What to do in Iceland: 4 Day Travel Guide
Are you wondering what to do in Iceland? I went to Iceland with friends this summer – in July at the height of vaccinations & when things were just opening back up! Flights are getting tricky again, but here’s your ultimate Iceland travel guide for your next trip! Note that if you’re going in the winter, you can also see the northern lights here.
Some backstory on Iceland since I knew absolutely nothing about it before we visited! It’s filled with gorgeous nature and is known as the land of ice and fire – because its terrain ranges from glaciers to active volcanoes. They have a history of vikings (I became obsessed with learning about them during our trip), and they have one of the top economies and healthcare in the world.
Fun fact: they have such a small population that there is a dating database to make sure you’re not dating someone you’re too closely related to! In the summer they have nearly 24/7 sunlight which is really trippy for your circadian rhythm but so fun – that’s why they also call it the land of the midnight sun!
See below for the top spots to visit on your trip to Iceland. I’m organizing this post in 2 ways: (1) Adventurous vs Chill Spots, since every trip needs a balance of both; and (2) Our Itinerary – the exact spots and order that we visited them on each day of our trip.
Adventurous vs Chill Spots
🔥 Adventures: Exploring Along Ring Road & The Golden Circle 🔥
🌋Plane wreck on Sólheimasandur black sand beach – much longer hike than anticipated but worth it for photo enthusiasts – just bring extra water, snacks, and your comfiest shoes.
🌋Geldingadalir Volcano & Lava
🌋Glaciers: You can get close enough to touch them or walk on them
🌋Black Sand Beach & basalt rock walls
🌋Geysers: These are so fun to watch
🌋Hot springs: Blue Lagoon (boujee), Secret Lagoon (less touristy) or Sturlungalaug (natural & free but trickier to find)
🌋Waterfalls: We visited Gulfoss, Seljalandsfoss & Skógafoss but there are many more!
❄️ Chill Days in Reykjavik City ❄️
🏔Sun voyager statue
🏔Local cuisine – hot dogs, ice cream & seafood
🏔Shopping & trying on famous Icelandic wool
Our 4-Day Iceland Itinerary
FRIDAY – Geldingadalir Volcano & the Golden Circle
- Arrive in the morning to airport & pick up rental car (automatic): This took quite a while to get our car so leave at least an hour in your itinerary for this. The rental cars can be expensive but it’s worth it to get the automatic if you can.
- Geldingadalir Volcano & lava: The lava starts and stops as it chooses, so the day we went it wasn’t red and flowing like we were expecting. The visibility that day was also low since it was so foggy, so we were told not to go to the top of the volcano. It was still worth a trip since it’s a once in a lifetime chance to see lava up close like that!
- Kerid crater: This one is right off the road and costs just a few dollars to get in. I found this one to be really breathtaking!
- Geysers: These were so fun since they’re all in a vast field and you never know which one would erupt next. They all seemed to erupt every few minutes. It did smell like sulfur near them, but they were so pretty and it was just an awesome sight to see.
- Gullfoss waterfall: Translated to Golden Falls, this is one of Iceland’s most beloved waterfalls. I liked it even more when we took a walk down to get closer to it. You can see it just continues between two mountains as far as the eye can see. It really made me feel like I was in Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones! I could have stared at it all day.
SATURDAY – REYKJAVIK CITY
- Botanical gardens & cafe
- COVID TEST @ Suðurlandsbraut 34 – 108 RVK
- Colorful houses
- Sun voyager statue
- Symphony hall: The elevators here go very slow and speed up once you step on them!
- Local Cuisine: Hot dog (with all the toppings!)
- Saga Viking Museum: I became so obsessed with the viking history on this trip! The viking museum has so much great info and you can get through it all in 20-30 minutes.
- Listened to live music at Dillon’s bar
- Shopping – Souvenirs & Reykjavik shirt
- Back to Airbnb to rest
- Back out to take photos in fields just outside the city
- Went out at night to see the midnight sun & people watched!
SUNDAY – southern cost along the ring road
- Waterfalls: Skógafoss & Seljalandsfoss Waterfall – Seljalandsfoss was my favorite because I got to walk behind it! That’s so rare and just felt magical to be behind such a massive force of nature like that. Both of these are right next to the road and have parking lots you can pull into. They cost a few dollars to walk around.
- Glacier: How often do you get to touch a glacier? This was another unforgettable experience that Iceland gave us. There are also tours that let you walk on them, but we didn’t have time for those on our trip.
- Plane wreck: This ended up being a MUCH longer hike than any of us anticipated. Many people in front of us gave up and told us it was too far to walk. I think it was about 1-1.5 hours walk each way to and from the plane. It’s on sand and rocks so it was harder to walk on those as well. We definitely saw mirages since it always looked like we were close to the end of the beach, but when we got there it just kept going! Eventually we made it and I personally found it worth it, since it’s another once in a lifetime experience & is such an incredible photo opp as well.
- Black sand beach & basalt rock wall: Less than 1 hour after touching a freezing glacier, we were sunbathing on the black sand beach & climbing these rock walls. Legend has it that these basalt columns used to be trolls, but they stayed up too late and were turned to stone when the sun hit them in the morning!
- Hot springs: Sturlungalaug (no farm, skip to step that’s Styr Rymelar (sp?) – 3 hours from city. Directions: Take 54 to 55. There are gates you can open for car on road, just be sure to close them behind you for sheep, etc. For a more boujee experience you can also visit the Blue Lagoon or the Secret Lagoon, but those are definitely more touristy & can set you back $25-100.
- Reykjavik again: Chill day shopping & eating!
- Back to airport in the morning
I really loved this trip for the same reason I loved my Ireland trip – it felt so healthy getting back to nature after being cooped up inside for so long!