Currently set to Index
Currently set to Follow

CREATE AN EPIC 5-DAY ICELAND ITINERARY

Iceland itinerary summer and winter, Arzo Travels

HOW TO SEE ICELAND IN 5 DAYS (ANY TIME OF THE YEAR)

Are you planning your 5-day Iceland itinerary and wondering about what to do and see in Iceland in 5 days? Then this post is for you. Here I share my tips for your 5-day trip to Iceland.

Iceland is probably one of the most unique countries in the world and so it does not surprise it has become incredibly popular. 

Whether you visit in spring, summer, fall, or winter – this 5-day in Iceland itinerary can be used at any time of the year. You will also find many travel tips for your trip.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost for you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

TRAVEL TIPS FOR YOUR 5-DAY ICELAND ITINERARY

Iceland might have less than 400,000 inhabitants, but it is a – geographically seen – big country.

While it would be great to spend more than 5 days in Iceland, most of us do not have unlimited time to spend there. So this itinerary will help you to find out about the main sights and attractions. And 5 days are better than nothing, right?

The good news is that this post not only offers you the best sights but here you will also find out about the best ways to get around + tips. You can use this itinerary whether you do guided tours or plan a road trip. 

I have visited Iceland twice: once in the winter (December/January) and once in summer (July). I was lucky enough to have different experiences over the course of 21-22 days. I created this itinerary for any time of the year with the travel highlights of my Iceland trips.

Here are some quick travel tips for your trip to Iceland.

Best Time to Visit Iceland in 5 Days

Whether you visit Iceland in winter or summer – or fall and spring – each season has its charms.

  • I loved visiting Iceland in the summer. It might be busy, and the prices for accommodations are high (and attractions are very crowded), but the many, many hours of daylight helped me to squeeze in many activities in a day. I saw about three or four times as much as I did in winter.
  • In winter you will have much less time to visit the sights. Honestly, you will just have a few hours each day as it really gets dark very early (and quickly). Keep in mind that winter in Iceland can be very extreme – and you might not be able to road trip. Check out my Iceland in Winter guide to see if that is the perfect time for your trip or not. 

This is also why I will share some of my winter and summer pictures in this post – so you can imagine yourself better for when to use this Iceland itinerary for. I have a detailed post on the “best time to visit Iceland,” where I compare the winter and summer seasons.

To find out why winter can be tricky, check out my guide on what I really think about visiting Iceland in December.

IMPORTANT: Keep in mind, that you have to pick a few places for each day. Even in the summer months, you might not be able to see all stops unless you travel fast. I saw A LOT when I visited in July and loved my long days of exploring. This Iceland itinerary was feasible for me. However, it might be too much for you.

When I visited in the winter, I did not see much. So, you have to pick those attractions that you find the most interesting and leave out a few other sights.  

Costs of Visiting Iceland

  • You can pay everywhere with your credit card, even if you just want to use a toilet to pee. However, if you camp, you need cash because you might need coins for using the shower (though not necessarily) or pay cash.

Language in Iceland

People speak English everywhere in Iceland. If you speak English, you are good to go. Given that Icelandic does not seem like an easy language to learn, this is one of the best news.

How to Get to Iceland For Your 5-Day Trip

Iceland has several airports. Most likely, you will fly into the Keflavík International Airport which is near Reykjavik. A smaller domestic airport in Reykjavik (Reykjavik Airport) is close to the city center, but that is not the one you will fly into.

Keflavík International Airport is about 50 km from the city center of Reykjavik.

  • One of the best ways is to get a rental car from the airport and then drive to the city center. In summer, I road-tripped Iceland and picked up my little camper van from the airport. The process was very smooth and I assume the same goes for all rental cars.
  • I read somewhere that a taxi for that distance will cost you more than 200€ – and given how expensive Iceland is, this sounds believable. There is no uber in Iceland.
  • You can either buy a ticket for the shuttle bus once you are at the airport or book your shuttle bus ticket in advance. The buses normally drop you off in the city center. Then you can get to your hotel by bus/taxi or walk. I used it in winter and really enjoyed the smooth transfer.
  • On my way back to the airport, I stopped at the Blue Lagoon close to the airport. So, if you plan to visit the Blue Lagoon, either on the day of your arrival or your departure, keep that in mind. Then you can combine that.

How to Get Around Iceland

So this 5-day itinerary for Iceland is perfect for anyone. You can do a road trip or do day trips from Reykjavik.

  • Day trips tours will not allow you to see all places mentioned here, but the main attractions are included, so it really is up to you what you prefer.
  • Road tripping Iceland is pretty fun and easy (with good roads and only a few cars except at the hotspots), but I did not dare to road trip in winter. I did some research and got scared of the conditions of the roads with all the snow. 

Both options have advantages/disadvantages, so it is about personal preferences.

Renting a Car/ Campervan: Driving in Iceland is pretty easy. At least, if you visit in summer (or as long as there is no snow and ice, and the roads are open). 

F-roads (roads that access the highlands of Iceland) are probably a bit trickier, but I haven’t driven them myself. You need (and have to have) to have 4-wheel vehicles (at any time of the year) if you want to drive them. So, it really makes sense to plan your Iceland itinerary and then rent an appropriate car.

On my second trip, I rented a caravan – for the first time in my life – and I loved it. Iceland is perfect for getting around via camper van (roads are big enough, not too much traffic once you leave the main hot spots), and finding a camping site is quite easy.

If you have ever thought about traveling via camper – then it should be Iceland.

Camping

Wild camping is illegal in Iceland, and though there are very few exceptions (like written permission if you stay on private land), it is highly advised to accept Icelandic law and just stay at campsites.

Campsites are pretty affordable and cost around 9-12€ for most campsites (per person, no extra charge for your vehicle).

Caravan views in Iceland_

Where to Stay For Your 5-Day Iceland Itinerary

This Iceland itinerary is perfect for any time of the year – whether you road trip or do day tours from Reykjavik. Check out my guide with the best places to stay in Iceland, and if you road trip, it really depends on how much you get to see in one day.

In winter, you will not be able to see all places mentioned on this Iceland itinerary because hiking routes are closed and days are short.

With a camper/motorhome, it is easy. You can spontaneously decide where to park. Campsites normally are not get fully booked, and there are plenty in Iceland, so you just arrive and pay – even late at night / after midnight.

ICELAND ITINERARY FOR 5 DAYS

So, enough talking. Here is how to spend your 5 days in Iceland:

DAY 1 OF 5 DAYS IN ICELAND

Let us start with an Iceland classic.

GOLDEN CIRCLE + HRUNALAUG + BRUARFOSS WATERFALL

While you could start with the Blue Lagoon and Reykjavik, I actually suggest saving these destinations for your last day.

Reserve one day for the most famous and popular area – namely, the Golden Circle, which has several attractions. The name “Golden Circle“ was derived from Gullfoss, which means “golden waterfall” in Icelandic and is one main attraction for day 1 in Iceland.

The Golden Circle covers about 300 kilometers, looping from Reykjavik into the southern uplands of Iceland and back. There are three main stops on the route – the Þingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss Waterfall, and the geothermal area in Haukadalur. If you do not drive back to Reykjavik, it will be fewer kilometers.

THINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK

Thingvellir National Park is often the first stop. It is a historic site and national park known for the Alþing, Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to 18th century. 

National Park in Iceland in winter

You’ll also find the Þingvellir Church and the ruins of old stone shelters, but most people are probably fascinated by the fact that the park sits in a rift valley caused by the separation of 2 tectonic plates, with rocky cliffs and fissures.

  • Personally, I only visited in winter, and it had lovely scenery. If you want to take a stroll (or do an easy hike), you can spend a few hours here. Otherwise, 30-60 minutes is probably all you need before continuing your journey.
  • There is no entrance fee, but there is a parking fee. 

GULLFOSS

Gullfoss might be the next attraction. If you do a guided tour, the stops might be in a different order. If you drive yourself, then it makes sense to stop here now. This famous waterfall is located in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland.

It is easy to drive here, and you can visit at any time of the year.

Glufoss waterfall one of the main waterfalls for your 5 day Iceland itinerary

There is not much walking required to get here from the (free) parking slots. And there it is – the impressive Gullfoss (“foss“ in Icelandic means waterfall). The water cascades down in two stages, one 11 meters high and the other 21 meters, into the 2.5 km-long crevasse below. 

I visited in winter and summer and liked it in winter better. However, in summer, you can take walks and stroll the area (which in winter is mostly forbidden). 

  • I would suggest spending 30-90 minutes in that area.
  • It is free to visit, with no parking fees.

Tip: If you want to take a snowmobile tour, then you can start here. Again, it depends whether you road trip or do guided tours. I booked my tour in December and was picked up from Reykjavik and brought to the waterfall before continuing our trip to the Highlands. However, due to extreme snowfalls, once we arrived at the camp, the tour was canceled. I am sure it is an amazing experience, and if you are up for it, you can check out tours starting from here. Check out prices and options.

Strokkur in Haukadalur

It is then time to see the geyser, which is periodically spouting hot springs. The Strokkur is an active, fountain-type geyser, which typically erupts every few minutes.

Its usual height is 15–20 meters, but it can sometimes erupt up to 40 meters high. So, even if you have just a few minutes, you will see it erupt – it is quite loud and I was startled by it every time.

This again is a popular sight, and since it is on the way to the other attractions, it is definitely a must-visit place.

  • I would probably spend around 30-45 minutes here so you can see the eruptions more than 2-3 times.
  • It is free to visit, no parking fees.

TIP: All of the above-mentioned places have at least one restaurant/cafe and restrooms (which you might have to pay for).

At this point, you have seen the three main sights along/near the Golden Circle. However, there are a few more places worth visiting. Most guided tours do offer one or two additional stops. You just have to decide which one is the most attractive to you.

If you road trip during the long summer days, I suggest adding at least two more places to your itinerary for day 1. In the short winter months, you might not be able to squeeze in more attractions.

Kerid Volcanic Crater

Kerid Volcanic Crater is a volcanic crater lake that is a popular stop off the Golden Circle. You can get up and even walk around the volcano. Due to its location – close to the Golden Circle – it can get busy. I can’t say much about that one because I did not visit, but the reviews are good.

Iceland itinerary, Arzo Travels

  • There is a small entrance fee (about 400 ISK), so have some cash with you.
  • If you booked a guided tour, it might be included in the price. I have listed several day tours at the end of “day 1”, so check them out.

Secret Lagoon

Another popular spot off the typical Golden Circle is the Secret Lagoon. It is a man-made pool fed by naturally occurring hot springs located at Hverahólmi, which is the geothermal area next to the village of Flúðir.

Secret Lagoon in winter in Iceland

It is the oldest pool in the country – but nothing is secret here anymore and it is surely not a hidden gem. However, it is great after a day out to hop into the hot spring.

  • This stop should take around 60-120 minutes.
  • I visited in winter with a guided tour, and it had the entrance fee already included. Tickets for adults are around 20€ ($23).
  • There is no parking fee.

GUIDED TOURS FOR DAY 1

If you do guided tours, then check out these options. I, personally, mostly use GetYourGuide when I book tours and I also used the website for my Iceland tours.

Hrunalaug

Another place you could visit – also instead of the Secret Lagoon – is Hrunalaug. This hot spring is privately owned and is quite small, but the views are amazing.

HRUNALAUG hot pools in Iceland

The road there is a bit bumpy – but I had no big problems getting there in my 2wheel drive. It takes some time to get there as you can’t drive fast. Guided tours normally have this stop NOT included – this is perfect if you are road-tripping yourself.

