Category Archives: Iceland

4 Days in Iceland – Itinerary + Car Rental Tips

4 Days in Iceland, girl at Jokulsarlon Diamond Beach

Can you believe that you can visit geysers, canyons, waterfalls and hot springs with only 4 days in Iceland? Well, you can, and we (Gemma and Craig) are going to show you how to do it by driving the famous Ring Road. Iceland has always been a bucket list destination for us and it did not disappoint.

» We visited Iceland for our very belated honeymoon. Why are you visiting?
Tell us in the comments below.

Four-Day Itinerary for Iceland.

Day 1 Reykjavik – Hofn or Jökulsárlón (380-458 km/5-8 hours)

On day one of your Iceland itinerary, you want to collect your car and head straight to South Iceland on Iceland’s Ring Road.

Forget the Golden Circle which is jam-packed with bus tours. Since you have four days to play with, you want to to see the real, less touched, beauty of the south.

Don’t worry, you will visit the Golden Circle on your return to the airport.

Trust me, you won’t regret this route.

Pro tip: most car rental companies offer pickups and drop-offs from Keflavík Airport (which is the main airport) for an additional fee. It is well worth doing this because the car rental stations are not at the airport.

You can check out the variety of cars available at the likes of Discover Car Hire. My advice is to go for something robust like the Suzuki Vitara which is the car we hired.

We filled up with fuel (unleaded, not diesel, take note of your type!) just outside of Keflavík.

You have two main goals at the start of your Iceland adventure.

Firstly, get to a Bonus Supermarket and stock up on meals and snacks.

Remember to bring tote bags so you can pack your items without purchasing plastic bags (also better for the environment).

We spent €132 on food in total. This included eating dinner out once in Reykjavik and lunch twice in the south. We also purchased a few evening drinks.

» Click here to read about our Iceland budget

Car Iceland landscape, reflection in water

The second goal is to drive to the furthest away point which is either Hofn or Jökulsárlón, the famous diamond beach, depending on how much driving you want to do and where you manage to get accommodation.

There is no denying that today’s drive is long, even without stops. Feel free to pick highlights from the first two days of our itinerary and build them into the day one route if you need to break it up a bit.

You will not be able to do all of them, so save some for the following days.

If you are visiting during winter, do consider sunset times as the Ring Road is not lit well and the landscape is vast.

You won’t see house lights in the distance. It is not advised to drive in the dark.

The darkness is obviously great for Aurora borealis which is at its most active during October to March!

South Iceland Highlights (In Order)

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon 

[potentially closed to the public]

The short hike to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is a perfect location to stretch your legs after 3.5 hours of driving. Just follow the path up to the top of the canyon and take a few photos.

Note: Stop here on the way, as it is not on the route back. By this stage, you will want out for some fresh air.

Look out for the famous Icelandic horses in the farms around the Ring Road. We met some before the waterfalls.

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

We attempted to visit Seljalandsfoss waterfall in the afternoon of day two but were rained off so went back for sunrise.

I highly recommend going at this time because there were only a handful of other visitors.

This is the waterfall that you can walk behind (except during winter). Check out our romantic picture!

Seljalandsfoss Iceland Waterfall Hike. Gemma and Craig kiss at sunrise.

There is also another waterfall called Gljúfrabúi within walking distance. You have to tread through water to get there so wear appropriate clothing. Remember a camera or phone waterproof cover too.

We just used Craig’s phone and a waterproof phone case.

Tip: There is a charge for using the car park Seljalandsfoss. The machines only accept credit cards.

The best thing about staying in the south is that you can visit the top Iceland attractions more than once if the weather is against you (which is often!)

Skogafoss Waterfall

Not far from Seljalandsfoss is Skogafoss which is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland. You can’t get behind this one but you can get above it!

There are a few accommodation options around here including a campsite if you are on a budget.

Skogafoss Waterfall


Vik is the cute town in the south with the church which you see in lots of Instagram images.

Reynisfjara Black Beach

Iceland’s famous black sand beach. Fifty shades of grey and stormy seas await.

Jökulsárlón aka Diamond Beach

Wow, this is what really made me fall in love with Iceland.

Diamond Beach is a glacier lagoon. Think massive ice cubes, all sparkly and blue.

We reached this spot for sunset and the pastels tones really complemented the ice.

You can do boat tours of Jökulsárlón. If interested, factor this into your road trip schedule.

The final stop for the day is your accommodation.

Jokulsarlon Diamond Beach Sunset Iceland

Night One Accommodation

We stayed at the HI Hofn. The rooms were super cosy, the showers were hot and the kitchen was fully stocked. Perfect for cooking with the products you bought during your shop.

We ended up just making a pot of noodles and buying wine and beer from the hostel reception. Check the best rates at TripAdvisor.

Day 2 Hofn or Jökulsárlón to Seljalandsfoss Area (331.9 km/ 4.5 hours)

For day two you are going to drive back on yourself along the Ring Road, stopping at the locations you were teased with on day one.

Remember to make up sandwiches for lunch and make snacks easily accessible.

Diamond Beach

We stopped again at Diamond Beach to catch Jökulsárlón in a different light. At around 09:30, we had it to ourselves. You can catch a boat tour of Jökulsárlón at this point.

Reynisfjara Black Beach

Iceland’s Black Beach is bleak, in an intriguing way.

From the car park (free) walk down the hill for about five minutes then let the dark stones of the beach and the stacks swallow you up.

→ Tip: The toilets here are pay only.

Reynisfjara Icelands Black Stack

Skeiðará Bridge

As you drive along you will notice what can only be described as a chewed up bridge!

Skeiðará Bridge remains still stand, yet slightly graffitied, on the side of the road.

Iceland’s longest bridge met its maker in the 90s when massive floods carried ice the size of two-storey houses through it.


