On an Iceland road trip for 7 days you will experience the best things to do in the south of Iceland. The country is so versatile, it offers countless waterfalls, glaciers, black lava beaches, volcanoes, hot springs and much more. The nature in Iceland is the highlight of the island. Nowhere in the world are there comparable landscapes in such abundance.
Iceland is just unique. You can spend many weeks or even months on Iceland and still not have seen everything. But even a 7 day itinerary in Iceland you can see many great sights and be enchanted by the breathtaking nature. If you don’t have a rental car for Iceland yet, read our guide to booking a rental car or look directly at what we think is the best rental car provider for Iceland northbound.is*. We will tell you know what’s the best way to see Iceland in 7 days, where to stay and what you should not miss when you visit Iceland.
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
7 Day Iceland Road Trip Itinerary – Overview
If you only have 7 days for you trip to Iceland, it would be too stressful to go around the entire island. Instead you should stay in the south of Iceland. But that’s not bad at all, because in the south of Iceland there are many great highlights like the glacier lagoon Jökulsárlon or the black lava beach Stokksnes.
Also many great waterfalls are located in the south of Iceland and can be visited with our Iceland itinerary for 7 days. So you can get a great overview of the wonderful landscape.
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Since there are no roads that cross Iceland except for the highland roads F36 and F35, you only have the ring road to drive on your trip to Iceland, which leads once around Iceland. Thus, unfortunately, you have no choice but to drive the same route back again, if you do not want to circumnavigate the island completely. So be prepared to best some time in the car. But there are always things to do on a roadtrip with friends like listen to a podcast.
I have explicitly omitted the highlands of Iceland from this 7 days Iceland itinerary, because this requires an off-road vehicle, which you otherwise do not need for this 7-day Iceland Itinerary. If you are interested in the best things to do in the highlands, please have a look at our travel report for our 14 days itinerary incl. highlands our trip.
The South of Iceland
If you have only 7 to 10 days for a round trip through Iceland, the south of Iceland is a good choice. Because the international airport Kevlavik is also located in the south of the country and there are many of the top sights such as Skogafoss, Diamond Beach or Stokksnes. At the same time, the south is equipped with a very good tourist infrastructure that makes its perfect for a trip to Iceland.
There are many good and also cheap hotels and via the ring road you can quickly get to the next sight. At the same time, there are many more tourists in the south than in the remote Westfjords of Iceland. Nevertheless, you will come back from this 7 day Iceland itinerary absolutely amazed, because Iceland is absolutely unique in the world with its landscape.
Iceland Road Trip Itinerary Route
|Route / Highlight
|Distance / Driving Time
|Kevlavik Airport to Golden Circle
|125 km / 2,5 h
|Golden Circle to Skogafoss
|75 km / 1,5 h
|Skogafoss to Vik
|45 km / 1 h
|Vik to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
|45 km / 1 h
|Skaftafell National Park
|50 km / 1 h
|Glacier Lagoon Jökulsárlon
|45 km / 1 h
|Stokksnes & Return
|360 km / 7.5 h
Where Should I Book my Rental Car for Iceland?
Generally, we always book our rental cars for anywhere in the world through the big rental companies. But there are unfortunately no campervans or rental cars with roof tent. You can also not filter for cars that are suitable for the highlands. For this you must look with Icelandic offerers. A specialized price comparison site for rental cars in Iceland is northbound.is*.
There you will find everything from normal small cars to SUVs with roof tent to large SUVs and campervans. With both portals one can cancel all cars up to 48 hours before beginning of renting free of charge. Especially in times of Covid, this is an important factor.
Car Rental at the Iceland Specialist with Years of Know-How:
- compares all Icelandic car rental providers
- specialized in Iceland roundtrips and the highlands
- specialized insurances for the rough Iceland available
- free cancellation up to 48h before start of rental period
- normal rental cars, campervans, motorhomes, SUV (also with roof tent) & off-road vehicles available
What is important when renting a car you can read in our Iceland car rental guide.
