When planning a trip to Iceland, one of the first questions you need to ask yourself is how many days do you need. Is a 5-day itinerary long enough? Or do you need at least a week? Some people come for even longer, spending ten days, fourteen days or up to a month traveling around the small Nordic island. To be perfectly honest, how much time you spend in Iceland depends entirely on what you want to see and do. Realistically, five days is too short to see the country’s main sights. With a seven-day (or even 10-day) trip, you have a much better shot of seeing the most interesting parts of the country. Fourteen days is entirely doable from a time-off standpoint; you’ll have time to visit pretty much everything. Let’s look at what you can and can’t do depending on the length of time you spend in Iceland.
5-Day Itinerary: Explore South Iceland
If you’ve only got five days in Iceland, you’d be hard-pressed to fit everything in. In fact, it’s already going to be quite a sprint just to see the main sites and partake in some interesting activities. My best advice is don’t try to see everything. Focus on one part of the country, like the South Coast or the Diamond Circle, and really explore that area in depth. Even with this in mind, you’ll still want to fit in multiple stops per day. For example, give yourself a full day to explore the entire Golden Circle route. You’ll be waking up early and arriving home later in the day. The same goes for making the two and a half hour drive between Reykjavik and Vik. Leave time in between these two endpoints of your journey to make stops at Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Skógafoss waterfall, and the plane wreck at Sólheimasandur beach.
If you’re taking such a short trip to Iceland, I highly recommend coming in the summer. The neverending rays of the Midnight Sun will give you plenty of daylight hours. Use these to your advantage to fit in as much as you possibly can.
7-Day Itinerary: Reykjavik and South Iceland or the Ring Road
Spending seven days in Iceland gives you a little more freedom and flexibility. You can breathe a bit easier now and not be in such a rush. Here, you have a choice. You can either expand your South Iceland visit by adding stops in Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon and the Golden Circle. Or you can fit these things into a condensed itinerary and adding other stops along the Ring Road. Seven days is definitely enough to drive all around the way the island, and you’ll see a lot. But if you want to fit in the Diamond Circle and Snaefellsnes peninsula, you only really have a day or so in order to stay on schedule.
If you plan on coming for seven days, I also recommend visiting in the summer. Not only will extended sunlight hours help you fit everything in, but you most likely won’t be slowed down by inclement weather or unexpected snowstorms.
10-Day Itinerary: Travel Around Iceland’s Ring Road
If you’ve got ten days in Iceland, I definitely recommend taking the trip all the way around the country’s Ring Road. For me, this is the perfect amount of time to spend in Iceland. It provides the ideal balance between spending a good amount of time on the island (but not too long) and getting to see nearly everything. Here’s a list of the sights you should consider visiting. We wrote a post about planning the perfect Iceland road trip, so if any of these pique your interest, then read the article here. This is a quick list for your reference.
- Thingvellir National Park and the Silfra Fissure
- Strokkur and Geysir geysers
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- The Blue Lagoon
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
- Skógafoss Waterfall
- Sólheimasandur Beach DC-3 Plane Crash Site
- Vik Black Sand Beaches and Basalt Columns of Reynisfjara
- Landmannalaugar and the Laugavegur Trail
- Vatnajökull National Park
- Skaftafell Glacier
- Svartifoss Waterfall
- Vatnajökull Glacier
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- Diamond Beach
- The East Fjords
- Lake Mývatn
- Dettifoss Waterfall
- Goðafoss Waterfall
- Krafla Volcanic Fields
- Viti Crater and Askja Caldera
- Hverir Geothermal Area
- Húsavik Whale Watching Town
- Ísafjörður and the Westfjords
- Snaefellsnes Peninsula
- Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss Waterfall
It’s a lot to do in ten days, but these are just to give you an idea of some of the things to visit during your trip.
14-Day Itinerary: More In-Depth Trip Around the Ring Road
Fourteen days is another ideal length of time to spend in Iceland. It gives you plenty of time to drive around the country’s Ring Road. Not only that, but you’ll be able to spend multiple days in places like the Diamond Circle and the Snaefellsnes peninsula. Both of these areas have plenty of things to see and do. It’s quite easy to spend two or three days exploring each one.
This is a trip that can be taken during most of the year. You’re not on a rushed schedule, so if you get delayed by bad winter weather, it’s not such a big deal.
One Month in Iceland: You’re Practically a Native
Spending a month in Iceland is every traveler’s dream come true. You really get to explore the country in depth and who knows? Maybe you’ll even be able to speak some Icelandic by the time you finish your trip. Or at the very least, be able to pronounce the tongue-twisting name of Eyjafjallajökull glacier. You’ll be able to visit the places listed above and more, appreciate the quaint little museums, fishing villages and small towns that Iceland is so famous for, and really get to know the people.
How Much Time Should You Spend in Iceland?
As with most things, the answer to this question is…it depends. We’ve laid out some ideas and itinerary suggestions. Feel free to search the Iceland24 blog for more ideas. However much time you decide to spend in Iceland, it’s sure to be an unforgettable experience. Let us know if you have any questions or if you have any comments about the perfect length of time for the ideal Iceland holiday.
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