4 days in Iceland - the best self-drive road trip itinerary

Iceland in 4 Days (Best Itinerary, Map & Tips)

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Are you planning a four-day trip to Iceland and wondering how to see the very best of Iceland in 4 days? Look no further!

In this post I am sharing the ultimate four day Iceland itinerary that brings you to all the most popular landmarks of Southern Iceland.

Why four days? Because 4 days is really the minimum time that you need in order to see all the main landmarks of southern Iceland. This itinerary does just that – it covers all the must-see places that you shouldn’t miss when traveling to Iceland for the first time.

Will you be able to see all the best places of Iceland in four days? No, 4 days in Iceland aren’t really sufficient for that… So if you have more time, you may want to check these Iceland itinerary suggestions for trips for up to 2 weeks… However, if four days is all you have, then this ultimate 4 day Iceland itinerary will show you how to make the very best of your trip. Find out!

TIP: To make your four day Iceland itinerary a bit more special, I also included a couple of less known, offbeat places, or fun activities that you see and do along the way. That way you not only get to see all the main highlights of Iceland in 4 days, but also explore this beautiful country just a little bit deeper.

 

The best Iceland itinerary for four days - see ALL the best places along the South Coast

 

4 days in Iceland – how to use this itinerary

✓ For this four-day Iceland itinerary, I assume that you indeed have 4 full days, 5 nights to spend in Iceland. I am not counting your arrival and departure days, so depending on your flight times, you will have to adapt this itinerary to best suit your trip. But at least it gives you a good idea of where to go, what to see, and how to best plan your short trip to Iceland. 

✓ This itinerary is best suited for a self-drive trip during the months from +- March to October. You will need a car for this trip. In the warmer months, from May to September, you can do this trip in a regular car. During the rest of the year (and especially in winter) it is probably wiser to rent a 4×4.

✓ Here you can find some of the best deals for Iceland car rental. There is also a local Icelandic car and camper rental company that we recommend to our readers – Lagoon Car Rental. Their prices are very competitive and they have an excellent website where you can find answers to all your car rental questions. You know exactly which car you are booking, where you can or cannot drive in it, and all the details of the insurance coverage of your choice. This is the company where we rent a car from when visiting Iceland.

TIP: Make sure to book your rental car well in advance as it only gets more expensive! Your rental car should be one of the very first things to book after you fix the flights!

✓ I made this 4-day itinerary based on our personal experience in Iceland. It allows you to break the long drives by planning some sightseeing time in between, rather than do all the driving on one day and all the sightseeing on the other. Therefore I also recommend different hotels every night along this trip. If you rather stay at one accommodation for two nights (days 2 and 3 of this trip), it’s also possible. In that case, probably the best area to stay along the South Coast is Kirkjubæjarklaustur.

✓ If you are traveling to Iceland in the heart of the winter, when the days are really short, you will need about a week in order to see all the places mentioned in this itinerary. In that case, please check our suggested Iceland winter itinerary.

✓ If you have 4 days in Iceland in winter and still want to see just the main landmarks mentioned in this article, it should be possible. However, you have to be really confident with driving in extreme winter conditions (more info about driving in Iceland in winter). Please also keep in mind that you’ll have to drive in the dark a lot. Therefore, my personal recommendation for a 4 day trip to Iceland in winter would be to book this 3-day winter tour, in addition to exploring Reykjavik for one day. Another way to see most of the places mentioned in this post is to use Reykjavik as your home base and join guided winter tours from Reykjavik.

Four days Iceland itinerary on the map

TIP: To make your trip planning easier, I also created this map, indicating all the places mentioned in this 4-day Iceland itinerary (you can also see the map here).

 

Without further ado, here is our suggested four-day itinerary that brings you to all the must-see places in southern Iceland.

DAY 1: Golden Circle +

+-200 km (125 miles), 3 hrs driving time. This doesn’t include time for sightseeing, detours or other delays.

Golden Circle is one of the most popular places in Iceland and you will see it included in every Iceland itinerary, no matter how short or long. Golden Circle is relatively close to Reykjavik and so I suggest that you start your 4-day Iceland itinerary here.

The three main landmarks along the Golden Circle are Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. If the days are short and you only have the time to see the main highlights of the Golden Circle, these are the places not to be missed. 

If, however, you are visiting Iceland in spring or summer and have plenty of daylight, there are some other great stops that you can make along the Golden Circle. I included a few most popular options below. But first – the musts.

Oxararfoss along the Golden Circle - a must in any Iceland itinerary

Oxararfoss in Thingvellir NP

 

Thingvellir National Park

Located just 45km from Reykjavik, Thingvellir National Park will likely be your first stop along the Golden Circle.

Thingvellir is one of the oldest National Parks in Iceland and since recently also a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s a place where the world’s oldest parliament was formed in the 10th century, but most visitors come here for the unique geology of this area.  The mid-Atlantic Ridge – where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet- is visible in Thingvellir NP. 

The scenery in Thingvellir is stunning and it’s worth a visit any time of the year. Probably the best view is from the top of Almannagja, at the visitor center. Don’t miss the Öxarárfoss – one of my personal favorite waterfalls in Iceland. Don’t miss the Nikulasargja Gorge. It is now also known as Peningagja (Money Gorge) because it’s customary to toss coins into the gorge and make a wish. I’d refrain from tossing anything in nature, but it’s a nice place to see, so don’t miss it!  There is also an old church, Þingvallakirkja (Thingvellir Church), that might be worth a quick stop.

There is no fee to visit Thingvellir NP, but you have to pay for car parking.

