If you’re planning on spending 4 days in Iceland, exploring the amazing scenery that it has to offer, you’re in for a treat! After spending 4 days exploring this enchanting land of fire and ice, we’ve assembled our ideal 4 days in Iceland itinerary to help you make the most of your trip.
4 days is an ideal amount of time for a long weekend break and it’s one of the most common lengths of time to visit. If you plan your trip carefully, you’ll be able to see some of the very best things that the country has to offer.
Read on for a detailed day-by-day itinerary on the best places to visit each day when flying into Reykjavik. We’ve also included answers to frequently asked questions to help you start making travel arrangements. Be prepared to be amazed at the sites that you’ll encounter…
Where should I stay during my 4 days in Iceland?
Most tourists choose Reykjavik as their base for a short visit. It has an abundance of hotels, restaurants and bars so you’ll be entertained every evening. It’s also a good base if you aim to join tours, as opposed to renting a car.
We personally recommend staying in multiple locations throughout your stay (which we’ll list in our below itinerary). Staying in a different hotel each night and ending your trip in Reykjavik will mean less driving and you’ll have more time to see different areas. The drive back to Reykjavik after a long day of sightseeing adds a lot of unnecessary travel time.
Should I rent a car? Car hire vs tours
Deciding whether to rent a car or book tours is a key consideration when planning a trip to Iceland. Here are the pro’s and cons of each option:
Renting a car
- Most affordable
- Allows a lot of freedom. You can spend as much or as little time as you like in each destination
- You can visit off-the-beaten-track destinations that aren’t included in tours
- Requires a lot of planning
- Requires good driving experience, especially if visiting during the winter months
- An easy option that requires little planning. They’ll take you to all the main attractions
- No need to drive – sit back and relax
- Informative tour guides and background information on each location
- Can be very expensive
- Less flexibility and freedom compared to driving yourlself
Day 1: Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik
On your first day in Iceland, you’ll want to wind down from your flight and take it easy. Therefore, we recommend the following:
You’ve likely already seen pictures of the idyllic, milky blue waters of Iceland’s Blue Lagoon spa. This man-made outdoor hot springs is surrounded by black volcanic rock. Multiple pools of steamy water set the scene for a unique spa experience that anyone will love. Bathe in the water, enjoy a drink or two and take advantage of the included mud masks. It’s the ideal place to relax after your flight!
Blue Lagoon is only a 30-minute drive from the airport and is in the Keflavik Airport area of the country. Therefore, we recommend heading straight to Blue Lagoon from the airport if you arrive earlier in the day. You can then make your way to Reykjavik from the lagoon. If your flight arrives the night before, you can still get to Blue Lagoon easily; simply drive there 40 minutes from Reykjavik or book a coach transfer.
The vast majority of tourists stay in Reykjavik for their first time in Iceland. This cool, quirky and colourful capital city is only 45 minutes from the airport and is home to only 122,000 people. It boasts a wide range of hotels and guesthouses, plus a seriously impressive collection of bars and restaurants. We recommend staying in Reykjavik for your first night and checking out all of the following attractions.
Reykjavik town centre – Wandering around the centre of town is one of our favourite things to do in Reykjavik. Small, colourful buildings, cool cafes and unique architecture is strictly Nordic in design and a cool site to see.
Rekyjavik harbour – The go-to place when boarding whale watching tours, Reykjavik harbour is a typical Nordic harbour with fishing trawlers, cargo ships and a collection of cool restaurants. Enjoy a meal with a view!
Cafes, bars and restaurants – Reykjavik blows many cities out of the water for its selection of trendy restaurants. You’ll find everything from Asian inspired burger bars to fine dining Icelandic cuisine and Nepalese curry houses. You then have colourful cafes, Viking beer bars and quirky cocktail spots.
The Sun Voyager monument – Walk the long promenade by the sea and stop by The Sun Voyager for photos. It’s the iconic symbol of Reykjavik that depicts a Viking ship.