  • The owner normally sits in front of the pool and you have to pay an entrance fee. It is either 1,000 ISK, 10€ or $10 and in cash only.
  • Parking is free.
  • Before paying the entrance fee, I would ask how many people are in already. If there are already more than 5-10 people, then I honestly would not enter.
  • I read complaints that the water was low, so ask the owner before you pay whether it is busy or if it has water.
  • Depending on how much time you have, this stop should take about 1-2 hours.

Bruarfoss Waterfall

If you road trip Iceland and are flexible, I suggest paying Bruarfoss Waterfall a visit. Since its location is a bit off the Golden Route, it is not often offered when doing guided tours.

BRUARFOSS WATERFALL, amazing watercolor in Iceland

However, it was one of my favorite places in Iceland, and if you can visit, then go for it. After parking your car, you can do a 7 km “hike“ (in total) and will see several waterfalls along the way. 

The waterfalls come in an incredible color of blue – the color is insane, which makes it worth a visit. It is not a real hike, but more like a beautiful stroll with some steps in between (and probably some mud puddles, so wear appropriate shoes).

  • This stop should take around 2 hours.
  • No entrance fee, free parking.
  • Google sent me to the wrong parking lot – which is no parking lot any longer and I had to drive back to find the right spot.
  • Check out my detailed Bruarfoss guide.

DAY 2 OF 5 DAYS IN ICELAND

One day of your Iceland itinerary should be reserved for exploring the south coast of Iceland – together with the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon, one of the most popular places to visit. 

If you do guided tours, you have to pick the one that is the most appealing to you. I have not seen any tour that offers to stop at all of the places mentioned on day 2 in Iceland. You will find the tours at the end of this day.

SOUTH OF ICELAND 

One day for the South of Iceland is not a lot – if you visit in the winter, you will only see some places because daylight is not your friend then. You can easily visit all of them in the summer months, though it will be a busy day.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is one of the stops you can’t miss – actually, it is literally impossible to miss this high waterfall.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall for your Iceland in 5 days itinerary

The waterfall drops 60 meters and is part of the Seljalands River, which has its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. You can walk behind it and have a unique view. However, in the winter months, the walking path is most likely closed.

  • There is not much other hiking to do, so 15-60 minutes is enough.
  • There is no entrance fee, but if you have some change, you can donate something, and there is a parking fee.

If you do a guided tour, you will most likely continue your journey. However, if you road trip, make sure to add the two more waterfalls I describe below close to your 5-day Iceland itinerary.

Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

Gljúfrabúi Waterfall is just a ten-minute walk away. You have to leave Seljalandsfoss and get on the “main road“, then head towards the camping site and then follow the directions – it isn’t even a hike, just a stroll.

There you will see this waterfall and you can reach it by climbing some steps. It is definitely worth the few extra minutes you have to spend to reach it. 

Your feet might get wet so proper footwear is great (also to avoid slipping).

If you have more time, I highly suggest taking your car and driving about 7 km to another, hidden, waterfall.

  • This stop should take between 15-45 minutes.
  • No entrance fee, but still a parking fee.

Nauthúsagil Waterfall

From these waterfalls, continue your journey and drive to this secret waterfall. You can drive with your 2-wheel drive, though you should drive slowly because it is a dirt road but nothing spectacular or scary.

I have not heard from guided tours visiting this waterfall, so you might only be able to see it if you are road tripping or have a private guide.

NAUTHÚSAGIL WATERFALL is a hidden gem

There are some parking lots where you can leave your car and then you continue to the ravine. Don‘t hike up that hill – I did by accident – just walk towards the ravine.

To get to the waterfall, you definitely need sturdy shoes, and there is some climbing required. However, it is a short, maybe a 10-minute and easy hike and you will be rewarded with this pretty waterfall.

  • This stop should take about 45-70 minutes.
  • No entrance fee and free parking.
  • Check out my quick guide on how to see the secret waterfall.

Skogafoss

This second day in Iceland is a lot about waterfalls – before visiting other attractions, you will most likely then pass Skogafoss, one of the most famous landmarks in Iceland.

Skógafoss Waterfall in winter in Iceland

It is one of the biggest waterfalls – with a height of more than 60 meters and a width of 25 meters. It will be one of the very crowded places. But you should still stop here and either walk right up to the waterfall (in winter it will be very slippery though) or when the stairs are open, you can walk up and see the waterfall from above.

  • This stop can take between 10-60 minutes.
  • No entrance fee, no free parking.

Sólheimajökull

Then, continue your trip to this glacier – Sólheimajökull. Especially with guided tours, this is a very popular stop. If you are short on time, I suggest skipping this one and visiting another glacier (more on that later).

Solheimajökull in Iceland is one of the best day trips from Reykjavk

Sólheimajökull is about eight kilometers long and two kilometers wide and is one of the most accessible glaciers from Reykjavík.

  • You can also book glacier walks (also with guided day tours).
  • If you just want to see it – without the glacier walk – I think spending about 30-90 minutes here is fine.
  • There is no entrance fee and no parking fee.

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

This is another popular spot that I, however, skipped both times. In 1973, a United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel and crashed on the black beach at Sólheimasandur, near the town of Vik. 

Summer Iceland itinerary, Arzo Travels

You can still visit the place but have to park your car and walk around 4 kilometers (one way) to get there. There are also buses you can take to get there.

You aren’t allowed to climb on the plane anymore and this, in combination with the time to get there, was why I decided to skip this attraction. But I still wanted to tell you about this attraction because it is quite popular. 

  • No entrance fee, no parking fee but taking the bus to get there does cost some money.

Dyrhólaey

Then, head to Dyrhólaey, which is the southernmost point of mainland Iceland and offers some beautiful views of the surroundings – you can even see the black beaches in Vik.

Dyrhólaey and the Black Sand Beaches

It is pretty, but I – personally  – do not consider it a must-see but decide for yourself. They recommend driving only with a 4-wheel drive. I, and many others, drove with our regular cars and it was fine. However, there were some moments that got tricky, so be super careful and go slowly when driving up.

  • This stop should take about 30-90 minutes of your time
  • No entrance fee, no parking fee.

Vik

From Dyrhólaey you are fast to arrive in Vik, which is a small village known mostly for its church and the black sand beach, Reynisfjara. 

Black Sand Beach in Vik, a day tour from Reykjavik

While walking on the beach, the color a result of volcanic explosions, you will find basalt stacks on one side and have views of the Atlantic Ocean on the other.

You could walk there for quite a while, but this is a busy place, so you should take a look and get on the basalt stacks before continuing your journey.

The water – even in the summer – is too cold to swim in here, and the waves can be quite strong as well, so it is better just to enjoy the scenery.

In Vik, you will also find the famous church up on a hill which is a popular photo motif, but other than that I did not really like Vik that much.

  • Uhhh, this stop can be from 15 minutes to several hours.
  • There is no parking or entrance fee.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

I highly recommend visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, though it is not open all year round. The canyon is about 100 meters deep and about two kilometers long. 

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. Mountains and waterfall are free places to visit in 5 days in Iceland

Due to its popularity and its sensitive flora, they close it once in a while, so make sure to check out opening hours beforehand

It is near the main road and though it‘s mostly a gravel road, you can easily drive there with all kinds of cars (also with a 2-wheel drive) in the summer months. 

From the parking area, it is a short and easy uphill walk. And from there, you have some of the best views in all of Iceland. There are several vantage points, and if you like mountains, this is the place to visit.

Walking in the canyon is not allowed any longer, but the views from above made this stop one of the highlights of my Iceland trip (plus, the weather was in my favor, which probably played a role, too).

  • This stop should take around 30-90 minutes.
  • No entrance fee, no parking fee.

Jökulsárlón / Diamond Beach

If you drive yourself, you will find many more waterfalls along the way. It would be almost impossible to name all of them. However, there is one particular highlight waiting for you: Jökulsárlón. 

campervan costs in Iceland

If you do guided tours, try to book a tour that brings you all the way here as well. It is a stunning glacial lagoon dotted with icebergs from the surrounding Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier, part of the larger Vatnajökull Glacier. 

Iceland glacier beach in 5 days in Iceland with arzo travels

The black sand beach sand nearby is also known as Diamond Beach because the ice chunks – even in summer – look like diamonds (well, kind of).

Diamond Beach in Iceland

It is an absolutely magical place – though in normal times, extremely busy. My tip: try to visit at sunset – it gets even more magical at that time of the day.

  • This stop takes a minimum of 30 minutes, but I could have spent hours (and probably did so) just staring at the “diamonds”.
  • Free to visit, no parking fees.

Vatnajökull Glacier

Vatnajökull is the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland and you can combine a trip to Diamond Beach with a boat tour (in summer only) and ice caving from within Vatnajökull Glacier.

This place is full of icebergs. Climbing on top of any of the icebergs without a guide is not advised and neither is swimming (it is not warm nor safe). I did not do ice caving – and I really regret it. Check out tours here.

And with these places, you have already filled 2 days of your Iceland itinerary.

To see all places mentioned here on day 2, you have to visit in late May, or in June, or July when you have long days. And you have to road trip because I have not seen any tour offering all stops in one day. If you visit at another time, you have to pick those places most appealing to you.

With these activities, you could actually fill all 5 days, but I do have some more suggestions for day 3, 4, and 5, so it is time to head back – not to Reykjavik directly, but past it, heading to the west coast of Iceland.

TOURS ON DAY 2 – SOUTH OF ICELAND

DAY 3 OF 5 DAYS IN ICELAND

The west coast is a beautiful and popular place in Iceland, though much less crowded and less visited than the Golden Circle or the South Coast.

If you do day trips from Reykjavik (guided tours or on your own), you can spend a full day on the west coast.

If you road trip, and spend the night before on the South Coast, then you have less than half a day because it takes about 4-7 hours to get there (depending on if you made it all the way to Diamond Beach or not). You have to drive back to Reykjavik and then head north. 

SNAEFELLNESS PENINSULA 

One full day on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula would be better but even this half-day is great to see the main places.

Ytri Tunga

On Snæfellsnes Peninsula, start with Ytri Tunga. It is a small, beautiful beach area where you will find seals resting and chilling.

Ytri Tunga beach in west Iceland

It is perfect for leisurely walks and spending time outdoors before continuing your journey.

  • You can spend between 30-60 minutes here.
  • Free entrance, no parking fees.

Arnarstapi

Then, stop at the cute fishing village Arnarstapi and go on easy hikes along the coast – the views are impressive.

Just watch out for the evil birds that do attack people if they feel like it. If I wanted to spread rumors, I would say they inspired Alfred Hitchcock’s movie “The Birds”. I watched the movie as a child and ever since that day, I am scared of birds (and butterflies because they are also really dangerous animals). I really had a bad time walking this one street when all the birds attacked me. Take an umbrella with you, so you can scare them away.

West of Iceland in December
  • Free parking and several cafes/restaurants.

Kirkjufell Mountain

Then, it is time to visit one of the most famous sights in the country: Kirkjufell Mountain, which is a 463-meter-high mountain on the north coast of Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula.

Places to see in December

You can either hike up the mountain or do what is definitely more popular – see the waterfalls with the beautiful mountain as a backdrop.

There is not much more hiking to do, but you can walk around the waterfall and enjoy the scenery. In winter, take some crampons and put them on your shoes with you so you can walk all the way to the waterfall.

  • Free entrance, no parking fees.

DAY TOURS TO SNAEFELLSNESS PENINSULA

For the last two days, I recommend visiting some places close by and preparing for heading back to Reykjavik/airport.

