Travel Tips for Iceland

The Best Iceland 7-Day Road Trip Itinerary (For Summer + Winter)


The Best Iceland 7-Day Road Trip Itinerary

We rarely see travellers coming over to Iceland (whether they’re travelling from North America or Europe) who stay for only a day or two. Most trips to Iceland include a stay of at least a week (seven days) or more, as seven days typically gives travellers enough time to see a good majority of the island. However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you can see all of Iceland during a one-week Iceland holiday. 

Iceland is a big country, despite its small size in relation to some of the other most popular travel destinations around the globe, and you’ll have to pick and choose what you see during your 7 days in Iceland. Make the right choices, and you’ll enjoy an amazing 7 days in Iceland filled with the best of the best the country has to offer and our top sights and sounds. But! Choose poorly, and you may find yourself leaving without seeing much of anything.

To help you make the most of your one-week holiday in Iceland, the local experts at Lava Car Rental are here with their best tips, tricks and recommendations for an Iceland road trip for seven days. We’ll answer your questions about what is the best road trip itinerary for seven days in Iceland, and what are the must-see attractions during a one-week holiday in Iceland, as well as how much to budget for seven days in Iceland. And, of course, we’ll give you some professional tips on renting your car in Iceland. 

So, without further ado, here are the best Iceland 7-day self-driving itineraries for both summer and winter, as well as our best advice for spending a week in Iceland. 

seven day Iceland self-drive itinerary

3 Things You Need to Know Before You Plan a One-Week Road Trip Itinerary in Iceland

But first, before you start planning your 7-day itinerary for Iceland, here are a few things to keep in mind.

1. You don’t want to travel the Ring Road

While Iceland’s Ring Road is an extremely popular route for Iceland road trips, it’s simply too much to see over seven days. You’d be spending more time in the car than you would actually enjoy all that Iceland has to offer. 

So, with that in mind, we recommend that, if you only have 7 days total to spend in Iceland, including your arrival and departure days, you should focus on travelling around the South Coast, Iceland’s Golden Circle Route and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. Doing so will give you plenty of time to enjoy your trip at a more leisurely pace (and if you do have your heart absolutely set on travelling Iceland’s Ring Road, we recommend extending your stay to 10 days, at least).

2. Pick the right vehicle for your time of visit

To ensure the utmost safety and comfort, you want to pick the right vehicle for your Iceland road trip. What vehicle is right for your trip will all depend upon the season in which you’re visiting. 

If you’re travelling during late May to early September, which is Iceland’s summer months,  you’ll be safe with a smaller, 2WD vehicle. However, suppose you're travelling to Iceland at any other time of the year. In that case, you’ll want to choose a 4WD vehicle that can handle the snow, ice and other inclement weather that occurs in Iceland throughout the fall, winter and spring. 

3. Book your car rental ASAP

Whenever you start planning a trip to Iceland, and you know you’ll be doing a 7-day Iceland road trip, you want to go ahead and book your rental car as soon as possible. This is especially the case in the summer months when travel to Iceland is particularly popular. We usually advise travellers to book their vehicle at least one month in advance of their trip; if not, they may find fewer vehicles from which to choose, as well as higher car rental rates. Additionally, if travellers wait any longer than this to book their vehicle in the summer, they may find no camper vans available at all.

Vik is one of the most popular Icelandic town located on Iceland south coast

How Much Should I Budget for 7 Days in Iceland? 

There’s no one answer to how much you should budget for being in Iceland for 7 days. That’s because your costs will differ heavily depending upon the months in which you travel. As noted, summertime is Iceland’s busiest travel season, so, as you might expect, travel costs are higher in the summer as well. Winter is always the cheapest season for travelling to Iceland, so if you want to visit Iceland on a budget, your best bet is to travel here between October and April.

In general, though, no matter what season you visit Iceland, the country is a more expensive destination as compared to some other regions of the world you might visit, such as the Caribbean or Southeast Asia. While it's true that you can find many affordable flights to Iceland from Europe and North America, once you arrive in Iceland, the costs of things like ground transportation, lodging, food and activities are all relatively high. Tours are generally around 100- 400 USD per person, whereas even a relatively affordable fast-food meal can cost around 15-20 USD per person

Do I need a credit card in Iceland

In order to save money during your trip to Iceland, it’s wise to think about your costs as you plan out your 7-day itinerary for Iceland. Think about which activities you really want to do most and then maybe cut out some other costly activities that you're not really interested in. You can also save money by opting to rent a camper van if you're visiting in the summer, as that will save you money on lodging and transportation, as it combines both into one cost. It will also allow you to see more of the island at your own pace, as we detail in our full guide to renting a camper van in Iceland

Otherwise, try to look for more local-oriented activities (versus tourist-geared activities), shop for groceries and attempt to make some of your meals yourself, purchase any alcoholic beverages at the airport before you enter the country and look to more affordable accommodation options such as hostels and home rentals rather than hotels.