Thingvellir National Park is also home to Lake Thingvallavatn. It is best known for Silfra Gorge where you can swim between the two continents in a crystal clear and freezing cold glacial water. It’s an extremely popular snorkeling and diving location and if you are looking for a unique experience in Iceland, you should certainly consider Silfra snorkeling. Tours run the whole year, so also in winter. I personally haven’t tried Silfra snorkeling, but have only heard great things about it.

TIP: Book the first snorkeling tour available in the morning (usually around 9 AM or 10AM, depending on the season), so that you still have plenty of time left for the other Golden Circle attractions. You can find all the practical information and book Silfra snorkeling tour here.

Nikulasargja Gorge or Peningagja in Thingvellir NP Iceland

Peningagja in Thingvellir NP – can you see the coins in the water?!

 

Geysir geothermal area

Another must-see place along the Golden Circle is Geysir geothermal area, located about 50 minutes drive from Thingvellir. It’s a place where the mother of all geysers – Geysir – is located. However, Geysir itself hasn’t erupted in years and nobody can predict when it will happen again.

The good news is that the nearby Strokkur geyser is one of the most active and easiest to see geysers in the world. It erupts every 5-7 minutes, spouting water up to 30 meters (100 ft) into the air. You never have to wait long to see Strokkur in action, so you don’t have to time your visit or make any special arrangements to see the geyser.

Don’t forget to explore the whole area with boiling mud pools and colorful geothermal features steaming and bubbling all around you. Also, take a look at the newly opened Geysir Center that has great displays about geothermal activity, earthquakes, and more natural wonders of Iceland. You can even try the earthquake simulator…

This area has a restaurant, a shop, and now also a beautiful hotel. Just as with most other natural landmarks of Iceland, you can visit Geysir area free of charge.

TIP: Litli Geysir Hotel is a beautiful brand new hotel in this area and it would be a wonderful place to spend your first night in Iceland. For example, you could come here immediately after landing in Reykjavik airport, about 2 hrs drive away, and have the geyser all to yourselves.

Iceland trip itinerary suggestions - from one day to two weeks

Strokkur geyser is one of the main attractions on the Golden Circle

 

Gullfoss – the Golden waterfall

Just a few minutes drive from Geysir, you can find the third and last of the must-see landmarks of the Golden Circle – Gullfoss, or the Golden Falls.

Gullfoss is one of the most powerful and spectacular waterfalls in Iceland, fed by Iceland’s second biggest glacier, Langjökull. It’s most powerful in summer, but every season has its charms. In winter, the waterfall can get (partially frozen) and on sunny days you can see the rainbow over the falls. I have been to Gullfoss in three different seasons and it’s always just as impressive. 

You should know that the lower trail leading to the falls is usually closed in winter. However, there are many great viewpoints from further away, so you aren’t really missing anything if you can’t walk up to it. Also, make sure to dress really warm – the wind is very strong here and it brings freezing cold air from the nearby glacier.

TIP: Gullfoss is located just next to the Langjokull glacier, a popular place for snowmobile tours. You can go snowmobiling on a glacier the whole year round. Here you can find more information and book your glacier snowmobiling experience.

Gullfoss - Golden waterfall is one of the main landmarks of the Golden Circle in Iceland

Gullfoss – Golden waterfall

 

Other nice stops along the Golden Circle

Visiting the three major attractions of the Golden Circle should take you about 5-6 hours (including driving there from Reykjavik). Therefore – time and daylight permitting – I also suggest one or several of the following stops along the Golden Circle or adding one of the activities mentioned below.

  • Silfra Snorkeling. Already mentioned above – see Thingvellir area.
  • Glacier Snowmobiling on Langjokull Glacier – see Gullfoss area above for the explanation.
  • River Rafting Adventure on Hvita River – the part further below from Gullfoss.
  • Fridheimar Tomato Farm and Restaurant. This popular little restaurant located inside a greenhouse is one of the most unique places along the Golden Circle and a great place for lunch. It’s only open from 12 till 4 PM and you should probably reserve in advance. You could either go here for lunch after visiting Thingvellir (perfect place to warm up after Silfra snorkeling), or after visiting Gullfoss waterfall.
  • Kerid Crater. If you want to see a real volcano in Iceland, then don’t miss the Kerid Crater along the Golden Circle. You can walk around the crater or take the stairs down to see the bottom of the crater. Count about 30-45 minutes for a visit. There is a small fee to enter (+-500 ISK/4 USD).
  • Secret Lagoon – low-key geothermal pool in Fludir. Great way to warm up and relax after the whole day of sightseeing. Perfect location on the way to your next accommodation in Hella or Holvollur area (see suggestions below).
  • Laugarvatn Fontana geothermal baths. A bit more expensive than the Secret Lagoon, but still much cheaper than the famous Blue Lagoon. Located just next to the Golden Circle, however the location is a bit less convenient to visit in the evening, depends on your accommodation.
  • Úlfljótsvatnskirkja – a little white church with a red roof in the spectacular setting near Þingvallavatn lake.
Kerid Crater is one of the lesser known places along the Golden Circle in Iceland

Kerid Crater – one of the lesser known places along the Golden Circle

 

Accommodation:Ideally, you stay along the Ring Road, a bit more in the direction of the south coast that you’ll be exploring the next day. Probably the best-located towns for this itinerary are Hella or Hvolsvöllur. Alternatively, there are more accommodations in Sellfoss, but it’s a bit more back in the direction of Reykjavik, so it means more driving the next day.

TIP: If you are looking for a really nice place to stay in this area, I recommend either Hotel Ranga or Stracta Hotel – both in Hella.

DAY 2: South Coast to Jokulsarlon

+-300km (186 miles), 3,5 hrs driving time. This doesn’t include time for sightseeing, detours or other delays.