DAY 4 OF 5 DAYS IN ICELAND

This day is a bit off-the-beaten-path (not really but kind of). It is an absolutely gorgeous area that is accessible in the winter as well as in the summer. I visited in both seasons and I am not sure which one I liked more. I just loved both! I really, really love this area.

WEST ICELAND

These attractions are not from the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, so you will not be spending too much time in the car. But you can also do it as a day trip from Reykjavik.

Again, if you do guided tours this exact tour might not be available. When I visited in winter, I found a tour offering all the places mentioned below. Now, the exact same tour is not offered anymore. So, it changes and you might have to alter your own itinerary if you do guided tours.

Barnafossar and Hraunfossar Waterfalls 

Barnafossar and Hraunfosssar waterfalls are actually a series of waterfalls formed by rivulets streaming over a distance of almost 1 kilometer out of the Hallmundarhraun – which is a lava field that flowed from an eruption of one of the volcanoes lying under the glacier Langjökull. And it is one of my favorite waterfalls in Iceland.

BARNAFOSSAR AND HRAUNFOSSAR WATERFALLS 
in summer

You can do a bit of walking and visit several waterfalls – which come in an intense color – but there are not many other activities to do around here. 

Thus, I recommend combining it with another attraction in the area.

The Cave – Viðgelmir Lava Cave

Another activity you could do is to visit The Cave – Viðgelmir which is the fourth-longest lava tunnel in Iceland. 

Lava tunnel in West Iceland

You can witness the inner working of a volcanic eruption and walk the path where an eruption flowed more than 5,000 years ago. A guided tour will allow you to learn about volcanic eruptions and their effect on the environment, before heading back to the capital.

This lava cave is just 15 minutes away from Husafell Hotel (which could be your next stop).

Hot Pools at Húsafell Hotel

If you have time (getting to Reykjavik does take time and plan to arrive too early rather than too late), add Húsafell Hotel – with its hot pools – or a lava tour to your itinerary.

Hot pools in December in Iceland

The pools at Husafell Hotel are beautiful – visiting in winter, I was the only one there, though it is probably much busier in summer. What a perfect place to end the day! 

  • There is an entrance fee, parking is free.

GUIDED DAY TRIPS FROM REYKJAVIK

  • If you plan to do a guided tour, this one offers a stop at almost all the attractions mentioned above. It does not stop at Husafell Hotel – and the day tour I did is not offered anymore, so this day trip sounds like the best option.

DAY 5 OF 5 IN ICELAND

So, for your last day in Iceland, take it easy and do some sightseeing in the capital before resting at the Blue Lagoon.

REYKJAVIK + BLUE LAGOON

This last day would also make a great first day of your 5-day Iceland itinerary. Plan your trip according to the time of your arrival and departure. In general, I like to be close to the city/airport on the day of my departure, so this is why I suggest it for your last day in Iceland.

Reykjavik

Reykjavik is a small and interesting town. However, with only 5 days in Iceland, I would not spend too much time in Reykjavik – half a day is enough in my eyes. 

HALLGRÍMSKIRKJA CHURCH in winter one of the top things to do in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is also known for its food scene. Even I, as a 95% vegan eater, had some pretty amazing dishes. I am afraid the food scene in the rest of the country is not that great, so Reykjavik is the place to eat your weight in delicious meals.

THINGS TO DO IN REYKJAVIK

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is a popular first spot for many Iceland visitors but I suggest visiting at the end, so you can relax before you get on the plane again.

Top Things to do in Iceland The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the best places to visit in Iceland in winter
@Shutterstock

It is a geothermal spa located in a lava field and actually, it is not a natural pool. It is supplied by water used in the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station

The Blue Lagoon has become one of the most popular, but also busiest, places in the country.

Due to its proximity to Keflavik Airport, you can make it your first or last stop during your 5 days in Iceland.

I visited the Blue Lagoon on my last day in December – but do I wholeheartedly recommend visiting the Blue Lagoon?  Yes and no. I am not a big pool fan, so I did not spend much time here. However, I am well aware that this place is unique. If you are not on a very tight budget, and especially if you love pools or won’t be visiting any other pools/hot springs, then I say go for it.

If you book a guided tour to the Blue Lagoon, they normally will pick you up from the airport/city center and then drop you off at your hotel/city center/airport, which is very handy. 

  • I probably spent 2 hours max. here – I heard people spent a full day at the Blue Lagoon.
  • Parking is free.
  • Tickets can either be bought directly via the website or here. Tickets sell out quickly!
  • Here are tickets for the bus transfer to/from the Blue Lagoon.
  • In case, you have to twist your Iceland itinerary, check out this guided tour that includes a visit to the Blue Lagoon + a few more attractions.

CONCLUSION: A PERFECT 5 DAYS IN ICELAND ITINERARY

Iceland is an amazing country – it might be busy at some of the main attractions but given its uniqueness, it is easy to understand why! You have volcanos and lava fields, you have waterfalls, you have icebergs, you have hot pools…

5 days in Iceland will give you a good glimpse of the country and you can see what all the fuss is about. I recommend staying longer, but know it is not always possible. 

However, I hope that this itinerary will allow you to make the most of your trip at any time of the year. So, whether you visit in winter or summer – this Iceland 5-day itinerary will hopefully be very helpful to you!

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

BEST THINGS TO DO IN ICELAND IN SUMMER + TRAVEL TIPS

What to do in Iceland in summer

WHAT TO DO IN ICELAND IN THE SUMMER MONTHS

Are you heading to Iceland? Maybe even heading to Iceland in summer (spring or fall)? Then read on and find out about the best things to do in Iceland in the summer months and travel tips for your trip. 

I have visited Iceland in the summer and winter. For this post, I share my favorite summer activities in Iceland and have also asked my fellow travel bloggers for some of their favorite places to visit in Iceland.

Road trip costs of Iceland

PLAN YOUR SUMMER TRIP TO ICELAND

Iceland is one of the most unique places in the world, it’s got amazing landscapes and scenery.

The best time to visit highly depends upon what you want to see in Iceland. Each season has its charm – you can do some activities throughout the year while some can really only be done in summer. Before talking about what to do, here are some travel tips for your trip to Iceland in the summer.

How to Get Around in Iceland in Summer

ROAD TRIP

While Iceland in winter isn’t the perfect time to drive, summer is perfect for a road trip. Getting a rental car is perfect because it is the best way to get around, driving in Iceland is easy since there aren’t too many cars once you leave the Reykjavik and Golden Circle area.

DAY TOURS

If you want to make Reykjavik your base and do some day trips, you cannot rely on public transportation. In this case, you will have to book guided tours. This is a great option if you stay near Reykjavik and do not plan to visit the North of Iceland for the East Coast.

I have done many day trips in the winter months. And I used GetYourGuide for booking tours. It is my favorite choice for many reasons – one of them is the generous cancellation policy they offer (which normally allows us to cancel tours up to 24 hours before without any cancellation fees). I will link to tours whenever I think it is a good fit.

Where to Stay in Iceland

If you road trip Iceland you will have to change locations accordingly. Check out this detailed guide on where to stay in Iceland.

Weather in Iceland

The best about visiting Iceland in summer is the looong summer days – you might have heard about the magical Midnight Sun in the nordic countries. 

The midnight sun is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the summer in places south and north of the Antarctic Circle – including Iceland. The Earth rotates at a tilted axis relative to the Sun, and near the 21st of June, the north pole is tilted toward the Sun, and the northern hemisphere experiences summer solstice. For several weeks, the Sun never sets above the Arctic Circle, and the Sun remains visible even at Midnight.

  • The peak of Iceland’s Midnight Sun is usually the 21st of June
  • You can experience the Midnight Sun in Iceland between mid-May and mid-August
  • Iceland’s daylight hours on the longest days of the year are 24 hours per day (May-July)

So, be prepared for that – however, this does not mean that it is warm or even hot. The weather in Iceland can be crazy. And I had some bad days in July with a lot of rain and strong wind. So, pack appropriately even in the summer months.

Temperatures in Iceland in summer can rise to 20-25 °C (68-77 °F), but most of the time they are about 10-15 °c (50-59 °F) with strong winds on the coast and a lot of rain (especially in Reykjavik). 

BEST ICELAND ACTIVITIES

Okay, summer in Iceland does not necessarily mean beach time and getting a tan. Summer in Iceland is different than summer in Southern Europe. However, it is unique, and here are some of the best summer activities(many can be done throughout the year, but some can only be done in the summer months).

Relax at Blue Lagoon

You cannot visit Iceland without soaking in the Blue Lagoon! It is one of the best places to visit in Iceland. This milky-blue geothermal spa is one of the 25 wonders of the world and is the top bucket list travel experience for many. 

Top Things to do in Iceland The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the best places to visit in Iceland in winter
@Shutterstock

It is also very romantic, so grab your lover or find one there and blissfully soak the day away. Get a glass of prosecco from the swim-up bar and you’re in heaven! Lose the crowds by wandering to the outer edges of the Lagoon. Don’t forget to bring your camera to snap photos of the famous blue water that seems to glow thanks to its mineral content which reflects the sun.

Give yourself plenty of time – you might want to spend between 3-8 hours here.

The Blue Lagoon has become one of the main tourist attractions in Iceland and so it is very busy. Make sure that you book your Blue Lagoon tickets well in advance.

Tickets start at 60€ which includes a silica mud mask for silky smooth skin. Bring your own towels, bathrobes, and flip-flops if you want to buy the cheapest package. For about 80€ you get the premium package (including a towel and a bathrobe). You can buy tickets directly on the website or via GetYourGuide (my preferred choice because of the generous cancellation policy). 

The Blue Lagoon is only about 30 minutes from the Keflavík International Airport in Reykjavik, so it makes sense to visit after you land or on your last day before heading to the airport. 

Visit Glaumbaer

Glaumbaer is a traditional turf farmhouse that is now a museum – making it one of the best places to visit in Iceland in summer.

Glaumbaer is one of the best things to do in Iceland in summer
@Shutterstock

Visiting Glaumbaer – located in the north of Iceland -is like stepping back into time. The turf houses look like hobbit houses from the outside but the inside is spacious if somewhat dark.

The farmhouses were built in the mid-18th century. Building turf houses with sod roofs and little windows was an Icelandic tradition that dates back to the time of the Vikings.

There has been a house in this location since the 11th century when the land was farmed by Snorri Porfinnsson. Porfinnson was probably the first European born in North America because his mother accompanied her husband on the expedition to Vinland with Leif Ericsson.

Everyone who worked on the farm would have lived in this house from the owner and his family to the servants and the farmhands. 

After visiting Glaumbear, you will have a newfound respect for the hardiness of the Icelandic people who created homes in this inhospitable climate. 

Skógafoss

A trip around the famous Ring Road is another great activity in Iceland. In winter, parts of the streets might be closed – or at least not easy to drive due to snow. But summer is perfect for driving here.

Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland - best things to do in Iceland
@Shutterstock

There are so many magical stops right off it to venture to it will be hard to see everything without years of exploration. However, one of the best sights literally right off “Route 1” is Skógafoss waterfall.

Skógafoss is one of the biggest and most iconic waterfalls in Iceland at 15 meters wide and 60m high – this has to be on your Iceland itinerary.

It is located in the Southern part of Iceland near the town of Vik. It has even been featured in a number of movies like “The Secret Life of Water Mitty” and Thor”.

You really can’t miss the stop here as the waterfall can easily be seen from the road. Once at the waterfall just park your car and walk right up to see nature’s beauty – you cannot visit Iceland without seeing it – there is a reason why this is one of Iceland´s top attractions.

You can either venture under it or climb up (in the summer months) to the very top of the waterfall on a nearby staircase. If you want to stay overnight there is a campsite and restaurant at the site!

