Iceland in 2 Weeks
Iceland in 2 Weeks

Iceland in 2 Weeks

by Lauren K -

Iceland is the perfect destination for anyone looking to immerse themselves in nature and dramatic landscapes. Despite it's surge in popularity over recent years, the country still feels unspoiled and remote.

This self-drive 2 week itinerary is focused on outdoor activities, so it is best completed in summer or fall. I highly recommend early fall (August/early September) because the weather is still relatively good but the crowds are smaller. The other benefit is that the daylight hours won't be so long, making it easier to sleep.

Itinerary Overview

  • 1949.6 km
  • 27.7 h
















The route takes you along the ring road (route 1) counter-clockwise. This itinerary is perfect for a first-timer because it hits all the most famous spots and then some. In my opinion, to not feel rushed you really need at least 2 weeks to get around the ring road. This itinerary assumes you arrive on a Saturday and leave on a Sunday for a total of 16 days, but there are a number of ways it can be shortened (e.g. stay one less night in Selfoss, skip the glacier hike, or skip the Snæfellsnes Peninsula). We are not city people so we did not plan to spend a lot of time in Reykjavik, but you may feel differently and want to have another day at the end to explore the city. 

Day 1: Arrival into Keflavík Airport

If you are coming from the USA, you will most likely land in Keflavík International Airport early in the morning after flying through the night. If, like me, you don't function very well with no sleep, don't plan to do very much on this first day. Keep it light with only a relaxing visit to the Blue Lagoon.

Tip: Check the aurora forecast for the night you fly. We saw the northern lights out of the plane window! This was actually the only time we got to see the aurora on the trip.

This is a self-drive itinerary, so you will need to rent a car from the airport. When you exit the airport, a free shuttle bus will take you to the rental car center. Many people have written about the pros and cons of getting a 4x4 in Iceland and, after some research, we decided that that for us it was not worth the extra expense. Instead, we went for the cheapest economy option - a tiny Kia Picanto. Our thinking was that if we wanted to go anywhere with rough roads, we would take a tour. As first-timers in the country, we weren't comfortable taking these routes by ourselves.

After picking up your rental car, make the short drive to the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is probably the most famous tourist destination in Iceland. Entry to the Blue Lagoon is expensive, but to be fair, all of Iceland is expensive. You will probably hear a lot of people say that it is overrated and not worth the money, but for us the Blue Lagoon is such an iconic location that we didn't feel right going all the way to Iceland and not doing it. If you decide to go, I recommend you make reservations before you arrive because time slots do sell out. There are separate men's and women's changing rooms where you are expected to take a shower before and and after entering the lagoon. Lockers, towels, and hairdryers are provided. 

When you have sufficiently relaxed, get back in the car and drive a little over an hour to the town of Selfoss. This will be home base for the next 3 nights. Iceland is expensive so if you have a tight budget you might consider camping on some or all of the nights.

Day 2: Golden Circle

This first full day of sightseeing is a well-beaten tourist track. The golden circle includes Gullfoss, Haukadalur, and Thingvellir National Park. It will be a long day to fit everything in already, but if you have time you can also stop by Kerið crater lake as well. Stay the night in Selfoss again.

Dining recommendation: Friðheimar 

This restaurant is as much about the experience as it is about the food. You dine inside a greenhouse with rows and rows of tomato plants. The greenhouse is heated by water from a local goethermal spring. After you are seated the waiter will give you a fascinating run-down of how they operate and the history. The highlight of their menu is the unlimited tomato soup and it is probably the best I have ever tasted. You will need to make reservations for this in advance.

Day 3: Landmannalaugar

To visit Landmannalaugar by yourself you will need a 4x4. Since we decided to rent a tiny economy car, we booked a Jeep tour to take us rather than self-drive. Most tours leave from Reykjavik, but since they drive through Selfoss anyway, many offer the option of pick-up and drop-off in Selfoss. 

This day turned out to be a bust for us, but we were very unlucky. The jeep got a flat tire and we had to wait a hours on the side of the road for a spare to arrive. Once the spare arrived, the bad weather rolled in. I can't say we saw much of the scenery through the rain and wind. Weather is a bit unpredictable in Iceland so you just have to roll with it and hope for the best. This day was very bad but we were rewarded with the most perfect weather we could ask for on the days that followed. If you have some flexibility, you could switch up the order of Day 2 and 3 based on the weather.

The most memorable part of the day was running in the freezing cold in our bathing suits from the changing rooms to the hot springs. Two sheep stood on the grass watching everyone in the water. 

Stay the night in Selfoss again.

View on a jeep tour to Landmannalaugar on day 3 of this Iceland 2 week itinerary
 Landmannalaugar Geothermal Spring - Iceland 2 Week Itinerary

Day 4: Thórsmörk

Wake up early and drive 40 mins from Selfoss to the Hvolsvöllur LAVA Centre. Park the car and get the first bus to the Volcano Huts in Thórsmörk. If you have a 4x4, you can drive yourself. However, the trip involves a river crossing that is not recommended unless you really know what you are doing. You could also park your 4x4 before the river and walk the rest of the way. We went with the simpler option of taking the bus, which also gave us the freedom to enjoy the views. When we went, there was only one other couple on the bus, so we sat up front next to the driver. The views from the front were gorgeous and we laughed at seeing the sheep running down the road to get out of the way.