Iceland’s South Coast is considered one of the most beautiful regions of Iceland and is another absolute favorite. It will come as no surprise that the south coast is included in all Iceland itineraries, and it’s also one of the most popular day trips from Reykjavik.

If you only have four days in Iceland, it means that you will be driving the south coast twice – first to get to Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon and then again to come back to Reykjavik at the end of your trip. Therefore, there are many itinerary possibilities, depending on what you decide to visit on which day. The itinerary suggested below is just one example, so use it just as an indication and adjust it to your wishes.

For the second day of your four day Iceland itinerary I suggest that you drive all the way to Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. The main reason is that by staying close to the lagoon you can visit it late in the evening or early in the morning when there are no tour busses. On top of that, it’s a beautiful place to be at sunset or at sunrise. But, as I already said, if you rather don’t change hotels every night, then you may want to stay in Kirkjubæjarklaustur for 2 nights.

The three main places you have to see along the South Coast are Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls as well as the black sand beach in Vik – Reynisfjara. If the days are short and you only have the time to see the main highlights, these are the places not to be missed. 

If you are visiting in spring or in summer when the roads are better and the days are longer, there are some other nice stops that you can make along the South Coast. If you still have the time, make sure to also visit Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. I included a couple of other popular options below. But first – the musts.

South Coast is must see if you have at least 3-4 days in Iceland

South Coast is must see if you have at least 3-4 days in Iceland

 

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland, mostly known for the fact that you can walk behind it. It’s an extremely popular landmark along the South Coast, but if you start your day early, it’s quite likely you’ll be here before the groups of day tourists arrive from Reykjavik.

In winter, the path behind the waterfall is closed and you need stabilicers/crampons to even get somewhat closer to the falls. But if you are visiting Seljalandsfoss in a warmer season and the walk behind the falls is open, it’s a must-do! Don’t worry, it’s just a short easy walk that will only take a few minutes. You may get wet, so make sure you are wearing a rain jacket!

There is no fee to visit the waterfall, but you have to pay for the parking.

Seljalandfsfoss waterfall in Iceland

Seljalandfsfoss waterfall

 

TIP: Many people come here for Seljalandsfoss, but don’t know that there is another beautiful waterfall just a little bit further. Gljúfrabúi waterfall is somewhat hidden inside the gorge and isn’t well visible till you actually get to it. It takes less than five minutes to visit – follow the path to the left from Seljalandsfoss and you’ll see informational panels on the right side.

In the past, it was possible to walk up closer to Gljufrabui waterfall, but the last time I was there the path was closed. It is possible to reach the waterfall by just walking inside the gorge, but depending on how high the water level is, your feet might get wet if you choose this route. I didn’t go inside as everyone who was coming out was soaking wet, from head to toes… This picture is taken from the entrance to the gorge.

Gljufrabui waterfall near Seljalandsfoss in Southern Iceland

Gljufrabui waterfall

 

Skogafoss

Just half an hour ride along the Ring Road further to the east, you will find another major landmark of Iceland – Skogafoss. Skogafoss is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. With a drop of 60 meters (200 ft) it’s also one of the biggest waterfalls in the country. If you come here on a sunny day, the chances are big that you’ll see a beautiful rainbow (or even two) on the falls.

TIP:  If you are fit and can handle some steep stairs, I strongly advise climbing to the top of the waterfall. The views of the surroundings are spectacular! Also, it’s really impressive to see the top of the falls and feel the power of water tumbling down. At the top you can also make a short hike that takes you to a few small rapids and even more spectacular views.

TIP: If you have some time to spare, you may want to visit the nearby Skogar museum – more info below.

There is no fee to visit the waterfall.

Skogafoss waterfall is must see on any trip to Iceland

Skogafoss waterfall is must-see in Iceland

 

Reynisfjara black sand beach in Vik

Another must-see place along the South Coast of Iceland is the famous black sand beach Reynisfjara in Vik. Just to make things a bit more confusing, some sources call it Reynisdrangar. It’s all the same place. It takes about half an hour to reach Vik from Skogafoss.

Famous not just for its black sand, Reynisfjara beach is also known for its impressive basalt columns and beautiful rock formations Reynisdrangar. Take the time to walk along the beach, just please keep a very safe distance from the water. The waves here are known to be really dangerous and can unexpectedly swipe you off your feet and pull you into the sea. 

TIP: There is a cafe here where you can warm up on a cold windy day and they have free bathroom facilities inside (you have to pay for the other bathrooms).

There is no entry or parking fee, but I know that there have been talks to introduce parking fees in this area as well.

Vik black sand beach in Iceland at sunset in winter

Vik beach at sunset in winter

 

Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

About an hour’s drive away, next to the town of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, you will find another must-see place in Iceland – Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. 

It’s one of the most beautiful canyons in Iceland and certainly the one that is most-known and most-visited. Now that I have seen the other incredible canyons of the Icelandic highlands, I think there are other places that deserve more fame than Fjadrargljufur. Nevertheless, it’s a great place that is well worth a visit.

Fjadrargljufur canyon is suffering from its own popularity and quite some view points and paths have been recently closed due to disrespectful behavior of too many tourists. Still, it’s worth a short visit and there is a good view just close to the main car parking.

TIP: If you have at least half an hour to spare, take a walk along the canyon.

Fjadrargljufur Canyon near Kirkjubaejarklaustur in Iceland

Fjadrargljufur Canyon is one of the most beautiful canyons in Iceland

 

Jokulsarlon and Diamond Beach at sunset

If you are staying at an accommodation near Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon as I suggested, make sure to visit the Diamond Beach at sunset. If you are short on time, leave Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon for the next day and head straight to the beach located across the road from the glacier lagoon.