  • It is free to visit and there are some parking spots in front of the majestic waterfalls.

Seljalandsfoss

Seljalandsfoss is another must-see. The waterfall drops 60 meters and is part of the Seljalands River, which has its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull.

Seljalandsfoss waterfall for your Iceland in 5 days itinerary

Seljalandsfoss is special as you can walk behind it and have a unique view. In the winter months, the walking path is most likely closed which makes the waterfall even more special in the summer months.

There is not much other hiking to do, so 15-60 minutes is enough. 

  • There is no entrance fee, but if you have some change, you can donate something, and there is a parking fee.

Do a Boat Tour on Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón is one of the most otherworldly places in Iceland you have to see – so if you want to visit the best place in Iceland this might be it.

JÖKULSÁRLÓN GLACIER LAGOON one of the best things to do in summer
Pic: adrenalinerushdiaries Shutterstock.com

The name means “glacial river lagoon” and that’s exactly what it is.  Due to climate change, icebergs are breaking off the glacier next to the lagoon and slowly floating out to sea.  It’s a new phenomenon – the lake didn’t exist 80 years ago.

If you want to see the icebergs and the glacier up close, the best thing to do is the one-hour zodiac tour that runs from May 1st to the end of September (longer if weather permits). They get as close to the ice as safely possible, and you may even see it calve off the glacier.  The boats are small, so be sure to make a reservation.

For a tamer approach, you can take a 30 to 40 minutes amphibious boat tour that starts on land and floats among the icebergs.  The tours run frequently during the May to September season, but if you don’t like waiting, it’s best to reserve ahead.

The Glacier Lagoon is easy to find on the ring road on the south coast of Iceland.  It’s about 400 kilometers from Reykjavik – One and two-day tours from Reykjavik are also offered and are one of the top things to see in Iceland.

Visit Diamond Beach

Don’t miss Diamond Beach across from the lagoon. It’s where polished chunks of ice wash up along the wild ocean shoreline. And while it is more dramatic in winter, summer is a great time to explore Diamond Beach and watch the sunset.

Iceland glacier beach in 5 days in Iceland with arzo travels

Even in the summer months, it can be cold, so when you come for the sunset (which is quite late in the summer months if at all), then dress appropriately and bring a drink with you.

This beach in July was surely one of the highlights to see.

Summer in Iceland, Arzo Travels

See Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Another summer highlight could be this unique canyon. I highly recommend visiting Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon in the summer. The canyon is about 100 meters deep and about two kilometers long. 

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon. Mountains and waterfall are free places to visit in 5 days in Iceland

Due to its popularity and its sensitive flora, they close it once in a while, so it might not be open year-round. 

It is near the main road and though it‘s mostly a gravel road, you can easily drive there with all kinds of cars (in summer only). 

From the parking area, it is a short and easy walk up a hill. And from there, you have some of the best views in all of Iceland. There are several vantage points, and if you like mountains, this is the place to visit.

Walking in the canyon is not allowed any longer, but the views from above are reason enough to visit.

Go Glacier Hiking in Iceland

If you are heading to Iceland in the summer, you might want to consider traveling down to the Southern coast of the island.

Glacier Iceland top things to do in Iceland
@shutterstock

The word “jökull” means glacier in Icelandic and it is one of the best tours to do in Iceland.

The Solheim Glacier (Sólheimajökull) is about 200 kilometers from Reykjavik. You can take a group tour bus to pick you up from your accommodation in Reykjavik or its an easy drive down via Route 1, you can also stop along the way to see the beautiful waterfalls, Seljandafoss and Skogafoss.

Our guide was very experienced hiking in icy conditions and shared very valuable stories and information about Global warming and climate change and its harmful effects on our world.

The hike takes about a couple of hours, including a safety briefing and instructions. Since the glacier preceded at such an alarming rate, the glacier’s entry is now around a 30minutes trek from the campsite, unlike before, only a stone’s throw away.

If it is your first time trekking on glacial ice, it will feel so surreal.

This hike is amazing during the glorious summer days in Iceland, just remember to wrap up warm (yes, even in summer).

Visit Seljavallalaug

One of the most spectacular geothermal swimming pools in the world is tucked away between the mountains in Southern Iceland and if you are asking yourself where to go in Iceland then visiting this place is your answer.

Seljavallalaug one of the best things to do in Iceland in summer
@shutterstock

Seljavallalaug, this hot mountain spring, is surrounded almost entirely by mountains and is a beautiful place to go for a warm dip.

Dipping your feet in, and soaking in the surrounding mountain views – this is a perfect place to chill. Because it requires straying a bit from the main Ring Road and hiking for a few minutes, this hideaway is significantly less tourist-filled than the nearby waterfalls or the Blue Lagoon.

While there, you can relax in the warm geothermal waters, or just dip your feet in and explore some of the nearby hiking trails. Either way, Seljavallalaug is worth a visit for the sheer beauty and seclusion of this unique swimming pool.

Located within a few hours from Reykjavik, it’s an easy day trip from the city or a nice stop on your Ring Road itinerary in Iceland.

To get to Seljavallalaug from Reykjavik, drive east on the Ring Road past Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss. Turn onto road 242 – Raufarfell.

Drive into that road for a few minutes until you see a gated pool area and a parking lot marked Seljavellir (this is not the pool). From the parking lot, hike on the dirt path towards the mountains for about 20 minutes until you see the pool.

  • Swimming in Seljavallalaug is free of charge.

See Puffins

Puffins must be the cutest birds in the world. And Iceland is heaven for watching Puffins – however, you will not find them all around the year.

If you visit between May and August, you might see some puffins on your trip. They will not come straight to you, so you have to keep looking (and it took me a while to actually see them so do not give up)!

They are spread out throughout the country but only at the coast and mostly at the cliffs. While they are super cute and interesting, please do not try to touch them as it will harm them.

Looking allowed, touching not permitted.

Hrunalaug

Another place to visit in the summer months is Hrunalaug. This hot spring is privately owned and is quite small, but the views are amazing.

HRUNALAUG hot pools in Iceland

The road there is a bit bumpy but my rental car was not a 4wheel drive but rather a 2wheel drive and I still got there quite easily. It takes some time to get there as you can’t drive fast.

The owner normally sits in front of the pool and you have to pay an entrance fee. It is either 1,000 ISK, 10€ or $10 and in cash only. Before paying the entrance fee, I would ask how many people are in already. If there are already more than 5-10 people, then I honestly would not enter.

I read complaints that the water was low, so ask the owner before you pay whether it is busy or if it has water.

Depending on how much time you have, this stop should take about 1-2 hours.

Bruarfoss Waterfall

If you road trip Iceland and are flexible, I suggest paying Bruarfoss Waterfall a visit. Since its location is a bit off the Golden Route, it is not often offered when doing guided tours.

BRUARFOSS WATERFALL, amazing watercolor in Iceland

However, it was one of my favorite places in Iceland, and if you can visit, then go for it. After parking your car, you can do a 7 km “hike“ (in total)  and will see several waterfalls along the way.  This is why it is only possible in the summer months.

The waterfalls come in an incredible color of blue – the color is insane, which makes it worth a visit. It is not a real hike, but more like a beautiful stroll with some steps in between (and probably some mud puddles, so wear appropriate shoes).

This stop should take around 1-2 hours.

No entrance fee, free parking. Google sent me to the wrong parking lot – which is no parking lot any longer and I had to drive back to find the right spot.

CONCLUSION: PLACES TO VISIT IN ICELAND IN THE SUMMER

Iceland in summer is a perfect time to visit – though there might be crowds, it is great for road tripping the country. It is perfect for hikes, chasing waterfalls, and spending time outdoors. Given the weather in summer, it is so much fun to spend time in hot pools after a day of exploring and to enjoy the endless summer nights.

Stay safe and enjoy!

Things to do in Reykjavik in Winter + Travel Tips

Best things to do in Reykjavik in winter

WHAT TO DO IN WINTER IN REYKJAVIK

Reykjavik in winter is a great time to visit – Iceland is magical and Reykjavik is a great place to base yourself. From there you can easily do some fun day trips and explore other parts of the country.

Reykjavik in winter is interesting. So, plan in some time for Iceland´s capital and check out these unique things to do in Reykjavik in winter. Some of the activities mentioned here can also be done in the summer months.

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. This means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product/service via my link (at no extra cost to you). More about it here.

TIPS FOR VISITING REYKJAVIK IN WINTER

This post is about what to do in Reykjavik in winter – including some travel tips for your trip.

Weather in Reykjavik in Winter

Reykjavik in winter is not perfection. I actually struggled quite a bit. Especially the weather was a problem for me – and I do not mean that it was cold.

  • Reykjavik is quite rainy in the winter months. I stayed 12 nights in Reykjavik and it rained on – probably – 6 or 7 out of 12 days. So, keep that in mind.
  • Apart from the rain, winter in Reykjavik is not as bad as you might think. Temperatures are similar to Central Europe – often ranging between 3° / -2° degrees Celsius. Not too old, I´d say.
  • Snow in Reykjavik is common, though it doesn’t stay for long. To experience winter wonderland, I highly suggest doing a few day trips from Reykjavik.
  • Also, the days are extremely short in the winter months. You only have 4-5 hours of daylight. This was my main problem with visiting Reykjavik in winter. It is not really weather related but I still want to mention it here.

How to Get Around in Winter

  • Public transportation in Reykjavik is okay. It is just okay if you want to use it for a few stops. I used it a few times to get around but mostly I walked to most attractions. 
  • Though public transportation is not great, you can explore many places via guided tours. If you book guided tours, you normally will be picked up from your hotel or from a pick-up station near your hotel.
  • So, renting a car is not essential for the winter months. However, if you rent one you can quite easily get around via car. Driving in Reykjavik in winter is better than driving in other parts of Iceland. If you rent a car and plan to visit areas outside of Reykjavik, be aware that driving can be quite tricky and dangerous if you are not used to these bad weather conditions with a lot of snow and ice (especially in the Northern parts or the Highlands).

BEST THINGS TO DO IN REYKJAVIK IN WINTER

It is time to talk about the best things to do in Reykjavik in winter – check out what to do in December, January, or February.

Experience Flyover Iceland

Let´s start with one of my favorite activities in Reykjavik.

Flyover Iceland is so much more than a 4D movie. It’s a passion project that celebrates the unique beauty of Iceland and its history. 

In the simulation, you’ll fly over Iceland’s mountainous landscape and rough coastline, feeling the wind in your hair, and the twists and turns. It was designed to feel like mankind’s greatest dream fulfilled; to feel like you’re flying. With over 200 hours of aerial videography, and years of work put into it, I’d say it was successful! 

You’ll also learn about how Iceland was formed, its long history, and Icelandic culture. So not only is it a great deal of fun – but you’ll also go away with a much better understanding of your surroundings and the Icelandic people.

It was one of my most favorite activities – it made me feel happy. I was excited and fell in love before I had seen much of Iceland in real life. However, some other people I talked to criticized the short movie and the quite high price. The “flight” is just 10 minutes – the rest of the time you´ll watch short movies and get some information. Not really spectacular – but the flight was great! For me, it was worth the money.

Also, this is the perfect thing to do on a very cold day in Reykjavik in winter as it is indoors (once you book your tickets, email them and agree on a time slot). Check out prices and more here.

Marvel at Hallgrímskirkja Church

A trip to Reykjavik would be incomplete without a visit to its most recognizable building – Hallgrimskirkja Church.

HALLGRÍMSKIRKJA CHURCH in winter one of the top things to do in Reykjavik

This Lutheran parish church is one of the tallest buildings in the whole country. It’s striking and unusual, totally different from churches you’ll find anywhere else in the world.  

