The Icelandic nation might not be a big one but Iceland itself is grandiose. That also happens to be the case when it comes to activities and attractions. The options are endless with glaciers, volcanoes and hot springs awaiting at every corner. The history of Iceland is a rich one and the culture is unique. The quality of food and drink is excellent and there are many different ways to enjoy it.
As soon as one starts to plan a short Iceland holiday these options which we so happily celebrate every day might become a bit overwhelming. Which to try? What to see? Where to go?
The first thing that is important to realize is that the island can’t be fully explored in four days. You simply wouldn’t want to do it that way, you want to have time to take it all in and savor every moment. It is much better to take your time with the locations you choose and save the rest for next time.
But, then we are back to square one. What is the best way to do four-days in Iceland? To answer this question, we have put together this blog explaining exactly how to best spend four days in Iceland. Here we make the most of your time and see all the highlights without leaving you a stressed traveler.
The 4-Days in Iceland Bucket List
- Have some Icelandic Ice Cream
- Get an Icelandic Hot Dog
- Sail on Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
- Go chasing waterfalls
- Enjoy lunch outside
- Visit a local swimming pool/hot spring
- Stoll around Reykjavik
- Do the Golden Circle
- Go snorkeling in between the continental plates
- See Whales
Day one is the day you arrive in Iceland. Take a long breath as soon as you land. It is the freshest air you’ll ever breathe. Next up is to pick up a rental car. We recommend to book a rental car in advance and make sure you can pick it up at the airport.
Most would drive from Keflavik Airport into Reykjavík to stay the night but, we have a better plan. Drive the Sudurstrandsvegur road, following the beautiful south coast of Iceland. The road leads you through the charming fishing village of Grindavik sometimes called the town of the Blue Lagoon.
If you want to take a dip in the magical Blue Lagoon upon arrival just keep in mind you need to book your ticket in advance.
Following Sudurstrandarvegur (road nr.427) further East you’ll get a chance to visit Stokkseyri and Eyrarbakki, where you can get the best lobster soup in Iceland! The best restaurants are Fjorubordid at Stokkseyri and Rauda Husid at Eyrarbakki. This is the perfect way to get to know the culinary part of the Icelandic culture!
Getting on Road 1
From there you want to get yourself on the road 1 so you follow the road inland to Selfoss. Selfoss is often nicknamed the capital of south Iceland and is the largest town on the South Coast. There you can try some yummy Icelandic Ice Cream at Huppa. It’s hard to miss the sign has a big cow with a pink background. My favorite is the bragdarefur where you get to choose three ingredients which are then swirled together with the ice cream. My go-to is strawberries, Daim and bounty. Enjoy!
Continuing along road 1 you’ll soon reach the town of Hella and later Hvolsvöllur. If you arrive early to Hvolsvollur there is a state of the art volcano museum called the Lava center. It is well worth the visit!
We recommend staying the night at Hvolsvollur or in the nearby countryside. In the summertime, the local swimming pool at Hvolsvollur is open until 9 pm so you can relax in the hot tubs and sauna after a long travel day. Fully rebooting for the adventures ahead.
The Midgard Base Camp is a new hipster have in town with excellent food, great staff and events. The base camp is also a hostel if you want to stay the night.
Nothing beats waking up in the countryside! Today we start the day early beating the crowds to Seljalandsfoss waterfall. This water-wonder is commonly known as ‘the waterfall you can walk behind’ and is truly a must-visit while in Iceland. Seljalandsfoss originates in Eyjafjallajokull glacier volcano that so famously erupted in 2010. You can see the glacier from the road!
Many don’t know this but he has a brother waterfall called Gljufrabui located only about 100 meters away from him. This particular cascade is located in a small gully creating an even more dazzling experience. Don’t miss out on visiting them both.
Next up on Route 1 is the powerful Skogafoss waterfall, one of the more photogenic waterfalls found in Iceland and some say home to hidden treasure. There is something so magical about this place it simply can’t be explained. Just make sure to stop here!
The next town on the map is Vik i Myrdal which makes for a smart stop for snacks and a toilet break since ahead is one hour without any houses! That is the drive through the moon-like Solheimasandur beach!
