacial river Skoga and has a height of 60 meters. 

There is a parking lot in the area, and within a short walk, you will be near the falls.

Reynisfjara black sand beach and Vik

Up next is the Reynisfjara black beach, where you can see the iconic basalt column formations. This is a nice photo spot, and we are sure you will love to take a walk here and stretch your legs. 

Reynisfyara Black Sand Beach The very best guided tours of Iceland handpicked to suit every traveler needs. Whether you like adventure tours or city walking tour, we got you covered.
Reynisfyara

Just be super careful to not go close to the waves as they are very strong, and unpredictable. 

Continue to the charming fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal to visit the beautiful white and red church – Vikurkirkja.  Because of its location along Ring Road, Vik is a convenient stop for food, views, and souvenir shopping as well. 

Pro tip: If you are visiting in the winter months, particularly from late September to mid April, consider opting for a northern lights tour. These tours last 2.50 to 4 hours and include pick up and drop off from Reykjavik, along with camera gear and educational videos about the aurora borealis phenomenon. 

Tour options:

As northern lights are a natural sighting, in case no lights are viewed, you can re-join the tour the next day/s. 

Day 4: South Iceland Activities

On day of your Iceland itinerary 8 days, plan to participate in an activity of your choice. This is a great way to indulge in what Iceland has to enjoy, and also to break your trip from constant sightseeing. 

Popular activities include winter walks, hikes up the volcano Mt. Eyjafjallajokull or Fagradalsfjall, snowmobiling on the Vatnajokull Glacier, or lava and ice caves tour. 

Fagradalsfjall volcano in Reykjanes Iceland
Fagradalsfjall volcano hike in Reykjanes Iceland

If you are renting a vehicle, you will still have a book an excursion with a local tour company that will take you on the mountain, volcano, or inside a cave. Typically, these excursions will be anywhere from 2.50 to 4 hours and include an expert and equipment.

When you book a guided tour, round trip transportation will be included along with equipment, and some extra stops depending on your day trip itinerary. 

We have enjoyed different activities over the years in Iceland, including a full day at the Sky Lagoon, we will list our recommendations below, 

Summer activities

Midnight sun activities are best for trips in the summer months of June and July. This is a natural phenomenon wherein the sun doesn’t set until midnight. It occurs in places north of the Arctic Circle or south of the Antarctic Circle.

Winter activities:

Opt for an ice cave tour from Jokulsarlon and explore a natural blue ice cave within the Vatnajokull glacier or any of the tours from November to March. 

Tour options:

Day 5: West Iceland

Explore mini Iceland on day 5 of the Iceland itinerary. 

Here is the full-day tour of Snaefellsnes Peninsula that you can book. It does make for a long day of sightseeing, so we recommend packing some snacks, and drink/s. 

If you are on a road trip from Reykjavik, you can follow similar stops like the day tour, and you will be returning back to the capital city to sleep overnight. It takes about 1.50 to 2 hours to get to Snaefellsnes. 

Typically stops in the Snaefellsnes peninsula include Berserkjahraun lava fields, waterfalls, and the iconic Kirkjufell mountain. 

Kirkjufell

Kirkjufell means ‘church mountain’, and it is the poster boy of Icelandic landscapes! This mountain and the nearby waterfalls together are often captured and promoted on social media for all things Iceland is known for. 

Kirkjufell in Snaefellsnes
Kirkjufell is located in Snaefellsnes

Once you reach the parking lot of Kirkjufell (same for tour minivans and car rental), it is a quick walk to the mountain and the waterfalls. There are hiking trails near the mountain but are accessible without a strenuous hike as well. 

Saxhóll Crater

The next stop is the Saxhóll Crater. It is a 100-meter-high volcanic crater, and to get to the top you will be taking the ‘Stairway to Heaven’. 

The climb up is a little hard, and if you are out of breath, stop and then get to the top – you won’t regret it! Trust us, the stunning views of the crater and the nearby mountains are worth it!