Last minute shopping – Need some last minute winter gear for your adventure around Iceland? Maybe you want some gifts and souvenirs? Downtown Reykjavik is the place to go.
Perlan – Perlan is an immersive exhibition centre with a unique dome design that’s an attraction in itself. Inside, it has a number of nice restaurants, viewpoints of the city, an ice cave and unique cinema experiences.
Northern Lights experience at Grotta Lighthouse
If visiting during the winter months of September – March, you’ll definitely want to try and see the elusive aurora borealis, also known as the Northern Lights. Cloud cover has to be partly clear to see them, and the aurora activity also has to be strong. You can view the latest aurora forecast on the Iceland weather website here.
If the aurora forecast is looking particularly promising on your first night, head slightly outside of the city to Grotta Lighthouse. This area of Reykjavik has less light pollution so you have a better chance of seeing the Northern Lights. It also provides a cool backdrop for your photos.
Pro-tip: if you’d really like to see the Northern Lights, we recommend checking the forecast every night of your trip.
Where to stay on day 1:
As your entire afternoon of the 4 days in Iceland itinerary is in Reykjavik, this is where we recommend staying overnight. You’re spoilt for choice with hotels, apartment options and B&B’s and have something for every budget. Try to stay somewhere in the centre of town so everything is within walking distance.
We recommend the following hotels:
Day 2: The South Coast
Iceland’s South Coast is our favourite place in Iceland. It’s home to some amazing waterfalls, dramatic mountain scenery, small local towns, glaciers, and a stunning black sand beach. There’s no shortage of things to do here and it could keep you entertained for at least 3 full days. We recommend spending day 2 and 3 of your 4 day Iceland itinerary on the south coast. The reason being, you’ll have an extra day to return to Reykjavik in the event you get stuck in your destination due to bad weather.
Here are some of the amazing places we recommend checking out during your first day exploring Iceland’s South Coast.
Starting with one of the smallest waterfalls you’ll see during the day, Uridafoss is a wide collection of rapids that overlooks a crossing bridge. It has a number of walking trails and viewpoints, so you can get up close to the river. It’s also an extremely powerful waterfall rapids! As the first stopping point between the town of Selfoss and the many other wonders of the south coast, it’s perfect for a quick stop and hike.
Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui Waterfalls
Moving further east, you’ll reach one of the most impressive collections of waterfalls you’ll see on your trip – Seljalandsfoss and its neighbouring sister, Gljufrabui. The duo of majestic waterfalls are not to be missed! Seljalandsfoss is a towering falls that plunges 60m to the river below. In the summer, you can walk behind the waterfall and peer through the falling water, whilst the wintertime provides a frozen spectacle of snow and icicles.
A 10-minute walk from Seljalandsfoss is the lesser visited Gljufrabui waterfall. Many people visit the first waterfall and completely miss the seocond, but it’s well worth a visit. It was one of our favourite waterfalls in all of Iceland! Gljufrabui is hidden in a cave and to see it up close, you’ll need to wade up the stream of the river and between the rock faces. Inside, you’ll find a powerful waterfall surrounded by ice (in the winter months).
Another impressive waterfall that’s only a 25-minute drive from your previous stop, Skogafoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. It’s the filming location for Game of Thrones, Thor, and a variety of other TV shows and movies. It stands a whopping 60m high and you can get up close to the crashing water at the bottom of the falls. You can then hike up the winding set of wooden stairs to the top of the waterfall, to see Skogafoss from a different viewpoint. The entire area is incredibly beautiful. Whilst very touristic, it’s a place you won’t want to miss off your 4 days in Iceland itinerary.
SólheimasandurIceland DC Plane Wreck
An usual but very cool stop off point on your south coast itinerary is the downed American DC plane wreck. The plane ran out of fuel and then crash landed on the beaches of Sólheimasandur in 1973, sitting as a wreckage ever since. It has quickly become a popular photo spot for tourists, providing a unique backdrop to your Iceland adventure.