After that hour with no houses…
The first town you’ll see is Kirkjubaejarklaustur home to Systrafoss waterfall if you haven’t had filled your waterfall quota for the day. We are making our way to a truly unique place as next up on the agenda is Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. Here we truly recommend the Jokulsarlon boat tour booked. It is undoubtedly the best way to take in the glory. Glistening icebergs floating with seals and birds all around. Across the road, you will even find the infamous Diamond Beach where the smaller icebergs flush ashore onto a black sand beach. This contrast between the black sand and the icebergs is a visual you’ll never forget!
After the tour, we make our way back down the South Coast this time stopping at Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach on the way back. This is a mystical place of great beauty but beware of the sneaky waves and don’t get to close.
Make the most of the midnight sun and use the evening to drive to your accommodation. The best option would be close to Fludir!
Today we start off with some amazing sight exploring the Golden Circle. We will be doing it the other way around ending where most begin at Thingvellir National Park. First stop is Gullfoss waterfall, ‘the Golden falls’. Make sure to view this amazing natural wonder from the three different platforms available. The new angle will amaze all over again!
The next stop is Geysir, the namesake to all the geysers in the world. He is quite at the moment but his baby brother Strokkur holds the fort spouting into the air every 4-10 minutes creating the most synchronized awe-choir out there!
The third Golden Circle stop is Thingvellir National Park. This is a place of history and geological wonderment where the North-American and the Eurasian plates drift apart but meet at this very location. You can see where the Viking used to rule in arguments and where the earth’s tectonic plates drift apart. For the adventurous souls, there is even a snorkeling tour going in between these continental plates. It is often described as a ‘liquid meditation’ as the water is crystal clear and the location otherworldly!
From Thingvellir, you have two options. If your flight is leaving on the fourth day we recommend to spend the next night in Reykjavík but if you have more time to drive onwards and spend it in Borgarnes.
Option a) stayed the night in Reykjavik:
The capital is an amazing place decorated with colorful houses and quirky street art. It is home to delicious restaurants and stellar museums but if you are feeling beat after the trip a visit to any of the local swimming pools might just be the best option for you.
Downtown in Reykjavik you’ll find the Baejarins Bestu Hot Dog stand a true must bite and the Hallgrimskirkja Church which gives you a chance to view the city from high. Skolavordustigur shopping street leads down from Hallgrimskirkja and the street Laugavegur crosses it which is the high shopping street in Reykjavik. A great place to roam around at.
If you are a Foodie you could join the Reykjavik Food Walk but if you are an animal lover the whale watching tour right from the harbor downtown would be ideal. One thing is for certain the city is filled with amazing activities and attractions!
Option b) stayed the night in Borgarnes/Stykkisholmur
Today is all about the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and its many charms. Starting the day in Borgarnes you want to begin the day by visiting the incredible waterfalls Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. They are located in walking distance of one another and are truly breathtaking.
Only 20 minutes away from the waterfalls you find Deildartunguhver, the most powerful hot spring in Europe. It is a fantastic stop and gives you yet another idea of the natural force which resides within Iceland’s veins.
Right next to Deildartunguhver is Krauma Nature Bathe where you can soak in the natural water from the neighboring hot spring. We recommend booking in advance.
Onwards onto the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, we follow road 54 to road 56 leading us to the charming fishing village of Stykkisholmur. Here you can join some memorable tours such as the Viking Sushi tour (also available in a shorter version) or the Sea Kayaking from Stykkisholmur. It is also a place of great restaurants and history. If you are looking for that sweet Icelandic fishing village charm you’ll find it at Stykkisholmur.
From Stykkisholmur the road leads us to Grundarfjordur home to the famous Kirkjufell mountain. Today it is not only the most photographed mountain in Iceland but also known as the arrow-head mountain from Game of Thrones! But the crew spent a great deal of time filming in the area.
The Black Church of Budir and the fishing villages Arnarstapi and Hellnar are other interesting stops and ideal for anyone looking to take some great photos. The drive back to Reykjavik is extremely beautiful, take your time!