8 Day Summer Package | Best Attractions
Join this summer holiday and enjoy eight days of adventure in Iceland! With one trip you can cross hiking on the largest glacier in Europe, going inside a volcano, sailing among icebergs, walking behind a waterfall, and many more surreal experiences off your bucket list.
Over the span of eight days and seven nights, we will take you along the south coast to famous places of natural beauty, such as the Golden Circle, Reynisfjara black sand beach, and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon. This package also offers you the chance to fly to the north to visit Lake Mývatn or head west to the great Snæfellsnes peninsula.
The tour offers more optional activities and destinations, so you can tailor it to your interests. If you love to swim, snorkeling in Silfra gorge on your day touring the Golden Circle will make it way cooler. For some fast fun, go snowmobiling on Langjökull or walk the ice tunnels under the glacier.
If you want to experience the fire side of Iceland and witness as many volcanos, craters, and geothermal activities as possible, you should not miss out on the Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour, which sports the only place on earth that you can go inside of a volcano.
Another thrilling option is to take off to the north for Day 6. The moon-like landscape of Lake Myvatn and its surrounding areas will make you feel like an astronaut on an interstellar space mission.
If you want something more romantic and picturesque, head off to Snaefellsnes peninsula in the west, often referred to as "Iceland in miniature." Walk around the cute fishing villages and visit Mount Kirkjufell, and you will end the day with a refreshed spirit and some beautiful photos!
If you've tired yourself out with all this activity by Day 7, you can stay in the city and explore the cafés and souvenir shops of Reykjavik. Or, if you're determined to see it all, you can take a day trip to Snæfellsnes peninsula for more scenes bursting with nature's beauty.
Due to limited availability and high demand for summer accommodation and these unique activities, we recommend that you book as soon as possible, so we can make your dream trip to Iceland a reality this summer. So don't hesitate to book! Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: Apr. - Oct.
- Duration: 8 days
- Activities: Glacier Hiking, Hiking, Sightseeing, Hot Spring Bathing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 12 years old
- Languages: English
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa and is the single most popular attraction in Iceland.
The water is rich in silica and sulphur that helps make your skin shine like a baby. The Blue Lagoon also operates a Research and Development facility that helps find cures for skin ailments using the mineral-rich water.
The temperature in the bathing and swimming area is very comfortable, and averages 37–39 °C (98–102 °F). There´s a restaurant there and it´s a truly romantic and beautiful place one should not miss while in Iceland.
Reykjavik is the capital of Iceland and the northernmost capital of a sovereign state in the world.
Despite a small population (120.000 and more than 200.000 in the Greater Reykjavik area), it is a vibrant city that draws an ever increasing number of visitors. It is the financial, cultural and governmental centre of Iceland. It also has a reputation of being one of the cleanest and safest cities in the world.
The city of Reykjavik is located in southwest Iceland by the creek of the same name. Throughout the ages, the landscape has been shaped by glaciers, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions and the area is geothermal. Much of the current city area area was subglacial during the Ice Age, with the glacier reaching as far as the Álftanes peninsula, while other areas lay under the sea. After the end of the ice age the land rose as the glaciers drifted away, and it began to take on its present form.
The coastline of Reykjavik is set with peninsulas, coves, straights and islands, most notably the island of Videy, and seabirds and whales frequent the shores. The mountain ring as seen from the shore is particularly beautiful. Mount Esja is the highest mountain in the vicinity of Reykjavik and lends its distinct feature to the whole area. This majestic mountain is also highly popular for climbing. Other notable mountains that can be seen from the seaside are Akrafjall and Skardsheidi and on clear days one may even see as far to the legendary Snaefellsjokull glacier, at the end of the Snafellsnes peninsula.
The largest river to run through the city is Ellidaa in Ellidaardalur valley, which is also one of Iceland‘s best rivers for salmon fishing.
There are no trains or trams in Iceland, but most people travel by car. The city also operates a bus system. There are two major harbours in town, the old harbour in the centre and Sundahofn in the east. The domestic Reykjavik Airport is located at Vatnsmyrin, not far from the city centre and close to Oskjuhlid and Perlan. The international Keflavik Airport at Midnesheidi heath then lies around 50 km from the city. Cars, jeeps and bicycles can be readily rented in the city and many organized tours are also being offered.
What to See & Do in Reykjavik
The local arts scene is strong in Iceland, with both annual events and single ones, many of whom have hit the international stage. For the annual ones please check our articles Best Annual Events in Iceland and the Top Ten Festivals in Iceland. Major events taking place in Reykjavik include the Iceland Airwaves, Gay Pride, RIFF (The Reykjavik International Film Festival), The Reykjavik Literature Festival, Cultural Night, the Reykjavik Arts Festival, Food & Fun, the Reykjavik Fashion Festival and the Sónar music festival.
Among famous people from Reykjavik are artists Bjork Gudmundsdottir, Sigur Ros, writers Halldor Laxness (born in Laugavegur) and Arnaldur Indridason and mayor Jon Gnarr. For more well-known and fairly-well known Icelanders, check our article on the subject.
You might also want to check our article on some of the many things to see and do in Reykjavik, such as visiting the city‘s many museums, exhibitions and galleries, checking out live music, visiting the Harpa music hall or the theatres, visiting the lighthouse at Grotta, the main shopping street of Laugavegur, visiting the old harbour and the flea market, going on a bird- and whale watching tour or visiting Videy island. We also have a top ten list of things to do.
Make sure to visit the public square of Austurvollur, one of the city‘s most popular gathering places, where you‘ll also find the national parliament, Althingi, the state church a statue of independence hero Jon Sigurdson, as well as cafés, bars and restaurants. Austurvollur was central in the 2008 protests, along with Laekjargata, home to the House of Government. You are also not likely to miss the great church of Hallgrimskirkja that towers over the city from the hill of Skolavorduholt, wherefrom you‘ll get a great view of the city.