When we arrived we went inside the reception to purchase a hiking trail map and get some advice. There are a number of trails to choose from but I already had my heart set on Tindfjöll Circle, about a 5 hour hike. I would highly recommend this trail, it was definitely my favorite day of the trip. Every step was picture-worthy so be prepared to stop a lot. 

Stay the night at the Volcano Huts. We chose to stay in one of their glamping tents. 

Day 5: Thórsmörk

In the morning do another short hike. We hiked up Valahnúkur mountain which takes about 1-2 hours. We had to run back down in order to catch the mid-day bus back to the LAVA Center.

Go inside the LAVA Center to learn about Iceland's Volcanoes. It is not very big so it won't take longer than about 45 mins - 1 hour. 

Drive on to Seljalandsfoss and Gljúfurárbui. You would have had a peak of the waterfall on the bus ride up to Thórsmörk. This spot is usually busy so there may be a line of people trying to get through the water into the canyon to see Gljúfurárbui.

Stay the night near the next town,Vik.

Day 6: Vik

There are many places you can visit on the road between Vik and Höfn, so you are probably going to have to prioritize what you most want to do. Remember to keep things flexible, though, because you might change your mind on the road. Here are some of your options:

  • Reynisfjara Beach 
  • Skógafoss
  • Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
  • Dyrholaey
  • Fjaðrárgljúfur

We decided to skip the plane wreck and Fjaðrárgljúfur because both involved quite a bit of walking and our legs were tired from the last two days of hiking. As we drove past the parking lot for the wreck we saw hoards of people trekking down to the beach so I don't regret not doing that. I do regret not going to Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon though. It looked like a beautiful place. 

Tip: At Reynisfjara beach keep your eye on the water. We spotted a humpback whale swimming very close to shore. No one else around us seem to notice! I was so excited that I was trying to show everyone in the vicinity.

Stay somewhere on the road between Vik and Höfn.

Day 7: Glacier Hike

For your safety, you must have an experienced guide with you to hike on to a glacier. There are several companies in the area that offer tours ranging from a couple of hours to a full day. We went with Local Guide of Vatnajökull. Originally we had booked a 4 hour tour, but just like with the other tour we booked, things didn't go according to plan. The weather was bad in the morning, but got better in the afternoon. So we were still able to go, but didn't do the full 4 hours.They will provide you with all the gear you need, just dress warmly. 

Before or after the glacier hike, check out Svartifoss waterfall. It will require some walking to get to, but it is worth it because the rock formations are unlike any of the other waterfalls you will see.

Glacier Hike
Svartifoss Waterfall, Iceland

Day 8: Jökulsárlón

To keep off week two of this adventure, book a morning zodiac boat tour on Jökulsárlón, a glacier lagoon. The lagoon is crowded but still worth the trip. Don't worry about being cold because you will be provided a warm waterproof suit before you head out onto the water. An alternative to Jökulsárlón is the smaller neighboring Fjallsárlón. Our tour guide was an Icelandic native. As well as talking about the lagoon he gave us lots of interesting information about living in Iceland, like how every year they must go into the mountains to collect the sheep for winter.

After the boat tour, check out the aptly named Diamond Beach on the other side of the main road. Don't forget to keep an eye out for seals swimming between the ice.

Keep driving route 1 to Höfn for dinner. Höfn is famous for its langoustines which are caught locally. Did you know? Icelanders really like pizza, you will find it on pretty much every menu you see. So, naturally, lookout for langoustines on pizza! 

If you you have time before or after dinner, drive to the Viking Cafe to view the Vestrahorn. If you are interested you can visit the prop Viking Village that was supposed to be used as a movie set.

Stay near Höfn.

Day 9: Driving Day

From here you will find the roads and towns become much quieter as most of the tourists only go as far as Jökulsárlón. Today is going to be a long driving day. It will take about 6 hours to follow route 1 as it snakes along the coast then turns north. If you want to add a couple of days to your trip you could check out some of the towns on the east coast. 

If you have time, stop at Dettifoss. It is easier to get to from the west side because the road is in better condition.

Stay somewhere in the area of Reykjahlíð or Laugar. This will be your base for 3 nights.

Day 10: Mývatn

There are a few different places you can visit in the area of Mývatn, a large lake.

  • Grjótagjá cave (made famous by Game of Thrones)
  • Dimmuborgir
  • Hverir geothermal area
  • Hverfjall
  • Mývatn Nature Baths

If you decided not to go to the Blue Lagoon, the Mývatn Nature Baths are a cheaper alternative. However, we found the sulfur smell at Mývatn Nature Baths to be over-powering, so we decided to skip them.

