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

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

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.

✓ Since the travel market is so uncertain at the moment, I recommend renting your car via the RentalCars website. Not only can you compare different providers and find the best car hire deals in Iceland, but you also have a much better cancelation policy. Furthermore, you are better protected in case a local company goes bankrupt as it recently happened with our favorite car rental company in Iceland. In the meantime, RentalCars refunded our bookings when we had to cancel two trips.

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 book 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 2-day winter tour, in addition to exploring the main sights in and near Reykjavik for two days. 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).

 

How to Use This Map: Use your computer mouse (or fingers) to zoom in or out. Click on the icons to get more information about each place. Click the arrow on the left top corner for the index. Click the star next to the title of the map to add this map to your Google Maps account. To view the saved map on your smartphone or PC, open Google Maps, click the menu button, and go to ‘Your Places’/’Maps’.

 

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 10 AM, 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 the Geysir area free of charge.

TIP: Hotel Gullfoss is a beautiful modern 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 at Reykjavik airport, about 2 hrs drive away, and explore the geyser area all by yourselves.

Strokkur geyser in Geysir, Golden Circle, is one of the main landmarks of Iceland
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.
  • 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.

TIP: If you are visiting in summer and don’t mind a short detour from the Golden Circle, check out the beautiful Haifoss waterfall nearby. It’s one of my favorite waterfalls in Iceland!

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 buses. 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 the 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 viewpoints and paths have been recently closed due to the 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 against 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 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 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. This is also a wonderful place to try to see the Northern Lights in Iceland (if you are traveling in the right season).

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 on where to stay near 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 (although, there is also one that you can visit in summer – more info below)! 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!

Places to visit in Iceland - Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon
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. The 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 zodiac tours. If you go, book in advance and try to get the first tour in the morning, that way you have more time for the other places.

TIP: You can also visit the nearby smaller glacier lagoon, Fjallsarlon. It’s just a few minutes down the road, but it’s lesser-known and a lot less visited by big groups.

There is no fee to visit Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, only for the boat tours.

Sunrise at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in Iceland
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Ice caves

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 check availability and book an ice cave tour starting at 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.

Good to know: While the majority of ice caves in Iceland can only be visited in winter, there is one natural cave – at Katla – that can be visited the whole year round (but please keep in mind that it’s a natural phenomenon and so the conditions can change depending on the weather). Also here, you can only visit with a tour and this is the best-rated tour that I was able to find. It’s an easy tour that also allows kids from 8 years old. It takes just 3 hours and departs from Vik, so if you absolutely want to visit a natural ice cave in Iceland, you could quite easily include it in your trip itinerary in summer as well. Since it starts in Vik, you can do it either on day 2 or on day 3 of this itinerary.

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 the 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

An 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. The 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.
  • 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!

READ ALSO: Best Places to See on the South Coast in Iceland

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 halfway 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. If you prefer a less touristy place, check out the recently opened Sky Lagoon. It is definitely possible to see the main landmarks of Reykjavik and also visit either the Blue Lagoon or the Sky Lagoon on this last day of your 4-day Iceland itinerary.

If you rather stay in 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 4-5 PM. 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:

  • View from Hallgrimskirkja (take an elevator up the church tower)
  • Old town with the main shopping streets Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur.
  • Harpa concert hall.
  • Solfar – Sun Voyager (steel boat sculpture).
  • Reykjavik Lake.
  • Icelandic Parliament building.
  • If you have more time, Perlan is also really worth a visit. Here you can read all about visiting Perlan museum in Reykjavik.

TIP: Join this highly-rated Reykjavik city tour and see all the highlights in just 3 hours. It starts in the afternoon, so it’s a perfect fit for this itinerary.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Reykjavik

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 10 PM.

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 up and down (KEF airport is just 20 minutes from the Blue Lagoon). Here you can find the best accommodation deals for Keflavik airport area.

For the ultimate experience and if your budget allows, check out The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Hotel. Alternatively, pick one of the following highly-rated hotels close to the airport: Hotel Berg, Hotel Keflavik, or B&B Keflavik Airport Hotel (this hotel offers a shuttle to the airport).

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

 

If you have more time…

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 the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. There is so much to see and do in Snaefellsnes!

