Best 5-day Itinerary in Iceland
Join this incredible 5-day self-drive tour of Iceland to experience the very best of the country. On this trip, you'll visit the world-famous Golden Circle, the wonders of Iceland's South Coast, and the magnificent Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This self-drive tour is perfect for those who want to focus their time exploring the very best spots in Iceland.
On this self-drive tour, you'll journey through Iceland's best attractions with the option to include a selection of once-in-a-lifetime experiences to make your trip extra special. You'll explore all the sites of the Golden Circle and the wondrous South Coast with plenty of time at each. You'll witness mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, black sand beaches, lava fields, rolling hills, an iceberg lagoon, and countless awe-inspiring waterfalls, presenting you with numerous snaps and memories to match.
Add some extra excitement to your trip by adding some of our recommended selection of optional extras along your journey. These include snorkeling in the crystal clear waters between two continents at Silfra fissure, snowmobile on top of one of Iceland's incredible glaciers, a horse riding tour along Iceland's rugged terrains, a boat trip amongst the icebergs, or a visit to a natural blue ice cave under Europe's largest glacier, Vatnajokull.
There's plenty to see and do on this self-drive tour, and what's more, you have complete control of where you go and how long you spend at each attraction. No need to worry about other tour groups and guides. With a self-drive tour, you can take the journey at your own pace. We'll provide you with a custom itinerary to highlight all the best attractions as well as the lesser-known hidden gems to take you away from the tourist crowds.
So don't hesitate and book this 5-day self-drive today and get ready for an incredible exploration of Iceland. Check availability by choosing a date and book your Iceland adventure.
Day 1 - Arrival and the Blue Lagoon
Welcome to Iceland! It's time to start your journey around this volcanic island's incredibly diverse natural wonders.
You'll start by picking up your rental car from Keflavik International Airport after you land. As soon as you load up, grab the keys and hit the road!
To reach Reykjavik, you'll take the short 40-minute drive through the charred and blackened lava fields of the Reykjanes peninsula.
On your way to Reykjavik, you could opt to take a detour with a dip at the Blue Lagoon. This is often seen as the perfect way to start your trip to Iceland by relaxing and rejuvenating in the mineral-rich healing waters of the lagoon after a long day of traveling. Situated in the midst of a volcanic landscape, this amazing attraction is well worth a visit.
If you choose to add the Blue Lagoon on this day of your visit, it will be booked for a time based on your flights. However, if there's no time to visit on this day, you can simply add this to another day of your visit. Your travel consultant will be able to arrange this for you.
Afterward, you'll head straight for the capital city of Reykjavik to check in to your accommodation and freshen up before heading out into the city. Once you're ready, and if you have enough time, make sure you check out some of the best attractions, such as Hallgrimskirkja church, Perlan observation deck, and Reykjavik Harbor. Make sure also to save some time walking around the city center streets to explore the vibrant and bustling cafes, restaurants, galleries, museums, and the numerous boutique shops dotted around.
You'll then retire for the evening in your Reykjavik accommodation, with plenty of rest for your next day of sightseeing.
Day 2 - The Must-see Golden Circle
Your first full day in Iceland will take you to explore the most famous sightseeing trail in the country, the Golden Circle.
Your first stop on this route will take you to the UNESCO world heritage site of Thingvellir National Park. Sitting in the middle of 2 tectonic plates, Thingvellir is a beautiful and diverse location of canyons, forestry, numerous waterfalls, and the largest natural lake in Iceland, Thingvallavatn. You'll find plenty of intrigues here, whether it's the history of the world's first parliament (Althingi in 930 AD), the rich geological imprints on the terrain, or the cultural impacts.
Joining a snorkeling tour here will allow you to take advantage of a truly once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Nearby, the immaculate crystal clear waters of the Silfra fissure will enable you to snorkel directly in this otherworldly void between 2 continents. The waters are so clear that guests frequently recount the ability to see nearly 328 ft (100 m) in front of them at any part in the fissure.
Your next stop is the strange and delightful Geysir geothermal area. Known for their variety of steaming vents, bubbling hot pots, and spouting geyser, these natural hot springs are a must for travelers to Iceland. You'll find most visitors surrounding the powerful hot spring named Strokkur, which will erupt boiling water up to nearly 40m every 5-10 minutes, giving you plenty of time to get the perfect shot.
