Are you wondering how to spend a week in Iceland? From hot springs and national parks to thundering waterfalls and volcanic craters, we’ve got you covered with an adventurous 7 day Iceland itinerary.
Spending one week in Iceland gives you plenty of time to explore the country’s unique and diverse natural landscape. You’ll stop at iconic tourist attractions such as the Gullfoss waterfall and the Blue Lagoon as well as hidden gems such as Gljúfrabúi and Múlagljúfur Canyon.
It doesn’t take long to see why Iceland is referred to as the land of fire and ice. One minute you’re watching icebergs float to shore and the next you’re driving past vast fields of jagged lava rock.
Glaciers, geothermally heated hot pots, waterfalls you can walk behind, natural bridges you can walk on…this 1 week in Iceland itinerary has it all. So enjoy the abundance of natural beauty Iceland has to offer and get ready for 7 days in Iceland you won’t soon forget!
7 Days In Iceland: The Ultimate Week In Iceland Itinerary
Day 1: Golden Circle + Hot Springs
You’ll kick start your 7 days in Iceland with the most popular tourist route in the country, the Golden Circle. This drive will take you to some of the most iconic stops, some lesser-known gems, and will finish with a hike and relaxing soak in a hot river.
Stop 1: Stand On Two Different Continents At Thingvellir National Park
Thingvellir National Park is the first stop of day one of your 7 day road trip in Iceland. The beautiful and fascinating natural landscape of this park is part of what makes it one of the three major tourist stops along the Golden Circle.
Thingvellir has a few claims to fame. It’s a UNESCO World Heritage Site that marks the location of Iceland’s first parliament formed in 930 AD. It’s also home to a rift valley where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet and gradually pull apart each year creating the Silfra fissure.
The national park is the perfect place to snorkel through crystal clear waters, visit the Þingvallakirkja historic church, sit beside the Öxarárfoss waterfall, and wander a lava rock-filled landscape.
Stop 2: Marvel At The Vibrant Blue Water Of Bruarfoss Waterfall
The brilliant blue water of Bruarfoss Waterfall is so captivating and so vibrant you’ll do a double-take when you see it. The waterfall itself isn’t nearly as dramatic or thunderous as some of the others you’ll see during your one week in Iceland, but these lacy streams of blue water are beautiful in their own right.
Part of what makes Bruarfoss so appealing to many is the fact that you have to hike just over 4 miles round trip to view it. This is a deterrent to some, but to those who deem the trek worth it, it means you get to view this stunning natural wonder in peace and quiet.
The path to Bruarfoss takes you past a number of smaller waterfalls as well, making the journey that much more enjoyable. If you type “Bruarfoss Waterfall Official Parking” into Google Maps you should have no problem finding the lot and the start of the trail.
Stop 3: Watch The Strokkur Geyser Erupt
The Srokkur geyser is one of the three most popular Golden Circle stops, and for good reason. It lies in the geothermally active Haukadalur Valley which is also home to the once active but now dormant Geysir.
Geysir’s neighbor, Strokkur, is the only currently active geyser erupting roughly every 5-7 minutes in a dramatic fountain-like display of hot water and steam. If you watch the center of the geyser you’ll notice it start to bubble right before it explodes so you have an idea of when the eruption is coming.
The area surrounding the geyser is full of bubbling mud holes and rising steam and is fun to explore as well. Be careful as you wander the area and pay attention to the signs as everything is dangerously hot.
Stop 4: Spot A Rainbow Arching Over Gullfoss
Gullfoss waterfall is the third of the three most iconic stops you’ll hit along the Golden Circle. The waterfall thunders down in two different sections, often misting the faces of those eager to get a closer view from up against the railing.
Gullfoss is also referred to as the “Golden Waterfall” because you’ll often find, on sunny days, that a beautiful rainbow stretches across the length of the waterfall in a particularly magical display. The waterfall can be viewed from both upper and lower viewpoints depending on whether you’re looking for a pulled-back view of the whole waterfall or an up close view of the final plunge.