You can get to the SólheimasandurIceland plane wreck by parking in the car park just off the main road and then walking 45-minutes to the wreckage on the beach. Alternatively, catch the tourist bus that operates throughout the day. The weather can be harsh here so we highly recommend paying for the bus. It’ll also save you a lot of time!
Dyrholaey viewpoint and lighthouse
You can’t visit Iceland’s dramatic south coast and not check out the scenic viewpoints of the famous black sand beach! Dyrholaey is the first stop off point at the Vik area. It features a rugged coastline of steep cliffs and panoramic views of the full stretch of black sand beaches below.
Drive further up the hill to the lighthouse viewpoint (if weather permits) and you’ll find spectacular views of the Dyrholaey rock formations. The crashing waves against the cliffside will show you the true power of nature in Iceland.
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Continue your road trip 20-minutes around the cove from Dyrholaey and you’ll encounter the world-famous black sand beach of Reynisfjara. This is where jet-black volcanic sands meet an aggressive barrage of waves at the shoreline. Towering basalt cliffs and unique sea stacks create scenery that you won’t forget.
You can walk across the black sand beach safely if the tide is out, exploring the nearby cave and witnessing the crashing waves at the shore. It’s a great place to spend 45-minutes or so and the nearby coffee shop is a great place to relax.
Note: The waves at Reynisfjara are extremely dangerous so don’t go anywhere near the water.
Where to stay on day 2:
After exploring all of the above on day 2 of your Iceland itinerary, you’re going to be in need of a well-earned rest. We recommend staying the night in the town of Vik, which is right next to the black sand beaches. It’s a quaint town with a good choice of hotels and restaurants.
We recommend the following hotels:
Pro-tip: If you’re staying for a longer period or want to dedicate your entire 4 days in Iceland on the south coast, be sure to head further east to the stunning natural scenery of Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón glacier lake.
Day 3: More of the South Coast, a volcanic lava tunnel and return to the south-west
Day 3 of our Iceland 4 day itinerary features a lot more exploration on the south coast on a slow return back to the Reykjavik area. You had a great sample of what’s on offer on day 2, so this is your chance to see everything you missed! There’s a lot to do in the south of Iceland so you’ll need 2 full days to see it properly.
Gígjagjá Cave, also known as ‘The Yoda Cave’
If staying in Vik as per our suggestion, you’re in a great place to visit Gígjagjá Cave. This cave is located on a beach and resembles the unique shape of Yoda from Star Wars, with his large ears and small body. As a quick stop on your itinerary, it’s a nice place to snap some cool photos of the cave, looking out at the ocean. You can walk through the cave and out onto the beach.
Heading back towards the west of Iceland, the same way you came, your next port of call is the winter wonderland known as Sólheimajökull Glacier. The country is home to many glaciers, with Sólheimajökull being one of the smallest, but easiest to access. It’s a popular spot on south coast tours and provides scenery that you almost certainly haven’t seen anywhere else.
You can walk 20-minutes from the glacier car park to the base of the glacier, seeing some impressive mountain and lake-side scenery along the pass. You’ll also have the opportunity to get up close to the base of the glacier, staring up at giant blocks of ice, seemingly turquoise in colour.
To see the beauty of Sólheimajökull Glacier properly, we recommend joining one of the guided group glacier walks, which leave from the car park multiple times per day. You’ll hike up through the glacier crevices, throughout small ravines and have the best views from the top of the glacier. Check out Viator for bookable guided glacier tours.
Kvernufoss Waterfall and Skoga Museum
Heading further west again, we recommend stopping by Skoga Museum, and the neighbouring Kvernufoss Waterfall, which is only a 10-minute walk away. Both attractions are right next to Skogafoss Waterfall, which you would have visited the previous day if following our itinerary.
