Planning to spend 4 days in Iceland and looking for the perfect itinerary? We’ve got you covered. Despite being a small country, Iceland has an incredible amount of beauty and adventure to offer.
The island is one stunning natural wonder after the next. Even your drive from one place to the next will have you staring out the window in awe. Exploring Iceland in 4 days will allow you the time to cover some of the country’s most extraordinary sites, while still leaving you with plenty to keep you coming back for more.
Our Iceland in 4 days itinerary will have you visiting thundering waterfalls, brilliant white icebergs, black sand beaches, and canyons that look like something out of a fairytale. Iceland’s landscape is incredibly diverse making each stop unique and fascinating.
No matter what time of year you are visiting you’ll have more than enough activities to keep you busy. Feel free to alter the itinerary as you see fit given your own time constraints and energy levels.
We definitely recommend renting a car for your 4 days in Iceland. It is possible to book tours that will take you to a number of stops on this itinerary, however in order to complete this itinerary in full or adjust your schedule as you see fit, most people find a car is the ideal option for getting around the country. This will allow you the chance to explore Iceland’s natural beauty on your own terms.
Renting a car is not cheap, but we guarantee it will enhance your overall trip experience. Do take note, that unlike in the United States, many of the rental cars have a manual transmission, so if you don’t know how to drive a manual car, double check to make sure your rental car has an automatic transmission!
We’ve been to Iceland many times and are very fond of the country. The information you’ll find in this Iceland itinerary is information we wish we had on our first visit to the land of fire and ice. We hope our past experiences will help make planning your 4 days in Iceland a little easier!
The Ultimate 4 Days In Iceland Itinerary
Day 1: Begin Your 4 Days In Iceland In And Around The Capital City
Stop 1: Soak In A Natural River At Reykjadalur Hot Springs
After a long flight and drive from Keflavik to Reykjavik, there’s no better way to start your 4 days in Iceland than stretching your legs and getting your blood pumping on a beautiful hike. If you’ve ever wanted to bathe in a hot river in the middle of nature, you’ll be excited that the Reykjadalur Hot Springs is the first stop on your Iceland itinerary.
No matter what time of year you are visiting Iceland, bring a swimsuit! Understandably, it does seem counterintuitive to bring a swimsuit to a country called Iceland, but we guarantee you won’t regret having one handy.
Located in South Iceland, just 45 minutes from Reykjavik, Reykjadalur Hot Springs is the perfect quick nature escape from the capital. The hike to the hot springs is roughly 45 minutes-1 hour, and is easy to moderately difficult. The hike starts with a relatively steep uphill climb before leveling out.
The path is well maintained and clearly marked. Your hike will take you through a valley filled with steam, past a cascading waterfall and many grazing sheep.
As you approach the hot springs you’ll be greeted with the distinct smell of rotten eggs, which is attributed to the sulfur in the boiling water surrounding the hot springs. The boiling water is mesmerizing, but don’t touch it. The real prize is waiting for you, just mere steps away.
When you reach the part of the river that is safe for bathing, you can change on a wood platform with partitions. Privacy is lacking, but no one cares. Everyone is there to relax and have a good time.
Find your perfect spot in the river and enjoy bathing while the sheep suntan 10 yards away. The best spots in the river are right up against the rock piles dividing the river into sections. There you’ll find the deepest pockets of water.
In summer, the water in this section of the river resembles that of a Jacuzzi and is perfect for bathing. As the weather gets colder, you may need to hike a little further upriver to find a spot warm enough to enjoy for extended periods of time.
Arrive in the early morning or late evening (when you can enjoy the midnight sun in the summer) to avoid the biggest crowds. There is nothing quite like bathing in a river surrounded by stunning nature, and you’ll no doubt be glad you made this stop to kick off your 4 days in Iceland.
Stop 2: Take In The Culture, History And Architecture Of Downtown Reykjavik
Now that you’ve had a taste of Iceland’s natural outdoor beauty, we suggest taking a walk around downtown Reykjavik to explore the colorful capital. Laugavegur is the main shopping street downtown filled with shops, café’s, restaurants, galleries, etc. You can do anything from buying Icelandic wool sweaters to enjoying a delicious cup of coffee on this street.
Laugavegur along with Bankastræti and Austurstræti streets will take care of your shopping needs. There are also a number of wonderful museums in and around Reykjavik including Perlan, the former water towers turned observation deck and “Wonders of Iceland” museum, the Reykjavik Maritime Museum along the harbor, the underground Settlement Exhibition with an excavated longhouse, and the Arbær Open Air Museum where you’ll find preserved old Icelandic buildings with sod roofs.
