5 Days in Iceland: The Ultimate Itinerary

5 days in Iceland: the ultimate itinerary

Let's say this right up front: Iceland is epic! And we mean that literally. Boasting one of the most unique landscapes on Earth, visitors soon see just why the nation has been inspiring imaginations for centuries. From hot springs and otherworldly sights to a friendly and welcoming population and distinct cuisine that foodies all over the world chase after, exploring Iceland makes for the perfect mix of culture and nature. For those coming to Iceland for the first time, it might seem overwhelming to choose from so many wonders. But we've put together the ultimate five-day Iceland itinerary to help you!

Related: Iceland Travel Guide: Everything You Need To Know

Reykjavik, IcelandUnsplash

Day One: Reykjavik

While we understand that travelers will be eager to check out many of the natural destinations in Iceland, your first stop will almost certainly be the capital of Reykjavik. There's no better way to get your feet wet with Icelandic culture than to discover this remarkable city and its many exciting destinations. The city is small and eminently walkable, which you should take advantage of since much of your stay will require a car. Here are a few places to check out when here.

The Blue Lagoon

Literally on the way to Reykjavik from the Keflavik International Airport, this bucket list destination can be reached directly from one's flight by bus before heading over to a hotel. The natural wonder is as blue as its name implies, a thermal spring bath where you can take a dip in warm waters as you sip on a cool beverage. It's a popular spot, so getting there early can help you beat the crowds.

Hallgrímskirkja Church

The looming spires of Iceland's most iconic cathedral dominate the local landscape and draw architecture lovers to its esoteric design. Crafted to emulate ice caves, the impressive structure allows visitors to go to the top of its 73 meters and enjoy a rewarding view of the city. Be sure to check out the bold statue of Leif Ericson in front, posed in all its heroic glory!


Iceland's premier exhibition center hosts several science and nature exhibits centered around the island's fantastic features. Check out hot installations like the Volcano Show, or be one of the cool people who experience the real ice caves maintained at this Wonders of Iceland museum. Spectacular shows include planetarium spectacles and even a look beneath the local ocean waves.

Street Art, Shopping, and Foodie Scene

Taking walking tours of different neighborhoods in Reykjavik will lead you to excellent opportunities to view street art, try local foods, and buy some cool stuff! Walk along the coastal Frakkastígur area, which will lead you past wonderful street art and plenty of options to grab a bite. Seeking out artisan ice creams and Icelandic-style hotdogs is highly recommended. In this part of town, you can also visit the Sun Voyager, a beloved sculpture representing a longboat and dreams for the future. Wandering the streets in the area will also take you past great little shops with everything from hand-knitted sweaters to unique gifts.

Gullfoss Waterfall, Golden Circle, IcelandUnsplash

Day Two: The Golden Circle

Once you've had your fill of the capital, prepare to explore the grandeur of Iceland's natural wonders! You'll need to rent a car to get. While you could try alternatives like buses and hired drivers, you may face inconvenience and higher costs, making car rentals a good move to make. This will also give you the freedom to roam where you will. The Golden Circle is a famous scenic drive just outside of Reykjavik. Here are the best spots to check out for this perfect day trip.

Þingvellir National Park

Known the world over as one of the grandest national parks in the world, Þingvellir is a must-see destination as you tour the Golden Circle. This is also the spot where the European and North American tectonic plates split apart, so you can boast you've been on two continents at once!


If you're into epic water spots like America's famous Old Faithful, prepare for a next-level experience. The Strokkur geyser explodes 30-meter streams of lava-heated water every 8-10 minutes! Move up to the Great Geysir, which is bigger but far less reliable yet still worth a stop thanks to the boiling sulfurous mud pots dotted about.