Vík í Mýrdal is a fishing village, popular with tourists for its wooden church which sits starkly on a hill, often surrounded by mist.

Reyniskirkja Church has a red roof and white walls, a great contrast which pops against the lush green landscape.

Here you can, and should, fill up with gas/petrol, and food.

→ Tip? Wondering where the beer is?

You won’t find it in the supermarkets! Alcohol can be bought at Vínbúðin which is a state-run chain.

Next, pop into Seljalandsfoss is Skogafoss if you missed them yesterday or if you want to see them flow at a different time of day.

Vik, church red roof, green hills, Iceland

Additional Option: Seljavallalaug Geothermal Pool  

If you fancy doing a short hike (10-15 minute) to get some exercise with an incentive, there is a free geothermal pool nestled amongst the mountains.

Unfortunately, this pool is not a hidden secret and it is pretty gross if being honest.

We were really disappointed to see that people had left their crap in the dark and dank changing rooms. Tourists were smoking in the pool too.  

You do need to cross a small river so wear shoes that you can get wet in.  

» Read more about the hikes in Iceland here (all-seasons)

To get to Seljavallalaug geothermal pool, turn off the Ring Road at Raufarfell, park at Seljavellir then walk ahead.

You’ll see lots of other tourists doing the same too. Remember your swimming gear.

Evening Hike

Plane Wreck at Sólheimasandur Beach

This is a really interesting part of Iceland’s history which they’ve not removed. It’s actually one of the best things about Iceland, how they use their landscape so well, leaving the objects that aren’t supposed to be there anymore.

The American wreck DC-3 plane is tucked away 4km (45-minute walk) from the Ring Road. You can’t actually see the DC plane but you will see a full car park.

This is a popular spot with budding photographers (read, don’t get in their shots).  

The hike itself is pretty dull so download some tunes and stick this coordinate in maps before you go: 63 27.546-19 21.887.

How to get to DC Plane Wreck at Sólheimasandur

In the past, you could drive right up to the place wreck but this is no longer the case.

  • Now you have to park your vehicle at the designated car park and walk the 45-minute flat track to the plane
  • Go past Skogafoss waterfall on your left (going East on Route 1)
  • Drive for just under 10 km/10 minutes
  • Look for Sólheimajökull Glacier sign to your left
  • After 2 km, take the right
  • You will see lots of cars/camper vans parked up
  • Walk straight ahead then veer to the left

Pack a torch if you plan to arrive leave after dark (or arrive, some photographers aim to get cool Northern Lights shots here).

DC Plane Solheimasandur

Night Two Accommodation

We opted for an apartment around the Eyjafjallajökull volcano area for night two (and three).

This was a great spot because we were close to both waterfalls and the DC hike car park.

South Iceland Landscape

Day 3 Seljalandsfoss Area to Golden Circle (2-10 hours stops/110.6 km+)

In all honesty, I would advise you to stay another night in this area and skip the Golden Circle.

I know first-timers to Iceland won’t understand why I’m suggesting this so let’s go with a Golden Circle tour for our day three Iceland itinerary.

Additional Option: Secret Lagoon.

Seljalandsfoss to the Secret Lagoon takes just over one hour (86.7 km).

One of the most popular things to do in Iceland is to take a dip in a hot spring.

This isn’t just a tourist attraction, hot springs and geothermal pools are part of Icelandic culture.

The busiest is the Blue Lagoon which comes at a premium cost of between €55 to over €200 per person.

There is a cheaper alternative, the Secret Lagoon (€22 per person).

The Secret Lagoon enjoys 38 degrees heat all year round, has changing facilities and a bar.

Expect to pay an additional fee for towels.

Secret Lagoon Iceland Hot Spring

Now it is on to the Golden Circle.

The Golden Circle Highlights


Geysir is a geyser located in the Haukadalur Valley. It shows off by exploded frequently throughout the day!

Expect to get wet if you stand too close. There is a car park with toilet facilities and a restaurant within walking distance to the park.

Iceland Budget - how much does Iceland cost - Geysir Iceland


The Golden Falls, found at Hvítá river canyon, is one of the most visited waterfalls in Iceland.

Gullfoss has two areas, with viewing platforms close to both.

Again, a free car park with toilets is close to the waterfall.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir) is a UNESCO World Heritage Site just 45 minutes drive from Reykjavik.

Here is where you can snorkel in the clear waters of Silfra. Game of Thrones fans, Þingvellir is where many scenes were filmed too.

Night Three Accommodation

There is no shortage of hotel or hostel options on the Golden Circle.

Day 4 Golden Circle to Reykjavik (1.5 hr)/Keflavik (2hr)

Your fourth-day itinerary really depends on when your flight departs.

Factor in an hour for car return checks and the shuttle bus journey. Some companies only run a shuttle two times per hour.

If you have ample time you could stay in the south longer and devote more time to hikes and exploration.

Or alternatively, take a tour of the Golden Circle to learn about the geology which is one thing you will miss out on when doing an independent trip of Iceland.

Personally, I don’t think you need any time in Reykjavik unless you have deep pockets.

We went for dinner at Hlemmur Mathöll and paid around €22 for a burger which came with crisps/potato chips.

If you are staying in the city and fancy a few drinks, go for happy hour, as the locals and expats do too.

Additional Option: Blue Lagoon near Keflavik Airport.

This is the most popular hot spring in Iceland and definitely the most photogenic! Tourists either love it or hate it. We can’t vouch for it ourselves as we chose the Secret Lagoon over the Blue Lagoon to avoid the tour bus crowds and prices.

