Black Church, Iceland

Iceland Itinerary

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So you’re going to Iceland and you want to plan your own trip. But WHERE in the world do you START? I will give you a 6 day Iceland Itinerary. This hits the main southern “Ring Road” popular stopping points, including Snæfellsjökull Penninsula. If you have more time, you can spend a little more time in whichever places you choose. I will also note that below. You can feel free to add in whatever other options you might want that we may have missed.

We spent many hours planning our Iceland trip, then I realized I actually had to re-organize the trip due to a minor issue. This issue was that you cannot go into the Ice Caves past a certain date. Long story short, March 31st was the last day due to safety reasons and the ice caves melting and/or flooding for the upcoming summer season. On that note, Iceland is VERY unpredictable. Be sure to leave extra time for activities and in case you get stuck in some inclement weather. We saw many cars flipped over and off the road in ditches. So be super careful if you are driving.

Because of this little incident, we planned our trip to start from the Airport in Rejakavik, and drive towards Jökulsárlón. This would enable us to go on the tour first thing the next morning and still hit up a few stops along our journey.

Day 1

Arrive in Iceland Early AM

Pick up Rental Car if getting one, if not, have transportation pre-booked. There is a shuttle bus that takes you to and from the rental cars.

Blue Lagoon

Drive time: 20-minute from the airport

We highly suggest pre-booking tickets and going early. You can buy the day of if they have tickets still available, but I wouldn’t risk it. We love Viator and have a few options for booking your tickets. If you are renting a car, you only need the ticket. If you are not renting a car, you can book a shuttle service that picks you up at the airport then drops you off at Reykjavík. Note: Self-driving is much easier and more flexible than a bus service.

Blue Lagoon

Bonus Grocery Store

Drive Time: about 1 hour from Blue Lagoon

Hearing that Iceland was expensive, we planned to stop at Bonus, which is a cheap grocery store there. Unfortunately for us, it was closed due to Easter Weekend. Be sure to check the hours if you go. We eventually found another store along our journey (but later on in the journey) to buy PB&J and bananas and bread. We lived off of this a lot as the food was EXPENSIVE. I would stop here though as it is along the route and you can stock up earlier than we did!

  • SKYR Yogurt is big in Iceland and a must-try.

Kerið Crater

Drive Time: 15 minutes from Bonus

Kerid volcano and crater in the Golden Circle in southeast Iceland, featuring a lake and a beautiful hiking trail around both top and bottom of crater
Kerið Crater

Kerið volcano and Crater is an Active Volcano Lake in the “Golden Circle” sightseeing route. There is a small fee you pay upon entrance when traveling by car. When we first got to Iceland, there was NO SNOW. But that all changed in a day or two. There is a beautiful hiking trail around both the top and bottom of the crater.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Drive Time: 1 hour from Kerið

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is most famous for the waterfall that you can walk behind the falls on a ledge. Note that you will get wet. It was pretty cold when we went so we did not want to get wet. Dave got kind of close but did not actually walk behind the falls as we had a long day ahead and wet clothes would not be fun!

Skógafoss Waterfall

Skógafoss Waterfall

Drive Time: 30 min from Seljalandsfoss

This waterfall is unique as it is a combination of water coming from two different glaciers- Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull. Another cool thing about this spot was you could actually walk up to the top and have a view looking down from the waterfall. The view from the top was stunning.

Couple standing at the top of a waterfall with beautiful mountains in the background
Skógafoss Waterfall from the top

Sólheimasandur (Famous plane crash)

Drive Time: 12 min from Skógafoss

This is a FAR walk. I think it was like 2 miles. We really love airplanes and thought this was a really easy and cool hike. Some people I know have said it wasn’t worth it and would skip it. Totally your call but to get there, it is basically just as you are driving along the road from Skógafoss Waterfall, and you will come upon a small gravel parking lot kind of. It is located on the right-hand side of the road (the south side). There is also a fence with a big iron chain across it that is basically blocking cars from driving down the path.

Park your car then walk through the gate. You will basically walk forever and think the plane will never show up, then you will suddenly start to see it in the faint distance. I didn’t really know what to expect, but we thought it was really cool and I would do it again.

Sólheimasandur plane crash in Iceland on a black beach. Couple stands on top of it.

Note: This is also where Justin Bieber filmed one of his music videos.

Hotel: Fosshotel Nupar

Drive Time: 1.5 hours from Plane Wreck

This hotel was the closest hotel we could find at the time. They also offered breakfast which was great. The room was absolutely beautiful. We loved staying at the Fosshotel brands over our trip.

