If you’ve spent any time with me over the past two months you’ll likely have heard me go on about how much I absolutely loved Iceland. It was truly the most surreal, captivating country that I’ve ever visited and, since getting home, I have recommended it to just about anybody that will listen!
You might have caught my post last week with my top tips for travelling to Iceland (if you didn’t, you can go and give it a read here) so today I am rounding up of everything we got up to during our trip into one ultimate four day itinerary.
Call me biased, but I think we nailed it when it came to our itinerary for this trip. Our days were jam-packed and involved plenty of driving, however we still felt like we had time to relax and take everything in.
We spent 4 days travelling the south-western parts of Iceland, so keep reading to see everything that we got up to! I hope it inspires you to plan your own trip to this stunning country.
Having landed in Iceland the day before and spent the evening settling in to our cabin, we woke up on our first day prepared for a busy day of exploring.
We spent our first day doing a version of the Golden Circle route. The Golden Circle is a route which traditionally starts in Reykavik and has three main stops: Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall and the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. It is a great route which will show you Iceland’s biggest attractions, although I would recommend adding in a couple of your own stops if you can as there is SO much more to see along the way!
Setting off from Selfoss, our first stop was Kerid crater lake, the remains of a collapsed volcano which, although frozen over when we visited, was incredibly beautiful.
Next on our agenda was the much quieter but incredibly beautiful stop of Faxi waterfall. This is conveniently located on the route of the Golden Circle however it seems to be overlooked by most tourists – when we visited there were only around 4 other people there, which made it lovely and serene. Your are able to get up quite close to Faxi waterfall, making it the perfect stop for any keen photographers out there.
We then visited Gulfoss Waterfall, one of the most popular stops on the Golden Circle but definitely one of the most spectacular! The views you get of Gulfoss are stunning, and if you are visiting in the summer months when it is less icy, you can climb down and get even closer to the waterfall.
Not too far from Gulfoss, our next stops were the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Although Geysir has laid dormant for years, Strokkur frequently erupts every 6-10 minutes and can reach heights of up to 40 metres!
Our final stop of the day was Bruarfoss waterfall. There is a small car park for Bruarfoss just off the Golden Circle route, however the waterfall itself is a little off the beaten track and requires a walk to reach it. It’s important to note here that the road to Bruarfoss was closed a couple of years ago due to the damage the trespassers were causing to local houses, therefore parking in the official parking and following the 3km hike is your only way of reaching Bruarfoss waterfall. The view you will get at the other end is well worth the hike, however, with breathtaking blue waters and a welcoming sense of calm compared to some of the bigger, more touristy areas. Be sure to stop at Midfoss waterfall along the way, and don’t forget your camera – this stop was one of our favourites.
On our second day, we set of on a mammoth road trip along the south coast of Iceland. There is SO much to see along the south coast and, similar to the golden circle, everything is very easy to find and mostly on the route 1 road. As well as the main stops, you’ll find so many opportunities to pull over along the way – this route is incredibly beautiful and the drive alone is something spectacular.
We started our day with a stop at Seljalandsfoss waterfall – a spectacularly tall waterfall which you can even walk behind! Although touristy, it is well worth a visit, and whilst you are there, be sure to take the short walk down to the much lesser-know Gljúfrabúi waterfall. This is a truly stunning waterfall hidden behind a huge rock, and it seemed to be one of the area’s best kept secrets! You will have to wade through a shallow river to get there, however it is definitely worth it to see the waterfall up close. And it goes without saying, wear a waterproof coat and be prepared to get wet!
After drying ourselves off and warming up with a hot chocolate, we headed off for our second stop, Skógafoss, another incredible waterfall just a short drive from Seljalandsfoss. Here, you are also able to walk right up close to the waterfall, as well as being able to climb up a path and view it from above. Another must-see if you are going to Iceland!