Try a walk by the city pond, greet the many birds that frequent the area and visit the city hall, stationed by its banks. The Hljomaskalagardur is a beautiful park that lies by the pond, it ideal for a nice walk and sometimes concerts get held there. Further off is the campus of the university of Iceland, the Nordic house and the Vatnsmyri wetland, a particularly pleasant place, but be mindful of not disturbing the wildlife there and keep to the pathways.
For a nice swim on a warm day, we particularly recommend Nautholsvik beach.
Visit the Laugardalur valley, home to one of the city‘s best swimming pools, as well as the Asmundarsafn gallery, a beautiful botanical garden and a domestic zoo. A walk by the Aegissida beach, with it‘s old fishing sheds, in the west part of Reykjavik also holds a particular charm. The aforementioned Elllidaardalur valley is also a popular resort.
Another place that offers one of the city‘s best (and free) views is Perlan, up in Oskjuhlid hill. The hill itself is a popular resort, with over 176.000 trees and great opportunities for walking and cycling.
Travel to Alftanes to see the president‘s house at Bessastadir, which is also a historical site in it‘s own right, having been the educational centre of Iceland for centuries. Nearby is a beautiful lava field, Galgahraun, well worth a visit, though there is currently an environmental struggle going on as to it‘s future state.
The city is furthermore a short drive from many of Iceland‘s major attractions, most famously the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon. In close vicinity you‘ll also find the Heidmork preservation area, a favourite pastime resort of the people of Reykjavik, as well as the Blue Mountains, one of Iceland‘s most beloved skiing venues.
Check our Best of Reykjavik guide further for tips on the best cheap things to do in Reykjavik, some of the best restaurants in the city, happy hours, the top ten value places to eat and our two articles on the famous Reykjavik nightlife; Nightlife in Reykjavik and Nightlife and mating.
Finally, we‘d like to stress that these are only some suggestions of the many things you might check out in Reykjavik. Whatever you choose to do, we hope you‘ll be able to make the most of your visit and we wish you a pleasant stay in our capital.
Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most famous glacier lagoon. Conveniently located in the southeast by Route 1, about halfway between the Skaftafell Nature Reserve and Höfn, it is a popular stop for those travelling along the South Coast or around the circular ring road of the country.
It stands out, however, due to the fact that it also fills with icebergs breaking from the glacier, some of which tower several stories high.
These icebergs, other than their scale, are notable for their colouration. Although they are, as expected, largely white, most are also dyed electric blue in part, with black streaks of ash from eruptions centuries past.
When the icebergs finally make it across the lagoon, they either drift out to sea or wash up on the nearby shore. Because of the way they glisten against the black sands of Breiðamerkursandur, this area has been nicknamed ‘the Diamond Beach’.
In spite of being a rather recent formation, Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in the country, with depths reaching 248 metres. With a surface area of 18 square kilometres, it is also growing to be one of the largest.
Jökulsárlón has not been around since Iceland’s settlement; it only formed around 1935. This was due to rapidly rising temperatures in the country from the turn of the twentieth century; since 1920, Breiðamerkurjökull has been shrinking at a dramatic rate, and the lagoon has begun to fill its space.
Today, the expansion of Jökulsárlón is accelerating. As recently as 1975, it was just 8 square kilometres, and now that size has more than doubled.
In the relatively near future, it is expected that the lagoon will continue to grow until it becomes a large, deep fjord.
Though a dark omen for Iceland’s glaciers and ice caps in general, the retreat of Breiðamerkurjökull has resulted in an incredibly beautiful, if temporary, site. This has not been overlooked by Hollywood.
Jökulsárlón has been featured in the James Bond films A View to Kill in 1985 and Die Another Day in 2002, 2001’s Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and 2005’s Batman Begins.
In 2017, Jökulsárlón was enveloped into the Vatnajökull National Park, thus it is now fully protected by Icelandic law.
Because of the wealth of herring and capelin that the tides bring into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón is somewhat of a hot-spot for Iceland’s wildlife.
In summer, it is a nesting site for Arctic Terns; stay well away from this area, as these birds are notorious for the fierceness with which they protect their eggs, dive-bombing the heads of any they see as a threat. Skuas also nest on the lake’s shores in this season.
Seals can be reliably spotted here throughout the year, swimming amongst or else hauling out on the icebergs. Jökulsárlón provides them with a safe haven to rest and socialise, especially considering the waters of southeast Iceland are renowned for their population of orcas.
Vatnajökull is the largest ice cap in Iceland and the third largest glacier in Europe, covering 8% of the island's landmass. Vatnajökull Glacier can be found in the south west of Iceland and is a popular spot for glacier hiking and ice caving tours.
Facts about Vatnajökull
- Surface: 8,100 km2
- Average thickness: 400 - 600 m
- Maximum thickness: 1,000 m
- Height: 1,400 - 1,800 m
- Highest peak: 2,200 m (Hvannadalshnjúkur)
Information about Vatnajökull
Vatnajökull Glacier belongs to the greater Vatnajökull National Park, which encompasses the former national parks Skaftafell, in the southwest, and Jökulsárgljúfur, in the north. Vatnajökull's highest summit is Hvannadalshnjúkur which rests on top of a stratovolcano known as Öræfajökull.
Underneath the glacier rests some of the most active volcanoes in the country, the most notable being Grímsvötn, Öræfajökull and Bárðabunga. Volcanic activity in the region has occurred on and off throughout the centuries, and many geologists believe that such a period is overdue for immediate future. If their calculations are correct, it would mean significant volcanic activity for Vatnajökull over the scope of the next half century.
The glacier boasts of over 30 outlet glaciers, which are channels of ice that flow out of ice caps but remain constrained on the sides of the valley. The major outlet glaciers of Vatnajökull include Dyngjujökull in the north, Breiðamerkurjökull and Skeiðarárjökull to the south. To the west, one can find the outlet glaciers Síðujökull, Skaftárjökull and Tungnaárjökull.