Your last stop of the Golden Circle will take you to the incredibly powerful Gullfoss waterfall. This gigantic waterfall is fed by the meltwater of the nearby glacier Langjokull down the Hvita River before plummeting 105 ft (32m) over two cascading steps into the deep cavern below. The sheer magnitude and sound of the falls will stimulate your senses, and if you're lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of a rainbow protruding down through the mist at the top of the waterfall.
If you're keen on taking an opportunity to try your hand at snowmobiling, you can join a tour from the Gullfoss visitor center. Once your guide has kitted you up and given a safety briefing, you'll head straight for the top of the nearby Langjokull glacier. Once at the top, you'll zoom across the snowy tundra, gazing around at the magnificent mountain peaks surrounding you.
However, if neither snorkeling nor snowmobiling appeals to you, you can instead take the chance to join a horse riding tour through the rugged terrains of part of the Golden Circle. This will also give you the added benefit of getting up close and personal to the charismatic and stylish Icelandic horse.
After your day of adventure, you'll rest up for the night in your accommodation at the nearby town of Selfoss.
Day 3 - South Coast
Your journey now takes you eastwards across the wondrous South Coast of Iceland.
You will pass by the towering waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss (both 187 ft / 60 m tall) before heading on to the glacier outlet Solheimajokull, where you'll have the opportunity to join a glacier hike. If you choose to, you'll notice the darkened tinge this glacier outlet has on your ascent, which is the resultant ash from the 2010 volcanic eruption of Eyjafjallajokull. On top of the glacier will give you some of the most impressive views of Iceland in panoramic fashion. You can even take the chance to fill up your water bottle and taste some of the world's purest waters.
Alternatively, if a glacier hike doesn't appeal to you, you can instead choose an adrenaline-pumping snowmobiling tour on top of the Myrdalsjokull glacier. The glacier sits on top of the largest volcano in Iceland, Katla.
Just before the village of Vik, you'll stop off at the famous Reynisfjara black sand beach. This volcanic setting is blessed with the picturesque basalt sea stacks of Reynisdrangar and some large darkened caverns dotted along the shoreline, making it a great yet eerie place to visit. Make sure to keep your distance from the powerful waves that could suddenly sweep under your feet.
The next highlight is the Skaftafell nature reserve, which sits by the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajokull. Skaftafell, which is now part of the Vatnajokull National Park, hosts many beautiful hiking trails varying in their difficulty level. One of the better-known trails will take you to the unique Svartifoss waterfall (3.1 miles / 5 km hike), hidden in a canyon and renowned for the volcanic hexagonal basalt columns it pours through.
After leaving Skaftafell, you'll head straight for what has become known as the crown jewel of Iceland, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. As the largest and deepest lagoon in Iceland, this is the best setting to watch gargantuan icebergs break from the glacier tongue of Breidamerkurjokull and head out to sea. This surreal experience is further enhanced by visiting the spectacular glistening Diamond Beach on the other side of the road, where the icebergs wash up onshore and melt in the sunlight hours.
You'll retire for the evening at your accommodation in the incredibly beautiful region of the Vatnajokull National Park area.
Day 4 - Glaciers and Canyons
Start the day by spending some extra time at Jokulsarlon to watch this incredible act of nature.
We also highly recommend joining a boat ride on your stop if you are visiting during the summer months. You have two main options - take a larger amphibian boat out into the lagoon, which will take you gliding through the pristine blue icebergs floating in the lagoon. Alternatively, if you prefer something more adventurous, try a smaller zodiac vessel where you'll get to speed between the glaciers and get much closer to the icebergs. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for seals that frequently sun themselves on top of the ice.
On your way back to Reykjavik, you can take the opportunity to stop off anywhere you missed on the previous day.
We highly recommend visiting the spectacular Fjadrargljufur canyon near the village of Klaustur. Now better known for its feature in the hit HBO show, Game of Thrones, this deep canyon provides a beautiful hike along its cliffs, offering ample amazing photo opportunities.
We'd also recommend visiting the small lighthouse at the top of Dyrholaey, around a 10-minute drive from Reynisfjara black sand beach. If you're arriving in the summer months, this is one of Iceland's best places to spot puffins that nest in the cliff edges.
A final recommendation worth checking out is the Seljavallalaug pool, hidden in between a mountain and the volcano Eyjafjallajokull just past the village of Skogar. If you're brave enough to take a dip in the waters here, make sure you stay close to the south end of the pool, which is where the geothermal water pipe pumps through the warm water.
Once you're back in Reykjavik, take your time to check out any of the landmarks you may have missed on your previous visit. We recommend Harpa Concert Hall, City Hall, some of the city's beautiful parks, and some late-open museums.