A day in downtown Reykjavik would be incomplete without a visit to the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Church, designed by architect Gudjón Samúelsson with an outside meant to resemble the basalt columns found in Iceland’s nature. It’s the tallest building in downtown Reykjavik and as a result is very difficult to miss. The area in front of the church is dominated by a statue of the famous Leifur Eiriksson, the first European to set foot in North America even before Christopher Columbus.
The inside of the church is minimalistic in design and not particularly grand, though the large pipe organ inside is eye-catching. The real draw of the church however is the spectacular 360 views you’ll find at the tower up top.
Entrance to the church alone is free, but admission to the tower is 1000 ISK per person. Once you pay at the church shop you’ll take an elevator up to the tower where you can take your time enjoying the views over all of Reykjavik and beyond.
Another stop you’ll want to make while in Reykjavik is to the Harpa Concert Hall, the beautiful concert venue downtown with 714 honeycomb-like glass panels that light up at night. Like Hallgrimskirkja, the design was meant to resemble basalt columns. The site is somewhat controversial as it was an expensive project completed shortly after the 2008 financial crisis with money that many people felt should have been invested elsewhere.
Whether or not its completion was warranted, it stands today as an architectural beauty, recipient of the Mies Van der Rohe award for architecture and home to festivals, concerts of all music genres, conferences and more. Even if there are no concerts happening during your visit, it’s worth wandering the impressive building to admire the architectural work.
For those with a sweet tooth we’ve got a couple of locations you won’t regret visiting. The first is the Brauð & Co. bakery where you’ll delight in the most delicious pastries. The cinnamon and vanilla rolls and chocolate croissants are particularly fantastic and addicting.
The name of the bakery is not well marked on the building, but the outside is very distinguishable with its colorful street art, and the smells waft down the street so it can’t be missed! Our other suggestion is Valdis ice cream. The idea of eating ice cream in a cold climate can sound strange and yet Icelanders absolutely love their ice cream all year round.
This is a tried and true favorite of both locals and visitors alike. There are a large variety of flavors that are constantly changing. It’s hard to go wrong with this delicious ice cream.
Stop 3: Relax In The Hot Tubs At The Local Swimming Pool
Every town in Iceland has at least one swimming pool complex (Reykjavik has many), and there’s no better way to finish off an adventurous day than with a soak in one or all of the multiple hot tubs of differing temperatures. There are a couple things you should know about the public swimming pools. After you pay to use the pools (1030 ISK for adults), you’ll leave your shoes outside the locker room on a shoe rack.
You’ll be given a wristband or key to lock your individual locker. When you enter the locker room, don’t be alarmed if everyone is naked. In fact it’s a requirement that you shower naked before putting on your bathing suit and getting in the pool.
In Iceland, it’s entirely normal, and no one is paying attention to you anyway, so there’s no need to feel self-conscious. Most of the showers are communal, but if you’d feel more comfortable with some privacy there are sometimes a handful of shower stalls with doors. When returning from the pool you also have to dry yourself completely after showering before you can enter the locker room area.
We suggest heading to Laugardalslaug, the largest of Reykjavik’s pool complexes located right next to Iceland’s National Soccer Team Stadium. This complex is made up of an indoor pool, an Olympic sized heated outdoor pool, a kiddie pool with a slide, hot tubs of varying temperatures (38°C, 42°C, and 44°C) as well as a salt water hot tub. For those daring souls perhaps trying to recover from aches and pains, there is a cold tub as well, though as you might expect, it gets far fewer visitors.
This pool complex is a favorite of locals and tourists at all times of the year. And in the winter, there’s nothing quite like sitting in a steaming hot tub, surrounded by snow while reflecting on the adventures of your day.
Stop 4: Try To Catch A Glimpse Of The Elusive Northern Lights
If you’re visiting Iceland in the winter, we highly suggest driving out of town to try to see the lights or paying for a tour. The Northern Lights have the potential to be seen from September-April. A strong Northern Lights show makes your heart want to leap out of your chest with excitement, but the Northern Lights are inconsistent and elusive.
One minute the sky is dancing in brilliant hues of green and purple, and the next, clouds are obscuring anything and everything in the sky. In Iceland, there’s precipitation approximately 300 days a year on average, meaning the sky is more often than not cloudy or at least slightly overcast.
This makes the northern lights search particularly frustrating when you know there’s solar activity, but the lights are hidden behind clouds. Sometimes patience wins out, and the clouds will part long enough for you to see the lights; sometimes it never clears, and you’re just out of luck.
If you’re hoping to maximize your chances of seeing the Northern Lights, you have two options. Your first is paying to take a guided Northern Lights Tour. These tour guides are extremely knowledgeable and seek out the Northern Lights for a living, so they know the best places to wait and watch.
