Iceland is one of the most amazing countries in the world and if you’ve been wondering whether it’s possible to see it in only 5 days, this 5 Day Iceland Itinerary guide will show you exactly how to do it.
Our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary combines the best of all that Iceland has to offer. From the lagoons and glacier hikes, to waterfalls and lava fields, to the black beaches and national parks, and of course, to the enchanting Northern Lights – you’ll get a chance to witness it all!
Is 5 Days enough for Iceland?
Yes! 5 days is enough to see parts of Iceland. Although, you shouldn’t expect to see the entire country. Iceland is a huge place with various main attractions and tourist spots that are quite far from each other. You can be driving for two hours with nothing but vast lands beyond.
So naturally for a 5 day Iceland Itinerary, you’re going to have to choose a route to follow. In this self-drive 5 day Iceland Itinerary, we didn’t go to the North and North West Fjords.
However, our Iceland 5 day Road Trip does cover a bit of everything. We got a taste of all the must-sees of Iceland such as visiting Reykjavik, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, the Golden Circle, the South Coast and even as far as the Glacier Lagoons near the East Fjords.
In this 5 day Iceland Itinerary, you will be able to witness different landscapes from mountaintops, glacier lagoons, waterfalls, and other geographical wonders.
If a self-drive itinerary by car or by campervan is not suitable for you, we have also included tour options to look into in the next section.
How to Get Around Iceland
Travel Around Iceland by Car/Campervan
To make this 5 day Iceland Itinerary possible, you will have to rent a car in Iceland or even rent a campervan. It’s impossible to see as much as places as we did without a car or without joining a tour. Taking public transportation is not an option.
Having your own vehicle entails freedom to go wherever you want and see all the places you desire. It’s also more independent to have your own car if you are thinking about chasing the magical Northern Lights.
Travel Around Iceland by Tour
You also have the choice to go with a group tour. There are various Iceland tours available for 4-7 days that take you through the main highlights of Iceland. These tours include accommodation, transfers, breakfast, WiFi, and sometimes even the entrance fees to different tourist attractions.
For a curated selection of the best tours for a 5 Day Iceland Itinerary, you can check the options below.
When to Go for Your 5 Day Iceland Itinerary
The next question remains: when is the best time to go for a 5 day Iceland Itinerary? Well that answer depends entirely on you!
Personally, we prefer to go to Iceland in the winter. One of our top bucket list dreams was to see the Northern Lights and these lights are only visible from as early as September to as late as April. If your main reason for going is to have the opportunity to witness the Northern Lights, then going on these months would be the ideal time.
However if you prefer to go when the weather is warmer, the days are longer, and also, when you can have the chance to experience the peak of the Whale Season and witness the famed Midnight Sun (i.e. when the sun never sets or sets only on midnight), then going in the late Spring or Summer months between May to August is the best choice for you.
Day 1: Explore the Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The first day of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary, we landed in Keflavik, rented our vehicle, and drove out of Reykjavik.
We had plans of exploring Reykjavik on the last day of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary, so we skipped it for now and headed towards the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
DRIVING MAP FOR DAY ONE OF ICELAND ITINERARY
Where to Stay in Snæfellsnes Peninsula
There aren’t too many places to stay in Snæfellsnes Peninsula, but here are our top picks:
– The Freezer Hostel & Culture Center: For those on a budget, this hostel has nightly rates of only 22 euros/bed.
– North Star Guesthouse Snæfellsnes: An affordable option for couples with room rates starting at 72 euros/night with shared bathroom.
– Hotel Búdir: A modern hotel in the heart of Snæfellsnes with room rates starting at 190 euros/night.
– Arnarstapi Hotel: Another modern and beautiful hotel near the cliffs of Snæfellsnes with room rates starting at 160 euros/night.
The first stop of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary is Gerðuberg Cliffs – a dramatic formation of cliffs created from black lava-rock columns.
