The Best 8 Day Iceland Adventure Itinerary

Iceland is full of sharp contrasts. This is a country with fire and ice co-existing. Where the winters are long and dark, but the summer’s midnight sun makes up for it, making the day’s feel much longer in summer.

Iceland has been a dream of mine for about 5 years now. The first time I saw pictures my jaw dropped. Who knew the country with “ice” in the name was so stunning with such a diverse landscape? Not me. Iceland immediately jumped to the top of my list. I started researching how much a trip to Iceland would cost me… and my jaw dropped again. There was nooo way I could afford that! Or was there? *Puts on thinking cap*

Here’s my 8 Day Itinerary for Iceland’s Ring Road!

Iceland is full of sharp contrasts. This is a country with fire and ice co-existing. Where the winters are long and dark, but the summer’s midnight sun makes up for it, making the day’s feel much longer in summer.

How to Get to Iceland

Fly into Reykjavik International Airport (KEF). Flights are typically one of the largest expenses when traveling. I fly on budget airlines frequently, especially if it’s going to end up saving me a couple hundred dollars a flight. We flew direct into Iceland on the budget airline WOW. *WOW IS NO LONGER IN BUSINESS*

SEARCH RATES FOR FLIGHTS TO ICELAND HERE
Iceland is full of sharp contrasts. This is a country with fire and ice co-existing. Where the winters are long and dark, but the summer’s midnight sun makes up for it, making the day’s feel much longer in summer. Diamond beach also known as the black sand beach is a must visit on your Iceland road trip.
Diamond Beach

How to Get Around Iceland

Once we arrived in Reykjavik, we took the Airport Direct bus into the city (we found that to be the cheapest way into the city without a rental car). The bus had WIFI, and put public transportation buses in the US to shame. We were dropped off within walking distance to our AirBnB and the city’s attractions. Reykjavik is extremely walkable, so I’d recommend exploring on foot!

A rental car is necessary if you plan to explore Iceland’s ring road or outside the city of Reykjavik. You can pick up your rental right at the airport or take the bus into the city and get your car when you’re ready to leave the city.

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Reykjavik is extremely walkable, so I’d recommend exploring on foot!

Day 1 in Reykjavik

Perhaps the most iconic building in Reykjavik, Hallgrímskirkja is a beautiful Lutheran church standing at 244 ft high. The height of the church makes it the largest church in Iceland, and one of the tallest structures in the country!

Hallgrímskirkja Iceland church in Reykjavik
Hallgrímskirkja

Reykjavik Sun Voyager Sculpture

The Sun Voyager is a sculpture created by Jón Gunnar. The Sun Voyager sits along the coastline of the city and has a cool history. In 1986 Gunnar’s design for Sun Voyager won best outdoor sculpture in a competition funded by the city. The competition purpose was to create a sculpture that would commemorate the 200th anniversary of the city.

SUN VOYAGER ICELAND Reykjavik is extremely walkable, so I’d recommend exploring on foot!
Sun Voyager

Where to Get Food in Iceland

 Snacking on the traditional Icelandic food was… interesting. Logan tried things where I drew the line, such as fermented shark and dried pounded fish. The rye bread ice-cream however, I could eat in gallons.

TRADITIONAL ICELANDIC FOOD fermented shark, dried fish and rye bread ice cream!
Icelandic hot dogs are not like ordinary hot dogs, because they’re made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with a bit of pork and beef. We ordered ours the traditional Icelandic way. A hot dog on a warm, steamed bun topped with TWO kinds of onions- raw white, and crispy fried onions, finished off with ketchup, sweet brown mustard.

Icelandic hot dogs are not like ordinary hot dogs, because they’re made mostly from Icelandic lamb, along with a bit of pork and beef. We ordered ours the traditional Icelandic way. A hot dog on a warm, steamed bun topped with TWO kinds of onions- raw white, and crispy fried onions, finished off with ketchup, sweet brown mustard called pylsusinnep, and remoulade, a sauce made with mayo, capers, mustard, and herbs. It was delicious, and much preferred by locals over the fermented shark.

