Iceland in 1 week doesn’t sound like much time, but you can still visit a lot of the great highlights of Iceland in 7 to 10 days. Iceland is so super 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 must be seen and many are drawn to the volcanic island in the Atlantic not only once. You can spend many weeks or even months on Iceland and still not have seen everything. But even on a round trip in just one week 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 northbound.is*.

1 week Iceland itinerary overview

If you only have a week for an Iceland road trip, then it’s unrealistic and too stressful to go around the entire island, instead you should stay in the south. 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 one week. So you can get a great overview of the wonderful landscape and whet your appetite for the next Iceland trip.


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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 for your Iceland round trip, 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.

I have explicitly omitted the highlands of Iceland from this Iceland itinerary, because this requires an off-road vehicle, which you otherwise do not need for this 7-day round trip. If you are interested in the highlights of the highlands, please have a look at our travel report for our 14 days itinerary incl. highlands our trip.

Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South
Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

The south of Iceland

If you have only one week or maximum 10 days for a round trip through Iceland, then the south of Iceland is a good choice. Because the international airport Kevlavik is also located in the extreme south of the island and in the south 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.

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 trip absolutely amazed, because Iceland is absolutely unique in the world with its landscape.

Iceland itinerary overview

DayRoute / HighlightDistance / time
Day 1Kevlavik Airport to Golden Circle125 miles / 2,5 hours
Day 2Golden Circle to Skogafoss75 miles / 1,5 hours
Day 3Skogafoss to Vik45 miles / 1 hour
Day 4Vik to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon45 miles / 1 hour
Day 5Skaftafell Nationalpark50 miles / 1 hour
Day 6Glacier Lagoon Jökulsárlon45 miles / 1 hour
Day 7Stokksnes & Return 360 miles / 7.5 hours
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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:

Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South Northbound.is

  • 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

Iceland car hire at northbound.is*

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 you will pick up your rental car and buy some provisions. You could 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. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South

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 here. 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 Geyser

Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South
Geyser

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 tens 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 here.

Gullfoss Waterfall

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!

There is a large parking lot for visitors, where you will also find a souvenir store, and a smaller parking lot (marked “for coaches”) where you can park closer to the waterfall. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South

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.

🚗 Route info

From the airport in Kevlavik we head north to the Golden Circle. There you can also look for a nice hotel, like the one vogeschlagene below.

  • Driving distance: 200 km
  • Driving time: 2.5 hours
  • Highlights on the way: Geysir, Gulfoss, Thingvellir National Park

🏨 Overnight stay

You can spend the night near the Golden Circle today, so you don’t have so much driving time. 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

The Efra-Sel Hostel is located not far from the Golden Circle and is a good end point after visiting the Golden Circle.Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South

  • directly at the Golden Circle
  • with own whirlpool
  • large shared kitchen
  • nicely equipped bathrooms
Efra-Sel Hostel | Check Availability*

Day 2 | Seljalandsfoss & Skogafoss

Today 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 then drive a few minutes north on a gravel road, you will pass a little insider tip of Iceland.

Seljalandsfoss

Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South
Seljalandfoss

This waterfall is one of the most famous in Iceland and is famous for the fact that you can also get behind the waterfall here, 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.

The waterfall plunges 66 meters into the depths here 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 then wonderfully positioned when you stand behind the waterfall.

Glufrafoss

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. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South Here the way to the waterfall is really the goal. 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 drive further west, not far from the ring road, stands one of Iceland’s most spectacular and beautiful waterfalls.

Skógafoss

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.

Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South
Skogafoss

Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's SouthThe Skógafoss pours on a width of 25 meters fierce 60 meters into the depth and offers particularly great photo motives, if you go close or zoom in with the camera.

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.

Fimmvörðuhál’s hike

East of the waterfall the famous trekking trail Fimmvörðuháls leads up to the pass Fimmvörðuháls and further to Þórsmörk. This hike is with 25 km length not without, but if you are interested, check it out. The hike is usually run 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. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South 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.

