Caleb and I have visited Iceland 4 times. Each of our trips have been 5 days or longer, but for those only visiting Iceland for a short jaunt here is my suggested itinerary with incredible must-see sites around the Southern Coast of Iceland.
What Can You See in Iceland in 3 Days?
Day 1: You will land in Keflavik and then you will want to rent a car. Worried about renting? I’ve got you covered: Stress-Free Guide to Renting a Car in Iceland.
I would suggest driving to Reykjavik, grabbing 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 fairly small and will only take you an hour or so to walk around the small shops. There are so many amazing restaurants in the city. I recommend getting something traditional! I recommending eating as much Icelandic Fish as possible when you are visiting Iceland. In most cases, it was caught that same day! Get a good night’s rest because in the morning you will head to Route 1 and start your adventure!
Day 2: Grab breakfast and hit the road! You will be traveling on Route 1, which is Iceland’s main road that goes around the entire island. It is 828 miles long and is also known as the Icelandic Ring Road.
- Jökulsarlón Glacier Lagoon: The drive to the Glacier Lagoon is about 5 hours from Reykjavik, but is WELL WORTH the drive! When we visited Jökulsarlón for the first time on our honeymoon I literally gasped out loud. 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. When we went this December (2018) is was pretty packed. It is interesting to see how people flock to different areas of the country.
- 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 to be the prettiest just as the sun is setting.
- Heinabergslón Glacier Lagoon: This lagoon is a less popular, 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.
- 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 city so much because it is where we always stay overnight when we visit Jökulsarlón Glacier Lagoon. Vík is surrounded by black sand beaches. 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.
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 close 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.)
- Ãžingvellir 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 up close to Strokkur which erupts every 10 minutes or more.
- Gullfoss Waterfall: Gullfoss is located in the heart of the famous Golden Circle in Haukadalur, South Iceland about an hour from Reykjavík.
- Seljandsfoss Waterfall: It is on the Golden Circle & this is the waterfall you can walk behind & go into a small cave. I definitely recommend tall waterproof boots and a poncho!
- 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 easily by leaving the Golden Circle and continuing East on the Ring Road.