Remember though, nature is the only one in control of the Northern Lights, so even with a guide there is no guarantee you’ll see the lights. If you don’t see the lights on your first trip, most tour companies allow you to rebook a second trip at no extra charge.
The other option is to take your car, drive away from the city lights and search for the lights yourself. Dark, clear skies give you the best chance of seeing the lights so the longest nights of the year will give you the highest percentage of both.
You can track the aurora strength and visibility yourself, and you can continue to check it throughout the night as it continuously updates. The Northern Lights are a remarkable sight and worth taking a chance on!
Where to stay in Reykjavik:
Day 2: Explore The Waterfalls Along Iceland’s South Coast
Stop 1: Enjoy Ideal Water Temperatures And Beautiful Surroundings At The Hrunalaug Hot Springs
Hrunalaug is one of the many fantastic natural hot springs in Iceland, perfect for bathing and relaxing. Everything about this spot and its surrounding nature is picturesque and ideal, however recent surges in tourism and visits to the sites by large tour buses have worn down the site to the point where the owner considered bulldozing the whole thing down. The natural hot spring was built up to accommodate humans, but it remains very small and is not designed for large groups of people.
A small little turf hut acts as a changing room. Behind the hut is a small two-person rectangular hot pot that is designed almost more like a bathtub. To the left of the changing room as you face it is a slightly larger pot, but even that only holds perhaps 8-10 people.
As a result of the limited space, early morning and late evening is the best time to visit the natural hot spring to avoid the biggest crowds. The hot pot is also particularly popular because it is known to maintain a comfortable water temperature all year long. If you’re fortunate enough to get one of the coveted spots in the hot spring, you’re in for an incredibly enjoyable experience soaking up the welcome heat of the water while gazing out at the undeniable natural beauty around you.
We cannot express the importance of keeping this location clean, being respectful and picking up after yourself. For the most part, the changing hut and pools are clean and well maintained mostly thanks to the owner who comes by now and then to see to its upkeep. But as we mentioned, this wonderful natural hot spring is at risk of being shut down for good, so please play your part in preserving it so it can remain for future visitors to enjoy.
Stop 2: Visit The Þjóðveldisbærinn Saga-Age Farm For A Slice Of Viking Life
Have you ever wanted to learn more about how the Vikings lived? Well now is your chance at the Þjóðveldisbærinn Saga-Age farm, an impressive replica of Stöng, the excavated manor farm in Þjórsárdalur. You might find their buildings to be more charming and majestic than you had expected.
The reconstructed Settlement farm was built in honor of the 1100th anniversary of the Settlement of Iceland and opened in 1977. The idea was to provide an example of a medieval Icelandic farm, and it was thought a replica of Stöng would be the best representation of a farm from that time period.
Stöng was located dangerously close to the volcano Hekla. It is thought that the farm and the rest of the surrounding settlement was destroyed and abandoned after the 1104 Hekla eruption, however, Hekla also erupted many other times in later years, so the exact time of its final destruction and abandonment is unclear. Despite being covered in white volcanic ash, the remains of Stöng underneath were remarkably well preserved.
The farm was reconstructed with much love and care in an attempt to get every detail both on the interior and exterior exact and preserve an important piece of Icelandic history. Of course, without a full original to copy, there are aspects of the reconstructed work that had to be imagined, estimated, or pulled from story and folklore, but by all accounts, the finished result is remarkably accurate. You won’t regret immersing yourself in this fascinating piece of history.
Stop 3: Admire One Of The Highest Waterfalls In Iceland At Haifoss
Right on the edge of the highlands in South Iceland sits Haifoss, an impressive 400-foot waterfall. It is one of the highest waterfalls in Iceland. Haifoss thunders down right next to its partner waterfall, Granni (which translates to neighbor).
Though Granni’s flow is slightly less powerful, the two waterfalls side by side are a sight to behold. Haifoss by itself eclipses most other waterfalls you’ll see in your lifetime. The two waterfalls are located in a gorge created by the Fossa River.
It is possible to hike down to the falls if you’re spending a significant amount of your day at the waterfall and its surrounding valley, but the view from the top is incredible, and easily accessible from the parking lot. From the parking lot, you can walk along the edge of the gorge taking in the waterfalls from multiple viewing points.
In the winter, Haifoss is usually inaccessible unless you are driving there in buses or jeeps designed for winter weather and icy gravel roads. Don’t attempt the drive unless you are in an appropriate vehicle. Even in summer, the gravel roads are rocky and full of potholes and require slow driving and patience.
Because of its distance from the more popular Golden Circle stops along the South Coast, and the rockiness of the road, the gorge is never crowded, and there’s always plenty of time and room to take pictures and take in the waterfalls in all their glory. If you can brave the drive to get there, the view at the end of the road is unforgettable, and you won’t regret making the drive, however bumpy.
