Discover 10 adventure-filled summer days of authentic travel—our ultimate 10-day Iceland itinerary is sure to cater to your highest expectations. In addition to guiding you to incredible landscapes and secret natural gems, this well-thought-out selection of Iceland's must-see attractions covers the Ring Road and more. Read on to explore the best 10-day Iceland itinerary.
Many travelers wonder how much time they need in Iceland. We believe 10 days is optimal to take in a range of incredible attractions and activities.
Other Considerations for This 10 day Iceland Trip Itinerary
Mode of Transport for Your 10 day Iceland Travel Itinerary
Iceland has no railway system, and although the Icelandic bus system is relatively accessible and straightforward, trips are both expensive and infrequent.
When traversing the country, therefore, we recommend that you rent a car, as it allows you to control your own pace and explore hidden paths and less-used roads where you are sure to discover many secrets.
With the speed limit set at a modest 56 miles per hour (90 kilometers per hour), Iceland's quiet highways provide ideal road trip conditions where you have ample opportunities to marvel at the breathtaking scenery.
And remember that if you do not have the necessary means of driving by yourself, you always have the option of going on a Guided Ring Road of Iceland Tour.
With your sights set on central Reykjavik, where you have booked your accommodation, pick up your car at the Keflavik International Airport. First, drive through the lunar vistas that make up the Reykjanes Peninsula. Here you can immerse yourself in Iceland's spectacular landscapes, spontaneously discovered by simply looking out your car window.
Over 70 percent of the people who visit Iceland make their way to the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, making it Iceland's single most popular attraction, and with good reason. Named in 2012 as one of National Geographic's "25 Wonders of the World," this outdoor spa is in the middle of a rugged black lava field in Grindavik. The Blue Lagoon, located 13.4 miles (21.6 kilometers) from Keflavík Airport, has warm milky-blue water and supposed extraordinary healing powers.
Should you arrive in Iceland early in the morning, a visit to the Blue Lagoon would be an ideal choice for the day. The journey ahead will provide you with ample opportunities to bathe in many of Iceland's magnificent natural and artificial pools. You could also visit the Blue Lagoon on your last day or skip it altogether.
When you have checked into your accommodation, take advantage of the closeness to Reykjavik's thriving city center. You can discover a multitude of shops, museums, restaurants, and cafes and explore the old harbor district of Grandi. It recently transformed into a vibrant arts venue filled with workshops, restaurants, and galleries.
Just make sure that you save some energy for the journey ahead.
Start the second day of your 10-day Iceland itinerary by driving 12.4 miles (20 kilometers) east of Reykjavik into the Blafjoll Country Park. Spend the late morning and early afternoon exploring what is widely considered the most magnificent natural phenomenon of its kind, the empty magma chamber of the Thrihnukagigur volcano.
After a 1.8-mile (3-kilometer) hike through Blafjoll's volcanic wonderland, an open cable car will take you through a narrow, funnel-shaped opening and slowly lower you 393 feet (120 meters) into the enormous Thrihnukagigur magma chamber.
A Thrihnukagigur volcano tour is an excursion into the cold heart of a dormant volcano, where orange and scarlet walls tell stories of ancient cataclysms and terrible destruction.
Hot water perpetually pours from the Reykjadalur's surrounding hills, forming a warm stream at the bottom of the valley, where you can bathe and unwind while enjoying the mesmerizing scenery.
If you are thirsty for a more daring approach, a guided horseback tour takes you further into the mountains above Hveragerdi. Here you will discover mighty lava fields and geothermal hot spots of bubbling mud pools, solfataras, and fumaroles. At the same time, you will enjoy riding the pony-sized Icelandic horse.
The third day of your 10-day Iceland road trip takes you further east, across the southern lowlands where Seljalandsfoss, one of Iceland's highest waterfalls, awaits you by the highway.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall drops over 197 feet (60 meters) over a misty cavern where you can walk behind the cascade. Experience its mystical force from the point of view rarely granted by mother nature.
Since 1923, the pool has collected the lukewarm water that steadily seeps from the hills. You are free to bathe in this stunning example of organic architecture to this day.
Six miles (10 kilometers) east of Seljavellir, the mighty Skogafoss waterfall, one of Iceland's most significant, plummets 197 feet (60 meters) from the towering cliffs that make up the border between the coastal lowlands and the Icelandic Highlands.
After accosting this mighty aqueous guardian of the south, you would do well to visit the Skogar Folk Museum, whose six buildings display more than 15,000 regional folk craft artifacts.
Spend the late afternoon exploring Reynisfjara beach, one of the world's most beautiful black sand beaches.
Perpetually hammered by the ruthless North Atlantic surf, Reynisfjara has titanic rock formations and hexagonal basalt columns that make up an enormous cliff face on which strange dark caves gape towards the open sea.
Please be advised that strong undercurrents, heavy surf, and cold water temperatures make entering the sea extremely dangerous, and one should not do so under any circumstances.
Photo by Regina Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir
After exploring Reynisfjara, you head east towards Kirkjubaejarklaustur town, where you will lay your head for the night.
