5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour

Iceland is one of my dream destinations in my bucket list.  So, when we found a great seat sale going to Iceland, we booked our flight in a heartbeat.  It turns out, booking that flight and deciding to rent a car were two of our best travel purchases ever.  Driving around and getting lost in Iceland make an amazing adventure.  Check this “5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour” and you might give in to your wanderlust!

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Map

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour

What I loved most about Iceland is the untouched beauty of nature.  Even as we were driving through the roads of Iceland, the surroundings were surreal.  Every moment is picture-perfect with the backdrop of mountains, cliffs, waterfalls and glaciers.

Despite our short time in Iceland, we were able to explore 17 beautiful sights in the South Region and West Region.

DAY 1:   BLUE LAGOON  AND  WEST COAST OF ICELAND
1  –  BLUE LAGOON

Blue Lagoon is a famous geothermal spa in Iceland.  It is popular for its unique bright blue hue, naturally-heated water and beneficial effects to the skin.  Nothing feels better than getting a good sleep after spending time in Blue Lagoon.  Every muscle in your body would be relaxed.

The Blue Lagoon Experience in Iceland Tips and What to Expect

Read more about our Blue Lagoon experience and tips here.  Don’t forget to watch the video!

This is the nearest attraction from the airport (Keflavik International Airport).  For convenience, assign it as the first or last item in your itinerary.

Tip:   Book the earliest slot or the last slot to avoid the crowd.  There is no time limit so you can stay as long as you want.

ACCOMMODATION DAY 1   (GRUNDARFJORDUR HOSTEL)

We stayed at Grundarfjordur Hostel on our first day because we wanted to see Kirkjufell mountain and other parts of the Western Region before exploring the more popular Southern Region.

The biggest advantage of staying at Grundarfjordur Hostel is having a beautiful view of the Kirkjufell mountain.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour GRUNDARFJORDUR HOSTEL
View of Kirkjufell Mountain from our room window

For dining options, there are a few restaurants around the area and a shared kitchen in the hostel.  We wanted to maintain our budget so instead of eating out, we prepared our own meal at the hostel.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour GRUNDARFJORDUR HOSTEL
Common room of Grundarfjordur Hostel

Tip:  Request for a room that faces the Kirkjufell mountain.

The weather was uncooperative during the first two days of our trip.  It rained endlessly!  Our original itinerary for DAY 1 included the Gerduberg Cliffs.  If you have the time, consider checking it out.

DAY 2:   KIRKJUFELL MOUNTAIN  AND  GETTING LOST IN ICELAND
2  –  KIRKJUFELL MOUNTAIN

The heavy rainfall continued until DAY 2.  Despite our close proximity to Kirkjufell mountain, a thick fog was covering our view.  Still, it was a beautiful sight to see.

This is how it should look like:

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Kirkjufell Mountain

GETTING LOST IN ICELAND

Ok, you don’t need to include this in your itinerary but it’s definitely worth sharing.  Our adventure to South Iceland was unexpected and terrifying.  We were very dependent on Google Maps and obliviously followed the first and faster route it suggested.  We were supposed to drive to the Gullfoss Waterfall from West Region.

Little did we know, our route included a couple of mountain roads passable only to 4×4 vehicles (aka F-road).  You could only imagine how difficult it was to drive on the very narrow, uneven roads with loose gravel.  The bad weather didn’t help.  The wind in Iceland is extremely strong!  We didn’t go far when we reached the F-road but it already felt like the scariest drive of our lives.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Getting Lost in Iceland5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Getting Lost in Iceland

On the bright side, we were treated with some of Iceland’s gorgeous landscapes.  Since it isn’t the usual route, we had the road all to ourselves – mountains after mountains with waterfalls in between.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Getting Lost in Iceland

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Getting Lost in Iceland

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Getting Lost in Iceland icelandic horse

Lesson learned, explore Iceland but know the limitations of your car and have a general idea of your route.

When we finally reached the main road, we decided to have a quick tour around Reykjavik instead.

3  –  REYKJAVIK (CITY CENTER)

Roam around the downtown of Reykjavik and see its old city charm.  It is filled with cobbled roads and colorful houses.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Reykjavik (5 of 1)

4  –  HALLGRIMSKIRKJA CHURCH

The unique exterior design of the Hallgrímskirkja Church is said to have been inspired by basalt columns.  Visit the basalt columns in Halsanefshellir and you will notice the striking resemblance.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Reykjavik Hallgrímskirkja Church (1 of 2)

ACCOMMODATION DAY 2   (101 HOTEL IN REYJAVIK)

101 Hotel is an elegant boutique hotel with a prime location at the city center.  It is within walking distance to restaurants, shops, and other attractions.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Reykjavik 101 Hotel

DINNER AT MESSINN 

Although Iceland has a wide range of delicacies like fermented shark, sheep head, whale meat and puffin, we decided to stick with a safer choice – fish!