Stop 4: Relax In The Hidden Oasis of Gjain
Gjain is a stunning valley that you won’t want to miss particularly in the summertime when the vegetation is at its peak. The valley truly comes alive with beauty. It’s full of a whole collection of small waterfalls, brilliant blue pools of water, carved out shallow caves, green growth of all kinds, flowers and birdlife.
When the weather is nice it’s the perfect place to bring a blanket and have a picnic. Because it’s a valley it feels very private and secluded giving you a welcome peace and quiet to your experience. It becomes your own little slice of paradise.
You’ll hardly ever find crowds here as it’s off the main road and not a stop that general tour buses make. The valley is beautiful at other times of year as well but it can just become harder or impossible to reach in the winter as the roads and paths turn icy.
Getting to Gjain is fairly straightforward from Haifoss. You’ll continue back down the road the way you came then turn right when you reach the fork in the road instead of heading all the way back to road No. 32.
To reach both Gjain and Haifoss it’s recommended you have a 4×4 with ground clearance because of the bumpy roads. The drive itself isn’t anything particularly spectacular as you pass through expanses of lava fields and rock, but it makes arriving at this hidden oasis even more spectacular and magical.
Stop 5: Walk Behind A Thundering Waterfall At Seljalandsfoss
Seljalandsfoss, a 200-foot waterfall, is right off the Route 1 (Ring Road) on the South Coast of Iceland. There is no hiking required to see this waterfall.
It is just a short walk from the parking lot, and it can even be seen from farther away as you drive up to it along the Ring Road. Though Iceland is graced with an endless display of stunning waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss’s unique quality is that it is possible to walk behind the waterfall.
A path leads from the parking lot up to the front of the waterfall and then loops around the sides and back so you get a view of the waterfall from every angle. We suggest wearing raingear, as you’ll likely get wet, particularly on a windy day.
With a waterfall as powerful as Seljalandsfoss, the spray is far-reaching. It is entirely worth walking the loop though, and being that up close and personal makes you appreciate the sheer size and power of the waterfall.
Seljalandsfoss is fed by the famed glacier-capped volcano Eyjafjallajokull that erupted in 2010 disrupting air traffic across Europe. The waterfall is relatively narrow, but its power is mighty as is evident when standing behind it inside the cave in the cliff. In the summer, the cliff and ground surrounding Seljalandsfoss are a brilliant green, and everything is dotted with yellow wildflowers creating a colorfully picturesque landscape.
Though the path gets wet, particularly on the backside of the waterfall, it is a well-marked path, and easy to navigate. In the winter, when the snow turns to ice and the path gets slippery, the path is often partially closed off. This is for your own safety.
Don’t try and circumvent the restricted area. Though closures may alter your experience, it isn’t lessened.
Seljalandsfoss is beautiful even in winter. For much of the winter, everything is coated in white, and the impressive waterfall becomes part of a winter wonderland.
Stop 6: Find Seljalandsfoss’ Hidden Neighbor Gljufrabui
Gljufrabui is often overlooked as it is slightly hidden and is smaller than its towering neighbor, Seljalandsfoss. However, we suggest that anyone completing this Iceland itinerary should take some time to explore this hidden gem as well. Why not when it’s right next door!
Gljufrabui is within walking distance of Seljalandsfoss. When you finish your loop around Seljalandsfoss, head to the right (if you’re facing the parking lot), and walk until you hit the campground.
On your right will be a sign for the waterfall, and you’ll see a cavern with a river running through it. To get to the waterfall you’ll have to walk through the river, so be prepared with waterproof boots or a change of shoes.
Oftentimes the river rocks will rise out of the water just enough for you to step from rock to rock and avoid getting anything more than the soles of your boots wet. After heavy rain though, the water level rises and it becomes a bit trickier to maneuver your way into the cavern. Once inside the cavern, you’ll be greeted with a beautiful waterfall that looks as if it’s pouring through a skylight in nature’s ceiling.
The sun lights up the cavern, illuminating the green, mossy walls and highlighting the streaming, crystal clear water. There’s a giant boulder in the middle of the cavern, which is easy to climb and perfect for taking pictures.
When you’re done you’ll exit the cavern that same way you came in. Just be careful to wait your turn and make sure no one is on the rocks trying to enter the cavern at the same time.
It’s also possible to view the waterfall from above, looking down on the waterfall from the skylight opening. The pathway up the hill though is steep.
Particularly after it rains the path becomes muddy and slippery, so if you go this way, use caution. Though the waterfall is of course still beautiful when viewed from above, the best view is from inside the cavern where you’re surrounded and almost consumed by your natural surroundings.
