- 1 Iceland Itinerary 4 Days – A Helpful Guide
- 1.1 Day 1 – Snaefellsness Peninsula Coastline
- 1.2 Day 2 – Golden Circle With Some Hidden Gems
- 1.3 Day 3 – Whale Watching And Kirkjufell
- 1.4 Day 4 – Eldborg Crater and Krauma
- 1.5 What To Pack For 4 Days In Iceland
Iceland Itinerary 4 Days – A Helpful Guide
Iceland seems to be on every keen travellers bucket list, with endless photographs littering Instagram it certainly has captured peoples imagination. Iceland is somewhere which has so much to offer, some calling it an adventurers playground and they are not wrong. There are many sights in Iceland that you simply wont see anywhere else and the combination of fire and ice has always tempted people to its shores.
When somewhere such as Iceland creates an overwhelming amount of ideas it can often be daunting planning what to do and prioritising the best ideas. That’s where an effective itinerary comes in, this can help you get a good idea of what your able to do in the time you have. We have created the best itinerary for four days in Iceland.
As Iceland is so vast and there is simply so much to see, we are concentrating our itinerary on the western side of Iceland known to be one of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire world and chocked full of some of the most well known sights as well as some secret sights most travellers don’s realise are there. Our itinerary is a good guide for spending four days in Iceland but don’t feel you have to stick to this, if you want to explore other areas feel free, just be aware of the time you have.
For this itinerary we have chosen the beautiful town of Borgarnes as this location is central to most of the sights we will be visiting. At the end of this article we will be giving some tips on what to bring with you, relating to this itinerary. OK without further ado lets get started on an Iceland itinerary 4 days.
Day 1 – Snaefellsness Peninsula Coastline
The Snaefellsness Peninsula is a large area of Iceland and would take more than a day to explore all of it. However because of Iceland’s fantastic ring road you can drive past some incredible scenery along Iceland’s west coastline. Depending on the time of year you travel to Iceland you may find that you have very long light days which will allow you to explore more of this beautiful landscape. Travelling up the coast from Borgarnes you are set back from the sea however as you turn west you will start to see Iceland’s rugged coastline.
Your first stop along the Snaefellsness Peninsula should be Gerduberg Basalt Columns, these rocks are formed by lava and despite there being many examples of this structure across Iceland Gerduberg is known to be one of the best. At over 500 metres long they can be seen from the road but only if you are aware of them as they are situated a short drive down a dirt track.
Continuing along route 54 you will start heading west and begin to see the Icelandic coastline, keep going until you reach Ytri Tunga. If you explore the Icelandic coastline you will often find black sand beaches which tend to run all over the island. Ytri Tunga is one of Iceland’s golden sand beaches and possibly the best place to see seals lounging around on the rocks. The seals can be seen all year round as this is a popular spot for them, if you want to give yourself the best chance of seeing them then the summer months are the most common, of course this will mean more crowds.
For the next stop you will be turning off of route 54 onto route 574 towards Hellnar. However before the turning there is a waterfall called Bjarnarfoss down a small road, you should be able to see the waterfall unless its covered in fog. This is something that i have always loved about Iceland, is the fact that there are so many great sights around every corner. Head onto route 574 and continue 12 minutes down the road until you reach Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge, this is a great spot for a small hike. Pictures of the opening to the gorge are quite famous and a popular destination that you can clamber through a small gap which leads up to a small waterfall.
If time is on your side keep heading down route 574 and turn off at Vatnshellir Cave, you will need to book onto a tour to visit this location but it is fairly inexpensive and doesn’t take too long. With the theme of Iceland being fire and ice you will descend into an 8000 year old lava tube in the shadows of Snæfellsjökull glacier, this is something very special and not to be missed. You can book your visit through there website “Summit Guides” who specialise in other tours around this area.
Exploring so many different places in one day can become tiring but if you feel like continuing along route 574, you must visit Saxholl crater, a great example of Iceland’s volcanic past. There are many volcanoes around Iceland some extinct and some still active. These volcanoes are an amazing insight into the history of Iceland and how the land was formed. Saxholl is great for people who cant walk as far, the crater is around 100 feet tall but there is a well kept walking path to help you to the summit. The reward is not only to see inside the crater but also to experience the amazing views at the top.