There are actually two beaches here, split by the bridge. You never know which part will be more beautiful as a lot depends on the direction of the wind, so I suggest you go to the one that has bigger pieces of ice at that time.

The beach got its name because of the big chunks of ice sparkling agains the black sand background. Somebody called it the Diamond Beach and the name stuck.  An Icelander told us that locals have no idea what or where the Diamond Beach is, but if you ask any tourist, they’ll all tell you it’s their favorite place in Iceland…

Diamond Beach is always beautiful, but it’s never the same, so you don’t know what you’ll find till you get there. In winter, you’ll find huge parts of icebergs on the beach, whereas in summer there will probably only be a couple of smaller pieces scattered around as little diamonds.

TIP: By far the best time to visit the Diamond Beach is during the coldest months of the year at sunset, when ice is sparkling in the last sun rays of the day. But no matter when you visit, it will be one of the best things you did in Iceland.

Icebergs on Jokulsarlon Diamond beach in Iceland in winter

Jokulsarlon Diamond beach is simply magical at sunset

 

Other nice stops along the South Coast

The places mentioned above are really not to be missed along the South Coast. In principle, you should be able to cover them all in one day, but of course that depends on the season and on how much time you spend at each place.

There are quite some other nice stops along the South Coast and I’ll mention a few in the following days of this itinerary. In the meantime, here are a couple of shorter stops to consider if you are traveling in summer when the days are endless and want to fill your days and see as much as possible in a short time.

  • Skogar museum. If you want to see typical Icelandic turf houses, then there is probably no better place along the south coast than this. It’s open every day of the year, hours vary by season.
  • Svinafellsjokull (glacier). You can make a short walk to the glacier viewpoint. The gravel road leading to the parking isn’t long, but can be quite bumpy.
  • Hofskirkja (church). It’s a small turf church that doesn’t require much time to visit. There are also bathroom facilities – so it’s a good place for a quick stop along the south coast.
Hofskirkja turf church along the Ring Road in southern Iceland

Hofskirkja turf church is a nice short stop along the Ring Road

 

Accommodation: By far the nicest and best-located hotels in this area are Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon and Hali Country Hotel. Here you can find more suggestions where to stay next to Jokulsarlon.

DAY 3: Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon to Vik

+-200km (125 miles), 2,5 hrs driving time. This doesn’t include time for sightseeing, detours or other delays.

The main highlight you have to see on this third day of your 4-day Iceland itinerary is Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. Depending on how much time you have, I also highly recommend Skaftafell National Park, and more particularly a short hike to Svartifoss waterfall.

If you are traveling in winter (+- October – March), don’t miss the natural ice caves! Glacier hiking is another great activity and is available all year round, so you could incorporate it into your itinerary as well. 

Furthermore, there are a few additional short stops along the way that are also nice to see if you have some time to spare. Find out!

Hiking at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland in winter

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon on a sunny winter day

 

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Together with the Diamond Beach, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is one of my absolute favorite places in Iceland. It’s never the same and always mesmerizing. A place you really have to see for yourselves!

There are basically two ways to visit the glacier lagoon. First, on foot. Just walk along the eastern shore of the lagoon and enjoy the most beautiful scenery. Second option is to take a boat. There are amphibian boats and also zodiac boat tours available and they are extremely popular with the groups. So if you want to take a boat tour on Jokulsarlon, you have to book it in advance. Please note that boat tours on Jokulsarlon only run from May till October.

Should you book a boat tour? If you are traveling on a budget or don’t have much time, don’t feel like you are missing much if you decide not to do the tour. It’s just as nice to explore the lagoon from ashore. The only difference is that the boat brings you closer to the icebergs.

If you decide to book, you should know that amphibian boat tours are the cheapest option. They cost about 45% less than the zodiac tours. If you go, book the first tour in the morning, that way you have more time for the other places.

TIP: From May till +- mid October you can also take a zodiac boat tour on the smaller glacier lagoon, Fjallsarlon. It’s just a few minutes down the road, but is lesser known and a lot less visited by big groups. Furthermore, this zodiac tour costs much less than the one on Jokulsarlon.

TIP: From around October till the end of March you can visit natural ice caves near Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon. It’s a bucket-list experience, so if you splurge on one activity in Iceland, make it this one. Here you can find the best deals for ice cave tours that start near Jokulsarlon. Make sure you book the tour well in advance, because they do sell out! It’s probably best to do it as early in the morning as possible, that way you still have some time left for the rest of this itinerary.

There is no fee to visit Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon.

Ice caves near Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon in Iceland

In winter you can visit ice caves under the glaciers near Jokulsarlon (guided tours only!)

 

Skaftafell National Park OR…

About 50 minutes drive back in the direction of Reykjavik, you’ll find Skaftafell National Park. It’s a real hiker’s paradise, but since you only have four days in Iceland, you probably won’t be able to do much hiking…

If you have time to make just one short hike, then walk to Skaftafellsjökull for a nice view on the glacier. This easy hike shouldn’t take longer than 1,5 hours. The most popular hike in Skaftafell NP is the trail to Svartifoss (the Black Waterfall). It’s a moderate hike of about 1,5 km (1 mile) one way, and should take you 1,5-2 hrs in total. 

I don’t recommend any of the longer trails here, unless you are not doing any of the other activities suggested in this itinerary. You’ll run out of time. But if you only visit Jokulsarlon and Skaftafell on this third day of your itinerary, then you could attempt one of the longer hikes. My personal favorite is Sjornarnipa trail. It’s a moderate/difficult loop hike of 6,4 km (4 miles) and you should count at least 2,5-3 hours for it. Here you can find more information about hiking trails in Skaftafell.