The bright summer evening provides the perfect conditions for exploring the Systrafoss waterfall and the magnificent Systrastapi (Sister's Rock). This strange rock hill towers from the southern lowlands, 0.8 miles (1.3 kilometers) from the village.
On the fourth day of this epic 10-day Iceland Ring Road itinerary, enjoy the journey into Skaftafell nature reserve. This incredible landscape covers over 2,982 square miles (4,800 square kilometers) of utterly surreal wildlands. Black desert sands meet a birchwood oasis under a spur of the Vatnajokull ice cap.
Skaftafell is famed for its warm summer climate, and locals offer excellent services, including guided glacier hiking and ice climbing tours, transportation, food, and accommodation. From Skaftafell's visitor center and campsite, many hiking trails will take you into dreamlike realms of mesmerizing beauty.
On Fossaleid (Trail of Falls ), Hundafoss waterfall will be the first and highest of a set of cascades on the path to the majestic Svartifoss (Black Falls) waterfall. It tumbles from a tall row of black basalt columns in a forest clearing, like a reality gap.
Thirty-four miles (54.7 kilometers) east of the campsite, you will find one of Iceland's most treasured masterpieces of nature, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
Jokulsarlon is a glacier lagoon in which you can join countless seals traveling amongst the towering mountains of ice that have broken off from the Breidamerkurjokull glacier in the north.
For decades, Jokulsarlon tours have attracted large crowds worldwide, and to this day, they remain one of Iceland's most popular tourist activities.
But when the titanic icebergs of Jokulsarlon have melted to the size of a mere cubic meter, the Jokulsa a Breidamerkursandi glacial river ferries them south into the sea. Here, the waves polish them into table-sized blocks of ice that eventually wash onto the obsidian sands called Diamond Beach.
Diamond Beach is where 1,000-year-old glacier fragments slowly fade into unity with the significant drop of water called the Atlantic Ocean.
Spend the rest of your day here before heading back to Skaftafell for a well-deserved good night's sleep under a glacier bathed in the scarlet rays of the midnight sun.
On day five of your 10-day trip to Iceland, you set your sights on the small township of Egilsstadir, the largest settlement in the Eastern Region, where folklore and science have waged a fierce battle for centuries.
Lagarfljot, Iceland's third-largest river, splits the unofficial Eastern capital. It is allegedly home to the Icelandic equivalent of the Loch Ness Monster, the serpentine creature known as Lagarfljotsormurinn.
Documented sightings of the great worm of Lagarfljot first occurred in 1345 and continued well into the 21st century. Still, it wasn't until 2012 that a video recording finally provided the irrefutable evidence that ultimately proved the creature's existence.
And within the blink of an eye, legend had become fact.
Before you have the possibility of chancing upon a close encounter with the Lagarfljot Worm, enjoy the three-hour morning drive towards Egilsstadir. Your reward is crowd-free vistas of windswept mountains, picturesque villages, and an array of waterfalls so stunning that they are even said to rival their southern counterparts.
The dramatic east coast has long fjords with steep sides and jagged glacier-forged peaks. The fjords contrast with fertile farmlands, blooming meadows, and green groves.
Fifteen miles (25 kilometers) south of Egilsstadir, the Hallormsstadaskogur National Forest covers over 740 hectares (7.4 square kilometers) of varied landscapes, making it the largest forest in Iceland.
Forests are a rare phenomenon in Iceland, and before you reach Egilsstadir, a visit to the forest would be well worth your while. Hallormsstadarskogur boasts over 24.8 miles (40 kilometers) of footpaths and marked trails, two fully-equipped campsites, and boat and horse rentals.
Day six of your 10-day Iceland road trip takes you 118 miles (190 kilometers) northwest of Egilsstadir and into the mystical horseshoe-shaped Asbyrgi canyon (The Shelter of Gods). According to numerous local sources, their steep sides are towering cliffs that are the principal dwellings of the hidden Icelandic people (Huldufolk).
The grand canyon measures 2.1 miles (3.5 kilometers) in length and 0.6 miles (1 kilometer) across. It is divided by a distinctive 82-foot (25-meter) high rock formation called Eyjan (the Island). On top, you may enjoy sweeping views of the whole horizon while fellow travelers carefully navigate the many footpaths of the densely forested floor below.
Photo by Regína Hrönn Ragnarsdóttir
One of those paths is a stone-stepped trail that leads to the crystal clear and still Botnstjorn pond. This small body of water is all that remains of a nameless waterfall, which in primordial times fell roaring from the cliffs above.
Today, Botnstjorn has a viewing platform that allows for a peaceful moment where you can pay a silent tribute to the aquatic spirit that once was the master of this realm.
Legend claims that Asbyrgi formed when Odin's eight-footed horse, Sleipnir, graced the earth with a touch of one of its hooves. Most geologists, however, maintain that catastrophic ice-age flooding of the Jokulsa a Fjollum glacial river brought Asbyrgi into existence.
Spend the day in Asbyrgi's soft but rocky embrace and secure a night of sweet dreams by remembering to pay your respects to the hidden people in the cliffs above you.