The church has a truly massive organ and an austerely beautiful interior. Be sure to venture in for the full experience, and admire the immense effort put into this structure.

View from HALLGRÍMSKIRKJA CHURCH in Reykajvik in winter

From here, you also have some of the best views in Reykjavik from the church tower.

  • Entry to the church is free.
  • To get to the church tower, there is an entry fee of 1000 ISK (around 7€). You can buy the tickets at the church. No worries, you do not have to climb all the stairs up but can take an elevator.
  • Opening hours: From October to April, the church opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. The tower closes at 4:30 p.m. From May to September, the church opens at 9 a.m. and closes at 9 p.m. The tower closes at 8:30 p.m.

Bathe in Geothermal Pools

Iceland in December and the winter months can be daunting. But the locals have been making it comfortable for a long time now. 

The country is famous for its geothermal pools. These warm outdoor pools have long since been a large part of the culture in Reykjavik. Particularly in winter when the water contrasts so strongly with the frigid air. You’ll even find locals chatting away in a rainstorm.

The geothermal pools are fed by underground hot springs. You can laze in the naturally warm waters of the main pool, before tiptoeing across to the hot tubs to luxuriate in even warmer conditions. 

When you visit, be sure to follow etiquette, and shower with soap before getting into the water. This helps them keep the pools clean with minimal chlorine.

And feel free to hop into a sauna before or after your swim, to really round out the experience. No matter the weather around you, you’ll feel snug for hours after leaving the pools. 

See the Iconic Northern Lights

Because Reykjavik is a city, it has more light pollution than the Icelandic countryside. This means you’ll see the aurora more vibrantly far outside the city, where the Northern Lights is the only thing brightening the sky.

If you’re lucky, you don’t even need to leave Reykjavik to catch a glimpse of the iconically beautiful Northern Lights. If the aurora is active and the sky is clear, you should be able to see it. HOWEVER, it is better to leave the city for better views.

Northern Lights in Iceland in winter
@shutterstock

If you’re trying to spot the Northern Lights within the city, head down to the coast. There’s less light pollution in this part of the city, and no buildings obstructing your view. You can simply stroll along the coast and admire the fantastical display. Alternatively, you can set sail on a 2-hour boat tour off the coast.

Even though I stayed in Iceland for about 12 nights in winter, I did not get to see the Northern Lights. Neither in Reykjavik nor when I did Northern Lights tours as they do not appear that often. I just got to see a glimpse of it but it was not what I expected or hoped for.

You can take a half day tour from Reykjavik for a better chance at this once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Visit Harpa Center

One of the best things to do during Reykjavik’s winter months is to see a performance at Harpa. 

Harpa Center in Reykjavik in winter

This unique landmark is a concert hall where you’ll see some of Iceland’s top musical performances. It is also a massive sculpture reflecting everything around it – including the gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains and ocean.

Even if there are no performances during your visit to Reykjavik, Harpa Center is well worth a visit. One alternative option is to enjoy a meal at one of the Harpa restaurants, where the center’s innovation is applied to Icelandic ingredients and exciting cuisine. 

Spot Street Art

The streets of Reykjavik are full of impressive social and political commentary, as well as just fun art. The Old Harbor area boasts some of the city’s best work.

You can also find some street art in the town center.

Street art is one of the best things to do in Reykjavik in winter

Spend a few daylight hours (between about 10 am and 4 pm) strolling through the streets and spotting as many of the artworks as you can. It’s like an outdoor museum, full of exhibitions and open to interpretation.

Go Ice Skating on Tjörnin

Ice skating on the lake is a Reykjavik tradition. It’s referred to as a pond by the locals because it’s so shallow. Thankfully, this means the water quickly freezes over in winter and can be safely enjoyed throughout the season.

If you’re not really into ice skating (read: keep falling on your butt every time you try), it’s still a lovely place to spend a few hours. You can watch locals and foreigners gliding on the ice, and even see an ice hockey or football match. 

Unfortunately, there are not any ice skate rentals around the pond, as it’s geared towards locals. So you’ll have to either bring along your own skates, or take to the ice in your boots for a clumsy but fun time. 

Reykjavik also has some lovely indoor skating rinks, where you can actually rent out ice skates. Some favorites are Egilshöll and Ice Rink Laugardalur.

See the Stars at the Perlan Planetarium

Reykjavik’s Perlan Planetarium is another fun experience. This world-class planetarium allows you to witness the Northern Lights and Iceland’s other wonders. All while snug and warm in the city.

The Perlan Planetarium show runs every hour and is thankfully in English. So you’ll have an opportunity to learn about the science behind the aurora borealis and much much more while you’re awed by the beauty.

Perlan Puffins

Ice Cave in Perlan in Reykjavik in winter

You can also explore a man-made indoor ice cave and enjoy a 360° panorama of Reykjavík from the viewing deck.

View of Reykjavik in Perlan

I enjoyed the Perlan Planetarium a lot (though FlyOver Iceland was my highlight) – especially because I “got to see the Northern Lights”. I actually met a few people who said, this was their favorite indoor activity in Reykjavik.

Taste Reykjavik’s cuisine

Reykjavik combines traditional cuisine with modern twists and global fusions. Icelandic food is famous for being pure, with natural ingredients, often locally sourced.

While they’re well-known for many of their meat dishes, you’ll find the city surprisingly vegan-friendly. I really was in vegan heaven – who would have thought?

Amazing vegan burger in Reykjavik

A recent cultural and ideological shift has made veganism popular among younger Icelanders. This shift means you’ll find some fantastic, creative food, from noodle soup and vegan burgers to gazpacho.

Visit the cafe Ecstasy’s Heart-Garden for some tasty vegan and vegetarian treats, or splurge on fine dining at Burro.  

Explore the National Museum of Iceland

Leave the chill outside chill for a few hours and head into Iceland’s National Museum. You’ll learn about the country’s fascinating history, from Viking settlements to contemporary civilization. 

The museum hosts some wonderful historic artifacts and medieval engravings. You can stroll through the exhibitions, and marvel at the strength and perseverance of a culture that developed here, long before aircon made the chill more manageable!

  • Just a note: the museum is closed on Mondays during winter, so plan your itinerary accordingly.

Go on an Icelandic Horseriding Tour

Icelandic horses are they are not as gracious as Arabic horses but these chubby little animals are one of a kind.

Icelandic horses - horse back riding in Reykjavik in winter
@Shutterstock

Icelandic horses are short and stocky, with long shaggy hair. They’re a great joy to ride for all ages. But more excitingly, the area around Reykjavik is an incredible place to explore on horseback.

Spend a few hours riding through lava fields and along the startling green (or white) hillside. It’s one of the best things to do in Iceland, and totally unique to the country. 

In addition to the actual riding, horseback riding tours include rubber boots, helmets, rainwear or warm clothes if needed, and a guide. You can even request transport there if you’d prefer.

I am allergic to horses and so I stay away from them, but Icelandic horses are really iconic!

Do Day Trips

Reykjavik in winter is a beautiful place and as you can see, there are fun things to do in the winter months in and near Reykjavik.

However, you really want to get out and see what else Iceland has to offer. Check out my post on the best day trips to take in winter.

PIN ME FOR LATER

Reykjavik in winter is an interesting place to visit. It is far away from being the perfect winter city destination in Europe, yet it offers quite some beautiful places and fun activities. So, if you plan a trip to the city, then you have something to really look forward to!

Stay safe and enjoy!

Save this pin for later!

Things to do in REYKJAVIK in winter, Iceland, ARZO TRAVELS

Safe Travels, Arzo

 

Visit Stunning Hraunfossar Waterfalls and Barnafoss in Iceland

Hraunfossar and barnafosss waterfalls in Iceland, Arzo Travels

How to See Hraunfossar Waterfalls and Barnafoss

Today, let’s talk about two beautiful waterfalls in Iceland – Hraunfossar Waterfalls and Barnafoss Waterfalls – that are often overlooked in a country full of waterfalls.

Iceland is extremely rich in waterfalls – there are apparently around 10,000 waterfalls in Iceland. So, how can a waterfall stand out? There are different reasons why waterfalls become famous and tourist attractions. 

Dettifoss waterfall is the most powerful waterfall in Iceland (in terms of volume of water). Seljalandsfoss is famous as you can walk behind the waterfall. The highest waterfall in Iceland is Glymur. Brúarfoss has the “most beautiful watercolor”, and then there is this hidden waterfall

So, why do Barnafoss and Hraunfossar Waterfalls stand out? Why should someone visit Barnafoss and Hraunfossar Waterfalls? 

Hraunfossar Waterfalls is a relatively small yet overly beautiful waterfall that can stand up to the gigantic competition. It looks absolutely pretty and is easily accessible at any time of the year. And Barnafoss..well, it is just next to Hraunfossar, so why not visit it, too?

TRAVEL TIPS FOR HRAUNFOSSAR AND BARNAFOSS WATERFALLS

Here are some tips: why visit Hraunfossar and Barnafoss, how to get there, what to do and see near the waterfalls, and a few more tips for your visit.

Disclaimer: This post might contain affiliate links which means I might earn a small commission when you buy a product (at no extra cost to you) after clicking on my link. More about it here.

HOW TO GET TO BARNAFOSS / HRAUNFOSSAR

The waterfalls are located in Borgarfjörður in the West of Iceland. It is about 120km away from Reykjavík.

It’s easy to access from the parking lot. Parking is free but limited, so during the high season, get here early or later the day.

Once you park, you just have to walk a few meters, and you will see the waterfalls already.

If you road trip Iceland, it is very easy to visit yourself. If you do guided day tours from Reykjavik, check out this tour (I did this, or a similar, tour that included a trip to Hraunfossar and the lava cave.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING

  • There is no hiking required. The walking path around the waterfalls are well marked.
  • Please stay on the path and do not leave it.
  • As everywhere, but especially in nature, do not leave any trash behind and take everything with you.
  • In the summer months, there is a cafe at the waterfalls. 
  • Wear appropriate footwear in winter (crampons are my tip).
Image

BEST TIME TO VISIT HRAUNFOSSAR WATERFALLS

WINTER: I visited in early January and experienced beautiful scenery – the watercolor looked amazing and so did the waterfalls themselves. I had booked a guided tour (definitely did not want to drive in winter in Iceland) and chose a tour that focused on the lesser-visited areas like these waterfalls. Our bus was the only bus around – and it was cold. Really cold. But it was worth it. Most people in my group just looked at the Hraunfossar and quickly went back to the bus. I was probably the only one who made it to Barnafoss. During the winter months, you cannot do much around the area. It was worth it. I loved winter wonderland at Hraunfossar in January.

Image

SUMMER: The second time I visited was in July. And it looked gorgeous. Meadows surround the waterfalls with many flowers, and the contrast of green, yellow flowers, and blue waterfalls looked pretty. It gets busier in the summer months, but it was still not overly crowded. You cannot do a lot of hikes around the waterfalls – not even in summer. Some paths are closed to protect nature and to protect ourselves. However, given its beauty, I think also summer is the perfect time to visit the waterfalls.

Hraunfossar Waterfalls in Iceland

SPRING/FALL: Normally, fall is a good time to spend outdoors. But as you might know, there are hardly any trees in Iceland (you can count the trees you will see!) and so, the fall foliage is not as impressive as in other countries. I have not visited in fall myself but looked up images from fall and spring and it looks beautiful in spring and fall, too.

However, I believe that summer and winter are the best times to visit. But it is a good attraction in Iceland to visit all year round.

If you are wondering about the best time to visit Iceland, check out my comparison guide: Winter or summer trip to Iceland.

