Iceland is an amazing country, where you can spend a lot of days. I lived there for a half a year and it still feels like I haven’t seen enough. But the great thing is, that you can see a lot of this country in just 10 days in Iceland. During those 10 days, you can experience all kinds of adventurous hikes, beautiful waterfalls, and mysterious volcanos.
How to spend 10 days in Iceland
First, let me answer some questions. Are 10 days in Iceland enough? Well, yes and no. Yes because it is a time, where you can go all around the country and see all the different places and make all the Instagram pictures that you wish for.
At the same time – no. No is mainly due to the fact, that Iceland has a lot of places, hidden gems, hot springs, and hikes that people are interested in. If you come in winter, the chances are that a lot of these places won’t be easy to get to. In summer it is more likely, but then you can spend here even a month if not more. Very much depends on your budget.
Day 1 – Reykjavík
Welcome to Iceland! Let’s settle in Reykjavík. Reykjavík is the capital and biggest city in Iceland and therefore shouldn’t be missed on any Icelandic itinerary. To rest here properly, start by walking around in the city center and have a look at Icelandic architecture. If you feel like you have enough time, choose some museums to visit.
If you don’t feel like spending time in the museum or want to see the most interesting church in Iceland, head to Halgrimskirkja. From the biggest church in Iceland, you can very well observe the capital and see how does it look like inside of the modern church with modern architecture. The entrance to the church is free but if you will want to visit the tower, you will have to pay for it. It cost about 900ISK and you can stay there as much as you like.
Walks around Reykjavík
If you are interested in walks as a cheap alternative and at the same time, seeing a lot of towns, there are a couple, that is interesting. The first one of them is if you head to the main street. You can find there a lake and Reykjavík municipality. Walking there will give you a different perspective on the town.
Another popular location is to go around the seashore. The first thing you will meet here is Harpa – the music hall with extraordinary architecture. It is free to come in and hang out in common areas. And it can be a great place if you want a place to read a book. The next stop on this walk is a ship – a very famous statue. It is not far from Harpa, approximately 500 meters. I recommend doing this around sunset because this place is ideal to watch a sunset in Reykjavík. On the opposite side of the road, there is a Peace house. You might not get in, but you can walk around and see a little presentation about how was cold war ended.
Where to eat and sleep?
For food, I would recommend going to Lamb-street food, if you want to taste delicious lamb in Iceland or visit Hofnin restaurant in the city center. It is a bit more pricey but the food there is really good. Both of them have traditional Icelandic cuisine. However, if you are looking for a party place in the evening, head to an English pub, there is live music every day.
Accommodation very much varies on your budget options. But my most favorite hostel is Kex hostel. They have both accommodations with private rooms and dormitories. The price is relatively cheap for Reykjavík and the people there are nice. At the same time, there is live music now and then and you can listen there both less and more famous musicians.
Day 2 – Golden circle
Take a car or a tour and head to the south of Iceland to the Golden circle. Here you can see the Icelandic classics that everyone should really visit. Start with Thingvellir national park. It is one of the UNESCO heritage sites. You can learn here about local folklore and history. You will be also surrounded by amazing geology and take pictures like the ones you saw in a catalog. At the same time, this is only 45 minutes from Reykjavík, so adventure is right behind the door.
After a walk in Thingvellir, continue to see the most famous geyser in Iceland – Stokkur. Stokkur erupts every 10 minutes, so it is very easy to see the eruption. At the same time, this place is surrounded by other geothermal places, you walk carefully, but try to walk around for a little bit to see how nature looks like with geothermal energy right under its soil.
Continue to the third site! The Gullfoss waterfall. This is one of the strongest waterfalls in Iceland. It is certainly one of the most breathtaking attractions for first-timers. The good thing about it is that there are several paths around it. If you don’t mind getting wet, you can go directly to the waterfalls and observe this nature wander really closely. On the other hand, you can also stay on the cliff where there is a parking lot and see it from a bit more distance with informational boards around.
Addition trips from Golden Circle:
Thjorsardalur valley – This is a little bit off the beaten path kind of trip, but there are more waterfalls to see! Here you can find for example beautiful Haifoss or Heitifoss.
Secret lagoon: Wanna try geothermal energy for your self? Go to for bath to a secret lagoon in Fludir. It is just a little bit down the road from Gulfoss and it is a great resting place after a whole day trip.
What to eat in the south of Iceland and where to sleep?
What to eat: Try something very local. Especially in this area, there is a lot of things that work on geothermal energy. One of them is Fridheimar tomato and a horse farm. Taste products that are made just on this farm or go horseback riding.
Where to stay? If you are looking for hostel accommodation, you might want to look at towns like Hella or Selfoss. Both of them are relatively big and have a lot of accommodation options. If you have a car, you might want to find accommodation in the middle of nature. In the south of Iceland, my popular option is either hotel Ranga or hotel Selid. Ranga is a little bit more luxurious and directly on route 1. Hotel Selid offers nice meals and breakfasts, is a little bit cheaper. But lays a little bit further in the land and you will need a car to get there.
