Iceland Itineraries – Golden Circle & South Coast – 5, 7, and 10 days

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Planning an Iceland vacation and not sure where to start? Grab one of our expertly crafted Iceland itineraries or mix and match to create your own perfect Iceland experience.

The midnight sun from Hotel Umi in Iceland.
The midnight sun from Iceland’s South Coast

Iceland has been on our travel bucket list for a long time. So when we finally decided to do it, I spent literally months pulling together our itinerary. There are just so many unique and interesting places to see in Iceland – it was hard to choose between them all!

We ultimately ended up taking an amazing 8-day family vacation to Iceland, where we visited all of the incredible sights around the Golden Circle and Iceland’s South Coast. It was an action packed trip filled with activities like glacier hiking, horseback riding, and walking behind massive waterfalls. I couldn’t have asked for a more incredible experience!

So I’ve pulled together a few recommended Iceland itineraries, to help you plan an incredible Iceland trip too!

If you have five days in Iceland:

This 5-day Iceland itinerary will give you a little taste of everything Iceland has to offer, taking you through the capital city of Reykjavik, the famous Golden Circle, and the scenic South Coast.

Day 1 – Reykjavik

My son on the Rainbow Street in Reykjavik
My son on the Rainbow Street in Reykjavik

Spend your first day exploring Downtown Reykjavik. Take a walk around Lake Tjornin, visit the famous Rainbow Street and Halgrimskirkja Church. Grab a delicious lunch of fish and chips, or one of Iceland’s famous hot dogs. And if you’re feeling really ambitious, this is a great place to add a whale watching tour in the afternoon or evening.

Day 2 – Golden Circle and Seljalandsfoss

my son at Thingvellir National Park in front of the waterfall
Thingvellir National Park

Get an early start and head out to Iceland’s famous Golden Circle. Start with Thingvellir National Park and then make your way to see the massive Kerid Crater, make a stop at the interesting and interactive Ljossafoss Hydroelectric Power Plant, and then head north to visit Gullfoss Waterfall and the Geysir Hot Springs Area.

If time allows, you can add a geothermal bread baking tour at Laugarvatn Fontana, visit the lava tunnels, or reserve lunch at the popular Fridheimar Tomato Farm and Restaurant.

In the late afternoon, make your way towards the South Coast! End your day at the famous Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – that’s the waterfall you can walk behind. Spend the night along the South Coast – I recommend the beautiful Umi Hotel!

Day 3 – South Coast to Vik

Skogafoss Waterfall
Skogafoss Waterfall

In the morning, head to Skogafoss Waterfall. Climb to the top and take a walk along the beautiful Waterfall Way hiking trail.

When you’ve had your fill of hiking, head over to the Skogar Museum to check out the model turf house village. You can go inside these tiny homes and see how the original settlers lived in Iceland.

Next, take the short hike from the museum to the charming Kvernufoss Waterfall. This smaller waterfall is truly magical, and much quieter than the big tourist attractions like Skogafoss and Gullfoss.

Visit the beautiful Dyrholaey Viewpoint and look for puffins before heading over to the iconic Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. Watch out for the sneaker waves here!

End your day in Vik with a delicious dinner and a stay at the Black Beach Suites.

Day 4 – Glacier Hike, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach

glacier lagoon in iceland
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

The next day, head east to Skaftafell National Park and take a glacier hike! This is an incredibly unique experience and one I suggest everyone do while in Iceland.

Next, head all the way east to the iconic Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. Spend some time watching the icebergs drift out to the ocean, watch for seals playing in the lagoon, and take a walk among the ice chunks at the beach. Hop on one of the amphibian boats for a 30 minute tour and a closer look at the massive glaciers.

Spend the night near the lagoon or make your way back to Hotel Kria in Vik for a shorter drive in the morning. If you opt to stay in Vik again, be sure to check out the Icelandic Lava Show in the evening!

Day 5 – Blue Lagoon

swimming at Blue Lagoon in Iceland
My son at Blue Lagoon

Head back towards Reykjavik in the morning. Stop downtown for some lunch on your way to the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions. Spend the afternoon relaxing in the milky blue waters of the lagoon. Grab dinner in Grindavik, and spend the night at a hotel in the Reykjanes Peninsula for an easy drive to the airport in the morning!

If you have seven days in Iceland:

This 7-day Iceland itinerary gives you time to enjoy the capital city of Reykjavik, spend some extra time in the famous Golden Circle and beautiful South Coast, and spend a day exploring the unique Reykjanes Peninsula.

Day 1 – Reykjavik

My husband and son in Downtown Reykjavik.
My husband and son in Downtown Reykjavik.

As with the 5-day itinerary, I recommend spending your first day exploring Downtown Reykjavik to give you a chance to acclimate and gear up for the activity ahead. Have a great lunch, visit the Rainbow Street and Lake Tjornin areas. And if you have extra time, consider adding a food tour or a whale watching excursion in the evening!

Day 2 – Golden Circle

Strokkur Geyser erupting
Strokkur Geyser erupting at Geysir Hot Springs

Head out to the Golden Circle and kick things off with a walk into the Lava Tunnels! From there, head over to Kerid Crater, and then the Ljossafoss Hydroelectric Power Station where they have a really fun and educational exhibit highlighting all the natural power sources used throughout Iceland.

Next, make your way to Thingvellir National Park and spend an hour walking the trails and grabbing lunch at their visitor center. Keep making your way around the circle. Book the geothermal bread baking tour at Laugarvatn Fontana and stop for ice cream at the famous Efstidalur II ice cream barn.