Next up, we made a couple of brief (but no less beautiful!) stops – pausing to see the black sand beaches of Vik, and pulling over at Foss á Sidu, a narrow but very tall waterfall which is right on the side of the route 1 road.
Unfortunately, we had to abandon our plans for our next stop, Fjadrargljufur Canyon, which was closed off due to the wintry road conditions. I still wanted to include it in this post however, as it looks like such a beautiful place to see if you are heading to Iceland in the summer months!
Undeterred, we made our way to the next place on our route, Skaftafell Nature Reserve. Skaftafell was incredible and, in total honesty, I think one of our only regrets of the trip was not allowing more time to explore here. There are some truly breathtaking glaciers (which you can take guided tours of, if you wish) and Svartifoss waterfall, which we unfortunately didn’t have time to see.
We discovered one of the most spectacular sights from our trip completely by accident, when we detoured down a small gravel road a few minutes down the route 1 road from Skaftafell Nature Reserve and discovered Svínafellsjökull glacier. The sun was just beginning to set when we arrived here and I can honestly say it was one of the most surreal moments of my life. We spent roughly an hour at Svínafellsjökull and saw no more than four other people up there, making it so serene and peaceful. I can’t recommend this stop enough!
Our final stop of the day was The Diamond Beach. By the time we got here, it was completely dark, and although this wasn’t ideal, it was completely magical to see the crystal blue icebergs glistening in the moonlight.
To give the perfect ending to an incredible day, we were even lucky enough to see the northern lights that night, and we pitched ourselves under a bridge between The Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon to watch them dancing overhead.
I feel that it’s important to note that, if you are planning on doing this particular drive, consider booking somewhere to stay the night near to your final stop. We found ourselves exhausted, hungry and 4 hours from our cabin at 10 o’clock at night and we chose to drive the long journey back (through a blizzard, I should add!) rather than stop at a hotel, which we both agreed wasn’t the most sensible idea.
Nonetheless, this day of our trip was truly unforgettable and I wouldn’t hesitate to explore more of the south coast of Iceland!
Day 3, and after a much-needed lie in we were headed for Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik.
We made a quick detour on our way there and stopped off in the charming town of Hveragerdi, which is referred to as the hot spring capital of the world due to it being built on a hot spring field! We found this a lovely place to have a wander along the river and see the hot springs for ourselves.
Once we made it to Reykjavik, we stopped for some lunch before having a look around the city. Although it is a quaint place to visit, we didn’t find a huge amount to do in Reykavik and, overall, we felt glad that we hadn’t stayed there for the duration of our stay. Whilst you are there I would recommend paying a visit to Hallgrímskirkja church, one of Iceland’s most prominent landmarks.
We finished up our day with a visit to the famous Blue Lagoon. This is very near to Keflavik airport so, if you can, it is worth seeing if you can tie in your visit with your flight to/from Iceland, and make sure you book in advance because their morning time slots do get booked up! The Blue Lagoon is spectacular, incredibly relaxing (you get a complimentary drink and silica mud mask with your entry fee) and you could easily spend a few hours unwinding in their gorgeous blue waters.
With an evening flight booked, we made the most of our final day in Iceland and headed 2 hours north of Selfoss to the waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafossar.
We took a slight detour on the way there and drove through Thingvellir National Park (a stop on the Golden Circle which we had missed out three days before) which made a beautiful drive, and would definitely be somewhere I would like to explore for longer next time we visit.
With Hruanfossar and Barnafossar waterfalls, it’s safe to say that we saved something special for the end. They are a handful of incredibly beautiful waterfalls right next to one another, and the views you will get of them are truly spectacular. As it’s a little way from Reykavik, Hruanfossar is another waterfall that doesn’t attract a huge amount of tourists, so take your time enjoying the peaceful scenery.
By the end of our trip we were exhausted but completely enamoured with Iceland. The Land of Fire and Ice truly has so much to offer and it’s a place that has to be experienced to be believed. I have recommended it to SO many people since and I would return back in a heartbeat!