We ordered the Pan-Fried Catfish and the Pan-Fried Arctic Char.  Both tasted good with their crispy skin and fresh meat but the Pan-Fried Catfish definitely tasted better than the Pan-Fried Arctic Char.  The Pan-Fried Catfish had a sweet, creamy, and very flavorful sauce which went well with the grapes and mushrooms.  The sauce of the Pan-Fried Arctic Char was too light for our taste.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Messinn Reykjavik (5 of 1)

Tip:  Don’t forget to try out the famous hotdogs in Iceland. 

DAY 3:   SELJALANDSFOSS,  SKOGAFOSS,  FOSS A SIDU,  JOKULSARLON GLACIER LAGOON,  AND DIAMOND BEACH
5  –  SELJALANDSFOSS

Walk behind the waterfall, into the cave and experience Seljalandsfoss from a unique perspective.

Exploring the Beautiful Waterfalls of South Iceland Seljalandsfoss Falls

Tip:   You can also view the waterfalls at night.  It has a spotlight that showcases the beauty of Seljalandsfoss at night.  When we went there, we had the waterfalls all to ourselves.  

Read more about the “Waterfalls of Iceland” here.

6  –  SKOGAFOSS

Skogafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland.  View it from the top of the falls or at the base.  You might even catch the rainbow created by the mist of the waterfalls and the sunshine.

Exploring the Beautiful Waterfalls of Iceland Skogafoss Falls

Read more about the “Waterfalls of Iceland” here.

7  –  FOSS A SIDU

This might be your first time to hear of Foss a Sidu.  It is not popular like the previous waterfalls but its scenery is very charming.  It is surrounded by beautiful trees, cliffs, and a little village.

Exploring the Beautiful Waterfalls of South Iceland Foss a Sidu

Read more about the “Waterfalls of Iceland” here.

8  –  JOKULSARLON GLACIER LAGOON

This is one of the most popular tourist spots for glacier lagoons in Iceland.  You can join a boat tour for a closer  encounter of the icebergs and glacier.

Discover the Glaciers in Iceland (A Self-Drive Tour) Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon iceberg

Read more about the “Glaciers of Iceland” here.

9  –  DIAMOND BEACH

Right across the Ring Road from Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is an easily accessible black sand beach called the Diamond Beach.  Here you will see large beautiful ice crystals washed up at the shore.

Discover the Glaciers in Iceland (A Self-Drive Tour) Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Diamond Beach Black Sand Beach Ice Crystal

Discover the Glaciers in Iceland (A Self-Drive Tour) Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon Diamond Beach Black Sand Beach Ice Crystal

Read more about the “Glaciers of Iceland” here.

ACCOMMODATION DAY 3   (FOSSHOTEL GLACIER LAGOON)

This is one of our favorite stays in Iceland.  Each room has a large window that displays the amazing Icelandic landscape.  If you’re lucky and there are Northern Lights during your stay, you could easily watch it from the window.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon (1 of 1)

DAY 4:   FJALLSARLON GLACIER LAGOON,  KVIAMYRARKAMBUR  AND SVINAFELLSJOKULL GLACIER

We couldn’t get enough of the glaciers we’ve seen the previous day so we spent Day 4 driving to unfamiliar glacier lagoons.  Now, these might not be as famous as Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon but some of them are even more stunning than Jokulsarlon.

10  –  FJALLSARLON GLACIER LAGOON

The beauty of this landscape is unbelievable!  The enormous glacier is surrounded by picturesque lake and mountains.

Discover the Glaciers in Iceland (A Self-Drive Tour) Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon

We chanced upon seeing it with the lake so still that a flawless reflection of the glacier and mountains appeared.

Discover the Glaciers in Iceland (A Self-Drive Tour) Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Read more about the “Glaciers in Iceland” here.

11  –  KVIAMYRARKAMBUR

Several minutes from Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon is a small road entrance to Kviamyrarkambur.

From the parking, the glacier can hardly be seen.  This might be the reason why most people skip this location.  Unless you hike towards the glacier, you wouldn’t know that there is one inside the area.

Discover the Glaciers in Iceland (A Self-Drive Tour) Kviamyrarkambur Glacier LagoonRead more about the “Glaciers in Iceland” here.

12  –  SVINAFELLSJOKULL GLACIER

Svinafellsjokull Glacier is also on top of my list.  It was the closest we got to a glacier and the view is exceptional!  You could immediately see the glacier with just a short hike from the parking.