And then head north to visit the famous Gullfoss Waterfall and then spend some time watching the geysers erupt at the Geysir Hot Springs Area.

Spend the night at Hotel Geysir, and enjoy this beautiful area in the evening without crowds. Don’t miss dinner in their delicious restaurant too.

Day 3 – Golden Circle & South Coast

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

In the morning, start making your way towards the South Coast. But first, I recommend taking another walk through the Geysir Hot Springs area in the early morning hours. Hike to the viewpoint above the geysers and watch the eruptions from there.

If you have kids along, be sure to work in a visit to Slakki Animal Farm or Bru next to see the horses or pet the rabbits. These are some of the most fun things to do with kids in the Golden Circle.

Grab an early lunch at the delicious Fridheimar Tomato Farm and Restaurant – where everything on the menu features their homegrown tomatoes. But be sure to make a reservation!

Then make a stop at The Lava Centre, which has a surprisingly fun and interactive exhibit. And then wrap up your day with a visit to the famous Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, which you can walk behind!

Spend the night at the incredible Hotel Umi, and enjoy a quiet walk to the black sand beach right behind the hotel.

Day 4 – Skogafoss, Kvernufoss, Dyrholaey Viewpoint, Black Sand Beach

The next morning, start your adventure at Skogafoss Waterfall. Climb the stairs to the top of the falls and spend some time walking the beautiful trail there, nicknamed Waterfall Way.

From there, head down the street and visit the Skogar Museum which is jam packed with Icelandic artifacts. But the highlight here is the turf house village, where you can get a glimpse into how ancient Icelanders lived. Hike the short trail that starts behind the museum to visit the magical Kvernufoss Waterfall!

Then continue east and stop at the lovely Dyrholaey Viewpoint, where you may get a glimpse at some puffins! Then onwards to the famous Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

Spend the night at the Black Beach Suites, just down the road, after grabbing dinner at one of the great restaurants in Vik. I highly recommend Black Crust Pizzeria!

Day 5 – Skaftafell Glacier Hike, Diamond Beach, Glacier Lagoon

My family on a Skaftafell Glacier Hike
My family on a Skaftafell Glacier Hike

In the morning, head to Skaftafell National Park for a glacier hike! If there is only one tour that you must do in Iceland, this is the one. How many places on Earth can you literally walk on the face of a glacier?

Afterwards, head east to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. Enjoy watching the seals play in the lagoon and the glaciers float out to see. For a closer look at the glacier chunks, book a kayaking tour or hop on one of the amphibian boats for a 30 minute ride through the lagoon.

Spend the night near the lagoon or make your way back to Hotel Kria in Vik for a shorter drive in the morning. If you head back to Vik, be sure to catch the Icelandic Lava Show in the evening!

Day 6 – Blue Lagoon

swimming at Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Family selfie at the Blue Lagoon

The next morning, start heading back towards Reykjavik. This is a great time to stop and enjoy a delicious lunch or late breakfast downtown before heading to the famous Blue Lagoon, one of the country’s most famous attractions. Spend a few hours relaxing in the warm blue waters of the lagoon.

Spend the night at Silica Hotel for a real treat, and you can enjoy their private lagoon in the evening.

Day 7 – Reykjanes Peninsula

Lagoon at Silica Hotel in Iceland
More time in the Silica lagoon – highly recommended!

Spend your final day exploring the surrounding Reykjanes Peninsula. Visit the geothermal fields, the famous Bridge Between Continents, and the lovely lighthouse. Have lunch at one of the charming restaurants in the small town of Grindavik.

Or for a more adventurous day, book the Into the Volcano Tour or an ATV excursion!

Spend the night relaxing again at the Silica hotel lagoon (if you’re staying there), or enjoy dinner and stay the night at Max’s Northern Lights Inn. Head off to Keflavik Airport in the morning!

If you have ten days in Iceland…

horseback riding in Iceland
Use your extra time to add a horseback riding or puffin tour!

If you have 10 days in Iceland, you have a few good options for extending these itineraries. Use the 7-day itinerary above as a base, and then add one of the following:

Add extra time at any of the existing stops. You may find yourself wanting more time in some of these destinations. For example, you could spend an extra night in the south coast, allowing you to add a horseback riding tour or the amazing puffin tour at Ingolfshofdi. Or you could spend an extra night in Reykjavik to enjoy the dining and nightlife, and perhaps book a whale watching excursion or northern lights tour.

Add Westman Islands. Another great option is to add in a day in the Westman Islands, off the south coast. You’ll take a ferry ride over to Heimaey, and explore this charming island village. This island is especially interesting as its the site of the Eldfell volcanic eruption in 1973, which destroyed half the town. You can still see buildings that were partially buried in the eruption. This is also a great place to spot puffins!

Add Snæfellsnes Peninsula. You could also opt to spend a couple nights in the more remote Snaefellsnes Peninsula, to the west. This area is much less populated and is just dripping in dramatic landscapes. This is a wonderful place to book a cabin with a hot tub, and spend some time searching for the northern lights in winter!

Add Akureyri via a domestic flight. And if you’re willing to hop on a domestic flight, you can visit the northern side of this island nation. The Akureyri area is most famous for its whale watching tours – some of the best whale watching in the world! Visit the Myvatn region, Asbyrgi Canyon, and Dettifoss Waterfall.

More Iceland Trip Planning Resources

If you’re planning the ultimate trip to Iceland, be sure to check out these other helpful articles:

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