The one thing you may find when exploring Iceland is you keep driving stopping off at all these amazing sights, you forget that you need to drive home, so be aware of the time and the weather, it will all depend on what time of year you visit. Below is a rough guide to timings for day 1 and remember to factor in lunch time, i would recommend packing lunch as it will be more convenient on your time.
Its your adventure, feel free to keep exploring, there are some beautiful beaches along this coastline that i haven’t included and some small towns. Svörtuloft Lighthouse is worth a visit if you have a car with good ground clearance as the road is extremely rough. The bright orange of this lighthouse makes for an amazing contrast on a dark cloudy day.
Timings for day 1
Borgarnes – Gerduberg Cliffs = 35 minutes
Visiting Time At Gerduberg Cliffs = 20 minutes
Gerduberg Cliffs – Ytri Tunga Beach = 30 minutes
Visiting Time At Ytri Tunga Beach = 25 minutes
Ytri Tunga – Bjarnarfoss Waterfall = 15 minutes
Visiting Time At Bjarnarfoss Waterfall = 30 minutes
Bjarnarfoss Waterfall – Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge = 15 minutes
Visiting Time At Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge = 40 minutes
Rauðfeldsgjá Gorge – Vatnshellir Cave = 15 minutes
Visiting Time At Vatnshellir Cave = 1 hour
Vatnshellir Cave – Saxholl Crater = 15 minutes
Visiting Time at Saxholl Crater = 35 minutes
Driving Back To Borgarnes = 1 hour 45 minutes
Day 2 – Golden Circle With Some Hidden Gems
The golden circle is a popular route that allows you to see the most popular sights in Iceland. the name tends to make it sound like an easy drive with all these sights being quite close to one another. In fact these are not as close as the name makes out. If you were to stay in Reykjavik, you would be looking at around 3 and half to 4 hours of driving, this does not take into account stopping at each site. If you stay in Borgranes to do the entire golden circle drive you would be looking at around 4 and half to 5 hours of driving. However you don’t need to do the whole drive in one go. Visiting each half of the golden circle on different days from Borgarnes allows you to see more than just the main tourist sites and can cut around an hour off your driving time.
When you leave Borgarnes take route 1 down towards Reykjavik, you can either continue on towards the normal golden circle route and follow route 36 or take an initial detour on route 47 around Hvalfjörður known as the whale fjord. This is a glorious route and shows the true beauty of Iceland, the other great thing is that not many tourists realise how beautiful this route is and opt for the quickest most direct. As you travel along this road you will witness tall cliff sides, raging waterfalls and incredible views over the fjord. You can on rare occasions see Orcas adventuring into the Fjords looking for herring. There are a few random stop offs along this road, i recommend stopping at Fossarétt, a picturesque waterfall and abandoned viking settlement, its well worth a visit.
After you have have driven around Hvalfjörður and taken in the spectacular views turn onto route 48, this road is gravel in some parts so a 4×4 could be more convenient but we did it in a 2 wheel drive and it was fine. If its the wintertime or you don’t feel up to driving this road you can continue along route 47 back to the main ring road. Use Road.is website for up to date road information, including webcams and the amount of traffic currently going along the road.
Once you arrive onto route 36 the first stop along the main golden circle route is Thingvellir National Park. You will notice lots more people on route 36 and Thingvellir National Park can become crowded at peak times. This stop is an excellent place to see Iceland’s natural beauty and famously the area in which you can walk between two continents. The Eurasian and North American plates are meters apart and you can walk a beautiful scenic path between them. There are many hikes around this area as well as the opportunity to go diving in some of the most visible waters in the world, although you would need to book onto a tour to do this. The national park has a wonderful visitors centre which can give you information on the area and all the walks that are available, truly you could spend most of the day here but that would depend on what you enjoy doing.
After you have got your fill of this area continue along route 36 towards Geysir, this famous sight is in all the guide books and all over Instagram. There is parking available on either side of the road and it is only a short walk around to see the hot pools. The activity that takes the most time is waiting for Strokkur the most active of the Geysirs to go off. It erupts about every 10 minutes and is the popular image you see in all the photographs, the largest of the Geysirs hasn’t erupted since 1935 so you would be extremely lucky to see that go off, but you never know.