You will have the privilege of seeing many stunning waterfalls during your 1 week in Iceland, but the convenience of Gullfoss being on a major tourist route as well as its undeniable beauty and sheer size, make it one of the best.
Stop 5: Enjoy The Lack Of Crowds At Faxafoss
Faxafoss is a less frequented stop along the Golden Circle, but its beauty is deserving of attention. At 105 feet, it’s not particularly tall, but it’s wide and powerful. You can observe the waterfall up close from one side or can take in the entire waterfall from multiple spots if you’d rather capture the entirety of its beauty.
At this point, you’ve likely worked up an appetite, so you’ll be happy to know that Faxafoss is down the road from Friðheimar, a greenhouse restaurant serving all things tomato including all-you-can-eat tomato soup and freshly baked bread.
Stop 6: Grab A Pool Noodle And Soak In The Secret Lagoon
Near Fluðir, in an area rich in geothermal activity, you’ll find the Secret Lagoon, a historic man-made pool fed by natural spring water. This relaxing haven is Iceland’s oldest swimming pool, revived from a state of abandonment into the charming place it is today.
Today it’s a place loved by both tourists and locals alike. The water varies in temperature throughout the lagoon so walk around until you find a spot that’s comfortable for you. Don’t forget to grab one of the provided pool noodles to float around on.
The Secret Lagoon is nothing fancy, but you’ll feel like a true Icelander relaxing in its waters surrounded by moss, a backdrop of mountains, and a petite geyser erupting every now and then behind the pool.
Stop 7: Snag A Coveted Spot In The Hrunalaug Hot Springs
Nestled in the beauty of Iceland’s natural landscape, you’ll find the Hrunalaug Hot Springs, an ideal spot for relaxing and escaping the outside chill. The hot springs consist of two pools, one 2 person tub, and a larger 8-10 person hot pot.
The Hrunalaug Hot Springs are particularly popular because they remain at a comfortable temperature all year long. Because the hot springs have limited space and high demand, we suggest arriving early in the morning or late in the evening to snag one of the coveted spots in the pools.
A small hut in between the two hot pots acts as a changing room. It’s imperative that you keep the area clean and are respectful of the location when visiting. Surges in tourism have caused a charming, intimate spot to be overrun and damaged so much so that the owner considered bulldozing the hot springs down.
The Hrunalaug Hot Springs are remarkable and should be treasured. We hope you’ll visit and treat it with the respect it deserves.
Stop 8: Walk The Rim Of A Volcanic Caldera At Kerið Crater
Though it’s not one of the three major Golden Circle stops, Kerið Crater is still one of the more popular locations on this route. This volcanic caldera is the result of a collapsing volcano and is now a natural beauty.
The inside of the caldera bursts with color sporting red and green streaks down its sides and a brilliant blue lake in its center. Take some time to walk the path around the rim and take it in from all sides. If you’d like to get closer to the lake, there’s a path leading down to its base.
You should be aware that there is an entrance fee of 400 ISK to view the crater.
Stop 9: Reykjadalur Hot Springs
A beautiful hike with a relaxing reward in the middle…yes please! Forty-five minutes of hiking will lead you through a steam-filled valley to the Reykjadalur Hot Springs where you’ll finish up day one of your 7 days in Iceland.
As you get close to the section of the river where cold and hot water meld into the perfect bathing temperature water, you’ll notice the distinct smell of sulfur.
You’ll make your way past boiling pools of water (read the signage and steer clear of this water because it’s dangerously hot!) and across a small bridge where you’ll find wood platforms with partitions for changing into your bathing suit, perhaps a few suntanning sheep, and a lot of happy tourists and locals enjoying the warm water.
Piles of rocks separate the river into sections, so find a spot next to a rock pile where the deeper pockets of water are for the best bathing experience. When your legs are rejuvenated and you’re as chilled out as can be, you can make the return hike through the valley back to your car.
Where To Stay Near The Reykjadalur Hot Springs
Day 2: South Coast
An endless display of stunning waterfalls and dramatic black sand beaches make Iceland’s south coast a site to behold. This part of the country is home to some of the Ring Road’s most popular and impressive stops.
