I never imagined planning a cold weather destination trip since I hate being cold, but after visiting Iceland, it has become one of my top favorite countries. It was honestly the experience of a lifetime! We spent five incredible days in March exploring Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, and going on epic adventures. I want to share the ultimate five day Iceland itinerary and help you plan an adventurous trip around Reykjavik.
Day 1: Explore Reykjavik + Northern Lights Tour
Reykjavik Walking Tour
On the first day of your five day Iceland itinerary you can explore the cute city of Reykjavik. It is such an artistic and cultural city filled with colorful buildings and fascinating street art. It has so much character! Everywhere in Reykjavik is walking distance and you will find yourself passing so many unique cafes, shopping boutiques, and cute restaurants. I recommend booking a free walking tour of Reykjavik. It is a two hour tour led by an informative and funny tour guide who teaches you about the history of Reykjavik.
One of Reykjavik’s cool cafes is called the Laundromat Cafe. It is a cafe surrounded by books, maps, and quirky funny quotes such as “Go ahead and breastfeed, we like both babies and boobs!” It also has an actual laundromat downstairs so you can eat breakfast and drink coffee, while you are wait for your clothes to dry.
Another cool hipster cafe is Cafe Babalu. It’s hard to miss it as it is an orange building with a bright blue door. This cafe is decorated with cool antiques, pictures, and comfy couches. The funniest surprise is when you go to the bathroom, you are surprised with loud Star Wars themed music and surrounded by Star Wars wallpaper characters – so obviously you have to take a bathroom selfie!
Food in Reykjavik
Reykjavik has so many different types of food, but take note that everything is pretty pricey. You can find Italian, Thai, American, and of course Nordic cuisine. I’m not very adventurous when it comes to food, so I didn’t get to try their horse steak, whale, puffin or fermented shark. But the one thing I did try is Iceland’s famous pylsa hot dog! They have a different flavor than American hot dogs since they are made from Icelandic lamb. The most popular place to get one is at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur. They serve it with ketchup, a sweet brown mustard, raw onions, fried onions, and a parsley remoulade. It was actually pretty good!
Best Views of Reykjavik
I love that Reykjavik is surrounded by amazing views. You can see pretty sea views and amazing mountain tops. The best view is seeing all the colorful houses of Reykjavik. You can visit the Hallgrímskirkja Church and take an elevator all the way to the top and see such an awesome view of the city.
Northern Lights Tour
On the night of your first day in Iceland, I recommend booking a Northern Lights tour! The Northern lights are one of nature’s most magical sights. When is the best time to see Northern Lights in Iceland? The best time is during the winter between September and April. However, they are only visible during certain conditions. The solar wind is the reason behind the appearance of northern lights so there needs to be strong solar activity. Check out the Aurora Forecast here. There also needs to be clear skies. To maximize your chances of seeing Northern Lights, I recommend going on a Northern Lights tour multiple times throughout your trip. We booked two tours on our trip. The first one was cancelled due to cloudy skies, but then we were able to see them on our second tour! It was such an incredible experience.
Day 2: Visit the Blue Lagoon + Northern Lights Tour
On the second day of your five day Iceland itinerary, you will be visiting the Blue Lagoon! The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most main attractions. It is only twenty minutes away from the airport so I definitely recommend this being your first or last stop of Iceland. Although most people don’t know this, the Blue Lagoon is actually man-made. When the geothermal power station Svartsengi was built, it created excess water. However, this water is heated from Iceland’s volcanic landscape. So technically you can still consider the Blue Lagoon somewhat of a natural phenomenon.
The geothermal water contains three active ingredients – silica, algae, and minerals. It has a really good effect on your skin. It’s also interesting to know that the water is not blue. It is actually white. The blue color comes from the sun reflecting on the silica.
Since the Blue Lagoon gets crowded, I recommend buying your tickets ahead of time. I bought the Comfort Package. This comes with a towel, first drink of choice, and a silica or algae mask. Before you enter Blue Lagoon, you are required to shower. It is recommended to put their special conditioner in your hair so the water doesn’t dry out your hair. There is also two ways of entering the water. You can go outside or go in the water starting from inside the building. The water is so warm! The average temperature of the water is 100 degrees which is amazing! It was such a nice and relaxing experience.
After visiting the Blue Lagoon, if you didn’t get to see the Northern Lights on your first day, I recommend booking another Northern Lights tour. Hopefully you get lucky on the second day!
Day 3: Explore Ice Caves
On the third day of your five day Iceland itinerary, you will be exploring one of their beautiful ice caves, Dragon Glass Katla, in the Kötlujökull glacier. We did a one day express ice cave tour that picked us up from Reykjavik. To get to the ice cave consists of a super bumpy ride! We had to get into this truck with huge 4×4 wheels and drive through rocks, ice, and snow. It felt like a roller coaster! Once we got to the entrance of the cave, we had to put on a helmet and ice spikes on our boots so we wouldn’t slip. When we entered the cave, it was such a magical experience. It felt like you were under a frozen ocean surrounded by so many shades of blue. I even got to try melting glacier water from the cave. It was the purest and best water I have ever drank in my life! It was such an awesome experience.