However, if you're more interested in the nightlife scene, take the opportunity to embrace the culture of some of the hustling and bustling pubs and bars in the city center, and make sure to try some of the local beers.
You'll then rest for the night in your Reykjavik accommodation.
Day 5 - Departure Day
It's your last day in Iceland! We hope you've had a blast exploring some of the most incredible sights and sounds of our shores. If you're keen enough to extend your trip, feel free to get in contact, and we can arrange that for you.
If you have a later flight, you could use your time to take a dip in the Blue Lagoon if you weren't able to on your first day. This is the perfect way to unwind and relax after a long trip of adventure. Relax in the warm azure waters and reminisce on your great time in Iceland.
Alternatively, if you prefer, you could use the time to spend in Reykjavik and complete some last-minute souvenir shopping and sightseeing.
If, however, you have an earlier flight, we wish you a safe journey back home and look forward to welcoming you back in the future.
What to bring
Good to know
Self-drive tours begin either in Reykjavík City or at Keflavik International Airport. A valid driver's license is required, along with a one-year-long on-road experience. Please be aware that your itinerary may be rearranged to better fit with your arrival date and time.
Some optional activities might require you to have a valid driver's license, or you might need to send additional information to your travel planner. Please note that you might need to present medical documents should you choose to go snorkeling.
Although it is summertime, the Icelandic weather can be very unpredictable. Please bring appropriate clothing.
See our accommodation levels below and our preferred accommodation partners under each day in the daily itinerary.
Bookings for one person will be arranged in single rooms, and bookings for two or more people will share a twin/double or triple room(s).
Teenagers and children will be arranged in the same room with parents. If additional room(s) is needed, additional costs will incur.
Guide to Iceland will provide you with the best available accommodation at the time of your booking from our preferred partners. Please keep in mind that hotel quality in Iceland varies among locations and availability is highly limited. If our preferred partners are fully booked at the time of your booking, we will find another suitable accommodation for you of similar level.
Please note that not all locations offer quality level accommodation. Comfort level accommodation will be arranged at those particular locations, which is reflected in the quality level upgrade price.
We always do our best to accommodate special requests, which may incur additional costs. Press choose a date to find availability.
Rooms with a private bathroom in three star hotels or quality guesthouses. Very close to the best attractions at each location. Breakfast is included.
Rooms with a private bathroom in a four star hotel or superior rooms in a quality three star hotel at the best locations in Iceland. Breakfast is included.
Below you can see the car rental options available for this self-drive tour.
All our vehicles are new or current models, of maximum 2 years of age. Super Budget levels come with standard CDW insurance, while all other levels also include Gravel Protection (GP), and Super Collision Damage Waiver (SCDW) insurances. Please note that off-road driving is illegal for all types of cars.
All levels come equipped with a GPS and free Wi-fi. You can enjoy unlimited data with the Wi-Fi device, which can be connected to up to 10 devices at once. The car rental will provide 24-hour roadside emergency services.
Age requirement for each level can be found below. For all levels, the driver must possess a valid driving license for at least one year before the date of the rental.
We recommend Budget 4X4 level for summer driving and Comfort 4X4 for winter driving.
A small 2WD vehicle such as Toyota Aygo or similar, fit for basic travelling in everyday conditions. Compact and comfortable for up to 2 travellers with very little luggage. No highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A basic 2WD vehicle, such as a Toyota Yaris or similar, suitable for travelling in everyday conditions. Comfortable for 3 travellers with light luggage. This vehicle does not have highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A basic 4WD (4X4) jeep or SUV such as a Dacia Duster or similar. Comfortably fit up to 3 travellers with 2 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and decent for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 20 years of age or above.
A medium-sized 4WD (4x4) jeep or SUV such as a Toyota Rav4 (automatic) and Suzuki Vitara (manual), or similar. Comfortably fit up to 4 travelers with 3 large pieces of luggage. Fit for most travel and good for snow and off-asphalt driving. Has basic highland capabilities. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.
A large 4WD jeep such as a Toyota Land Cruiser or similar. Comfortable for up to 4 travellers with 4 large pieces of luggage. Fit for nearly all travelling. Has full highland capabilities to drive on accessible mountain roads. The driver must be of 21 years of age or above.
A large 9-seater van such as a Mercedes Benz Vito (4WD manual, has highland capabilities and better suited for winter driving), or similar. Comfortable for 5 to 7 travelers. If seated full, luggage space is limited. The driver must be of 23 years of age or above.