Iceland Itinerary for seeing the best of the island in a week

We spent a week in Iceland, a trip that I have been dreaming about and planning for a few months. Like most of our other trips, this was a tightly packed Iceland Itinerary for seeing the best of the island in 7 days – from chasing waterfalls, snowmobile rides. The family leaves me to the planning and boy they were excited for this one – Iceland is like being inside a book of adventures! Where else can you see geysers and hot spring areas, majestic glaciers, dormant volcanoes, a zillion powerful waterfalls in one trip… not to mention all the awesome food.

Iceland Itinerary for seeing the best of the island in a week - OutsideSuburbia.com
Climbing basalt columns in Vik

Our itinerary for seeing the best of Iceland in a Week, whilst getting in touch with our adventurous side

Day 1 – Arrive at Reykjavik and pick up a car. Stay in Reykjavik.
Day 2 – Fly to Akureyri to visit Northern Iceland.
Day 3 – Day trip to West Iceland to the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
Day 4 – Drive Golden Circle and stay in Thingvellir National Park.
Day 5 – Stay in Vik and visit Southern Iceland.
Day 6 – More adventures in Vik.
Day 7 – Back to Keflavik and relax in Blue Lagoon.

This is was a short visit in my opinion and we only had 7 days in Iceland! If you have 10 days in Iceland, then you can spend 2 nights in Akureyri (this hotel is a nice one to stay) and not do a short trip to North Iceland as we did and spend an extra day in Reykjavik.

If you have 12 days in Iceland, you can spend 2 days in West Iceland near the Snæfellsnes peninsula and spend a night at hotel Budir visit the unique Budir church in addition to the days in Akureyri. 14 days in Iceland might give you enough time to drive around the entire island at a more relaxed pace. You can spend a night in a family-friendly hotel in Egilsstadir between Vik and Akureyri.

It's worth a trip to the top of the clock tower for this amazing view of Reykjavik. : Itinerary for seeing the Best of Iceland in a week
A view of Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the first day of Iceland Itinerary

We picked up our rental car from Hertz and hit the road running after some coffee! We spent three nights at the Holt Hotel, a charming and intimate 4 star hotel in central Reykjavik. They have the country’s largest private art collection and I’m looking forward to seeing some of them.
We visited the Hallgrimskirkja church with stunning views of the city from the top. Shopped on Laugavegur Street. Explored the Reykjavik City – saw some of the museums, galleries, the Harpa concert hall, the Sun Voyager sculpture and found vibrant street art. Reykjavik has an awesome coffee culture, so make time to sit in a cafe and enjoy some good coffee!

Northern Region

We took the domestic airline to the North to Akureyri for a day trip, we saw the incredible Dettifoss and Godafoss waterfalls.  The tour itself is organized by SBA. Visit Akureyri and see the whale watching hub of Husavik. Most seem to miss North Iceland on their itinerary! We might not have time to relax and enjoy the Myvatn Nature Baths but at least we get to see them.

Godafoss - Iceland Itinerary for seeing the best of the island in a week - OutsideSuburbia.com
Godafoss

Western Region

You can do a day trip to West Iceland to the Snæfellsnes peninsula from Reykjavik. Stop for lunch at Borgarnes. Drive to Grundarfjordur and admire the mountain, Kirkjufell. Don’t miss Stykkisholmur, made famous by Walter Mitty (from the movie Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which sparked our wanderlust for Iceland). This is the part of our Iceland Itinerary Mr. Suburbia was most excited about.

Kirkjufell - Iceland Itinerary for seeing the best of the island in a week - OutsideSuburbia.com
Kirkjufell

Golden Circle

On everyone’s Iceland Itinerary is the drive on the famous Golden Circle route, to visit Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss. We stayed overnight here at this beautiful hotel in the middle of a National Park.  Too bad there won’t be any Northern lights this time of the year.  This would have been the perfect hotel to see it from. You can ride the adorably shaggy Icelandic horse at one of the smaller farms at Solhestar. Stop for Icecream at the Efsti farm and some tomato soup at a farm.

Iceland Horses - Iceland Itinerary for seeing the best of the island in a week - OutsideSuburbia.com
Ride one of these beautiful horses when visiting Iceland

Going to Iceland: How about a stay in a beautifully restored Lighthouse (Not available for stay now). I also recommend the hike to Iceland’s blue waterfall, Bruarfoss, if you have time. See here for the best luxury resort in Iceland.

Southern Region

On your day to visit the Southern part of Iceland, visit Seljalandsfoss waterfall and Skogafoss waterfall. We rode Snowmobiles on the Mýrdalsjökull, an icecap covering one of Iceland’s largest volcano, Katla. We were able to explore and experience the wilderness and the breathtaking views over South Iceland on this ride promises. The scenery around South Iceland is stunning. Check out the cliffs of Dyrholaey, black sand beaches of Reynisfjara near Vik. We stayed for 2 nights at a modern Icelandair hotel in Vik and had one of the best meals at their restaurant including a vegan dish! Unfortunately, they are not part of Icelandair anymore. You can book directly on their website. Hotel Ranga is another great option.