HRAUNFOSSAR WATERFALLS

Actually, Hraunfossar consists of numerous springs that emerge under the edge of the lava field Hallmundarhraun. Hallmundarhraun, however, consists of pillow lava and was probably created 800AD.

Image

The water is from Langjökull glacier, the second-largest glacier in Iceland. You might know that the famous Gullfoss waterfall is also fed from the same glacier. The water running between the lava layers created the Hraunfossar Waterfalls (hraun= lava and fossar= waterfalls), which are almost 1000meters wide. THIS (and the watercolor) make Hraunfoosar a special Icelandic waterfall. From there, the water flows into the Hvita River.

Image

It really depends on when you visit Hraunfossar – the watercolor can change. After rainy days, it does not look as clear and beautiful as in the pictures here. I visited in summer and winter, and both times, the watercolor was incredible.

Image

From there, head to Barnafoss.

BARNAFOSS WATERFALLS

Above Hraunfossar, there is another waterfall – Barnafoss. It is just a 2-minute walk max. Despite its proximity to Hraunfossar, it is completely different. Hraunfossar is the elegant, lovely waterfall, while Barnafoss is a wild, fast and powerful waterfall. Its average flow rate is 80m3/s, but there were times it has reached 500m3/sec (then the area gets flooded).

Image

Here is where the channel of the Hvita river narrows – the river carved out stone bridges and arches with its power. 

Image

It is best known for its dark history in folklore – and its name derives from it (Children’s Fall). There are several versions, so I stick with the one I read at a sign at the waterfall.

Image

On Christmas Day, the parents of several children left home for church one morning. Two kids were to stay home. But the children decided to follow their parents, but they took a shortcut to the church via a stone bridge that arched over the nearby rapid waterfall. And to make it short: They fell into the water and died! Apparently, the parents were devastated. The grieving mom then had the stone bridge destroyed to prevent further death.

Image

So, there are different story versions, but while many myths and legends often are very…adventurous to say the least, this story might even be true. So, these days, the natural bridge is gone.

There is now a pedestrian bridge across the river from the year 1891, which was renovated in the late 20th century.

Image
Image

IS HRAUNFOSSAR AND BARNAFOSS WATERFALLS WORTH VISITING?

I visited the waterfalls the first time in winter – and it was one of the highlights of my winter trip. I revisited in summer and was worried to be disappointed. But I was not. Hraunfossar and Barnafoss look beautiful in summer and winter. Given its accessibility and other attractions close by, like Husafell or Víðgelmir Cave, Deildartunguhver Hot Spring, it makes a perfect day trip from Reykjavik or stops for an Iceland road trip.

Check out my guide for the best day trips from Reykjavik in winter.

Image

 

WHEN VISIT ICELAND – IN WINTER OR SUMMER?

Best time to visit Iceland, winter or summer Arzo Travels

BEST TIME TO VISIT ICELAND

Have you added Iceland to your bucket list and are now wondering about the best time to visit Iceland? Are you wondering whether Iceland in summer or winter is the best time for an amazing Iceland trip? Then read on, as there are things to know about the best travel time for Iceland. I share my tips on whether you should visit Iceland in winter or summer (and which months are the best for your Iceland trip).

HOW TO DECIDE WHETHER TO VISI IN WINTER OR SUMMER

Iceland is truly a magical place. With its many volcanos and glaciers, Iceland is known as the Land of Fire and Ice. It is also rich in many more natural attractions like hot springs, waterfalls, geysers, and more. So, this all is no secret. However, to experience Iceland at its best, you should carefully plan when to visit Iceland.

Iceland is located near the Arctic Circle. This location has many, many benefits – but also some “disadvantages.” You have a winter wonderland in winter with concise days, while in summer, you have endless days with 24 hours of daylight.

SEASONS IN ICELAND

There are actually four seasons in Iceland.

  • Summer in Iceland – June, July, August, and September
  • Fall in Iceland – September, October, November, and December 
  • Winter in Iceland – December, January, February, and March 
  • Spring in Iceland – March, April, May, and June

However, for this post, I refer to summer from May-September and to winter from November-March (just leaving some months out).

After visiting Iceland in winter (December and January), I knew I had to revisit. So, I revisited in the summer months. And both trips were unique and unforgettable – but could not have been more different.

Do I have a favorite time to visit Iceland? Yes and no. Visiting Iceland in summer or winter was extreme – both times. So, I have created a couple of categories that should help figure out the best time to go to Iceland.

ICELAND – WEATHER AND DAYLIGHT IN SUMMER AND WINTER

This category will be the longest because it is quite important.

SUMMER WEATHER AND DAYLIGHT IN ICELAND 

Summer in Iceland is perfect if you want to experience long days. 

Image

Temperatures in Iceland are not comparable with temperatures in Central Europe or even Southern Europe. Temperatures can rise to 20-25 °C (68-77 °F), but most of the time they are about 10-15 °c (50-59 °F) with strong winds on the coast and a lot of rain (especially in Reykjavik). 

The best about visiting Iceland in summer is the looong summer days – you might have heard about the magical Midnight Sun in the nordic countries. 

So what is the midnight sun? It is a natural phenomenon that occurs during the summer in places south and north of the Antarctic Circle – including Iceland. The Earth rotates at a tilted axis relative to the Sun, and near the 21st of June, the north pole is tilted toward the Sun, and the northern hemisphere experiences summer solstice. For several weeks, the Sun never sets above the Arctic Circle, and the Sun remains visible even at Midnight.

  • The peak of Iceland’s Midnight Sun is usually the 21st of June
  • You can experience the Midnight Sun in Iceland between mid-May until mid-August
  • You can see the Midnight Sun everywhere in Iceland
  • Iceland’s daylight hours on the longest days of the year are 24 hours per day (May-July)
  • Iceland’s daylight hours increase by 1-3 minutes every day between the 21st of December and the 21st of June, and then it decreases every day by 1-2 minutes.
Image

So, what does it mean for visitors? Endless days that allow you hours of hours and hours of exploring. You can start your days very early and avoid the crowds – you can do all the “sightseeing” during the night and sleep during the day. And have places all (or almost) to yourself.

WINTER WEATHER AND DAYLIGHT IN ICELAND

Iceland in winter is not as cold as many think (and I thought) because the Gulf Stream flows along the west and south of Iceland and brings some “warmth”. 

Reykjavik is in the southwest part of the country, and the average temperature is around 1-2°C (33-35°F) – but it can also drop to -10°C (14°F) in winter.

The further north you go, the colder it will get. Isafjordur, in the Icelandic Westfjords, can be inaccessible due to heavy snowfall at times. Isagjordour is just one of several places which gets isolated.

Image

But the weather is something you can prepare for – dress accordingly, and you should be fine. However, short days are something that might be troublesome.

  • Short days in Iceland in the winter because of the country’s high latitude
  • The shortest day of the year is the 21st of December – there are only around 4 hours of daylight (depending on where exactly you are)
  •  The longest day in the middle of December is only 5 hours of daylight. Sunrise is around 11 am and sunset between 3 and 4 pm
  • Iceland’s daylight hours increase by 1-3 minutes every day between the 21st of December and the 21st of June, and then it decreases every day by 1-2 minutes.
Image

So, how exactly does that impact exploring Iceland? I had known about short days, but nothing prepared me for THAT short days. After nine or ten days in Iceland, my mood went down rapidly. If you start your day at around 9 or 10 am, you cannot see much. If you sit in a car/bus and want to enjoy the scenery…you just cannot see much. The picture above is shortly before 11 am and the reason you can see a little bit, is because the street is lightened by the car lights. It just starts getting lighter before 11 am. You cannot do any outdoor sightseeing before 11 am, and you have to finish at around 3 pm. That honestly sucked. 

Here is my packing list for your Iceland winter trip.

CONCLUSION: BEST WEATHER IN ICELAND

Given Iceland’s vastness, it will be impossible to see a lot in winter in 5 days just because of the little daylight. I loooooved the long days. This way, I could see much more of Iceland – I did not feel the need to hurry. Usually, I woke up at around 6 am and did some exploring, went back to my van, took a nap, explored again in the afternoon, and then continued my journey and arrived at the campsites only before Midnight. I mean, that is a perfect life for me.

I heard from people not being able to sleep because of the long days. Though I visited in July in a camper van, I slept well and had no issues with the long day. I loooooved the long days and think summer is an amazing time to visit Iceland.

ICELAND SCENERY IN WINTER OF SUMMER

Iceland’s scenery is impressive. But is Iceland more beautiful in summer or winter? This time, I will show you mostly photos and keep the talking to a minimum.

ICELAND SUMMER SCENERY

Iceland in summer means you have almost 24 hours a day to explore the country. See the greenery, moss-covered waterfalls, and more (only trees are a rarity in Iceland).

Iceland in winter or summer Arzo Travels

WINTER SCENERY IN ICELAND

Iceland is a winter wonderland – snow-capped mountains, frozen waterfalls, and more. Iceland in winter and summer could not be any more different – I visited places in summer and winter. Compare yourself.

Iceland in winter or summer, Arzo Travels

CONCLUSION: IS ICELAND MORE BEAUTIFUL IN WINTER OR SUMMER

I have to say that Iceland in winter looks better than in summer, much better. It is more magical and special. 

Polls of my Instagram followers, however, showed a tie for most places. So, like most things, it is just about your personal preferences, but I 100% root for the scenery in winter.

Image

BETTER ICELAND ACTIVITIES IN WINTER OR SUMMER

Summer and winter offer both wonderful activities throughout the year. Most main sights in Iceland can be visited throughout the year. The Blue Lagoon, Diamond Beach,  Gullfoss Waterfalls, Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, hot pools, and more – so, regardless of the time of your visit, there is no lack of attractions to visit and activities to do.

Solheimajökull in Iceland is one of the best day trips from Reykjavk

SUMMER ACTIVITIES IN ICELAND

See puffins, visit Glaumbaer, see Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, do a boat Tour on the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, go whale watching…There are a few attractions/activities you can only do in the summer months. Also, hiking in the summer months is possible. It will be too icy and dangerous to visit some of the beautiful attractions. This beautiful waterfall can only be visited in the summer months (if you do not want to risk your life). So, bring your hiking clothes and plan some epic hikes for snow-free hiking paths.

Image

WINTER ACTIVITIES IN ICELAND

See ice waterfalls, celebrate NYE in Reykjavik, see the Northern Lights… for some attractions, it is best to come in winter. The Northern Lights might be the main reason for many to visit Iceland in the winter months. My take on it is: If the Northern Lights are your main reason to visit, then re-consider. I stayed in Iceland for 12 nights and just saw a very thin light…In pictures, they still looked amazing. Because the camera is able to catch the Northern Lights, the eye is not that great. So, in Iceland, you might experience wonderful lights dancing, but chances are much better in other parts of the world.

Image

CONCLUSION: SUMMER OR WINTER ACTIVITIES

So, Iceland has some fantastic places and attractions to visit year-round. But if you want to experience a lot and do many attractions/tick off bucket-list items, then the summer months would be the better time to visit because more places are accessible and more unique activities are offered. So, in summer, add places like the secret Nauthusagil Waterfall, the pretty Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, or Bruarfoss Waterfall to your Iceland itinerary.

Image

GETTING AROUND ICELAND IN SUMMER AND WINTER

Iceland is quite extensive, and its attractions are spread throughout the country. The bad news is that public transportation is pretty bad in Iceland. You can use it for Reykjavik or some other towns, but it is challenging to use it as the only or the main mode of transport.

There are basically only two ways to get around in Iceland: booking guided tours or doing a road trip.

