ROAD TRIP! An Epic 7-Day Itinerary for Southern Iceland

Iceland is one of the few countries we’ve visited multiple times and it’s easy to understand why. The culture, people, animals and, of course, the absolutely stunning and breathtaking landscapes keep tugging at my heart, wanting to go back again and again. Despite being a small country, there are simply too many things to see in any short time period, but we’ve done our best to put together a 7-day Iceland itinerary for an epic road trip!

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Though it is possible to go around the country in 7 days, this itinerary focuses primarily in southern Iceland, where many famous sites are located. What I like about this itinerary is that it can be done at any time of the year, whether you have 21 hours of daylight in summer or only 4 hours of daylight in winter (yes, the days are that short)! We will highlight all of the locations in bold font to help you track these sites.

We’ve also mapped out the directions for the major sites to put into your Google Maps:

Part 1: Starting from Reykjavik to Seljalandsfoss

Part 2: Seljalandsfoss to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Let’s take a look at the awesomeness you’ll see over the next week:

Day 1: Reykjavik & Blue Lagoon

After you pick up your car from the Keflavik Airport, you can start your trip to Reykjavik. Though Reykjavik is the largest city in Iceland, it still has the charm of many small towns and there are very few tall buildings. You’ll walk by many small shops and cafes and many of the main attractions are walking distance apart. Perhaps the most well-known attraction in the city is Hallgrimskirkja, the tallest church in all of Iceland. It’s built to look like the basalt rock formations and has amazing views of the entire city. Right across the church is one of our favorites, the Loki Cafe, where you can get delicious traditional Icelandic dishes, but also try the dreaded fermented shark if you’re adventurous enough.

Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik

From Reykjavik, you can make the 45-minute drive to one of Iceland’s premier destinations, Blue Lagoon, for a relaxing soak in its natural springs. Be sure to book this in advance because time slots can fill up fast. In the spring and summer, the timeslots may not matter as much, but in winter with short daylight hours, it’s important to book early to go during the day. We made this mistake during our second visit, as they only had 4:00 PM reservations available, which is pretty much dark by then. However, there were far fewer people and experiencing the lagoon at night is pretty unique.

Blue Lagoon, Iceland Blue Lagoon, Iceland Blue Lagoon, Iceland

Other places to check out: Harpa Concert Hall, Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (famous hot-dog stand), Sandholt Cafe (best hot chocolate!), Eldur and IS (for awesome crepes and ice cream)

Day 2: Kirkjufellsfoss to Pingvellir

We start Day 2 early by heading to Kirkjufellsfoss, the only time you’ll head northwest, about 2.5 hours from Reykjavik. Kirkjufellsfoss is particularly recognizable for having Kirkjufell Mountain in the background with the waterfall. It’s also a favorite spot for photographers for sunsets and the Northern Lights. If you have time, you can explore the surrounding area, including nearby Snaefellsjoekull National Park.

Kirkjufellsfoss, Iceland

Kirkjufellsfoss, Iceland

From Kirkjufellsfoss, you can make a 2-hour drive to Hraunfossar, a series of small waterfalls that forms a very picturesque sight. An hour from here, you can head to Glymur, the second tallest waterfall in Iceland that falls into a steep canyon.

Hraunfossar, Iceland
Photo by Ming Ge

Finally, you can cap your day by heading to Pingvellir, a national park about an hour away from Glymur. A UNESCO Heritage Site, you will discover rock and canyon formations from the movement of tectonic plates, as well as the Oxararfoss Waterfall. There is also a unique experience here where you can snorkel or scuba dive at Silfra canyon, a rare opportunity to dive between two continental plates!


Pingvellir, Iceland

Pingvellir National Park

For your accommodation, I would look to stay in Laugarvatn, a town only 20 minutes away from Pingvellir. You can check out the Heradsskolinn Boutique Hostel, and also look to enjoy a bath at Laugarvatn Fontana.

Day 3: Bruarfoss, Geysir, Gullfoss, Haifoss

What’s nice about Day 3 is there’s plenty of flexibility for how you’ll want to spend your day. You can start by either revisiting Pingvellir or start heading to some of the other locations. Between Pingvellir, Bruarfoss, Geysir, and Gullfoss it’s only an hour total drive distance, so you can see a lot in a pretty short timeframe.