Traditional Icelandic breakfast

SO MUCH COFFEE. Iceland knows coffee, every cup I had was exceptionally delicious. Which is GREAT, because it’s cold and rainy almost all the time, and coffee is a requirement for me to become a functioning human in the mornings.

Grocery shopping in Iceland at BONUS is the more budget friendly option to eat in Iceland.

Everything about Iceland is expensive. Including the food. We easily spent around $25-50 per person a meal while in the city. Before we drove to our first cabin we went grocery shopping at the local Bonus.


Spend 3 Days in Golden Circle

We headed east towards Thingvellir National Park where our next AirBnB was. The road trip had officially begun!  Make sure to check the road conditions (here) during your trip, the weather in Iceland is unpredictable, in one hour we saw sunny clear warm weather turn to hail and wind blown frost.

Iceland Golden Circle Airbnb Cabin

GUYS. If you haven’t yet used AirBnB to travel, you’re missing out on some amazing deals. AirBnB and Skyscanner are my two KEY TOOLS I use when planning and budgeting for my trips. What are the two largest expenses for travel? Accommodation, and flights. So where do you want to maximize your savings and cut costs? Accommodation, and flights. But seriously… check these out. 

AirBnb cabin in Iceland's Golden Circle

We spent two nights in this stunning cabin. Like most cabin’s in Iceland, this one came with a hot tub and was in great proximity to all the major attractions we wanted to see in The Golden Circle!

AirBnb cabin in Iceland's Golden Circle

Golden Circle Activities

  • Chase breathtaking Icelandic waterfalls like the ones below
  • Enjoy breathtaking views as you drive the Golden Circle
  • Explore Thingvellir National Park, where tectonic plates meets
  • Witness the wonders of the Strokkur geyser, it erupts every 5 minutes!

Gullfoss Waterfall

Iceland Gulfoss waterfall along the Golden Circle

Faxi

Iceland Faxi waterfall along the Golden Circle

Lake Kerid

Lake Kerid is a must see while visiting Iceland's Golden Circle

Geysir

The famous geysir along Iceland's Golden Circle sets off every few minutes.

Bruarfoss

The "blue waterfall" in Iceland is Bruarfoss. The bright blue water will amaze you, the hike is not too far, but can be muddy and difficult to find.


Spend 2 Days in Southern Iceland

Head south from the Golden Circle to continue your journey along Iceland’s Ring Road. The two hour drive will take you to Vik, where we took a tour with Arctic Adventures.

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Katla Ice Cave Tour

Our tour guide was awesome, enthusiastic and a slightly crazy driver. Our group drove through scenic landscapes to the volcano Katla in a tour van. Once there we were provided safety gear such as helmets, and crampons. These are required to be worn during the ice cave tour, trust me – you’ll want them. After the tour we still had plenty of time to explore until it got dark out.

Go on an adventure tour inside the Katla Ice Cave!

Go on an adventure tour inside the Katla Ice Cave!


Go on an adventure tour inside the Katla Ice Cave!

Skogafoss

There were a couple attempts to go behind the waterfall…

After the successful attempt at getting soaked- we went inside a local restaurant next to the waterfall parking lot to warm up with some delicious lamb stew.

Visit one of the many waterfalls Iceland has to offer, including the "rainbow waterfall" Skogafoss


Skogafoss waterfall in south Iceland

Just around the corner from Skogafoss is a local restaurant next to the waterfall you'll see a parking lot to warm up with some delicious lamb stew.


South Iceland road trip itinerary.

Seljalandsfoss

Thanks to that summer midnight sun! The picture above was taken around 11:00 p.m. Remember that in May, the day’s in Iceland are long, and the sun never fully sets at night, at midnight you’ll still see the sun on the horizon.

