Things to Do on a First time visit to Iceland

South Iceland & the Golden Circle

road trip

Being from the Caribbean I love warm weather, anything below 17 C it’s too cold for me, so Iceland was never on my radar. On the other hand being the travel addict that I am, I can’t say no to a cheap travel deal. Once I had my tickets, it was time to plan my trip and the more I researched, the more it drew me in. I found many, unique experiences and beautiful places I was dying to see and I cared less and less about the weather.

After much research, I decided the best route for me to take, with the number of days I had was south Iceland and the Golden Circle. Planning my trip wasn’t too complicated, Iceland is relatively easy to navigate. I spent three days in the city of Reykjavik and four days on a road trip from east to west Iceland. Enough time to do and see everything I had on my list.

There so much to see that renting a car is the way to go to get the most out of your trip. Iceland has a lot to discover, is filled with natural attractions and the landscape is so majestic, is not worth it to spend most of your day inside a tour bus. Hopefully, this itinerary convinces you to explore Iceland by car and to plan your trip to the Nordic country.

iceland roadtrop

Getting There

Thanks to companies like Icelandair and WOW Air Iceland is just a few hundred bucks away. I found my ticket for $200 USD round trip thru WOW Air. Their prices are low and now and then they have $99 specials and is one of the biggest stopover destinations. Read more about how to make Iceland a free stopover with this article.

Protip: subscribe to my newsletter to receive latest deals to Iceland right into your inbox.

Protip: keep in mind that the included bag allowance in the WOW airfare is one small personal item up to a maximum of 42x32x25cm/ 17x13x10in (10kg/22 lbs), such as a small bag/backpack, laptop or a camera bag. Must fit under the seat in front of you. (Resource: WOW Air)

Carry ons and checked in bags have an additional fees. I know it doesn’t sound like a lot of room to pack everything you’ll need but if you get a little creative and very strict with what you pack you can totally pull this off. I’m planning to make a video soon to show some tips and tricks for packing light.

On The Road

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Iceland Þingvellir National Park

on my way to Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Þingvellir National Park

The Thingvellir National Park is a #UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its unique geology and its historical significance. #Thingvellir is the place where the first parliament of Iceland was assembled in 930 AD.

Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

Þingvellir National Park

road trip in iceland

the landscape is out of this world and moss grows everywhere. I had to stop on the side road again every five minutes to take a picture.

Icelandic Horses, Iceland Road Trip

Icelandic Horses

Another plus of renting a car is the possibility of stopping on the side of the road to say hi to the ponies. They’re so photogenic!

Tip: Don’t call them ponies in front of any Icelandic person, apparently is rude. (I’m sorry, I can’t help it, they’re so cute!!!) So remember, they are Icelandic horses.

Iceland road trip

Selfie with these studs

Iceland road trip

Icelandic Horse, Iceland Road trip

Icelandic Horse, Iceland Road trip

Moss grows everywhere, Iceland Road trip

Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland Road Trip

Gullfoss Waterfall

Strokkur Geyser Iceland Road Trip

Strokkur Geyser

Farm Hotel Efstidalur Iceland Road Trip

Farm Hotel Efstidalur

Located in The middle of the Golden Circle, the hotel is also a family run farm.

Efstidalur Hotel • Bláskógabyggð, 801 Laugarvatn, Iceland

Protip: Don’t stick to a home base. Most tourists stay in Reykjavik and spend several hours every day driving to all the natural attractions. Instead find a hotel along your planned route to stop every night, drive less and make the most out of your time.

Farm Hotel Efstidalur Iceland

Farm Hotel Efstidalur produces all of their ingredients and serves farm to table food. Delicious!

Try the Cod and the burgers. You’ll thank me later!

Farm Hotel Efstidalur

Did I mention they also have homemade feta cheese, ice cream, and skyr? 🙂 yum!

Silfra

Þingvellir National Park, Iceland road trip

Diving the Silfra Fissure

Diving in the Silfra fissure was one of the most amazing experiences of my life, I highly recommend it! If you’re not a certificated diver, you can also do a snorkeling tour. Thank you to Magma Dive for the private tour!

The Silfra fissure is a unique place in the world! It’s a freshwater rift in between the Eurasian and American tectonic plates.The visibility in Silfra exceeds 100m, making it some of the clearest and purest water in the world! It is absolutely delicious to drink. In fact, you can drink water from anywhere in Iceland.

Protip: Before the dive put on your clothes feet and hand warmers.

Protip: Bring a refillable water bottle on the trip. The water in Iceland is one of the purest water in the world so there is no need to purchase water. Just refill your bottle on any sink and don’t be afraid of the smell. When you use hot water, the minerals in the water smell a little weird, regardless is safe to drink.