Glaciers are in constant motion underneath their weight; as they form over the centuries, the accession of snow exceeds its melting, creating a constant "push" on the ice cap. Each year, due to the melting ice water, new ice caves form that disappear come spring.
- Click here for a selection of Ice Cave tours
Numerous rivers run out of Vatnajökull, making up some of the greatest glacial rivers in Iceland:
- Tungnaá (west)
- Köldukvísl (west)
- Þjórsá (west)
- Jökulsá á Fjöllum (north)
- Skjálfandafljót (north)
- Jökulsá á Brú (north east)
- Jökulsá í Fljótsdal (north east)
- Jökulsá í Lóni (south)
- Hornafjarðarfljót (south)
- Jökulsá á Breiðamerkursandi (south)
- Skeiðará (south)
- Núpsvötn (south)
- Hverfisfljót (south)
- Skaftá (south)
Vatnajökull National Park
Vatnajökull National Park, in its current state, was established in June 2008. The park now covers an area of 14.141 km2, making it the second largest national park in Europe. Vatnajökull National Park has 14% coverage over the whole island of Iceland.
Rivers divide the highland plateau to the north of the park; an area that sees massive glacial flows in the summertime. The volcanic table mountain Herðubreið towers over this particular region, along with volcanoes Askja, Snæfell and Kverkfjöll.
The canyon Jökulsárgljúfur was carved out by glacial floods centuries ago. At the upper end of the canyon, you'll find Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe. Further north, the horseshoe-shaped canyon Ásbyrgi is believed to have formed when Óðinn's horse, Sleipnir, stepped his foot down from the heavens.
East around Snæfell, one can find wetlands and ranges, home to roaming herds of wild reindeer and abundant birdlife. Steep mountain ridges make up the south side of Vatnajökull, where outlet glaciers crawl in between the ridges onto the lowlands. The sandy plains of Skeiðarársandur also lie to the south as they reach out to sea. The glacial river Skeiðará runs through this vast desert.
One of Iceland's most visited landmarks is the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, which sits at the head of outlet glacier Breiðamerkurjökull. There, large icebergs that have broken off the glacier gather to float in the lake before ending up in the Atlantic Ocean, or on the nearby Diamond Beach.
- Click here for a selection of Jökulsárlón tours
The Future of Vatnajökull
The volume of Vatnajökull reached its peak around 1930 but has since been in a steady process of decline. Because of rising levels of global temperature, approximately over the last 15 years, Vatnajökull has on average lost about a metre of its thickness annually.
If temperature levels continue to rise, the glacier could be all but gone nearing the end of the next century, leaving only small ice caps on top of the highest mountain summits.
Vatnajökull and Jökulsárlón in Popular Culture
- HBO's Game of Thrones (season 2, 2012)
- Batman Begins (2005)
- James Bond: Die Another Day (2002)
- James Bond: A View to a Kill (1985)
Skógafoss is one of the country’s biggest and most beautiful waterfalls with an astounding width of 25 meters and a drop of 60 meters. Due to the amount of spray the cascade produces, a rainbow is present any time the sun emerges from behind the clouds.
Located on the Skógá river, this mighty cascade is clearly visible from Route 1 and is an excellent place to stop and stretch the legs while travelling Iceland’s South Coast. The river below Skógafoss holds a large char and salmon population and is thus a favourite spot for fishermen in the summer.
The land underneath the waterfall is very flat, allowing visitors to walk right up to the wall of water; keep in mind, however, that this will get you drenched. Skógafoss can also be viewed from the top as a steep staircase leads to an observational platform above the cascade.
Skógafoss is located near the small village of Skógar, south of the Eyjafjallajökull glacier volcano. There you’ll find the Skógasafn folk museum, an open-air museum with both old wooden houses and turf houses, as well as a regional museum with various artefacts from this area.
A part of the Skógasafn Regional Museum is the Museum of Transportation, which showcases the history and evolution of transportation, communication and technologies in Iceland. There, you can see how this nation evolved from the age of the working horse to the digital communications of the 21. Century.
The Skógasafn museum also includes a café and a museum shop, and in the village of Skógar, you will find both a hotel and a restaurant.
At the eastern side of Skógafoss, you will find one of Iceland’s most famed hiking routes; the Fimmvörðuháls pass. The 22 km trail leads you along Skógá river, between two glaciers, Mýrdalsjökull and Eyjafjallajökull, before ending in the beautiful Þórsmörk valley.
A gold ring is on display at the Skógasafn museum. According to legend, the ring is from a chest that was owned by Þrasi Þórólfsson, one of the first Viking settlers in the area. Folklore states that before his death in 900 AD, Þrasi buried a chest filled with gold in a cave behind Skógafoss waterfall.
Many attempts were made to retrieve the chest after Þrasi’s death, and years later, locals managed to grasp a ring on the side of the chest. As they pulled, the ring broke off, and the treasure was lost forever. The ring was then given to the local church before it made its way to the museum.
Seljalandsfoss in the river Seljalandsa in South Iceland is one of the most sought waterfalls in the country.
Seljalandsfoss has a narrow cascade but is one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, at 63 meters. The waterfall is highly picturesque and has the rare distinction that one can actually walk behind it.
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur valley in South Iceland. Part of the ‘Golden Circle', Geysir gives its name to hot springs all over the world.
Though Geysir itself is hardly active anymore, the area features spectacular hot springs such as the powerful Strokkur, which spouts a vast amount of water every 10 minutes, around 15-20 meters into the air, Smidur and Litli-Strokkur.
North of Geysir are fumaroles, i.e. unlike the hot springs that emit hot water, only steam and gas emanate from these. You may be able to observe bright yellow stains at the fumaroles, this is native sulphur, which crystallizes from the steam. At the southern part of the geothermal area, called Thykkuhverir, you‘ll find various mud pots. Such mud pots are actually fumaroles that boil up through surface water/groundwater and may become steaming fumaroles during dry spells, rather than the usual boiling mud pots.
