Last updated on: Apr 6, 2021
With such unbelievable waterfalls; dramatic cliffs; massive glaciers; active volcanoes; and crisp air, visiting Iceland in summer is a dream, especially for outdoor lovers. In fact, contributor Sage puts it in the top 5 of places that should be on your travel bucket list. Here’s the perfect 7-day itinerary of things to do in Iceland in summer.
Related vlog: 9 Best Places in Iceland
You may have already heard, but Iceland is a place with unbelievably unpredictable weather, a place where torrential downpours can happen at any time, so you should always pack waterproof clothes and waterproof boots and dress in multiple layers. In addition, Iceland is a very expensive place to visit, so be sure to check out Icelandic Coupons for discounts on everything from food to clothes.
Upon arrival into Iceland, it’s best to rent a car at the airport and drive to Reykjavik and spend the first night in Reykjavik. The city is so cute and has a slightly bohemian vibe. It’s a very walkable city with lots of shops and cool restaurants worth checking out. Icelandic Street Food, Resto, and Grillmarkadurinn are just a sample of some of the great restaurants in the city, offering yummy ‘fast’ food, fresh seafood, and traditional fare. For discounts, check out Icelandic coupons on Groupon.com.
Visit the Hallgrímskirkja Church in Reykjavik and the shops along Laugavegur Street, which translates to “wash road”, because it used to lead to a central place where all the city’s washing was done.
Drive the Golden Circle on your own. The Golden Circle is only about three hours of driving and consists of three main sites: Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall.
During summer, there’s an enormous volume of tourists, so it’s best to go either really early or really late in the day, either before 9 AM or after 3 PM. If you go early, you will also give yourself time to get lost (which I did even though there aren’t many roads) and afford yourself the opportunity to do and see more. The sun doesn’t seem to fully set, so you can go sightseeing at 10 PM and experience some of the most beautiful sunlight.
While on the Golden Circle route, it’s best to take a detour to some nearby alternate places. Adventurers might like snorkeling between two tectonic plates at Þingvellir National Park. And there are other sites like the Kerid Crater, Thjorsardalur Valley, and the Langjokull Glacier that have fewer people and are just as amazing. I highly recommend driving the Golden Circle and doing an activity on the glacier, such as hiking, visiting an ice cave, or snowmobiling.
After visiting the Golden Circle sites, I ended at Gullfoss Waterfalls and met up with a tour from the Gulfoss Cafe. From there, I boarded a van with massive tires that took the group to the edge of the glacier where the snowmobiles were parked. After put on all the proper gear, including a bright orange suit, it was time to go snowmobiling on the Langjokull Glacier. What a thrilling experience!!! You can book the same itinerary I had here.
After touring the Golden Circle, I recommend driving to and staying at a guest house near a horse farm, such as Guesthouse Saga.
Spend a leisurely day visiting the Secret Lagoon, Iceland’s first public swimming pool, which was built in 1891. After soaking in natural hot springs, go horseback riding.
Horses were brought to Iceland by the Vikings and have been purebred in Iceland for more than 1,000 years. The horses are smaller than other horses you might see in other parts of the world, and you’ll find them all over the country.
Go chasing waterfalls! Drive from the Fludir area and visit Skógafoss waterfall and Seljalandsfoss waterfall as well as the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach of Vik. Reynisfjara is known for unique basalt columns and is one of the prettiest black-sand beaches you’ll find anywhere. Spend the night at any of the guesthouses and bed-and-breakfasts in Vik.
From Vik, visit the Svartifoss waterfall and the Fjarðarárgljúfur viewpoint then drive to Skaftafell waterfall before visiting the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
One perk of visiting Iceland in summer is that you can take a cruise through beautiful, melting glaciers, and for more adventure, try a glacier kayak tour.
Afterward, visit nearby Diamond Beach, where many melting glaciers have washed up along the black sand. The glaciers shine bright like diamonds and are a beautiful sight to behold!
After visiting these 2 gems, make your way back toward Reykjavik, spending the night at Fagrabrekka Guest House near Hella. This family-run guesthouse has 4 modern, clean, and comfortable cabins facing the distant fields and mountains. The views are lovely!
Visit Selfoss waterfall then take the scenic route to the Blue Lagoon, one of the most relaxing places I’ve ever been. The locker rooms at the Blue Lagoon are clean and modern, but quite busy, so if you’re looking for a more seculded experience here, you might consider the Retreat Spa package, which comes with a hefty price tag like many other things in Iceland. There is also the new Retreat Hotel that will set you back a cool $2,000 per night. However, this place is so well run, you’ll get your money’s worth. I really enjoyed lunch at Lava restaurant, and the silica and algae masks I tried while in the pool made my skin feel so soft. My only regret is that I can’t go to the blue lagoon every week. 🙁
It would be easy to stay longer in Iceland, and driving the whole island really deserves 2 weeks, as the drives are long and there really is one road and highly unpredictable weather. But the landscapes are so breathtaking and totally worth the drive!
Have you visited Iceland in summer? How was your experience?