Djupalonssandur

Djupalonssandur is a sandy beach and bay on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula in Iceland, just above Snæfellsjökull. It was once home to 60 fishing boats and an active town but is now unpopulated. 

Djupalonssandur views
Djupalonssandur

At this site, you can go hiking. But for beach views alone, no hike is necessary. Once you park your car (or disembark from the tour bus), you can head to the viewing platform first for views and then hike down to the beach. 

From here, visit the lively fishing village of Arnarstapi, and admire the huge sculpture of Bárður Snaefellsas, home to Icelandic sagas and history. 

Make a quick stop at the stunning Budakirkja or the “Black Church.”  You can visit the church for free, and take a look at the historical artifacts from the 19th century. 

Ytri-Tunga and seal beach

The last stop for the day on the west coast is the golden-colored seal beach of Ytri-Tunga. 

Seal at the Ytri Tunga Seal beach
Ytri Tunga Seal beach

Our guide said that there are over 98% chances of sighting seals here (in fact he had seen them on all tours, except once when it was cold). During my visit, the seals were mating, and they were playfully flapping and were coming too close to the shore. 

Now, after a long day of sightseeing, you can drive back to Reykjavik (driving time will be around 2 hours from here). Dine at Svarta Kaffid (also vegan friendly).

Day 6: Akureyri + North Iceland (stay in Akuyeri)

Spend the rest of the itinerary exploring the north of Iceland, especially the area in and around Akureyri. To explore this area, you won’t be able to join any day tours as it is quite a distance. 

Drive to Akureyri from Reykjavik is 5+ hours (one way). 

View of Akureyri

Without a car, you can get to Akureyri by flying from the Reykjavik Domestic airport. Flights are of 45 minutes and are operated by the national carrier – Icelandair. Opt for a morning or noon flight after breakfast in Reykjavik. 

Where to stay in Akureyri? 

  • Icelandair Akureyri: Akuyeri is where you will be staying for the next 2-3 days. I stayed at the IcelandAir Akureyri. With comfortable and clean beds, views, and a wonderful patio restaurant, you will enjoy your stay here too. Check availability here
  • Hotel Kea by Keahotels: Centrally located hotel, the KEA is beautifully placed by the Church of Akureyri. It is about a 12 minute walk from the Botanical Gardens and offers a stunning view of the fjords. Book your stay here

Once you arrive at the Akuyeri airport, take a cab to check in to your hotel. Spend the rest of the day exploring this cute little town, which is actually the second largest settlement in Iceland. 

Visit the Akureyri art museum, Botanical Gardens, and historical sites such as the Nonni House. The must-visit landmark of Akureyri is Akureyrarkirkja or The Church of Akureyri. 

Girl at the Church of Akureyri
Church of Akureyri

You can easily explore the entire city in a matter of a few hours – 4 to 6 hours. 

Day 7: Lake Myvatn area tour

On day 7 of your Iceland itinerary, explore the Myvatn Lake area (Diamond Circle) along with Godafoss. 

When driving, you can set aside 8 -10 hours with ample stops along the way. The drive takes you from Akureyri along the scenic coast of Eyjafjordur, which is one of the longest fjords in the country.

Alternatively, you can also book a day tour, which also includes pick up from Akureyri hotels. The tour covers 5-7 stops which we will cover below. It also includes time at the Myvatn Nature Baths

Book this full-day tour here

Goðafoss Waterfall

Goðafoss is one of the primary attractions on the Diamond Circle route. The falls are formed by the glacial river Skjálfandafljót. The best time to see Goðafoss is in the summer when the days are long and the weather is good. The waterfall is best seen from the north side, where there is a viewing platform. 

Girl at the Godafoss waterfalls
Godafoss

The name Goðafoss literally means “waterfall of the gods”. It is named so, as one of their prime lawmakers threw his pagan gods/statues into the waterfall after converting to Christianity.

There are many trails in and around the waterfalls (along with a restaurant and washrooms on-site). You can spend anywhere from 1 to 2 hours here, checking out the falls from various levels, and bridges. 