Check out this Ice Cave Tour from Reykjavik: Katla Volcano Ice Cave Tour
Day 4: Waterfalls + Black Sand Beaches
On the fourth day of your five day Iceland itinerary, you will be visiting beautiful waterfalls and black sand beaches.
Skogafoss Waterfall is stunning and one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. If it is a clear sunny day, sometimes you can even see a rainbow. Unfortunately, it was a snowy rainy day during our tour. But the white grayish skies added a more winter wonderland effect.
Reynisfjara Black Beach
The second stop on our tour was the Reynisfjara black beach and basalt columns. I was excited for this stop because I have always wanted to go to a black sand beach. It was freezing and raining a lot during this time of the tour so I got soaked, but I was able to dry up quickly since I had a waterproof coat and snow pants. But it was such an amazing view to see the small black pebbles and strong powerful waves. It also has a cool pyramid shaped cliff and small cave of basalt columns.
Jökulsárlón – Glacier Lagoon
The blue waters in Jökulsárlón, also known as Glacier Lagoon, are filled with a bunch of icebergs. This lagoon flows through a waterway into the Atlantic Ocean, which leads chunks of ice on a black sand beach called Crystal Beach. It’s also known as Diamond Beach because it literally looks like diamonds are covering the beach. It’s pretty cool to visit a beach, which is usually thought as a summer destination, to be covered in ice and snow.
Here are a few tours you can do to see all these amazing spots:
- South Iceland Glaciers, Waterfalls and Black Sand Beach Day Tour from Reykjavik
- Day Trip to the Glacier Lagoon: Jökulsárlón from Reykjavik
- South Coast and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Day Tour from Reykjavik
- 2-Day Tour: Blue Ice Cave, Jokulsarlon, Black Beach, and Waterfalls
Day 5: Visit the Golden Circle + Go Snorkeling
On the last day of our five day Iceland itinerary, we got to visit the Golden Circle and go snorkeling! This was one of my favorite tours that I did in Iceland. I did the Golden Circle and Snorkeling tour with Arctic Adventures. The tour guide picks you up from your hotel and takes you to the Geysir Hot Spring, Gulfoss Waterfall, Thingvellir National Park, and you get to snorkel in Silfra Fissure.
The Silfra Fissure is a crack between North America and Eurasian continents. They are actually drifting apart from each other about 2 cm per year so you can go swimming between the tectonic plates. This is the only place where you can dive or snorkel between two continental plates so I had to add this to my list of Iceland adventures. Another special thing about snorkeling in Iceland is how clear the water is. The water is coming from a nearby glacier and filtered through lava for about fifty years before reaching the fissure. This is one of the purest and clearest water on our planet! Pretty cool right?
The water at Silfra is ice cold – it’s about thirty-five degrees. It only takes fifteen minutes for the human body to experience hypothermia so you need to wear some special gear before entering the water. The gear takes awhile to put on, especially since you need the help of an instructor. It probably took longer to put the gear on than to actually snorkel haha! You start off keeping on a base layer of your clothing and putting on a quilted onesie. Then, you put on a dry suit that has tight rubber seals around the neck and wrists, which prevents the water from entering. After that, you put on a hood, gloves that look like oven-mitt lobster claws, a mask, and flippers. The only body parts exposed to the water are your face and hands.
The suit keeps your body so warm that you don’t even feel how cold the water is. It was also probably because my face went numb right away!
Once I looked underwater, it was the most magical thing I have ever seen. There were so many beautiful shades of blue and green and it was crazy how clear the water was. To think I was swimming between tectonic plates was such an epic experience. Mother Nature can be pretty amazing. This was hands down my favorite Iceland adventure.
Geysir Hot Spring + Gullfoss Waterfall
The other stops on the tour were also amazing. The Geysir hot spring was really cool to see and it erupted every 10 min so you wouldn’t have to wait too long to see the eruption. And the Gullfoss Waterfall was another favorite of mine on this tour. It’s translation means “Golden Waterfall.” It was such a beautiful sight to see. The last part of the tour was seeing the Thingvellir National Park. You get to see a panoramic view of the park so you get to see a great view of where we snorkeled between the tectonic plates. It’s amazing to think that one small country has so many breath-taking views.
Hope you enjoyed my five day Iceland itinerary. Iceland was such an epic trip! We were so lucky that we got to see a whole bunch of beautiful spots throughout Iceland. Traveling makes you really appreciate the magnificent world we live in and I’m so grateful that I get the opportunity to travel as much as I do.