Stop 1: Walk Behind Seljalandsfoss And Feel The Waterfall’s Spray
The south coast is the perfect place to spend one of your 7 days in Iceland because you get a string of stunning waterfalls back to back without having to travel far. The 200-foot Seljalandsfoss waterfall will be your first south coast stop.
Seljalandsfoss is easily accessible right off of Route 1 Ring Road. There’s no hiking involved, just a walking loop and the willingness to potentially get sprayed a bit by the thundering waterfall.
One of the elements that make Seljalandsfoss unique is the fact that the walking path takes you behind the waterfall for an entirely new and up-close perspective. Seljalandsfoss is more narrow than many of the other waterfalls you’ll see throughout your 7 days in Iceland, but its power and beauty are breathtaking just the same.
Stop 2: Don’t Forget About Seljalandsfoss’ Neighbor, Gljúfrabúi
Gljúfrabúi is a bit of a hidden gem. Because it is located back in a cavern almost directly next to Seljalandsfoss it often gets passed up in favor of its larger neighbor. In fact, for a while, many tourists didn’t even know Gljúfrabúi existed since it’s not visible from the road.
Nowadays, this unique waterfall is much more well known, though because it requires walking over stones through a river (which depending on the water level at the time could mean getting wet), it’s not always on everyone’s list of places to visit.
We suggest wearing waterproof boots and heading into the cavern because the beauty that greets you is quite spectacular. On a nice day, the sun lights up the cavern, the cavern walls are a bright mossy green, and the crystal clear water of the waterfall comes streaming down as though from a skylight.
Stop 3: Climb The Steps To View Skógafoss From Above
Just 25 minutes down the road from Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfrabúi you’ll find the 197-foot waterfall, Skógafoss. Skógafoss is much wider than its neighbors at 82 feet wide and thunders down with equal ferocity.
There are a couple of ways to enjoy the views of the waterfall. From ground level, you can walk up a pebble path right up to the front of it, though you might want to wear a rain jacket if you’re keen on getting close enough to feel the spray.
Another stunning and unique view of Skógafoss can be reached by climbing a roughly 500 step staircase to a viewing platform where you’ll see the Skógá river flowing to the top of the cliff before plunging over the edge. It’s a workout to reach the top, but entirely worth it for the views. Take a moment to turn around and look back in the direction of the parking lot for a sprawling view of the south coast below you.
Stop 4: Walk Back Into The Valley To Find Kvernufoss
We hope you’re not sick of breathtaking waterfalls yet because right next door to Skógafoss is Kvernufoss, a less frequented gem. To reach the waterfall you’ll exit the Ring Road like you’re going to Skógafoss, continue all the way down to the end of the road and turn right. Park by Hotel Edda and walk 10-15 minutes into the valley where you’ll find the waterfall.
In many ways, Kvernufoss resembles Seljalandsfoss but on a smaller scale. A path allows you to get right up to the front and side of this 98-foot waterfall. The surrounding beauty and lack of tourists make this an extremely desirable stop on your 7 day Iceland itinerary.
The path is quite easy to navigate in the summer months but can be more treacherous in the winter when ice covers the ground. If you plan to visit in the winter (the waterfall is equally stunning in the winter when the landscape is draped with snow), we highly suggest bringing crampons to reduce the risk of slipping and falling as you make your way to the waterfall’s base.
Stop 5: Observe The Eerie Site Of The Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck
Out in the middle of a black sand beach in south Iceland lies the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck, a DC-3 US navy plane that crashed on the beach in 1973. Everyone on board survived the crash, but the skeleton of the plane remains just 10 minutes down the road from Kvernufoss.
To reach the plane you’ll either need to walk 2 miles (45 minutes-1hour) or pay to take a shuttle bus to the wreck. The walk is not particularly exciting as there’s not much to see besides vast expanses of black sand, but it’s an easy, flat path to navigate.