Stop 7: Climb To The Top Of The Impressive Skogafoss Waterfall
Skogafoss is just a 25-minute drive from Seljalandsfoss and Gljufrabui. It is also visible from the road and is easily accessible from the parking lot. At 197 feet, Skogafoss is roughly the same height as Seljalandsfoss but its width is an impressive 82 feet.
The Skoga River flows along a wide pebbled path leading right up to the waterfall. The path is flat and easy to walk. The waterfall is forceful, and you will get unrelentingly sprayed as you approach it from its base, so you’ll want to consider wearing water resistant clothing.
But the feeling of standing that close to such a powerful force of nature is incredible. You might even see a rainbow on a sunny day, adding its finishing touch on an already stunning waterfall.
After you’ve spent some time appreciating the enormity of the waterfall from its base, you can climb the steps to view the waterfall from above. There are a little over 500 stairs to the top of the waterfall. It is definitely a quadricep workout, but the view is worth it.
From the viewing platform, you can see the Skoga River which flows to the top of the waterfall before plummeting over the edge. This is a much less photographed view of Skogafoss, but it’s still remarkable.
After spending some time viewing the waterfall from above, most people head back down the staircase to the parking lot. However, there is a hiking trail that follows the Skoga River back into the valley, and it’s filled with additional waterfalls if you’re up for a long, extended day hike. Assuming you’re returning to the parking lot, you’ll turn back to face the staircase and be greeted with a beautiful, sprawling view of South Iceland below.
Stop 8: Walk To The Secluded, Picturesque Kvernufoss Waterfall
Right next door to Skogafoss is the waterfall Kvernufoss. Kvernufoss is one of South Iceland’s less frequented gems. Fewer tourists know of its existence, but it’s certainly not lacking in beauty.
To get to Kvernufoss, you’ll take the same exit off the Ring Road as you would to get to Skogafoss, but instead of following the signs to the left for Skogafoss, continue straight down Skogar to the end of the road and turn right. You’ll park near Hotel Edda and walk the rest of the way into the valley. In the summer, it takes about 10-15 minutes to reach the waterfall.
The walk is comfortable, requiring very little in the way of elevation hiking or rocky terrain. From the hotel you’ll climb a short ladder over a fence and make your way back into the valley where the path is clearly marked. You might even run into a few Icelandic horses grazing by the river.
The waterfall itself is similar in looks to its neighbor, Seljalandsfoss. Unlike Seljalandsfoss, it is not possible to walk all the way behind Kvernufoss, and at 98 feet it is also much smaller. The path ends right up alongside the waterfall and provides you with plenty of excellent viewing spots.
The whole valley is beautiful. It’s green and lush in summer, and sparkling white in winter. Best of all, it’s not overcrowded with tourists at any time of year.
Though the path is easily navigated in the summer months, in the winter, it is often covered in ice and can be dangerous. Bring crampons to stabilize your feet on the slippery ground and exercise caution. It might be best to view the waterfall from farther away.
Where to stay in/near Vík:
Day 3: Continue Your 4 Days In Iceland By Traveling East To Black Sand Beaches And Plane Wrecks
Stop 1: Explore The Eerie Remains From The Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
This popular tourist destination is the result of a DC-3 US navy plane running out of fuel and crashing on Solheimasandur Beach in 1973. Fortunately everyone survived, but the body of the plane was abandoned. The white wreckage of the plane lies in sharp contrast with the black sand of the beach, and together they make for hauntingly beautiful photographs.
There is a designated parking lot for visitors to the plane wreck located right along the Ring Road just 10 minutes down the coast from Skogafoss. Though at one time you could drive right up to the plane wreck you now have to walk 2 miles from the parking lot.
The path is flat and relatively easy, but will take you roughly 45 minutes to 1 hour each way. There is very little to see besides vast expanses of rocks and black sand, and on a windy day the walk can be particularly frustrating, as you have to fight the wind resistance as well.
The plane doesn’t come into sight until the end of your walk. Get your camera ready, and be prepared to photograph the wreckage. There are a lot of tourists and slim windows for getting pictures without other people in them.
So bring a friend and catch up on life as you hike to this unique, beautiful wreckage stranded in the middle of the beach. If you’re willing to power through the walk, it’s worth the trip.
Recently a shuttle bus has been provided to the plane for 2500 ISK round trip or 1500 ISK one way giving you roughly an hour to explore the wreck before you head back if you choose the round trip ticket. This is a fairly new development however that is still being tested out, so don’t depend on it being a reliable mode of transportation on your trip. As we said, if you’re willing and able (and the weather isn’t too bad), walking to the wreck can actually be quite enjoyable.