HOW TO GET AROUND ICELAND IN SUMMER

Summer is the perfect time to explore Iceland on your own. Rent a var (and bring your own over) and do a Ring Road road trip (if you have at least 7-10 days) or a Golden Circle Tour plus a few detours if you have less than seven days. Many streets are in good condition, it is easy to drive and navigate, and there are sooooo many stunning stops along the way (that you have not even heard of). It might be a bit busy during the summer months, but if you leave the Golden Circle and Southern Iceland, fewer people are on the streets. This makes road tripping in summer even more fun.

Image

Some parts of Iceland – especially the highlands (the famous F-roads) and some dirt roads- are only accessible via 4WD. But in summer, most places are accessible with a regular car, and if you want to drive the F-roads, you can.

As great as guided tours are, there are not comparable with driving yourself and stopping whenever you want.

You do not enjoy driving? Then do guided tours. I did a handful of guided tours in winter, and because it was dark until 11 am, I could not enjoy the scenery, but in summer, you can have fantastic window views if you do guided tours.

GETTING AROUND IN WINTER IN ICELAND 

Winter is a challenging time to drive – while Reyjkavik is still pretty okay to drive ( I saw cars sliding a couple of times, though). Outside of the capital and main routes like the Golden Circle, driving is not an easy task. Heavy snow and icy roads are only for experienced winter drivers. I did a lot of research on driving in winter (because road tripping in winter was my initial plan). It is possible to drive, but most people (especially locals) do not advise road tripping Iceland in winter. 

Also, many streets and towns can become isolated and cut off from the rest of the country – meaning you might be stuck in a place for days.

So, in summer, road trips are excellent, in winter not so much. But how to you get around in Iceland in winter then?

Guided tours in Iceland are pretty good. Tours to most attractions are offered, and you can relax and enjoy the scenery while you are on a bus. I did a good number of guided tours. There was Wifi in all buses, knowledgeable guides and we visited the main places. But it was also a hassle – waiting for people of my group, not seeing all the places I would have loved, spending too much or too little time at a place…

CONCLUSION: HOW EASY IT IS TO GET AROUND IN SUMMER AND WINTER

In winter, tours are the best option to see the country. Tours have their advantages but also their disadvantages (at any time of the year). In summer, you can do guided tours or road trip Iceland. Winter in Iceland makes it really hard to get around on your own. Either you are brave and rent a car or you do guided tours only. So, Iceland in summer is the winner in this case.

P.S: There are tours for several days where you can see more of Iceland.

December in Iceland, Golden Circle with Arzo Travels

PRICES IN ICELAND 

Iceland is expensive. Like really expensive. At any time of the year. BUT, Iceland is cheaper in the winter months.

PRICES IN ICELAND IN SUMMER

The summer months, especially June, July, and August, are the most popular months to visit Iceland, spiking prices for accommodation and rental cars e.g. 

PRICES IN ICELAND IN WINTER

Visiting Iceland in winter is usually cheaper. However, visiting in December can be pricy because many people come here for NYE. If you visit in November or January/February you can save tons of money. For more info on costs, check out my post with how much I paid for my Iceland trips.

CONCLUSION: IS IT CHEAPER IN SUMMER OR WINTER

Iceland will always be a costy travel destination. Avoid June, July, and August and also December. The shoulder season is the best time to visit for a budget-friendly trip (even if it is in spring or fall). So, this time, an Iceland winter trip wins against an Iceland summer trip.

BEST MONTHS TO VISIT ICELAND

Iceland is a fantastic country to visit year-round. However, it feels like two different countries in summer compared to winter.

Above mentioned categories might have helped you decide whether you should visit in the summer months or winter months (or even in “Spring” or “Fall”).

Personally, I think Iceland looked MUCH better in winter compared to summer. It had something more magical and more unique. I will never forget the winter trip because it was extreme. The good and the bad were extreme.

However, considering all the factors, especially daylight, summer is the better season to visit Iceland. It is more accessible and welcoming. The long days make it a perfect country to see.

You see, I am struggling making a final, an ultimate decision because Iceland. 

If you want to visit Iceland in the summer, I suggest visiting in June/July (despite the crowds and prices, just for the midnight sun) or late May or August. I recommend visiting November, January, or February (the days are longer, prices drop, and it is still winter wonderland) for the winter months.

Image
Image

HIKING TO BRUARFOSS WATERFALL IN ICELAND

Hiking to the Bruarfoss waterfall in Iceland, Arzo Travels

HOW TO SEE BRUARFOSS WATERFALL – A QUICK TRAVEL GUIDE

Iceland is rich in natural attractions. Whether we talk about natural springs, volcanos, black sand beaches, or the waterfalls (and all the other attractions) –  there is no lack of natural sights Mother Nature provided in Iceland.

One of these natural sights is the Bruarfoss Waterfall.

Unique waterfalls in Iceland, Bruarfoss waterfalls_

If you are in Iceland, you will see many of these “foss“ – the Icelandic word for waterfall. What makes the waterfalls so unique?

Well, the color is probably the most distinctive feature. It really is gorgeous! In this post, you will find tips about Bruarfoss Waterfalls – how to get there, what to know, and more.

Bruarfoss means Bridge Waterfalls. It doesn’t have much to do with the waterfall itself but with a stone bridge that crossed the river. That bridge got destroyed many centuries ago, but the name has stayed.

Bruarfoss waterfalls with Arzo Travels

LOCATION OF BRUARFOSS WATERFALLS

  • Bruarfoss is in the west of Iceland, about 80 minutes east of Reykjavik.
  • It is located between Laugarvatn village and Geysir geothermal area and can be combined with trips around the Golden Circle (like the Thingvellir National Park or Gulfoss Waterfalls).

INFO: BRUARFOSS

Bruarfoss Waterfall is fed by the river Bruara – its origins lie in the Hvita River, which runs from the second-largest glacier in Iceland glacier (Langjökull).

P.S. Check out a secret waterfall in Iceland.

BEST TIME TO VISIT BRUARFOSS WATERFALLS

  • The best time to visit is actually in the summer months.
  • In the winter months, the path is inaccessible due to snow.
  • Though it is not the most popular place in Iceland, it probably gets busier during the day. If possible, come early and then you will have the place (almost) all to yourself.

HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE TO SEE THE BRAURFOSS WATERFALLS?

  • It took me 2 hours in total to see the waterfalls.
  • This includes all the photo stops to see the waterfalls.
  • Since I was in the area and around Gullfoss Waterfall, it was not a big detour. It took me only a few more minutes (and kilometers). So, in terms of driving, it did not take much extra time.

THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING BRUARFOSS

  • Wear sturdy shoes
  • There are no toilets
  • Parking is free
  • Do not litter (take rubbish with you)
  • Stay on the path

HOW TO GET BRAURFOSS WATERFALLS

There was a direct walking path to the waterfalls. However, it closed because of some visitors who destroyed the flora and littered.

This is when a few ruin it for the many.

You can still see the waterfalls! These days, you have to do some walking to get there. So, you have to do the detour, but though it takes more, it is worth it! This is an advantage for those who actually visit. There are fewer crowds because many people avoid the “effort” to see it. Also, you will see some smaller waterfalls along the walk.

  • Type into your GPS “Bruarfoss Waterfall Official Parking.“
  • I headed to the wrong – old – parking space (of course) and realized quickly that I had to drive back 2km or so). 
Bruarfoss waterfalls parking space
  • There is no bus stop, so you need to drive there. 
  • There is a parking space where you can park for free.
  • Most guided tours, do not offer a visit to Bruarfoss Waterfalls

HIKING TO THE WATERFALL

Apparently, the “hike” scares some people away. I was the only one around when I arrived at about 9 am and did not have to share the place with anybody else. On my way back, I met a couple of other visitors.

Bruarfoss trail sign

You need to walk around 3,5km to see the main waterfall and then walk back another 3,5km. 

A sign says it is an intermediate hike. However, it is maximal a medium walk. There is no hiking included, just a pleasant stroll with very little up- and downhill hikes. You might have to walk through mud on/after rainy days, but what in Iceland is considered “intermediate” is probably called a “baby hike” in Switzerland. I totally made that up, but whenever I hike “an intermediate hike” in Switzerland, I am dead for 2 days. So, this was the easiest “intermediate” hike I have ever done.

If you have gotten curious about “intermediate hikes” in Switzerland check out my Oeschinensee post.

Bruarfoss hiking start

Most of the walk is very easy – the path is flat, and you have a river view. Only some parts will have slight uphill (and downhill) walks through the forest.

Bruarfoss waterfalls hiking
Bruarfoss waterfalls flowers

From the parking lot, stay on the left side (at the beginning, you can either walk on the right or left side) and then walk along the river. You will see a couple of very tiny – yet beautiful – waterfalls like Gongustigur, Hlauptungufoss and also Midifoss. These small waterfalls are lovely, but the best is yet to come.

Bruarfoss waterfalls hiking path
Hiking in Iceland
Bruarfoss waterfalls and more waterfalls
Bruarfoss waterfalls falls
Bruarfoss waterfalls Midifoss

BRUARFOSS: The waterfall is stunning! Not the waterfall itself but the color! Wild and powerful shimmering in that unique color!

There is a wooden bridge to cross, that allows you to see the waterfalls from different perspectives.

Bruarfoss waterfalls for image cover

However, there is not much else to do and see around Bruarfalls Waterfalls.

Bridge at Bruarfoss waterfalls_

CONCLUSION: IS BRUARFOSS WORTH?

Iceland’s Bluest Waterfall, Bruarfoss Waterfall, is really unique! I did not care about the lack of water volume or its small size… the color made me fall in love!

Personally, Bruarfoss has become one of my favorite waterfalls in Iceland. It is pretty tiny, but its color is outstanding! I probably have never seen a more suited watercolor for a waterfall.

The hike is very easy. Though it is not possible to pass with a stroller, I do believe that even smaller kids can do the walk (just keep away from the river) or people who are not into hiking.

It will take about 2-4 hours, including the drive from other main attractions in that area. Many other waterfalls present themselves on a silver plate in Iceland – where there is no need to do any hiking. Bruarfoss Waterfalls however are less accessible. This might be a turn-off for some. So, all those who eventually visit will benefit from fewer visitors.

So, should you add it to your Iceland itinerary? My answer is clear: Yes, if size does not matter to you, but you are more into amazing colors, this is a place to visit in summer.

READ MORE ABOUT WATERFALLS IN ICELAND:

Bruarfoss waterfalls in its full glory

VISIT THE SECRET NAUTHUSAGIL WATERFALL IN ICELAND

Hiking to the secret NAUTHUSAGIL waterfall. Arzo Travels

VISITING NAUTHUSAGIL WATERFALL IN SOUTH ICELAND

There is no shortage of impressive waterfalls in Iceland. Often, they present themselves on a silver plate to you. If you drive along the main streets, you will often see one of these stunning waterfalls. You do not even have to search for them. This is sightseeing made easy.

However, there are a few waterfalls that like to hide – waterfalls that want to be discovered. Hidden waterfalls. Stunning hidden waterfalls. And one of these waterfalls is the Nauthusagil Waterfall, which is close to some of the country’s main attractions. And yet, it is a hidden gem.

The waterfall is hidden, and to see it, you have to hike through an ancient, moss-covered canyon – the Nauthusagil Ravine.

Find out more about Nauthusagil Waterfall: its location, how to get there, the difficulty of the hike, and more tips for seeing this gem.

LOCATION OF NAUTHUSAGIL WATERFALL

The waterfall is in the south of Iceland. You can easily combine it with a trip to one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland: Seljalandsfoss.

