How to Plan an Amazing 5 Days in Iceland with this Iceland Itinerary Planning a trip to Iceland can be hard and confusing. To make it easier, I've put together a sample Iceland itinerary for 5 days in Iceland. I have a reputation for being an obsessive planner when it comes to our family vacations. But planning a trip to Iceland really took the cake. For our five days in Iceland, I spent over 20 hours pouring over guide books, maps, and blogs to create our 5 day Iceland itinerary. That’s a lot of work for a vacation, but it paid off. Since our first trip to Iceland, I have returned twice, once in winter and again to visit Snaefellsnes and the West Fjords. I have also become a certified Iceland trip planner, helping over 20 families with their Iceland vacations. With all this experience, I’ve updated this post from when I first wrote it in 2017 to include what I’ve learned, and some new attractions that have recently opened. You can follow this Iceland 5 day itinerary, or to make things super easy, I also sell downloadable, detailed PDF 3-day, 5-day, and 7-day Iceland itineraries for purchase. For more helpful tips and to ask planning questions, join our exclusive Iceland Trip Planning Facebook Group! Before you go, it is important to realize that even if you find cheap airfare, Iceland is an expensive country to visit. I have put together this Iceland budget guide to help families and others understand how much a trip to Iceland costs. Also make sure to read my separate post of Iceland travel tips! Table of Contents 5 Days in Iceland Exploring the South CoastWhen to Visit IcelandGetting to IcelandGetting Around IcelandWhere to Stay in Reykjavik5 Day Iceland Itinerary Day 1 – ReykjavikDay 2 – Golden CircleDay 3 – South CoastDay 4 – Icebergs & Glacier HikingDay 5 – Reykjanes Peninsula 5 Days in Iceland Exploring the South Coast Note: This post contains affiliate links. If you click a link and make a purchase, I may receive a small commission. All opinions are my own. The black sand beach at Vik When to Visit Iceland Trying to “do” Iceland in 5 days means you are going to be busy, so it is best to go in the summer when the days are long. I have also visited Iceland in the winter, but I still prefer summer when there is more daylight for exploring. Keep in mind that a trip to Iceland means that you will be doing a lot of driving and also moving hotels frequently. Even with only five days in Iceland, there is no getting around moving a couple of times if you want to minimize driving. Given the limited amount of time, you will likely want to focus your attention on the South Coast for your first trip to Iceland. This will allow you to fit in Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, black sand beaches, waterfalls, and maybe even the Glacier Lagoon. If you want to drive the entire Ring Road and get to the more remote places like the West Fjords, you are going to need at least 10-14 days. Getting to Iceland On our first trip we flew IcelandAir from Boston to Keflavík, arriving at 11:40 pm on the summer solstice, just in time to get the full effect of the midnight sun. These days flights usually arrive in the early morning, which leaves you with the conundrum of what to do until your accommodations are ready for check in. Ideally you would book for the night before, arranging for an early morning check in, but that is going to cost more. Since most flights to Iceland are fairly short, from the East Coast of the U.S. at least, you will be tired and it is hard to hit the ground running with a busy day. If you have a hotel, you can at least drop off your bags and walk around to stay awake. If you are staying in an Airbnb, there is luggage storage at the main bus station. On my last trip I ended up hanging out at the Hlemmur Food Hall until our Airbnb was ready. Getting Around Iceland Driving near Dyrhólaey Unless you are planning on using a private driver or taking tours, you will need to rent a car in Iceland. If you are going to just base yourself in the city and take day trips from Reykjavik, you can book the FlyBus to get from the airport to the main bus station (where you can switch to another bus for hotel drop offs.) I would recommend using Northbound to check car rental rates from over 30 suppliers (including cars, 4x4s, campers, and motorhomes.) After checking prices we ended up renting a car with Sixt.com. Depending on where you are going, you probably won’t need an SUV, but if you are going to drive into the interior on any of the “F” gravel roads, it is a requirement. We were glad we had a 4×4 just for getting through the bumpy dirt roads you often drive on to get to waterfalls, hikes, and some tours. When renting a car in Iceland, there are a few things you should keep in mind: Lines at the rental car offices can be quite long, be prepared and be patient.Additional insurance (particularly gravel and ash) is HIGHLY