Seljalandsfoss Iceland

This meant a couple things, 1. We weren’t going to be seeing the northern lights (huge bummer, huge) 2. Sleeping at “night” became a challenge. Without black out shades/curtains and no sleeping mask, it was difficult to fall asleep and confusing when you woke up (I never knew what time it was). We talked to a couple locals about it and they laughed, and said we’re used to it, it’s all they knew! I would recommend bringing a sleeping mask if you’re visiting in the spring/summer months.

South Iceland cabin accommodations.


Laufskálavarða

The south coast of the island is unbelievably beautiful. On our way to the glacier lagoon we came across what used to be a giant farm. Back in 894, the first recorded volcano eruption of Katla (yes, the same one we went under to get to the ice caves) destroyed the entire farm.

Laufskálavarða The south coast of the island is unbelievably beautiful. On our way to the glacier lagoon we came across what used to be a giant farm. Back in 894, the first recorded volcano eruption of Katla (yes, the same one we went under to get to the ice caves) destroyed the entire farm.

Laufskálavarða, is a lava mound that was named after the farm. In memory of those that were lost, it is surrounded by stone cairns. Travelers crossing the desert of Mýrdalssandur for the first time would pile stones up to make a cairn, which was supposed to bring them good luck on their journey. The tradition continues to this day, leave a stone when you drive by!

Laufskálavarða The south coast of the island is unbelievably beautiful. On our way to the glacier lagoon we came across what used to be a giant farm. Back in 894, the first recorded volcano eruption of Katla (yes, the same one we went under to get to the ice caves) destroyed the entire farm.


Secret Glacier Lagoon

 As we continued our drive along the coastline we came to our next stop, the “secret” glacier lagoon. We found it thinking it was the main glacier lagoon we were trying to get to… it wasn’t. Looking around, we had the place to ourselves. We realized we had found “the secret lagoon” the local’s told us about.

As we continued our drive along the coastline we came to our next stop, the "secret" glacier lagoon. We found it thinking it was the main glacier lagoon we were trying to get to... it wasn't. Looking around, we had the place to ourselves. We realized we had found "the secret lagoon" the local's told us about.

As we continued our drive along the coastline we came to our next stop, the "secret" glacier lagoon. We found it thinking it was the main glacier lagoon we were trying to get to... it wasn't. Looking around, we had the place to ourselves. We realized we had found "the secret lagoon" the local's told us about.


Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

We were greeted immediately by the reindeer grazing in a clearing when we pulled in to park. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water. We were shocked that despite the freezing water of the lagoon, it was full of wild life.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water.

Reindeer at 
Reindeer around Iceland's Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon- a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water.

We watched the sea lions play in the lagoon while we sat and listened to the sounds of the ice moving in the water. After we’d had our fill of adorable animal friends we headed out of the lagoon and across the street.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Iceland


Diamond Beach

The ice from the glacier lagoon washes ashore the black sand beach. Scattered across the beach were giant chunks of ice, giving the beach the famous name “Diamond Beach”.

Diamond beach, or black sand beach is by Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon both are a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water.

When we could no longer handle the cold beach in our wet clothes, we headed back to our cabin for the night, where more amazing scenery awaited.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is a must visit destination on your trip to Iceland. Boat tours are available on the lagoon to take you further into the glacier water.

Our next cabin had a sheep farm in the back yard, and it was spring. That means BABIES. And in my opinion, there are few things cuter in this world then baby animals. I sat on my bed while I watched them play outside my window. With the window open, I could hear them BAAAing at each other and feel the crisp salty air blowing in off of the sea. (BLISS)

AirBnb in North Iceland
Baby lamb are everywhere in Iceland during the spring.


Spend Two Days in North Iceland


We got up early and took advantage of the complimentary breakfast the cottage offered.  It was a 5.5-hour drive north to get to the city of Akureyri, Iceland’s second most populous city. We spent 2 nights in the northern part of Iceland, chasing waterfalls and exploring the Lake Myvatn areas.

Dimmuborgir hike in North Iceland

Goðafoss

Goðafoss is one of the most visited waterfalls of Iceland's north.

