Fire and Ice: A Thrilling 5-Day Adventure in Iceland
Welcome to Iceland, the land of fire and ice, where you can witness volcanoes, glaciers and epic landscapes all in one place! From majestic waterfalls cascading down rugged cliffs to geothermal hot springs that invite you to take a dip, Iceland is a haven for those seeking adventure and awe-inspiring beauty. With its Viking legends, vibrant Northern Lights and adorable puffins, Iceland is a playground for nature enthusiasts and adventure seekers. So grab your hiking boots, embrace the unpredictable weather and prepare for an unforgettable journey through one of the coolest countries you'll ever visit.
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Where to stay
The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland
This award-winning luxury resort features a spa, a fine dining restaurant, top-notch amenities and and its own geothermal lagoon for guests to enjoy.
A bottle of champagne.
The Reykjavik EDITION
The Reykjavik EDITION brings the first five-star modern luxury experience to one of the world's most sustainable capitals.
$100 food / beverage credit.
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Ion Adventure Hotel Nesjavellir
An architectural gem and your base for exploring the lava fields of Thingvellir National Park.
$25 hotel / resort credit.
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Day 1: Reykjavik
Arrive in Reykjavik as early as you can and get ready to hit the ground running!
Kick-start your day by exploring Laugavegur, which is Reykjavik's main shopping street. Take a leisurely stroll along this vibrant street and get your retail therapy fix as you check out all the boutiques, shops and souvenir stalls. You can browse for unique Icelandic souvenirs, trendy fashion items or simply enjoy the lively atmosphere.
After exploring Laugavegur, head to Hallgrímskirkja, the iconic church (which totally looks like a spaceship) and one of Reykjavik's most recognizable landmarks. Take some time to admire the impressive architecture of this towering church both from the outside and inside. You can also take an elevator to the top of the church for panoramic views of the city, which I highly recommend!
From Hallgrímskirkja, make your way to the Old Harbor, located just a short distance away. This vibrant waterfront area is buzzing with activity and charm. As you stroll along, soak in the colorful buildings, snap photos of the boats bobbing in the harbor and keep your eyes peeled for playful seals and seafaring birds.
Next, head to Harpa, the concert hall and conference center situated by the waterfront. This architectural gem will leave you awestruck with its mesmerizing glass façade. Step inside to explore the art exhibitions and maybe catch a live performance if you're lucky.
Finally, make your way to Sólfarid, known as the Sun Voyager sculpture. Also located near the waterfront, this striking artwork represents a Viking ship and is a symbol of hope, exploration and progress. Feel the adventurous spirit of the Vikings and let your imagination run wild as you enjoy the scenic views of the coastline.
If you have more time on your hands and are hungry for more knowledge and culture, unleash your inner history buff at the National Museum of Iceland or your artistic side at the Reykjavik Art Museum.
Where to eat
ROK: This place is all about fusion vibes, blending traditional Icelandic ingredients with international flavors. Get ready to dive into creative dishes like reindeer carpaccio, Icelandic lamb and perhaps even some funky sushi rolls. With its cool atmosphere and live music, ROK is where good food and great times collide!
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur: The ultimate go-to spot for the iconic Icelandic hot dog. Don't be fooled by its humble appearance; these hot dogs pack a serious punch! Load yours up with crispy onions, sweet mustard, ketchup and remoulade sauce. Trust me, one bite and you'll understand why Icelanders are obsessed with them! You can't say you've truly visited Iceland without trying one.
Fish Market: Head to the Fish Market for a seafood extravaganza. Prepare to be blown away by their innovative dishes that showcase the freshest catch from Icelandic waters. From sushi to reindeer sashimi (yep, they go beyond fish!), this place will take your taste buds on a wild and unforgettable culinary adventure.
101 Reykjavik Street Food: This funky eatery serves up Icelandic street food classics with a twist. Dive into a hearty bowl of their famous lobster soup, loaded with flavors that will transport you straight to seafood heaven. Don't forget to try their mouthwatering fish and chips or their unique take on the Icelandic hot dog. It's street food magic that will make your taste buds dance!