Stop 2: Climb The Basalt Columns At Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
One of the most famous stops on your Iceland itinerary is Reynisfjara Beach, known for its signature black sand and towering basalt columns. This beach is among Iceland’s most impressive black sand beaches, and was even featured in the TV show Game of Thrones.
There are so many incredible spots along the beach to enjoy. However you should be aware that the beach is developing a reputation for its large sleeper waves. So take your pictures, but be aware and don’t let your desire for the “perfect” photo affect your judgment.
The beach and its surrounding waters boast an impressive collection of rock formations including the cliff of basalt columns that seems to rise out of the sand. This is a prime photograph location and you’ll see many tourists climbing the uneven columns to pose for a picture.
When facing the roaring Atlantic Ocean, to the left are the Reynisdrangar rock formations. These pointy basalt pillars rise straight out of the ocean, like man-made sculptures in the water. To the right is the Dyrholaey rock formation, an arched bridge-like formation with a large hole in the bottom.
Stop 3: Find Your Way To The Edge Of Mulagljufur Canyon Where Waterfalls Await You
Mulagljufur Canyon is one of Iceland’s lesser known canyons along the South Coast, but it is certainly a gem. Once you reach the gravel parking area you’ll hike along a moderately difficult trail for roughly 1.5 miles to reach the canyon.
Wear sturdy, waterproof hiking boots. You will get wet crossing rivers and squelching through mud, but the views are more than worth it. Trekking to Mulagljufur is the perfect way to leave the South Coast crowds behind and marvel at the beauty that nature has created.
Though steep canyon walls and flowing rivers would be enough to draw anyone in, this canyon also offers a look at two beautiful waterfalls, Hangandifoss and Mulafoss. At 50m, Mulafoss is perhaps not the most impressive of the waterfalls you’ll experience along the South Coast, but it carries its own beauty streaming from the canyon walls.
Hangandifoss on the other hand is quite tall at 123m and paired with the imposing canyon walls, it would surely be a well-trafficked South Coast staple if it were more easily accessible and clearly marked. For now, be thankful it is neither as you’ll feel particularly special getting to appreciate the magnificence of the waterfall all on your own.
Stop 4: Get A More Intimate Look At The Vatnajokull Glacier At The Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Though Fjallsarlon is smaller and less frequented than its neighbor Jokulsarlon, these are exactly the reasons that this glacier lagoon is magical. You’ll find this gem on the south end of the Vatnajökull glacier (Europe’s biggest glacier outside of the Arctic) just 15 minutes down the road from Jokulsarlon, and yet many tourists don’t even know of its existence. You’re also unlikely to find the big tour buses here, meaning you’re free to absorb your natural surroundings in relative peace and quiet.
In the silence you can sit along the edge of the water and listen to the ice breaking and colliding as the scene slowly but constantly continues to shift. Though there’s still a lagoon separating you from the glacier, at Fjallsarlon your experience with the majestic, calving glacier is far more intimate.
Fjallsarlon is conveniently located right off the Ring Road just before you reach Jokulsarlon. Once you park you’ll have to walk a short distance to reach the edge of the water, but you’ll be face to face with sparkling icebergs in no time.
Because Fjallsarlon is smaller in size, you might find that standing on the shore and taking in the views is enough to give you a complete experience at the lagoon. If however you wish to get even closer, you can take a boat tour which will allow you to navigate through the icebergs on a small boat with a knowledgeable guide. The actual time spent on the boat is roughly 45 minutes.
Stop 4: Watch The Floating Icebergs At Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Next up on your Iceland itinerary is the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This stop is so vastly different from anything else you’ll have seen along the rest of the coast. Located on the east part of the South Coast, Jokulsarlon is a stunning lagoon filled with floating icebergs.
The lagoon is ever-changing as the surrounding glacier continues to melt and new ice blocks fall. During the summer, you can take a boat tour through the lagoon and get an up close view of the icebergs.
All year long you can view the lagoon from the shore, walking along its edge to see the icebergs from varying angles. The enormous glacier looms large in the background.
Across the street is a black sand beach called Diamond Beach. It sets itself apart from other black sand beaches like Reynisfjara Beach, because the entire beach is covered in clear sparkling ice. Pieces of the icebergs floating in the glacier lagoon break off and wash ashore, scattering themselves around the beach.
The contrast of the black sand against the clear ice is striking and makes for some powerful photographs. The beach becomes even more fairytale-esque at sunset when the sky is painted yellow. As the day comes to a close you’ll be thrilled you continued your drive up the coast to this natural beauty.