After visiting Seljalandsfoss, you do not head back to the main street, but instead pass the camping site and drive the F249 heading towards Þórsmörk for about 7 km.

Dirt-road-in-Iceland-How-to-get-to-Nauthusagil-waterfall-

It is a dirt road, but if you drive slowly, it is super easy to drive. It is, more or less, a straight street with no uphills.

I did NOT have a 4WD, and it was absolutely fine. Just take it slowly. 

In front of the ravine is a car park. Parking is free, and there is no entrance fee for seeing the waterfall.

I have not seen any guided tours going to the waterfall.

BEST TIME TO VISIT NAUTHUSAGIL WATERFALL

I visited the waterfall in summer – on a “sunny” day in July. The best day might be in the summer months. I could not find any info, but I am pretty certain that it is impossible to hike in the winter months.

After a rainy day, the waterfall might be more powerful and even more magnificent. But I recommend visiting regardless of that.

Check out my Iceland summer guide to find out more about what to do in the summer months.

MORE TIPS FOR VISITING NAUTHUSAGIL WATERFALLS

  • Wear proper shoes
  • Be prepared to get wet feet
  • You should be fine with doing some climbing on wet surfaces
  • My pictures do the waterfalls no justice: Normally, I take tons of images but because of the circumstances (focusing on the hike), I did not take many images.

HIKING TO NAUTHUSAGIL WATERFALL

Once you park your car, walk along the river. Do not go up the hill. For some reason, I thought I had to walk up. But I was wrong because there is no uphill hike required at that point.

Stay on the left, walk along the river, and get into the gorge. Very quickly, you will be in the ravine. 

The ravine is deep and narrow, but you can walk along the river even if you are a bigger person.

Keep walking for a few minutes, and then you will pass a 2-3 meter waterfall. This waterfall is interesting, but not what you are here for. So, you need to pass the waterfall and climb the rock beside it. Then there is another waterfall…

I would not say it is a dangerous hike, but it takes concentration not to slip and fall. The chains and ropes will help you to climb the rocks.

But I also waded into the river as it was sometimes easier than jumping from one wet stone to another. With proper shoes, it should all be fine, though. I had to put my camera away for most parts so I would not slip.

Continue your hike, and after some more minutes, you will see that waterfall – looking all pretty! But since it is a hidden waterfall, you will just see a small glimpse first before you see it in its full glory!

If you are lucky, the sun will shine and lighten the waterfall, making it even prettier. Or it will be all foggy, adding some more myth to this waterfall.

There are some more hiking options around the waterfall but I guess, this short hike is the best way to see the waterfall and get the best glimpse of the ravine and its wonder!

It took me less than one hour in total – including the photo stops but it will be a stop, I will remember for a while!

IS NAUTHUSAGIL WATERFALL WORTH IT?

Though my feet and shoes were soaking wet and I was exhausted, hiking to that waterfall was one of my highlights in Iceland. I was awe-struck by this waterfall – which is such an underrated place! Yes, it does include some hiking, and the drive might scare people away. 

Even though I drove in my 2WD, I was happy I went anyway. It was a detour of about 1.5 hours maximum. Though I lost one of my hiking boots later that day when I wanted to dry it (do not ask), it was one of the trips that made my Iceland trip even more special.

This place is one of Iceland´s gems that is still not overrun and so I highly recommend visiting (because eventually, also this place will be popular with visitors).

Check out my Iceland itinerary to find out how to spend your time in Iceland.

Wondering, where to stay in Iceland? Read my accommodation guide for Iceland.

STAY SAFE AND ENJOY!

Where to Stay in Iceland – Best Areas For All Budgets

where to stay in Iceland

Best Places to Stay in Iceland for All Budgets

Are you heading to Iceland soon and wondering about where to stay in Iceland? Lucky you! Iceland has become incredibly popular and with all the country has to offer, it’s no wonder!

Winter months bring an ideal location to spot the Northern Lights, and during the summer months, you can explore the gorgeous green countryside and black sand beaches. Whether you visit Iceland in winter or Iceland in summer – you will surely have a unique experience.

Iceland can be pricey, but there are ways to travel for all budget types. Whether you like the city or the countryside, prefer luxury or need somewhere more simple to sleep at night there is a wide range of options of accommodation to choose from!

Iceland where to stay - best hotels in Iceland for all budgets

Today, it is all about the best places to stay in Iceland – here are tips for your Iceland itinerary.

Luxury Hotels in Iceland

Let us start with some of the best luxury hotels in Iceland.

Hotel Ranga in Hella 

Hotel Ranga is about 1 ½ hour from Reykjavik. This is an option in Southern Iceland for those who are looking to spend more time in nature.

If you’re visiting to see the Northern Lights in December or spend time doing outdoor activities, this is the place for you. With the best of both worlds, you have access to the beautiful outdoors without having to rough-it.

Mountain Kirkjufell and Aurora in Iceland Northern Lights in Iceland
@shutterstock

Renowned for their stargazing, they actually have a mini observatory on-site! Only 150 meters from the hotel, you can enjoy spectacular views from their telescopes.

Hotel Budir in Ólafsvík

This 5-star option lies about 2 ½ hours north of Reykjavik in the beautiful coastal countryside.

All rooms have a lovely view of whether it’s of the ocean, mountains, glaciers,s or lava fields.

Their 5-star restaurant is all locally sourced fresh foods, and their rooms have a traditional style, so you truly feel immersed in Icelandic culture. Enjoy your outdoor excursions and beautiful night skies without sacrificing any luxuries.

They will assist you in booking excursions and provide a wake-up call during the night if the northern lights appear!

Read more: Looking for Iceland itineraries? Here is an Iceland itinerary with many great tips.

Tower Suites Reykjavik

The most luxurois option for staying in Reykjavik are the Tower Suites.

Known to house celebrities on vacation and have some of the best views from their high levels rooms, this is the perfect option if you like to stay in luxury on your travels.

The location is right on the waterfront but still within walking distance to the center of town. 

They have organic breakfast complimentary each morning, and their amazing concierge service will help get you dinner reservations at all the best spots in town!

If you plan to drive throughout Iceland and explore other areas of the country on your trip, I recommend the Kea Hotels Chain as a good luxury option that has several properties spread throughout Iceland.

Boutique/Unique Luxury Option

Here are some very unique hotels in Iceland.

Hotel Silica

The famous Blue Lagoon of Iceland! Chances are you will be visiting here on your trip, so why not stay here?

where to stay in Iceland
@shutterstock Blue Lagoon

If the Blue Lagoon is on your Iceland itinerary, then Hotel Silica is a great choice.

Hotel Silica has its own private thermal pool, “Silica Lagoon,” for its guests with a poolside waiter. Your stay also includes a complimentary premium admission to Blue Lagoon (only a short walk from Silica Lagoon), a fitness center, and daily breakfast.

This is the best way to experience the thermal pools of Iceland, hands down.

Mid-Range Hotels in Iceland

Here are some great mid-range hotels.

Reykjavik Centrum in Reykjavik 

Just like the name suggests, this is right in central Reykjavik! This is the perfect location to walk around and explore, and you can easily do day tours from Reykjavik.

The rooms are simple standard hotel rooms, but it’s all about location here. Lovely spot downtown, a cobblestone street with plenty of dining options, and nearby the hop-on and hop-off bus stop.

The hotel itself also houses its own bar and café for those nights when you feel like taking it easy or staying in.

Radisson Blu 1919 in Reykjavik 

The Radisson Blu is also located in central Reykjavik, with their restaurant 1919 on-site serving locally sourced foods.

This is another great option for travelers looking for a mid-range option with walking distance sights, shops, and restaurants.

Close to the national art gallery and old harbor. They have a fitness center on the property if you like to keep in shape while traveling! They also have a convenient app that displays hotel specials as well as must-see nearby spots.

Hotel Laxnes in Mosfellsbaer

Their motto is “Enjoy the Best of Both Worlds,” located only about 20 minutes from Reykjavik, you are close enough to enjoy but also far enough to have some more seclusion, quiet and better viewing for night skies.

They have an outdoor hot tub perfect for relaxing under the night sky and free parking on-site, making it a good starting point for an Iceland road trip. They serve breakfast daily and have a bar on the property as well.

Laxnes also offers their own day tours to explore the area and night tours to go out and hunt for the Northern lights.

EXTRA:

If you plan to drive throughout Iceland and explore other areas of the country on your trip, I would recommend the Iceland Air Hotels Chain as a good mid-range option with several properties spread throughout Iceland.

Boutique/Unique Moderate in Iceland

Here is a boutique hotel in Iceland for the mid-range hotel.

Ion Adventure Hotel in Nesjavellir

This property is perched about 1 hour east of Reykjavik. This is a stunning and uniquely designed hotel.

Even the drive there will have some beautiful scenery to enjoy along the way. This is a great spot to enjoy nature’s beauties and the northern lights if you go over the winter season.

The hotel is done in a modern design, and they have a delicious restaurant too. It’s the perfect way to enjoy the outdoors and seclusion of Iceland without being terrible far from Reykjavik’s drive making it a nice stop after spending some time in the city.

They also have a lovely spa on site where you can enjoy facials and massages using Icelandic herbs.

5 Million Star Hotel – Buubble Stays 

Known as the “5 Million Star Hotel,” Buubble is a unique inflatable igloo style accommodation in the great outdoors.

This gives you an amazing view of the night skies during winter. You can lay under the Northern Lights with completely unobstructed views watching from the bed or in the summer under a star-filled sky.

These are set up as a single-night stay at the end of a full-day tour (either Golden Circle or Southern Coast). What an amazing and fun way to spend the night after a day of visiting gorgeous sights in Iceland!

Tip: Do you know what to pack for Iceland? Find this comprehensive Iceland packing list.

Mountain Kirkjufell and Aurora in Iceland Northern Lights in Iceland
@shutterstock

Budget Hotels in Iceland

Here are some budget hotels in Iceland.

Hotel Fron in Reykjavík

This is a great central option for budget travelers. Reasonable pricing without sacrificing a good walkable location!

They are simple apartment-style lodging rooms with daily breakfast served and free wifi. They also have a Scandinavian restaurant and bar on-site and parking available, which is perfect if you plan to take a road trip and continue exploring the country after Reykjavik.

Arctic Comfort Vik in Reykjavík

This option is a little farther- just outside of Reykjavik but only a 5-minute walk to the bus stop for easy transportation in and out of the city.

Walkable distance to several restaurants and a food market as well. Arctic Comfort Vik also has free parking, free wifi, and a daily breakfast buffet making it convenient and having all the necessities available.

Unique Stays in Iceland

Here is an amazing and unqiue place to stay on a budget.

Kuku Campers

The best way to see Iceland outside of Reykjavik on a budget is camping. Kuku Campers is an awesome option offering campers (so you don’t need to completely rough it), and you can explore the country freely.

They also provide their own hand-drawn maps so you can see where you need to stop on your way around Iceland! Perfect pairing with is a “Camping Card Iceland” this is a card that gives you entry and access to tons of campgrounds throughout the country so you can stop and relax at night and have showers etc., all available to you.

It is very popular to travel this way in Iceland, and you’ll meet plenty of fellow travelers along the way enjoying the gorgeous nature Iceland has to offer!

Hopefully, this post has helped you find the perfect accommodations for your trip to Iceland! Have a wonderful time in this unique place!

Find out about a hidden gem in Iceland.

About the Author

Cassandra is a US-female travel addict who loves traveling the world and works as a tour operator. She is a freelance writer for Arzo Travels, where she shares her expertise.

Follow Cassandra on Instagram

Safe Travels, Arzo

error: Content is protected !!

Pin It on Pinterest