Discover the Glaciers in Iceland (A Self-Drive Tour) Svinafellsjokull Glacier Lagoon

A little further on the trail and we were able to get a closer look of the glacier on top of the mountain.  

Discover the Glaciers in Iceland (A Self-Drive Tour) Svinafellsjokull Glacier Lagoon

Tip:   Driving to the parking is difficult for small vehicles because of the gravel road.  You have to be extra careful if you are not driving a 4×4. 

Read more about the “Glaciers in Iceland” here.

ACCOMMODATION DAY 4   (WELCOME GUESTHOUSE EDINBORG)

Welcome Guesthouse Edinborg is extremely small and outdated but it has one of the best views.  Right behind this simple inn is a beautiful mountain with a glacier.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon (1 of 1)-2

13  –  SELJALANDSFOSS AT NIGHT

On the hopes of seeing the Northern Lights, we decided to take a night drive to do our own Northern Lights tour!  It’s DAY 4 and we still haven’t seen it.  Long story short, we didn’t see the Northern Lights because of the clouds and full moon BUT we discovered that Seljalandsfoss can be viewed at night!

Exploring the Beautiful Waterfalls of South Iceland Seljalandsfoss Falls

Read more about the “Waterfalls of Iceland” here.

DAY 5:   KIRKJUFJARA BLACK SAND BEACH BY DYRHOLAEY,  HALSANEFSHELLIR (BASALT COLUMN CAVE),  GEYSIR,  AND GULLFOSS
14  –  KIRKJUFJARA BLACK SAND BEACH IN VIK

Even though it’s the second black sand beach in our itinerary, the view in Kirkjufjara is breathtaking.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Kirkjufjara Black Sand Beach

You could hike the rock formations to see the coastline, giant waves and the famous arch that the sea has eroded.

Traveling to Iceland itinerary and pictures Kirkjufjara Black Sand Beach by Dyrholaey

15  –  HALSANEFSHELLIR (BASALT COLUMN CAVE)

20 minutes away from Kirkjufjara Black Sand Beach is another famous Iceland attraction.  Halsanefshellir is a natural wonder where you will find extraordinary sea caves formed by basalt columns, resembling organ pipes and the beautiful Hallgrímskirkja Church.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Halsanefshellir Basalt Column Cave 4

It is located at a black pebble beach called Reynisfjara.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Halsanefshellir Basalt Column Cave 2

It has a dark, dramatic scenery with wild, giant waves crashing on the shore.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Halsanefshellir Basalt Column Cave 4

Seeing the Kirkjufjara and Halsanefshellir are two highlights of our trip.  If you are going to Iceland, I highly recommend including these to your itinerary BUT please be mindful of the warning signs.  These areas are extremely dangerous.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Tour Halsanefshellir Basalt Column Cave 4

16  –  GEYSERS

Another astounding attraction in Iceland are the geysers, particularly the Strokkur (The Churn).  Every 10 minutes or so, the geyser erupts with boiling water that can reach up to 30 meters.  The whole cycle is fun to watch because of the anticipation. 

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Geysir 3

My favorite part of the cycle is the graceful buildup of the bright blue water bubble before it suddenly shoots up to the sky.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Geysir

The landscape and scenery surrounding the geysers are also amazing.  There are mountains at the background, steam vents, colorful sulphurous mud pots, and the sun shining through the smoke of the steam vents and geysers.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive Geysir

Tip:   Once the Strokkur makes the gurgling sound, get ready to see the eruption!

17  –  GULLFOSS

This breathtaking waterfall is located on an enormous white river.  Although its height is only half of Skogafoss, its massive size makes up for what it lacks in height.

The views are unbelievable but the best one is the view with the perfectly-etched canyon and the rising mist.  It is so mesmerizing that I thought I could only find this in magazines!

Exploring the Beautiful Waterfalls of Iceland Gullfoss Falls

ACCOMMODATION DAY 5   (Ion Adventure Hotel)

Ion Adventure Hotel is a luxury design hotel with gorgeous interior decor.   It is a great site to view the Northern Lights because of its isolated location.

5-Day Itinerary For An Epic Iceland Self-Drive ION Adventure Hotel

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3 Comment

  1. This looks so amazing. It’s now on my bucket list!

  2. vtArchAngel says: Reply

    This looks absolutely breathtaking! Would you be willing to divulge (approximately) how much you spent on these 5 days of brilliance? I’m just trying to work out my own itinerary and budget for a trip to Iceland. Thanks!

    1. businesstravelerswife says: Reply

      Hi! It was around 1300 USD for the both of us plus our flights. 🙂 We used hotel points for 2 nights though so you might want to add 300 more USD to the budget. When are you planning to go to Iceland? So excited for you!

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