There’s nothing like thinking you lost all of your photos from Iceland to finally make you re-visit the draft that’s been half completed for over six months. Seriously, the idea that maybe I couldn’t make our 4 day Iceland itinerary because all of our photos had disappeared, gave me all the motivation I needed to finish it up!
The truth is, many of my itineraries or guides stay in my drafts for months because it’s one thing I’m always really nervous to post. What if my itinerary isn’t perfect for everyone? And then I have to remember that it’s simply not going to be perfect for everyone. It wasn’t even perfect for me. But that’s the point of creating an itinerary – to give other travelers the inspiration, tips, and ideas for their trip. After all, I look at travel guides all the time. So this 4 day Iceland itinerary hits so many highlights, but don’t forget to make your trip your own.
We took a red-eye from Orlando to Keflavík, giving us 4 nights and 4.5 days in Iceland. We arrived at 5:00am on a Saturday and left at 2:00pm on a Wednesday. I think the red-eye is one of the most popular flights from the United States. Even though I rarely can get more than about 40 minutes of sleep on a plane, I was happy to arrive first thing in the morning and have a full day ahead of us!
If you’re arriving in Keflavík on the red-eye, I suggest you go straight to Blue Lagoon. After getting some duty-free wine and your rental car, of course. Blue Lagoon is about a 25-minute drive from the airport. If you’re hungry or exhausted, grab a light breakfast and coffee at the airport before heading out.
Choosing to do Blue Lagoon as the very first thing worked out great for us. Some people might say it’s “over-priced” or “over-rated”. I say, yes it’s pricey, but damn it’s worth it. We had never experienced something quite like it before and I would totally go again.
You can find everything you need to know about Blue Lagoon over here on this post, but if you get there first thing in the morning, stay as long as you like. We arrived around 7:45am and they were already checking in guests. Overall, we spent about 5 hours at Blue Lagoon before heading to Reykjavík, a 45-minute drive away.
The other option would be to visit Blue Lagoon the day you’re leaving Iceland. Being closer to the airport, it’s a popular option, but remember you’ll have to be stricter with your timeline.
I booked our flights, hotel, and rental car in one package through Orbitz.com. Bundled together, we saved over $300 and that allowed us to book this cute little boutique hotel. As one of the Small Luxury Hotels of the World, I knew we could expect cozy luxury. The location was perfect, right in the middle of Reykjavík, making it easy to walk just about anywhere in the city. Sandhotel also offered a delicious complimentary breakfast each morning. Eating out in Iceland is expensive, so the free breakfast was a huge perk.
Because we checked in around 2:30pm, we decided to give ourselves a good hour to unpack and relax a little bit. The trick is to not let yourself go to sleep because you want to be able to sleep like a baby that night to beat the jet lag. We explored the streets nearby, popping in bars, shops, and the Harpa Concert Hall.
Depending on the time of year you go, your 4 day Iceland itinerary can vary quite a bit. We traveled during a little of the “off” season because we went in early May. This meant we missed the opportunity to see the Northern Lights and we weren’t quite into the summer months. The sun still rose around 3:00am each morning and set around 10:30 at night.
On day two, we had a Flytographer session in the morning. We love doing this for the professional photos and we get to see more of the city with a local. We spent the rest of our day two exploring Reykjavík, doing a free walking tour, bar hopping, and laughing at the constant change in weather.
While I think this would be a great opportunity for some good photos, I would tell you to save the photoshoot for the morning you leave. Instead, head to the south side of Iceland for the day.
South Coast Guide:
We had jammed the south coast and the Golden Circle into one day (day 3) of our 4 day Iceland itinerary. I’d definitely suggest splitting it up because they both deserve a little more time. So for day two, get up early and hop in your car for the drive to the south coast. Be sure to pack plenty of layers, snacks and water, and a GPS or Wifi for your phone.
Your first stop will be the Seljalandsfoss waterfall. We skipped this due to pouring rain, but I wish we had sucked it up because the photos of this waterfall are amaaaazing. Another short drive and you will be at the Skógafoss waterfall. Even with a busload of tourists there, we loved this stop. You can walk up to the top of the waterfall and get incredible views, too.
After about 45 minutes at Skógafoss, you’ll head approximately 6 miles down the road to the parking lot for the abandoned plane that still sits on the black sand beach. There isn’t a sign for the parking lot, but the GPS coordinates are 63°29’28.4″N 19°21’48.2″W. In 1973, a US Navy Douglas Super DC-3 crash landed onto the plain of Sólheimasandur. Don’t worry, everyone survived, but the abandoned plane has become a popular tourist spot.
Again, some people might think it’s over-rated, but we thought it was really cool. It took us about 45 minutes of walking, one-way, to get to the plane. The walk is a little dull, but the path is marked with yellow reflective sticks. Although it’s flat, the path is a bit rocky and we even experienced a hail storm, but again, the weather can change back to beautiful just as quickly as it turned sour. Give yourself a good hour to check out the plane, take photos, and see the black sand beach. Don’t forget you have the 2-mile walk back to the car so bring water and snacks.