Day 1 of the Iceland Itinerary | Golden Circle
On your first day of your week in iceland itinerary you will pick up your rental car and get some groceries. You can check out the capital of Iceland on this first day and stroll the streets of Reykjavik a bit if you need some time to arrive and acclimate. However, the capital doesn’t have super much to offer and you’ll have seen the most important things in a couple of hours.
Therefore, we would rather recommend you to concentrate on the nature highlights of Iceland and thus head directly into the nature towards the northeast. You will visit the highlights of the Golden Circle, one of the most popular sights in Iceland.
The Golden Circle in Iceland
The Golden Circle is one of the most famous sights in Iceland. But what is the Golden Circle anyway? The route is neither a circle nor is it golden. But you get to see 3 top sights within a few hours or kilometers.
Accordingly, there are many more tourists on the road, because you can also visit the Golden Circle in Iceland as a day tourist from Reykjavik. In our opinion, you can see everything here in half a day, so it will be a relaxing day.
Thingvellir National Park
The first highlight of the Golden Circle is Thingvellir. This is the most important historical site in Iceland and is located in the national park of the same name. Over 1000 years ago, the first parliamentary assembly in history took place here. 4000 people gathered in Thingvellir in the year 930 to discuss new laws and moderate disputes.
But the geology of the place is also very worth seeing, because in Thingvellir the rifts between the Eurasian and the American continental plate are visible and you can virtually walk between the continents. Thingvellir National Park is also home to Iceland’s largest lake (Thingvallavatn), which is surrounded by a total of four active volcanoes.
Strokkur is the most active and temporally reliable geyser in the world. Every few minutes it shoots a fountain of water several meters high into the air. Right next to it, by the way, is the geyser “Geysir”. Read correctly! Here stands the namesake of all other geysers in the world, but unfortunately it is no longer active today.
The area around the geysers is a large geothermal area. Everywhere it bubbles out of the earth and there are signs posted that you should be careful because the steam shoots out of the earth at almost 100 degrees.
The highlight of the area is the geyser Strokkur, which erupts every 8-10 minutes and shoots a steam and water fountain about 25 meters into the air.
All the time tons of tourists stand at the barrier of the geyser and wait with drawn cell phones for the next eruption. Further back you can climb a hill from which you have a good overview of the whole area. Beside the large visitor parking lot there is by the way still another restaurant and a visitor center with souvenir store.
Gullfoss is Iceland’s most visited waterfall. The water masses plunge here from a height of 30 meters in several stages into the depth and cause a deafening noise. You should pay attention to waterproof clothes if you want to get close to the waterfall!
You can get pretty close to the waterfall and from the right angle you can also see a big rainbow in the spray. For us, one of the most beautiful and definitely the biggest waterfalls in Iceland.
If you don’t have a rental car you can easily book a tour to the best things to do on the Golden Circle. This is a great way to visit all the beautiful sights there.
From the airport in Kevlavik you head north to the Golden Circle. There you can also look for a nice hotel, like the one below.
- Driving distance: 200 km
- Driving time: 2.5 hours
- Highlights on the way: Geysir, Gulfoss, Thingvellir National Park
Where To Stay
You can spend the night near the Golden Circle, so you don’t have to drive too much. We’ve picked out a nice hotel for you that has a large common area and even a hot tub. Great for relaxing after a long day.
Efra-Sel Hostel at the Golden Circle
- directly at the Golden Circle
- with own whirlpool
- large shared kitchen
- nicely equipped bathrooms
Day 2 | Seljalandsfoss & Skogafoss
On day 2 of your 7 days in Iceland you will head south on the ring road and then continue east. After a few kilometers you will pass one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland and you should definitely stop there. If you drive a few minutes north on a gravel road, you will pass a little insider tip of Iceland.
This waterfall is one of the most famous in Iceland and is famous for the fact that you can also get behind the waterfall, giving you a great photo perspective. Seljalandsfoss is located directly at the turnoff towards Þórsmörk (where, by the way, you can only get with a super jeep on a guided tour* ) not far from the ring road in Iceland.
The waterfall plunges 66 meters into the depth and is fed by the Eyjafjallajökull glacier, which spectacularly paralyzed air traffic throughout Europe in 2010. By the way, a visit is especially charming in the evening, as the sun is wonderfully positioned when you stand behind the waterfall.