For more information on the cost of living in Iceland and what you can expect, you can see a full breakdown here. On average, the cost of living in Iceland is about 43% higher than it is in the United States. 

Read our guide to travelling in Iceland on a budget for more advice on getting around the country as affordably as possible. 

Enjoy your meal in your camper van during your iceland trip

The Best 7-Day Summer Iceland Road Trip Itinerary 

While travelling to Iceland during the summer is more expensive, it also comes with a wealth of benefits. From May to early September, Iceland’s weather is much more agreeable. The road conditions are more easily navigable, and plenteous daylight hours allow for more time to explore and enjoy the great outdoors. Road conditions are safer, outdoor activities like hiking are more easily accessible and getting around is just easier in general. Driving around Iceland in the summer is usually simple for even the most novice drivers. 

The best route for self-driving in Iceland for seven days in Summertime (May ~ Early September)

7 days summer self drive itinerary iceland

For an Iceland trip with an itinerary of 7 days, we’d advise the following schedule:

  • Day 1: The Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik
  • Day 2: The Golden Circle/ Snaefellsnes Peninsula
  • Day 3: Snaefellsnes Peninsula/ The Golden Circle
  • Day 4: The South Coast
  • Day 5: Vik to Jokulsarlon
  • Day 6: Hofn to Reykjavik
  • Day 7: Heading Back Home

Let's go into detail.

Day 1: The Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik

You’ll arrive in Iceland at the Keflavik Airport, the only airport in Iceland that receives incoming international travellers. From there, you’re only a short drive from the Blue Lagoon, one of Iceland’s most popular attractions and a can’t-miss experience. Grab your rental car in Keflavik and then drive on out to the Blue Lagoon for a few hours spent enjoying the huge thermal hot springs surrounded by lava rock. Once done, you can head on into Reykjavik and check in to your hotel there. 

Day 2: The Golden Circle

Keep your accommodations in Reykjavik for the next few days, as you’ll spend Days 2 and 3 of your self-driving trip in Iceland exploring the Golden Circle and Snaefellsnes Peninsula. These routes are close enough to Reykjavik that you can easily stay in the city for the first part of your 7-day Iceland itinerary. 

Dedicate your second day to the Golden Circle, which only takes a little over 3 hours to drive; dedicating an entire day to the Circle will allow you plenty of time to stop, get out of the car and explore. Popular spots on the route to not miss include Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss and Geysir. 

Iceland golden circle attraction- Gullfoss in summertime

Day 3: Snaefellsnes Peninsula 

On your third day, you can travel a little further north to drive around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula while still keeping your hotel accommodations in nearby Reykjavik. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is known for its gorgeous landscapes, black sand beaches and mountain views. 

Stops to include in your day-long trip around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula include Hellnar Beach, the Longdrangar basalt cliffs, the Malariff Lighthouse, Djupalonssandur Beach and Mount Kirkjufell.

Day 4: The South Coast 

On Day 4 of your Iceland 7-day itinerary, it’s time to check out of your hotel in Reykjavik and head to the South Coast. The drive between Reykjavik and Vik (where you'll be staying on your fourth night) is only about 3 hours, but you’ll want to stop plenty and enjoy the sights. 

Some of the top spots to stop along the route include Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Seljavallalaug Hot Pool, Skogafoss Waterfall, the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck and the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. 

Iceland south coast Seljalandsfoss

Day 5: Vik to Jokulsarlon 

On Day 5, you’ll be driving from Vik to Jokulsarlon, so go ahead and check out of your Vik hotel. During the drive, be sure to stop by Fjaorargljufur Canyon, Skaftafell National Park, the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Hofn and the Diamond Beach. At night, you’ll want to have booked a hotel in either Hofn or Jokulsarlon. 

Day 6: Hofn to Reykjavik 

On the last full day of your trip, you’ll want to make your way back to Reykjavik from Hofn. The drive is about six hours, but you can still make time to stop along the journey to visit some extra sites, particularly if you missed any along your drive of the South Coast or between Vik and Jokulsarlon. 

Day 7: Heading Back Home

If you didn’t have time to visit the Blue Lagoon upon your arrival in Iceland, now’s a good time to do so. Otherwise, drop your vehicle off with your rental car provider and catch your flight back home from Keflavik Airport. 

What car you should hire for your 7-day summer Iceland itinerary?

For a 7-day summer Iceland itinerary, we recommend renting a 2WD economy vehicle for travelling couples; for groups of three or four travellers, we recommend renting an SUV, so you have enough room for everyone to be comfortable well as all of your luggage. 

Iceland south coast is filled with Icelandic wonders, and glaciers are one of them.