Renting a Car in Iceland

Here are some tips on what you need to know before you go. I used to be a car rental advisor so trust me on the following tips:

  • Book your rental before you arrive in Iceland so you can hit the road on day one.
  • Not all cars are created equal! Expect a few bumps and grazes on the metalwork.
  • Check over the car and record any damage before you leave the forecourt.
  • Look for damage on the hidden undercarriage of the car, the roof and also inside.
  • I used to be a rental car check-in advisor so trust me, record damage or pay the price!
  • Purchase the additional insurance (full coverage) option to avoid hefty fees if damaged
  • Gas/petrol is expensive! We spent €278. That’s double the amount we spent on food.
  • Some parking has a small charge, most are free.
  • We filled up the tank with unleaded fuel (not diesel) three times during our trip.
  • Gas stations are a mix of stations with cafes attached, self-service (credit cards), and unmanned pump-only stations.
  • It is not advised to drive during winter, in fact, it will be impossible at parts of the Ring Road.

Car wing mirror, Iceland landscape
Iceland Weather

When is the best time to go to Iceland? A popular question made during the planning stages. Let’s look at the pros and cons of each travel season.

Spring and Summer (April – September)

Spring starts in April and ends in May and the first day of summer is April 18th.


  • There is a lot of daylight so you can fit in more of Iceland’s activities
  • Less rainfall
  • Driving is safer
  • Hiking is easier
  • Photographers can capture the golden hour light


  • Pack an eye mask, especially if you are camping
  • Mass tourism, especially around the Golden Circle
  • Selfie sticks and stupidity, did you see the tourist falling into Gullfoss waterfall for a picture?
  • You must book accommodation, car rental and tours well in advance

Low season (October to April)


  • Fewer tourists
  • Winter activities such as ice hiking
  • Northern Lights optimal sightings


  • Adverse weather during winter
  • Driving is harder or often not possible at times
  • Daylight is limited to six hours per day
  • Northern Lights not guaranteed
  • October to February sees most rainfall (although it rained a lot for us in September)

Rain Iceland hike. Mountain Equipment jacket, hat. Gemma and Craig._

Affordable Iceland Tips

  • Reserve your car before you travel.
  • Purchase the additional insurance option to avoid hefty fees if damaged.
  • Shop at Bonus and cook in your accommodation.
  • Book accommodation with a kitchen, or pack a stove if camping.
  • Bring tote bags with you for shopping.
  • Pack snacks like cereal bars from home.
  • Eat hot dogs! The national food found at gas stations (still expensive).
  • Drink from the tap water, it is safe! Bring a refillable water bottle.
  • Stay in hostels, they are not party hostels!
  • Camp. But be mindful that it gets very wet in Iceland.
  • Avoid drinking in Reykjavik or enjoy the happy hour offerings.
  • Swap the Blue Lagoon for the Secret Lagoon.
  • Invest in a really good waterproof coat and boots. You can’t buy the feeling of being dry!

Iceland Packing List

Here are the essentials you should pack for Iceland:

  • Europe gets cold, layers are essential!
  • Hat, gloves and scarf
  • A waterproof coat like this Marmot Precip US / UK or Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK
  • Rab Alpine down coat USA / UK
  • Merino Icebreaker tops USA / UK
  • Waterproof overtrousers USA / UK 
  • Comfortable and waterproof walking shoes and hiking boots – I swear by Salomon Ellipse trek shoes US / UK
  • Camera and battery
  • Shades
  • Battery pack for your phone – I vouch for Anker’s range US / UK
  • Osprey waterproof bag cover US / UK
  • Eco water bottle like the practical Tree Tribe US / UK, also keeps hot liquids warm
  • Bamboo cutlery set US / UK
  • Tote bags for shopping
  • Skross universal travel adaptor with USB slots US / UK
  • Pacsafe safety net US / UK
  • Hydration tablets US / UK if participating in some alcohol!
  • Travel Insurance 

» You may also like our lightweight hiking boots review

Merino Wool Top Iceland

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Final Words

Although Iceland is an expensive country to dine, drink and fill up a car in, there are so many free things to do making it an awesome road trip from those with an adventurous nature. Be prepared to be awestruck by waterfalls, canyons, geysers and hot springs as you follow our four-day Iceland itinerary through the world in miniature!

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Any questions or comments?

Please use the comments section below.

This post was written in partnership with Discover Car Hire. We have not used the online service ourselves but you can read Trustpilot reviews here.

As always, these words and opinions are our own. We had a magic time in Iceland, and are confident that once you get over the price point, you will too.

Iceland Budget: How Much Is A Trip To Iceland?

Iceland Budget - how much does Iceland cost - Geysir Iceland

Iceland is a dream trip for many, but those who opt for affordable travel trips like us (Gemma and Craig) may be put off by the sky-high prices. We’re here to show you how to manage your Iceland budget from car rental to culinary options, accommodation to activities so you can enjoy a holiday to Iceland without having to remortgage the house. So, how much is a trip to Iceland?

» Don’t miss our guide to four days in Iceland

Iceland Budget

We took a road trip from Keflavik to South Iceland then to Reykjavik via the popular Golden Circle. This trip lasted four full days (and a morning drop off on the fifth). 

Although we do like to socialise during trips we were well aware that this was not a drinking holiday. Our focus was getting outdoors and seeing what Iceland’s landscape had to offer with a celebratory beer/wine at the end of the night. We’re not really foodie travellers so not eating out was an easy sacrifice to make. 

Diamond Beach Sunset Iceland

How Much Does it Cost To Go To Iceland? 

Many budget flight carriers like EasyJet and Ryanair fly to Keflavik Airport in Iceland from the UK for under £100/€114.

Initially, our flights were priced at £138/€158 for flights for two (July) however as we had to change our departure date to September, this bumped the cost up to £208/€238 overall.

Although annoying that we had to fork out more (our fault/work commitments), off-season actually worked out better as there were fewer people on the road. The Golden Circle was still incredibly busy, I can’t image what July/August is like at the typical tourist spots such as Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall.