When you reach the plane you’ll be mesmerized by the striking contrast between the black of the beach and the white of the plane. It’s eerie and hauntingly beautiful. This is a popular tourist attraction so if you see an opportunity to get your perfect picture, take it, and then move out to let the next person have their shot.
Stop 6: Watch Out For Sleeper Waves At Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
As you continue to travel Iceland in a week, your final stop of day 2 will take you to the most popular black sand beach in the country, Reynisfjara. This beach is known for its dramatic waves, towering basalt columns, and its feature in the TV show Game of Thrones.
Feel free to wander the beach enjoying the views and taking pictures, but keep a respectable distance from the water and always keep an eye out for the sleeper waves. These large and unpredictable waves are extremely dangerous and pose a great threat to oblivious tourists.
As long as you put your safety first, you’re in for a special time at the beach. As you look at the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean you’ll notice the Reynisdrangar rock formations rising out of the sea to your left and the arched bridge-like Dyrholaey rock formation to your right.
Where To Stay Along The South Coast
Day 3: Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar) Or The Highlands
We’re giving you two possible options for how to spend day 3 of your 7 days in Iceland.
Your first option is to spend the day hiking in the remote mountains and valleys of Thórsmörk followed by camping in the vast Icelandic wilderness. Your other option is to take the ferry over to Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands) to seek out puffins and examine the impact that the 1973 volcanic eruption had on the island.
Both locations can be reached from near the Seljalandsfoss waterfall along Iceland’s south coast. To reach Thórsmörk, you’ll exit the main Route 1 ring road and head inland on the f-roads towards the highlands. To reach Vestmannaeyjar you’ll head towards the coast instead and take a 45-minute ferry from Landeyahöfn to the island.
Stop 1: Hike Through The Dramatic Landscapes Of Thórsmörk
If you’re visiting in the summer and have rented a 4×4 vehicle to take you through your 7 day road trip in Iceland, you should consider driving to the highlands in the center of the country. There you’ll find Thórsmörk (Thor’s Valley), a breathtaking nature preserve that’s remote and offers endless hiking adventures.
To reach Thórsmörk you’ll be required to travel along f-roads which are unpaved, notoriously rough roads in addition to having to navigate some river crossings. If you don’t feel comfortable driving this route yourself, you can always hire a guide to take you there in a Super Jeep.
Mountains, rivers, and lush green landscapes await you in the valley. Thórsmörk is home to some of the most stunning scenery in Iceland, and that is saying something.
There is no shortage of excellent hiking opportunities many of which start from or near the Volcano Huts camping area. You can choose from multi-hour adventures such as the Thórsmörk Tindfjöll Circle with excellent views of the valley, or extremely challenging multi-day adventures such as the Laugavegur trail. For purposes of this one week in Iceland itinerary, you’ll probably want to stick to the day hikes.
Once you set foot in this outdoor playground it’s easy to see why avid hikers flock to this valley. You might even be lucky enough to spot an arctic fox as you explore for the cherry on top of what is sure to be an already memorable adventure.
Where To Stay In Thórsmörk
Stop 2: View The Island From A Volcanic Crater In Vestmannaeyjar (Westman Islands)
A 45-minute ferry ride will take you from the mainland over to Heimaey, the largest of the Vestmannaeyjar (Westman) islands.
This volcanic island was dramatically affected by the 1973 eruption of Eldfell volcano which wiped out large quantities of homes and buildings in town and nearly closed the harbor which would have wrecked the island’s fishing industry. By cooling and diverting the lava flow with blasts of seawater, the harbor was saved and the town was able to rebuild.
You’ll have the opportunity to explore Eldfell crater during your visit if you’re up for a hike to its summit. The hike up Eldfell is steep in sections but only takes 15 to 20 minutes. At the top, standing at the edge of the crater, you’ll find colorful lava rock and a stunning view of the island and the ocean beyond.
Down by the old harbor you’ll want to take a moment to visit the Heimaey Stave Church, Iceland’s only stave church. The church was a gift from Norway to mark the 1000 year anniversary of Iceland’s adoption of Christianity. The pitch-black church set against a wall of black lava rock is particularly dramatic and unusual.