The Gullfoss Waterfall

Easily one of the most Instagramable spots in the Golden Circle, the Gullfoss waterfall welcomes about 2000 people per day. The beautiful surroundings and unusual configuration just begs camera lenses to capture it.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, IcelandUnsplash

Day Three: South Coast

The Golden Circle is a great way to tee up the next spectacular day of your itinerary in Iceland. The nation's South Coast is another treasure trove of scenic overviews, waterfalls, and charming villages, which will have you pulling over for picture-taking as you drive and admire the surroundings. Here are some great spots to check out on the South Coast.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Another incredible cascade in Iceland, the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, is one of the biggest draws on the South Coast. One reason for that is the unusual angle from which you can enjoy this aqueous curiosity. You can actually walk behind the curtain of falling water here! Photographers get a great chance to capture this natural wonder in a whole new way.

Dyrhólaey Peninsula

Looking almost like some sort of abstract sculpture, the Dyrhólaey Peninsula is an incredible scenic overlook along the South Coast. Towering cliff faces and a gigantic rocky arch jutting out into the ocean prominently, as if some giant was designing a launching point for itself!


Nearby the enigmatic peninsula is Reynisfjara. This stunning black sand beach is a result of volcanic activity, creating the distinct look of much of Iceland's coasts. Stopping over will offer excellent photo opportunities, including the impressive Reynisdrangar rock formations offshore.

Vík í Mýrdal Village

If you're looking for a typical storybook village in Iceland, Vík í Mýrdal will fit the bill. Set below the nearby Mýrdalsjökull glacier, it offers a taste of small-town Nordic life, down to the small chapel by the sea.

People walking across Vatnajökull glacier, IcelandUnsplash

Day Four: Glaciers

Going hiking on glaciers in Iceland is something like a rite of passage. Many of these permanent ice fields offer a touch of natural iconography and take us on a journey to a corner of the globe that can feel like a whole new world. Heading up northeast from the South Coast, some of the best glaciers in the country can be experienced.


Located right near Vík í Mýrdal, the Mýrdalsjökull glacier covers a large volcano, making it a double wonder. Sign up for a guided hike to the area and take in some incredible scenery. But don't stay too long because you're going to want to drive further north for a much larger icescape.


The largest glacier in Iceland is as big as some countries! About the size of Cyprus, Vatnajökull offers a huge number of possibilities. You can choose to see large swaths of the area via snowmobile or take guided glacial hiking if you want to feel more adventurous. You can also explore natural ice caves or even spot active volcanoes!

Northern Lights

Staying overnight in the Vatnajökull area may allow you an excellent chance to catch the Aurora Borealis or the northern lights. These electromagnetic light displays in the sky can't look more spectacular than they do over the glaciers.

Puffins along the coast of IcelandUnsplash

Day Five: Ocean Excursions

Returning to the Reykjavik area before you depart, take the time to take in some of the offshore activities by boat. The wildlife and oceanic features are unlike anywhere else in the world, so opting for tours on the local sea is a great way to round out your stay.

Whale Watching

Several tours for local whale watching are available in downtown Reykjavik. Most common among the species you'll encounter are minke and humpback whales. But you may also see belugas or even orcas!

Coast-Hugging Trips

Boats launching from Reykjavik can hug the coast and show you everything from cozy coves to puffin nesting areas. Roll by floating icebergs and spot harbor seals.

Northern Lights Cruise

Missed the aurora in the glaciers? Even if you didn't, taking a night cruise on your last night in Iceland is the perfect sendoff. Enjoy some warm drinks as you bask under the gleam of the northern lights, leaving a lasting afterglow you'll always remember.

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Iceland eSIM: Stay Connected With Airalo

Stay connected during your trip to Iceland with an eSIM from Airalo. An eSIM is a tiny SIM that's embedded in your device and works 100% digitally. You can download an eSIM plan for your destination and instantly connect to a mobile network. There's no need to find a SIM card vendor, manage multiple SIMs, or worry about roaming fees. 

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You're all set to plan a trip to Iceland! Head to the Airalo store to browse eSIMs for Iceland and 200+ countries and regions worldwide.

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