How to Visit Iceland in Four and a Half Days

An Iceland Guide: Part 3

This is Part 3 in a series about Iceland. Read tips for packing and how to save money in Part 1 and Part 2 respectively.

So after all that pre-trip preparation, we are ready to move onto the actual travel part! Here is a sample itinerary for 4½ days in Iceland, and pretty much what my friend and I did during the time we were there. We mainly explored the South Coast and Golden Circle, although there are way more things to do if you have the time and/or money for it.

Without further ado, let's get into our short yet peaceful road trip through Iceland!

At the top of Skogafoss. Image Credit: Me.

Day 0: Leaving Toronto

WOW Air's check-in counter at Terminal 3 is a little hard to find, so when in doubt ask an airline employee where it's located. After you pass through security, make a beeline for one of the restaurants to grab dinner to eat on the plane. If you have lounge access, load up your stomach on food at the lounge before boarding.

Before you get on the plane, remember to fill up your water bottle as WOW Air charges $3 for a bottle of water. They don't offer anything for free up there.

While you need to pay for any sort of luggage that isn't a backpack or purse, WOW Air actually does not check your boarding pass or receipt for evidence that you paid for a carry on. This is true both ways on the trip. That being said, there is a hefty charge if you're caught not paying for your carry-on, so I don't recommend trying to game the system.

Then, try to enjoy the flight and get some rest!

On the way to Reykjavik. Image Credit: Me.

Day 1: The Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik

From Toronto, you will arrive around 5:00AM local time. Once you get off the plane, grab your luggage and move through customs (typically very fast), it should be around 5:30 to 6:00 AM local time. Head to one of the convenience stores downstairs to buy a SIM card for $20, which gives you 1GB of data for 30 days, as well as some minutes and texting. You can also exchange cash for krona, though you honestly don't need cash in Iceland.

After all this, you can line up outside for the shuttle bus to take you to your car rental. The shuttle bus is approximately every 15 minutes, and there is a sign near the driver telling you which stop has which car rental companies.

Once you pick up your car, it's time to drive to Reykjavik. If you're really tired after your flight and/or need a shower, I highly recommend going to The Blue Lagoon and trying for their 7:00AM time slot. There are typically spots available around this time (even last minute) because it's so early.


Address: Norðurljósavegur 9, 240 Grindavík
Cost: From ~$125 CAD and up
Estimated Time: 2-3 hours
Website: (pre-booking recommended)
Bring: Swimsuit

Since our AirBnB check-in wasn't until 3:00PM and we wanted to avoid the lunch crowd, we decided to visit. Between 7:00-10:00AM there really aren't that many people around so it wasn't crowded or noisy at all. After 10:30AM it starts getting crowded, so keep that mind if you decide to go at another time.

We opted for the basic "Comfort" package, which came with unlimited towels, a free drink, and silica mask. We decided not to go for the "Premium" package as we weren't planning on dining at the LAVA Restaurant, and thought robes and slippers were unnecessary.

The Blue Lagoon on a cloudy morning. Image Credit: Me.

Tip: there's a "relaxation area" with lounge chairs where you can take a nap if you need to. I definitely needed one after the flight!

After spending a few hours at the Blue Lagoon, you might be getting hungry. I would recommend going for one of the $15 sandwiches at the cafe to tide you over instead of paying for a $80+ meal at LAVA.


Address: Kauptún 3, 210 Gardabaer
Estimated Time: 1 hour

If you can hold the hunger in, get back on the road and head to Costco on your way to Reykjavik and buy one of their $4 hot dogs, pizza or chicken bake. You can also do some grocery shopping while you're here. If you still have some time to kill after that, check out the IKEA across the street.

By this time, it should be close to 3:00PM so you can check in to your hostel or AirBnB and take a nice long nap. Since it never really gets dark in the summer, you won't have to worry about things not being visible at night.

Walking around Reykjavik at night. Image Credit: Me.


