Around Iceland in 5 days: the mission itself sounds kind of “Around the World in 365 days” [lol] The internet is full of questions “Can I do Iceland´s Ring Road in 5 days? 7 days? 11 days?”. The answer normally is “You´d need at least 11 days”. So, is Iceland´s Ring Road in 5 days really a “mission impossible”?
I´m back from the most wonderful place on the Earth, the Land of Ice and Fire, beautiful and wild Iceland. The main conclusion of my trip is that Iceland (alongside The Big Island of Hawaii and The Canary Islands) is one of the most amazing places I´ve ever been too. Mountains, rivers, volcanos, glaciers, waterfalls, black sand beaches… the natural wonders of Iceland are endless. No wonder Iceland has been one of the most epic filming locations on Game of Thrones.
As an avid traveler, I always try to prepare my trips so that I could cover more places and live more experiences. Iceland was not an exception… Have you ever over-planned a trip? After reading numerous blogs, travel journals and doing my research all over Social Media: I couldn’t help the feeling “Wait..I´ve already seen it” while traveling around Iceland. But on the other hand, this has helped me to build up a plan of intensive sightseeing and fulfilling my goal of completing Iceland´s Ring Road in 5 days.
How many days do you need in Iceland?
Let me put this straight from the very beginning: 7 days is not enough to see everything in Iceland and doing Iceland´s Ring Road in 5 days is an adventure. Although it also means that you can´t see it all along the way – you´ll need to prioritize and make stops only for the places you´d like visiting the most. And of course, if you have two weeks or more for this trip – it is wonderful. Probably, 11-14 days is the best choice for the Ring Road drive.
Another option is 4 days for the South Iceland Itinerary if you only aim to see the country´s most popular attractions.
If you have several weeks for your Icelandic Adventure, you obviously, get to see much more natural wonders along the way, to hike the most of the routes and there is no need to rush at all.
Also read: The Ultimate New Zealand 2 Week Itinerary
But what if you simply don’t have those 2 weeks? What if all you have is a week and you still want to see more than just a South Iceland? – It was our case. I wish we had more time for this trip, but we simply did not. Our choice was either to postpone it all until an undetermined date or head to Iceland and try to make the most of our time. So, by and large, if you´re ready to have a very active vacation: driving a lot, getting little sleep and walking fast – doing Iceland´s Ring Road in 5 days is entirely possible. You might feel like you need another vacation after this one. But the adventure is always worth it, isn’t it?
The good thing is that you have 16-17 hours of daylight in August. Otherwise, we wouldn´t be able to see that much. My whole trip to Iceland was 7 days. But the actual Ring road drive was made in 5 days. One day arrival/airport/transfers/car rental/sleeping and one full day for Reykjavik and Blue Lagoon. Below you could see my itinerary and while looking back to this trip I´m actually quite happy with how things worked out.
Iceland´s Ring Road in 5 days: Itinerary
Day 1 – Arrival
Late arrival and a night in Keflavik.
Day 2 Keflavik – Selfoss
- Thingvellir National Park*( we only made a quick stop here, you could hike more and do the famous diving between tectonic plates)
- Bruarfoss Waterfall
- Strokkur Geysir
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- Kerid Crater
No matter the length of your Icelandic adventure, your first target should be the Golden Circle. Check all the stops, tips and highlights about driving the Golden Circle in Iceland to make the most of your trip.
Day 3 Selfoss – Hofn
- Seljalandfoss Waterfall
- Skogafoss Waterfall
- Vik/ Dyrholaey
- Skaftefell National Park* (we only did the hike to the Svartifoss Waterfall, you could also do Svinafellsjökull Glacier hike)
Day 4 Hofn – Akureyri
- Jokusarlon Glacier Lake
- Dettifoss waterfall
- Myvathn lake + Vogafos Farm (Read more: Eating in Iceland)
- Hverir Mudpots
- Godafoss waterfall
More things you could do nearby: Grjotagja cave, Hafragilsfoss waterfall, Myvatn Baths, helicopter flights from Myvatn over the lake or volcanos.
Day 5 Akureyri and Whale Watching tour
- Whale Watching tour in Husavik
- Akureyri (city walk and shopping + delicious local Ice Cream)
Day 6 Akureyri – Hellnar / Sanefelness Peninsula
- Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge
- Kirkjufell Waterfall
- Stykkisholmur (Read more: Snæfellsnes peninsula – Iceland in Miniature)
You could also do: Mountain Helgafell.
Day 7 Hellnar -Reikjavik +Blue Lagoon
We drove back to Reykjavik early morning, dropped off a rented car, spent the whole day exploring the city. Afterwards, we took a transfer to the Blue Lagoon (late evening). The only drawback: the Blue Lagoon was not quite that blue. I really expected them to have a better lighting system: it was quite dark to appreciate the watercolor. So if it is one of the main things you want to see in Iceland – book in advance and go there first thing in the morning.
To Sum Up
I know, it looks like after this schedule you´d need at least another week of vacation to recover [lol] Nevertheless, me and my husband, we both arrived home energized and happy with this intensive sightseeing. In Iceland, we would wake up around 6 a.m. with no alarm every day (probably due to the time difference with Europe). Moreover, we would drive from 4 to 6 hours every day (except one day in Akureyri and the last one in Reykjavik). However, when everything around is so beautiful and you make many stops along the way – you simply don’t get bored from driving.
The excitement of seeing the stunning Icelandic waterfalls and other incredible natural wonders along the way wins over comfort and makes sleep useless. At home, I´m used to sleeping at least 8 hours per day, but in Iceland, 6 hours was more than enough for me. Maybe, clean water and fresh air matter more than we realize? By the way, Icelandic water is the most delicious one I´ve ever tried.I don´t drink tap water in Europe (the one exception was probably in Switzerland), but Iceland is a place to connect with nature and drink everything but bottled water.
Yes. I won’t lie to you – doing Iceland´s Ring Road in 5 days might not be for everyone. It is a challenging task, we woke up around 6.30 -7.00 a.m and went to bed around 11 p.m. every day. Yet if you’d ask me whether I prefer limiting our trip to South Iceland – I´d say no. I actually enjoyed the North of Iceland and Snæfellsnes peninsula much more than the touristic South. So, I’m extremely happy we risked doing Iceland´s Ring Road in 5 days. It was an adventurous task from the beginning, but also 100% worth it.
For more travel inspiration and useful tips about Iceland check my Iceland Pinterest Board.