For a quick stop to observe the adorable orange beaked puffins that call the island home, we suggest heading to Stórhöfði, the southernmost point of Heimaey. This incredibly windy peninsula is a breeding spot for puffin colonies. Take a walk along the peninsula and soak in the views while keeping an eye out for puffins. Be sure to stay on the path clear of the cliff edge.
If you still have energy left for a challenging hike, head to Heimaklettur, the highest peak in the Westman Islands, for the most breathtaking views of the island and surrounding scenery. While Eldfell crater is a great viewpoint, Heimaklettur takes you even higher for views of the crater itself.
A couple of vertical ladders, steps, and steep climbing take you up to a ridge leading to the peak. You should allocate about 45 minutes to reach the top and some extra time to take in the views. Though this hike is not dangerous you should exercise caution and perhaps skip it on a, particularly bad weather day.
Where To Stay In Vestmannaeyjar
Day 4: Skaftafell And Glacier Lagoons
Day 4 of your 7 days in Iceland will take you through Vatnajökull National Park and two spectacular glacier lagoons. The theme of the day is ice. From glacier walks to up close and personal experiences with floating icebergs, you’ll be stunned by the beauty and magnitude of these natural landscapes. Add a handful of beautiful, unique waterfalls to the mix and you have yourself a day to remember.
Stop 1: Hike To Waterfalls And Glaciers In Skaftafell
Skaftafell is located within Vatnajökull National Park and is home to some of the most jaw-dropping natural landscapes and adventure opportunities from glacier hiking to waterfall chasing. You can easily spend hours here, but if you do nothing else, be sure to visit the Svartifoss waterfall.
This 65-foot waterfall is less powerful and thunderous than other’s you’ll see during your 7 days in Iceland but its backdrop of the black, organ pipe-like hexagonal basalt columns makes it particularly spectacular.
It’s a 3.5-mile round trip hike from the Visitor’s Center to reach the waterfall. You’ll pass two other waterfalls, Hundafoss and Magnusarfoss along the way as well as the Selið turf house farm. It’s entirely worth the journey, so lace up your hiking boots and get exploring!
Stop 2: Walk Among Icebergs At The Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsarlon is a stunning, iconic glacier lagoon that constantly changes and evolves as ice melts and new blocks of ice fall. It’s an icy beauty and one of the most popular tourist attractions in southeast Iceland.
Summer boat tours will navigate you through the icebergs, allowing you to get a feel for their size and scope. The best place to view the icebergs from land however is across the street at Diamond Beach.
Diamond Beach is a beautiful black sand beach covered in sparkling icebergs that have washed ashore. The ice makes for a powerful contrast to the black sand which leads to stunning, dramatic photographs.
Stop 3: Enjoy Peace and Quiet At The Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon
If you’re hoping to enjoy the icy natural beauty of a glacier lagoon without the large tourist crowds, then Fjallsarlon is the place to go. Though it’s smaller than its more popular neighbor Jökulsarlon, it’s beautiful in its own right and makes for a peaceful and relaxing way to wind down day 4 of your 7 days in Iceland.
As you sit in silence you just might hear the sounds of ice breaking and colliding. It’s an intimate and powerful experience that makes you feel quite close to your natural surroundings. Though boat tours are offered through the lagoon, you’ll find that standing along the edge of the water at the smaller lagoon is often enough to give you a complete, up close, and personal experience.
Where To Stay Near The Glacier Lagoons
Day 5: Southeast Iceland
Jagged mountains, thriving flowers, black sand beaches, rivers winding through canyons, and more await you in southeast Iceland on day 5 of your 7 days in Iceland. Enjoy the dramatic landscapes, but take care that you leave everything how you found it and avoid damaging the very delicate moss that turns the landscape a beautiful vibrant green.
Stop 1: Walk Along The Beach At Stokksnes
Stokksnes, a headland, is home to the striking, jagged Vestrahorn mountains and the dunes, black sand beaches, seagrass, and lupins butting up against the Atlantic Ocean. It’s one of the most picturesque sites in the country, and a beautiful way to start day 5 of your 7 days in Iceland.
