Iceland is the home for several world-famous sights and I do believe that anyone who is planning a trip here goes through the same despair as we did when planning our trip. Where should I go? What do I want to see? Which sights are must-see? How on earth can I fit this all in my trip? Do I need a car? How should I be able to choose between all the attractions and choose the perfect route? These questions among many others were those I struggled with when planning our itinerary for the five-day trip to Iceland.
From the beginning, it was clear that we will hire a car for the whole duration of our trip. To be honest, I now do think that it would be pure madness not to hire one. Trust me, having a car will make the trip whether it was for one or ten days, so much easier and pleasant. Without a car, you’ll miss out on so much here.
Before the trip, I must have spent countless of hours trying to find all the possible attractions and places it would be nice to visit. I ended up having a list of over 30 different places all around the island. Needless to say that with only five days in Iceland it would not be possible to go through them all, no matter how hard we’d try and how fast we’d drive. We’d need at least two weeks to clear the whole list. The list would need to be shortened, heavily. I soon realized that it would not make any sense to try to go around the whole island unless we’d want to spend the whole time in a car. At this point, I said hello to my trusted travel planner – Google Maps and started looking at alternatives for a route along the western coast, saying bye to all the attractions on my list that were located up north or in eastern parts of the island. Now we were down to around 15 places on the list. After this, we still needed one evening of hard-core planning and hundreds of WhatsApp-messages before we were unanimous about the route with our group.
On the first day, we departed from home early before the sunrise and the plane hit the tarmac well before noon in Keflavik. After this, we hit the road towards north. On the first day, we drove all the way to Snaefellsnes peninsula, where after a little detour to see Kirkjufellsfoss, we arrived at the lovely little town of Stykkishólmur, from where I’ve written a separate post here.
On our second day, we spent a few hours in Stykkishólmur, before heading to Glymur (about the amazing route to Glymur you can read more here). After spending almost a full day walking outside, we pointed the tires towards Reykjavik, where we spent the rest of the day doing some sightseeing and dining. Reykjavik was more or less a disappointment and I will not be writing about Reykjavik after this trip. The few hours we had there was more than enough. Of course there are things to see and do there, but when compared to all the other attractions in the country, the capital just can’t compete with these. I mean, it is just a pretty little capital among hundreds of others in the world, but the nature in the country is like nowhere else.
On our third day, we headed to Silfra in Þingvellir national park. It was time for some diving! Yes, you read right, you can dive in Iceland and I’ll tell you all about it later. While I was busy blowing bubbles with my hubby, the other half of our travelling team went for some horse-riding nearby and after we were done with Silfra, we headed to see the Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall before driving down to the south coast, where we spent the night right next to the Skogafoss.
After admiring the Skogafoss from our breakfast table, we did a short walk around the area before heading to Reynsifjara – the Black Beach. From here we continued backwards towards Keflavik, stopping at Seljalandsfoss, the Kerið crater and the Blue Lagoon on the way.
The fifth day was all about travelling back home. Our flight departed in the morning and despite the direct flights to Helsinki, thanks to the time difference, we weren’t back home before dinnertime.
So, how good was the plan?
As you can already imagine, the five days were rather busy. We saw a lot and we managed to stick to our original plan rather well. We ended up seeing the majority of the places we wanted to but still the time was just too short. Some days we even ended up skipping lunch as we were so busy going from one place to another and it was dinner time before we even noticed. But still, all I can say is that I could not be any happier with the plan. We saw everything we really wanted to see, only few less significant places had to be skipped as the time ran out. We departed early in the morning and stopped after it came dark every day. Being on the move for the whole day several days in a row, it is clear that this is not a trip from where you return home physically relaxed. Some might like to take it slower, but for us, this worked out perfect. The only “fault” in the plan was that we did not take into notice the short duration of days in October. A few more hours of daylight would have made a huge difference here. So during summertime, say, between may and July this itinerary would have allowed much more spare time.
What would I change if I knew what was coming?
I’d travel when the days are longer. But regarding the route, nothing. Absolutely nothing. I would still go with the original plan. If I HAD TO change something, I’d not worry so much in advance about having so little time in Reykjavik. I might actually even skip going there at all. alternatively, I’d skip Blue Lagoon. I really found the place overrated and instead, I’d find a less known place to bathe in the thermal water somewhere else. Other than that there is not much I’d be willing to change.
Now that the best attractions on the western coast are seen, the next time I can drive straight to the east and north. Next time maybe the five days will be enough for driving around the island as there will be no need to stop in the southern or eastern parts of the country.
Iceland in October?
When booking our flights, we were slightly worried about what it would be like to travel to Iceland in October in terms of weather. I mean, October must be one of the worst months to travel anywhere in Europe, let alone the northern parts where the weather is often not that great even in the summertime. But it was just great! The weather turned out to be better than I dared to hope for. Sure it rained every day, but there was also some sunshine every day. The only minus would be the short days. I’d travel closer to the summer because the longer days but not because of the weather. On the other hand, the good thing about travelling in October is that it is off-season already and there are not that many other tourists, so the main attractions are not as crowded as they are in the summertime and also the prices, in general, are much lower for accommodation.