Stay somewhere in the area of Reykjahlíð or Laugar. 

Dining recommendation: Vogafjós Cowshed Cafe

My experience at this restaurant was hands-down amazing, it will be imprinted on my memory for life. It is part of a farm resort, so you could also stay here. The restaurant has floor to ceiling windows looking out over the cow fields, so you can watch the animals as you eat. Never have I seen cows that were so happy! I had no idea that cows could play. Every so often the group of cows would run to the house across the field together then run back. The waitress said they were running to Grandma's. On top of the amazing view, the food is incredibly fresh since most of it comes straight from the farm.

 Hverir Geothermal Area
Vogafjós Cowshed Cafe

Day 11: Húsavík

Húsavík is known for its whale watching tours. You generally have two options: the cheaper option is a larger boat with a covered area and a deck on top. The more expensive option is a smaller RIB speedboat. If you can spare the cash, the speedboat definitely makes for the better experience. It's exciting and you have a better chance of seeing the whales. On our tour we were watching a pair of humpback whales diving and coming up for air when the captain got a radio call to say a humpback nearby was breaching. In the speedboat we were able to get over there fast enough to catch the whale breach a few more times, which was amazing. Of course if you are not a big fan of open water, a bigger boat might be a better option.

On your way to or from Húsavík, check out Goðafoss.

Stay somewhere in the area of Reykjahlíð or Laugar.

Day 12: Akureyri and Icelandic Horses

In the morning drive to Akureyri and spend some time exploring and grab some lunch.

In the afternoon, keep driving the ring road to the area of Skagafjörður. This primarily agricultural region is famous for Icelandic horses. Like the sheep in other areas of Iceland, many of the horses here roam freely through the hills in the warmer months. Icelandic horses are distinct from other breeds in that they have five gaits, rather than the usual three. These extra gaits make them particularly capable when covering rough and uneven ground, like the volcanic terrain of Iceland. There are many guides in the area offering horse riding tours along the beach or into the hills. We took a two hour tour with Iceland Horse Tours and spent the night in their small guest house. On our two hour ride we stumbled across a herd of free roaming horses. The area is very rural, so if you are looking for shops or somewhere to eat, your best bet is Sauðárkrókur, the largest (but still small) town in the region.

If horses are not your thing, you could take more time to explore Akureyri and stay the night there. 

Skagafjörður
Horse riding tour through the hills of northern Iceland

Day 13: Driving and Seals

We are now heading towards the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. There are few places you can stop today depending on your interests. Hvítserkur is a popular view but the drive is a little out of the way of the ring road. This would be a good stop if you wanted to drive along the coast instead.

Other stops could be Kolugljúfur, a beautiful canyon, and Hvammstangi, famous for it's seals. We decided to go to Hvammstangi and ended up going out on a seal tour. The boat was mostly empty which made for a really peaceful and enjoyable experience. The captain gave us binoculars and some cookies made by his wife. 

Stay somewhere along route 1 or in the direction of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. We stayed at Sauðafell Guesthouse.

Day 14: Snæfellsnes Peninsula

We took the number 54 road along the north side of the peninsula, but we didn't realize that part of the way would be unpaved. We were able to do it in our economy rental car but it was slow going. Whichever direction you go, take your time exploring along the route. Some places to stop include:

  • Kirkjufell
  • Djúpalónssandur
  • Vatnshellir
  • Londrangar

Stay the night somewhere on the peninsula or keep driving closer to Reykjavik.

Day 15: Reykjavik

Drive to Reykjavik and spend some time exploring the city. If you need some budget friendly ideas for what to do, check out this blog post. Grab some food at one of the many great restaurants on your last night in the country.

Dining recommendation: Islenski Barinn

This placed has a relaxed atmosphere and a good drink selection. The reindeer burger with berry jam was absolutely delicious. 

Day 16: Fly Home

Grab some breakfast in the city if you have time before driving back to Keflavík airport to drop off the rental car and fly home. 


About the Author

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Lauren works a regular 9-5 day job, but traveling and sharing her experiences is her passion. She prefers nature to the cities and her favorite vacations are ones that involve hiking in the mountains.

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5 comments

  • Em

    Awesome itinerary. Def will be saving it for my return trip to Iceland, because you’re totally right – I was one of those tourists who only go as far as Jökulsárlón! That’s wild you didn’t see the lights at all in 2 weeks besides on the flight!

  • Angela

    I loved my road trip around Iceland but fair to say I didn’t spend as long as you so missed out on some of the amazing places you mention. I must go back!

  • Michelle Segrest

    This is a spectacular article filled with fantastic information. I’ve been to Iceland but only had four days so now I will know what to see whenever I have the opportunity to go back! Thanks!

  • Margarida

    Beautiful pictures. Thanks for sharing it.

  • Anna

    Iceland is such a beautiful country – I wish I could travel back again! We´ve done the Ring Road “express way” – in 5 days, so missed out so much! I wish I had 2 weeks for this trip – another reason to return! I´d love to do the Glacier Hike next time!

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