Pseudocraters of Skútustaðagígar

The pseudocraters of Skútustaðagígar are next. These craters are found in the Lake Mývatn area and were formed due to volcanic eruptions. 

View of pseudocraters of Skútustaðagígar
Psuedo crater

During eruptions when lava runs across an area, the heat and water trapped underneath cause a crater-like shape. As they were not the sources of lava, or volcanoes in themselves, they are not considered true craters. Hence the name pseudo-crater

We recommend enjoying a light hike to various viewing platforms to check out the views!

Dark cities/Dark fortress

Dimmuborgir or Dark cities/Dark fortress was formed in an eruption that occurred in the area 2,300 years ago. This site is known for its dramatic black lava and rock formations, and hiking trails. There are also castles, caverns, and caves all around you. 

Other than hikes (summer months), you can learn about Icelandic traditions. 

The most famous of these traditions and folklore are that of half-troll, half-ogre Grýla, and her submissive husband Leppalúði. Here, her 13 children, known as the ‘Icelandic Santa Clauses’ or Yule Lads come to visit thirteen nights before Christmas. 

Geothermal areas

From here, make your way to the cave of Grjótagjá and stop at the hot spring area at Hverarönd in Námaskarð. 

Grjótagjá is a small lava cave located in the Myvatn Lake area. It has a small hot spring inside the cave, and you can feel/see steam coming out of the cave. 

View of geothermal area at Hverarönd in Námaskarð
Hverarönd in Námaskarð

Next is the geothermal area of Hverarönd in Námaskarð, which is located a short distance from the huge volcanic mountain Krafla. 

Hverarönd is home to hot springs, mud pools, and mud pots. In certain spots, you will find boiling water, and there is also emission of acids with colorful minerals. 

Lake Myvatn and Nature Baths

Next is the lake viewpoint itself. Lake Mývatn is a volcanic lake and is best known for fishing and bird watching opportunities. 

Girl at the Myvatn Nature Baths
Myvatn Nature Baths

East of here is the Blue Lagoon of the North – Mývatn Nature Baths. This is a naturally heated man-made lagoon, with mineral-rich waters known for their healing properties.

After sightseeing, you can relax at the Nature Baths for 1-2 hours, before driving or traveling back to your Akuyeri hotel. 

Day 8: Reykjavik + Sky Lagoon 

Fly back to Reykjavik from Akuyeri. If you arrive in the morning, you can spend the rest of the day exploring Reykjanes Peninsula. Or book a few hours at Sky Lagoon. 

Girl at the Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland
Reykjanes Peninsula attractions

We will go over the options below, but this is perfect if you are flying out the next day. 

If you have to fly out on day 8 in the evening (like 5:00 pm or later), then it makes sense to stop at the Blue Lagoon as long as you get a time slot for 10:00 to 11:00 am in the morning. Anything later than that might be too tight for checking in, security, etc. at the Keflavik Airport. 

Reykjanes Peninsula

In 2 to 4 hours, you can highlights of the Reykjanes Peninsula, such as the Reykjanesviti lighthouse, Bridge of the Continents, and the geothermal area of Gunnuhver. 

Sky Lagoon

The newest geothermal spa in Iceland, Sky Lagoon deserves a spot on your Iceland 8 day itinerary. We tried to provide pointers on when you can add a trip there because it is SOOO worth it. 

Girl at the cave like entry at the Sky Lagoon
The cave-like entry at the Sky Lagoon

They open in the afternoon until later hours into the day. So this is perfect if you are staying in Reykjavik overnight. Sky Lagoon to Reykavik is 15 minutes by car. A cab is not super expensive, and transfers are also available. 

The Sky Lagoon is known for its infinity-edge pool with views of the Kársnes Harbour. The signature 7 Step Ritual is a must-do at the Lagoon. This is an Icelandic ritual that involves a hot and cold cycle, followed by a sauna, and steam room experience with a body scrub and a cold shower to provide you 100% rejuvenation. 

You must pay for a Pure Pass to complete one journey of the 7 Step Ritual, and you can stay there as long as you like. The complex has changing facilities, a restaurant, and washrooms on-site. 