It’s around 1 hour and 30 minutes from Reykjavik to get to this spot. It’s also especially impressive in the colder seasons as you get the chance to see hints of the black cliffs dusted in snow.
Lava Rock Formations / Berserkjahraun Lava Fields
After Gerðuberg Cliffs, we drove towards Bersekjahraun Lava Fields which is 30 minutes away. It’s not so well-known, but the views and landscapes are absolutely amazing.
This location feels truly otherworldly, as if you’re stepping into another planet. We found it to be absolutely stunning during the winter time as you can see layers upon layers of lava rocks over a backdrop of mountains covered in snow.
About 10 to 15 minutes away from the lava fields is another amazing viewpoint called Kolgrafarfjördur.
This is a great time to take a break and have lunch. We stopped by a supermarket near Kirkjufellsfoss for some snacks and sandwiches. Gas stations also sell food in case the supermarkets are closed.
You can also stock up in advance some snacks and food from the Netto and Bonus in Reykjavik for the entire duration of your 5 Day Iceland Itinerary.
Kirkjufellsfoss Mountain and Waterfall
After the viewpoint, we drove 10 minutes over to the iconic Kirkjufellsfoss Mountain and Waterfall as seen in the Game of Thrones.
This is truly one of the most uniquely shaped mountains you’ll ever see. Here, you can do a hike around and take some beautiful shots and long exposures of the sceneries.
After Kirkjufellsfoss, we ended our day in the Snæfellsjökull National Park – specifically in the area of Gatklettur. This place boasts coastline views and reminds us a little bit of Ireland but with snow.
As we were planning to see the Black Beach in Vik, we chose not to go to the Djúpalónssandur Black Beach in Snæfellsjökull National Park, but you can also include this to your 5 Day Iceland Itinerary since it’s not too far away from our final stop for day one.
Northern Lights at Snæfellsnes Peninsula
On our first night, we went to bed at 8pm and put an alarm for 1am, hoping to catch the Northern Lights.
Since we had clear skies and aurora activity on this side of the island, we wanted to try our luck in seeing the Northern Lights. With a little bit of patience, there it was amidst the coast of Snæfellsjökull.
Day 2: Head towards the Golden Circle
For the second day of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary, we drove straight to the Golden Circle after having breakfast.
DRIVING MAP FOR DAY TWO OF ICELAND ITINERARY
Where to Stay in the Golden Circle Iceland
There are, fortunately, many great places to stay in the Golden Circle that are affordable. Below we list down our favorites:
– Welcome Riverside Guesthouse: An affordable place to stay in Hella with room rates starting at 47 euros/night.
– Skyggnir Bed and Breakfast: Another affordable bed and breakfast with room rates starting at 58 euros/night.
– Húsid Guesthouse: A charming guesthouse with room rates starting at 65 euros/night.
– Efra-Sel Hostel: A modern hostel with room rates starting at 75 euros/night with shared bathroom.
– Hekla Cabin 3 Volcano and Glacier View: A beautiful cabin and vacation home with a garden, this is the perfect choice for those on a honeymoon as you have an entire rental to yourself with rates starting at 125 euros/night.
From the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, we drove back for an hour 30 minutes to Hvalfjörður. Here, we had brunch and hiked around the lake.
Thingvellir National Park
After spending some time exploring Hvalfjörður, we then drove for 40 minutes to Thingvellir National Park. We spent around 2 hours exploring the park and its incredible landscapes. You can easily spend more time here if you would like to during your 5 Day Iceland Itinerary.
Strokkur and Gullfoss Falls
After Thingvellir, we drove up to Strokkur and Gullfoss Falls which is around 40 minutes away. These two spots are well-known in the Golden Circle of Iceland and are must-see spots for a 5 Day Iceland Itinerary.
Strokkur is a popular and active geyser erupting every few minutes with hot water shooting into the air up to 40 meters high. Meanwhile, Gullfoss Falls is known for its multi-step cascade along the Hvitá River.
