What Can You See in Iceland in 3 Days? Travel Guide

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A quick travel guide for waterfalls and must-see spots in Iceland.

Iceland is one of our favorite countries to visit. The landscapes are constantly changing, and there are many things to see and do! If you’re only visiting for a few days, we suggest concentrating your time around the southern coast. Here’s our suggested itinerary for what you can see in Iceland in 3 days!

girl photographing horses

What Can You See in Iceland in 3 Days?

Caleb and I have visited Iceland 4 times. Each of our trips has been 5 days or longer, but for those only visiting Iceland for a short excursion, here is my suggested itinerary with great must-see sites around the Southern Coast of Iceland.

Day 1:

You will land in Keflavik, and then you will want to rent a car. Are you worried about renting? I’ve got you covered: Stress-Free Guide to Renting a Car in Iceland. 

I would suggest driving to Reykjavik, grabbing a bite to eat, some coffee, and checking your bags into your hotel, perhaps showering or taking a quick power nap depending on how bad your jet lag is.

That evening go check out downtown Reykjavik. It is relatively small and will only take an hour to walk around the small shops. There are so many excellent restaurants in the city. I recommend getting something traditional! I recommend eating as much Icelandic Fish as possible when you visit Iceland. In most cases, it was caught that same day! Finally, get a good night’s rest because you will head to Route 1 and start your adventure in the morning!

Day 2:

Grab breakfast and hit the road! You will be traveling on Route 1, Iceland’s main road around the island. It is 828 miles long and is also known as the Icelandic Ring Road.

The Icelandic Ring Road is the main highway that circles the entire island. It’s about 800 miles long and takes a minimum of 24 hours to drive (without stops). Therefore, driving the Ring Road is a great way to see some of Iceland’s highlights in just a few days if you’re short on time.

Jökulsarlón Glacier Lagoon: 

The drive to the Glacier Lagoon is about 5 hours from Reykjavik, but it is WELL WORTH the drive! When we visited Jökulsarlón for the first time on our honeymoon, I gasped aloud. It was one of the most spectacular sites I have ever seen. We were there during the first week of August (2016), and the number of other tourists was minimal. However, it was pretty packed when we went this December (2018). It is interesting to see how people flock to different country areas.

Iceland 3 day itinerary

Diamond Beach:

Just across from Jökulsarlón Glacier, you will find one of the most visited spots in Iceland, the Diamond Beach. I find this location the prettiest, just as the sun is setting.

Heinabergslón Glacier Lagoon:

This lagoon is a less famous and less known glacial lagoon than its more famous counterpart,

Jökulsarlón, but equally as beautiful! We stumbled upon it when Caleb pulled over so I could photograph some sheep on the side of the road. I’m so glad we decided to drive down that crazy gravel path.

iceland in 3 days

Reynisfjara the Black Beach & Basalt Columns:

If it wasn’t for the chilly wind, we could have stood for hours mesmerized by the white crashing waves contrasted with the soft black sand. The lack of color when you are here is unlike anything else.

Vík:

I love this little city so much because it is where we always stay overnight when we visit Jökulsarlón Glacier Lagoon. Black sand beaches surround vík. If you decide to stay here, our favorite contemporary hotel is Icelandair Hotel Vík. The famous plane wreck may not be for everyone, but for those interested, Vík is very close to the DC3 Plane Wreck. The flat & easy hike to the plane is about 2 miles each way. To avoid crowds, Caleb and I did this hike at sunrise.

Iceland 3 day itinerary

Day 3:

Below are bulleted sites that I highly recommend. You could spend as much or little time at each of these locations as you wish, and all of them are located on or within proximity of the Golden Circle. (The name Golden Circle is just a marketing term for the route, derived from the name of Gullfoss, which means “gold waterfall” in Icelandic.)

Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir):

 Thingvellir National Park is a site of major geological and historical significance. Located in a rift valley dividing the North American tectonic plate and the Eurasian tectonic plate, it is also the location of Althing, the first national parliament of the country, which was established in 930 AD and active until 1798.

Geysir Hot Springs:

Located within the Thingvellir National Park, you can get close to Strokkur, which erupts every 10 minutes.

Gullfoss Waterfall:

Gullfoss is located in the heart of the famous Golden Circle in Haukadalur, South Iceland, about an hour from Reykjavík.

It is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Iceland. The waterfall is on the glacial river Hvítá, and you can see it from different angles. You can also walk down to the edge of the falls (be careful, it can be slippery!).

Seljandsfoss Waterfall: 

It is on the Golden Circle & this is the waterfall you can walk behind & go into a small cave. I recommend tall waterproof boots and a poncho!

The path behind the waterfall is pretty slippery when wet. However, you can see Seljandsfoss from the Ring Road, so it’s easy to add to your itinerary.

landscape of Iceland

Skógafoss Waterfall: 

The drive from Reykjavik to Skógafoss is a little under a 2-hour drive (depending on weather conditions and how many times you pull over to take photos or pet the horses. 😉 You can get to it quickly by leaving the Golden Circle and continuing East on the Ring Road.

If you’re lucky, there are also many rainbows in the mist. So you can walk right up to the edge of the falls and feel the spray on your face.

RELATED: 10 Reasons to Visit Iceland

Summary

There you have it! A suggested itinerary for what you can see in Iceland in three days. Of course, there are endless possibilities of things to do and see in Iceland, but this should give you a good start on your trip planning!

Happy travels! 🙂

Iceland FAQS

Q: How many days should I spend in Iceland?

A: The general rule of thumb is that you need at least three days to explore Iceland. This gives you a day to travel from the airport to your accommodation and two full days of adventuring! Of course, there’s always more to see and do if you have more time.

Q: What’s the best time of year to visit Iceland?

A: The best time of year to visit Iceland depends on what you want to see and do. If you’re hoping to see the Northern Lights, you’ll want to stay in the winter months. However, if you’re looking to hike and explore the outdoors, summer is the best time to visit.

Q: What should I pack for Iceland?

A: Iceland is a very diverse country, so you’ll want to pack accordingly. In the winter months, you’ll need warm clothes and waterproof gear. In the summer months, lighter layers are essential. No matter what time of year you visit, always pack your sunscreen!

Q: How much does it cost to visit Iceland?

A: The cost of visiting Iceland can vary greatly depending on the time of year and your activities. You can expect to spend around $100-150 USD per day. This includes accommodation, food, and activities.

Q: What is the best way to get around Iceland?

A: The best way to get around Iceland is by rental car. This gives you the freedom and flexibility to explore at your own pace. You can also take tours from Reykjavik, which is an excellent option if you’re short on time.

Q: What is the best way to see the Northern Lights?

A: The best way to see the Northern Lights is by visiting in the winter months and staying up late (or getting up early!). You can also take a tour, which is an excellent option if you’re short on time. Make sure to dress warmly and pack your camera!

Q: What is the best time of year to see the Northern Lights?

A: The best time of year to see the Northern Lights is from September to April. This is when the nights are longest, and there is less light pollution. Of course, you can still see them during the summer months, but they are much fainter.

Q. What is Icelandic alcohol “Black Death?”

Black Death is a type of Icelandic alcohol that is very strong and has a high alcohol content. It is made from potatoes, and caraway seeds, traditionally served in small shots. Black Death is not for the faint of heart and should be enjoyed in moderation! Cheers! Sláinte!

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What Can You See in Iceland in 3 Days?

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