If you are visiting Iceland’s south coast 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 an 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:
Best Iceland Itinerary for 7 Days
Iceland Ring Road Itinerary for 10 Days

 

More tips for your trip to Iceland:

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
 

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Morgan

Monday 16th of August 2021

Hi Jurga! This post is very helpful. I've been to Iceland once before, but my boyfriend and I are traveling to Iceland for 4 nights in early September (arriving early morning Thursday and leaving Monday morning). Hoping to get to a few places we didn't get to last time, but still hitting the main attractions because this will be my boyfriend's first time there. Specifically - hoping to add both Snaefellsnes and Jokulsarlon along with Reykjavik/Golden Circle and South Coast waterfalls. I was thinking stay in Reykjavik for two nights - first day, Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik (or maybe part of the Golden Circle), second day leave early for a day trip to Snaefellsnes. Then head out to Jokulsarlon and stop at waterfalls along the way there or back depending on time (two nights along the way). Do you think this is doable? We're prepared for a lot of time in the car but don't want to sacrifice time at any of the attractions because we don't have time. Thanks in advance!!

Jurga

Tuesday 24th of August 2021

Hi Morgan, sorry for the late reply - we were traveling. I assume you have it all planned by now, but if you want my honest opinion, I think it's really too rushed. You don't even have 4 full days, depending on how things go upon arrival... It is doable driving/distance-wise, but you'll be spending so much time in the car that you won't have much time to see/ do much. But everyone travels differently and I know that many people would rather quickly see all the 'musts' even if it means having to rush through it all... It's really your choice.

If you do this, maybe skip Reykjavik altogether and also some lesser-known places along the Golden Circle, so that you have somewhat more time in Snaefellsnes and the South Coast. With such a short time (and if renting a car), I wouldn't stay in Reykjavik at all - go to Snaefellsnes immediately after arrival, then pass the Golden Circle on the way to the South Coast, and then make the best of your time in that area. Potentially visit the Blue Lagoon on the last evening and sleep close to the airport on the last night. Good luck!

Jenni

Sunday 25th of July 2021

Hi Jurga,

Thank you for creating this very helpful itinerary! My husband and I are considering visiting Iceland for our babymoon in September. We would arrive around 7AM on a Sunday and depart around 5pm the following Saturday. We would like to follow the itinerary above as well as include some time on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. We prefer to stay multiple nights at the same location in order to save money (and we enjoy the familiarity). Do you have any advice for minimizing the number of different accommodations we stay at?

Jenni

Jenni

Sunday 25th of July 2021

@Jurga, Thank you for this advice! I will look at the 7 day itinerary. Your advice is so valued, I appreciate you taking the time to respond!

Jurga

Sunday 25th of July 2021

Hi Jenni, it's really not ideal to see all these places from just one or two places since it will mean more driving. On the other hand, many people just stay in Reykjavik and see all of these by taking day trips (but they usually leave the driving to someone else by taking tours)... I think that you could do most of the South Coast and the Golden Circle from the area around Hella - not ideal for Jokulsarlon (more than 3 hours drive one-way), but quite be ok for most other places on the south coast. And you could potentially visit Snaefellsnes Peninsula for a day from Reykjavik.

You can find our recommendations for a similar trip in this 7-day Iceland itinerary. It starts with Snaefellsnes Peninsula, then the Golden Circle, and then the South Coast. If you take away day 4 from that itinerary, and change your accommodations on the south coast to stay in Hella or in Vik all the time, you could make it work with even just 2 different hotels. So stay the first two nights close to Snaefellsnes, and then the rest of the time either in Hella or in Vik, driving straight to the airport from there at the end of your trip. Hope this helps. Good luck with the planning!

James

Sunday 6th of June 2021

Hi Jurga - this is amazing. The layout, the pics and the extra recommendations are awesome. I was hoping you wouldn't mind answering a couple questions.

1) I am planning on going first week in October this year so looks like about 10-11 hours of daylight. Haifoss looks amazing but makes my drive time on day 1 almost 5 hours. Do you think that is doable and still have time to take in the main golden circle + Kerid (no hikes just photo ops and leg stretching)? I prefer not to drive at night but I'm hoping route 26 from Haifoss to Hella would be manageable at night if we were running behind?

2) I was planning on adding a 5th night and was thinking either A) staying at Foss in glacier two nights in a row so we could do longer hike at Skaftafell and a day trip to Hofn/Stokksnes or B) staying in Reykavik an extra night and try to make a day trip to Snaefells pennisula? I think the pennisula seems cool but looks like a 5 hour round trip so not sure if that would leave enough daylight to make it worthwhile?

Thanks and any insights would be greatly appreciated.

James

Sunday 6th of June 2021

@Jurga, much appreciated. Can we just bring you with us haha. I figured haifoss would end up being last minute decision. Based on time and weather either turn toward it or just go straight to Hella. If we miss it it will give us a good incentive to go back for highlands trip.

It's a road trip so 5 hours round-trip to snaefelness will probably go by fast with scenery. Starting bright and early from Reykjavik should make it doable. Then just have to drive straight from Vik to airport on last day which seems easy enough for 5pm flight. Thanks again and I'm sure I will have your itinerary bookmarked for last minute changes when we are there.