There is no fee to visit Skaftafell National Park.

Svartifoss waterfall in Skaftafell National Park

Svartifoss waterfall in winter

 

OR…Glacier hike

Alternative suggestion, instead of hiking in Skaftafell National Park, is to go hiking on a glacier. Probably the best option for this itinerary is this highly-rated glacier hike that starts at the Skaftafell National Park. The good news is that glacier hiking is a year-round activity, so you can do it in any season.

Glacier hiking is not as strenuous as you’d think and pretty much everyone in regular physical condition can do it. Minimum age limit for most glacier hikes in Iceland at this moment is 8 years. We had people of over 70 in our group as well and they managed just fine.

TIP: For more information and practical tips, please refer to our blog post about glacier hiking in Iceland.

TIP: If you have opted for other activities on day 3, but still want to do a glacier hike, there is another great place for this that fits perfectly with the last day of this itinerary. More information under the 4th day below.

Glacier hiking can be easily incorporated in a 4 day Iceland itinerary

Glacier hiking is an unforgettable experience

 

Other nice places to visit along the way

Depending on what you decide to do this day, you may have lots of free time left or none at all… Here are a few other places that could be worth a quick stop if you have some time.

  • Fjallsarlon glacier lagoon. It’s a smaller and less visited glacier lagoon, not far from Jokulsarlon. As already mentioned, in summer you could do a boat trip between the icebergs here. Alternatively, just come for a quick look – it’s very much worth it.
  • Eldhraun Lava Fields. Just a quick stop is enough to admire this beautiful scenery of endless lava fields. See our custom map for the location.
  • Dyrhólaey lighthouse and Kirkjufjara beach. This place is very close to Vik and – unless you make a walk – won’t take you longer than half an hour. You can visit it either in the evening of day 3 or in the morning of the last day of this itinerary. 

TIP: If you are near Vik at sunset, I suggest you go back to Reynisfjara beach that you visited on the second day. It’s spectacular at sunset!

Eldhraun lava fields next to the Ring Road in Southern Iceland

Eldhraun lava fields

 

Accommodation: I suggest that you stay in Vik. It’s about half way between Jokulsarlon and Reykjavik, so staying here gives you a bit more flexibility to adjust your itinerary if needed. You can find the best deals for Vik accommodation here. Alternatively, there are some nice hotels in the nearby Skogar as well. One of the nicest hotels in Vik is Hotel Kria. Also Icelandair Hotel Vik and Volcano Hotel are excellent choices in this area.

DAY 4: Back to Reykjavik and the Blue Lagoon

+-200km (125 miles), 2,5 hrs driving time. This doesn’t include time for sightseeing, detours or other delays. If you opt to visit the Blue Lagoon, please note that it’s about 45 minutes from the city, in the direction of the airport.

Since this four day itinerary is ideal for those visiting Iceland for the first time, I assume you will want to see Reykjavik. Therefore, on this last day in Iceland, I suggest that you drive back all the way to Reykjavik and explore the city.

An extremely popular thing to do is to visit the geothermal baths of the Blue Lagoon. It is definitely possible to see the main landmarks of Reykjavik and also visit the Blue Lagoon on this last day of your 4-day Iceland itinerary.

If you rather stay in the nature just a bit longer, you could visit any of the places mentioned in this post that you skipped on the previous days. As I already said, you can also do a glacier hike near Vik area – more info here: glacier hike at Solheimajokull. But if you do that, you’ll probably not get to Reykjavik before at the earliest 4-5PM. Which is still enough time to see the old town OR visit the Blue Lagoon, but not both.

What you need to know about Reykjavik

Sun Voyager – the steel boat sculpture in Reykjavik Iceland

 

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a city that is changing rapidly. I have to admit that I like it much more now than the first time we visited it back in 2006. Still, it’s not a big city and you can visit the main landmarks in just a couple of hours.

Here are a few places that you must see in Reykjavik:

TIP: Join this highly-rated Reykjavik city tour and see all the highlights in just 2,5 hours. It starts in the afternoon, so it’s a perfect fit for this itinerary.

View over Reykjavik from Hallgrimskirkja - visiting the church tower is one of the cheaper activities in Iceland

View from Hallgrimskirkja church tower

 

Blue Lagoon

If you still have a couple of hours left, you could end your day with a relaxing soak in the warm waters of the Blue Lagoon. It will take you 45 minutes just to get there, so count at least 4-5 hours for a visit. Blue Lagoon is normally open till 10PM.

TIP: If you want to visit the Blue Lagoon, you really have to book your tickets in advance. It doesn’t have to be long in advance, a week or even a few days upfront might be enough, but you have to book it.

Blue Lagoon geothermal pool is one of the most popular places to visit in Iceland

Blue Lagoon geothermal pool is one of the most popular places to visit in Iceland

 

Accommodation TIP: If you are visiting the Blue Lagoon and your flight is early in the morning, then you could just as well stay in a hotel in that area and save yourself unnecessary driving (KEF airport is just 20 minutes from the Blue Lagoon). Here you can find the best accommodation deals for Keflavik airport area. I recommend Geo Hotel Grindavik, close to the Blue Lagoon or the following highly-rated hotels close to the airport: Hotel Jazz, Hotel Berg, Hotel Keflavik or B&B Keflavik Airport Hotel.

If you rather stay in Reykjavik, there are countless options. Here you can find our hand-picked selection of the best accommodations in Reykjavik.

 

So, this is our suggested four day itinerary for Iceland. You can easily use parts of this itinerary for a shorter or a longer stay as well, but at least now you know how to see the very best of Iceland in four days.

TIP: If you are looking for more information for your trip to Iceland, practical tips, clothing advice, etc. please check our complete travel guide to Iceland.

