Epic 5-day road trip around Iceland for about 1,000$ – the complete guide

In this post, I will try to accomplish the impossible task of writing a complete guide to traveling around Iceland. I will separate this guide into several sections that you can consult sequentially or independently:

So without further ado, let’s get started!

1. The itinerary: A little note before starting. My girlfriend and I completed the 2,000 km loop around Iceland in only 4 days. However, we do not necessarily recommend that you do the same; completing it in such a short time requires a sacrifice, may it be on the number of attractions visited and/or on sleep time (we chose to sacrifice the latter). 6 or 7 days would be a more optimal amount of time to spend touring the country.

Day 1 part I: Iceland 101

Ambitious first day in Iceland!

Ambitious first day in Iceland!

  • Arrival at 5 AM at Keflavik International Airport. By 6 AM, we were out of Sixt’s car rental offices and ready to begin our adventures aboard our lovely Opel Corsa.

    Ready to hit the road!

    Ready to hit the road!

  • Þingvellir National Park

    The first stop along the now-famous Golden circle route was this beautiful national park, where the first Icelandic parliament (Alþingi) was established more than 1,000 years ago. Here as well you can literally stand between North America and Europe, as the Mid-Atlantic ridge (where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet) passes through there.

    My blog post dedicated to Þingvellir National Park!

    Read my blog post dedicated to Þingvellir National Park!

  • Geysir / Strokkur:

    The famous Geysir that named all other geysirs. However, it is Strokkur that steals the show here, erupting every 10 minutes or so. Definitely worth a quick stop.

    Read my post on Geysir/Strokkur, and geysers in general!

    Read my post on Geysir/Strokkur, and geysers in general!

  • Gullfoss (Golden falls)The first out of many beautiful waterfalls we would see over the next couple of days. We also stopped here for some delicious Icelandic lamb soup to energize us for the second half of our busy first day.

    My post on Gullfoss and its interesting history!

    My post on Gullfoss and its interesting history!

  • Quick stop in Skálholt, a historic Icelandic town. This town did not have much worthy of a visit except this really cool house!

    Pretty cool turf house!

    Pretty cool turf house!

  • Kerið crater lake: The last stop on the Golden circle route, Kerið is an absolutely stunning volcanic crater lake. I strongly recommend you go all the way down to appreciate its beauty even more!

    View my detailed post on Kerið crater lake!

    View my detailed post on Kerið crater lake!

Day 1 part II: The guesthouse I booked for the first night was near the end of the Golden circle route, since we were initially planning to go to the Blue Lagoon on day 1 (that plus the Golden circle would have been ample for the first day). So when we decided to postpone our Blue Lagoon visit until the last day, we altered our itinerary to include these attractions, even if that meant we had to come back on our tracks to get to our guesthouse.

  • Black Sand Beach in Vik, Iceland: An absolute must-stop. You’ll be swept away by the uniqueness of the basalt sand, sea, and basalt rocks. On a good day, you’ll also have the opportunity to see some puffins!

    Black-sand-beach-Vik

    Black sand beach!

  • Dirholaey (literally means ‘Door hole’): Right next to Vik is Dirholaey peninsula. Interesting to note that this was formerly an island, but is now attached to the mainland. The main attraction here is the massive arch that gave the promontory its name, as well as the lighthouse.
  • Solheimasandur Plane Crash Site: If you want to overwhelm your social media profiles with ‘likes’, this is a must. To reach the site, you’ll have to walk a little less than 4 km in what seems to be an endless desert, but the experience is very unique and worth it.

    This place = amazing photos!

    This place = amazing photos!

  • Skógafoss waterfall: Another spectacular waterfall right by the main road. You can view it from up close at the bottom, and climb the 400+ steps to see it from above. Make sure to bring your rain jacket and cell phone protectors, this waterfall sprays a lot!

    4th major waterfall of the day!

    4th major waterfall of the day!

  • Seljalandsfoss waterfall: This was our fifth and final waterfall on the agenda for the day. However, don’t think for one second that we had enough of them! Each waterfall seems to have something unique to offer; in Seljalandsfoss’ case, we were able to appreciate its elegance from behind it!

So needless to say that at this point we were totally spent – it was time to get some sleep, since we knew day 2 was going to be even more intense!

If you have some extra time, you could also consider visiting the Iceland erupts museum between Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss. It opened a year after the now-famous Eyjafjallajökull (try pronouncing THAT 3 times!) erupted and paralyzed all of Europe for nearly a week in 2010.

First day stats:

  • 470 kilometers driven;
  • 34,350 steps walked (a little less than 25 km);
  • Countless memories!

    That's a lot of steps!

    That’s a lot of steps!

For day 2 of our trip (that started at 3:30 AM and included a glacier hike and iceberg lagoons!), click here!

24 thoughts on “Epic 5-day road trip around Iceland for about 1,000$ – the complete guide

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