Icelandic Fish and Chips: This cozy spot serves up crispy-on-the-outside, tender-on-the-inside fish, and chips made from sustainably sourced ingredients. From classic cod to more adventurous options like wolf fish or pollock, you'll be hooked from the first bite. Dip your perfectly fried fish in their homemade tartar sauce and you're in for a flavor explosion!
Day 2: The Golden Circle
Kick off your adventure with a visit to the breathtaking Kerid Crater. Get ready to be blown away by the vibrant colors of the volcanic crater, surrounded by a picturesque lake. Take a leisurely walk along the rim and soak in the awe-inspiring natural beauty.
Next up, get ready for Gullfoss, one of Iceland's most famous waterfalls. Feel the power of nature as you witness the cascading waters plunging into a dramatic canyon. Brace yourself for misty moments and prepare to be in awe of the sheer magnitude and beauty of this natural wonder.
Now, it's time for some geothermal excitement at Geysir, Iceland's version of Old Faithful. Watch in anticipation as the Strokkur geyser erupts, shooting hot water high into the air. Feel the ground rumble beneath your feet as you witness this captivating display of nature's power.
Immerse yourself in history and natural wonders at Thingvellir National Park. Walk in the footsteps of Vikings as you explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the Almannagjá fissure, where you can literally stand between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Take in the beauty of the Öxarárfoss waterfall and discover the historical significance of the Alþingi, the world's oldest parliamentary site.
Now gear up for an unforgettable adventure as you plunge into the crystal-clear waters of Silfra. Put on your snorkeling gear and dive into the rift between the North American and Eurasian continents. Experience the thrill of swimming in water so pure that visibility can exceed 100 meters. Marvel at the mesmerizing underwater rock formations as you glide through this unique geological wonder. And hey just a heads up, the water is a little chilly, but the experience is so worth it!
After such an adventure packed day, drive towards Vik which will be your home base for the next two nights.
While in Vik, be sure to check out the beautiful Vik i Mydral church! Legend has it that this church has a superpower - it's able to withstand the fierce forces of nature, including volcanic eruptions and powerful storms. Hike above the church for an amazing view of the church with a black sand beach and the coast in the background. If you're lucky and visit in June, you'll be surrounded by Lupines— those pretty purple flowers you always see in pictures.
Where to eat in Vik
Black Crust Pizzeria: Calling all pizza lovers! This is a must-visit spot in Vik. Indulge in their mouthwatering pizzas, where every slice is a work of art. From classic Margherita to inventive toppings like smoked salmon and local Icelandic ingredients, their pies will leave you craving for more. The cozy atmosphere and friendly staff only add to the overall experience. Be sure to try one of their special black crust pizzas!
Sudur-Vik: This charming restaurant offers a mix of traditional Icelandic dishes and international flavors. From fresh seafood to tender lamb, their menu has something to please every palate. Whether you're in the mood for Icelandic specialties or craving a juicy burger, this place has got you covered. It's a delightful spot to enjoy a satisfying meal with a side of local charm.
Soup Company: This cozy eatery is known for its hearty and flavorful soups that will warm you up from the inside out. From creamy seafood chowder to comforting vegetable stews, their rotating menu of homemade soups is sure to satisfy your cravings. Pair your bowl of goodness with a fresh loaf of bread and you're in for a soul-soothing meal.
Smidjan Brugghús: A must-stop destination for beer lovers and food enthusiasts alike. Sample their wide selection of handcrafted beers, brewed on-site, while enjoying their delicious pub-style dishes. Treat yourself to gourmet burgers, crispy fish tacos or finger-licking BBQ ribs. With great brews and tasty eats, Smidjan Brugghús promises a laid-back and enjoyable dining experience.
Day 3: Southeast Coast
Ready for an epic adventure along Iceland's Southeast Coast? Get your exploring shoes on because we're packing in all the must-visit spots in today.