About 2 km from Geysir is an old preserved natural pool called Kúalaug. One can bathe in it and it has room for 3-5 people at a time, but care should be taken, as the area around the pool is very delicate. The temperature is 39-43°C, depending on how you are positioned in the pool. The water is slightly muddy, as the pool is built on soil, and the bottom is slippery due to algae, so caution is advised.
In Haukadalur there has also been tree planting in recent times and today the forest Haukadalsskógur is one of the largest in South Iceland. Aspen, various types of pine, and other plants have been tried out there and experiments and research continue. We also recommend visiting the tree museum, built in the memory of forester Gunnar Freysteinsson. There are good paths and roads in the forest and the wood is specially designed to accommodate wheelchairs.
Haukadalur has been a church site since ancient time. The current wooden church was last rebuilt in 1938 but the variety and appearance of the church dates back to 1842, making it one of the oldest of its kind in Iceland.
Haukadalur is indeed a historical place. It was settled during the age of settlement and scholar Ari “The Wise“ Thorgilsson grew up there. The first pastoral school in Iceland was also built there.
For accommodation, Hotel Gullfoss is about 7 km from the Geysir area, and closer still is the Hotel Geysir.
Gullfoss (translated to ‘Golden Falls’) is one of Iceland’s most iconic and beloved waterfalls, found on the Hvítá river canyon in south Iceland. The water in Hvítá river travels from the glacier Langjökull, finally cascading 32m down Gullfoss’ two stages in a dramatic display of nature’s raw power.
Because of the waterfall’s two stages, Gullfoss should actually be thought of as two separate waterfalls. The first, shorter stage of the waterfall is 11m, whilst the second stage is 21m. The canyon walls on both sides of the waterfall reach heights of up to 70m, descending into the 2.5km long Gullfossgjúfur canyon (geologists indicate that this canyon was formed by glacial outbursts at the beginning of the last age.)
In the summer, approximately 140 cubic metres of water surges down the waterfall every second, whilst in winter that number drops to around 109 cubic metres. With such energy, visitor’s should not be surprised to find themselves drenched by the waterfall’s mighty spray-off.
In the early days of the last century, Gullfoss was at the centre of much controversy regarding foreign investors and their desire to profit off Iceland’s nature. In the year 1907, an English businessman known only as Howells sought to utilise the waterfall’s energy and harboured ambitions to use its energy to fuel a hydroelectric plant.
At the time, Gullfoss was owned by a farmer named Tómas Tómasson. Tómas declined Howell’s offer to purchase the land, stating famously “I will not sell my friend!” He would, however, go on to lease Howells the land, inadvertently beginning the first chapter of Icelandic environmentalism.
It was Tómas’ daughter, Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who would lead the charge. Having grown up on her father’s sheep farm, she sought to get the lease contract nullified, hurriedly saving her own money to hire a lawyer. The ensuing legal battle was an uphill struggle; the case continued for years, forcing Sigríður to travel many times by foot to Reykjavík if only to keep the trial moving. Circumstances became so difficult that Sigríður threatened to throw herself into the waterfall if any construction began.
Thankfully, in 1929, the waterfall fell back into the hands of the Icelandic people. Today, Sigríður is recognised for her perseverance in protecting Gullfoss and is often hailed as Iceland’s first environmentalist. Her contribution is forever marked in stone; a plaque detailing her plight sits at the top of Gullfoss.
Restaurant / Cafe
Besides Gullfoss, visitors can enjoy the views from Gullfoss Cafe, a locally run delicatessen that serves a wide variety of refreshments and meals. The menu has options to tantalise everyone’s taste buds; hot soups, sandwiches, salads and cakes. There is also a shop on site where visitors’ can browse and purchase traditional Icelandic souvenirs.
Thingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Thingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries.Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagja, which marks the eastern boundary of the north American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Oxararfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Thingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, and Gjabakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.
Snaefellsnes is a large peninsula extending to the west from West Iceland ending with a national park, Snaefellsjokull National Park, where the glacier towers over the scenery, as can sometimes be seen from Reykjavik, lending its beauty to the area.
The peninsula stretches over 100 km to the west as a mountain ridge that includes active volcanoes and is unique in the variety of mountains found.
A few small and beautiful villages are located on the south side and a few fishing villages are on the north side: Rif, Hellissandur, Olafsvik, Grundarfjordur and Stykkisholmur. The last one is highly popular for travelers, featuring a volcano museum and a ferry that takes you across the fascinating Breidafjordur bay to Brjanslaekur on the south border of the Westfjords.
Other museums you might want to check out are the Maritime Museum at Hellissandur, the regional museum Pakkhusid at Olafsvik, and, last but not least, the shark museum at Bjarnarhofn, indeed listed as the nr. 1 Snafellsnes attraction by Lonely Planet Travelers. Also, many of the Icelandic sagas take place at Snaefellsnes.
Snaefellsnes has an abundance of interesting sights. At the national park, you can witness the impressive lava formations of Djupalonssandur creek and test your strength on its four stones, see the two massive lava formations that compries Londrangar, explore the Saxholl volcanic crater and enjoy the echo of 'The Singing Cave', Songhellir. You may also hike on the majestic Snaefellsjokull glacier. The glacier has strong ties with folklore and was the setting for Jules Verne's Journey to the Center of the Earth.
Other sights we can recommend at Snaefellsnes recommend include Raudfeldsgja canyon, east of the national park and the rugged and colourful Berserkjahraun lava field, near Bjarnarhofn, on the north side of the peninsula.
Last, but not least, Snaefellsnes is one of the main setting for Laxdaela saga. Chieftain Snorri godi, Gudrun Osvifursdottir, Bolli Thorlakssson all lived there as well as his namesake Bolli Bollason, the first West Norse member of the Varangian guard, an elite unit of the Byzantine army. Iceland's most famous mass murderer, Axlar-Bjorn, also lived at Snaefellsnes.
Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland, just beside the small fishing village of Vík í Mýrdal.
With its enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves and stunning panoramas, Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches. In 1991, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet.
Reynisfjara is found around 180 km from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, and is a popular stop-off for those taking a sightseeing tour along South Coast. Driving to the beach is particularly easy, taking an approximate two and a half hours from the capital.
Upon visiting the beach, travellers will immediately observe rocky sea stacks sitting off the shoreline, known as Reynisdrangar. According to local Icelandic folklore, these large basalt columns were once trolls engaged in trying to pull ships from the ocean. However, as bad luck would have it, the dawn quickly arose, turning the trolls into solid stone.
Another legend tells of a husband whose wife was kidnapped and killed by two trolls. The man followed the trolls down to Reynisfjara where he froze them, ensuring that they would never kill again.
The sea stacks themselves are home to thousands of nesting seabirds. Species that can be found here include Puffins, Fulmars and Guillemots, making it a must-see location for all birdwatchers out there.
Visitors to Reynisfjara must be made well aware of the potential dangers present at the beach. First of all, the rolling, roaring waves of Reynisfjara are particularly violent, often pushing far further up the beach than many would expect.
Visitors are advised to never turn their back on the waves, don't go chasing after them and keep a safe distance of 20-30 metres.
Aside from these sudden and dramatic shifts in tide (known as “sneaker waves”), the currents off the shore are infamous for their strength and ability to drag helpless people out into the freezing cold open ocean. A number of fatal accidents have occurred at Reynisfjara, the last of which occurred in January 2017.
Vik in Myrdalur valley is the southernmost village on the Icelandic mainland, located 186 km from the capital Reykjavik.
Vik is important as a service centre for the inhabitants and visitors of the marvellous Reynisfjara beach.
Reynisfjara is widely considered one of the most beautiful beaches on earth (see for example Islands Magazine). This black pebble beach boasts an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns called Gardar, which resembles a rocky step pyramid and out in the sea are the spectaculary shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. The area has rich birdlife, including puffins, fulmars and guillemots.
Kirkjufell (“Church Mountain”) is a distinctly shaped mountain found on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula, only a short distance away from the town of Grundarfjörður.
Kirkjufell takes it’s name from its resemblance to a church steeple, sharpened at the top with long curved sides. From other angles, the mountain can resemble a witch’s hat or even a freshly scooped ice cream.
Photography at Kirkjufell
Peaking at 463 m, Kirkjufell holds the honour of being Iceland’s most photographed mountain. Throughout the centuries, Kirkjufell’s striking slopes have acted as a visual landmark for seafarers and travellers.
Walking distance from Kirkjufell, one can find the photogenic waterfall Kirkjufellsfoss (“Church Mountain Falls”), an excellent subject for photographers who can easily frame the mountain in the background. Despite its relatively diminutive height, Kirkjufellsfoss’ three-pronged falls make the waterfall particularly stunning, even for Iceland.
At the base of the mountain, visitors will also be able to find a lake; on calm and clear days, this lake reflects a perfect mirror image of Kirkjufell, only adding to the fantastic photo opportunities around this area. On top of that, the colours of Kirkjufell change with the passing seasons; the summer see it a lush green, full of life, whilst the winter months scar the mountain’s face with a mask of barren brown and white.
Fans of the HBO series Game of Thrones will recognise Kirkjufell as a shooting location from Season 7 of Game of Thrones. The mountain is showcased from the scenes ‘beyond the wall’ when Jon Snow, The Hound and Jorah Mormont, among others, brave the wilderness in hopes of catching an undead wight. Having seen it in a vision, The Hound acknowledges Kirkjufell as “[...] the mountain like an arrowhead.” Even the Games of Thrones producers can’t resist capturing the mountain on celluloid!
There is a fairly steep trail to the top of Kirkjufell, from where there are magnificent panoramas of the surrounding fields, coastlines and rivers. The mountain takes roughly an hour and a half to ascend, and one and a half hours back to the bottom.
Alongside this mountain-track is a steeper route to the peak which involves two points where one needs to rope-climb. This route should never be attempted in the winter, and never without a certified guide. Given the steep elevation, it is highly recommended that you bring a sturdy pair of hiking boots, snacks and water to the trail.
Getting to Kirkjufell
Kirkjufell is extremely close to Grundarfjörður, a small town on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, approximately two hours drive from Iceland's capital city, Reykjavik. From Grundarfjörður, one travels ten minutes west down Route Snaefellsnesvegur 54 to the base of Kirkjufell. Visitors have plenty of parking space to choose from, all free of charge.
The South Coast of Iceland is the country's most visited sightseeing route, along with the Golden Circle.
The famed South Coast shoreline stretches from the greater Reykjavík area and is dotted with natural wonders such as cascading waterfalls, volcanoes both active and dormant, black sand beaches and glacier lagoons.
Geography, Nature & Wildlife
Iceland is divided into eight geographical regions. Out of these, the Southern Region is the largest, as it spans over 24.000 square kilometres with its administrative centre in the municipality of Selfoss.
What is known as the South Coast embodies the shoreline of this particular region. The area consists of a lowland that is mostly composed of marshlands, bays and cultivated pastures that are met by a series of black beaches where the estuaries to the east and west of the district close off the coastal body.
Underneath the soil rests a vast lava field, known as Þjórsárhraun. Its edges reach several hundred metres offshore where the ocean waves crash upon them, thereby protecting the lowland from the invasion of the sea. This results in the South Coast being unusually lacking in the deep fjords that so distinctly characterise the rest of Iceland's shore line.
The region boasts vibrant bird life during all seasons. It is not only rich with both marshland birds and seabirds but also migrating birds such as the North Atlantic puffin. Some species stay throughout the harsh Icelandic winter, including the northern diver, the loom and various species of gulls and ducks.