We normally travel with carry-on bags (you can see our top picks here) for short European trips but added a suitcase (£49/ €56) since we were carrying lots of layers.

A few days before flying, I checked the price of a flight for the day that we were leaving at it was sitting at £36/€41, the week after was £120/€134. If you see a rate you think is decent, just book it.

Avoid going in and out of the website as this shows the search that people are interested and can result in the prices bumping up.

Icelandair offers extended stopover trips in Iceland. This is a great option because not only can you break up a long flight you can also experience Iceland on the way!

Going in September meant we just missed the chance of seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland, click here to read our friend Valerie’s guide on the best times to see them.

» » Flights: £257/€294 (with added bag)

» You may also like our guide to planning your Iceland honeymoon

 Car Rental in Iceland 

If you are happy with a few dents and scratches, you can hire a car in Iceland for pretty cheaply. I used to work as a check-in assistant for Avis Rent a Car; my advice is to take a car with a few scratches!

The car rental depots at Keflavik Airport aren’t actually at the airport itself. Companies pick you, and other renters, up at the airport and drop you off at the car depot. This process can take 40 minutes to one hour so consider this when planning. Most car rental companies add £28/€32 on to the overall price for airport collection/drop off.

A percentage of the total will be taken as a deposit when you book and then the rest is paid on arrival or taken off the card at the end of the trip. Check the car thoroughly before leaving (inside and out). We later noticed there was no alarm to let you know you’ve left the lights on and did so frequently. Luckily, others noticed and told us.

I always pay for the additional car insurance to bring the excess down. Even if you are a great driver, others aren’t. Look out for tourists stopping in the middle of the Ring Road, others turning last minute and people driving at 20. Driving in Iceland can test your patience.

» » Car rental: £270/€308

» Don’t miss our list of essential road trip packing items 

How Much is Gas in Iceland?

Gas/petrol/fuel is really expensive in Iceland and most of the gas stations in the South of Iceland do not accept cash because Iceland is a very card friendly country.

We filled up the tank with unleaded fuel (not diesel) three times during our trip. Some of the gas stations are big with cafes attached, others are self-service and unmanned pump-only stations. 

»» Fuel:  £244/€278

Road trip Iceland Ring Road


Hotels, Airbnb and even hostels are expensive in Iceland. Rooms are cosy and clean but nothing spectacular. The best tip I was given when planning the trip was – look for accommodation with kitchens for cooking.

You won’t’ be surprised to hear that accommodation is more expensive in high season (June/July/August). 

We stayed at the HI Höfn on night one (£108/€123 – impressive kitchen space), in the Eyjafjallajökull area (that’s the volcano that caused the ash cloud in 2010) for night two and three (£221/€252- small kitchen, free breakfast) and with Airbnb in Reykjavik on the last night (£154/€177 – super modern, high tech but limited kitchen facilities).

» »  Accommodation cost (September): £484/€552

Food in Iceland 

Eating out is really expensive. For example, one small portion of mozzarella sticks and fries (we shared) came to £11/€13 at a cafe by the side of the road on South Iceland. 

We treated ourselves to dinner in Reykjavik. Since Craig doesn’t eat fish, options were reduced! We chose Hlemmur Mathöll because there are a variety of restaurants under one roof. I went for noodles £10/€11 and Craig had a burger £19/€22 (came with crisps, not chips).  

Hot dogs are all the rage. You can buy them at gas stations to keep costs down but we never tried them. 

Bonus Supermarket

Bonus supermarket is the first stop you should make on your road trip. Store cupboard goods are relatively cheap, but other items like fresh meat and some vegetables can be expensive. A pepper was £2.50/€3.

We bought pasta, tinned tomatoes, cheap pot noodles, tofu, noodles, satay sauce, vegetables, salad, sandwich meat, rolls and some snacks for £52/€59. We topped up lunches and fruit on day three. 

» »  Food total: £116/€132

Bonus Shopping Centre

Alcohol in Iceland 

If you are looking for booze in Bonus you are in the wrong place. Anything over 2.25% is sold at the state-owned Vinbudin shops. You can see where they are located here. 

We bought two one-glass bottles of wine and three beers at Vinbudin totalling £17/€19. Not bad. 

We also bought a small bottle and one beer at our hostel, £12.50/€14. I saw the same small bottle for £13/€15 at a restaurant/shop. Shop wisely! Some tourists buy at the airport before they collect their baggage.

We arrived late in Reykjavik missing happy hour so forked out. For example, one glass of red was £10/€11. Ouch. The beer was cheaper at around £7/€8. 

The cheapest find – Mimosas at the airport, two for £5/€5.70.  So when someone asks, how much is a beer in Iceland? You can reply – where from? Vinbudin, around £4/€5, in a pub, £7/€8. 

» »  Alcohol total:  £85.50/€98

Activities in Iceland 

Here’s the good news. Pretty much everything you want to see in Iceland is free. Waterfalls, beaches, glaciers, geysers – free. The majority of car parks at activities are free to use but those that do charge accept card only. 

Highlights for us included: 

Jökulsárlón / Diamond Beach

Jokulsarlon Glacier Iceland 

Reynisfjara Black Beach

GA Reynisfjara Icelands Black Stack

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall 

Seljalandsfoss Waterfall Two Scots Abroad

Hike to the DC Plane

DC Plane Solheimasandur

There are tours available all over the country from glacier treks to whale watching, helicopter rides to caving. Joining a tour means you get local expert knowledge and the safety of support but that comes at a price. Naturally, this will add to the overall cost of your holiday.

Hot Springs in Iceland

One of the top things to do in Iceland is to visit a hot spring. The most popular one is Blue Lagoon but that comes at a cost from £48/€55 to over £176/€200.

