This post is the second part of a 2-post series showing you how to maximize 10 days in Iceland. You can see the first half of the itinerary and pre-planning tips about activities and flights in the Part 1 post here. Even if you’re not planning on spending exactly 10 days in Iceland, this post will provide you with ideas on what to do, where to stay, driving times, and general advice for traveling in the northern and western part of this beautiful country.
If you’re not convinced that you need to visit Iceland yet, here’s a video of a road trip:
Here is a map of the country so you have a general idea of the shape and size:
How to Visit Iceland in 10 Days:
Day 6 – Vogar –> Hvammstangi
After spending the night at Vogar Travel Service on Day 5, we began the 1 hour drive to Goðafoss, one of Iceland’s most well-known waterfalls. When we went in March, it was covered in snow and insanely cold, so we only spent about 5 minutes out here taking pictures before running back to our cars to thaw our frozen bodies.
In the warmer months, it does offer majestic views unobstructed by the snow. Also, I know my photo quality doesn’t even compare to this professionally taken photo, but thought it was worth embarrassing myself to show you the difference that season can make.
Along the drive, we passed by a small village where we found friendly Icelandic horses. It was funny because as you drive along these farms, you don’t even see the horses moving. They are completely immobile, it’s almost like someone hit *pause* on them. These Icelandic horse sightings are fairly common along the Ring Road, but take a selfie if you have the chance to see them! We definitely did.
After our selfie session, we continued our drive towards our home for the night, Hvammstangi Cottages. This was my favorite place to stay at in Iceland because it felt like we were the only ones for miles around (which was probably true). Coming from city life, this was a rare feeling and it felt isolating and comforting all at once. It was a great place to unplug from technology and fully enjoy the mountain views.
Day 7 – Hvammstangi –> West Fjords
After packing up our belongings in Hvammstangi, we started the drive towards GentleSpace Guest Apartment in the West Fjords, which was supposed to be only 5 hours away. However, all the snow led to blocked roads, making our trip closer to almost 10 hours of driving. If I were to do this again, I would not recommend going to the West Fjords, at least when there is so much snow. We weren’t able to do any outdoor activities so we mainly ended up cooking dinner together and hanging out indoors, which is fine but not the hiking/kayaking adventure we were expecting.
Day 8 – West Fjords –> Thingvellir
On day 8, our first stop of the day was the Barnafossar waterfall, which was 5 hours away from our hostel. It may be hard to tell from the picture, but the water was that classic Iceland blue that makes you think of the Blue Lagoon. It’s hard to believe that this is all natural!
Right next to the Barnafossar waterfall was the Hraunfossar waterfall. This waterfall was incredibly beautiful and as you can see in the picture below, offered two stories worth of waterfalls.
From the waterfalls, we drove 20 minutes to visit the hot spring Deildartunguhver. This is not a spring you can soak in, but you can come here and take photos. If you are running short on time, I would personally recommend skipping it.
After the hot spring, we drove 2 hours to visit the famous Geysir and Strokkur. Strokkur is the geyser that is pictured below and it erupts far more often than the Geysir (every 5-10 minutes). These two famous landmarks are a part of the Golden Circle, a route in Southern Iceland popular with tourists because it hits many popular sites.
We spent the night at Selfoss Hostel, which was conveniently located next to the popular tourist destinations and offered basic accommodations.
Day 9 – Thingvellir –> Reykjavik
From Selfoss Hostel, we began our own version of the Golden Circle. One thing we noticed is that Southern Iceland was noticeably warmer than other parts of Iceland, like the West Fjords. There was little to snow remaining on its craggy cliffs (which was a huge plus at this point!).
Our first stop was Dyrhólaey, aka that sexy arch that is featured below. This was about 1.5 hours away from our hostel.
Right next to Dyrhólaey was Reynisfjara, the black sand beach.
Next on our list was the often-Instagrammed waterfall, Skógafoss, which was 30 minutes away from Dyrhólaey.
Here is how it looks like in the summer with no crowds:
And then we visited the other often-Instagrammed waterfall, Seljalandsfoss, which was 30 minutes away. There is also an outdoor cafe here in case all the waterfallin’ builds up your appetite. Here are some professionally taken photos to give you an idea of what it looks like:
For our last night, we stayed on the outskirts of Reykjavik at Hotel Orkin. I would recommend it if you’re looking to travel on budget, but it wasn’t very centrally located and the quality of the room was just okay.
Day 10 – Reykjavik –> SFO
We saved the most relaxing activity for the end of the trip – the Blue Lagoon, which was about 40 minutes away from Hotel Orkin. I’m glad we saved it for the last day because being in the warm waters soaked away all the tension and muscle soreness from the hiking. It also made my skin baby soft for days afterwards! For all you ladies out there, and you gents with the long hair, I’d recommend tying it up because the silica in the water is extremely drying for your hair. They also have super nice facilities with showers, lockers, and robes (which you can get if you pay extra). There is also plenty of food, drinks, and adult beverages on premises if you start getting hungry or want to get your drank on.
After our R&R time at Blue Lagoon, we drove 30 minutes to the Sixt Car Rental station to return our car and then took the airport shuttle back to Keflavik International Airport to fly back home and back to reality.
Overall, Iceland was an amazing country to visit with out-of-this world views and kind people. Come here if you’re looking to experience something new, see waterfalls and rainbows on the daily, and become enchanted with the natural wonder that this country holds. There’s a reason so many Icelanders believe in Elves – this place is straight up magical.
If you liked this post, you may also like…
1. How to Plan Your Trip to Iceland in 10 Days (Part 1 of 2) where you can learn tips for traveling to Iceland and see what there is to do in the southern and eastern part of the country.
2. How to Visit Crater Lake, Burney Falls, McCloud River, Mount Shasta, Shasta Lake, and Bend, Oregon in Four Days where you can learn how to explore the great Pacific Northwest (PNW) and soak in all the beauty, hiking, and swimming it has to offer.
3. How I went to Death Valley National Park, Alabama Hills, Kern River, Red Rock Canyon Sate Park, Mono Lake, and Convict Lake in 5 Days where you can explore Southern California and see the outdoor adventures you can go on!
Have you been to Iceland? What are some places you recommend visiting? Share in the comments below!