Highlights of the South Coast
The South Coast offers an unprecedented array of natural wonders that draw thousands of visitors each day. When driving the route from Reykjavík City, the highlights in their correct order are:
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Vestmannaeyjar; The Westman Islands
- Eyjafjallajökull Glacier Volcano
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimajökull Glacier
- Dyrhólaey Peninsula
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
- Reynisdrangar Sea Stacks
- Coastal Village Vík í Mýrdal
- Skeiðarársandur Glacial Sand Plain
- Vatnajökull National Park
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
These attractions count for but a fraction of what the South Coast has to offer. The vast sand plains of Sólheimasandur are home to a crashed DC-3 Plane Wreck, and close to Seljavellir by the Skógar Village there's Seljavallalaug, one of the oldest swimming pools in Iceland.
- Explore the many wonders of the area on these South Coast Tours
Starting time : Flexible
6 nights of accommodation in Reykjavik (different levels available; breakfast not included for Super Budget level; breakfast included for Comfort and Quality levels; more detailed info below)
Airport transfer on arrival/departure
Blue Lagoon standard entrance (upgrades available) and return transfer
Golden Circle sightseeing tour in a minibus (upgrades available with other activities)
South Coast 2-day minibus tour with glacier hiking
1 night of accommodation in a country hotel in Vatnajokull National Park during the 2-day south coast tour (breakfast included, private bathroom depending on availability)
Detailed Itinerary with fun and practical information on the nature, history and culture of Iceland
Hands-on travel agent to oversee your itinerary
What to bring:
Warm outdoor clothes
Good to know:
The Inside the Volcano tour only runs from May 15 to October 15. If you choose this tour for Day 5, please note that you are not allowed to wear cotton or jeans as the outer layer during your trip to the Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour. Please wear suitable waterproof clothes and sturdy hiking shoes for this trip. The crater is always about 5–6°C (42–43°F) inside, so it is important to keep warm and dry.
The Þríhnjúkagígur volcano tour involves a hike of approximately 3 km (2 miles) each way. The walk usually takes around 45–50 minutes (depending on the condition of people in the group). A guide will be with you at all times during the walk.
Due to highland roads being inaccessible earlier, the day tour to Landmannalaugar is only available from June 17th. Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing. Please be aware that your itinerary may have to be rearranged to fit your arrival date and time better.
Day 1 - Arrival Day - Welcome to Iceland!
After landing at Keflavik International Airport, take the airport transfer through the lava fields of Reykjanes peninsula to our cute little smoky bay - Reykjavik, the northernmost capital in the world.
After your arrival, multiple opportunities await at the capital. Reykjavík is rich in culinary culture and will please you with its variety of restaurants and darling little cafés downtown. You can stroll the city streets, investigate the Old Harbor area with its fishing boats and whale watching ships, or see what's playing at a variety of theaters or clubs with live music.
Day 2 - Golden Circle - Sights and Sounds
On this first full day, you will head for Golden Circle, THE most famous sightseeing route of Iceland. The route mainly consists of three sights: Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss waterfall.
Þingvellir is the home of the first Icelandic democratic parliament, founded over 1000 years ago. It stands on the edge of two tectonic plates, linking Europe and America. The two mammoths pull apart at each other, forming awe-inspiring clefts and canyons.
The best-known crack is Silfra, a water-filled crevasse with incredibly clear water. If you are in the mood for an adventure, join a snorkeling tour to swim literally between two continents. With visibility reaching over 100 metres, Silfra is ranked as the top 3 locations for cold water diving.
The English word geyser got its name from great Icelandic Geysir, which is your next stop. At the Haukadalur valley, rich in Sagas and geothermal hot springs, you will see some geysers. While the original Geysir has been in a napping mode for decades, its brother, Strokkur, never disappoints. It hurls boiling water up to 60 meters into the air. Pro travel tip: never stand downwind, you will get drenched.
The third and final stop is the wonderful Gullfoss waterfall, the King of Icelandic waterfalls. Glacial water from Langjökull glacier passes through Hvítá, the white river, before rushing down 30 meters in two tiers to the canyon below. Clothed in sunlight during the long days of summer, the gorgeous "Golden Waterfall" proves its name worthy.
The trip will be arranged on a mini-bus. We want to keep things personal, no 80 people monster buses and umbrella guides, please. If you fancy some adventure along the way, we have also arranged multiple options, such as snorkeling in Silfra and snowmobiling on Langjökull glacier to whiz over the vast, white ice.
More possibilities available to spice up the day. If you just crave relaxation, you could visit Blue Lagoon on this day, where you'd head through the Reykjanes peninsula on the scenic route before taking a relaxing soak.
If you have arranged additional activities with your Golden Circle tour, it is best to schedule your visit to the Blue Lagoon on either your arrival or departure day instead, so you will have time to take full advantage of its restorative powers. The Lagoon is world-famous for its healing, mineral-rich waters - This is not a place you want to rush.
The guide will take you back to the city after a day of nature. If it's the weekend, why not check out the bars and our nightlife?
Day 3 - The Wild South Coast: Glaciers and Waterfalls
Today, you have a fulfilling day of nature and some optional icy activities, so put on proper shoes and a good jacket, and you'll be off to the south coast.
Driving along the coastline, under the glaciers Eyjafjallafjökull and Mýrdalsjökull, you'll see a couple of the most wonderful waterfalls and greatest sites in the south of Iceland.
The first stop is the Seljalandsfoss waterfall, which flies off the black cliffs, surrounded by greenery. Take a walk around the waterfall, and you will be rewarded with a viewpoint that is very rare: from behind the water curtain.
30 km away is Skógarfoss, another wonderful waterfall that rushes down in a thick blanket of water. From the viewing platform at the top of the waterfall, you can see the whole area with a bird's eye view.