Day 3 – South attractions
South is very popular for tourists. There is some must on your Icelandic itinerary. There are not only popular places but also some hidden gems.
Let’s hit the road again and go south. Drive south so Selfjanassfoss waterfall. This is the place where you can walk around like Justin Bieber. For this particular adventure, prepare to be very wet. 50 meters from Seljanassfoss is another waterfall, hidden in the cave. Here it is important to take waterproof boots or you will be reminded this adventure by cold later on.
When you feel like you are done exploring this waterfall, let’s head to the next one. Skogafoss is only 30 km from here. And on the way, you can also stop by in the museum of the local volcano (yes, the one, no one can pronounce) the museum is small and this stop will probably take only 20 minutes.
Skogafoss is the museum where you can walk upstairs and see the waterfall both from the bottom and top points. It is also one of the places where you can see the houses with its roof covered in grass.
Puffins and hikes
Here is also a possibility for an alternative way of your trip. Here you can hike all the way to Thorsmork. This hike is about 20 km and you might want to do it during sunny or at least not a rainy day. Thorsmork highlands is a good place for about one day of hiking around and enjoying nature, but it is for those who are not afraid of sore legs after a whole day of hiking.
If you do not continue to Thorsmork, you can head even more south. Here you get to see the famous Dyrholaey and black beach. When you reach Dyrholaey, be patient, because you can see Puffins here – perhaps one of the most famous birds of Iceland. The same applies to the black beach. On none of those places it is safe to bath, so stay away from the water, because streams here are very dangerous.
Finally, finish your day in Vík. A little town in the south shore with a lot of adventures waiting around the corner. But for the end of this day, enjoy around the little town and see the classic purple flowers of Iceland and little church.
If you have more than 10 days in Iceland:
If you want to stick on southern Iceland a little bit longer or make your Icelandic itinerary slightly more interesting, here are some more tips.
Westman island trip: One day on the most southern part of Iceland, surrounded by puffins, cliffs and one volcano, that you can even hike. There is a possibility of renting a bike and make your trip even more adventurous. The good thing to know: these islands are very small, so it will be probably one relaxed day.
Hveragerdi hike: If you feel like half a day hike in geothermal area and bath in the hot river as a reward, this would be the place for you. Hveragerdi is just about 45 minutes from Reykjavík and the hike is about 6 km long. It is also possible to rent a horse and ride around on horseback.
Thorsmork or Landmannalaugar: I have already mentioned the hike to Thorsmork. If you want to see rainbow mountains, you can also spend a day in Landmannalaugar with a bath in hot spring after the hike.
Day 4 – Eastern treasures
During your 10 days in Iceland, you shouldn’t miss the adventures in the east of the country. Head east and continue till you will see board called Skaftafell. It is a national park that is surrounding the biggest glaciers. Go for a half-day hike to the most famous waterfall. If not waterfall there is also a nice walk around the glacier. If you feel even more adventurous, book a tour to see an ice cave or climb a glacier.
Otherwise, continue to your drive to east. After volcanic south, here you have the opportunity to see the frozen east of Iceland. If you go further to the east, you will find a glacier lagoon. It is a place where the glacier meets the sea and melts down. It is a sad reminder of climate change, but still interesting to see.
There are tours where you can see it from the boat, however, it is important to know that you won’t gain that better view than when you stay on the ground. Walk around the glacier lagoon and if you are lucky, you can spot seals playing around the ice. After that head to the seashore. Here you can see a diamond beach. Which is the place where smaller pieces of ice melt and glow on the sun.
Where to stay in East Iceland?
While in south Iceland it is alright to stay in one hotel, here you will have to move to another one. East Iceland has a town called Höfn, perhaps the biggest town in this region. Here you can find reasonable hotels and hostels as well. Otherwise, there is a camp in Vatnajökkul and close to the glacier lagoon.
Day 5 – Up to the north
North Iceland is not so popular with tourists but if you have 10 days in Iceland, it should be possible to visit it as well. Only there you will get to see the diversity of the country.
This day is mainly about heading to the north because it is a long way. But on this road trip, you get to see a lot of nature and eastern fjords. Eastern fjords aren’t that popular but are still fun to drive around.
After about 300km, you will get to Asbyrgi (shelter of the gods). Ásbyrgi is a canyon that has 3,5 km in length and 1 km across. Hikes here are quite monumental and you will see local forests and rivers around. For a stunning view of the whole canyon, hike the mountain that is dividing the canyon. It is called Eyjan. Eyjan gives you the view of the whole canyon.
Day 6 – Lake Mývátn
Two hours from Ásbyrgi is an area called Lake Mývátn. It is something like the Golden circle of the north and should not miss during your 10 days in Iceland. Lake Mývátn itself is one of the largest lakes in Iceland and home to many bird communities. There is truly a lot of things to visit. Take a bath in Námaskard volcanic mud.
