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How Long Should I Spend in Iceland?

Discover how many days you need to explore Iceland

|December 14, 2023
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With countless waterfalls and endless coasts, there is an overwhelming amount to discover in Iceland. So how do you plan for the right amount of days to make sure you get to see the best of Iceland? We’ve broken that down for you.


Do you find yourself asking, “How many days should I spend in Iceland?" or wondering, “Is a week enough?" Then we are here to help. No matter your schedule, whether it's demandingly tight or generously flexible, you will be able to experience the wonder that is the Land of Fire and Ice. In this blog, we’ve broken down the durations as well as recommendations for visits of these lengths.

Weekend Trip: 3-4 Days

If you're looking to take an extended weekend or just a few days in Iceland, you’ll be pleased to know that this is long enough to see some of the major sights. With the international airport near Reykjavík, there is no easier way to explore the capital city and take tours further. With three or four days in Iceland, you can see the most iconic sights this country has to offer.

Itinerary Summary:

On your first day, we recommend exploring all that Reykjavík has to offer. This gives you time to get checked in, do some souvenir shopping, and begin to delve into the culture of the capital. Highlights include the Old Harbor area, the world-famous Icelandic Penis Museum, and the many restaurants and cafes with delicacies for every taste. Speaking about that, a tasting tour is a great way to pack it all in! If partying is your thing, then Reykjavík has plenty of bars to keep you entertained; find out more about the nightlife in the capital. If you’ve planned three days in winter, we have suggestions for you too!

On day two, it’s time for a tour! Whether you choose to guide yourself or to book a fantastic guided tour of the South Coast with a pickup in Reykjavík, head out of the city and explore more of the country. Depending on your preference, these are the areas that offer the perfect insight into Iceland.

1. The Golden Circle

The famous Golden Circle is known for encompassing sections of stunning natural wonders and famous landmarks. It’s a perfect day tour as you can visit all the attractions within one day. Typically, a Golden Circle tour includes Þingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall. If you are looking for a day tour, we recommend the Golden Circle Superior tour, where a knowledgeable guide takes you to these spots and more.

2. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

If you want to see everything from glaciers, black sand beaches, and basalt cliffs to charming coastal villages, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula has it all. Famous for encapsulating Iceland's diverse landscapes in one, this peninsula can be experienced in one long day. Take a look at our small group tour departing from the capital, and you can sit back and enjoy the views.

On your final days, you can head further south along the coast. This includes several of the most famous destinations in Iceland, including the stunning Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, where you can walk behind the cascading water. If you are heading home in the evening, why not stop at the Blue Lagoon before jumping on a transfer to the airport? Or if you’re in a pinch for time, head for a delicious breakfast in the city.

Around a Week: 5-7 Days

Town of Husavik, north coast of Iceland

Between five and seven days in Iceland allows for a more thorough exploration beyond the iconic sights and enables you to immerse yourself in the country's unique culture and natural wonders. You may also have the chance to travel around the famous Ring Road. It may be worth considering a self-drive tour - this lets you explore at your own pace while also having the option to jump on day tours that start on location.

Alongside the recommendations in our three-day itinerary, a week in Iceland allows for a little further afield exploration. Head further eastward to the enchanting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, where floating icebergs and glaciers in the distance are a sight to see. Once you’ve finished in the lagoon, take time to explore the nearby Diamond Beach. Icebergs from the lagoon get washed up onto the black sand creating a surreal contrast!

You can also head east if you have the time. The Eastfjords are full of culture and views. Take some time to drive through the scenic and dramatic landscapes, before stopping in a charming coastal village like Seyðisfjörður. If you’ve got some time on your hands, check out some of the best things to do in East Iceland.

As you continue around the Ring Road, you’ll begin heading northward to the Mývatn region, known for its geothermal activity and unique geological features. While you are here, visit the otherworldly Hverir Geothermal Area and unwind in the soothing waters of the Mývatn Nature Baths.

No matter how long you are in Iceland, you will never get over the feeling of seeing its waterfalls. Start day six by heading to the impressive Goðafoss Waterfall and continue to the "Capital of the North," Akureyri. Spend the day exploring the city's botanical gardens, wandering through charming streets, and trying local cuisine to complete your northern adventure. For more ideas, check out the top things to do in Akureyri.

Then you can return to Reykjavík, making stops at any additional sights or attractions you may have missed along the way. Spend your final day exploring the capital or engaging in leisurely activities before ending your Icelandic journey.

Do you have an extra day in Iceland? An eight-day vacation is a great way to squeeze in a week’s worth of activities, whilst allowing for some downtime to recuperate from traveling.

Extended Trip: 2-3 Weeks

If your schedule allows for an extended trip, then you will truly be able to make the most of Iceland. During your journey, you can plan to explore towns, parks, and attractions as well as the major sights. Although not possible for every traveler's schedule, an extended trip means you can take detours and spend more time in an area without worrying about missing out on bucket list stops.

For those staying longer, you can extend your trip by adding rest days and tour days. Why not add river rafting or a whale-watching tour to your trip?

Akureyri to the Westfjords

Instead of heading back to the capital after Akureyri, take on a scenic drive to the Westfjords, the remote and untouched region with dramatic landscapes. This part of Iceland isn’t as regularly visited as the Ring Road and South Coast, meaning that you can discover hidden fjords, charming fishing villages, and bird cliffs with fewer people around.

Ísafjörður and Strandir Coast

Visit the vibrant town of Ísafjörður, surrounded by stunning fjords. This tiny town is towered by mountains and will completely take your breath away. Spend a day exploring the remote and tranquil Strandir Coast, known for its solitude and natural beauty.

Relax in the Hot Springs

As you start leaving the west of Iceland, make sure to spend a day exploring its natural hot springs. Sturlungalaug is a hidden gem, nestled in a grassy field, this hot spring proves the perfect place to relax and take in the atmosphere. For a tiny and romantic hot spring, visit Landbrotalaug also known as the “Hot Pot”.

Planning a trip to Iceland can feel like a challenge, especially when you aren’t sure how many days are needed to complete your adventure. From two days to two weeks, visiting Iceland will be enjoyable on any agenda. Check out our multi-day tours to make the most of your time, or our day excursions in Iceland if your time is more limited.

 

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