Iceland in 5 Days

Iceland in 5 Days: Highlights and Hidden Gems

Iceland in 5 days is an adventure of a lifetime. This 5-day Iceland itinerary will show you breathtaking landscapes and geothermal wonders.

Venturing to Iceland for 5 days is an adventure of a lifetime. 

In just a short span, this 5-day Iceland itinerary promises a whirlwind of breathtaking landscapes and geothermal wonders. 

Whether you’re looking for a structured 5-day Iceland tour or planning a more spontaneous 5-day trip to Iceland, every moment on this Nordic island is an invitation to marvel. 

As you chart out your journey, my “Iceland in 5 days” guide is tailored to ensure you experience both the renowned sights and the secluded gems. 

Dive deep into my tried and tested recommendations and let the wonders of 5 days in Iceland itinerary unfold before your very eyes.

Iceland for 5 days: What to know before

If you’re planning to visit Iceland for 5 days, I need to address a few issues before I give you my suggested itinerary. 

Firstly, you need to know that Iceland is not that small and you will not be able to see all of it in only 5 days. 

That’s why, in this 5 days Iceland itinerary, I will focus on the area near Reykjavik and the South Coast, since these are the most popular places for anyone visiting Iceland for the first time. 

This specific Iceland itinerary (5 days) is designed in such a way to spend less time driving and more time exploring places. 

However, the experience and number of stops will be greatly influenced by the time of the year you decide to visit Iceland. 

While during summer, you will have almost only daylight (making it possible to even explore non-stop if sleep isn’t an issue), the opposite is true for the winter months. 

During December and January, when the daylight can be as little as four to five hours per day, you won’t be able to cover as much and will have to limit yourself to the most important places. But the reward is that for the rest of the time, you can go chasing the Aurora

My tip is to stop trying to see it all because it’s not possible in just 5 days, regardless of when you’re visiting. 

If you want more help with this Iceland trip, make sure to check out my guide on planning a trip to Iceland

Oh, and one small thing about the budget for this Icelandic adventure. 

Iceland is expensive! Why is that?

Because it’s an island in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean, where nothing grows outside greenhouses, nature is the main reason you’re visiting this place. 

Most of these places you’re about to visit are free to visit. But having infrastructure, hotels, and restaurants implies a huge cost, especially when they’re so remote. 

And that’s why you pay a premium to see premium nature. This is another reason to actually take the time and enjoy each spot. 

Iceland in 5 Days

Planning your meals in Iceland

Food is expensive in Iceland. 

Here are some food tips to help you save time and your budget if you’re about to attempt a 5-day trip in Iceland:

  • Book hotels with breakfast included, or a shared kitchen
  • Pack your lunch and be flexible with your lunch break (some days are full of activities, so you don’t want to spend a lot of time looking for restaurants)
  • Most restaurants open late (after 10 am) and close early (about 6 pm), so plan accordingly 
  • Always have snacks, and protein bars, with you
  • Kronan offers some ready-to-eat options (check the sushi area)
  • Gas stations and rest stops may have cooked food, but only in larger towns

How to get around Iceland and where to sleep?

The best way to get around Iceland is to rent a car. 

I recommend using Northbound (the Icelandic platform for car rentals) or RentalCars

 

For accommodation, I recommend using Booking.com

Tip: If you’re planning this Iceland itinerary for the summer months (May-September), you need to book your accommodation months in advance (up to 6 months for the popular locations). This is especially true for July and August. 

You can expect to possibly see the Northern Lights from September – April, but it may also happen in late August and early May. 

You will need a clear night sky to see the Aurora, so be ready to move and drive a bit during the night. Check for the Aurora forecast and clouds forecast on Vedur.is

             Booking.com

Now let’s dig deep into this once-in-a-lifetime experience and create the most extraordinary itinerary for 5 days in Iceland. 

Day 1: Begin in Reykjavik

There is no other way to start this 5-day itinerary in Iceland but by exploring Reykjavik. 

Although many find it underwhelming at first, I believe that it will help you shape your perception of Iceland. 

This is also the day you will arrive in Iceland, so you might not be up to (or have enough time) to start a road trip in Iceland the minute you land. 

But since the most convenient place to rent a car is in the Keflavik airport, make sure to pre-book your rental car and pick it up after you land. That way, you will save time and have a car to drive to your hotel. 

The alternative is a 25 Euro bus to Reykjavik, which is not worth it unless you’re travelling alone in Iceland. 

Iceland in 5 Days itinerary road trip

Day 2: Dive into the Golden Circle

  • Morning:
    • Þingvellir National Park
  • Afternoon:
    • Geysir geothermal area
    • Gullfoss waterfall
    • Hidden Gem: Brúarfoss waterfall (a blue-water beauty)
    • Have lunch at the Friðheimar restaurant (they have a tomato greenhouse and have everything tomato). A reservation is required but worth it. 
  • Evening:

The Golden Circle is a must-see collection of places for anyone visiting Iceland for the first time. 