At times, a thin layer of water will cover the black sand beach, and on a calm day, the mountain is reflected in the water as you walk through it. As the landscape mesmerizes you be sure to keep an eye out for any sleeper waves that might strike as you walk along the beach.
As you might imagine, this is an ideal place to watch the sunrise or sunset as the brilliant sky lights up the already impressive landscape. On high aurora activity nights, it’s also a beautiful, dark sky spot to attempt to catch the Northern Lights. Take note that you’ll need to pay an 800 ISK entrance fee at the Viking Café to access the area.
Stop 2: Stock Up On Essentials In Höfn
Höfn is the heart and soul of southeast Iceland. This is the perfect place to grab a bite to eat, maybe hit up the grocery store for some on-the-road snacks, and take a dip in the local swimming pool before continuing on your adventure.
This thriving fishing town is known as the lobster capital of Iceland. If you’re around in the summer, you might consider joining in the Lobster Festival to celebrate all things lobster with the locals.
Stop 3: Hike Through The River At Múlagljúfur Canyon
Another beautiful, lesser-known canyon awaits you as you make your way back along the south coast. To reach the canyon from the gravel parking lot you’ll have to hike through river crossings and mud for roughly 1.5 miles. Make sure to bring waterproof hiking boots.
This canyon isn’t the easiest south coast location to reach, but that only means you get to enjoy the stunning natural environment without the swarms of tourists. We can tell you the views are entirely worth the journey to get there.
This trek offers more than just steep canyon walls and flowing rivers. You’ll also get the opportunity to admire the Hangandifoss and Mulafoss waterfalls. Mulafoss is the smaller of the two at 50m tall, while Hangandifoss reaches 123m. Both are beautiful, particularly when paired with the imposing canyon walls.
Stop 4: Walk Along The Edge Of The Striking Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
The impressive 100m Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon has soared in popularity among tourists in recent years after its appearance in a Justin Bieber music video. So much damage was done to the environment by inconsiderate visitors that the canyon was shut down for a while to recover.
If you respect the landscape, stay off the moss, and enjoy this striking canyon from the designated paths, it’s an absolutely breathtaking experience you won’t soon forget. Talk a walk along the canyon edge to soak it all in.
The canyon is best visited in the summer when the green of the moss carpets the landscape and the wildflowers bloom. Though admittedly it has the potential to be equally stunning in the winter when draped in snow. Just be aware the path becomes more dangerous and icy in the winter and you might need crampons to safely navigate it.
Where To Stay In Southeast Iceland
Day 6: Snaefellsnes Peninsula
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is full of diverse landscapes from unusual rock formations to lava tubes. You’ll also have the opportunity to check out the black Búðir church and the iconic postcard-worthy Kirkjufell mountain. Whether you’re chasing the Northern Lights in dark sky areas of the peninsula or are admiring the natural beauty of the landscape in the daylight, you’re sure to have a day full of memories worth keeping.
The day 6-7 itinerary we’ve laid out below requires a significant amount of driving. If you’d rather spend your final two days following a more relaxing schedule you can choose to spend all of Day 6 in Reykjavik instead, followed by the Reykjanes Peninsula and the Blue Lagoon on the final day of your 7 days in Iceland. This also allows you to end your trip close to the Keflavik International Airport.
Stop 1: Photograph The Famous Kirkjufell Mountain And Waterfall
Kirkjufell (Church Mountain) is one of Iceland’s most iconic landmarks and was even featured in the Game of Thrones TV show. The cone-shaped mountain, rising up from the surrounding landscape is easily recognizable.
Though it’s possible to make the climb to the top with a guide, most visitors just take a stroll around the base of the mountain before heading to the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall right next door. The image of the falls in the foreground and the mountain in the background is one you’ll often see on postcards, sometimes with the Northern Lights dancing overhead.
Be sure to bring your camera along to snap a photo. Whether it’s summer and everything is lush and green, or it’s winter and frozen over and laced with snow, there’s endless beauty to be found here.