Glufrafoss (or Gljúfrabúi) is only a few hundred meters away and you should bring rubber boots and a rain jacket. You have to walk through a small canyon directly through the water to get to the waterfall.
The best about this waterfall is the way to it. The waterfall itself isn’t even that spectacular, but the gorge you have to go through is super adventurous and it’s fun to hop from rock to rock to get through the gorge on dry feet. About 30 minutes further west, not far from the ring road, stands one of Iceland’s most spectacular and beautiful waterfalls.
Skógafoss is a must-do on your Iceland tour. The special thing about this waterfall is that you can walk to the foot of Skógafoss and get really great shots.
If you have seen enough, you can climb up to the top on the right side of Skogafoss via a staircase and see the waterfall again from a completely different perspective. You should make this small effort in any case, because from up there also starts a very special hike.
East of the waterfall the famous trekking trail Fimmvörðuháls leads up to the pass Fimmvörðuháls and further to Þórsmörk. This 25 km hike is usually done in 2 days, because it is accordingly strenuous.
The destination is the camping site of Þórsmörk from where you can get back to the ring road by bus. You can also do the hike in one day, either by being very fast or by walking only to the middle of the hike, to the Fimmvoerduhals huts (about 8km), and then turning back.
Or you do it like we do and just walk a few kilometers or as far as you can get and then turn around and walk back to the Skogafoss parking lot. The hike along the river Skoga is really beautiful and the further you walk the less people you will meet.
Today you will drive along the ring road and see two of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.
- Driving distance: 120 km
- Travel time: 1.5 hours
- Highlights on the way: Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss
Where To Stay
If you drive about 30 minutes back to the west, you will come to beautiful and secluded wooden cabins, which are very close to the ring road. But nevertheless far enough away to have your peace and quiet.
Brú Guesthouse is located not far from the ring road and consists of several wooden huts built next to each other in the greenery. You are completely for yourself and if you are lucky the friendly farm dog comes by and says hello to you.
- own wooden cabin
- own bathroom
- fully equipped kitchen
- View into the green
Day 3 | Dyrhólaey & Vik
About 13 km before Vik the road 218 turns right and brings you to the peninsula Dyrhólaey. This peninsula in Iceland consists of an impressive rock plateau, which offers a spectacular cliff towards the sea, where thousands of birds (e.g. terns and puffins) breed.
The way to the top, where there is also an old lighthouse, is very steep and leads you in serpentines to the top. But even with a normal car equipped with some driving skills you should have no problems.
When you reach the top, you have a view of the black beach for miles to the west. On the other side of the plateau you can see all the way to the rock needles of Vik (Reynisdrangar) and you can also see a rock gate right at the foot of the plateau, through which even boats sometimes pass.
All in all, a wonderful view and a trip that is definitely worth it. When you go back down you can drive a bit further towards the beach, but in our opinion this is not really necessary.
Reynisfjara Basalt Columns
Only a few kilometers further east, just before Vik, road 215 turns off and brings you again to a black lava beach, where this time spectacular basalt columns are waiting for you. Directly at the sea and next to a large cave (Hálsanefshellir Cave) hundreds of columns, some of them 30 meters high, are waiting to be admired and climbed.
The nearby parking lot is, as everywhere in Iceland, free of charge and sufficiently large. You walk only a few minutes and then come to the pebble beach, where you can take great photos of you on the basalt columns. But be careful, you will not be alone here.
The place is always very crowded and it is not easy to find a place where you can take an undisturbed photo. And again, be careful: the waves here can be very treacherous and generally have an extremely strong current. A few years ago, an Asian tourist was even pulled into the sea here and drowned. So never turn your back to the waves!
Vík í Mýrdal
Vik is a nice little town and a tourist center of the area. Not only is the Netflix series Katla set here, but you can also make good use of the tourist infrastructure. There are gas stations, a large supermarket and many cheap hotels. Vik also has a Black Sand Beach to offer, but it’s not super spectacular here either, so you don’t have to stay here very long.
You drive the whole time on the well-developed ring road and pass many beautiful sights.