If you want to start towards Bruarfoss, it’s a little more hidden to find compared to other sites. From Laugarvatn, head east for about 20 minutes and look for the road, Brekkuskogur. There is no sign on the main road pointing to Bruarfoss, so be sure to look for this road. Your GPS should help you find it; however, once we entered the road, the GPS went haywire and couldn’t pinpoint our location. If this happens, just continue straight on the road. You will come to the end of a 3-way intersection and make a left turn. Continue on this road and look for a small sign on your left that says “Bruar.” This is the pathway to the falls, which requires a bit of a walk, possibly through mud and water depending on the weather. But it is worth it, as it is an incredibly beautiful waterfall and there is virtually no people around.


Bruarfoss, Iceland

Once you finish at Bruarfoss, you can head 15 minutes east to Geysir. Geysir will be much easier to find, as it is a very popular spot for tourists. Here you can see the “Great Geysir” periodically erupt, spewing hot boiling water up to 200 feet in the air! Afterward, head just 10 minutes east to see one of Iceland’s most iconic waterfalls, Gullfoss. Gullfoss is made of two smaller falls before plunging 105 feet into a canyon. Anywhere from 30,000 to 500,000 gallons can be flowing into the canyon. Even from a distance, you can feel the sheer force of wind and mist from the falls. It’s definitely one of the greatest spectacles you’ll see in Iceland.


Gullfoss, Iceland

Next, you can head towards Haifoss, a waterfall off from the main roads and about 1.5 hours away, but absolutely worth it. However, you’ll need a 4×4 vehicle to get to this waterfall, since the terrain is very uneven and the road can be prone to shallow flooding. You’ll need to watch for reports whether or not the road is impassable, but if you make it there, you’ll be treated to another spectacular sight. Because of its difficult accessibility, you’ll see very few people here too so you can enjoy the sights to yourself!


To conclude your day, you can look for accommodation in the towns, Hella or Hvolsvöllur.

Day 4: Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss, Vik

Day 4 also allows you plenty of flexibility to go at a flexible pace, but it provides plenty of things to see! 30 minutes east of Hella, you can visit Seljalandsfoss. Another iconic waterfall, you will be able to see this from the main road, as well as many signs pointing to its location. Seljalandsfoss is unique in that you can actually walk in the cave behind the waterfall.


Seljalandsfoss, Iceland

Just 30 minutes further east, you’ll reach the stunning and also iconic Skogafoss, one of my favorite waterfalls. Nicknamed the “Curtain Waterfall” for being shaped like drapery, you can experience the powerful waterfall by walking right up to it. If that’s not enough, you can take the stairs to the top of the falls, where you’ll be greeted with a spectacular view of the landscape.


Skogafoss, Iceland

From Skogafoss, you’ll head towards Vik, where there are several places to visit. First, you can check out the viewpoint that overlooks Dyrhólaey Arch. Next, head to Reynisfjara Beach, also known as Black Sand Beach, where you can see the uniquely recognizable basalt rock formations and giant rock formations jutting out in the background. Finally, you can explore the town of Vik, a charming town with exception views of the surrounding landscape, and a place to search for accommodation.

Basalt Rock Formations at Reynisfjara Beach
Basalt Rock Formations at Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara Beach, Iceland

Other places to check out: because these places are very close to each other, you may have time to do other things. Try looking for the hidden hot spring, Seljavallalaug (by the road Raufarfellsvegur) or the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck.

Day 5: Skaftafell, Svartifoss, Vatnajokull & Jokulsarlon

Next, we’ll head east towards Skaftafell. You can choose to hike on the Skaftafell Glacier, which can take up to half a day, or you can go see Svartifoss, a unique waterfall that’s surrounded by basalt rock formations.

Credit: Annie Ngo

From Skaftafell, you can head towards Hof, a town that’s a frequent meeting place for tour groups for a variety of activities on the Vatnajokull Glacier. You can also hike the glacier, but I highly recommend doing an ice cave tour to see the incredible cave formations within the glacier.

Vatnajokull Glacier, Ice Cave Tour, Iceland
Ice Cave Tour, Vatnajokull Glacier

Finally, the last spot of this road trip leads to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. This lake holds large icebergs that have broken away from the Vatnajokull Glacier. In the summer, you can take boat tours to ride up close to the ice. Just across the lagoon towards the ocean, you’ll find Diamond Beach, aptly named because of the crystal clear ice fragments that wash up on the beach.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Diamond Beach
Diamond Beach

For your accommodation, there’s plenty of inexpensive places in Hof, but if you have room the splurge, check out Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon.

Day 6: Free/Flex Day

Potentially on your 5th day of the road trip, you could see all of the things listed. However, depending on the season, weather conditions, activity schedule or if you decided to pace yourselves, you can be using this 6th day for the latter parts of your journey or visit anything you may have missed.