Skútustaðagígar

Skútustaðagígar is an amazing hike you can do in Northern Iceland

Dimmuborgir

Dimmuborgir hike in North Iceland

Hofdi

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Hverfjall

Hverfjall crater is located in North Iceland. A hike takes you to the top of the massive crater you can see from the road.

The top of Hverfjall crater overlook. The crater is located in North Iceland, a hike takes you to the top of the massive crater you can see from the road.


Krafla Vita Crater

Krafla Vita crater is located in North Iceland by the famous power station. A hike takes you to the top of the massive crater.

Krafla Vita crater is located in North Iceland by the famous power station. A hike takes you to the top of the massive crater.


Last Day: Blue Lagoon

It was another long drive from Akureyri to Reykjavik. We had an appointment at the Blue Lagoon in the afternoon we were trying to make. The national speed limit of Iceland is 90 km/h on paved rural roads… which is REALLY slow when you’re driving around the entire country. Which is probably why we got pulled over in the middle of nowhere and received a speeding ticket. Trust me guys, you DO NOT want to get pulled over for speeding in Iceland- like everything else, the tickets are outrageously expensive.

BLUE LAGOON ICELAND

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The Best 8 Day Iceland Adventure Itinerary

28 thoughts on “The Best 8 Day Iceland Adventure Itinerary

  • I could do Iceland anytime! Loved it there. But I must return for the ring road trip. I am bookmarking this post for future reference 🙂 Great photos 🙂

    • I’m so glad we did the whole ring road. There was a lot of unique spots that you don’t see very often in travel blogs because of how remote they are. I’m dying to go back during the winter so I can photograph the northern lights 😍🌈

  • Iceland is such a fascinating country. We were there a few years ago and loved it. I especially enjoyed your photos of the ice cave tour. We did not do that, but seriously considered it. Your time there looks amazing.

    • I was so excited the tour was available when we were there (May 20 for my 30th 🙂 ). It was the only tour we did while we were there because they were all so expensive 🙁 we want to go back during the winter to see the northern lights for the first time.

  • Looks am amazing trip. Was planning a visit just as the C-word hit, so on hold for now. That Rye bread and ice cream sounds interesting, I’ll have to remember that for whenever we finally get to Iceland.

    • The C-word hahahahah too funny. I was planning an Iceland trip with a client for September, now we have to move it to next spring/summer 🙁 the ice cream was SO GOOD lol the fish/shark.. not.

  • What a shame about WOW … they were a cheap flight operator that did flights to the West Coast of the US, and I’d been harboring dreams of using a layover as an excuse to visit the island. Now I feel like I’ve missed out. What diverse landscape, and I love the idea of the endless day.

    • YES. I had planned on doing the exact same but over to London 😂😂I’m in Detroit, so we had a layover in Boston to get there. So sad when they went out of business. The sun not setting was a first for us, and VERY cool. Now we are talking about going back during the winter, so we can see the northern lights for the first time. I have a drone and +2 more years experience in photography now, so I want to go there for all the photos of the beautiful nature 🤗

  • Thanks for this detailed guide and beautiful photos!! I can’t believe all this was seen in 8 days! Iceland is definitely high up on my post covid list 🙂

    • hahaha yes… if there is anything I am good at, it’s using our vacation time as efficiently as possible to see the most things in a quality amount of time 🤗 probably why i’m now a travel agent 😂

  • You stayed in some really cute cabins! Were they all Airbnb? I have been to Iceland a couple of times, but always in the winter. Great for seeing the Northern Lights, but I would like to see the country looking more spring-like.

    • That’s funny because my partner and I were just talking about how we’re ready to go back, but want to go in the winter. Obviously to see the northern lights haha we were there for my 30th bday (2 years ago on May 20th) so it was cool to see the sun not set, that was a first for all of us.

  • This looks like the ideal trip to Iceland! We have really wanted to go see her for a while and now that they are anticipating being open again by June 15 it is looking more realistic. Will save this post as a guide!

    • oh my goodness! I hope you are able to make it, you will love it. I was there for my 30th birthday (2 years ago on May 20th) and my partner and I were just saying how it’s time to go back haha

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