- Driving distance: 70 km
- Driving time: 1 hour
- Highlights on the way: Dyrhólaey peninsula, Reynisfjara beach
Where To Stay
On this day you can stay overnight near Vik. You can either go to a camping site or book yourself into a nice hotel.
Recommendation for a camping site
The campsite is idyllically located and offers tent sites and also wooden cabins with a little more comfort.
- Vik Camping:
- http://www.vikcamping.is/(location on Google Maps)
Recommendation for hotels in Vik
We stayed at this wonderful little hotel that was recently modernized. You are within walking distance of the famous basalt columns at Black Beach Reynisfjara. There is free breakfast in the form of coffee, cookies and cereals and you only pay about 50 Euro per night here. We felt very comfortable here.
Luxury hotel with all the bells & whistles
Hotel Vík í Mýrdal has super fancy rooms and everything you can think of. Starting at 140€ per night.
Day 4 | Pakgil & Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Just a few minutes outside of Vik (Google Maps link) begins a true dream road of Iceland, the Kerlingardalsvegur to Pakgil. The road to Pakgil Canyon leads to the secluded Thakgil campsite in Katla National Park, which should also only be visited with a 4×4 vehicle (read our rental car guide here). You always have fantastic views and the route is really varied.
The campsite at the end of the road is surrounded by high mountains and has a small river flowing through it. From here also start various hikes in the beautiful surroundings. Here it is super idyllic and we would have stayed here with pleasure, if the hut prices would not have been so high (180€ per night). So we enjoyed the nature a bit and then drove back towards Vik.
From Pakgil it is less than one hour drive to the impressive canyon of Fjaraglufir. By the way, drone flying is allowed there. The river has dug deep into the canyon here, leaving behind a wonderfully rutted landscape.
The gorge with the unpronounceable name is a canyon in the south of Iceland, located about 70 kilometers west of Vik. The canyon is up to 100 meters deep in some places and has a length of about 2 kilometers.
The canyon was formed about 2 million years ago and offers steep cliffs and fantastic views of the rugged rocky landscape. In about 1 hour you can walk along a trail at the edge of the canyon to a waterfall and then back to the parking lot. You should plan a total of about 2 hours time on site.
You drive the whole time on the well-developed ring road and pass many beautiful sights on this day of your 7 day Iceland itinerary.
- Driving distance: 70 km
- Drivingtime: 1 hour
- Highlights on the route: Pakgil, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Where To Stay
- cozy wooden cabins in the green
- Not far from the canyon
- Rooms with private bathroom
- Free breakfast included
Day 5 | Skaftafell National Park
Your next stop is Skaftafell National Park. The national park was established in 1967 and later annexed to Vatnajökull National Park. It has an area of over 1,700 square kilometers and is located not far from the ring road. There is also a large visitor center with restaurant, restrooms and souvenir store here. Unfortunately, there is a fee for the huge parking lot.
You will be photographed automatically when you drive in and have to pay your day ticket of 600 ISK (approx. 4 €) at parking machines. You can do many beautiful hikes here, of which we would like to recommend 2 in particular.
Hike to the glacier Vatnajökull
This hike takes you to a side arm of the glacier Vatnajökull, which you can also see at the nearby glacier lagoon Fjallsárlón. But here you can get much closer and, if you wear rubber boots and cross a small river carefully, you can even get directly to the glacier’s ice.
It takes about 30 minutes to get from the parking lot to the glacier. If you have more time, you can also take the hiking trail on the left side of the glacier up the hill, which takes you along the glacier and then on a circular route through the whole Skaftafell National Park. This takes approx. 7 hours.
Hike to Svartifoss Waterfall
The second major highlight of Skaftafell National Park is the Svartifoss waterfall, which pours over a rock full of basalt columns. It takes about 45 minutes to get from the visitor center to the waterfall and a loop trail back to the parking lot. This hike should not be missed on a 7 day Iceland itinerary.
When it rains it can be a bit slippery on the paths, but the trail leads through colorful and different landscapes through the national park and is highly recommended. If you have more time on site, then try one of the many other trails of Skaftafell National Park.
You will drive the whole time on the well-built ring road and pass many beautiful sights.