Tickets for Sky Lagoon: Pure Pass (mid-level) | Sky Pass (luxury level)

On your final day, spend the morning at your leisure before heading to the airport for your flight home.

8 day Iceland Road Trip Itinerary

West Iceland

Here is a second Iceland 8 day itinerary which a fellow traveler contributed, Lotte from Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog (Thank you for sharing your experience, Lotte)

One of the most beautiful rugged islands in the world, if not the most beautiful, is Iceland. With a name that seems to come straight out of a fairytale, Iceland is home to elves and trolls according to local legends. 

While these stories may or may not be true, one thing is certain: Iceland is a unique country with a long history and a strong culture. Icelandic nature is stunning and while there are more and more tourists visiting Iceland, there are still lots of remote and hidden highlights. 

North Iceland Ring Road
Icelandic landscapes

Therefore, making a road trip is the best way to explore this amazing island, so you can stop often and admire yet another breathtaking view. This 8 day Iceland road trip itinerary includes Reykjavík, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, and the Icelandic south coast.

So buckle up and hit the road!

Iceland 8 day itinerary: Snapshot

  • Day 1: Reykjavík
  • Day 2-3: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
  • Day 4: Þingvellir and the South Coast (part I)
  • Day 5: the South Coast (part II)
  • Day 6: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach
  • Day 7: Activity Day
  • Day 8: Drive back + Sky Lagoon or Blue Lagoon 

Day 1: Arrive in Reykjavík and explore

Arrive in Iceland, pick up a car rental from the Keflavik International Airport and drive to the capital city – Reykjavik.

Reykjavik harbor views
Harborfront views in Reykjavik

About one-third of the Icelandic people live in Reykjavík. While the city isn’t very large, that doesn’t mean it’s not worth visiting. 

So during your first day in Iceland, allow yourself at least a couple of hours to explore this lovely little capital. Some sights you can’t miss are:

  • The Harpa Building
  • The Old Harbor
  • The Sun Voyager Statue
  • The Hallgrimskirkja
  • The colorful historic city center

Here is a list of things to do in Reykjavik for free or cheap!

Pick up a hotdog at Bæjarins Beztu and a coffee at Joe and the Juice and you’re ready to pick up your own set of wheels and start your Iceland road trip. 

Icelandic hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu
Icelandic hot dog at Bæjarins Beztu

Alternatively, if you landed late in the afternoon, consider spending the night in one of the hotels in Reykjavík (the Radisson Blu Saga Hotel is another excellent) and pick up your car or campervan the next day. 

Day 2-3: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

While you technically could make a Snæfellsnes Peninsula day trip, there is so much to see and do here that it’s definitely worthwhile to give yourself an extra day.

Even then, you’ll be doing lots of driving, but don’t worry as this will be one of the most scenic routes you’ll ever come across in your life.

In Iceland, or on any road trip for that matter, it’s not just about the destination but as much about the trip itself.

Hvalfjörður

If you have time, consider taking a detour around the edge of the Hvalfjörður. While much slower than the Hvalfjörður Tunnel, the views along the way are stunning. 

Glymur in Iceland in 8 days
Glymur (Photo by Phenomenal Globe)

Love hiking? You may want to tackle the trail to Glymur, Iceland’s second-highest waterfall (only Morsárfoss is taller). The trail is 7.5 km (4.66 miles) but note that conditions in winter can be challenging. Only continue when it’s safe to do so and consider bringing crampons. 

Hike Mt. Eldborg

Mount Eldborg
Hiking Mount Eldborg (Photo by Phenomenal Globe)

Instead of hiking to Glymur, you could also follow the trail to the edge of Mt. Eldborg, a volcano that’s no longer active. The trail is 7 km (4.3 miles) and will take you around 1.5-2 hours, depending on the trail conditions (and your own fitness). 

Gerduberg Cliffs 

Make a quick stop at the Gerðuberg cliffs. This 500-meter-long row of hexagonal basalt columns is impressive, to say the least, and a must-see on your Iceland itinerary. 