The Best 7-day Winter Iceland Road Trip Itinerary

Travelling through Iceland during the winter is an entirely different experience than travelling in Iceland during the summer. You still can enjoy many of the same sites and activities, but do note that the drives may take you longer, and you may find that you need a little more flexibility in your 7-day itinerary. This is all because Iceland’s winter months, October through April, are filled with unpredictable and sometimes hazardous weather, road conditions that make for slow going and fewer daylight hours overall. 

The best route for self-driving in Iceland for seven days in Winterertime (late September ~ April)

7 days winter self drive itinerary iceland

You’ll want to keep this in mind when planning your wintertime 7 days in Iceland, but, in general, here's what we recommend for a 7-day Iceland winter road trip itinerary. 

  • Day 1: The Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik
  • Day 2: The Golden Circle
  • Day 3: The South Coast
  • Day 4: Vik to Jokulsarlon
  • Day 5: Ice Caving and Sightseeing in Jokulsarlon
  • Day 6: Hofn to Reykjavik
  • Day 7: Heading Back Home

Let's go into detail.

Day 1: The Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik

As always, you’ll arrive in Iceland at the Keflavik Airport, the only airport in Iceland that receives incoming international travellers. Grab your rental car and then head (carefully and slowly!) to the Blue Lagoon. Popular all year round, the Blue Lagoon is especially nice during the winter months, when you can enjoy the hot springs in your bathing suit while taking in the wintertime panorama all around you. After your Blue Lagoon experience, you can head to Reykjavik and check in to your hotel.

Day 2: The Golden Circle

Keep your accommodations in Reykjavik for one more day, as you set out to see the Golden Circle over your first full day in Iceland. The Golden Circle takes 3 hours to drive in good weather, but you’ll want to leave plenty of extra time for slow driving conditions. Popular spots on the route to not miss include Thingvellir National Park, Gullfoss and Geysir.

Iceland Thingvellir National Park  in wintertime

Day 3: The South Coast 

On Day 3, check out of your Reykjavik hotel and travel along the South Coast to Vik, where you’ll stay the night. Again, this route is short, also taking only 3 hours, but you’ll want to leave plenty of time for stopping, as well as for inclement weather that might impact your drive times. 

Some of the top spots to stop along the route include Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, Seljavallalaug Hot Pool, Skogafoss Waterfall, the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck and the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

Day 4: Vik to Jokulsarlon 

On Day 4, check out of your Vik hotel and drive to Jokulsarlon. During the drive, be sure to stop by Fjaorargljufur Canyon, Skaftafell National Park, the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Hofn and the Diamond Beach. For the night, you’ll want to have booked a hotel in Jokulsarlon.

Day 5: Ice Caving and Sightseeing in Jokulsarlon 

Ice caving is one of the top can’t-miss activities for a winter trip to Iceland. Do keep in mind, though, if you're travelling on a budget, that ice caving tours can be a bit expensive, so if this is something you want to do while in Jokulsarlon, budget accordingly. 

Again, you can spend the night in your Jokulsarlon hotel. 

Day 6: Hofn to Reykjavik 

On the last full day of your trip, you’ll want to drive the pristine Icelandic coastline from Hofn to Reykjavik. The drive is about 6 hours, so plan your drive according to the winter daylight hours as an extra safety precaution. 

Day 7: Heading Back Home

If you didn’t have time to visit the Blue Lagoon upon your arrival in Iceland, now’s a good time to do so. Otherwise, drop your vehicle off with your rental car provider and catch your flight back home from Keflavik Airport.

What car you should hire for your 7-day Winter Iceland itinerary?

During the winter months, we always recommend our clients rent 4WD vehicles. The road conditions during the winter are often hazardous, and the weather is unpredictable, necessitating a well-equipped vehicle to get you safely around Iceland.

What car you should hire for your 7-day Winter Iceland itinerary?

Tips From the Locals: Renting Your Car in Iceland 

Whenever you visit Iceland, wherever you plan to go, however long you plan to be here, there are a few things you should do when renting your car in Iceland. 

  • Be sure to choose the right rental car based on your itinerary.
  • Be sure to choose the right rental car based on the season.
  • And be sure to choose the right rental car based on the type of traveller you are.

You’ll also want to look for rental cars with the amenities you need, as well as a rental car that’s equipped with the transmission you’re most accustomed to driving with. 

You can read more about all of our top tips for renting a car in Iceland

We can’t wait to welcome you to Iceland!

Explore some of the most beautiful and most popular stops around Iceland over seven days, with no need to rush or hurry. Following along with one of our 7-day Iceland itineraries makes it possible. And remember — the right rental car can make all the difference in how enjoyable (and safe!) your trip is. Check out all of your rental car options for your Iceland trip.



Hire your Iceland car today

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