recommended and costly — build this into your Iceland budget. Where to Stay in Reykjavik Reykjavik is a small, walkable city. If you stay anywhere in the core downtown area, you are no more than a 20-30 minute walk to all the main attractions. The city itself is clean and felt very safe. Reykjavik has been growing and it is no longer quite as hard to find a hotel room. (See my list of family-friendly hotels in Reykjavik.) Since hotels are so pricey, Airbnb was the way to go for our family. We found a two-bedroom apartment on Airbnb in downtown Reykjavik that was a perfect location for exploring for under $200 per night. It was one block off the main shopping street, 10 minutes to the Sun Voyager statue and 15 minutes to the Harpa concert hall. On a return trip I stayed at a different Airbnb city center apartment that was right on Laugavegur that I also really enjoyed. 5 Day Iceland Itinerary Day 1 – Reykjavik If you are arriving in the morning, you may want to plan a stop at the Blue Lagoon on your way in to Reykjavik to kill some time. Personally I find it very touristy (see my Blue Lagoon review here), but I know many feel a trip to Iceland isn’t complete without seeing the Blue Lagoon. After checking in to your accommodations, grab some lunch (see my recommendations on where to eat in Reykjavik.) Next, take a walk along the waterfront to see the Sun Voyager sculpture and make your way over to the stunning Harpa Concert Hall (Austurbakki 2). Be sure to walk around inside to see the light reflecting through the glass and the beautiful architecture. After the Harpa, walk over to the Old Harbor for a Puffin Express boat tour with Special Tours. The tour is just an hour, leaving you plenty of time to explore but also giving you a close up view of these cute little birds. You will have built up an appetite, so stop for dinner at Icelandic Fish & Chips (Tryggvagata 11) — so yummy! Take some time to explore and shop along Laugavegur and finish off with an elevator ride to the top of the Hallgrímskirkja church (Hallgrímstorg 1) for beautiful views over the city. Day 2 – Golden Circle Gulfoss Waterfall Begin your day with a hearty breakfast from Sandholt Bakery (Laugavegur 36). If the line there is too long, Icelandic Street Food (Laugavegur 85) is a great alternative. I recommend spending the second day exploring the Golden Circle. If you are interested in joining a small group tour or getting a private guide and driver, I would recommend using Hidden Iceland. Use promo code WE3TRAVEL to get 10% off scheduled group tours with Hidden Iceland. I did a tour with them recently and was so impressed with their knowledge and customer service. If you want to avoid the big tour busses, do the Golden Circle counterclockwise, starting at the 6,500 year old Kerid Crater for a quick walk around the caldera. Next, you may want to plan a stop at the Secret Lagoon for a more rustic and natural hot spring environment. Your next stop will be at the impressive Gulfoss waterfall. Give yourself time to walk along the various viewpoints and take in the double rainbows that you often find above the waterfall. Ten minutes down the road you will come to the Geysir Visitor Center to watch the reliable Strokkur geyser erupting across the street. If you have time, add in a stop at the Laugarvatn Fontana spa for a tour of their thermal bakery (they bake bread in the ground). You can also have a late lunch there or you could stop at Efstidalur II, at Blaskogabyggd 801, a farm hotel and restaurant with great homemade ice cream. End your day in Thingvellir National Park, the site of the country’s first Parliament. It is also a Game of Thrones filming site and a spot where you can see the rift between the two continents (and even snorkel between the tectonic plates!) You can return to Reykjavik for dinner, or stop at Lindin, at Lindarbraut 2 in Laugarvatn. Lindin specializes in seafood (including whale and puffin) and game (like reindeer burgers) and isn’t the most kid friendly but it was fine for our foodie family. Day 3 – South Coast On your third day, you will want to check out and book a hotel room in the Vík area or ideally near the Glacier Lagoon. Depart Reykjavik at 8am and drive along Rt 1 (Ring Road) 1 hour, 45 minutes to Rt 249 to Seljalandfoss waterfall. You can walk behind the falls (be sure to wear a good raincoat and rain pants — see my Iceland packing list!). After walking behind the falls, follow the path a few hundred meters further to Gljufurarbui waterfall in a hidden valley (a highlight of our trip!) Continue on Rt 1 another 30 minutes to Skogafoss waterfall in Skogar. You can walk to the foot of the falls or climb a staircase to see the falls from above. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to enjoy the falls! Continue along Rt 1 to Rt 218 to Dyrhólaey (35 minutes), a stone sea arch where puffins nest. You’ll need to drive up a steep, narrow dirt road to reach Dyrhólaey. Just note that this area is closed during puffin nesting season. We lucked out because it was open and by leaning over the cliff slightly we got some close up views of these cute little puffins. Next, head back to Rt 1 and follow to Rt 215 to Reynisfjara (30 minutes), a black sand beach with amazing basalt columns, caves and sea stacks. There was recently a rock fall here so part of the beach may be closed. In any case, stay away from the water’s edge as there are often rogue waves here that are dangerous. Stop for lunch in Vík and take a walk out to the black sand beach to see the famous Reynisdrangur rock formations. I would also recommend checking out the new Icelandic Lava Show to experience the “fire” part of the land of Ice and Fire. If you need, you can stop for dinner at Systrakaffi at Klausturvegi 13, 880 Kirkjubæjarklaustri. This nice cafe offers simple fare like pizza and hamburgers, but also nicer entrees like a very well-prepared arctic char. If you can’t find lodging near the glacier or closer to Vik, this is a good spot to look for an Airbnb. If you are staying near the glacier lagoon, drive across the lava fields to the Jökulsárlón. Day 4 – Icebergs & Glacier Hiking Getting up close to icebergs Start your day at the glacier ice lagoon for a zodiac boat tour with Jökulsárlón. You will get to see all types of icebergs and with the zodiac boat tour, you can also get up close to the glacier face. If you cross the bridge between the lagoon and the sea, you will get to Diamond Beach. It was named for the large chunks of ice that wash up on shore, glittering on the black sand beach like diamonds. On the drive back towards Reykjavik or Keflavik, you can take a hike on a glacier. We took a three hour glacier hike with Arcanum Tours on Sólheimajökull glacier. You can save 10% off scheduled group tours with Hidden Iceland with promo code WE3TRAVEL! Day 5 – Reykjanes Peninsula Before you leave Iceland, you will probably have time for a little more sightseeing. You can take a self-driving tour of the Reykjanes Peninsula. If you have kids, they would enjoy a visit to the Viking World Museum near Keflavik airport to see a full-scale replica Viking ship that actually sailed from Iceland to Canada and the U.S. You can learn about Viking history and Norse mythology. Outside there is a small petting zoo and playground. PIN THIS FOR LATER SaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSaveSave Find this useful? Share it!PinShareTweetFlipboardEmail Written by We3Travel and was last updated on February 12, 2020. Read more about Family Trips, Destinations, Adventure Travel, Iceland Related Posts Learning About Vikings in Iceland 6 Essential Day Trips from Reykjavik to Squeeze into your Iceland Trip How to Tour the Reykjanes Peninsula on a Day Trip from Reykjavik 66 Comments on “How to Plan an Amazing 5 Days in Iceland with this Iceland Itinerary” Leave a Reply Cancel replyYour email address will not be published. Required fields are marked * Name * Email * This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed. Comment navigation Newer Comments I am looking forward to really carefully READINg this for some great tips as I plan my 30th birthday. I am looking to go the first week in september. thank you in advance! Reply What a fun way to celebrate! Reply Hello! This is such a wonderful resource – thank you so much for sharing your itinerary! My husband and I are headed to Iceland in late September/early October. We’re also planning to rent a car through Sixt. I’ve read a few horror stories about renting cars in Iceland, so I’m trying to decide which extra insurances to add. May I ask if you added on gravel protection or other protections? We plan to stay on Ring Road and head to the Golden Circle. We will not be traveling on any F roads. We will likely decline CDW so that we can be covered through our American Express credit card. Thanks in advance for your input! Reply Yes, we did add that coverage and I would recommend having that coverage from someone because even some of the attractions like waterfalls have gravel roads and parking lots. Reply your post is really informative. im traveling To iceland on april23-30 with my husband and my 1 year old son. what ITINERARY do you think is suitable for us since my son is STill small. would you still recommend for us to stay 4 NIGHts in Reykjavik and the 2 nights in vik? thanks so much! Reply I think that would be best, especially in April, which is really still winter Reply This was so helpful and looks like the perfect trip. We are planning to go to iceland for about 7 or 8 days at the end of July (can we dogsled then?) with our 18 and 16 year old. We are a very active outdoor family. I love your itinerary because I don’t want to have to drive somewhere every day. I know you said you wished you stayed in vik for 2 nights. I notice