If you have any questions about this itinerary, feel free to leave a reply below and I’ll try to help. Alternatively, please join our Facebook group for Iceland & Scandinavia Travel – it’s a great place to meet other travelers, ask questions, and share experiences.

TIP: If you are looking for some nice places to visit in addition to this 4-day itinerary, I can really recommend adding at least one day in Snaefellsnes Peninsula. If you are visiting in the warmer months, Heimaey Island (Westman Islands) is another wonderful day trip that would make a nice addition to this itinerary as well. If you have additional half a day, you can easily visit Reykjanes Peninsula – it’s just next to Keflavik airport. It’s a perfect addition to your four days itinerary in Iceland!

***Read also: How Expensive is Iceland (& How To Save Money)***

If you found this post useful, don’t forget to bookmark it and share it with your friends. Are you on Pinterest? Pin this image!

Ultimate Iceland four days itinerary for a self drive trip

 

Comments

  1. Thank you for such an informative post! My husband and I used this itinerary for our four-day, three-night campervan trip in southern Iceland in September. Everything was exceptional. We especially loved Fridgeimar for lunch, the Secret Lagoon for an early evening dip, the Seljalandsfoss waterfall (& Gljúfrabúi waterfall in the nearby gorge), & the Fjadrargljufur Canyon. Thank you again!

    1. Author

      Glad to hear you had such a great time in Iceland and thank you so much for taking the time to come back to our blog and share your feedback, Ali. Appreciate that!
      Happy travels!

  2. Hi Jurga, I just wanted to express my HUGE gratitude for your thoughtfully written post! I just got back from Iceland with my husband from a trip that we literally planned THE morning of – having found cheap tix and luckily discovering your blog – and by that evening we were on a plane to Iceland (?!). We switched up just a couple of things (taking it slower and stopping in Vic heading to Diamond Beach) but took you up on super helpful tips like staying in Geysir for the first night, which for a red-eye coming in was fantastic (and to have it all to ourselves at night and in the morning!). I’ve actually never followed a singular blog or guide book and tend to research the hell out of things to come up w my own plan, if I “plan” – but we had the best time following your itinerary and this was hands down one of my favorite trips of all time (and I’ve been to a LOT of places, and usually for much longer and in a less structured way). You gifted us with the guidance and confidence of good taste and figuring out the logistics, so that we could focus on the nature and amazing memory-making and falling in love with Iceland (and we will be back). THANK YOU!!! I am now going to check out your other posts for sure! We could not have experienced this spontaneous whirlwind adventure without you 🙂

    1. Author

      Wow, thank you so much for this kind feedback, Janet. I’m really glad to hear that you had such an enjoyable trip to Iceland. If you don’t mind, I’ll copy/paste this to our reviews page.
      And yes, look around on our blog – we have so much more, also for Iceland off the beaten path. Maybe we can inspire you to visit some other amazing places as well 🙂
      Happy travels!

  3. Hi Jurga – Thanks so much for your very helpful suggestions here! My son and I had four days to spend in Iceland earlier this week, and your ideas helped us to see what I think are some of the most beautiful sights in Iceland within our time frame. We did about 85 percent of your recommended sights/activities, including adding in a morning caving trip just outside of Reykjavik (Leidarendi), a three-hour glacier hike through Skaftafell, and the zodiac boat tour of Jokulsarlon (which we loved almost, but not quite :-), as much as Diamond Beach).

    Just one suggestion: You might want to add something into the description about the Blue Lagoon that one should book in advance and that it sells out early – you noted this in one of your comments above, but I unfortunately didn’t see that when I was doing my trip planning. So I didn’t book the BL ahead of time, and they were sold out for the day when my son and I showed up on our last day in-country :-(. I should have realized this would happen from how popular you said it was, so this is on me, but if you put in something about this above, it might help out future travelers to Iceland. This was only a small blip on an otherwise fantastic trip, BTW.

    Thanks again for all of your guidance! It helped us out a lot!

    1. Author

      Thanks for your feedback, Adam. I’ll see if I can update the text and add the fact that you have to book the Blue Lagoon tickets in advance. I have written about it so many times that it’s inevitable I forget to mention some details in one or the other post. Sorry that it didn’t work out for you guys, it’s become so crazy busy in Iceland that it’s best to book EVERY activity (not to mention hotels and car rental) in advance…
      There are also so many local pools in Iceland that cost a fraction of the Blue Lagoon, so it would have been a good alternative, but I realize it’s too late now…
      Glad you enjoyed the trip as it was.

  4. Hi Jurga,
    Great itinerary ! so informative and thorough. Great photos as well.
    I am traveling with my 25 year old son in sep. We get in very early the first day. Would you start the trip at the blue lagoon? and then reverse your itinerary ?
    So , that would be – first night in Reykjavik then the next 2 nights in the south then back to Reykjavik for the last night?
    Last question, do you recommend a buggy (atv) in the golden circle? Maybe for the last day, if I am reversing the itinerary?
    Thanks
    Elle

    1. Author

      Hi Elle, you can reverse the itinerary if that suits you better. This is really just meant to show what the main highlights are and how to best plan your time in order to see the best of South Iceland in 4 days. Everyone can pick places/ activities that interest them the most and make their own dream trip. Many people like to start their trip at the Blue Lagoon and indeed it can be nice, especially if coming from a long flight.
      I have no personal experience with ATV at the Golden Circle and I’m not sure if it’s worth it in terms of what you get to see. I think that there are more special things that you could spend your time and money on, like glacier hiking or a day trip to the highlands. But if you have the time and it fits your itinerary well, I’m sure it will be quite fun.
      Hope this helps.

