The Land of Fire and Ice is a traveler’s dream, and it can be tough to decide how long to stay in Iceland for. To help you choose, we’ve put together a spectacular guide for every region of Iceland. It includes exactly how long you should spend in each location. Enjoy!
While planning our trip to Iceland, our main objective was to fit as much stuff in as possible, because we wanted to SEE. IT. ALL. Looking back, we wish we would have better allocated our time. Everywhere we went was spectacular, but we do wish we’d had more time at a few places. We’re going to take a look at a few of our favorites and tell you exactly how long you should stay in Iceland!
In all honestly, you never know how cool a place is until you see it in person. Unless you’re reading this nifty little blog of course! We scheduled short stops to places that ended up our favorite spots— and it made sticking to our schedule so much tougher. Plan ahead, make time for what you want to see and enjoy!
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Read on to find out exactly where to go, and how long to stay in Iceland for!
How Long to Stay in Reykjavík
Ideal Time: 2-3 Days. Iceland’s capital city is know around the world for its historical, social, and cultural significance. With plenty of shops, museums, and tour guides calling the city home, it’s a natural stop for travelers. During the day we encourage you to check out all the city has to offer. From Hallgrimskirkja Church (above), to the Perlan Observatory, to the shops on Laugavegur Street, you can always find something to enjoy.
At night the city is far from empty. Being one of the only true cities in Iceland, Reykjavik’s nightlife is revered throughout Europe. If you’re looking to save some money, there are also plenty of Free Things to Do in Reykjavik. Regardless of your budget, be sure to spend a couple of days exploring the vibrant metropolis. After a couple days in the capital we’d encourage you to check out Iceland’s most famous hot spot!
The Blue Lagoon
Ideal Time: 2-4 Hours. We were lucky enough to visit the Blue Lagoon in early May. Lucky, because we visited in the heart of the shoulder season. The smaller crowds meant we were able to enjoy a less crowded version of the lagoon. If you’d like to read more about our experience check out our Honest Blue Lagoon Iceland Review.
If you have an afternoon to spare in Reykjavik, we recommend the lagoon. It’s warm, opaque waters are the perfect way to relax away after a long day. It’s also only a quick drive from Reykjavik so you can be there and back easily. Unless you plan to stay for dinner at the cafe, or a spa at the massage, you’ll only need a couple hours to visit. Anything more than that and you’ll start to look like a raisin!
How Long to Stay in South Iceland
Thingvellir National Park
Ideal Time: 2-4 Hours. Thingvellir is the meeting place of two of earth’s tectonic plates. As such, the landscape is a mix of large cliffs, dizzying canyons, and cascading waterfalls. Beautiful trails meander through the park and make most sites accessible for everyone.
Historically, Thingvellir was used as the meeting place for Iceland’s first government. For hundreds of years Icelanders would convene in the valley to meet and discuss the country’s future. interestingly enough, another political drama has unfolded withing the park. Game of Thrones fans will recognize many locations in the park from scenes of their favorite show. We’d encourage every visitor to spend at least a few hours exploring the beautiful park.
Geysir Geyser Park
Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours. Iceland’s geyser park is located in the Haukadalur Valley and is home to numerous geothermal features. Local geyser’s Strokkur and Geysir still erupt to this day, the former more so than the latter. Strokkur can be spotted erupting at heights up to 100 feet every fifteen minutes. The park also contains main boiling mud baths and emerald pools. Occasionally, Geysir still shows signs of activity. In 2016 a surprise eruption sent boiling water hurtling into the sky.
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Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours. Gullfoss is known for its stunning two tiered, 90 degree turn falls. As the Hvita River twists and turns through the land surrounding Gullfoss, it swiftly falls over two separate 90 degree bends. The river drops over 100 feet across the two falls and throws mist high into the sky. Adding to the raw beauty of Gullfoss, the mist often covers the falls in a multitude of rainbows. Be sure to bring a rain jacket, that mist is chilly!
Skaftafell National Park
Ideal Time: 2-4 Hours. Hiking through Skaftafell National Park is every explorer’s dream. Short and easy climbs meander through the park. Beautiful waterfalls like Svartifoss, seen above, are scattered throughout the acreage. If you’re feeling more adventurous you can wander deep into Morsárdalur Valley and high into the Kristínartindar Mountains.
These more strenuous hikes are not for the faint of heart but are incredibly rewarding. Hikers are awarded unparalleled views of glaciers, craggy peaks, and arctic highlands. The park is also used as a base camp for those daring enough to summit Iceland’s highest mountain, Hvannadalshnjúkur. If you have the chance to visit set aside at least 2 hours to explore the picturesque park.
The Glacier Lagoon
Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours. The run off of Breiðamerkurjökull glacier meets with sea water to form Jökulsárlón, the Glacier Lagoon. Large icebergs float in the ever-expanding lake as they make their way out to Atlantic Ocean. Some of these icebergs are over 1,000 years old and larger than houses.
For those patient enough, seals can be spotted dancing in the waters near the inlet. They can be found year round hunting the fish that call the lagoon home. Just past the lagoon is the Diamond Beach. Small jewels of ice polished by sand and water litter the expansive beach. The lagoon has become one of Iceland’s most famous destinations. Plan to stay for at least an hour in this jewel!
Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours. Skogafoss drops almost 200 feet into the canyon below its mouth. The striking waterfall is as powerful as they come. Incredibly, you can still walk right up to its edge and feel its breathtaking strength. Mist pillows in waves down the canyon and rainbows are an ever present reality. A short, steep hike will take you up and above the falls. If you’re prepared for a hike, the trail will lead you deep into the mountains, glaciers, and hot springs of Iceland’s highlands.
Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours. Seljalandsfoss is one of Iceland’s most stunning destinations. So much so, we included it in our Favorite Adventures in Iceland post! If you’re lucky enough to visit make time to take the boardwalk back behind the waterfall. You can watch the falls catapult almost 200 feet into the pool below as the sun tries to peak into the hollow.
Vík Black Sand Beach
Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours. There are a multitude of black sand beaches scattered along Iceland’s coast, but none as popular as the one located in Vík. Reynisfjara Beach stretches for miles before being engulfed on each end by massive cliffs. The Apostles stand guard at sea as large waves crash repeatedly into the coarse sand. Ideally, you have a chance to visit the beach at sunset. Whenever you visit be weary of the water. Strong riptides turn below the surface and several people have passed away in the strong currents.
How Long to Stay in North Iceland
Ideal Time: 1-2 Days. To be honest, we knew that Akureyri was Iceland’s second largest city and “capital of the north” but we weren’t really expecting to see a whole lot when we got there. Although it’s smaller than Reykjavík, it’s still an incredible little city! It can be a wonderful base camp for whale watching, exploring the North’s mountains and fjords, or just meandering about.
We were only able to spend a morning in the city, and most of it was spent in a café drinking hot chocolate and eating cookies. We walked away content and warm but dreaming of exploring its endless shops and alleyways! If you have a chance be sure to allow a couple days to explore all the museums and stores the city has to offer.
Myvatn Nature Baths
Ideal Time: 2-4 Hours. Located between Akureyri and Egilsstaðir, the Myvatn Nature Baths are a beautiful collection of lakes and hotpools in Northern Iceland. Given its distance form Reykjavik, these pools see a much smaller crowd than the Blue Lagoon. In such, you can consistently find a spot in its relaxing waters. Given the chance we’d recommend everyone carve out a couple hours to soak in the warm waters at Myvatn.
How Long to Stay in West Iceland
Snæfellsjökull National Park
Ideal Time: 4-6 Hours. West Iceland’s Snæfellsjökull National Park is home to glaciers, caves, cliffs, and craters. It is also Iceland’s only National Park that stretches all the way to the sea. Visitors have a chance to explore the numerous grottoes and caves that line the park. If short drive and short hikes are more of your style, Snæfellsjökull has plenty of quick trails. When you visit, make sure to allow a few hours to tour the cliffs along the coast and the gorges and canyons along the interior.
Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours. Kirkjufell is supposedly the most photographed mountain in all of Iceland. Its famous for its tiered steeple peak and freestanding structure. It sits alone surrounded by beaches on an outcropping into the Atlantic Ocean. Guided and unguided tours will take you to the summit just over 1500 feet above the ocean below. Alternatively, you can enjoy the views from the neighboring waterfall, Kirkjufellfoss.
How Long to Stay in East Iceland
East Iceland, while ruggedly beautiful, is worth a little less of your time. The drive around the dizzying fjords often transitions to gravel and is unnerving for even the most iron-stomached. If you’re seriously planning how long to stay in Iceland for, we’d recommend avoiding most of the East coast.
Vestrahorn and Stokksnes
Ideal Time: 1-2 Hours. Even East Iceland has its gems. While the local Viking Cafe was listed on our roundup of What to Skip in Iceland, nearby Vestrahorn and Stokksnes are a must. The beautiful mountain and wind swept black sand beach look like they belong on a foreign planet. Ideally, you could spend a few hours here and be right back in the action. Unfortunately, even these beautiful mountains are hours from the closest other attractions.
Almost forgot? Remember to pin our guide on How Long to Stay in Iceland for later 🙂
As you can see, Iceland is full of incredible locations that are well worth your time. Figuring out how much is the hard part! If you’re tired of wondering how long to stay in Iceland just follow our handy guide and we’re certain you’ll have a blast. Enjoy!
So please let us know in the comments below… Have you ever been or would you ever go to Iceland? Do you have any recommendations for places to visit, or how long to stay in Iceland for? Still have questions or comments, let us know in the comments! Where’s your next vacation taking you? Please remember to like and share😊 God Bless, K+J!
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Verse of the Week: Galatians 1:10
“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
We’ve struggled in the past to identify our purpose and intentions for The Agape Co. As its grown its taken on new roles and meanings constantly. We started off thinking it would be vacation planning for others. After a year we realized it wasn’t our passion and it was very hard to scrap out a living doing so. While we loved helping others discover and explore the world around them, we didn’t feel we were having an impact on their lives. Our posts would only get a few hundred likes and our website a measly ten views a day.
That all turned when we focused on God and his plan for The Agape Co. We began implementing his word into every single one of our posts. In doing so, we crafted and created an audience that we feel can make a difference. We hope that we’ve been able to help them grow their faith first, and their love for exploration second. Letting go of our desire for fame, recognition, or whatever you want to call it prompted this change. This week, dedicate your time to a passion that both fuels you, and furthers God’s Kingdom.
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