Stop 2: Observe The Unusual Londrangar Rock Formation From The Coast
As you look along the coast you’ll spot some usual rock formations that are actually the remains of two volcanic plugs. It’s quite the dramatic image with the ocean to the left, waves crashing, and sea birds riding the thermals. It’s a real show of the simultaneous power and beauty of nature.
By starting at the lighthouse at Malarrif you can walk all the way to the pillars to get a sense of their size, but the view from a distance with the entire landscape captured is more picturesque. It’s like watching a ship with its sail up rise out of the ocean.
If you do choose to walk to the pillars, please exercise caution and keep an eye out for the often powerful and dangerous waves.
Stop 3: Walk Along A Natural Bridge In Arnarstapi
In the small village of Arnarstapi, you’ll find unusual rock formations, natural bridges, and beautiful coastline. Once a thriving harbor for trading and fishing, this village won’t turn any heads, but it’s charming and home to an immense amount of natural beauty.
Bring along a camera when you visit to capture the little white house that lies in front of Mt. Stapafell, the arched rock Gatklettur, and the stone statue of Bárður Snaefellsás, the half-troll/half-man who settled the area and guards the peninsula.
If you choose to walk the coastline, you’ll begin at this stone statue and continue along as you observe the basalt columns and caves, more unusual rock formations, and an excessive amount of Arctic Tern.
One of the most frequently photographed locations near Arnarstapi is a natural bridge that is wide enough to walk across. This can be reached by walking a bit further along the coast until you reach the sign marked “Midgja.”
Stop 4: Take Moody Photographs At The Búðir Black Church
Plopped in the middle of the dramatic natural landscape of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is the Búðir Black Church. If you’re looking for moody photographs, this is the place to go. Its dark exterior, the surrounding graveyard, and often stormy Icelandic weather can make for a rather eerie sight.
The church was built in 1703 but has since undergone both deconstructions and reconstructions. It stands alone in relative isolation within a small village.
The church looks particularly dramatic in the winter when the ground and surrounding mountains are draped in white snow creating a stark contrast to the black of the church. Its location near the beach and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean as well as its backdrops of mountains and glaciers, make it a particularly popular location to visit.
Stop 5: Take A Tour And Explore The Vatnshellir Lava Cave
Just 10 minutes down the road from Arnarstapi you’ll find one of Iceland’s most accessible lava caves, Vatnshellir. This 8,000-year-old lava tube can be explored with the help of a knowledgeable guide on a 45-minute cave tour.
Tours are offered daily, but the times vary by season, with more frequent tour times available in the summer months. You’ll be provided with flashlights and helmets, but should come prepared with hiking boots, warm clothes, and gloves to protect from both the cold and sharp lava rock surrounding you.
As you explore the cave, venturing as deep as 200 meters in and 35 meters down, you’ll be instructed not to touch your surroundings as it has the potential to damage the more delicate lava in the cave. It’s a fascinating experience to immerse yourself in the power and mystery of nature as all your senses are heightened within the dark walls of the cave.
Stop 6: Hike Into A Fissure To Explore The Beauty Of Rauðfelsdsgjá Gorge
To conclude day 6 of your 7 days in Iceland, you’ll head to the east side of Botnsfjall Mountain where you’ll find a parking lot and path leading to a massive fissure in the mountain known as Rauðfelsdsgjá Gorge. Come prepared with waterproof boots and clothing as the path will take you along and potentially through a river to a small waterfall. This gorge is best navigated in the summer months when there’s no slippery ice.
Once you enter the fissure you’ll be greeted with cliff walls coated floor to ceiling in vibrant green moss with slivers of sun streaking through above. It’s a beautiful sight enhanced by the flowing river and small waterfall beyond.
The Rauðfelsdsgjá Gorge is a welcome reminder of nature’s beauty. It also is part of Icelandic folklore in the saga of Bárður Snaefellsás whose nephews pushed his daughter out to sea. He sought revenge on the nephews by pushing one off a cliff and the other (Rauðfeldur) into the canyon.