After visiting Geysir you will continue towards Gullfoss Waterfall, one Iceland’s most spectacular sights. This waterfall is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe and has often been the speculation of a source of energy. Despite many efforts to make it into a source of power Gullfoss remains a much loved tourist attraction and a must see on day 2 of your Iceland itinerary 4 days.
Timings for day two are below, if you feel like there is more time left you can head down to Kerid Crater which is well known for its beautiful colours and crater lake. There is a small entrance fee for visiting as its situated on private land, the car park is next to the crater and doesn’t take long to visit. Follow route 35 from Gullfoss Waterfall to get to Kerid Crater and afterwards take route 1 to go through Reykjavik back to Borgarnes.
Timings for Day 2
Borgarnes – Fossarétt = 50 minutes
Visiting Time At Fossarétt = 20 minutes
Fossarétt – Thingvellir National Park = 50 minutes
Visiting Time At Thingvellir National Park = 1 hour (Depending on what you do)
Thingvellir National Park – Geysir = 55 minutes
Visiting Time At Geysir = 30 minutes
Geysir – Gullfoss Waterfall = 10 minutes
Visiting Time At Gullfoss Waterfall = 30 minutes
Gullfoss – Borgarnes = 2 hours 30 minutes (Skipping Kerid Crater)
Gullfoss – Kerid Crater = 45 minutes
Visiting Time At Kerid Crater = 30 minutes
Kerid Crater – Borgarnes = 1 hour 50 minutes
Day 3 – Whale Watching And Kirkjufell
By now you are starting to discover what amazing landscape Iceland has to offer and the reason as to why so many people visit each year. Day 3 will require you to book onto a whale watching trip in Olafsvik something that i can highly recommend, an experience that you will remember for the rest of your lives. During the winter whale watching tours go from Grundarfjörður another small fishing town just up the road from Olafsvik, for the benefit of this 4 day Iceland itinerary we will be going in the spring and summer. Tours from Olafsvik and Grundarfjörður are both operated by Laki Tours, who have mountains of experience when it comes to whale watching and conservation.
Starting again from Borgarnes follow route 54 all the way to Olafsvik, and park up near to Laki Tours. The company are very helpful and give you updates on the weather, keeping you informed of any cancellations on changes to the schedule. The sea is always unpredictable and you have to trust in the experience of the sailors that do this day in and day out. Once you are there its a case of getting changed into some waterproof clothing which they will provide and enjoying an amazing day out on the ocean. You are likely to see Orcas around this area especially between January and April when they come in to feed on herring. To find out more about this trip check out our guide on “How to see Orcas in Iceland”.
After you have adventured out on the open water its time to continue exploring the secrets that Iceland has to offer. Exit Olafsvik onto route 54 and continue around the coastline, there are some amazing views and a few beaches to be seen along here so feel free to stop and admire them. Its only a short drive to our next stop the very famous mountain Kirkjufell and its beautiful waterfall Kirkjufellfoss.
You may not recognise the mountain from the pictures you have seen, until you have parked up and walked towards the waterfall. Looking down from Kirkjufellfoss Waterfall back towards the road, the mountain is instantly recognisable. The waterfall is truly beautiful, spend some time here admiring the scenery and then head back along route 54.
The drive back to Borgarnes had some amazing scenery and we just kept stopping whenever we could. Taking route 56 off of route 54 will get you back to Borgarnes or you could take a longer route and use route 55 which has also got some amazing scenery. On your way back to Borgarnes stop of at the Landbrotalaug hot spring which is a naturally occurring hot spring in the middle of nowhere. It is not the hottest hot spring in Iceland but certainly gives you that authentic feel.
Timings for day 3 are below and include a 3 hour whale watching tour, however you can opt for longer ones, we have also given time for changing and safety briefings. This area is one of the best places to drive in Iceland as the scenery is incredible, take your time and enjoy every moment of it.