First stop, Jökulsárlón, the coolest (literally!) glacial lagoon around. Picture massive chunks of ice floating in the turquoise waters. Take a boat tour or simply stroll along the shore to get up close and personal with these icy wonders. Insider tip - don't miss checking out Nailed It Fish and Chips for some of the best fish and chips you'll ever have. You can thank me later.
Across the street from Jökulsárlón lies Diamond Beach. Prepare to be dazzled by the sight of shiny ice diamonds scattered on the black volcanic sand. It's like walking into a jewelry store, but way more natural and breathtaking.
Now, let's go back in time and visit Hofskirkja, a charming turf church that's been around since the 19th century. It's like stepping into a fairytale land! Explore the traditional turf construction and soak up all the history.
Lace up your hiking boots and let's trek to Svartifoss, the Black Waterfall. It's surrounded by these incredible hexagonal basalt columns that make you feel like you're in a fantasy movie set. The hike through Skaftafell Nature Reserve is a bonus, with breathtaking views at every turn.
Brace yourself for some mind-blowing scenery at Fjadrárgljúfur (say that 5x fast) canyon. Get ready to be blown away by towering cliffs, lush greenery, and a river snaking its way through the canyon floor. It's the kind of place that makes you stop and appreciate the jaw-dropping beauty of nature.
Time to venture into the land of moss-covered lava fields at Eldhraun. Seriously, it feels like you've landed on another planet! Take a leisurely walk through this surreal landscape and let your imagination run wild. It's a place where you can connect with nature and feel like you're part of something truly extraordinary.
Keep the adventure going as we make our way to Dryhólaey, a stunning promontory with panoramic coastal views. Keep an eye out for adorable puffins perched on the cliffs if you're lucky! Take a moment to breathe in the salty ocean air and soak in the dramatic vistas. It's the perfect spot to recharge and appreciate the raw beauty of Iceland.
Last but not least, let's wrap up our day at Reynisfjara, the famous black sand beach. Prepare to be blown away by towering basalt columns, mysterious sea stacks and the crashing waves of the Atlantic Ocean. Just remember to stay safe and watch out for those sneaky ocean currents!
Day 4: Southwest Coast
Alright, get ready because you're in for another full day adventure! I recommend getting started as early as you can to beat the crowds and get these places all to yourself.
Start your day off with a bang at the Sólheimasandur Plane Crash site. You won't believe your eyes when you see the wreckage of a DC-3 plane resting on a vast black sand beach. It's like stepping into a post-apocalyptic movie scene! Take a walk across the desolate landscape and let your imagination run wild with stories of this mysterious crash. If you're not totally stoked on walking two miles one way, there is a shuttle bus that runs during the day.
Prepare to be blown away by the mighty Skógafoss, AKA the coolest waterfall you'll ever see. Get up close and personal with this thunderous beauty as you feel the mist on your face. If you're feeling adventurous, climb the stairs to the top for a jaw-dropping view.
Get ready for a splash-tastic adventure at Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Unlike other waterfalls, this one has a hidden secret— you can actually walk behind it! Grab your raincoat and get ready to experience the rush of water cascading down in front of you.
Next up, let's bridge the gap between continents! Visit the symbolic Bridge between Continents, where you can literally straddle the divide between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. It's like standing in two places at once, and it makes for a pretty cool photo op.
End the day by taking time to relax and unwind in the world-famous Blue Lagoon. This geothermal spa is the ultimate oasis of tranquility. Slip into the warm, mineral-rich waters, let the soothing steam envelop you, and feel all your worries melt away. Treat yourself to a rejuvenating silica mud mask and float your way to bliss. It's pure relaxation, Icelandic style!
Day 5: Blue Lagoon and Departure
Spend the first half of the day enjoying the Blue Lagoon and then head to the airport to catch your departing fly.
Have more time on your hands? Feel free to explore the surrounding area or even take some more time wandering through Reykjavik.
Need to Know
Looking for more travel inspiration? Check out my guide, The Ultimate 7-Day Scotland Itinerary.
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This guide is part of our ongoing series on travel to Iceland.