You can also hike up to volcanic crater Hvergjall. The recommended thing to do here would be to ride east of the lake and see Dimmuborgir. This rocky area has one of the most precious minerals. These lava fields is a unique natural marvel that you will see in Iceland. These rocks look like dark cities and are supposed to signify that hell is close or under, according to one of the first Christian legend in this country.
In this area is also a lot of geothermal caves with hot water, but before you get excited and want to jump in it, ask locals, where to go. Some of these hot springs are way too hot or have dangerous chemicals.
Accommodation around Lake Mývatn
Lake Mývatn is a little bit deeper in the country. A lot of people are coming here from Akureyri to do this tour. And you should consider this option if you want to be closer to other people or have an option of different restaurants. Otherwise, there is a lot of hotels and hostels in the country. Sometimes it is not necessary to book the room as this area isn’t too touristy it is alright just to ask.
Day 7 – Akureyri and Husavík
Back in the city! There are not that many towns in Iceland that would be worth it, but Akureyri and Husavík are, so think twice before you cross them out of your Icelandic itinerary.
Akureyri is perhaps the oldest town in Iceland. So here is your chance to see old Iceland. Walk through the city center, visit a local church or a museum of Iceland. Have lunch here and then hop back to the car and drive to Husavík.
Husavík is the capital of whale watching in Iceland. Book tour in advance and watch giants from under the sea. They say that there is about a 90% chance you will see them and if not, you can book the tour again. After the tour walk around the city and enjoy the view of cliffs and the city center.
Day 8 – West fjords
West fjords are the biggest fjords on Earth. They might not be so pretty as the fjords in Norway but they do offer a great view. This should be on every Icelandic itinerary especially if you want to see amazing waterfalls and do some birdwatching.
Drive to a magnificent waterfall Dynjandi and hike around. While waterfalls on the south of Iceland are well known, Dynjandi usually stays away from the attention of tourists and there is a good chance that you will have it all for yourself. Dynjandi is a series of waterfalls combined in about 100 meters long. This natural water continues as a small river. So I sincerely recommend hiking around for a bit to have a great view of all parts of this waterfall.
When you feel like you are done with it, head to Látrabjarg. Látrabjark is the most western fjord in Iceland and also most western place in Europe (Next stop Greenland!). Except for a great view of all the fjords around, it is also an ideal place to watch puffins that often nest on the cliffs.
Where to stay in West fjords?
West fjords have several little villages where you can stay. They are also famous for a lot of camps in the middle of nature. Perhaps the most popular option is close to Latrabjarg, where there are a lot of hotels and even cheaper hostels.
Day 9 – Husafell
Before you head home, spend one of your last days in Husafell. Husafell is especially for those who feel like they didn’t see enough nature on this Icelandic itinerary.
Husafell is a place where you can birdwatch between two glaciers. If you have enough birds because they are everywhere in Iceland, there are amazing hiking paths, that should satisfy your sense of adventure. Hike between glaciers to see one more forest, or lava fields Hallmundarhraun. In this area you can find numerous caves, they are better to observe with a guide, but it is quite safe just to peek in one of them.
Vidheimir is one of the biggest cave in Iceland, longer than one kilometer. So book a tour to wander around this one.
For waterfalls, you should see Hraunfossar which is a series of waterfalls going into the white river. It ranks as one of the best waterfalls, and at the same time, it kinda lacks the attention of most of the tourists.
Day 10 – Homecoming
It depends on how much time you have, plan some activities on your last day. Close to the airport is a very famous Blue Lagoon. These volcanic hot springs are widely popular for its blue-white tone and Nordic atmosphere. Locals often say that it is way too busy, but it is once in a lifetime activity. So even though it is quite expensive, make sure you will visit it during your 10 days in Iceland. Besides you can get to Blue Lagoon easily from Keflavik Airport.
You can also visit Reykjanes, also not far from the airport, where you can see the bridge between the continent. There are buses from and to the airport in both places and Blue Lagoon, you can even find a place for your suitcase, so you don’t need to worry about security.
When is spending 10 days in Iceland worth it?
10 days in Iceland is a lot of time and it is necessary to spend it wisely and plan. So when is that much time worth it? Mainly I would recommend coming in September. It is a shoulder season for Iceland. Hotels are starting to be less occupied, at the same time the most of the side roads are still open.
A similar situation is around April. But be aware that the roads might still be closed on some segments. Both months can be still pretty rainy and cold. But at the same time, it is possible to see northern lights around this time.
Summer in Iceland is very busy and filled with tourists. However, it is also the time of the year when you can see a midnight sun and just see a lot during the day.
In the winter, the days are very short. So winter and a lot of roads can be closed. Perhaps during the winter consider the shorter visit to Iceland.