Iceland is one of those countries that seem’s to be on everyone’s bucket lists but is never top choice. I considered the fact I was leaving a cold country for an even colder one while on the plane there. Maybe heading south would have been nicer for a May bank holiday! But it turn’s out I made the right decision. Iceland is just as amazing as the people who have been, make it out to be. I went for 3 days, hired a car with friends and squeezed in as much as we could manage. We saw glaciers, black sand beaches, learnt about vikings and to my slight surprise, enjoyed some delicious food! I can’t recommend Iceland enough, for a week or weekend away. Here is my 3 day road trip itinerary for South Iceland.
3 DAY ROAD TRIP ITINERARY FOR SOUTH ICELAND
We flew with Icelandic Air and I have to say, it was one of the nicest short haul flights I have ever been on. We got a blanket, a pillow and had access to plenty of movies. The flights were pretty cheap from London and we arrived Friday night, leaving Tuesday morning which gave us three full days in Iceland. The Airbnb we stayed in was great, a little on the smaller side but we wanted to save as much money as possible for actual activities. It was really clean and central so I would recommend it for those of you on a budget. If you want to stay in a hotel, make sure to be nearer Reykjavik downtown as this is where most things seem to be happening! Although Reykjavik is very small so you can get to most places by foot.
DAY 1 – EXPLORE REYKJAVIK
DO A FREE WALKING TOUR – I think it’s fair to say, there isn’t a lot to do in Reykjavik when you compare it to other capital cities. So a free walking tour is the perfect solution because not only will you learn some interesting information in the history of Iceland but you’ll be shown all of the most important bits. Also, if you’re lucky you’ll get a great guide and if you go through CityWalk, like we did, you’ll be given an email at the end of the tour with the guides personal recommendations for the city. This includes the best public baths, where to eat and which museums to visit.
ORGANISE YOUR CAR HIRE – For this itinerary you will need a car. In fact, to fully enjoy Iceland you 100% have to have a car because it’s all about the scenery, not Reykjavik! We booked our car through RentalCars.com and got their full insurance policy just to cover ourselves. When you collect the car the local car company will ask if you want insurance. Say no because Rental Cars cover any expenses you could be charged so no need to double up on insurance. Obviously check the terms and conditions though because things vary! Also, you don’t need a 4×4 for this itinerary, all the roads are sealed.
NIGHT OUT – Lastly, for your first night in Reykjavik I recommend going on a night out. You’ve had a pretty chilled day, the other days will be less so! It’s the perfect time to do it, if you were planning on going out. The nightlife in Reykjavik is actually amazing and we had a great time. A waiter recommended a few bars to us including Prikid for hip hop music, B5 for clubbing and Miami for 80’s Music. Night time is short in May, getting dark around 11pm and light around 3am. It felt weird partying in daylight but it was great to see the sunrise over the harbour.
BEST FOOD WE HAD IN REYKJAVIK
We ended up eating in Hlemmur Food Hall so many times! It was reasonably priced for Reykjavik and had a great selection of vegan and non-vegan food which suited our group perfectly. There were traditional Icelandic options as well as amazing pizza, Mexican and Vietnamese stalls. It was also conveniently close to our Airbnb! When we did venture further afield we came across Vitabar which served delicious burgers and fries and was super cheap. It was a bit dingy, potentially a more traditional Icelandic pub? But I still recommend it! Mai Thai also served great quality food for a reasonable price as did Pho Vietnamese. We avoided the main street basically because our guide told us to. Apparently it’s extremely overpriced to catch out tourists.
For great coffee check out Kaktus Espressobar or Reykjavik Roasters which are both very trendy and a little pricey. But that’s something you have to accept in Reykjavik if you want a good cuppa. Also, if you’re a pastry lover like me, you have to go to Sandholt. This is honestly the dreamiest bakery I have ever been in and they had a great vegan friendly lunch menu too.
DAY 2 MORNING – GOLDEN CIRCLE
PINGVELLIR NATIONAL PARK – Driving through Þingvellir is a unique experience, the landscape is almost alien but incredibly beautiful. Stop off as you go to enjoy the views over the lake and make sure to see the Almannagjá fault. This fault and the surrounding areas were formed by the separation of two tectonic plates. You can actually go diving in Silfra, one of the other larger fault lines. It’s full of fresh, clear spring water making it one of the most popular dive sites in the world. Diving between two continents does sound cool but the temperature of the water did not appeal to me so I chose to skip this part!
GEYSIR – If you haven’t seen a geysir before then you have to stop off at Geysir. Although they’re not the biggest I’ve ever seen, the main one does erupt quite regularly and is very impressive. The water is a beautiful turquoise and the whole area is a great example of Iceland’s geothermal power.
GULLOSS WATERFALL – 10 minuets up the road from Geysir is one of the most impressive waterfalls on this itinerary. It’s power is incredible and the area is very rugged and beautiful. Bear in mind, the drive from Gullos Waterfall to the Blue Lagoon takes 2 hours 10 minutes without a stop so make sure you leave yourself enough time to get to the Blue Lagoon for your afternoon slot!
KERID CRATER – 3000 year old, 55m deep volcanic craters are hard to come by so you might as well stop off, on your way to the Blue Lagoon, at Kerid Crater. During winter the lake at the centre of the crater freezes over, a bright, tropical looking turquoise colour, and you can walk out onto it!
DAY 2 LATE AFTERNOON – BLUE LAGOON
BLUE LAGOON – to finish this jam packed day, there is nothing better than a few hours in the Blue Lagoon. You have to book your tickets in advance and included in the basic package you get a drink, face mask and towel. I actually really enjoyed the Blue Lagoon and found my reservations about it being touristy and overpriced were wrong. It’s definitely worth the money and I would probably go back if I ever visit Iceland again. The drive from Kerid Crater is particularly beautiful and a taste for the types of landscape you’ll be seeing the next day.
DAY 3 – SOUTH COAST ROAD
SELJALANDSFLOSS WATERFALL – this is a lovely waterfall just off the main road. You have to pay for parking here but it’s cheap and worth while because you can actually walk behind the falls which was quite fun. Prepare to get a little soaked though from the spray, especially if it’s a windy day.
SKOGAFOSS WATERFALL – One of Iceland’s most beautiful waterfalls. It’s a short drive from the first stop, through even more stunning landscape. You’ll be used to the scenery by now, any road trip itinerary for South Iceland will be full of it! You can’t get behind the falls here like at Seljalandsfloss but you can climb the steps to reach the top. Follow the river back, it’s really beautiful.
SOLHEIMAJOKULL GLACIER – This was my favourite stop of the day. Solheimajokull Glacier is different in that it’s growing, not retreating like most other glaciers in the world. It’s also huge, about 8km long and 1-2km wide which makes it pretty impressive. It’s not everyday you get the chance to see icebergs and glaciers so I’m sure you’ll enjoy this stop as much as I did. You aren’t meant to walk right up to the glacier but people were.
DYRHOLAEY HEADLAND – Last on the third day road trip is Dyrholaey headland. From the top of the cliffs, overlooking black sand beaches and sea stacks, you’ll breathe some real fresh air! Spend some time wandering around the area, you might be lucky and see some puffins too. The drive back to Reykjavik will take about 2.5hrs so depending on when you set of, you’ll have time to visit a museum in the afternoon and get a delicious dinner to end your holiday! I hope you found thins road trip itinerary for South Iceland helpful, let us know how your trip goes!