Where To Stay On The Snaefellsness Peninsula
Day 7: Reykjanes Peninsula, Blue Lagoon, And Reykjavik
As you wrap up your 7 days in Iceland, you’ll head to the capital by way of the Reykjanes Peninsula with its historic lighthouse, ocean views, and steam-filled landscapes. You’ll continue on to what will perhaps be the most relaxing part of your travels as you take some time to relax in the healing waters of the famous Blue Lagoon.
You’ll end your night exploring the capital and enjoying the conveniences of Iceland’s most populated city before preparing to head home.
Stop 1: Climb To The Base Of The Historic Reykjanesviti Lighthouse
You’ll finish off your 7 days in Iceland with a trip to the Reykjanes Peninsula and the Reykjanesviti Lighthouse. This is Iceland’s oldest lighthouse built back in 1907, though the original lighthouse was forced to undergo reconstruction in 1878 after it fell victim to earthquakes.
It sits atop the Baejarfell hill where it stands guard over the Reykjanes Peninsula. Though the lighthouse itself isn’t particularly remarkable, it’s a great opportunity to climb up the hill to its base and gaze out at the spectacular views of the raging Atlantic Ocean.
Stop 2: Observe The Geothermally Active Landscape Of Gunnuhver
At this point in your Iceland journey, you’ll have seen quite a few geothermally active locations. Gunnuhver is another one of these geothermally active areas, though this one carries with it a rather sinister bit of folklore involving the trapped spirit of the ghost Gunna residing in the hot springs.
Mud pots bubble and steam drifts across the landscape. Take a moment to look down into the hot springs, watch the activity inside, and feel the steam rise. This area is constantly changing and evolving and is a beautiful example of the wonder and power of nature.
Stop 3: Relax In The Mineral-Rich Waters Of The Blue Lagoon
When you’ve had your fill of bubbling mud pots, you’ll head to the Blue Lagoon, something that should be on everyone’s Iceland bucket list at least once. Though expensive, the lagoon is undeniably relaxing and even healing.
The Blue Lagoon is a tourist hotspot thanks to its proximity to the Keflavik International Airport and its mineral-rich, milky blue, geothermal seawater. Add a swim-up bar and an otherworldly lava field backdrop and you have yourself a recipe for the perfect day.
We highly suggest booking a ticket weeks if not months ahead of time. The lagoon limits how many people can enter per hour and bookings fill up quickly due to the lagoon’s popularity. The good news is that limiting the number of visitors means more peaceful relaxation for you as you enjoy your last day on this wonderfully unique island.
Stop 4: Enjoy City Life In Reykjavik
It’s hard for downtown Reykjavik to compete with the extreme natural beauty you’ve been admiring throughout your 7 days in Iceland, but it’s a charming city with gems of its own. Shops, restaurants, cafés, and bars can all be found on the main Laugavegur street and the two major streets adjoining it. Here you can enjoy delicious pastries or buy yourself a cozy Icelandic wool sweater to brace the winters at home.
You can’t conclude your 7 days in Iceland without a visit to the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church designed to resemble the basalt columns so prevalent in Iceland’s natural landscape. Whether you buy a ticket to the top to get a view of the city from above or just observe from ground level, it’s worth a stop.
You’ll likely be returning to Reykjavik at night so you have just enough time to grab a drink, swing by Valdís for the best ice cream, and crash at your hotel. If however you’re left with some more time in your day, you might consider stopping by one of the many downtown museums such as the Reykjavik Maritime Museum along the harbor or the Arbær Open Air Museum with its old Icelandic sod roof buildings.
Where To Stay In Reykjavik
We’re thrilled you’ve chosen to spend a week in Iceland exploring its diverse natural beauty. This is a guide to help you maximize your time in the country and see the best that the land of fire and ice has to offer. Feel free however to adapt this 7 day Iceland itinerary to your own schedule as you see fit.
If you have any questions about how to explore Iceland in 7 days as you go about planning your trip feel free to ask us in the comments section below.