First of all, Skogar Museum is one of the largest museums in Iceland. It boasts over 15,000 Icelandic artefacts and features an open air museum. It’s a great place to learn about the history of the country and see what it looked like in the time of Vikings.
A short walk from Skogar Museum you then have Kvernufoss Waterfall. This off-the-beaten-track waterfall is unbeknownst to many tourist and is a hotspot for professional photographers. It features a winding gorge and river stream, leading up to the main attraction. In the summer months you can walk behind the falls, whilst winter is the setting for an icy façade of snow and icicles. As our favourite waterfall of the whole trip, it’s a must see! We also loved the fact it had less crowds than other waterfalls we visited.
Raufarhólshellir ‘The Lava Tunnel’
Now that your tour of the south coast is almost complete, it’s time to head back to the south-west of the country. On you way back to the Reykjavik, Selfoss or Hveragerði areas (great places to stay for the night), we recommend checking out Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel for a late afternoon tour. The 1 hour guided tour takes you deep into a volcanic lava tunnel to see the inner workings of a volcanic eruption that occurred 5200 years ago.
You’ll experience unique rock formations, amazing cave scenery and colourful caverns with markings of where lava once flowed. It’s a unique experience that only takes one hour and is well worth the stop by before rounding off your day. We recommend booking in advance on their website as spaces sell out quickly.
Where to stay on day 3:
At the end of day 3 you would have finished your tour of the south coast. As day 4 of our Iceland itinerary is a tour around the Golden Circle in the south-west, you may wish to return to Reykjavik. Alternatively, and slightly closer towns to the Golden Circle tour, Selfoss and Hveragerði are great places to stay. They’re fairly rural towns too, so you often have great views of the Northern Lights.
These towns are also close to the last attraction on our day 3 itinerary, Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel.
We recommend the following hotels:
Day 4: Iceland’s Golden Circle
Iceland’s Golden Circle is a popular tourist route of cool Icelandic attractions, forming a circular travel route just east of Reykjavik. It’s the most common sightseeing route and is home to a wide variety of impressive natural scenery. It’s one of the most touristic things to do in Iceland, but you can’t miss it!
Either book onto a Golden Circle tour such as this one on Viator or plan out a route yourself and self-drive using a rental car (our personal preference). You can then spend a full day visiting all of the following attractions.
Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is the first stop on your Golden Circle itinerary. It’s a sprawling, protected nature reserve that’s famously known for hosting the continental plate divide between Europe and North America. You can actually swim between the two plates at the Sifra stream, which is located in the park (if you’re brave enough to endure the cold water).
Spend a couple of hours exploring Thingvellir Park on foot. It has a several walking trails, scenic river streams, mountains, a waterfall and quaint wooden church. The scenery is completely different in summer compared to winter and both seasons merit a visit to this beautiful nature park.
Geysir – Strokkur and Blesi
An iconic site on the Golden Circle route is the geothermally active area know as ‘Geysir’. Hot steam oozes from beneath the Earth’s surface creating a Mars-like surface, with a rich smell of sulphur in the air. The main attraction however, is the enormous geyser known as ‘Strokkur’. Tourists wait eagerly with their cameras for the aggressive plume of water to shoot into the sky. The geyser can sometimes reach heights of 40m high!
Right next to Strokkur is a smaller geyser called ‘Blesi’. The whole area is a cool site to see, and it’s a good place to stop for a snack. The café outside of ‘Geysir’ is excellent for lunch.*
Gullfoss is widely regarded as one of Iceland’s biggest and best waterfalls. It features a series of drops, some of which are 32m deep. It’s also extremely powerful, giving off a loud roar and mysterious mist as you peer over from the viewpoint. You can’t visit Iceland without stopping by Gullfoss waterfall and it’s the best stop on the Golden Circle tour, in our opinion.
Take time admiring the waterfall from the lowest viewpoint and then climb the staircase to two higher viewpoints. You’ll be able to capture some amazing pictures from the clifftop above.