Because we squeezed this all in with the same day we did Golden Circle, that’s as much as we were able to do before heading to the Golden Circle. However, the south coast has several other amazing stops. I suggest reading through the Top 10 Most Beautiful Attractions on the South Coast of Iceland to decide what else you want to see.
Time to get up with the sun! Just kidding, the sun was up at 3:00am and some parts of the year the sun won’t rise til 9:00am. So remember to check the sunrise and sunset times when you’re planning your trip! While this was our day that we did the south coast and the Golden Circle, I recommend you dedicate the whole day to the Golden Circle. There isn’t a wrong way to drive the Golden Circle, but we chose to do it “backward”.
Golden Circle Guide:
1st stop: Kerid Crater (30-45min) – This volcanic crater lake is a quick, but epic stop. It was incredible to see the red volcanic rock and aquamarine water.
2nd stop: Gullfoss Waterfall (60-90 minutes) – This is probably the most popular stop along the Golden Circle. The amount of water that flows through the waterfall almost doubles in the summer, but it’s a beautiful sight to see any time of the year.
3rd stop: Strokkur Geysir (30 min) – As one of Iceland’s most famous geysers, Strokkur erupts every 6 – 10 minutes and will reach heights up to about 65 feet, sometimes higher. This stop is another great place with nice restrooms, a cafe, and souvenirs. (See my excitement at 1:05 in the highlight video below!)
4th stop: Ice Cream at Efstidalur Farm (30 min) – Iceland might be cold, but you won’t want to miss out on this delicious ice cream! They also have a hotel and restaurant. The staff here are so friendly and it’s a nice little break in the middle of all the site-seeing.
5th stop: Þingvellir National Park – We skipped this because it was getting late and we were so tired. The last thing you want is to be super exhausted when driving or making these stops because one, you won’t enjoy them as much and two, it can be dangerous. We knew we would be back the next day for snorkeling in Silfra, but if you’re not going to snorkel, make sure to stop! This famous national park is known for being the boundary between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. If looking at it isn’t cool enough for you, you’ll want to snorkel between the tectonic plates on day four!
Check out our 3.5 minute highlight video to see all of the stops on the Golden Circle!
How often do you get to snorkel between two tectonic plates in the bluest waters? This is the only place in the world where you can do such a thing. Snorkeling in Silfra was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Head to my post all about snorkeling in Silfra to see all the details and decide if it’s the right adventure for you.
Whether you visit Þingvellir during the Golden Circle day or during your snorkel experience, you’ll also want to take the short walk to Öxaráfoss Waterfall.
Spend the rest of day four exploring places around Reykjavík you haven’t been able to see yet. This could include:
- A free walking tour.
- Going to the top of Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland.
- Going into the Harpa Concert Hall.
- Checking out the Sun Voyager.
- Exploring the streets to find all the different wall murals.
- Book a tour to go whale watching/penguin watching.
- Flatey Pizza – This cute spot spot had amazing pizza and a great atmosphere!
- Public House Gastropub – Just a few blocks from our hotel, we devoured everything here after our day on the Golden Circle.
- Fish Market – Recommended by the Flytographer photographer, this was one of the best meals on the trip. It was pricier but delicious.
- Le Bistro – Another short walk from our hotel, this charming restaurant had incredible fondue.
- Icelandic Craft Bar + Icelandic Street Food – A great little spot for happy hour, you can order food from Icelandic Street Food and bring it over to the bar.
- Sandholt – Located right next to Sandhotel, they had pastries, sandwiches, coffee, and more.
- Þrastalundur – Located a short driving distance from Kerid Crater, we stopped here for pizza, salad, and hot cocoa.
The Weekend Fox Iceland Tips:
- Don’t buy the bottled water. It all comes directly from the tap in Iceland. They have some of the purest water in the world so it’s pointless to pay money for a plastic bottle filled with the exact same water.
- Download the app, Reykjavík Appy Hour, to check out the best happy hour deals in Reykjavík.
- You don’t have to rent a car, but we highly recommend it. Being on your own schedule means you can beat some of the crowds at the most popular spots. However, remember to look into the season you’re visiting. In the winter, you may not want to drive on your own because of the wind and icy roads.
- You don’t have to tip in Iceland. There will typically be a service charge on your bill, but if your server went about and beyond, leave anywhere from a 5-15% tip.
- Stop at any Icelandic horse you see! I missed my photo opportunity because of rain and thinking “there will be others”. So while we saw a bunch of beautiful Icelandic horses, I never got my official “blogger” photo with the horse lol.
If your time in Iceland is limited, you’re sure to pack it with some of the best highlights by using this guide. Next time, we hope to have a little over a week in Iceland so we can experience the Ring Road. What’s something you’d love to do in Iceland?!