you posted one hotel there of the three you named that you liked. The other two are in different locations. Can either of those be used to see the golden circle/glacier hiking etc.? Any other suggestions for activities?? Reply I’m so glad you found this helpful! I believe you can dog sled in July but I’d check their website. IcelandAir Hotel Vik would be a great choice but Hotel Ranga is also a great location for Golden Circle and glacier hiking. While you may not be making huge day trips from Reykjavik every day, you will still be moving around quite a bit, that is just the nature of going to Iceland, you need to drive to see the sights. Other great activities are the Buggy adventure, super jeep tours, Into the Glacier, glacier lagoon boat tour, whale watching, rib safari around the Westmann Islands…so much to do!! If you want to go in July I’d look into your hotels ASAP as many are already fully booked. Have a great trip! If you need planning help, check out my planning services as well. Reply Hi tamara, Thank you for the valuable information! tHE PICS AND VIDEOS ARE GORGEOUS. We could not resist taking this trip after reading your blog :-). We are planning to travel to iceland with kids age 4 &61/2 FOR 7 days & 6 nights around the end of june . BASED ON THE AGE RESTRICTION ON ACTIVITIES LIKE DOG SLEDDING AND GLACIER HIKING, WOULD YOU STILL RECOMMEND STAYING AT vIK or geysir for 2 nights instead of homebase at Reykjavík with day trips? TIA! Reply I would recommend staying out in Vik if you can find a place. That way you don’t have to have extremely long days just to see the waterfalls and such. You could even do one night out at the glacier lagoon to see what on the duck boat tour and not have really long rides all in one day. Reply Incredible guide Tamara! My wife and I are following this guide almost to a T so you saved us a ton of work! P.S. I was trying to find a way to support ($) your amazing work – I clicked your links to book some tours (Puffin, Arcanum, etc.) but not sure if you get a referral fee for those. Reply Thank you so much Rikin! I don’t think any of those are affiliates but some hotels and things are so I really appreciate the effort. Reply Hello, we are booking a August sunday to sunday trip, only 7 days but would like to use your advice and stay where you may get referrals etc., let me know if we can email you ? thanks much- Polly Reply You can email me at tamara(at)we3travel.com. If you are looking for August 2017 you are going to have a really tough time finding hotel availability though as most will have booked up a few months back. Reply Hello Tamara, where did you fit Gulfoss into your visit? I saw a picture of it but not listed on your itinerary. Reply We did it on the day we went dog sledding. We were staying out in Geysir and hit the geyser and Gulfoss that afternoon. Reply Dear Tamara, I really enjoyed reading about your trip and all the recommendations. We are planning a trip to Iceland and really would like to get your help planning. Thank you! Reply Hi Marina, thank you! If you want to hire me for trip planning, please send me an email at email@example.com and I’ll send you some info. Reply We are traveling through (2 adults, with our 6 & 11 year old) and have an 11-hour layover at Keflavik. Having a difficult time deciding if we should do the Blue Lagoon along with the Viking World Museum or shuttle over to Reykjavik for a bit. Any advice? Reply When are you traveling? 11 hours is a good amount of time. I’d be tempted to find a tour out to see some of the waterfalls (Skogafoss and Sejlandfoss) so you could get a real sense of the landscape that makes Iceland so unique. Personally I didn’t love the Blue Lagoon and would think most kids wouldn’t want to stay in the water longer than an hour so it would be hard to do spa treatments and relaxation unless you traded off some with the kids. Altogether you would only spend 3-4 hours there tops if you also ate there. I definitely loved the Viking World Museum but you only need about an hour there. If you rented a car you could do that and Reykjavik. Unless you went out on a whale watch or puffin tour (summer), then you don’t need the whole time to explore downtown Reykjavik. I hope that helps!! Be sure to check out some of the other posts for more detail on many of these activities. Have fun! Reply Blue Lagoon is a must! I spent 12 years in Iceland growing up. I am planning to take my family back soon. The last thing I will waste my money on is a museum. They can read that in books. There is so much beauty to Iceland that needs to be experienced! Reply Loved this! My fiancé and I will be going for our honeymoon this June. Very helpful. So there was snow for dog sledding in June? That’s when y’all went correct? Reply Yes, you have to drive out to a glacier an hour or two north of Reykjavik to get to the snow but we did it in June. Reply What an