A scenic route around the Snæfellsjökull

From Kirkjufell, continued your drive around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. The mountain that you’ll continuously see along the way is the 1446 meters tall Snaefellsjokull volcano, which is part of the Snaefellsjokull National Park. 

Kirkjufell and Kirkjufellsfoss

Kirkjufell features many photos of Iceland and is instantly recognizable because of its typical shape. If you’ve skipped Glymur and Mt. Eldborg and are ready for a serious hike, consider hiking to the top of Kirkjufell. 

The roundtrip takes about 3 hours and is not for the faint of heart, fatal accidents have occurred so be careful and take your time navigating this beautiful but difficult trail. 

Don’t forget to visit Kirkjufellsfoss across the road as well, yet another beautiful waterfall in Iceland. During winter this fall often freezes over and there will be a beautifully formed frozen waterfall, quite a unique sight!

Grundarfjörður to Stykkishólmur 

It’s been a long day but there is more to come. The drive from Grundarfjörður to Stykkishólmur is one of the most stunning drives in Iceland. Every corner you turn comes with yet another breathtaking view. 

The drive from Grundarfjörður to Stykkishólmur (Photo by Phenomenal Globe)

Savor every minute of this scenic route before you head back south to explore more highlights in Iceland.

Day 4: Þingvellir and the South Coast (part I)

Start your day at Þingvellir, one of the three national parks in Iceland as well as a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Þingvellir 

Þingvellir is an important site for the Icelandic people and a place of historical significance: this is where the Alþing (the world’s oldest parliament) took place from 930 until 1798. 

Give yourself plenty of time to explore this very special place and be sure to stop at the Visitor Center as well to learn more about the fascinating history of Þingvellir. 

Kerið

While visiting Kerið (Kerid Crater) requires you to make a little detour, you won’t be disappointed. During winter this small volcanic lake freezes over but during summer the water is a vivid blue. 

Kerid Crater in winter
Kerid Crater in 8 days in Iceland (by Phenomenal Globe)

Take the short and easy 1.4 km (2.5 miles) trail leading over the rim of the crater or descend down to the edges of the lake. 

Seljalandsfoss

The last stop of the day is Seljalandsfoss, yet another beautiful waterfall in Iceland. The unique thing about this particular waterfall is that you can walk behind it! 

The parking fee is 800 ISK but the access to the waterfall itself is free. If you follow this exact itinerary you should arrive at Seljalandsfoss around sunset which makes for the best photo opportunities. 

Day 5: South Coast part II

Lots of stops on this day of your road trip Iceland itinerary. First and foremost: take your time and admire the views along the way. You’ll be covering a lot of distance today but the drive itself is so beautiful you definitely won’t be bored. 

Skógafoss

First up is Skógafoss, a 60 meters high and 25-meter-wide waterfall. Parking here is free and you can hike to the top for a beautiful view of the surroundings. 

If it’s a sunny day you can take amazing rainbow pictures at the bottom of the waterfall, though prepare to get wet from the fine mist coming from the thundering fall. 

DC 3 Plane Wreck at Sólheimasandur

This plane crashed in 1973 because it had run out of fuel. In hindsight the pilot made an error and switched over to the wrong tank, however, the plane went down and has been there ever since. 

DC3 Plane Crash
DC3 Plane crash (photo by Phenomenal Globe)

Getting to the site isn’t difficult, you can simply park at the designated DC3 plane parking lot along road 1 and walk the easy and flat trail (7 km return) to the wreck. 

During the summer months, there will be plenty of people around but during winter you may even end up having the entire plane to yourself. If you’re a photographer, you’ll love this spot. 

The combination of the black sand, the wreck, and the magical Icelandic light make for a beautiful yet alien sight. 

Dyrhólaey

Dyrhólaey may very well end up being your favorite stop on the South Coast. It’s the southernmost spot in Iceland and is known for its jet-black beach and breathtaking views. 

Be sure to visit Dyrhólaey Viewpoint as well as the Lighthouse and Reynisfjara viewpoint, all very worthwhile stops!