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Plenty of Icelandic Horses

You may start heading back towards Reykjavik as you prepare to wrap up your trip. From Hof, it would normally take 4 hours straight to get back to Reykjavik. However, if conditions aren’t ideal, it could take longer. When we made our visit this past November, it was raining and snowing, which slowed our drive to over 6 hours.

Since Iceland is so photogenically beautiful, you probably will make several stops to enjoy the scenery and there are still other sites you can check out on your way back. You can pass by Foss a Siou, a tall but thin waterfall that’s in someone’s backyard. There’s also Fjaðrárgljúfur, a massive canyon that measures 100 meters deep. A town not covered in the main itinerary that you could visit is Selfoss, where you can see the Selfoss waterfall.

Day 7: Epic Iceland Road Trip Completed!

Congratulations! You completed your epic road trip of Southern Iceland! By this point, you are likely spending a little more time in Reykjavik before you fly back home.

Although our itinerary covers a lot of spectacular sights, it still only visits the southern part of Iceland! There’s still so much beauty to be seen that one visit isn’t enough, so I’m sure I’ll be back crafting another itinerary to see the rest of this amazing country.

Additional Tips

  1. Although most vehicles will be fine to use, I recommend getting a 4×4 so you are able to trek over tougher terrain, such as Haifoss, and also for poor weather conditions like rain and snow. Keep in mind they are a bit more expensive than compact cars/sedans. I’d recommend Blue Car Rental for great pricing and excellent service. Also, opt for the Mobile Wi-Fi (around $10 a day), so you can use your phone’s GPS, as well as look up various destinations and booking accommodation.
  2. Leave your itinerary at and download the 112 app so you get all your up-to-date information about Iceland conditions and so they know where you are and in case you need emergency services.
  3. You pretty much don’t need cash, as just about every place takes credit card. If you’re coming from the US, you can use your dollars for cash and don’t need to exchange to Icelandic Krona.
  4. As I mentioned, this itinerary is good for any season. However, because the days are so short in winter, you may be rushed in order to see many of these sites. So if you prefer a more relaxed, slower pace, then you may want to consider visiting in the spring or summer.

Let us know what you think of our itinerary and where are some of your favorite places to see! If you like it, Pin it below!


Gullfoss Waterfall: Feel the Might of the “Golden Falls”

No road trip on the Golden Circle route would be complete without visiting Iceland’s popular attraction: Gullfoss Waterfall. Nicknamed the “Golden Falls,” the water flows in the Hvítá River and forms one of Iceland’s most powerful waterfalls. Above the main drop are cascades of smaller falls that leads to the main plunge. Gullfoss splits into two separate falls, the first falls measuring 11 meters and the second measures 21 meters, which dumps the river 32 meter (105 ft) into a canyon. Normally, 30,000 gallons of water flows every second into the canyon, but can produce up to 500,000 gallons of water per second!

Viewing Deck of Gullfoss Waterfall

Even where we were several hundred yards away from the drop, we could feel the sheer force of the falls. It was very windy and the waterfall threw cold mist all the way to the parking lot. We saw some other tourists that didn’t want to get too close to the falls in fear of getting wetter and cold. Surprisingly enough, it is actually less windy and drier as you get closer to the falls. At the lookout point, you can see up close the smaller cascades and get a closer look of the main drop. You can also go to the upper viewpoint, which has a spectacular view of the vast landscape that surrounds the falls. Rainbows are frequently seen over the falls on sunny days.

Gullfoss Waterfall: The Golden Falls

Smaller Cascades at Gullfoss

Gullfoss may not exist today if it weren’t for Sigríður Tómasdóttir, who is the daughter of Tómas Tómasson. Investors had looked into creating a hydroelectric power plant to harness the power of the falls, which would have effectively destroyed Gullfoss. Legend has it that Sigríður was so determined to protect the falls that she threatened to throw herself into the falls to save Gullfoss. Her protests did help prevent the plant from being built, although another major factor the plant didn’t get built was due to lack of funding from investors. The falls are now protected and a memorial of Sigríður Tómasdóttir sits above the falls. 

Gullfoss Waterfall: The Golden Falls

Gullfoss Waterfall: The Golden Falls

Needless to say, Gullfoss is truly an amazing site to visit and experience. Check out the short video clip below to see and hear the force of Gullfoss:

Gullfoss Waterfall: The Golden Falls

Gullfoss Waterfall: The Golden Falls

Gullfoss Waterfall: The Golden Falls Gullfoss Waterfall: The Golden Falls