You’ll get to see explosive geysers, charming waterfalls, a natural park where the North American and European tectonic plates meet, and more. This is all done as a day trip from Reykjavik. It’s really that close.

My only warning is that all these places are charming and you’ll want to spend more time in each. 

But if you want to fit all these Golden Circle places in one day, you’ll need to limit yourself to shorter stops

That means not hiking the trails in the park or at the Geysir and following the itinerary as instructed. 

Remember that you only have a few days, and we’re trying to fit in as much as possible. 

Iceland in 5 Days

Day 3: South Coast 

  • Morning:
    • Visit the majestic Seljalandsfoss waterfall
    • Hidden Gem: Gljúfrabúi waterfall (hidden behind a cliff, just a few meters away from Seljalandsfoss)
  • Afternoon:
    • Skógafoss waterfall
    • Drive to Vik and explore Reynisfjara black sand beach and Dyrhólaey
    • Gígjagjá cave
    • Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon
    • Kirkjugólf Natural Monument
    • Stjórnarfoss

Since you won’t have a lot of time to explore other parts of Iceland, I strongly advise that you take your time on the South Coast, where you have lots of waterfalls and spectacular spots of Icelandic nature so close to each other. 

That way, you won’t spend hours driving, but rather actually enjoying the Icelandic outdoors during your 5 days in Iceland. 

planning a trip to Iceland Iceland in 5 days

Day 4: Glaciers and Lagoons

  • Morning:
    • Foss á Síðu
    • Dverghamrar
    • Svartifoss
    • Hofskirkja
  • Afternoon:
    • Múlagljúfur Canyon
    • Jökulsárlón Glaciar lagoon (go on a boat tour on a lagoon with icelagoon.is
    • Eystri-Fellsfjara / Diamond Beach
    • Hidden Gem: Fjallsárlón ice lagoon (less crowded alternative). There’s another tour agency offering boat tours here ( fjallsarlon.is
  • Evening:
    • Drive towards Höfn, the popular place to stay for the night when visiting the lagoon. The second option, much better but less suitable for a budget trip is to drive back and stay at either Fosshotel Glacier Lagoon (luxury option), which is much closer, or Hali Country Hotel (budget option). Both must be booked in advance.

After the first quick stops in the morning, get ready to be amazed by the breathtaking Vatnajokull glacier, Europe’s largest glacier. Unfortunately, the glacier is melting and is now forming these glacier lagoons, which are getting bigger every year. 

The glacier can be seen even when driving, but the truly spectacular activity is going on a boat tour of the lagoon. 

During the peak tourist season, the tours at the Jökulsárlón Glaciar lagoon may be sold out for days (so book in advance), but you can always try the Fjallsárlón ice lagoon tours, which is only a few km away, and far less crowded. 

Leave Diamond Beach for the end. The beach is a spectacular site. Leave it at it end, after you’ve toured the lagoon because the beach is rather big and you have to walk for a while to get to see the pieces of ice. 

Also, it will be far less crowded in the afternoon, which will make your experience at the beach more special. 

Iceland travel tips Iceland in 5 days

Day 5: Return to Reykjavik or Keflavik

  • Morning:
    • Scenic drive through Vatnajokull glacier
  • Afternoon:
    • Vik village visit
    • Hidden Gem: Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck (1973 a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur, in the South Coast of Iceland). You have to park near the main road and then either walk for 7 km to reach it or pay for the shuttle. 
  • Evening:
    • Return drive to Reykjavik or directly to Keflavik, with possible pit stops for breathtaking sunsets. If you have the time, you might want to stop by the Blue Lagoon near the airport or Sky Lagoon in Reykjavik. 

Ready for the perfect 5 days in Iceland?

If you’re planning a trip to Iceland, then this 5-day Iceland itinerary will blow your mind. 

Sure, I would love to add so much more to this Icelandic road trip, but it’s impossible. Even so, consider these 5 days as a base itinerary for your first trip to Iceland, which is mostly suitable for a summer road trip (April-September). 

If you are planning a winter trip, you will have to cut everything in half because there’s not nearly enough daylight to cover all that ground in one day. 

For the winter version, I would focus on one, maybe two places per day and plan to drive there before sunrise. 

Also, December and January are almost all dark in Iceland, so those planning a winter trip in Iceland are mostly doing it for the Northern Lights. 

If you have more time, check out my 7-day Iceland itinerary, which focuses more on the Ring Road around the entire country. That’s a perfect trip for anyone looking to spend the absolute best first trip in Iceland. 

If you need more help, check out my list of Iceland travel tips

And no matter what, remember to enjoy your time in Iceland! You will need to come back, for sure, to explore more because Iceland is so addictive! 

Iulia Vasile

Iulia is a travel expert, blogger, engineer, freelance copywriter, and a curiosity-driven personality. She sees travel as the ultimate tool for self-improvement and personal growth, and that's the main topic of her blog, Juliasomething.com.

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