🚗 Route info

Today you will head towards the eastern fjords of Iceland. Before you will pass an Icelandic highlight (Stokksness) and an insider tip (Golden Valley).

  • Driving distance: 120 km
  • Travel time: 1.5 hours
  • Highlights on the way: Seljalandsfoss, Skogafoss

🏨 Overnight stay

If you drive about 30 minutes back to the west, you will come to beautiful and secluded wooden cabins, which are nevertheless very close to the ring road. But nevertheless far enough away to have your peace and quiet.

Brú Guesthouse

Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South 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 here 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

Brú Guesthouse | Check Availability*

Day 3 | Dyrhólaey & Vik

Dyrhólaey

About 13 km before Vik the road 218 turns right and brings you to the peninsula Dyrhólaey. The peninsula 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. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South 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 crazy Netflix series Katla set here, but you can also make good use of the tourist infrastructure here. 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.

A place with a pedestrian zone to stroll is Vik in any case, but for refueling and filling the food supply it is definitely enough.

🚗 Route info

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

🏨 Overnight 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.

Recommendation for hotels in Vik

Budget hotel Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's SouthWe 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 euros per night here. We felt very comfortable here.

Guesthouse Reynir in Vik*

Luxury hotel with all the bells & whistles Hotel Vík í Mýrdal has super fancy rooms and every pipapo you can think of. Starting at 140€ per night.

The luxury Hotel Vik*

Day 4 | Pakgil & Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Pakgil

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). The way is really the goal 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. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South 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.

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

From Pakgil it is less than an hour drive to the impressive canyon of Fjaraglufir. By the way, drone flying is allowed there for once and I didn’t have to be told twice. 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. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South

🚗 Route info

You drive the whole time on the well-developed ring road and pass many beautiful sights.

  • Driving distance: 70 km
  • Drivingtime: 1 hour
  • Highlights on the route: Pakgil, Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

🏨 Overnight stay

Hunkubakkar Guesthouse

  • cozy wooden cabins in the green
  • Not far from the canyon
  • Rooms with private bathroom
  • Free breakfast included

Hunkubakkar Guesthouse*

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 shield.

It takes about 30 minutes to get from the parking lot to the glacier. If you have more time, you can also stay to the left of the glacier and take the hiking trail up the hill, which takes you in 7 hours along the glacier and then on a circular route through the whole Skaftafell National Park. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South

Hike to Svartifoss waterfall

The second major highlight of Skaftafell National Park is the Svartifoss waterfall, which pours over a rock face full of basalt columns. It takes about 45 minutes to get from the park’s large visitor center to the waterfall and a loop trail back to the parking lot.

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. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South

🚗 Route info

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: Dyrhólaey peninsula, Reynisfjara beach

🏨 Overnight stay

Hotel Skaftafell 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

Hotel Skaftafell | check prices*

Day 6 | Jökulsárlon Glacier Lagoon & Diamond Beach

On day 6 of your Iceland round trip 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*. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South 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:

🚗 Route info

Today you will drive from your hotel near Skaftafell National Park to the glacier lagoon.

  • Driving distance: 70 km
  • Travel time: 1 hour
  • Highlights on the route: Glacier lagoon and Diamond Beach

🏨 Overnight 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 HouseIceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South

  • 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
Skyrhúsid Guest House | check prices*

Camping

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.

Camping Höfn at Google Maps

Day 7 | Stokksnes & return journey

Today we 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

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 then 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. Iceland in 7 Days I Highlight Itinerary in Iceland's South 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 here, 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 jet 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.

Return trip

If you have more days to spare, check out our 14 day Iceland it inerary. If you have to go back home, then you should 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.

🚗 Route info

Today you’ll head to a real Icelandic highlight, the Stokksness Peninsula with Mount Vestrahorn. Afterwards it goes 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.

🏨 Overnight stay

If you fly back home 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
Hotel Berg| Check prices*

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