My Iceland itinerary: 5 days of bucket list sights

December 7, 2015 (Last Updated: May 25, 2020)
by Carolyn
Harpa Reykjavik

For the past few years I’ve been seduced by photos of Iceland and its stunning beauty.  Geysers and hot pools, black beaches, glaciers, volcanoes and waterfalls, Iceland has them all, and I’m happy to say, I’ll finally get to tick Iceland off my bucket list in 2016 as I’ve included it in my European itinerary.

Iceland Itinerary

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My 2016 trip to Europe looks like being one of the most anticipated ever with almost a week in Iceland locked into our itinerary.  As well as enjoying the natural beauty of the island nation, I’m really looking forward to finding out more about Iceland and its people. 

I’ve read that it’s an almost cashless society and that they eat some quite unusual foods (puffin, anyone?!!), amongst other things.

What’s on my 5* day Iceland itinerary?

My visit to Iceland will start with a late night arrival into Reykjavik. I’ve decided to make the capital the base for our six night stay and have booked an apartment right in the heart of the city.  (You can also read my 7-day Iceland road trip itinerary from my 2018 travels HERE.)

As much as I’d love to explore the whole country there is just so much to see, despite its relatively small size, that I’ve decided less will be best. (I’ll just have to go back again to explore the rest!)

We will still have a few longish day trips from Reykjavik in order to cover the itinerary I have planned for us, but the benefits of staying in an apartment (which include not having to pack up everything and move to new accommodation every day or so) will make those long days worthwhile.

Plus, we’ll be visiting in summer so there will be no shortage of daylight – you’ve heard of the midnight sun, right?!  

Further reading: Iceland Summer Packing List

Our first task in Iceland will be to familiarize ourselves with Reykjavik so I’ve allowed a couple of days in our Iceland itinerary to do just that.  There looks to be no shortage of things to do in Reykjavik and we’ll start with a walking tour of the city to get our bearings. 

I’ll also put my fear of heights aside to climb to the top of the Hallgrimskirkja (church), pictured above – which looks a bit like a space shuttle about to be launched – as the views over the city look amazing from here.

A wander around the old harbour, perhaps a puffin spotting cruise, and visiting The Harpa concert hall and Sun Voyager statue are also on my agenda.

Harpa concert hall Reykjavik
The Harpa concert hall in Reykjavik looks beautiful lit up at night.

I hope there’ll also be time for some shopping (I’ve heard Reykjavik has a great flea market) and to soak in one of the hot pools that the country is famous for.  Maybe we’ll head to the famous Blue Lagoon not far from town or perhaps we’ll find some hot springs with fewer tourists.

As we plan to get out of the city and explore some of the country’s spectacular natural wonders, I’ve arranged for us to hire a car in Iceland.  It will mean quite a bit of driving but I know it’s going to be worth it.  

Our first day trip will be to drive the famous Golden Circle route which will see us visiting Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Strokkur, two of Iceland’s famous geysers that spurt hot water into the air, and the Gullfoss falls.  If time permits, we’ll also make a detour to the volcanic crater of Kerid.

It will be amazing to get up close to the Strokkur geyser as it spurts water.

The next day I’m planning to do something a bit more adventurous.  We’ll drive north of Reykjavik through the Vesturland region (West Iceland), which Lonely Planet has named as one of the top 10 regions to visit in 2016

Our destination is Husafell where we’ll go dog sledding on Iceland’s second largest glacier.  To be pulled by a team of huskies across a snow covered glacier – during summer – is one of those once-in-a-lifetime experiences that I’m sure will be a lot of fun. It’s been high up on my bucket list for some time and I’m sure it’s going to be a highlight of our Iceland itinerary.

Our final day trip will see us heading south east from Reykjavik to Vik, about a two hour drive. We’ll be making lots of stops on the way, though, as there is so much to see.

Two waterfalls that I’m looking forward to visiting are Seljalandfoss and Skogarfoss, which are just 30 minutes apart. 

Then, fingers crossed, we’ll see puffins nesting at Dyrholaey before driving on to Reynisfjara, home to a black sand beach with basalt columns. Have a look at this photo on the National Geographic website and you’ll see why this is a must-visit for me.

Skogarfoss is just one of the many waterfalls we’ll be seeing in Iceland.

After a full-on day, we’ll head back to Reykjavik for our final night.  Our departure the next morning is at the ridiculously early time of 6am so we’ll be up with the sun (at around 3am!) in order to get to the airport on time.  I’m not complaining though – I’ll happily get up that early in order to spend a week in Iceland.

I was asked to share the places I most want to visit in Iceland by Guide to Iceland. As I’d already planned my Iceland itinerary and booked my flights, accommodation and car hire, it wasn’t hard!  

I’m really hoping we are timing our visit to coincide with the puffin nesting season at Dyrholaey.

Is a visit to Iceland on your bucket list? What sights would you include in your itinerary?

*We will arrive in Iceland on a Wednesday night just before midnight and depart the following Tuesday at 6am so the itinerary I have planned is based on five full days of sightseeing.

Photo credits: Tourism Iceland

My Iceland itinerary: 5 days of bucket list sights