Timings For Day 3
Borgarnes – Olafsvik = 1 hour 40 minutes
Visiting Time At Olafsvik (Depends on Tour Length) = 4 hours
Olafsvik – Kirkjufell (Kirkjufellsfoss) = 25 minutes
Visiting Time At Kirkjufell and Kirkjusfellsfoss = 45 minutes
Kirkjufellsfoss – Landbrotalaug hot spring = 55 minutes
Visit Time At Landbrotalaug hot spring = 45 minutes
Landbrotalaug hot spring – Borgarnes = 35 minutes
Day 4 – Eldborg Crater and Krauma
You have nearly come to the end of your amazing 4 day Iceland Itinerary, so this day will have some active parts and a much deserved relax. As we are basing our itinerary on the Snaefellsness Peninsula, Borgarnes is a good place to stay for accommodation although feel free to choose other locations, even ones that are more rural than Borgarnes.
Not too far away from Borgarnes sits one of Iceland’s incredible volcanic craters, most people who visit Iceland don’t realise how many craters there actually are in Iceland. Craters in Iceland have many positives and negative as they are all different in some way. Most will sit unnoticed and some such as the ones visited in this Itinerary are more accessible or famous. Eldborg crater is easily noticeable from the main road and requires around 3km of walking to reach its base. the walk to Eldborg is fairly even until you attempt the climb upwards there are chains available on the way up to help with the climb.
The characteristics that Eldborg Crater has are not so much in its colours or size, its beauty lies more in its shape. Eldborg is known to be one of the best formed volcanic craters in Iceland and by that i mean its the shape you would expect a volcanic crater to be. Once you get to the top of Eldborg crater you will be rewarded with incredible views across the open Icelandic countryside. If you enjoy walking or want something at a more intermediate level then an Eldborg Crater hike is certainly worth it. Don’t forget to wear decent hiking boots as the terrain is very rocky and its easy to slip especially in the colder parts of the year. More information about Eldborg Crater can be found on the “West Iceland” website with the GPS co-ordinates or you can check google maps for directions.
After hiking to Eldborg its time for one last stop on your 4 day Iceland Itinerary and its one that i especially love. Hot springs are all over Iceland and the most famous is probably the Blue Lagoon. However due to how expensive the Blue Lagoon is and the amount of people that attend there daily, it was not an option for us. When visiting Iceland we decided to seek out alternative Blue Lagoon locations.
There are a few beautiful Blue Lagoon alternatives that you can visit whilst in Iceland and the one closest to Borgarnes which had great reviews was Krauma. Krauma is fed by Deildartunguhver hot spring, the majority of Iceland is powered by hot springs and the water in your hotel is most likely pumped from this location.
Krauma is a lot cheaper than the blue lagoon and a great alternative for relaxing in the hot springs. The great part of Krauma is its location and how it is set up. There are beautiful views from each hot spring pool and each pool is of a different temperature. They use glacier water and combine it with the hot springs to get the correct temperature for each pool. After you have finished relaxing in the hot springs you should eat at the Krauma restaurant as they do some amazing food with another incredible view. If you want to book a spa session with Krauma you can visit their website. “Krauma”
Timings for Day 4
Borgarnes – Eldborg Crater = 30 minutes
Visiting Time At Eldborg Crater = 2 hours 30 minutes
Eldborg Crater – Krauma Thermal Spa = 1 hour
Visiting Time At Krauma = 4 hours (Including Dinner)
Krauma – Borgarnes = 30 minutes
What To Pack For 4 Days In Iceland
Packing for Iceland doesn’t have to be complicated, research is key for knowing what to pack. Figure out what the weather is like at the time of year you are going and the type of activities your going to be doing. Below is a quick list of essentials to pack during your trip to Iceland.
- Waterproof Coat
- Waterproof Trousers
- Warm Clothing (Even during summer)
- Waterproof Rucksack
- Sat Nav or mobile navigation
- Good Quality Hiking Boots
If you are planning on travelling to Iceland during April or even the springtime we have an article where we go into more detail about what to expect with the weather, the best things to do whilst there and what to pack when visiting Iceland in April. The link for the article is here – “Visiting Iceland In April”
Also if you plan on doing lots of hiking Iceland can be a rather wet place to visit, with streams, waterfalls, wet weather and even snow. You can find some great tips on keeping your feet dry while hiking HERE.
Hopefully you have enjoyed reading our 4 day Iceland itinerary and it has given you a bit more knowledge about how you can spend your time in Iceland.