Iceland – where to go in a week?

Land of ice and fire. Active volcanoes, bubbling hot springs, immense lava fields covered with bright green moss. Black beaches, blue ice lagoons, wide glaciers flowing down the mountains. Powerful waterfalls splashing water drops, dancing northern lights making great show on the black night sky. You can see it all, and even more during one week in Iceland, and without 4×4 car. How?

Where to go in a week in Iceland?

Iceland was always one of my dream destinations. It’s wild, it’s different, it’s dramatic. You can go to the mountains, camp close to the waterfalls, look at the simmering earth and watch geysers blowing water high in the air. Plus, since I am a geologist – it’s a paradise for people of my profession.

Where to go?

After we booked our tickets and started the research of where we could go, we quickly realized, that a week is not enough for that big island. We decided, there’s no point of driving around the whole island in the Ring Road – although it is doable, it would take us at least 4-5h driving a day, without going out of the main road to see other places in between.

We wanted to experience places, to touch them and feel, not only see from behind the car windows. So we decided to focus only on the south part of the country – which was a really good decision! And now we have a reason to come back for more 🙂

Also, with only a week, we decided, that most of the places, that we wanted to visit are accessible by 2WD car. Renting 4×4 was much more expensive and we probably wouldn’t have much time to make a real use of it. There was only one place, that we wanted to go, that required 4WD – Landmannlaugar, but we left it for the next time. Of course, if we had 4×4, I’m sure we would go more off the beaten track, but then we wouldn’t have time for all the other places, that we wanted to see. Next time it will be 4WD and more wild places, though!

Where exactly?

During 7 days we drove around 1450 km and visited over 30 places. We wild-camped, stayed on the campsites, slept in the car, spent one night in the guest house, hiked, bathed in the wild hot springs, swam in the swimming pools, ate in the local places, cooked on the stove, chased northern lights and drove many types of roads with our small rented car.

Here are the maps with some of the places, that we visited. We were taking inspirations from different guidebooks, blogs, forums, local advice, maps that we got from tourist information in Iceland etc.

 map1map2map3map4

See other related posts about our Iceland road trip:

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Iceland guide

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8 thoughts on “Iceland – where to go in a week?

    1. Hi Juan, if you are just focusing on the south part of the country, you can do it in 7 days, but obviously the more the better, as you can see places on the way, spend more time in the national parks, hike on the glaciers etc. As I mentioned in the post, even driving the whole Ring Road in 7 days would be possible – but then you spend most of the time in the car, which we didn’t want to do. For the ring road I would go if we had a minimum of 10 days. Do you want to drive around the whole country or you are just focusing on the south?

      1. Thank you very much for your answer!!! I’ll focus on the south. I’ll travel alone at the end of september. I think I’ll spend 6 days in Iceland (but I’ll spend one day in Reykjavik)…. I hope I can see the Northern Lights!!!

        1. You’re very welcome 🙂 That sounds like a good idea! You can use the itinerary from here to give you some options and then all the other posts are also linked here and you can find them under “Iceland” category. I also have a post of how to increase your chances of seeing Northern Lights here: http://worlderingaround.com/en/countries/see-aurora-northern-lights/ We managed to see them several times in September, so if you are lucky you should see them too! I hope it helps 🙂
          If you have any other questions, don’t hesitate to ask!
          Iceland is amazing, I need to plan my return trip there 😉
          Enjoy,
          Aga

          1. Aga, thank you again!
            I’m from Argentina, too far from Iceland (despite our “Patagonia” is quite similar), so your help is really welcome!
            I plan to make a similar itinerary of what you have described.
            As I told you, I think I will rent a car to spend 4 or 5 days in the south of the island, to visit the main tourist attractions.
            I have some doubts about accommodation and car rental.
            I plan to rent a room (it could be a shared room in a Hostel, but I think I don’t want to sleep in a tent, or in the car).
            ¿Do you think I should make reservations in advance of the trip? ¿should them be in Vik and Hofn?
            ¿Do you think “Budget Cars” is the best option to rent a car? They have offices in the center of Reykjavik, right?
            (pd. I’ll tell about my experience in Iceland after the trip)

          2. Hi Juan,
            No problem! At the end of September you shouldn’t have big problems with booking accommodation, but there is no harm in booking in advance, so you know you are safe. You can use booking.com as they have free cancellation on most of places. You can for example check places in the Golden Circle: http://www.booking.com/searchresults.html?region=14974&aid=1293006&no_rooms=1&group_adults=1&room1=A. Or stay every night at a different place. When we were in Iceland, we just stayed one day in the Guest house (here:https://www.booking.com/hotel/is/hafnarnes.html?aid=1293006&no_rooms=1&group_adults=2&room1=A%2CA ) and we booked literally less than an hour before arriving, because the weather was bad and we didn’t want to camp.
            For cars, I wrote more about it here: http://worlderingaround.com/en/countries/car-rental-and-traveling-in-iceland/
            We used Budget cars, because we found quite a good deal with them. But it is not to say that others are bad – you would just need to check many reviews before. I can say that we had good experience with Budget cars and no problems. Just follow what I mentioned in the post when you book the car and when you collect it. Make sure that it’s relatively new and report all the possible scratchings in advance. They have office just at the airport in Keflavik.
            Oh, Patagonia is high on my list of places to visit, so I may contact you about it at some point, haha 😉

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