A cheaper alternative is the Secret Lagoon which is around 38 degrees all year round, has changing facilities and a bar – £19/€22. You have to pay additional for towels. 

There are a number of free pools/springs in Iceland, not all of them are actually hot and looked after. We visited Seljavallalaug and it was rank, tourists have ruined it.

» »  Activities total: £50/€57

Secret Lagoon Iceland Hot Spring

So, How Much Is A Trip To Iceland?

  • Flights: £257/€294 (with added bag) 
  • Car rental£270/€308 (includes airport pick up/drop off)
  • Petrol: £244/€278 (ouch!)
  • Accommodation: £484/€552 (four nights in September)
  • Food: £116/€132 (eating out and food shop)
  • Drinks£85.50/€98 (not cheap/not a drinking holiday)
  • Activities£50/€57 (lots of free stuff)
  • Travel insurance: already covered (check out our travel insurance review here).

 » » Overall total (2 people): £1506.50/€1722.50 (XE euro rate conversion)
(per person/per full day £370/€423) 

Is it worth it?

Iceland is incredible, they don’t call it the land of fire and ice for nothing. Personally, I prefer visiting destinations where my budget can stretch such as Bosnia and Herzegovina, Colombia and Nicaragua. Although each of these countries has their own unique selling points Iceland offers all of what they can, geology-wise, in one mini world. 

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Final Words

I hope you found this Iceland budget guide useful as you start to plan your trip. Please feel free to share your constructive tips in the comments below. We paid for our own flights, car rental and accommodation and partnered with M&S Bank to see how far £400 worth of Krona can go in Iceland.

We were £95.50 over (they did not finance this article, this is the property of Two Scots Abroad).

If I was to do it again, I’d ditch the meal in Reykjavik and extend our time in the South of Iceland.

Side note: payments made by card will most likely offer different rates depending on your bank and the going currency rates. Prices above are rounded to the decimal. 

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Iceland travel costs for flights, accommodation, car rental, gas, activities and food

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Iceland Hikes: From 45 mins to 4-days / All Seasons [+ MAP]

South Iceland Landscape

Vast landscapes, clean air and of course fire and ice, hiking in Iceland is one of the top activities to do when visiting this European country. Considering that Iceland is one of the most expensive countries in the continent, independent treks help keep attraction costs down! Naturally, some of the Iceland hikes require guidance from experts, especially during the Winter months. However, never ones to let a bit of glacier ice to get in the way of a great trip, here’s our (Gemma and Craig) guide to hiking Iceland. This guide includes ‘proper hikes’ from 45 mins to 4 days with rewarding scenery along the way.

» Warning: Iceland’s weather changes many times during the day, please be mindful of the forecast before hiking. Iceland’s road system works in a Ring Road. All of these hikes can be found located off it.

» Don’t miss our Iceland itinerary and planning tips

The Best Iceland Hikes For All Abilities

Hikes Near Reykjavik

  • Mount Esja (Esjan)

Located 10 km outside of Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, the Mount Esja hike is popular with visitors (and locals) who are short on time but still want to stretch the legs. Mount Esja is actually the mountain can see from the city and once you are on the 914 metres peak (it is mostly a flat mountain though), you get great views of Reykjavik.

One of the things I love about Iceland is its inclusiveness and that can be seen even in hiking. There are three possible routes up the mountain and each is marked by difficulty. Close to the top, there is a stopping point for less experienced hikers, those looking for a challenge can continue to the peak via the mountain face or path. The higher you go, the more chance there is of snow so be careful, snow starts to lie from September although is likely to melt. According to the Iceland Review, Esja mountain has seen more deaths than any other mountain in Iceland over the past decades. Mount Esja is one of the best day hikes in Iceland.

  • How long to hike Mount Esja? 2-4 hours depending on the path chosen
  • Seasons:  Can be walked all seasons, crampons and poles required in Winter
  • Type of hike: Self-guided
  • Distance: 914 metres
  • Starting point: 50-minute drive from Reykjavik – Hiking Centre Esjustofa parking, buses 15 then 57
  • Difficulty rating: Routes for all levels
  • Highlights: Views
  • Warning/Gear? No water issues for a camera unless raining, in Winter, need appropriate gear

Glymur Hike (Waterfall Trail)

Glymur Waterfall is popular with tourists and rightfully so because it is Iceland’s second highest however you can beat the crowds if you start early (before midday). It is relatively close to Reykjavik (an hour drive) at Hvalfjordur fjord in the West of the country. 

The hike can take 2-3 hours depending on how many photos stops you take.

  • Duration: 2-3 hours 
  • Seasons: Can be walked all seasons
  • Distance: 5 km
  • Type of hike: Self-guided or group tour (check availability here)
  • Starting point: Parking at side of the road
  • Difficulty rating: Easy
  • Highlights: Waterfall
  • Warning/Gear? A camera is OK to bring, be careful in the rain. Waterproof boots as you walk through a river

Reykjadalur Valley (Hot Spring Hike) 

Reykjadalur Valley is a beautiful area to explore in the vicinity of Hveragerði town, in Southwest Iceland, especially if you like wild nature. This is a highly active geothermal area not far from the famous Geyser, filled with hot springs, mud pools, and there is even a hot river in which one can bathe!

To reach the Hot River there is a beautiful 3 km hike (one way) which is relatively easy and can be done without any guide. The hike starts at the parking lot just in front of a restaurant called Dalakaffi. During the hike, you will find bubbling mud holes, hot springs and there is even a small canyon on your left-hand side with a beautiful waterfall cascading down into the valley. The terrain is ok as long as you stick to the marked paths and the walk is quite entertaining, with many photo opportunities. The Hot River hike ends with (you guessed well) the Hot River and despite it is a long river, we recommend to arrive early in the morning to enjoy a relaxing bath without the crowds.