Where to stay in/near Hofn:
Day 4: Visit A Striking Mountain Before Driving Back To Reykjavik To End Your 4 Days In Iceland
Stop 1: Marvel At the Imposing Vestrahorn Mountain On The Stokksnes Peninsula
You’ll begin the last of your 4 days in Iceland with a trip to one of the country’s most striking mountains. Think jagged snow-capped mountains seemingly rising from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean surrounded by dunes of pitch-black sand spotted with tufts of brilliant green sea grass.
When the lupines are in bloom the scene is even more fantastic, adding various shades of purple to the mixture. It’s impressive and picturesque to say the least.
When a thin layer of water covers the beach you can see the reflection of the mountain and yourself as you appear to be walking on water. It makes for a truly stunning photograph. Be careful though as you photograph from the beach as the waves can sneak up on you if you’re not careful and they have the potential to be high and strong.
The mountain itself is called Vestrahorn or perhaps you might have heard it referred to by its nickname, Batman Mountain. You’ll find this mountain on the Stokksnes Peninsula roughly 10.5 miles east of Hofn where you’ll have spent the night the previous day. About half of that distance will be driven on the Ring Road before branching off on a gravel road.
Typing in Vestrahorn Mountain into your GPS will take you to the exact location. When you reach the Viking Café you’ll have to pay the 800 ISK entrance fee. The fee is well worth the sites you’ll see.
This is also the perfect spot to catch a dramatic sunrise or sunset as the brilliant colors light up the mountain. It’s also a great spot for Northern Lights viewing given the right weather conditions, because the sky is so dark out at the beach.
Stop 2: Walk The Edge Of the Magical Fjadrargljufur Canyon
As if you haven’t seen enough picturesque landscapes during the course of your 4 days in Iceland, the next stop on your Iceland itinerary is at the magical Fjadrargljufur Canyon. This impressive canyon was thought to be formed at the end of the last Ice Age by a glacial river that carried sediment with it ultimately creating a 100-meter deep slice through the earth. The whole canyon is lined with moss that is a vibrant green in the summer with flowers blooming in the spring and summer.
In the winter the landscape is sometimes covered in lacy snow making it a whole different kind of magical. You’ll have to be careful though and potentially bring crampons to make your way over icy patches in the winter. Even when there’s no snow and the moss is more of a brownish color, you can’t help but find beauty in the canyon anyway.
A river runs down the center and you might even spot a waterfall or two as you wander along. Walking the edge of the canyon is a breathtaking experience, but we implore you to please stay on the designated path. At various points along the designated path, you’ll find viewpoints, each with a view seemingly more beautiful than the last.
As long as the water level remains low, you also have the option of walking down to the base of the canyon along the water. If you choose this option you’ll definitely need waterproof shoes.
In 2015, Justin Bieber released the music video for his song “I’ll Show You” in which he was seen frolicking around various Iceland locations including Fjadrargljufur. This video brought a surge of attention to the small island, but not all of it was positive. The number of tourists visiting the canyon surged and many of the visitors, following in Justin Bieber’s footsteps, were not respectful of the fragile landscape of the canyon.
As a result, the vegetation and stability of the edge of the canyon were severely damaged. Eventually, the Icelandic Environment Agency closed the canyon to visitors in an attempt to reverse some of the damage, some of which will take decades to restore. It has also been closed down in the springtime when the ice and snowmelt make the path too muddy and dangerous.
For now, the canyon is again open to the public but will only continue to remain open if people respect the environment and let nature thrive. If the canyon happens to be closed during your visit, you’ll just continue the drive west back towards Keflavik.
Stop 3: End Your 4 Days In Iceland With A Soak In The Milky Blue Waters Of The Blue Lagoon
To finish off your 4 days in Iceland with a bang, we’re recommending you go to the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most famous attractions/activities and a hot spot for tourists and even celebrities. Another reason why it’s crucial you pack your swimsuit for your 4 days in Iceland!
The Blue Lagoon is conveniently located in Grindavik, only 13.5 miles from the Keflavik International Airport, making it the perfect final stop on your Iceland itinerary before heading to catch your flight home. You’ll need to book well in advance on the Blue Lagoon website to guarantee a time slot due to a heavy increase in tourism. Despite the crowds and hefty prices, this is an experience that is definitely worthy of a visit at least once.
Contrary to popular belief, this geothermal slice of heaven is not actually a natural hot spring. Though Iceland is filled with natural hot pots, this particular lagoon is actually a man-made lagoon resulting from activity at the nearby geothermal power plant, Svartsengi.
Though that sounds less than glamorous, the water is truly wonderful, safe to enjoy and is renewed every 48 hours. In fact it might just be the most relaxing, healing experience you’ll have during your 4 days in Iceland.