Jurga

Sunday 6th of June 2021

Hi James, glad you found this itinerary useful. 1. If you want to see everything along the Golden Circle and Haifoss waterfall, it's doable in a day, but be sure to start your day as early as possible to take advantage of daylight hours. Ideally, you stay close to the Golden Circle before and after this day. HOWEVER, I really have no idea how the road to Haifoss will be at that time of the year, as it sometimes already snows in the highlands in September... So a lot depends on the weather and on the car you will have. Why don't you just wait until you get there, see how the weather is, and decide at that moment. You really have to be flexible in Iceland. In our guide to visiting Haifoss, you can also find some additional suggestions for places to see nearby - a few of them are next to the main road and should be easily accessible.

2. This is a tough choice - having more time in Skaftafell is nice and you can do some nice hikes there, but Snaefellsnes Peninsula is amazing as well and there's more diversity there (see here for some inspiration- best things to do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula). Also if the weather isn't great, you'll probably enjoy Snaefellsnes more since there are many short photo stops so you don't have to be outside for hours. So if you have to pick just one place, I think I'd go for Snaefellsnes (notwithstanding the fact that it's a bit out of the way). You could actually start your trip there and continue to the Golden Circle from there - that would probably make it easier compared to doing it from Reykjavik on the last day. Take a look at our Iceland 7-day itinerary - it starts with Snaefellsnes and then goes on to the Golden Circle. For the rest, you can follow our itinerary as in this post.

There is really no right or wrong way to do this. It's all about your preferences. So much depends on the weather, but that you can't predict even a week in advance. So just plan your trip based on what interests you the most and then make the best of it depending on the circumstances. We had to change our plans pretty much every time we visited Iceland, but it always turned out great.

Good luck with the planning and have a great trip!

Rosalie

Tuesday 1st of June 2021

Hi Jurga!

I just wanted to thank you for your detailed itinerary. Most blogs recommend staying for longer, but when you lead a busy life and must get home, sometimes 4 days is all you can afford. This is the exact itinerary that I was planning and am so thankful for finding you. I am going to follow your tips and suggestions exactly. I just wanted to show my appreciation. Thank you so much!

Rosalie

Saturday 5th of June 2021

@Jurga, Thank you so much for this helpful tip. I have received the vaccine so it seems like we will just need to take the test and await the results. “Awaiting the results in quarantine”, does this mean I can still go get my rental car? And then drive myself to the hotel to await the results?

Jurga

Wednesday 2nd of June 2021

Glad to help, Rosalie, and hope you have a wonderful time in Iceland. If you are planning to travel soon, keep in mind that there's obligatory testing upon arrival and you have to wait for results in quarantine (usually 5-6 hours). Also, most countries/airlines require a test when you come back, so you have to foresee time for that at the end of your trip too. While not a problem for longer stays in Iceland, this is definitely something to keep in mind if your trip is planned for the near future. For up-to-date info, please check the official website here. I'm sure a lot will change this summer and hopefully, we'll all be able to travel freer again soon.

Polly Knowles

Friday 16th of April 2021

Hi there!! This is fabulous! Thank you! Do you think this all do-able staying in one Reykjavik spot and taking day trips each day?

Jurga

Sunday 18th of April 2021

Hi Polly, if you don't mind driving up and down, you can visit all the places mentioned in this itinerary as day trips from Reykjavik and there are many tours visiting all these places as a day trip well (see our guide to the best Iceland tours for more info). However, this also depends on the season when you travel. In summer, the days are endless and the roads are good, so it's much easier than in winter. I would only consider this if traveling between May and August. Golden Circle, South Coast, and the Blue Lagoon are all relatively easy to visit from Reykjavik in a day. But if you drive all the way to Jokulsarlon, it's a very long drive and you wouldn't have much time for anything else that day. As a minimum, I would recommend doing it over two days and visiting other places along the coast at the same time. Book a hotel near Jokulsarlon (see Jokulsarlon hotel suggestions here) and drive all the way there in one day and then back the next day. If you don't want to plan this, there are 2-day tours that do this trip and often include a boat trip glacier hike as well (take a look at this tour). And if you still prefer to do it in a day, then I highly recommend taking a tour - they'll make sure you see as much as possible and won't get overwhelmed and exhausted with such a long drive (this tour includes a boat ride on the glacier lagoon (in summer season) and this is the most popular and the cheapest tour and I thnk they also give you an option to prebook a boat ride if available for your travel dates). To summarize, it's possible, but Jokulsarlon is really far to be visited in a day, definitely if you are driving by yourself. Hope this helps.

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