To walk the Hot River hike there is no special gear required, but sturdy hiking shoes are always a good idea in Iceland. Apart from this, don’t forget your swimsuit and your travel towel, you definitely don’t want to miss this bath.

  • How long to hike to Hot River? 45-60 mins (same back)
  • Seasons: Can be walked all seasons, crampons and poles recommended in Winter
  • Type of hike: Self-guided or group tour (check availability here)
  • Distance: 3 km
  • Starting point: Parking at Reykjadalur
  • Difficulty rating: Easy-moderate (the first stage is uphill)
  • Highlights: Hot River bathing
  • Warning/Gear? No water issues for a camera unless raining, in Winter, need appropriate gear, no changing rooms, locals may be naked in the river 🙂 

» by Elisa |  World in Paris

Reykjadalur Valley Hot River Hike Iceland

South Iceland Hikes

Iceland day hikes don’t have to evolve around Reykjavik, in fact, you will find fewer tourists and wilder landscape as you head to the South of the island. Expect the views to become lusher and the sand, darker! 

Seljavallalaug Geothermal Pool Hike

[This is NOT a hidden gem] 

 Not far from the village of Vik and the two waterfalls Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss there is a lukewarm geothermal pool nestled amongst the mountains. The hike to the Seljavallalaug is relatively short at 10-15 minutes and easy in difficulty ratings. You do have to cross to areas of water so it is recommended to wear waterproof hiking boots. 

Seljavallalaug geothermal pool itself is pretty disappointing. According to online chatter, the pool is cleaned once per year which makes sense because the water was very slimy. In addition, tourists have left the changing rooms a mess. Visitors opt to change around the back of the changing rooms instead.

It is a unique experience to bathe in the wilderness but the clientele (smoking in the pool is not cool) and the state of the pool kills the kudos. Unfortunately, this is the only the hot spring/geothermal in the area.  I’m actually a bit annoyed at the description of  Seljavallalaug pool, bloggers and travel sites should be ashamed of themselves for not accurately portraying the area. Tourists should be disgusted with themselves. 

  • How long to hike to Seljavallalaug? 10-15 minutes
  • Seasons: Can be walked all seasons
  • Type of hike: Self-guided
  • Distance: 2-3 k
  • Starting point: Turn off the Ring Road at Raufarfell, park at Seljavellir then walk ahead for the hills! You’ll meet lots of other tourists there too
  • Difficulty rating: Easy
  • Highlights: Scenery
  • Warning/Gear? No water issues for a camera unless raining, ruined by tourists. Bring your swimsuit and a towel.

Seljavallalaug Geo Pool Near Vik

Volcano Hike: Eyjafjallajökull and Sólheimajökull

Did you get an extended holiday in April 2010? Was the reason for said extension an ash cloud by any chance? Well, you have Eyjafjallajökull volcano to thank for that.

Hikers can actually walk underneath Eyjafjallajökull and then trek over Sólheimajökull Glacier in the South of Iceland with this guided walking tour. The hike itself takes 3.5 hours and promises ice sculptures, ridges, and deep crevasses.

  • How long to hike to Sólheimajökull? 3.5 hours (10-hour tour from Reykjavik)
  • Seasons: Can be hiked all seasons
  • Type of hike: Group tour (check availability)
  • Starting point: Reykjavik accommodation (hotel pickup)
  • Difficulty rating: Easy-moderate
  • Highlights: Glacier and knowledgeable guides
  • Warning/Gear? No water issues for a camera unless raining, waterproof boots and clothes, crampons and ice picks provided by guides, no bathrooms at the glacier
  • DC Plane Wreck | Sólheimasandur

In 1973 a U.S Navy DC plane crashed on Sólheimasandur black beach and now it is one of the hottest photography spots in Iceland. Luckily no one was injured when the plane ran out of fuel (or was it a mistake at the hands of the pilot? Or the tank freezing? Sources differ!)

For some reason, blogs online make out as if it is really tricky to get to the DC plane wreck at Sólheimasandur. In the past, you used to be able to drive close to the plane but now there is an easy 45 minute, yet pretty dull, flat walk to the location. Getting to the hike itself is straightforward.

Here is how to get to DC Plane Wreck at Sólheimasandur

  1. Drive past Skogafoss waterfall on your left (going East on Route 1)
  2. Drive for just under 10 km/10 minutes
  3. Look for the Sólheimajökull Glacier sign on your left
  4. 2 km later, take the right
  5. You will see lots of cars/campervans parked here
  6. Walk straight ahead then veer to the left
  7. Alternatively, stick these coordinates in maps and walk towards it 63 27.546-19 21.887

DC Plane Wreck Iceland Solheimasandur Beach

We went at sunset and it really was pretty damn cool. There were lots of photographers there so you can forget doing Insta poses unless they can use you to (like they did with me).

Climbing up the plane is tricky, there is lots of holes and metal sticking out so be careful. One tourist was flaking out trying to get down. If you are climbing up, be respectful of others who want to take photos too. When we arrived there was a group of guys who had been posing for 30 minutes and no one had the balls to ask them to get down and let others have a go. As soon as the sun starting setting the time-lapsers squashed any Insta attempts. This is one of the closest hikes to Vik. 

  • How long to hike to DC plane wreck? 45 mins there, 45 mins back
  • Seasons: According to locals, not possible to walk in Winter. It is an open plain so there is nowhere to hide from the wind or rain (plane on a plain!)
  • Type of hike: Self-guided or tours – you will have to walk with the tour (check out this combo tour of the plane and Diamond Beach)
  • Distance: 4 km
  • Starting point: Car park, see instructions above
  • Difficulty rating: Easy
  • Highlights: DC Plane Wreck  
  • Warning/Gear? No water issues for a camera unless raining, popular, horrendous if raining sideways, no bathrooms

DC Plane Solheimasandur Gemma Two Scots Abroad

  • Landmannalaugar 4-hour Hike or 4-day Trek

Landmannalaugar. Wow. Hiking in the Southern Highlands of Fjallabak on a relatively clear day will result in stunning photographs picking up the reds, beiges and greens of Landmannalaugar, the rainbow hills. Depending on your time restrictions and hiking abilities you can either hike Landmannalaugar on a day hike or as part of a multi-day trek. This is said to be one of the most striking Iceland hiking trails.