Address: Austurströnd 3 -170 Seltjarnarnes
Cost: ~$6 CAD
Estimated Time: 0.5-1 hour
Bring: An empty stomach

After you've gotten some rest, you can walk over to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, the world famous hot dog stand that specializes in lamb hot dogs. It is fairly small though, so you may want to eat something else if you're looking for an actual meal.

Since it's bright out even at 10-11PM in the summer, we ended up walking around Reykjavik and exploring parts of the city, especially the entertainment district.

Day 2: South Coast Waterfalls


Address: Seljalandsfoss
Cost: ~$8 CAD (parking)
Estimated Time: 2 hours

Pump some gas, hop in the car and drive to Seljalandsfoss, where you can climb up behind the waterfall. On a sunny day, you can probably see a double rainbow. Parking is $8 here, but you can use the bathrooms for free.

Rainbow at Seljalandsfoss. Image Credit: Me.

You can check out another more hidden waterfall called Gljúfrabúi that is right beside Seljalandsfoss. However, you'll need rain boots or take off your shoes to access it. Once you're done getting pleasantly splashed by the waterfalls, it might be a good time to take a break and have lunch. If you bought the sandwich platter from Costco, now would be a good time to eat it!


Address: Skógafoss
Cost: Free
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Next, head to Skógafoss, where you will find an even bigger waterfall, with a small black sand beach. On a sunny day, it's double rainbows galore. Parking is free here, but they do charge to use the bathrooms, although I haven't seen it enforced since it's 200 krona ($2.50) in change.

It's a double rainbow (at Skógafoss). Image Credit: Me.

There are steps to reach the top of the waterfall, where you can see gorgeous views of the South Coast as well as follow the source of Skógafoss. If you're so inclined you can also walk further down for more sights.

During your drive around the South Coast, you will see tons of horses, sheep and cows. We found the sheep really adorable and the horses quite fabulous. Definitely make a pit stop on the side of the road if you want to pet and coo at cute farm animals.


Address: 871 Vik
Cost: Free
Estimated Time: 1 hour

If you still have some time, go to Dyrhólaey, (the arch with the hole). There are certain parts you won't be able to go up unless you have a 4x4, but there are certainly walkable portions that have great views of both Reynisfjara and the arch. Keep in mind they charge 300 krona to use the bathroom, and there are barriers in place to enforce this.

A view of Dyrholaey. Image Credit: Me.

Day 3: Reynisfjara and Vik


Address: 871 Vik
Cost: Free
Estimated Time: 1 hour
Bring: Common sense - don't wander too close to the sneaker waves

Check out Reynisfjara, a stunning black sand beach with incredible natural basalt columns. You can climb on top of the rocks for a cool picture or walk along the shoreline, but be very careful in both instances - you wouldn't want to fall down from climbing the rocks, nor do you want to be caught by a sneaker wave. Parking is free; there are bathrooms in the restaurant but they are for customers only.

The rock formations at Reynisfjara. Image Credit: Me.

If you didn't check out Dyrholaey the day before, now would be a good time. For lunch, we once again had our sandwiches.

8. VIK

Address: Vik
Cost: Free
Estimated Time: 0.5 hours

Continue on to Vik, a tiny village surrounded by vast, rippling rock formations. This is a good place to get gas as there are plenty of gas stations around.

I should add that there are other sights you can check out along the South Coast, such as the Sólheimasandur plane wreck, but this itinerary did not feel particularly rushed for us, and allowed us to move at a comfortable place.

Starting heading back the same way you came from Reykjavik, only make a small adjustment and drive towards the Efra-Sel Hostel, within the Golden Circle. Relax in their free hot tub outside, or check out The Secret Lagoon if you have time. We were tired so we didn't end up going, but would definitely check it out next time. For dinner, we ate the last of our Costco chicken and veggies using the well-equipped kitchen at the hostel.

Day 4: Golden Circle


Address: Haukadal 801 Selfoss
Cost: Free
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours
Bring: Enough storage on your phone to take several videos

From Efra-Sel Hostel, make your way to Geysir, where you can walk around a geyser park. There is a specific geyser there that erupts approximately every 10 minutes, making for great videos and selfies. You won't miss it - it's always surrounded by a ton of people and their cameras!