Total driving for Day 1: About 5 hours

Day 2:

Local Guide of Vatnajökull (Ice Cave)

Drive Time: 50 minutes from Fosshotel Nupar

We originally booked a 6-8 hour tour, but unfortunately, they had to cancel it as it was unsafe. Instead, we got to do the 3-4 hour tour which was pretty awesome! You can see below the cave was dirt in some spots but water/ice in others. There were a few ‘areas’ we walked through and could see all of the colors of light reflecting off of the ice.

Ice Caves

Jökulsárlón- Diamond Beach!

Drive Time: 25 minutes from Ice Caves

This is a really unique beach. Diamond beach got is name as it is constantly changing with large glacier chunks that break off and float back to sea. Many of the glacier chunks ‘land’ on the beach and settle for a while to look like all different sizes of ‘diamonds’ shimmering in the sun.

Time Lapse of Diamond Beach

Skaftafell National Park

Drive Time: 45 minutes

This hiking spot had easy paths you could walk along on a slowly inclining mountain. It took about 30-40 minutes of walking to get to the top. There were a few stops along the route, but the Svartifoss Waterfalls were the main attraction. Svartifoss waterfalls tumble over black basalt columns which makes for a really unique background.

Hotel: Fosshotel Nupar

Drive Time: 35 minutes from Svartifoss waterfall

Fosshotel was a good in-between place from Vik and Jökulsárlón. We really enjoyed it, and they had a HUGE breakfast buffet each morning. The food was delicious.

Day 3


Drive Time: 2 hours from Fosshotel Nupar

Iceland’s southernmost town. Vik is a base for the beautiful Basalt Beach Reynisfjara, puffin cliffs, the roky plateau Dyrhólaey (lighthouse), volcanoes, black sands and cliffs that glow green from all the rain. All of these locations were within a 10-20 minute driving distance from each other.

Dyrhólaey Lighthouse
Dyrhólaey Lighthouse

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Reynisfjara is a world-famous black-sand beach found on the South Coast of Iceland. They are mostly known for enormous basalt stacks, roaring Atlantic waves, and stunning panoramas.

This is a MUST stop. It is incredible.

According to Guide to Iceland, “Reynisfjara is widely considered to be the most beautiful example of Iceland’s black sand beaches.” So much so in fact, National Geographic voted Reynisfjara as one of the Top 10 non-tropical beaches to visit on the planet.

The few things to note though are BE CAREFUL of the “sneaker waves.” Iceland is famous for these as the waves just ‘sneak’ up on you and can suck you into the sea quickly. Be sure to get some poses on these cool columns though!


Located right down the beach from Reysnisfjara, Reynisdrangur is the famous cluster of sea stacks which rise from the ocean at the end of the black sand beach. Bracing walk up from Vik’s western end takes you to the top of Reynisfjall ridge, offering superb views.

Great food place to try

Sudur Vik

This place was sooo good. We had pizza and split this delicious fried cheese and jam appetizer. Someone else recommended it to us and we were so happy with it. I would suggest making a reservation as it was packed.

Hotel: Farmhouse Lodge

This hotel was actually super cute as we were based on a farm. The place was very friendly and helpful with any suggestions or recommendations. I definitely recommend this location. I honestly think we booked on Hotels.com or booking.com. It might have even been an AirBnb.

Day 4:

Gjáin in Þjórsárdalur Valley

Drive time: 2.5 hours or so

Gjáin Falls I think is somewhere most people don’t go to when they go to Iceland. The reason being is it is totally out of the way and nothing is really around it. Even though a snowstorm had hit, I was really determined to see these waterfalls. This was also one of the locations where Game of Thrones was filmed.

Gjáin Falls from atop

We basically had to park on the side of the road and started walking down some random path. Luckily there was a couple who told us we were in the right spot. It was maybe a 45 minute or an hour walk. Heck, it could have been almost 2 hours, I really don’t remember. But once we got there, it was incredible. It was silent except for the sound of multiple waterfalls spilling over. Besides the other couple, we ran into, who happened to be leaving by the time we got there, we had the place to ourselves for quite some time!

The path is NOT driveable by the car we had. Do Not Attempt it. There were incredibly large craters of holes that we would have been stuck in without a doubt. We did see one “Super Jeep” though that was taking a group of people there. We enjoyed the time to ourselves there though exploring and wandering around. I honestly think this was my favorite part of our Iceland Itinerary.

Video of Gjáin Falls

Friðheimar Tomato Farm

Drive Time: 1 hour from Gjáin Falls

Someone recommended this place to us as they grow their own farm. They are known mostly for their Bloody Mary’s and Tomato Soup.

When we went, they were only open from 12-4 for lunch, which, we, unfortunately, missed the cut-off. Luckily, when we got there, they still served us some soup and it was to date the best tomato soup I have ever eaten.