Secret Lagoon Hot Spring
Our last stop for day two of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary is a less touristy geothermal pool (compared to Blue Lagoon’s 80 euro price tag) called Secret Lagoon where prices are only 20 euros per person.
If you don’t want to pay crazy prices for a lagoon with way less people, then Secret Lagoon is the spot to go to. We’re glad we didn’t visit Blue Lagoon and went to this spot instead.
We ended our day in the charming town of Hella. At this point, the weather wasn’t too good with snow falling and the sky full of clouds. So there was no chance to see the Northern Lights.
Day 3: From Vik to Jökulsárlón to Skaftafell
This was our longest driving day as we went from Vik to Fjallsárlón and Jokularson, and then back to Skaftafell.
The road between Vik and Skaftafell is mostly barren so we recommend you have a good playlist on and simply appreciate the changing backdrops from incredible landscapes to pure nothingness but even that emptiness is some of the most wonderful things you’ll ever see during this 5 Day Iceland Itinerary.
DRIVING MAP FOR DAY THREE OF ICELAND ITINERARY
Where to Stay in Skaftafell National Park
There aren’t too many options for places to stay in Skaftafell. You can find our top three choices below:
– Fosshotel Nupar: A modern hotel featuring incredible views of Skaftafell with room rates starting at 90 euros/night.
– Hotel Skaftafell: A beautiful hotel at the heart of Skaftafell with views of Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnjukur as well as the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull. Room rates start at 155 euros/night.
– Adventure Hotel Hof: Another beautiful at the foot of the Skaftafell mountains with room rates starting at 150 euros/night with breakfast.
Our first stop for day three of this 5 Day Iceland Itinerary is Reynisfjara Beach, which is an hour away from Hella.
Reynisfjara is a popular black beach with intricate rock formations. It almost feels like you’re somewhere in outer space as you walk through the black sand.
Fjallsárlón / Jökulsárlón
We really wanted to see the glaciers so this was the longest drive in our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary. From Vik to Jökulsárlón, it’s more than a 2 hour ride. Hence, it’s important that you start your day early so that you can get to the glaciers by mid afternoon.
These glaciers are truly one of the most beautiful things you’ll ever see in your life. Jökulsárlón is the biggest glacier in all of Europe while Fjallsárlón is a bit more offbeat. We suggest spending plenty of time in both places and even doing the Jökulsárlón Crystal Ice Cave Tour. We ended up staying here till sunset.
After the glaciers, we ended our day by driving back to a hotel near Skaftafell, which is also where we start our exploration on day four of our 5 day Iceland Itinerary.
Day 4: See the South Coast's Waterfalls
The fourth day of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary is the chillest because our focus was mainly on seeing Iceland’s plethora of waterfalls in the South Coast. Namely, Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Gluggafoss.
Furthermore, we had a good chance of seeing the Northern Lights forecast on the last night of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary. Thus, we wanted to have a relaxed adventure, so that we could chase for them on that same evening.
DRIVING MAP FOR DAY FOUR OF ICELAND ITINERARY
Where to Stay in the South Coast of Iceland
There are many wonderful places to stay in the South Coast of Iceland with lovely views, hot tubs, and much more. To see our best picks for the area, see below:
– Welcome Edinborg: An affordable place to stay in the South Coast of Iceland, 5 to 10 minutes from the waterfall. Room rates start at 58 euros/night.
– Borg Apartments: A studio apartment with a private kitchen for an affordable price that starts at 90 euros/night.
– Stora Mark: A beautiful farm property with rooms equipped with its own kitchen and boasting lovely views. Room rates start at 90 euros/night with buffet breakfast.
– Midgard Base Camp: The perfect place for those on a honeymoon, this hotel features has a hot tub, entertainment facilities, and a shared kitchen for a rate starting at 120 euros/night.