From Asbyrgi, head northeast inland and onward to Lake Myvatn, 55.7 miles (89.7 kilometers) away. Here you will traverse ethereal landscapes formed in a cataclysmic volcanic explosion more than 2,000 years ago.
Myvatn is one of Iceland's largest lakes, famed for its multiple bird communities, vibrant plant life, and the many natural wonders surrounding the lake itself. These include the bubbling sulfuric mud pools of the Namaskard pass, the enormous tuff ring volcano crater of Hverfjall, and the massive Krafla volcanic caldera. Krafla is fiercely active and last erupted in 1984.
You will find one of Iceland's most precious natural marvels, the Dimmuborgir (Dark Cities) lava fields east of the lake.
Legend has it that Dimmuborgir came into existence when Lucifer was banished and cast from the heavens. Upon landing east of Myvatn, the fallen angel quickly amassed an infernal hoard of lost souls and established the Catacombs of Hell, much to the dislike of the local light elves.
There was chaos and confusion. Demons fought light beings under a burning sky. Still, eventually, the elves drove Satan's army far into the nether regions before turning the unusually shaped lava fields into a cross-dimensional elven capital of their own.
Stories like this may come across as nonsensical at first. Still, when you consider the area's incredible geothermal potency, Myvatn's mythological association with fire, brimstone, and burning underworlds becomes quite understandable.
Around the lake, you are more than likely to happen upon numerous caves filled with hot water, many of which rank amongst the world's most magnificent natural baths.
But since small earthquakes regularly alter the area's geothermal conditions—sometimes raising water temperatures to extreme and even life-threatening levels—you should always connect with locals before bathing in the caves.
Because of the multiple species of whale that flock to their feeding grounds in the waters of Skjalfandi bay, Husavik is the very best whale watching harbor in Iceland, with local operators boasting an unmatched 99 percent success rate.
On a Husavik traditional whale watching tour, you are more than likely to encounter the white-beaked dolphin, the harbor porpoise, and even the titanic blue whale. However, the gentle minke whale is by far the most commonly sighted animal, its curious nature often allowing visitors to watch it from a very short distance.
From Husavik, a 56-mile (90-kilometer) drive takes you west to Akureyri, the largest town in Iceland outside of the capital area, with a population of 20,000.
Although Akureyri lies only 62 miles (100 kilometers) below the arctic circle, the town greets you with mild, pleasant weather and an easy-going atmosphere.
Akureyri has started to rival Reykjavik as Iceland's go-to cultural hot spot. Before you rest for the night, spend the late afternoon and evening exploring the town's many attractions, including an abundance of cafes, restaurants, and museums.
On the second to last day of your 10-day Iceland road trip, start your day early and drive to the old pastoral hamlet of Husafell, 196 miles (316 kilometers) from Akureyri.
Set in dense birchwood forests between two glaciers, this ever-popular outdoor activity center makes for an ideal place to spend a day of easy hiking and sightseeing.
Excellent footpaths and hiking trails lead into the beautiful Husafellsskogur forest, towards the Ok and Eiriksjokull glaciers, and onto the vast Hallmundarhraun lava field. The lava field is home to numerous caves, including Surtshellir and the enormous Vidgelmir.
Vidgelmir cave is 0.9 miles (1.5 kilometers) long, with gigantic domes reaching astonishing heights of over 49 feet (15 meters). These measurements make it the most extensive cave of its kind in Iceland and one of the largest lava caves in the world.
Although Vidgelmir's sheer size is spectacular to behold, the cave's true uniqueness lies not in its enormity but its beautiful vibrant colors. They come to life in numerous locations, where a lights system ensures that visitors thoroughly enjoy their underground adventure.
Just over 9 miles (15 kilometers) southwest of Vidgelmir, you will find another natural marvel, the Hraunfossar waterfalls flowing into the Hvita River.
Do not miss Hraunfossar waterfalls, ranked among Iceland's most magnificent waterfalls. They are only a short drive from Husafell's service center. Husafell has a small grocery store, a filling station, a swimming pool, and an information booth where you can book cottages, reserve space on the campground, or book a room for the night in the local Hotel.
On the very last day of your 10-day Iceland road trip itinerary, you will travel 119 miles (192 kilometers) southwest of Husafell onto the ultra-volcanic Reykjanes Peninsula. Marvel at the massive ridge of black and red lava fields where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates drift apart.
Around every turn, you will stumble upon superb examples of Iceland's volcanic nature, such as the steaming Kleifarvatn lake and the vibrant Gunnuhver and Seltun geothermal fields with bubbling mud pools and steaming fumaroles.
In Sandvik, a footbridge overarches a small canyon on the peninsula's southern point. Here, you can walk between the two separating continents.
It is easy to lose track of time and space in Reykjanes' volcanic landscape, so make sure to save a moment for the Blue Lagoon, should you not have gone there on your first day.
The steamy world of black rock and milky-blue water makes for the perfect finish to your visit to Iceland. In the misty lake, you are bound to soak away all of your tension and prepare your body for the journey back home.