You'll continue over the black sands of Sólheimasandur, driving under the now famous glacier volcano Eyjafjallajökull. It had a slight cold in 2010 and coughed up enough ash to stop all European air traffic for days. Another giant, the Mýrdalsjökull glacier will hover above as you head further east, making a stop at Reynisfjara black sand beach.
This black coastline is where the powerful Atlantic Ocean crashes upon the land. The cliffs framing the beach consist of uniquely shaped hexagonal basalt columns and present a surreal sight. No wonder sci-fi movies often use this location as a backdrop of alien worlds. Afar above the sea stands the great rock stacks Reynisdrangar, looking longingly over to the Dyrhólaey arch, where puffins keep their nests.
Further ahead are the Skaftafell National Park, where glacier tongues flow down the slopes, and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, where enormous icebergs float serenely.
You will spend the night along the South Coast.
Day 4 - A Day on Ice
You'll start your day by the glacier lagoon. We highly recommend the optional boat ride among the massive icebergs. The seals in the lake are curious creatures. Try whistling, and they might pop their heads above the water or swim closer to check you out. A perfect Kodak moment right there.
It is time for the journey home, but not before a glacier hike. Our experienced guides provide all climbing equipment and will lead you over the ice cracks and across the age-old, sometimes kilometers thick ice.
After you have mastered the art of hiking on crampons (which we supply, no worries), you'll have the chance to arm yourself with an ice axe and spikes and try your hand at ice climbing.
You will see more places along the way home, if time and weather permit. You'll arrive back in the capital in the evening. Have a good local beer to reward yourself after two days of sightseeing and activities.
Day 5 - Hot vs. Cold
Some people come to Iceland to see glaciers and snow. Other to see the great power of the earth on this land of fire. Now you can choose which side you'd like to know better.
Today you have two options to go deep into the nature of Iceland, each option representing an opposite side of the coin: into a glacier or inside the magma chamber of a volcano.
If you choose the first option, you'll ride a Superjeep monster truck on top of Langjökull glacier where a man made tunnel has been carved into the thick blue ice, creating an underground maze of corridors, rooms, halls and even a chapel. Blue light dances off the frozen walls which record centuries of geological history in their layers. If you are one of the cool crowd, this trip is for you.
If you're more of a firecracker, take the second option of today to visit Þríhnjúkagígur, the only place on earth that allows you to go inside a volcano.
After a Superjeep ride to the oval lava dome, you'll descend over 100 m (more than 300 ft!) down into this now empty magma chamber of the dormant giant. The bottom is the size of a football field. The deepest channels run nearly 200 meters underground.
The most amazing part is the colours left behind by the burning lava, created when the minerals in the stone were set alight by the intense heat. The color palette ranges from red to blue, painting the halls into a fantasy theatre.
After a game of hot and cold, you'll return to the city for the night, as tomorrow is yet another adventure.
Day 6 - North vs. West
Another day full of great options. You can either fly to the north capital Akureyri and head out to the famous Mývatn lake or take a tour to the Snæfellsnes peninsula in the west, with all its scenic fishing villages and romantic paths.
If you choose to go up north, you'll start your day at Reykjavík domestic airport, from where you will take a 45-minute flight to the idyllic town of Akureyri. Sometimes called 'The Danish town' due to the heavy Danish cultural influence there in the early 1900s, Akureyri is known as one of the best skiing areas in the country and the home of the northernmost botanical garden in the world.
From Akureyri airport, our local guide from the north will take you on a minibus and head east, to the Lake Mývatn area. This incredible location owes its geological importance to its location. Same as Þingvellir, it stands on the continental rift between the European and American tectonic plates.
Though the cracks are not as deep or as wide as in Þingvellir, Mývatn sports lava fields of unparalleled beauty and size. At Dimmuborgir, also called "the dark cities," the lava has formed incredible, tall sculptures that rise into the air in various forms. It is said that the Hidden People hold court in this place, and certain high rock stacks carry names such as 'The Church' or 'The Castle.'
You'll continue your excursion by visiting Námaskarð geothermal site, where hot springs of mud bubble and the earth boils. Locals have used the hot ground as a baking oven throughout time, burying dough in metal boxes to perfect the slow-bake recipe of hverabrauð – hot spring bread. Other amazing sites include the Krafla volcano site, the numerous tuff craters and small lava craters in the area, and, of course, the beautiful Mývatn lake itself.
If you'd rather head west, Snæfellsnes is the place you will visit today. Taking its name from the great glacier that stands on the edge of the peninsula (literally called 'The snowy mountain'), this place was made famous by French sci-fi author Jules Verne in his classic adventure Journey to the Centre of the Earth.
The glacier has been considered a possible entrance to hell since the Middle Ages. In Verne's book, Snæfellsnes is the gateway to a fantastic underground world eventually leading the characters to the earth's core!
Snæfellsjökull National Park holds wonderful sights: The black sands and rock formations at Djúpalónssandur offer an opportunity to test your worth on the old stones of power. In the past, young sailors had to hold up rocks that stated their strength and by that, their salary.
You'll also see the Bárðarlaug lake, where a great and mythological Jötunn, Bárður Snæfellsás, used to stay. Along the southern coastline of the peninsula, plenty of birdwatching and a seal colony await. Last but not least, snap a shot of the iconic Kirkjufell mountain.
Whichever you choose, the end of your day will be in Reykjavík, where the city once more greets you with all its options of fun.
Day 7 - Concrete vs. Jungle: Wilderness or City Slicking
This day is sure to be a hit, no matter if you are the type who feels that four days of nature is enough or the one who never wants to leave the green wilderness. Again, two choices are on the table. The first is a day in the city, getting to know the culture and culinary tastes of the locals, and the latter is a trip to one of the hidden oases in the highlands, Landmannalaugar.
If you choose to stay in town, you'll have the chance to travel around the city, enjoy the various museums and locales of interest on your own, or join a guided tour. You could take a walk with a guide through the old town, or a bus to the wider area, or opt for a more cultural approach.