The day hike takes you on a 4-hour hike walking on Landmannalaugar and the active volcano, Hekla, then through Vondugil Canyon and up Brennisteinsalda mountain. A celebratory natural hot pool soak is also possible (pack your swimming gear).

The multi-day trek Laugavegur trail is well sign-posted and accommodation comes in the form of pre-booked huts or camping (no need to book a spot but weather can be horrendous). The trail goes from Landmannalaugar to Thorsmork underneath Eyjafjallajokull (Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk). The Laugavegur Trek passes through Hrafntinnusker (12 km), Álftavatn (12 km), Emstrur (15 km) and finishing Thorsmork (15 km). Between Álftavatn and Thorsmork there are river crossing which requires you to get wet. Pack water shoes like Crocs (heavy eye roll, I know) to avoid slipping. If hiking in September there is even the chance that you may see the Northern Lights.

Avid hikers can make this 3-day Iceland hike into 4 days by carrying on from Fimmvörðuháls to Skogar which passes many waterfalls (adds 24-26 km to the trail).

  • How long to hike Landmannalauga: 4 hour or 3-4 days
  • Seasons: Not suitable for Winter
  • Type of hike: Self-guided or tours. Click here to see the 4-hour tour 
  • Distance: Depends on the type of trek (4-day 54 km)
  • Starting point: Laugardalur campsite (bus drop off)
  • Difficulty rating: Moderate (4-hour) – difficult (4-day)
  • Highlights: Views and natural pools
  • Warning/Gear? No water issues for a camera unless raining (careful at the river crossing on the 4-day hike – pack water shoes and towel), poles recommended, camping

Svartifoss Waterfall Hike (Black Falls)

Svartifoss is one of the most spectacular waterfalls of Iceland, and one of the most rewarding ones. While several Icelandic waterfalls are just next to the Ring Road, Svartifoss requires a short hike of 30-60 minutes depending on how fast you’re walking. At times, it’s tiresome to walk uphills, but there’s a dirt road almost all the way to the waterfall, so the terrain is very easy to walk. However, if you’re more experienced and want a challenge, there are additional paths you can walk to the waterfall.

Make sure to bring a mug unless you’re a Viking and can drink the water with your bare hands. The water is clean and delicious to drink, so that’s definitely one of the highlights when you arrive at Svartifoss. Along the hike, you can also enjoy some scenic views over the landscape. If you’re travelling here during summer, it’s also possible to have a barbeque and camp overnight near the starting point of the trail.

No matter the time of year you go here, Svartifoss is incredible. However, during the winter months, the trail might be inaccessible, especially the tougher walks. The most common trail is open year round. You can do this walk easily on your own. Please bring good shoes for your own sake as it’s not nice to walk uphills in shoes that don’t fit.

  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Season: Might not be accessible during the harshest winter months
  • Type of hike: self-guided hike or tour
  • Starting point: Skaftafell Visitor Center
  • Difficulty rating: Easy-moderate (some steep uphills walking)
  • Terrain: Dirt road
  • Highlights: The view of Svartifoss and drinking ice cold clean water
  • Warnings/Gear? Hiking boots will be nice to have but are not necessary

» Alex Waltner | Swedish Nomad 

Svartifoss Waterfall Hike Iceland

Glacier Hike, Iceland

Svinafellsjökull Glacier Hike (Skaftafell)

Svinafellsjökull is one of the most popular places for glacier walking in Iceland. It’s located about two hours driving from Vik and about 50 minutes from Jokulsarlon at the Southern coast of central Iceland. Most tours start at Skaftafell Visitor Center where the tour companies have their gear and small offices. It is recommended to go with a group tour since many parts of the glacier can be dangerous to walk alone.

Of course, experienced glacier walkers could probably do this on their own, but beginners should always be accompanied by a professional guide. The group tours are not expensive and they provide all the gear you need, including crampons. Hiking boots can be rented if you give them notice beforehand. The tours are available year round but are probably best during Summer or Spring before the ice melts. Spring is ideal because you can venture down into ice crevasses and canyons.

Svinafellsjökull is also quite famous from movies and TV series such as Game of Thrones and Interstellar.

  • Duration: 1-2 days
  • Seasons:  Can be walked all seasons
  • Type of hike: Group tour with a guide for safety reasons (click here to check them out)
  • Starting point: Skaftafell Visitor Center
  • Difficulty rating: Easy
  • Highlights: Mountainous glacier, ice crevasses
  • Warning/Gear? A camera is OK to bring. Crampons and other gear are provided by the tour companies at Skaftafell visitor centre.

» Christine | Christine Abroad

Iceland Hikes Packing List

As you can see from the above everyone in our Iceland hiking guide recommends is investing in the right gear. For starters you really want to pack the top six essentials:

  • Waterproof coat/jacket
  • Down jacket for warmth
  • Waterproof trousers
  • Layers – Merino wool is best for thermals
  • Waterproof hiking boots
  • Waterproof bags for electronics like mobile phones and cameras

Waterproof Coat/Jacket

I can’t recommend the Mountain Equipment Rupal US / UK enough.

It is not only rainproof, but it also appears splashproof (I jest). I honestly feel like I wearing armour in it. There are large front pockets for maps, phones and snacks. The hood works ergonomically and there are pulls at the front and one at the back so you can see when the hood is up.