Magma Dive • 38 Ground Floor, Skólavörðustígur 38, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Iceland Road Trip

Iceland generates 100% of its electricity with renewables. 75% from hydro and 25% from geothermal

Seljalandsfoss

The waterfall has a drop of 60 m or 197 ft and is part of the Seljalands River that has its origin in the volcano glacier Eyjafjallajökull. Is a breathtaking sight from every view. You can walk behind it and is just as gorgeous from the back of it as it is from the front.

Seljalandsfoss Golden Circle Iceland

Seljalandsfoss • you can walk behind the waterfall and is amazing

Dyrholaey Road Trip Iceland

Dyrholaey – One of my favorite images from the trip

black sand beach

Black Sand Beach, Vik

The legend says that its basalt sea stacks were created when trolls tried to drag a three-masted ship to land, but the daylight broke before they could finish the job and they turned into these piles of rocks.

black sand beach, vik, iceland

Reynisfjara black sand beach.

Dyrhólaey Lighthouse • Iceland is picture perfect

Dyrhólaey Arch, Vik, Iceland

Dyrhólaey Arch

The Dyrhólaey lighthouse was first established in 1910, but it was a prefabricated metal structure from Sweden. The actual lighthouse was built in 1927, and its light has been flashing every 10 seconds ever since.

I had to make use of the perfect lighting 😉

Somewhere in Iceland

VATNAJÖKULL NATIONAL PARK

Vatnajökull National Park Iceland Road Trip

Vatnajökull Glacier

iceland road trip, ice caves, VATNAJÖKULL National Park

Learning about ice caves with GoEcco Tours

Goecco Eco Tours

In my opinion, after doing some research Goecco is one of the best Iceland tours.

Ehf Vatnsstígur 3 / 42 101 Reykjavik, Iceland • Telephone +354 696 7474.

goecco tours, ice caves, iceland

Thanks to GoEcco for the private tour

walk on a glacier

Jökulsárlón ice lagoon

Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon, Iceland, Road trip

at the Jökulsárlón ice lagoon

Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon, Iceland, road trip, travel

Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon

Jökulsárlón meets the ocean

DIAMOND BEACH

Jökulsárlón • Diamond beach

Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon, diamond beach, iceland

Jökulsárlón Ice Lagoon, diamond beach

Diamond Beach

got snowed in

the blue lagoon

The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa • www.bluelagoon.com • Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland

the blue lagoon geothermal spa, reykjavik, iceland

The Blue Lagoon

 

Reykjavik: See, Eat & Drink

I landed at Keflavik Airport (KEF), picked up the rental car and headed towards Reykjavik. From the airport is a 40-minute ride to the city. I stayed at the FossHotel in Downtown Reykjavik and took a walk down Laugavegur Street where all the tourist shops, restaurant, and bars are located.

View of Reykjavik from the top of Hallgrímskirkja

Harpa Music Hall, Reykjavik, Iceland

Harpa Music Hall

Church of Hallgrímskirkja

Church of Hallgrímskirkja

Hallgrímstorg 101, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Traveling Iceland, the sun voyager, viking sculpture

the sun Voyager

Baejarins Beztu, hot dog place, Reykjavik, Iceland

Baejarins Beztu

Baejarins Betzu (the town’s best sausages) The city’s best hot dog place and is an Icelandic staple. Thanks to the rain the was no line. We had to find shelter across the street at a building’s entryway, but it was worth it. Delicious! If you’re in Reykjavik make sure you try the Icelandic hot dog.

Tryggvatagata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Icelandic hot dog

The food can be quite expensive in Iceland, to stay within budget I had to eat a couple of these every day. But, I’m not complaining. These hot dogs are so yummy.

Pablo disco bar, Reykjavik, Iceland

Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland

Church of Hallgrímskirkja

After visiting the Hallgrímskirkja church’s mirador, walk straight down the street to Cafe Mokka for some hot chocolate.

waffles & cream at Mokka Kaffi are a must try!

Mokka Kaffi

Skólavörðustígur 3A, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

Later you can move on and stop at 12 Toner music store to check out some local music.

12 Tonar

Skólavörðustígur 15, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland

bars & restaurants

bar ananas

Bar Ananas (beach bar)

Klapparstígur, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland Icelandic people can be a little sarcastic 🙂

Other Recommendations

  • Boston • Laugavegur 28a, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Vegamot •Vegamótastígur 4, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland – One of the restaurants I enjoyed the most in Reykjavik. The food is decadent, the drinks delicious and have great service. I recommend the wild mushroom soup and the Icelandic cod.
  • Mokka Kaffi • Skólavörðustígur 3A, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Bar Ananas (beach bar) • Klapparstígur, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Baejarins Beztu • Tryggvatagata 1, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Restó • Rauðarárstígur 27-29, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland – This restaurant is particularly delicious and has a great seafood menu. In fact, anything on the menu is worth a try.
  • Dill • Rauðarárstígur 27-29, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
  • Sandholt Bakery • Laugavegur 36, 101 Reykjavík

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