Reykjavík and Icelanders in general love good food, and a food walk with a knowing guide (suitable for vegetarians/vegans and omnivores alike) is an excellent way to get into the former food-scarce mentality that later spawned a keen interest in high-quality cooking and access to great ingredients local and foreign alike. If you're more of a night owl, you might prefer an evening tour out of the local microbreweries, and the much loved School of Beer, a fun evening of learning and tasting.
Your other option is to hop on a mountain truck and take a ride up between the mighty glaciers Langjökull and Hofsjökull, to a place that has been a popular pit stop on journeys across the highlands: Landmannalaugar. This geothermal area has wondrous charm, amazing hiking paths and of course, the wild hot springs. Here you can enjoy the wilderness in its purest form, indeed Iceland at its best.
Fabulous colours fill the area where the geothermal energy has affected the chemical structure in the rocks and cliffs, giving them a weird, reddish-rainbow look. On your way to this oasis of the highlands, you will pass the crater lake Ljótipollur ('Ugly puddle' – named by some grumpy settler), and see one of Iceland's most loved active volcanoes, Hekla.
Spend your last night in the lovely capital.
Day 8 - Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow
If your flight leaves in the afternoon, you have a few options on your last morning, such as whale watching, shopping or just having a leisurely breakfast in a café by the waterfront.
An airport shuttle will pick you up at your hotel and get you safe and sound to the airport in time for your flight, so your last day will be as hassle-free as possible.
Until next time!
Accommodation in Reykjavik
See our accommodation levels below. Super Budget booking will be arranged in hostel dormitory bed accommodation. For Comfort and Quality bookings, single person bookings will be arranged in a single room, while bookings of 2 or more people will share twin/double room(s) or triple room(s). If you are travelling in a group, but prefer a single room, please make separate bookings. For multi-day guided tours, accommodation cannot be upgraded and the levels below do not apply. We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs.
Rooms or dormitory beds with shared bathrooms in guesthouses or hostels, such as HI Hostels. Located in the capital region. Breakfast is not included.
Rooms with a private bathroom at three-star hotels such as Fosshótel Barón, or quality guesthouses. Located in the city center or in close vicinity. Breakfast is included.
This insurance guarantees that you can cancel the booking of this package and receive a full refund, minus the insurance cost of 5,000 ISK per person. The cancellation must be made within a minimum of 48-hours before the listed starting time. To cancel your booking and claim your refund, simply contact our service desk by writing to email@example.com no later than 48-hours before departure and declare the cancellation. Please note that this insurance only covers the full cancellation of this entire package. It does not cover cancellations of individual activities and services within the package. The cost of the Cancellation Insurance is neither refundable nor transferable.
Summer 2017: -Absolutely one of the best trips ever! Guide to Iceland made it very easy to plan this trip and once I was there everything was set up and ready to go. The hotels were clean and centrally located to everything. The bus pick up was easy, every driver knew my name and called me and got me to where I needed to be on time. Each planned excursion was exciting and well planned out by the tour guides. -The top highlights of my solo trip include: 1. Snowmobiling on a glacier with Mountaineers of Iceland - "a must do" 2. Hiking on a glacier 3. Going inside a volcano (note: there is about a forty-five walk through a lava field just to get to the volcano from the parking lot, which is great when it is nice outside). 4. Hiking the rim of another volcano to see the colorful oozing looking rocks 5. The waterfalls 6. The boiling geysers 7. The tiny, quiet city of Reykjavík 8. ATV tour (I booked that at my hotel, it was a lot of fun.) 9. My fun tour guides 10. All the people from around the world I met traveling through Iceland 11. The locals who make it fun and like talking to tourists (I just sat in the park and spoke with a few on a nice day). 12. The cool black volcanic beaches 13. The glacier lagoon (Golden Circle Tour) 14. Blue lagoon (wow). It is not cheap, but for good reason. You get what you pay for and it like nothing you have ever seen before on this planet (note: I got a crazy sunburn from the lagoon, so be careful in summer). 15. Hiking in the national parks and seeing the divide between Europe and North America. 16. Seeing where Game of Thrones and J.B. film the show/video. 17. Great pick up and drop off right from my hotel, or just down the street. 18. If you do have leftover time in the city, take a walk to a geothermal city pool. It is a good way to spend a few hours, and it is not expensive. 19. Eight days was the perfect amount of time to see the highlights of Iceland. --Suggestion/observations: 1. Save money on food by going to the "Bonus" grocery store. Also, take a short walk out of the highly touristy areas, the farther you walk, the lower the prices. The complimentary hotel breakfasts are great, so eat up each morning. 2. Reykjavík won't take more than one day to explore so plan an excursion for each day. Most excursions end around 6 pm so you will have plenty of time to see the city. 3. Reykjavík is flat and very walkable. You won't need to hire a cab (or drive a rental) to get around. There are no highways to walk across in the country and being a pedestrian is the way to safely go. 4. Great water resistant shoes are highly recommended for every excursion. You don't need winter jackets or snow pants in the summer. Just a warm sweater and a warm rain jacket will suffice. 5. Alcohol is expensive, so don't plan to spend too much time at the bar. 6. It is fun to go with a group of friends, but you can also safely do this trip solo without any problem. You meet nice people, of many different ages, from around the world each day and the tour guides love talking with everyone.
Although the 8-Day tour we originally signed up for was discovered to be not available due to website error, the Guide to Iceland staff worked tirelessly to ensure we had comparable substitute daily packages that highlighted a majority of the original package. The tour operators for each daily tour were also great in ensuring we had the best experience possible. We will definitely use Guide To Iceland for future visits!
Hang Yin Lee
The content of the 8-Day tour is really rich and good. It would be better if the transport to domestic airport for visiting Akureyri was included. The staff of Guide to Iceland is helpful in answering questions.