The Best of Iceland in 4 Days: [Itinerary Included]
I traveled to Iceland solo for 4 days, end of 2016 - and I absolutely fell in love with this country! I found my flight to Iceland on a random summer day as I was searching on Google Flights for cheap destinations. I remembered seeing a deal with Travelzoo to Iceland and I thought “Hm, I’ve never been there! Let me check flight prices,”...usually how my travel planning works (click here for my exact steps to finding cheap flights). I found that the flight prices from NYC to Iceland really varied depending on the weekend, from $296 to over a thousand dollars! I found a round-trip flight with WOW Air for the first weekend in December for $296, so I bought it that second!
Other than the cheap flights, I knew nothing about the cost of living in Iceland. And let me tell you, it is not cheap! I quickly found out that Iceland’s cost of living is very very high - like $12 for a box of cereal high. I wanted to keep this trip on a budget, and since I would be traveling solo I didn’t mind looking at hostel options. The hostels I found were more expensive than in other countries; however, they all looked beautiful and super clean. I ended up booking with Reykjavik Downtown Hostel that offers both shared and private rooms.
If you are traveling in the summer, I would recommend you rent a car as you’ll be able to visit the main points of attraction outside of the city center on your own time. If you are traveling in the winter, and solo as I was, I would advise you not rent a car and stick to organized tours. I’m not usually a fan of organized tours, but given the extreme weather conditions (we saw several buses flipped on their side due to the harsh road conditions) and my short time in Iceland, this was really the best option - and I’m really glad I did!
Of course, there is a lot to see in this beautiful country, but if you are traveling for 4 days, this itinerary below will ensure you experience all of the highlights!
ICELAND ITINERARY | DAY 1
4:00am: Flight arrival into Reykjavik
4:30am: Reykjavik Excursions Flybus transportation into the city center. I bought a ticket on arrival, but there are several companies there with similar prices. The journey into the city takes about 45 mins, with wifi on board.
5:15am: Check into hotel. Since I arrived hours before my room was ready, Reykjavik Downtown Hostel was kind enough to let me stay in the guest house/common area in the back, with a super comfy couch, and nap for a couple of hours.
7:00am: Breakfast at Bergsson Mathús. I thought I’d be the first in line at 7:00am, but since there are only a handful of places open before 8am, there was already a long line when I arrived. If you’re a breakfast lover like me, go for the traditional Bergsson Brunch. It’s quite pricey at kr. 2,490 ($24 USD), but the amount of food you get should tie you over through lunch!
8:00am - 4:00pm: Golden Circle Tour with Reykjavik Excursions. Pickup time is 30mins before departure at your hotel. We visited the Friðheimar greenhouse, the UNESCO site Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and the famous Gullfoss waterfall. So many beautiful, iconic spots in one day!
5:00pm: Drop-off at hotel
6:00pm: Dinner at Icelandic Street Food restaurant. This casual restaurant offers local Icelandic dishes, and is the highest rated in Reykjavik, proving you don’t need to break the bank for an incredible meal.
8:00pm: Northern Lights Tour with Reykjavik Excursions. My tour was unfortunately postponed the three nights I was there due to the visibility, which I was super bummed about. But they reimbursed me, since the tour didn’t happen those three nights.
ICELAND ITINERARY | DAY 2
Morning: Explore Reykjavik city center. Walk through the neighborhoods, making your way to points of attraction: Hallgrimskirkja, The Sun Voyager sculpture, Reykjavik Cathedral, Parliament building, the Concert Hall Harpa, among others. A great way to hit most of these sites in a few hours is with City Walk’s Free Walking Tour. Although it is free, booking reservations are mandatory.
Noon: Lunch at the rustic and cozy, Stofan Cafe. Get yourself a hot soup with the most delicious homemade bread! Perfect for the super cold weather.
Afternoon: Continue exploring the city center. If you’re a coffee-lover like me, be sure to check out these cute, and delicious, coffee shops! The main street is also full of boutiques and souvenir shops, so this is a perfect time to get your shop on if you wish.
Snack: Try the famous Icelandic hotdogs at Baejarins Beztu Pylsur. These dogs are made with lamb and pork, and the toppings include a sweet brown mustard, ketchup, raw and fried crunchy onions. I may have been the only person who wasn’t crazy about them...but you should definitely give them a try and let me know what you think!
Evening: Dinner at Icelandic Fish & Chips. They offer 3 different fresh fish of the day. I went with the cod and crispy potatoes.
On the other hand, if you’re feeling adventurous there’s plenty of places where you can try Icelandic horse, whale, and shark...but I had no interest in trying these.
ICELAND ITINERARY | DAY 3
6:30am: Breakfast at Sandholt Bakery. Not only is this place super cute, but you’ll be drooling over their entire bakery selection!
7:00am: GoEcco Ice Cave Express Tour (16-18 hours). If you are in Iceland for a short trip this is the perfect (and one of the only) one-day tours that takes you ice caving and to the Glacier Lagoon (two of my absolute favorite parts of my whole Iceland trip!).
The journey is long, so come prepared with lots of comfy layers, snacks, and fully charged electronics (and backup chargers).
After a few hours on the road our first stop was Skogafoss Waterfall, followed by Black Sand Beach, Laki Lava Field, Skeidarasandur black desert, Vatnajökull Glacier (Europe’s largest glacier), the famous glacier lagoon Jökulsarlon and Crystal Beach. The tour highlight for me was the ice caving at Vatnajökull Glacier. On the long journey back to Reykjavik we stopped at Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, which is illuminated with floodlights at night.
1:00am: Drop-off at hotel
ICELAND ITINERARY | DAY 4
6:30am: Breakfast. For the best cinnamon rolls visit Braud & Co! They open daily at 6am.
7:00am: Reykjavik Excursions Flybus/Blue Lagoon pickup at hotel.
8:00am: Blue Lagoon (entrance fee is included in tour package). Enjoy being one of the first at the Blue Lagoon and experiencing it in darkness and as the sun rises!
12:00pm: Flybus drop-off at Airport (included in Flybus/Blue Lagoon ticket). Buses leave every two hours from 10am-4pm (schedule here).
Afternoon: Flight home.
While there is so much more to see in Iceland, you will definitely get a full taste of what makes this country one of the top destinations to visit both in the winter and the summer!
Til next time!
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