Vik i Myrdal Church

Planning to get married in Iceland? If so, definitely consider having your wedding at the Vik i Myrdal Church. Built in 1929, this small picture-perfect church is situated upon a hill, offering 360 views over the town and the amazing Icelandic landscapes. 

Stay in Vik overnight: Hótel Vík is a 3-star property offering breakfast, free parking, and more. Check availability here

Day 6 – 7: South East – Skaftafell, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and activities

There is lots more to see along the Icelandic south coast but especially in winter when the days are short give yourself plenty of time to drive all the way to Diamond Beach.  

From Vik, continue driving east for about 2 to 2.50 hours, and be sure to include these stops:

Skaftafell and Vatnajökull National Park 

Vatnajökull is Europe’s largest glacier, covering 10% of Iceland’s total area. Vatnajokull National Park also includes the surrounding land, making it much larger. Skaftafell and Svartifoss are part of the national park area.

This park has been proposed to be added to the UNESCO World Heritage list recently. 

Svartifoss

Known for its impressive basalt columns, Svartifoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls in Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park. And that says a lot for a country with over 200 named waterfalls.

Svartifoss in winter
Svartifoss in winter (Photo by Phenomenal Globe)

There is a nice 3 km or 1.8 miles (roundtrip) trail leading to the waterfall, however, the track may be covered in snow during winter. 

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

From Svartifoss drive 45 minutes to get to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and the Diamond Beach. These are some of the most famous sights in Iceland and are highly worth a visit. 

Admire the huge icebergs floating around Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and marvel at the pitch-black sand and beautifully shaped lumps of crystal clear ice at Diamond Beach. 

Plan to stay overnight at Höfn (40 minutes to 1 hour drive from Jökulsárlón). Hotel Höfn Inn Guesthouse

Set aside day 7 for an activity in the area. In the summer months, you can add a boat tour to see the icebergs up close and personal. You can also opt for a glacier, snowmobiling, or ice cave tour, which are guided excursions and only available with a guide. 

Typically these excursions will be around 3-5 hours in duration, and equipment will be provided. 

Tour options:

In the winters, particularly from November to March, we recommend an ice cave tour from Jokulsarlon to visit a natural blue ice cave within the Vatnajokull glacier.

We recommend staying in Hofn for this night as well, and start early morning for the drive back.

Day 8: Drive back to Reykjavik (Sky or Blue Lagoon)

Plan for a long drive to get back to Reykjavik, about 5+ hours (maybe longer in the winters). 

If you are not flying out on day 8, you can surely stop at the Sky Lagoon or the Blue Lagoon to enjoy a lovely soak in the Icelandic geothermal waters before departing from the Land of the Fire and Ice.

Sky Lagoon 

Sky Lagoon is located near Reykjavik, about 15 minutes drive away. It is a man-made lagoon that is supplied with water from the geothermal power plant nearby. 

View of Sky Lagoon in Iceland
View of Sky Lagoon Iceland

It is a beautiful place to take a dip and relax in the warm water in the winters. Do pay for the Pure Pass to enjoy one journey of the 7 Step Ritual. 

Tickets for Sky Lagoon: Pure Pass (mid-level) | Sky Pass (luxury level)

Iceland Driving Tips 

Here are some important things to know before hitting the road:

  • Whenever you come across a gas station: fill up! Never mind your tank is only half-empty, gas stations can be far apart and you don’t want to get stranded without fuel. 
  • Obey the speed limit. This goes without saying but pay close attention to the speed limit. Also, adjust your speed to the conditions. While you may be allowed to drive 80 km/h, this may not be the best idea if the road is covered with frozen patches of ice. 
  • Avoid driving in the dark, especially when road conditions are bad. It’s challenging enough to drive across slippery roads, let alone driving slippery roads covered in snow in the pitch-black. 

How to drive safely in Iceland (especially during winter) 

Reykjavík is the world’s northernmost capital and the northern tip of Iceland actually falls within the official North Pole. Therefore, it’s no surprise conditions here can be harsh. 

