Even if you only have five days to explore the country, that is still plenty of time to see all types of attractions from coast to coast. This 5 days in Iceland itinerary will take you along the southern coast of Iceland to Jokulsarlon and back to Reykjavik as you check out what this incredible country has to offer. It will be action packed with days full of activities and natural attractions.
Before jumping into the itinerary here are a few important things to note:
» This itinerary cannot be completed during the winter months due to the shorter days and the amount of activities listed below. The best time to complete this trip in 5 days would be around May to September.
» You will want to get a rent a car for the duration of the trip. You can pick the car up once in land in Reykjavik and be on your way from there.
» This itinerary does not go around the entirety of the Ring Road. It will just take you back and forth along the southern coast along with a couple day trips from Reykjavik. You can check out the Iceland Ring Road itinerary I have up on the site that will take you all around the country if you have more time.
» You can start this itinerary on day 1 straight from the airport since many flights get to Iceland early in the morning. Alternatively you can stay in Reykjavik for the first day to relax before heading out on day 2.
» For more helpful info be sure to check out the Helpful Tips section to get you prepared for Iceland!
Iceland Itinerary 5 Days Map View
Take a look below at where each attraction on this 5 days in Iceland itinerary falls on the map. Day 1 starts out with the blue pins and the trip then continues eastward before turning back, with each pin color indicating the attractions for a day. Altogether you will spend 3 days / 2 nights along the southern coast and the remaining time in Reykjavik with a day trip in between.
5 Days in Iceland Detailed Itinerary
Now lets get on to the actual trip! The following is a detailed breakout of the daily attractions and activities on this Iceland itinerary 5 days route. Feel free to scroll through and click on any more in depth posts along the way.
Day 1 – Southern Coast Part I
Either coming right off the plane from Keflavik or from Reykjavik, grab your rental car and begin the drive out east. The next 3 days will be spent exploring the southern coast of Iceland. There are so many different types of natural beauty to experience and I am sure you will enjoy it all.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs
Your first stop of the day will be the Reykjadalur Hot Springs. This hike will take you through the mountains and valleys of Iceland and will have you end up swimming in a natural hot spring river! The hike itself is about 1.5 hours round trip and is a great way to get introduced to the Icelandic landscape.
» If this sounds like your kind of day then check out the Guide to the Reykjadalur Hot Springs Hike for a more in depth review
After a couple hours of hiking make a stop at Urridafoss, one of the many waterfalls you will encounter along your trip. It is known to be the most voluminous waterfall in Iceland. Pretty fascinating site and not crowded at all, as its not one of the main attractions you will find.
You can then head on over to the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. Here you can walk the beach, hang out on the limestone cliffs and take in some amazing views of the southern coast. Once all down exploring the beach area, stop by town of Vik for some lunch.
It is a nice small town where you can find some restaurants and also grocery store to pick up some essentials. You can also get in a nice viewpoint from the church at the top of the town.
One important thing to note is that main towns can be very far apart from one another. So if you see somewhere you would like to eat or add some gas to the tank you should do it sooner rather than later as you won’t know when the next opportunity will be.
Next up is Laufskalavarda. Here you will find thousands of small rock piles all around this small hill. Apparently building one these rock piles gives you good luck as you continue your adventures around the country of Iceland. As it is the beginning of your journey it could be a good idea to make one of your own.
End the day at one of the most picturesque places of the entire trip – Fjadrargljufur Canyon. Hike up along the side of the canyon taking in the views and some great pictures. You can get some amazing views both all the way towards the top of the trail and bottom of the trail. Enjoy the last attraction of the day before heading to your hotel or guesthouse nearby.
» Feel free to take a look at the top hotels in South Iceland for more info about where to stay
Day 2 – Skaftafell and Jokursalon
Skaftafell National Park
After a much needed sleep wake up bright and early to head out to Skaftafell National Park. Here you will have two main options to choose from – hiking in the national park on your own or heading on a glacier hike as part of a guided tour.
There are plenty of hiking trails to choose from in the national park ranging from just around an hour to full day hiking options. The Guide to Hiking Skaftafell National Park will go over what you need to know to hit the trails.
Taking part of a Skaftafell Glacier Hike will have you experience what it is like to hike on ice. There are also several options to choose from ranging from a couple hours on the glacier to a full day activity. I put together a Skaftafell Glacier Hike Guide for you to learn more.
» If you are interested in the glacier hike you can book a Skaftafell Glacier Hike Tour in advance to reserve your spot!
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
After a long morning/afternoon of hiking grab some food back by the visitor center and relax for a bit. After the break continue your day towards some glacier lagoons. Take a quick stop at the smaller Fjallsarlon lagoon before heading to Jokulsarlon.