Glacier Walk in Iceland - Iceland Itinerary for seeing the best of the island in a week - OutsideSuburbia.com

On Day 2 of the Southern Iceland adventure
Visit the Svartifoss waterfall at Vatnajökull National Park on your second day in Vik. We went on a Glacier hike near Skaftafell Vatnajokull National Park with Icelandic Mountain Guides. This walk took us on to the Svínafellsjökull glacier tongue. This was definitely a highlight of our adventures and a must for adventure lovers! Don’t miss adding this activity to your Iceland Itinerary! We then drove a little further to get up close and personal with the icebergs in Jokulsarlon in the glacier lagoon. See here for more of the easy adventures we got to experience in Iceland.

Back to Keflavik on the last day of Iceland Itinerary 

On our last day, we explore the region around Reykjanes. We visited the sulfates area at Krisuvik, Lake Kleifarvatn, Continental bridge. You can’t miss a visit to the Blue Lagoon to soak in the blue waters and have dinner at Lava restaurant that is on location. We stayed in Keflavik overnight. The next morning, we headed to Denmark for a few days before going home.

Blue lagoon in  Iceland

We didn’t get to the Eastfjords and Westfjords during this trip but it will be an excuse to return to Iceland. We would love a

What to Pack for a Summer trip to Iceland

Our packing was a bit different than for a visit across Continental Europe. Contrary to preconceptions you might have, you will not need a heavy winter coat and snowshoes when visiting Iceland in the summer. We took rainproof gear and some warm layers since the weather changes considerably based on the activity.  Here is what was in our bags and we ended up using all of them!
• Waterproof or quick-drying pants, ski pants
• Hiking shoes
• Thermal underwear, light jackets and some light sweaters
• Gloves, scarfs and hats
• GPS device for the road trip
• Camera gear and backpack to carry it all
• Swimsuit, you won’t be swimming at the beach, but in Iceland’s geothermal pools
• Sunglasses and sunscreen are essential in the summer with the constant low-hanging sun and reflective terrain
• Iceland is on a 220-volt system, so bring a converter to plug in any devices, such as a cellphone charger, hair styling tools ( We have a teenage girl traveling with us )
• Some non-perishable snacks since their prices are inflated in Iceland
• A sleeping mask to help sleep, since the sun only sets for a few hours in Summer

Popular Iceland Tours

A few Phrases in Icelandic

Icelandic looks very formidable with its strange characters “þ” and “ð” and many accented vowels and multisyllabic words, not sure if you would need these since most people speak good English but always good to have it handy.

Best of Iceland in a Week

• Hello. Halló. (Ha-low)
• Hello (informal, to a man). Sæll. (Sight-l.)Hello (informal, to a woman). Sæl. (Sigh-l.)Hi. Hæ. (High.)
• How are you? Hvað segirðu gott? (Kvadth sey-ir-thu goht?)
• Fine, thank you. Ég segi allt gott, þakka þér fyrir. (Yeh sey-i atlt goht, thah-ka thyer fi-rir.)
• What is your name? Hvað heitirðu? (Kvath hey-tir-thu?)
• My name is ______ . Ég heiti ______ . (Yeh hey-ti _____ .)
• Nice to meet you. Komdu sæll, (to a man). (Komdu sight-l.)Komdu sæl, (to a woman). (Komdu sighl.)• • • Please. Gjörðu svo vel, (to one person). (Gyur-thuh svo vel.)or Gerið þið svo vel, (to many people). (Gyer-ith thith svo vel.)
• Thank you. Þakka þér fyrir. (Thah-ka thyer fi-rir.)
• Thanks (informal) Takk. (Tahk.)
• I can’t speak Icelandic [well]. Ég tala ekki íslensku [svo vel]. (Yeh ta-la eh-ki ees-len-skuh [svo vel].)
• Do you speak English? Talarðu ensku? (Ta-lar-thu en-sku?)
• Help! Hjálp! (Hya-oolp!)
• Goodbye, (informal). Bless. (Bless; often said twice, “Bless bless”.)

Iceland is expensive but it is also possible to visit Iceland on a budget.

I hope our Iceland Itinerary helps you plan your trip. While we have not made a trip to Iceland in Winter, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will happen soon and we get to see the Northern Lights! I would never say no to a return trip to visit Iceland in Summer either!

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10 thoughts on “Iceland Itinerary for seeing the best of the island in a week”

  1. Iceland is my favourite country! Definitely don’t forget your waterproof pants/coats. I experienced sunshine, rain, snow and hail within a few hours when I was there.

  2. Sounds like you have a great plan. My one regret about my time in Iceland was that I didn’t plan it out well enough. I decided to just show up and wing it and I felt like I really missed out on some experiences. Have so much fun!

  3. I’ve always fancied Iceland but to be honest never done any research, so this has really ignited my wanderlust! It looks just gorgeous.

  4. I am almost jealous 🙂 Iceland surely is a great destination and I wish you and your family lots of fun. The itinerary sounds great (though I have not been there yet and cannot really judge 🙂

  5. Excellent guide guys and your pictures are just the cherry on top! Beautiful! I’ve been thinking about going to Iceland for a while now and after reading this I want to go ASAP!

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