Skaftafell National Park
Day four of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary started in Skaftafell National Park. We had breakfast and proceeded to go on a few hikes in the park. Like Thingvellir, you could easily spend many days in this park if you wanted to.
Furthermore, Skaftafell is well-known for its glacier walks, if that’s an activity you’re looking to do. It’s also a great location to be up close and personal with the famous Icelandic horses – the purest breed of horses in the entire world.
Skogafoss - Seljalandsfoss
After an early morning in Skaftafell, we headed back to the sights we passed through on our way to Vik – particularly all the waterfalls. The drive back took us more than 2 hours.
Our next stop in this 5 Day Iceland Itinerary are the waterfalls of Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss. These two are literally a 10 minute drive from one another.
We had a late lunch amidst the beautiful backdrop of Skogafoss and took a nice hike up to the waterfall.
Seljalandsfoss is also another beautiful waterfall just nearby. It’s much taller, but we actually preferred Skogafoss more.
Around 30 minutes from Seljalandsfoss and a 10 minutes drive to where we were staying for the night (Hvolsvöllur) is our favorite waterfall in Iceland called Gluggafoss.
It’s way more offbeat and not very well known which is why we loved it so much. We were the only ones in the spot except for a few photographers taking nature shots.
Here we spent sunset – hiking around and relaxing while enjoying an apero.
Inner Highlands (Keldur) - Northern Lights
After checking in, we had dinner and rested for a bit. Once night fell, we started our chase for the Northern Lights. We drove for 30 minutes towards the inner highlands, which is one of the best places to see the Northern Lights due to the lack of civilization.
We waited, prayed for luck, and to our absolute delight, at 8:30pm, the lights started to appear.
The Northern Lights Show on this day was way more impressive than on the first night of our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary.
For us, this was the perfect way to end our last night in Iceland. The lights gave us an unforgettable 1 hour spectacle, dancing with different colors of red, white and purple. It was one of the most memorable experiences we’ve had in all our travels.
Day 5: Visit Reykjavik
DRIVING MAP FOR DAY FIVE OF ICELAND ITINERARY
Since our flight was at the end of the day five in our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary, our agenda was simply to tour Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, which we skipped on our first day.
After dropping off our rental at around noon, we walked around Reykjavik and then visited one of the many Local Hot Tub and Sauna Centers. It’s cheap and a great way to feel refreshed before our flight. After that, we had dinner and took the bus to Keflavik Airport. It was a great end to our 5 Day Iceland Itinerary.
Conclusion: 5 Day Iceland Itinerary
So there you have it! We hope this helps you plan for your 5 Day Iceland Itinerary. Iceland is truly a country of incredible landscapes, sceneries, and out of this world experiences.
If you’ve been planning a trip to Iceland, we definitely recommend you to stay for 5 days or more, especially if you’ll have a vehicle to drive around in or if you’ll be joining a multi-day tour.
Have you ever been to Iceland? What was your experience like and what was your favorite spot? If not, where do you plan to go for your Iceland trip? Let us know your questions and thoughts about this 5 Day Iceland Itinerary in the comments below!
9 thoughts on “The Best 5 Day Iceland Itinerary with Free Maps”
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We enjoyed our first visit to Iceland. Good to now a return visit for 5 days would let me see so much more. The Northern Lights are definitely on our travel wish list. So maybe a car rental would give us the flexibility to chase them!
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Iceland is on my travel list! It’s good to know that 5 days would be long enough to see and do most things. Your photo of the Aurora Borealis is great, I’d love to see them one day!
Wow what stunning pictures and looks like a fab trip. I absolutely love iceland and did self drive trips for both of my visits. I didn’t go quite as west but will definitely make sure i get to Kirkjufellsfoss next time.
Iceland is on my to-visit list. You surely have some great tips here!
This is a fantastic thorough itinerary with options for everyone’s tastes and style.
Wow, I don’t think 5 days is enough. This is a beautiful must-visit country.