Natural hot springs
If you’re following our 4 days in Iceland itinerary, you would have visited the famous Blue Lagoon on the first day of your trip. Blue Lagoon is amazing, but is a man-made lagoon, so you’ll definitely want to check out the natural geothermal pools that Iceland is famous for. The best Geothermal natural pools on the Golden Circle route are ‘Secret Lagoon’, or the neighbouring Hrunalaug Hot Spring. There are also other pools out in the wilderness, but these are the most popular and easiest to reach.
Pack your swimsuit and a towel, then enjoy stopping off at these amazingly warm natural pools. Having a bath in the great outdoors is something you won’t forget! It’s also a great place to relax after being on your feet sightseeing all day.
A less common stop on the Golden Circle route is the small town of Skaholt. Recognised instantly by its classic wooden church, it’s a quaint place to stop by to take pictures. It’s the perfect representation of a rural Icelandic town and the surrounding mountains and fields provide a beautiful backdrop. Simply drive though town or stop for a short walk and a visit to the local bakery.
Kerid Volcanic Crater
Kerid is a 3000 year-old volcano crater lake that has a distinct cone shape. It’s a popular first or last (depending on the route) stop on the route and is known for its unique red colour. Many volcano craters are black in Iceland due to them being older, however, Kerid is roughly half their age.
For an entrance fee of 400ISK, you can explore the top of the crater, walking around to capture different views of the lake below. You also have the option of walking down to the lake. Admittedly, the crater looks a lot better in summer when the water is blue and the surroundings aren’t covered in snow.
Where to stay on day 4:
Being your very last night, there’s a good chance you fly home the next morning. Therefore, we recommend returning to Reykjavik after your Golden Circle tour and enjoying one more night in this vibrant town. You’re only a 40-minute drive from Keflavik Airport to catch your flight home.
We recommend the following hotels:
Our top tips for planning your 4 days in Iceland itinerary:
- Consider staying in multiple hotels instead of the same hotel for 4 nights. You’ll see more, will do less driving and will enjoy a more thrilling travel experience.
- Familiarise yourself with driving in Iceland, especially if visiting during winter. If you think you’ll feel out of your comfort zone, consider booking guided tours. Viator has excellent multi-day tours of the south coast.
- Save all of your desired destinations on Google Maps before setting off. You can save an offline version of the map for when you don’t have internet access.
- Don’t try to pack too much into each day of your Iceland 4 day itinerary. Hours of daylight are short in the long winter months. June – August is the only time you’ll see plenty of daylight. Check sunrise and sunrise time before visiting and plan accordingly.
- If you’d love to see the Northern Lights and are travelling in the winter months, check the weather forecast every day and try to look out for them every evening.
- Leave enough time to return to Reykjavik for your flight home. Weather is unpredictable in Iceland, so arriving back to the Reykjavik area at least 24 hours your flight is recommended. Roads often close if the weather is bad and you’ll miss your flight.
- Many of Iceland’s attractions are out in the wilderness and you’ll sometimes go a couple of hours without seeing any cafes or restaurants. Pack plenty of food and snacks to keep you going. It’s also cheaper than eating out every day! Iceland can be very expensive.
We hope we inspired you with our 4 days in Iceland itinerary and you’re now ready to plan your own trip to this amazing country. Our itinerary is action packed and includes a lot of attractions in 4 days. For those that want to slow down the pace, feel free to hand select your favourite places in each region and take it easy. If you have any questions about any of the attractions featured on our list, or about Iceland in general, be sure to let us know in the comment section below.
Check out some of our other Iceland travel guides:
PS: if you want to find out more detailed information about our 4-days in Iceland, then check out our travel guide on our YouTube channel below:
By RickyAuthor bio:
An adventurer at heart that loves anything outdoors. Beaches, mountains and amazing scenery is everything I love about travel! I also enjoy home comforts and need a nice place to relax and re-charge after every trip.