Daniel and I just returned home a week ago (March 2017) from perhaps our biggest adventure yet–to the land of fire and ice. Iceland is becoming an increasingly popular vacation destination, and it’s so easy to see why. Every mile (or rather, kilometer) in that wild country brought about another surreal sight.
We were there for exactly 7 full days, and despite the numerous posts I read about one needing at least 10 days to travel around the entire ring road, we attempted it anyway–and happily succeeded. There was only one day that seemed to be primarily dominated by driving, and the rest were filled with leisure and adventure. I will say though–had it been summer and more areas had been accessible to us, we would have wanted a couple more days for sure.
I’ve put together this brief 7-Day Itinerary to give you an idea of what adventures we were able have during this time–and what you can do as well in such a short time. (I also highly recommend renting a campervan!)
DAY 1: Arrival in Keflavik & the Golden Circle
We arrived in Keflavik about 10:30 and spent a little while adjusting to everything and preparing ourselves–renting our camper van and buying necessities and food. Even after all that, we had time to see the following on the Golden Circle before we headed to our first campsite (heading North).
- Strokkur Geyser: It erupts approximately every 10 minutes!
- Gullfoss: This waterfall was so beautiful to stare at, but oh so very cold to stand by due to its immense power.
- Bruarfoss: This secret waterfall, also off of the Golden Circle, was one of my favorite sights in all seven days. Its incredibly blue water was simply mind-blowing. Click here to read more about this beautiful place!
DAY 2: Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The peninsula, which is actually off the Ring Road, isn’t terribly big, so we had plenty of time to relax and see the highlights in one day–although we may have spent more time had they had a winter campsite.
- Arnarstapi Coastal Trail: We spent a couple hours here walking along the coast!
- Djúpalónssandur Beach: Not far down from Arnarstapi, this Beach is incredibly unique with its black pebbles. It also contains the haunting remains of a shipwreck from the 1940s.
- Kirkjufell & Kirkjufellfoss: The iconic mountain and its namesake waterfall, which is in fact partially frozen in March–I imagine it would look entirely different in the summer!
- Random Beach: We watched the sunset at this random beach not far from Kirkjufell. This is just one of my many examples of how easy it is to find some random beauty in Iceland to have all for yourself.
DAY 3: The North
Although there was a pretty lengthy stretch from our campground outside the Snaefellsnes Peninsula to Myvatn, we stopped several times along the way to make it worth it and to take in the rugged, untamed beauty of the North!
- Seal Watching–Hvammstangi: As we were traveling along the Ring Road, we noticed a slight detour for “seal watching” at the Seal Museum, so we spontaneously stopped. Unfortunately, we did not spot any seals, but the ducks were quite amusing. It was a great spot to eat as well!
- Random River: Continuing along the Ring, we saw this “river,” and it was too beautiful not to stop at. We pulled over on the side of the road and climbed down a hill to to take it all in–yet another example of the random pieces of beauty to be found!
- Godafoss: Approximately 30-45 minutes before you arrive in Myvatn, the “waterfall of the gods” was simply astounding.
- Myvatn Nature Baths: When we arrived for the evening in Myvatn, we visited its local Blue Lagoon. Myvatn is also the Northern Lights capital, and once we made our way to our campground, we were able to witness them!
DAY 4: Dimmuborgir & Driving along the East
We spent a lot of time after Dimmuborgir driving, but we saw so many beautiful sights along the way that it really wasn’t so bad. We would have been able to visit more spots though had we not (a) gotten STUCK and (b) been forced to take a much longer detour directly along the coast (a long stretch of the Ring Road was closed).
- Dimmuborgir: This is a great place right in Myvatn to start for all ranges of different length trails which can take you through more than just Dimmuborgir. We spent a couple hours here just exploring all the different lava formations and taking our time through it all. It was a winter wonderland in the winter!
DAY 5: The South
There weren’t any long stretches of driving on this day–everything was roughly 30 minutes to an hour apart–so it was great.
- Jokusárlón Glacier Lagoon: The lagoon was wonderful. We were even able to stand on a few of the more massive glaciers close to the shore. You can walk along pretty far.
- Jokusárlón Beach: Right across the road from the lagoon is the beach–where the the glaciers from the lagoon eventually make their way to the sea. It’s astonishing to watch the waves crashing against them and pulling them along.
- Skaftafell National Park: Svartifoss: This waterfall was one of the only ones we actually had to hike to. While it’s only about a mile, it’s uphill, so it takes about 45 minutes to get there. It’s so worth it!
- Fjadrárgljúfur: I had been looking most forward to seeing this incredible canyon, and it did not disappoint. However, the deep snow on this particular day–coupled with the strong winds–made it difficult to traverse about as I had hoped. Still beautiful!
DAY 6: The South
This was a wonderful day of waterfalls–all within fairly short distances of one another.
- Skogafoss: Our first waterfall of the day was our first sight of the morning, as we stayed at the campground located right in front of it the night before.
- Vik: Black Sand Beach: We backtracked along the Southern coast about 20 or so minutes to Vik to walk along this dangerous, yet breathtaking beach.
- Seljalandsfoss: We then continued back around the Ring Road, back past Skogar, to walk around one of the only waterfalls you can walk behind.
- Gljufrabui: Only a very short walk down from Seljalandsfoss, this waterfall was my favorite. It’s through a small canyon so that once you get to it, you are standing directly beneath it. It’s such a surreal feeling that you care very little that you’re being soaked with the frigid sprays of water. Here’s a link to my post about it!
- Blue Lagoon: Even after taking our time at all these locations (including stopping along the side of the road to pet the horses), we arrived early to our 6:00 Blue Lagoon appointment. It was extremely windy and rainy by this point (please excuse the poor picture quality!).
DAY 7: Silfra Fissure–Golden Circle
We stayed the previous night at a campground in Reykjavik and woke up early to return full circle to the Golden Circle. We had booked a snorkeling adventure for 9:30, which all in all amounted to about three hours. This timing allowed us plenty of time to eat and pack up our stuff so that we could return our van to the rental place before 4:00 and chill out for the evening.
- Silfra Fissure: An experience not to be missed is snorkeling between the continental plates in some of the clearest waters in the world!
Oh, here’s another nice pin to add to your board 🙂