A driving tour through south Iceland’s natural wonders—capped off by a journey to the magnificent Westman Islands—is hard to beat. This itinerary is designed for summer.
Day 1: Reykjavík
See our 4-day itinerary for recommended Reykjavík activities.
Day 2: Höfn & Vatnajökull
Take the morning flight (weekdays only) to Iceland’s southeast hub, Höfn. For lunch, head to one of the restaurants near the harbor to sample langoustine (this is the Icelandic capital for the shellfish), then rent a car and drive to the intersection of Route F985 and the Ring Road to catch the 2pm snowmobiling tour on Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. (Alternatively, try cross-country skiing on Vatnajökull with outfitter From Coast to Mountains.) Spend the night in Höfn or any farmstay close by.
Day 3: Höfn to Vík
Drive west along the southern coast from Höfn to Vík, along what is probably the most mind-boggling stretch of the Ring Road. The first stop is the bizarre Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon, full of parading icebergs. The next stop is Skaftafell National Park, for a 2-hour hike to the striking basalt formations of Svartifoss. After a coffee break at Systrakaffi in the hamlet of Kirkjubæjarklaustur, take an hour to peruse the rim of the contemplative Fjaðrárgljúfur gorge. Spend the night in Iceland's southernmost village, Vík.
Day 4: Vík to Hella-Hvolsvöllur
The day starts with the best walk on Iceland's south coastline: a 3-hour jaunt along the Reynisfjall sea cliffs. (If this is too much hiking, take a casual stroll on the black-sand beach next to Vík.) After resuming your trip westward on the Ring Road, detour on Route 215 south to the Reynisfjara beach, just west of Reynisfjall, and witness the awe-inspiring sea cave Hálsanefshellir. The next stop is Dyrhólaey, a promontory and nature reserve with bustling bird cliffs and an iconic rock archway over the sea. In the village of Skógar, investigate the towering Skógafoss waterfall and Iceland's best folk museum. Stay overnight anywhere in or near Hella or Hvolsvöllur.
Day 5: Westman Islands
Take a boat trip into the sea caves, play a round of golf inside a volcano crater, stroll the coastline spotting puffins, and investigate the after-effects of a devastating 1973 volcanic eruption, including at Eldheimar, the museum of remembrance. Street signs have been erected in the lava above where the corresponding streets once were, and a few houses, hauntingly half-swallowed by lava, are preserved. Take at least one meal at Slippurinn, a restaurant in an old machine workshop in the shipyard whose chef forages for wild herbs and works with the local farmers and fishermen.
Day 6: Westman Islands to Hekla
After another walk along the Westmans’ dramatic coastline, take a morning or early afternoon ferry back to Landeyjahöfn and continue west. From the Ring Road west of Hella, take Route 26 northeast into Þjórsárdalur valley for views of Iceland’s other notorious volcano, Hekla. Head for the Hekla Center and check on the volcano’s seismometer readings, then stay the night at Leirubakki hotel on the same property.
Day 7: Gullfoss & Geysir to Reykjavík
Turn on to Route 32, then walk or drive to the lithe and beautiful Háifoss, Iceland’s second tallest waterfall. After visiting Þjóðveldisbærinn, a reconstruction of a Viking longhouse from the settlement era, drive to Stöng to see the ruins that Þjóðveldisbærinn was based on. From Stöng, a short walk extends to Gjáin gorge, a lush and bewitching enclave. Turn right on Route 30 and proceed north to the majestic Gullfoss. Ten minutes away is Geysir, where you can witness eruptions of the Strokkur geyser. Return to Reykjavík for a final evening in the capital.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.