You have the option to tour the lagoon on a zodiac type of boat or a larger amphibian one where you are with more people and higher up from the water. The smaller boat is a really great time with just about 8 people in the boat with your driver.
Make sure to book in advance especially if you are opting for the smaller boat.
Your boat driver will give you a tour of the lagoon, answer your questions and even let you take a huge piece of ice from the water. Your driver will then drive the boat towards the back of the lagoon where ice cliffs will be breaking off every few minutes.
After about 45 minutes the boat will head back to land, where you will then depart Jokulsarlon and head back to your hotel for the night.
Day 3 – Southern Coast Part II
It is now time to turn around a head back to Reykjavik but not before hitting some more southern coast attractions along the way.
The first stop will be back closer to Vik at Dyrholaey which is the large peninsula with its well known arch. You can walk around to different view points and get a look at the waves crashing nearby.
Next up is the waterfall Skogafoss and is one that you cannot miss. It is a massive waterfall with a staircase off to the side which you can walk up to the top of. Getting too close to the bottom of the waterfall will most likely result in some wetness so be careful when trying to get the best picture.
After hanging out at the bottom, climb up the staircase to get a view from the top. For a real epic hiking opportunity you can continue you way along the Skoga River.
» For an in depth overview of this hike check out the Guide to Hiking Skogafoss
Seljalandsfoss & Gljufrabui
Once done with some hiking, head on over to Seljalandsfoss which is only about a 30 minute drive from Skogafoss. This waterfall is unique in that you can actually walk around it in a 360 degree view even getting behind the waterfall. Spend some time taking pictures at different angles and walking all the way around.
Here you will also find a lesser known waterfall called Gljufrabui. Walk about ten minutes north of Seljalandsfoss along the path following the signs. Through a narrow rock corridor lies the waterfall, where you will most likely get a bit wet as you are literally inside of a cave.
It is quite a unique experience being inside this rock as the waterfall comes down behind you. After you spend some time down low, follow the path to the top of the waterfall, where you can climb the small ladder to get a view from above.
Here are a few top accommodation options to choose from:
Day 4 – The Golden Circle
It is time to make your way around one of the more well know parts of Iceland – the Golden Circle. There will be five stops along the way as you start your day of exploring.
» Check out our complete Guide to Iceland’s Golden Circle for an in depth review of what it all entails.
Stop #1 – Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir offers the opportunity to hike, snorkel between tectonic plates and wander around the incredible setting.
Stop #2 – Bruarfoss
If you have the time and are up for a 2 hour round trip hike you can head over to Bruarfoss. A bit more of a hidden gem, Bruarfoss is a majestic blue colored waterfall that is sure not to be missed.
Stop #3 – Geysir
Ever seen tons of water getting shot up a hundred feet in the air? Well now is your chance. At the Geysir geothermal area you will be able to see things like this happen:
Stop #4 – Gullfoss
One of the most powerful and wide waterfalls that Iceland has to offer, Gullfoss offers amazing views from all different angles.
Stop #5 – Kerid Crater
Last but not least is Kerid Crater – a massive formation with a lake down below to hike around and enjoy before ending your time around the Golden Circle.
Next up comes the most relaxing portion of the trip and that is the Blue Lagoon. Make sure to buy tickets in advance so when you get there you can walk right in and enjoy. Once you get there you can drop your stuff off in a locker and head outside in what is probably pretty cold weather. But don’t worry because once you are inside the Blue Lagoon all is well.
The temperature of the water is very soothing and relaxing, and there are definitely spots warmer than others. You can buy yourself a few drinks and wade/walk around the lagoon. You can probably spent 2+ hours there altogether just relaxing your bodies after all the hiking that has been done.
Note that it might be easier to add the Blue Lagoon on the way from or to the airport since the Lagoon is not too far away from Keflavik. It just depends on the timing on your fights to figure out what will work out best.
Day 5 – Reykjavik
There really aren’t too many different sites to see but definitely enough to keep yourself busy for a day. Stroll through the city center as you walk down the main street Laugavegur, and then to the harbor area.
Stop by the Harpa opera house, a really modern piece of architecture with many different areas to explore and a glass like structure throughout. Then walk further along the water to the viking ship known as the Sun Voyager. It is really just a silver statue but still pretty neat spot to check out.
Then head over to the main church – Hallgrimskirkja. Spend the few dollars to head to the top of the church and see the view of the entire city of colored houses beneath you. You can see all the way to the opera house and beyond.
That will be your last stop on an amazing trip to Iceland before making your way to the airport later in the day or the next morning. Hope you enjoy your 5 days in Iceland!
Head over to our Iceland itineraries and guides page to check out some more helpful posts, and feel free to comment below with any questions!