During winter, there can be extreme rainfall, heavy storms, lots of snow, and freezing temperatures. However, even during summer, the weather can change within minutes. 

As such, it’s recommended to prepare yourself for all kinds of weather. Bring enough layers, warm clothes, a proper raincoat, and waterproof hiking boots. Besides proper packing, road safety is extremely important when it comes to road-tripping Iceland. 

Here are some websites you should check daily during your 8 day itinerary in Iceland

  • Road.is: This provided you with information about road conditions throughout the country.  
  • Vedur.is: Use this to check the weather. On Vedur you can also find information about the wind speed, which can be extreme in Iceland so pay close attention. Driving in very strong winds is difficult, even if you’re an experienced driver.  
  • Safetravel.is: Get alerts about road closures, storms, and more. You can also find lots of general safety tips here that can be really useful when planning your Iceland road trip.

Renting a car or campervan in Iceland

Personally, I feel the absolute best way to explore Iceland is by renting a car or even better: a campervan.

Campervan in winter in Iceland
Lotte’s Campervan (Photo by Phenomenal Globe)

Having your own wheels allows you to decide upon your own itinerary, stop often to take pictures of the magnificent views, and visit sights that are off-the-beaten-track. 

It’s recommended to rent a 4×4 if possible, especially during winter. When planning an Iceland winter road trip, make sure your rental vehicle has snow tires and there are snow chains in the trunk.  

Find the best deals for cars on RentalCars.com. If you want to rent a campervan I highly recommend CampEasy Iceland

How to find campsites in Iceland

To protect the environment from inconsiderate campers, wild camping isn’t allowed in Iceland. Luckily, there are plenty of beautiful campsites available, most with lots of facilities to make your stay a very comfortable one.

Check Tjalda and the CampEasy website to find the best spots and read which campsites are open year-round. The Park4Night app is another useful source to find camp spots, though please note not all spots listed there are legal…

Snorrastadir campsite
Snorrastadir campsite (Photo by Phenomenal Globe)

Campgrounds aren’t cheap but they are cheaper than hotels. Plus, you’ll probably be cooking your own meals which also saves you lots of money, despite the fact that grocery shopping in Iceland is also a bit more expensive than in most other countries (everything has to be imported).

Iceland Ring Road Itinerary Information

Iceland ring road is a popular tourist route in Iceland, and for good reason. This ring road encircles the entire island and provides visitors with stunning views of some of Iceland’s most beautiful landscapes. 

The route takes you past glaciers, lava fields, volcanoes, waterfalls, black sand beaches, and more. You can complete the route in about 20-24 hours, without stopping in good weather conditions. 

There are many different ways to travel the Iceland ring road. You can drive it yourself, take a guided tour, or even hitchhike. 

If you’re planning on driving the ring road, be sure to check the conditions of the roads before you go. The weather in Iceland can change very quickly, and the roads can be slippery and dangerous. It’s always best to err on the side of caution when driving in Iceland.

Hitchhiking is also a popular way to travel the ring road. Many people hitchhike all around Iceland without any problems. However, it’s always important to use common sense and follow basic safety precautions when hitchhiking.

Iceland guided tours are another great option for traveling the ring road. These tours will take you to all of the best sights and help you learn more about the history and culture of Iceland.

No matter how you choose to travel the Iceland ring road, you’re sure to have an amazing experience. This is a truly unique and beautiful place, and there’s no better way to see it than by taking a road trip. 

So what are you waiting for? Start planning your Iceland adventure today!

If you’re looking for more information about traveling in Iceland, be sure to check out our other articles. 

Pin: 8 day Iceland itinerary for road trippers, day tours, and all seasons

Contributor for Iceland Road trip: Lotte 

Lotte is an avid traveler and founder of Phenomenal Globe Travel Blog, where you can read about her travel tips and experiences. Lotte enjoys hiking, taking road trips, and has a deep love for the mountains (a bit ironic, since she was born and raised in the Netherlands, the flattest country on earth). 

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