Check out their website here though for more information.

Geysir & Gulfoss Waterfall

Drive Time: 20 minutes

The famous Strokkur Geysir was definitely fun to visit. A Geyser is a hot water spout that gushes water up to 80m in the air. Strokkur is the largest and most active. Erupting about every 5-10 minutes.

Gulfoss Waterfall is another famous waterfall that is only 10 minutes from each other. **pictures to come**

annual_fees annual fee

Hotel: Laugarvatn Hostel- hotels.com

Drive time: 30 minutes from Gulfoss Waterfall

This hostel was okay. We did have a private room, but I guess, as they say, you get what you pay for. We also wanted someone close to be up early for our Scuba Diving the next day! It seemed to lack the normal comforts of ‘home’. The room also only had 2 twin beds separate from each other, and it just. felt ‘unclean.’ There was a shared bathroom with other guests, the water was constantly leaking, and it was freezing.

Next time, I would absolutely pick another spot. However, if you’re in a pinch, or want cheap, its not terrible. I’ve stayed in worse places.

Day 5

Silfra Fissure (Pingvellir National Park)

Drive Time: 30 minutes from Hostel

One of the MAIN reasons we went to Iceland (and even got dry suit scuba diving certified) was to do the Silfra Fissure Scuba Dive. They DO also offer snorkeling, so if you are not certified to dive, you can snorkel it.

We chose the 8:00 AM dive time. Typically they do two dives over the course of the time. however, the morning we went, the weather was -8 Celcius. The water temperature was 0. So it was actually warmer in the water than it was in the air. This made for an extremely cold day in which I thought I had hypothermia at one point.

Anyway, this was a really amazing experience. The water is the clearest I had EVER seen it. It is also super still and you can even drink it! I definitely took a sip and it tasted SO pure. The coolest thing about this location is that you can touch two different tectonic plates at the same time! These two different tectonic plates are the North American and Euroasian plates.

Snaefellsness Peninsula

Drive Time: 2 hours and 45-minutes

Hellner Arches (Land Bridge in Arnarstapi)

Snaefellsness Peninsula

Budir, Iceland- Famous Black Church

Budir, Iceland- Famous Black Church

Hotel: Fosshotel Hellner

Breakfast was included in this stunning hotel, and it was super quiet when we went. This was typically their ‘low season’ so luckily we did not have to fight through a lot of crowds in our visit.

Day 6

Ölkelda mineral spring

Drive Time: 20 minutes from the hotel

Ölkelda Mineral Spring was definitely not anything I had ever expected. It honestly reminded me of Tuck Everlasting and I thought when I drank the water I would suddenly live forever. I will let you know the verdict on that one in 100 years if I am still around.

Anyway, this water was FILLED with a TON of minerals and claims to help with a slew of problems. It honestly tasted like carbonated iron water and was not really good after the first sip. However, I had filled up my entire water bottle and was determined to drink it. It was more of an acquired taste and I eventually drank all of the water.

There were no signs to this location and you almost feel like you are lost when you turn down this random dirt road and drive for 10-15 minutes or so. But, eventually, we found the below sign with a random spout sticking out of the ground.


Drive Time: 20-30 minutes

Kirkjufell is unmistakable and a wonderful place to stop and take some memorable photos. Don’t forget to include the waterfalls in your shot and to get creative for a few photos!

Drive to Reykjavik

Drive Time: 2.5 hours

We didn’t have much time to visit Reykjavik, which was unfortunate. Short on time we stopped to a few main sites included Church Hallgrimskirkja, Harpa Concert Hall, Solfar Sculpture and then we ended the night with a Northern Lights Tour as we had not seen them yet and were DETERMINED to find them.

Hotel: Hilton Reykjavik Nordica

It is no lie that we love Hilton Hotels. This hotel was great for our night stay in Reykjavik! Since we had diamond status, we were able to get free breakfast, as well as “lounge access” which gave us free snacks and happy hour.

Day 7

Flew home


Driving around Iceland was an incredible experience. You have to be safe on the roads, and you will be fine. Don’t drive in super bad conditions. Make sure you know where you are going, and have snacks with you. Download google maps prior so you can download the location.

If none of these pictures entice you to want to visit Iceland, then maybe this picture of the northern lights will. I know its a bit blurry, we moved from the long exposure.

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Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Disclosure: Basic Travel Couple, LLC has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Basic Travel Couple, LLC and CardRatings and MileValue may receive a commission from card issuers. This compensation may impact how and where links appear on this site. This site does not include all financial companies or all available financial offers. Terms apply to American Express benefits and offers. Enrollment may be required for select American Express benefits and offers. Visit americanexpress.com to learn more.

The comments section below responses are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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