Down Jacket

Rab Alpine down jacket USA / UK in extra long to cover your bottom! It offers excellent insulation, I am a very cold person and I really dislike being cold too.

Waterproof Trousers

Iceland is wet. Whether it is the rain, wading through rivers or the spray from the waterfalls, you will get wet. I carry a cheap pair of over trousers USA / UK in my day bag to pull on top of leggings when out hiking. I did the same in Iceland and it worked a treat.

If you are hiking in Iceland in Winter I would suggest insulated leggings or waterproof hiking pants.

Merino Wool Tops

Merino wool keeps you cool in warm climates and hot in cold weather. They are expensive investments but worth every penny because of the dual-action. They wick away moisture from your body so it does not dry cold on your skin. It also stops your sweat from soaking into the material and smelling bad.

This is especially great for Iceland because you will be limited if looking to wash and dry clothes. Accommodation tends to only offer oil heaters which are toasty but you can’t dry items on them.

Check the range of Icebreaker Merino wool base layer tops USA / UK.

Waterproof Hiking Boots

I normally hike in Salomon trail shoes which are ankle height but splurged on a new pair of Salomon boots US / UK for the trip to Iceland because I knew we would be wading through water and I was right.

Like the Mountain Equipment jacket, I’m very happy with the quality of the boots. Not a drop of water entered the boots. The only thing I would say be careful with is the laces. There are hooks to wrap the laces around on both boots and the lace loops can get caught on them if you don’t tie the loops small enough.

Waterproof Bags

We opted to leave our Canons in the car when walking behind the waterfalls because we didn’t have the appropriate waterproof cover gear for the cameras. Luckily the GoPro Hero is waterproof and looks freaking awesome in wide mode…

Seljalandsfoss Icelands Waterfall

Craig’s iPhone 6 took a shot of the Gljúfrabúi waterfall from inside a cheap waterproof bag case.

This is honestly the first trip where I’ve had to really think about the electrics and rain/water spray. We always carry a waterproof day bag cover like this one by Osprey US / UK but in Iceland, you need to go a step further to protect your electronics if they are valuable to you. We witness photographers with plastic food bags taped around the camera which is something you could consider doing.

Also, add a few camera moisture absorbers to your bags to soak up the rain.

Additional Iceland Gear

  • Hats
  • Gloves
  • ScarfsLeggings (insulated?)
  • Trousers
  • Heaps of layers
  • Yellow Instagram coat
  • Sunglasses
  • Snacks from home (food is expensive)
  • Eco water bottle
  • Tote bags for shopping – save the plastic tide
  • Bumbag/fanny pack (yup, I hike with one – easy phone access)  
  • Battery packs/span>
  • Universal plug
  • Swimming gear
  • Prone to blisters? Use Leukotape US / UK

Don’t travel without insurance. Healthcare, logistically, is few and far between in Iceland. Make sure you are covered for hikes and other adventure activities you plan to take part in.

Why Hike in Iceland?

There is a lot of driving in Iceland. Whether you are taking an independent Iceland road trip or letting someone else do the driving though group tours, there are periods of time where you are sitting idle but enjoying the view from the window.

Hiking in Iceland gives you the chance to get out and amongst the beauty of Iceland whilst working the muscles.

Iceland is also very expensive. It cost us £19 for a burger in Reykjavik but the costly food, accommodation and fuel are balanced out by the variety of free things that you can do in Iceland and hiking is one of them!

Iceland Hiking Map

Click the map to enter Google maps version.Iceland hikes map

Is Hiking in Iceland Safe?

During the Summer months of June, July and August, hiking can be done independently on many trails. However, the glacier hikes should be done with a respectable company who can provide the correct equipment.

During Winter (November to March are the darkest months, the weather is temperamental from late September), some hikes are off the list and there is an increased need for support from experts. Luckily for visitors, Iceland is prepared for Winter hikes with many companies offering guidance.

Do I Have To Hike?

No! Many of Iceland’s best sightseeing stops are dotted around the South of the island (such as Skógafoss) and can be reached by driving there/taking a tour and then a short walk.

For example, Reynisfjara Black Beach is only a three-minute walk from the car park. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is a little longer at a 15-minute walk up the hill (well-established path).  Öxarárfoss hike is also a very short hike.

Öxarárfoss Hike

The hike to Öxarárfoss in Þingvellir National Park is a short ten-minute hike from the parking lot. The drive itself is about 40 minutes from Reykjavik.

The trail begins past a metal gate, which can be easily opened. After, it’s a hike down a steep, rocky trail. It is recommended to wear a  good pair of hiking boots no matter what the weather as it can be unpredictable.

At times, rocks can be slippery and both hands need to be free to help stabilise during the hike. The rocky trail does not last long, as a boardwalk shortly begins. From there it’s a few minutes to Öxarárfoss, a large, breathtaking waterfall cascading down black rocks of Almannagjá gorge.

  • Duration: 10 minutes there, 10 minutes back
  • Seasons: Can be walked all seasons
  • Type of hike: Self-guided
  • Distance: 1.6 km
  • Starting point: Þingvallavegur Nr. 36, Öxarárfoss car park
  • Difficulty rating: Easy
  • Highlights: Waterfall (ices over during Winter)
  • Warning/Gear? No water issues for a camera unless raining, hiking boots to avoid slipping 

» By Samah Khan | God & Wanderlust

You can also opt for 4X4 driving experiences on a volcano or even a snowmobile ride on a glacier which means you can still see what others do on the hike without having to trek!

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Final Thoughts

Iceland is a playground for hikers. Whether you are casually waterfall hunting or committing to a multi-day hike, ice picking your way across a glacier or trekking to find the best timelapse spots, there is a hike for every ability and often the treat of a hot spring at the end!

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