- Driving distance: 80 km
- Driving time: 1 hour
- Highlights on the way: Skaftafell National Park with the Glacier and Svartifoss
Where To Stay
If you don’t want to drive far after a long day of hiking, then stay overnight at the nearby Hotel Skaftafell, within walking distance of the glacier.
- comfortable rooms with private bathroom
- Free breakfast included
Day 6 | Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach
On day 6 of your 7 day Iceland itinerary you will drive the ring road further east and after some time you will inevitably pass the largest and most famous glacier lake in Iceland: Jökulsárlon. It is located between Skaftafell National Park and Höfn and is with its 284 meters the deepest lake in Iceland.
Jökulsárlon is known for the icebergs floating on it, which can be up to 30 meters high.
On the shore of the lake there are many skuas and also seals to see. By the way, there is another glacial lake nearby, the much smaller and more remote Fjallsárlón, with smaller icebergs. There are much fewer tourists on the road and you can enjoy a little more peace and quiet.
You can book boat trips on the Jökulsárlon or even take a hike on the glacier tongue. Of course, this is not possible on your own, but only as part of a guided tour. This is best booked with the provider GetYourGuide*.
Directly opposite and within walking distance is Diamond Beach. A sandy beach with black lava sand and blue glittering ice chunks that float on the water and partly lie on the beach.
The sight is really unique. What else you can do at the glacier lagoon, where to park and more travel tips you can read in our travelogue to the glacier lagoon & Diamond Beach:
Today you will drive from your hotel near Skaftafell National Park to the glacier lagoon on your 7 day Iceland itinerary .
- Driving distance: 70 km
- Travel time: 1 hour
- Highlights on the route: Glacier lagoon and Diamond Beach
Where To Stay
There are not many hotels in the immediate vicinity of the glacier lagoon, and many are also quite expensive. During our two visits to the glacier lagoon, we stayed in the Skyrhúsid Guesthouse, which is only 10 minutes away. You are super fast at the hotel and still sleep in a quiet distance away from the ring road. Skyrhúsid Guest House
- Large shared kitchen
- Lovingly furnished rooms
- located off the ring road
- 10 minutes to Diamond Beach and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon
- Double room from 80 Euro
If you want to stay overnight in a tent, you have to drive to Höfn. There you can stay in wooden cabins or in your own tent.
Day 7 | Stokksnes & Return Journey
On the last day of your 7 day Iceland itinerary you will drive a short distance east before we head back to the airport. Because you should not miss the peninsula Stokksnes. You haven’t seen anything like it yet!
Stokksnes is a peninsula at the foot of the mountain Vestrahorn. To visit the beautiful beach you have to pay 800 ISK per person at the Viking Cafe. The friendly woman at the cafe gives you a map and explains what you can see. There is also a Viking village nearby.
This is a backdrop for a movie (which was probably never filmed), which is unfortunately not really kept up and therefore no longer looks so good. Of course, this does not detract from the landscape around it. The sand on this peninsula is pitch black and as fine as on a sandy beach in the Caribbean. In addition, grassy hills grow on the sand, giving it a special look. The special thing on every photo that you shoot here is the mountain Vestrahorn, which is located at the beginning of this peninsula and offers a majestic view.
The combination of the black sandy beach, green overgrown hills and the intimidating looking Mount Vestrahorn in the background is pretty awesome. For us, one of the top destinations in Iceland. Read our separate travel report on Stokksnes.
If you have more days to spare, check out our 14 day Iceland itinerary. If you have to go back home, then make your way back to the airport in Kevlavik. It’s going to be a long drive, but you’ll be able to see a few sights along the way that you skipped on the way there.
Today you’ll head to a real Icelandic highlight, the Stokksness Peninsula with Mount Vestrahorn. Afterwards you go back to the airport
- Driving distance: 570 km
- Travel time: 7,5 hours
- Highlights on the way: Stokksnes and everything you missed on the way there.
Where To Stay
If you fly back home from Iceland the next morning, we can recommend the following hotel near the airport:
Hotel Berg by Keflavik Airport
- luxurious hotel
- Close to the airport
- Private bathroom
- Very tasty breakfast
If you have any questions about this iceland 7 day itinerary leave us a comment below!