Like the public swimming pool complexes you’ll be required to shower naked prior to entering the lagoon, however there are private shower stalls available. When you’re showered and ready to go, it’s time to enter the Blue Lagoon and bask in its glorious waters. It is possible to enter the lagoon from the inside and swim to the outside so you don’t have to brave the cold air walking to the water.
You should take note, that while the water is wonderful for your skin due to its mineral richness, it is terrible for your hair. It will very quickly dry out your hair so we suggest keeping it dry (and tied up if it’s long) or if you’re set on getting it wet, prepare to condition it like crazy afterwards.
The temperature of the Blue Lagoon varies, but you can always find an area of the huge lagoon that’s a suitable temperature for you. It’s easy to spend hours relaxing in the water.
As tourism has expanded, so has the Blue Lagoon and all that it offers. There is a bar in the lagoon itself where you can buy drinks (both alcoholic and non-alcoholic) without having to get out of the water. They charge the amount to your wristband and you’ll pay on your way out.
There are also a number of restaurants on the property as well as additional spa experiences you can pay extra for. Though the Blue Lagoon welcomes an enormous number of tourists these days, you don’t feel cramped when in the lagoon. There’s plenty of space and the number of guests allowed in is limited.
This is definitely a pricey experience as the lowest entrance package is $55-$95 depending on the time of day you visit, and the price seems to be constantly rising as tourism increases. However there is no doubt you’re in for a wonderful time in these blue waters surrounded by natural lava and moss.
As we said before, it’s an experience we think you’ll want to have at least once in your life. And boy will you feel good on your plane ride home!
From the Blue Lagoon you’ll drive the relatively short distance to the Keflavik International Airport to catch your evening flight home. If you are not flying out until the next day, you have the option of driving back to Reykjavik to spend the night, or staying in Keflavik for a quick and easy drive to the airport in the morning.
Where to stay in Keflavik:
The Golden Circle And Why It Was Left Off Our Iceland Itinerary
If you’ve begun planning a trip to Iceland, you’ve likely heard of The Golden Circle, one of the most famous and heavily trafficked tourist routes in the country. This route includes the Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss (the golden) Waterfall, and the Strokkur geyser with additional optional stops at places such as Kerið crater and the Secret Lagoon. We’ve chosen to leave the Golden Circle off of our itinerary because of its heavy tourist crowds, and because there are equally if not more spectacular spots to explore throughout the rest of Iceland that are more peaceful and isolated.
That being said, the stops along the Golden Circle are still wonderful and probably exceed many other natural wonders you’ll see in your lifetime. Because of that we wanted to provide you with information on the Golden Circle and leave it up to you whether you want to include it and swap it out for other stops currently included in our Iceland itinerary. If you decide to include it, at the very least it can make for a great introduction to all that Iceland’s nature has to offer.
Thingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site where Iceland’s first parliament was formed back in 930 AD. It was conveniently accessible from all corners of the country by horse or foot. This is where the chieftains met to create and change the country’s laws.
Meetings continued to be held there until 1798. The parliament would later be moved to Reykjavik in 1844.
Thingvellir National Park is also the site of a giant rift valley, which marks the meeting of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Between the impressive rift valley, unbelievably clear waters, and Oxararfoss waterfall, Thingvellir National Park is certainly a beautiful stop.
Your next stop will be Geyser, the geothermal hot spot. While the actual Geyser is no longer active, its neighbor, Strokkur still erupts at 5-7 minute intervals. Crowds of tourists gather around Strokkur in anticipation of its burst of water and steam shooting up into the air.
While the main attraction is the geyser, the surrounding landscape is full of pots of boiling water. As you might expect, the water would be dangerously hot to the touch, so steer clear and enjoy the natural phenomenon at a safe distance.
You’ll wrap up the three stops with Gullfoss Waterfall. In the summer months, it is common to see a rainbow arching over the waterfall, earning it the name Golden Waterfall.
Though Iceland spoils you with an abnormally large number of impressive waterfalls, Gullfoss is rightfully among the top. It’s an impressive sight at any time of year. The waterfall has both upper and lower viewing platforms, and we suggest spending some time at both.
Where to stay along the Golden Circle:
Iceland Road Trip Map:
If you’re more of a visual person, we’ve provided this road trip map for your 4 days in Iceland below so it’s easier for you to see where each stop is located. For the driving route, check out the link to the map.
We’re thrilled you’ve chosen to spend 4 days in Iceland, the enchanting land of fire and ice. We have no doubt you’ll leave Iceland with an abundance of unforgettable experiences and more fantastic pictures than you can count. We hope you find this Iceland itinerary to be helpful as you plan your trip, and encourage you to comment below with any questions or stories you might have of your own Iceland adventures.