Once you've had your fill of happily bubbling Earth pimples, head back to the parking lot where there is a really good onsite restaurant. We shared the meat sampler plate, and I also decided to splurge on ice cream.


Address: Gullfossi / Bláskógabyggð / 801 Selfoss
Cost: Free
Estimated Time: 1 hour

Afterwards, head to Gullfoss, one of the most magnificent waterfalls in the area. Once again, it was a beautiful day and plenty of rainbows were visible. We had a good laugh at the sign outside Gullfoss as it specifically said it was the best waterfall in Europe and "rivaled even Niagara Falls in the United States". Don't get me wrong, Gullfoss is lovely, but you can't really beat the Canadian side of Niagara Falls, can you?

Both the Gullfoss and Geysir attractions are completely free to visit, with parking being free as well.

Gullfoss. Image Credit: Me.


Address: Kerið Crater
Cost: 400 ISK (~$5 CAD)
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours

Onto my favourite area, which is the crater lake, Kerið. It is much grander than it looks in photos, and the fiery red colour of the surrounding rocks makes you feel as though you just stepped on Mars. We had a lot of fun walking around the crater, taking pictures, and then descending the stairs to get close to the lake. Parking is free here, but there is an entry fee of 400 krona per person.

Kerið. Image Credit: Me.

Address: Þingvellir
Cost: Free
Estimated Time: 1-2 hours (more if you plan it that way)

We then drove through Þingvellir National Park on the way back to Reykjavik. If we had more time, this would have been an amazing place to camp out overnight. Pictures don't quite do it justice.

We also accidentally took the longer, scenic route on the way back to Reykjavik, driving through Nesjavellir Geothermal Power Station. Quite an interesting view!

Drive through Nesjavellir, sped up. Please excuse our dirty windows. Video/GIF Credit: Me.

After we checked into our next Reykavjik AirBnB, we headed to Ostabúðin, where we tried minke whale steak out of curiosity. It has a very similar texture to any other steak, but with a bit of an oceanic kick. Does that make sense? We had the cod and the lamb next, both of which were excellent. We finished off our dinner with their Skyr dessert, which was the perfect level of sweetness to complement our meal.

Day 5: Back in Reykjavik

For breakfast, head to Icelandic Seafood Restaurant, where you can get a bread bowl with unlimited seafood soup refills for about $30. We ended up taking some of the bread with us on the plane as a snack on the way back.

Bread bowl from Icelandic Seafood Restaurant. Image Credit: Me.


Address: Hallgrímstorg 101, 101 Reykjavík
Cost: 1000 ISK (~$13 CAD)
Estimated Time: 1 hour

If you have time, definitely go up the Hallgrímskirkja tower to see a bird's eye view of Iceland's biggest (only?) city. Unfortunately, we were in a bit of a rush so we weren't able to go inside or up the tower, but if we had an hour to kill we would definitely do it.

Now, it's time to return the rental car and fly back home. Remember to leave yourself adequate time to get back to Keflavik and return the car.

And that's it! A nice long(er) weekend trip to the South Coast of Iceland. One area we explored that we didn't highlight here was Eyjafjallajökull, which erupted in 2010 and was featured in movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013). We found it rather time-consuming as a stop along the way to the Golden Circle, so we wouldn't recommend it for a short trip. On the bright side, we were able to visit Gluggafoss nearby, which you can also walk behind (sort of).

If you have more time, definitely check out Hvalfjordur fjord just north of Reykjavik. The views are spectacular. My boyfriend ended up going a few weeks later and I loved the picture so much, it became my new phone background.

Hvalfjordur fjord. Image Credit: Eugene.

That concludes my series on Iceland, the country whose terrain is so otherworldly it looks as though it was CGI...except it's real life. Being able to see a small slice of one of the most beautiful locations on Earth was a wonderful experience - I know I'll be back again someday.


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