      1. Thank you !! Great advice.
        Any suggestions on things to do by the blue lagoon? Before we head back to Reykjavik. We have a car.
        Thanks again,
        E

        1. Author

          Hi Elle, you could explore Reykjanes Peninsula if you have some extra time (more info here). Or drive to Reykjavik and visit Perlan – it’s well worth it and is also a great option if the weather isn’t great.

          1. Thanks again for your quick response!

  5. Thank you for this wonderful blog! My husband and I are planning on taking a full 4 day trip (flying in morning on day 1 on a red eye, and flying out morning of day 5) and were wondering if you would recommend flipping the itinerary so we start in Reykjavik and go backwards…? We are going at the end of September.

    1. Hi – I am doing the same thing. Did you hear back? Can the itinerary be flipped?

    2. Author

      Hi Avani, if you are planning to do some sightseeing on the first day anyway, I think that it’s better to just start exploring right away. Most hotels in Reykjavik won’t let you check-in before 2-3 PM at the earliest anyway… But it’s, of course, your own choice. You can flip the itinerary around and it will work just as well.
      Some people like to go to the Blue Lagoon (book in advance!) straight from the airport and then spend the afternoon in the city, so it might be a nice relaxing way to start your trip as well.
      Enjoy your trip!

  6. Thanks a lot. You are amazing!! Me and my husband followed this itinerary.It was a perfect trip.You have covered all the must see points.
    Thanks once again.:D

    1. Author

      Glad to hear you had a great trip, Priyal. Thanks so much for taking the time to leave this feedback – always great to hear!
      Happy travels!

  7. Hi Jurga, I am planning to follow this itinerary after 2 nights in Reyjkavik and 1 night on the Snaefellsnoss Peninsula. Should I switch and do the peninsula at the end? We planned on stopping at the blue lagoon the first day and the Golden Circle the second. Any suggestions on switching it up to be more efficient with travel?
    Thank you so much in advance!
    Laura

    1. Author

      Hi Laura, I think you could do Reykjavik/ Blue Lagoon, followed by Snaefellsnes. Then drive down to the Golden Circle and from there explore the South Coast. I think it would be the most logical way and would save you some driving. Alternatively, start at the South Coast, then Golden Circle, and then Snaefellsnes.

  8. Hello, We are coming in August for 4 nights, 5 days (flight leaves late 4pm). Anything in general you’d change based on the time of year and extra half day? Thanks Jacob

    1. Author

      Hi Jacob, no, I wouldn’t change anything and I already have included more suggestions for extra things to do than you’d be able to cover. 😉 Just pick what interests you most, check Google maps for the driving times, and plan your own perfect trip.
      Enjoy Iceland!

  9. Thanks so much for the amazing blog post. I see that you don’t count arrival and departure days. What do you recommend for those? We’re in Iceland for 7 days (inclusive of arrival and departure days). We like the pace of your 4 day itinerary and wouldn’t mind spending an extra night in some of these locations. Which areas do you recommend spending an extra night?

    Thanks!
    Diana

    1. Author

      Hi Diana, depending on the season when you travel, I would suggest to stay one extra night in Hella area (same as after day 1) and then book this day trip to the highlands. You need a good 4WD for this area, so best to go with a tour.
      If you are traveling in the colder season, then I really recommend checking out the ice caves – as described in day 3 itinerary.
      With more time, you can spend a bit of time in Reykjavik. There are lots of nice places to see nearby. I have just made a selection of the best half day tours you can do from Reykjavik. You don’t have to book a tour if you don’t want to, but it will give you a good idea of things you can do nearby and that don’t require much time.
      And if you see all the extra suggestions I have in the article, you can easily add a day or two to this itinerary.
      Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip!

      1. Thank you! We’re actually going this August with our 9 and 11 year old sons. I didn’t realize how difficult it is to find lodging!

        I was thinking we’d do one night in Reykjavik; two nights near Hella; I reserved Lambhús Cabins near Höfn for the next night; then two nights in Vik; and the last night in Reykjavik.

        How does that sound?

        Thanks again!
        Diana

        1. Author

          Hi Diana, yes, it’s not easy to find accommodation in Iceland, especially with a family and in summer… We are also going again in August and have booked months in advance (and had trouble finding something suitable in some areas).
          Your plan sounds good to me. Enjoy your trip!

  10. Thank you for providing this detailed itinerary. My husband and I are considering adding a self drive 4 night Iceland trip to a planned Norway trip in September. My husband is a very slow walker and needs to rest if walking distances. We will be bringing a collapsible wheelchair in case it is needed. Would you please advise how accessible the sites on this itinerary are?

    1. Author

      Hi Joyce, the nice thing with the main landmarks along the South Coast of Iceland is that most of them are just next to a car parking. The walking paths might not always be paved though, but usually, they are flat. Also, in many cases, you can see a lot right from the parking or by walking just less than 5 minutes. I guess it depends a bit on the wheels of the wheelchair and if they can handle some gravel, but I think you can see and do a lot.
      For example, you can definitely visit the Geysir area – it’s relatively flat. Also, waterfalls like Seljalandsfoss or Skogafoss are really close to the car parking. At Gullfoss, there are two different parking areas- the one on top involves stairs, but there is also one at the bottom, that’s just next to the viewing area.
      Also in Thingvellir National Park, you should go to the lower parking I think it’s relatively flat there, but I really can’t remember if there were any steps involved if coming from the lower side.
      Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon is very close to the car parking, but the paths aren’t paved. Also Diamond Beach is just next to the car parking.
      I’m not sure about Skaftafell NP – there is one easy hiking trail that goes to the glacier (Skaftafellsjökull) and it’s paved half way with gravel after that – you can find more information about it here. It’s probably best to inquire at the visitor’s center if it’s doable with a wheelchair.
      I’m also not sure about accessibility at Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon. If he can walk just a little bit, you should be able to see part of the canyon very close to the car parking, but I don’t think you can easily use a wheelchair there.
      Hope this helps a bit. Enjoy your trip!