incredible trip! Iceland is definitely on the list. Reply I’d love to visit Iceland someday. Thanks for the great tips! Reply Iceland has been on my list for a long time. So glad I have a resource here when we finally make it happen! Reply The perfect summer itinerary! I love it! Definitely pinning for our next trip over. Reply Thanks for pinning! It was a super-busy trip but if you can spread it out a little more, it will be easier with littler kids. Reply I love how you laid this out. I saw cheap flights for Iceland at the beginning of summer it sounded tempting but bc we knew nothing about it we didn’t jump and purchase them. Wishing we had… but I added it to our list for the future anyways. The sledding seemed absolutely amazing!!! Reply Thanks!! Jump on those fares next run you see them. The sledding was a perfect day. Reply Very nice article and it seems like you had so much fun. I am also planing on going there soon with my kids. I am a traveler like you and I have been traveling over 10 years and not been to the Island yet. Thanks again for sharing. Reply Enjoy your trip Marc! If you have any questions I can help with just let me know. Great to connect! Reply Your dog sledding experience must have been amazing! I’d love to visit Iceland and to see those beautiful glaciers Reply Thanks, it was. I can’t wait to share more pictures and video from that experience. Coming soon! Reply Is it still a place worth visiting in january for a new years trip or will it be too cold? 5-10 days both seem like a great op tion. Reply I know a lot of people who have gone in the winter to see the northern lights. You won’t be able to do as much with limited sunlight though. Check out some posts on a Brit and a Southerner — they went last December. Reply Thanks for a fantastic resource. We are planning a visit to Iceland next year in late June/early July so I’ll be bookmarking your guide and referring back to it as I finalise my itinerary. Reply Excellent!! Enjoy and look for more posts on activities and packing tips coming soon. Reply we just returned from a 10 day visit to Iceland, our second. We traveled via WOW. They are an efficient and competent airline, but one that weighs every bit of luggage. Pay careful attention tontheir luggage limits. On our first trip we dod the Golden Circle, so this time around we travelled to the west fjords. It was wonderful, in particular we enjoyed Budir and Hvaamstangi. We would also recommend Kex, in Reykjavik. Reply Thanks for the recommendations John and your thoughts about WOW. That is what I expected based all all their restrictions. Reply Looks fabulous! This destination has been on the bucket list for years. Reply For an outdoors family you would love it! Reply What a thorough resource! Bookmarking, for sure. Reply Thanks! Have you ever been? Reply Oh, you’re making me want to go back! We were there exactly the week after you but had 11 days there so snuck in a few more places, all wonderful, but still just south and west coast so must go back some day! (I have a 5-year-old so didn’t want to do too much driving.) We *did* fly WOW Air (out of London and then over to Berlin) and they were perfect – a fun and reliable airline, would happily fly them again. Reply Amanda, so good to hear about WOW — now I wouldn’t mind giving them a try and the fares are great. Anything you would say is a must do on the West Coast? I wish we could have taken more time to see more and also go at a slower pace. Thanks for commenting!! Reply Hi, I will be traveling with childrens 5,7 year old at the end of September. I’d like to take them with us to the glaciers, ice caves, waterfalls, see northern lights (hopefully!) and such but most of the tours I’ve read have a minimum age requirement of at least 8 years of age. Can you recommend a tour that will allow younger children? Reply I’d recommend getting a car and self driving and spending one night in the country where you can see the northern lights from there. Reply iceland looks amazing! I’ve been considering this destination for a while so thank you for sharing.. I’m the same way if I’m travelling somewhere I’ve never been before or know very little about Reply Good, I hope it can help then! Iceland is a terrific country that I hope you get to explore. Reply I love this! Definitely pinning for future reference since Iceland is a must-visit for me. Reply Cool, thanks! Reply Comment navigation Newer Comments Get your free Family Vacation Planning Kit Sign up for our newsletter and receive a Family Vacation Planning Kit! We3Travel.com will use the information you provide on this form to send you newsletters. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the link in the footer of any email you receive from us, or by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org. By clicking below, you agree that we may process your information in accordance with these terms.