  11. Great post! I’m curious about ‘must do’ for the geo-thermal baths. Is the Blue Lagoon kind of a must see because it’s that much better than the other 2 that you mentioned? Or is it just that it’s popular?

    1. Author

      Hi Kristi, Blue Lagoon is a bit more high-end, definitely more special than the Secret Lagoon. The latter is just a rather small warm pool surrounded by nature. Whereas the Blue Lagoon is about the whole experience – it’s a big blue lagoon, the water is nice and warm, there are face masks and even spa treatments available and a really nice restaurant… Fontana Wellness is a little bit like that, but on a smaller scale and less touristy.
      They are all different and the price tag is very different as well. I know many people who say that the Blue Lagoon is really a must when you visit Iceland. So if you think that you’d regret it if you don’t go, then just give it a try. You can always visit the others as well, just for the different experience. As for us, we are going back to Iceland and won’t be visiting the Blue Lagoon again, but we are definitely going to the local pools and I have two lagoons in the North of Iceland marked on my map as well. Each and every one is different, so it really depends on how much time you have and if your budget allows it. The Blue Lagoon is by far the most expensive one.

  12. This is a very informative, helpful post – the pictures are beautiful. Thanks for putting this together!

    1. Author

      Good to hear that. Thanks for taking the time to leave this feedback, Alison, and enjoy your trip to Iceland!

  13. Thanks for sharing! My favorite itinerary so far. 🙂 Did you guys come across any F Roads on this trip? Seems like they can be mostly avoided on your itinerary. Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Faith, don’t worry – this 4-day itinerary only follows regular tar roads. No need for a 4WD (unless in the winter) for this trip. Just some very short parts of the road connecting the main road to some natural landmarks are gravel, but those are few, very short in distance, and easy to drive on.
      Enjoy Iceland!

  14. Hi Jurga,

    My husband and I are looking at doing a trip Sept. 28th – Oct 7th. To hopefully see the Northern Lights and have more daylight hours. We are not afraid of driving all day and stopping along the way to see sites. Can you recommend where to start and get the most of travelling in Iceland? Should we stay 2 night each in a hotel or is it better to stay 1 night and keep moving, is it possible to wing it and get hotels on the fly? I did read in your bog that hotels fill up. So, probably not. Any guidance would be great. Thank you for your time!!

    1. Author

      Hi Caroline, please check this for some Iceland itinerary suggestions. Here is our 10-day itinerary that we once did in Iceland – it starts in Akureyri and ends in Reykjavik.
      10 days is really short to drive the whole Ring Road, especially in the fall as the days are rapidly getting shorter. But if you want to, I’m sure it’s doable. Just plan well what you want to see and what you’re ok skipping.
      And yes, I recommend booking all the accommodations in advance. They do sell out and apart from Reykjavik and the South Coast, hotels are still quite scarce, so sometimes you end up staying an hour’s drive from where you’d want to. Here you can find some suggestions on where to stay in Iceland.

  15. Hi, Im wondering about packing in the winter with children. Ive read that you can rent bulky items and I’m not sure what is best. (especially with kids) We are going in January! Thanks!

    1. Author

      Hi Nicole, I’m not aware of any places where you could rent clothing in Iceland, so I’d advise arriving well prepared. If you need to buy anything in Iceland, it will cost you multiple times of what you’d pay at home.
      For young kids I’d recommend a ski suit in one piece, something like this.
      For older kids, just a regular ski suit, something like this.
      Waterproof winter boots are also a must for everyone. You can find some suggestions here: best winter boots for travel.
      Please also check this post for more information on what to wear in Iceland in winter.

      PS just to clarify – for this itinerary you’d need at least a week in January since the days are very short. Here you can find our suggested Iceland winter itinerary.

  16. Thank you so much Jurga. I think it’s the top one, Seljalandsfoss (South Coast). Will that be easy to find? It’s absolutely beautiful in your picture.

    Thank you so much,
    Kate

    1. Author

      Seljalandsfoss is very easy to find, it’s just next to the Ring Road and a very popular place, so you can’t miss it – the parking will be busy any time of the day. You can read more about it in day 2 of this itinerary and I also indicated it on the map.

    2. Hi Jurga,
      We have just finished a fantastic few days driving around the south coast of wonderful Iceland and used your guide to help us plan our trip, and we just want to say a huge thank you for your travel tips, we had a fab time!!
      Happy travels for the future 🙂

      1. Author

        Thank you for taking the time to leave this feedback, Helen. I’m glad to hear you had such a great time in Iceland!
        Happy travels to you too!

  17. Hello Jurga!

    I love this informative and gorgeous post as we are planning a week in Iceland this summer. Do you have a blog about top places to take pictures? Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous and I’d love to see all these beautiful places. I love your second picture in this post, where is that located? Would you suggest booking the Blue Lagoon ahead of time?

    Thank you so much!
    Kate

    1. Author

      Hi Kate, thanks for your comment and glad you are enjoying our blog. As for the pictures – I don’t have a separate blog post about that, but I usually have a location indicated under each picture.
      If by 2nd picture you meant this one, it’s a combination of three pictures – the top one is from Seljalandsfoss (South Coast), then – Svartifoss (Skaftafell NP), and then Diamond Beach (Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon).
      As for the Blue Lagoon, yes, definitely book in in advance – it always sells out.
      Enjoy your trip!

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