By Karlie Marrazzo
Iceland’s popularity is higher than ever and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. And why should it? The small island nation in the North Atlantic is the most breathtaking place I have ever seen, full stop. Volcanoes, dramatic cliffs, crashing waves, geysers, majestic waterfalls, gorgeous glacial lagoons, the cutest sheep and horses, the midnight sun, friendly people and awesome vodka are just a few of the reasons I fell in love with this country.
It’s been a year and a half since I visited Iceland, and my post “11 day Iceland itinerary: Part One” is the most popular page on my site. The number of comments and emails I’m receiving about it continue to grow, so this is the perfect time for me to update all of you on how the itinerary worked out for us.
Note: We had a rough budget of $100CDN per night for accommodations. We weren’t sure how realistic this would be as the cost of hotel rooms is quite high, but we managed to clock in at $1200 for all 10 nights – an average of $120/night, not bad! We traveled in June 2013, so all of the prices I mention were current at the time of travel. Prices are sure to have gone up by now, so please double check with the links I’ve provided. June is the start of high season so costs are greater at that time of year. Also note that a lot of the guesthouses have shared bathrooms.
Let’s get to the good stuff!
Day 1 and 2: Reykjavík
The rental: We pre-booked our rental car four months in advance through Route 1 Car Rental. As we were going to be sticking to the main highway of Route 1 (the Ring Road), we didn’t book anything more spectacular than a Hyundai i30. Expect to get a manual transmission, no matter which rental agency you choose, unless you specify otherwise. This will also cost you more. Bonus: somebody from Route 1 delivered the car to our apartment and went over all of the paperwork with us there. No extra charge.
Cost: We did not need the rental for the first couple of days in Reykjavík, so had a seven-day booking. We received a discount of 12% when we booked online. Total: $430 CDN.
Note: Gas is expensive in Iceland, but we only had to fill up the car twice on our way around the Ring Road, and once to top up before returning it at the airport.
Accommodation: Hotels in Iceland are too rich for our blood ($250+/night for the most part), so we decided to use AirBnB for the first time, and thankfully it was a hit. We stayed in this gorgeous basement suite owned by an Icelandic TV personality and flight attendant. We paid $250 total for two nights, including AirBnB fees of $26.
Read more: Reykjavík: Day One
Reykjavík: Day Two
Day 3: Golden Circle, stay in Flúðir
The Golden Circle is one of the most popular, if not THE most popular, of Iceland’s tourist attractions, due to its proximity to Reykjavík and ability to show people a microcosm of Iceland’s powerful natural beauty in a day trip. It is the perfect taste of Iceland for people who may be taking advantage of Icelandair’s free stopover program. Since the Golden Circle is a few natural sights spread out over a 300km loop, there isn’t really one town that people stay in – they usually stay in Reykjavík. Since we were moving on in our road trip, we stayed in the small village of Flúðir (Fludir) on the recommendation of a friend.
Accommodation: Guesthouse Dalbaer. Shared bathroom. Breakfast included.
Read more: Snorkeling between continents in Iceland
Day 4: Vík
Puffins, black sand beaches, howling winds, the infamous Eyjafjallajökull volcano and an abandoned plane wreck.
Accommodation: Hotel Edda Vík. Summer cottage. Private bathroom. Breakfast not included.
Read more: Víkings, volcanoes and black sand beaches on Iceland’s south coast
Solheimasandur plane wreck a glimpse into Hell
Day 5: Höfn
Take a zodiac boat tour of the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon on your way to this small fishing town (pronounced Hup) that is known for it’s incredible, fresh lobster.
Accommodation: The very cute and cozy Guesthouse Dyngja featuring a relaxing living room with record player. Shared bathroom. Breakfast included.
Read more: Scatter my ashes at Jökulsárlón
Day 6: Myvatn
Exploring the volcanic lake and relaxing at the Mývatn Nature Baths, a smaller, quieter version of the hugely popular Blue Lagoon.
Accommodation: Elda Guesthouse. Shared bathroom. Sink in room. Breakfast included.
Read more: Journey to Mývatn – A Photo Diary
Day 7: Akureyri
Iceland’s second largest city. We booked two nights here but had to cut it short due to excessive noise from the Bíladagar car festival partiers ruining our sleep. We had a whale watching trip booked in Húsavík rather than Akureyri, which meant we had to backtrack about 90km. I would recommend staying one night in Húsavík on your way instead.
Accommodation: Hrafninn Guesthouse. Priavte bathroom. Breakfast not included but full kitchen available for guest use.
Read more: Alluring Akureyri, cut short
Whale watching on the brink of the Arctic Circle
Skipping town to avoid Bíladagar, Akureyri’s Car Fest
Day 8: Hvammstangi
We ended up staying in this tiny village as it was roughly halfway between Akureyri and our next destination, Stykkishólmur. Hvammstangi has a good tourist info centre and is a good place to spot seals. We even spotted a whale here without having to go on a fancy tour!
Accommodation: Hanna Sigga Guesthouse. Shared bathroom. Breakfast available at an extra cost. They were the first place we called and luckily had availability for the same night.
Cost: We booked over the phone and I shockingly didn’t write the cost down anywhere; however, their current rate is around $100CDN.
Day 9: Stykkishólmur
This picturesque town is north of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, which would warrant a few days of exploration on its own. There is a pretty harbour, colourful little homes and a quirky lighthouse. We soaked in the local hot pots (thermal pools) and walked up Helgafell, a small mountain with a sacred story.
Accommodation: Holmur-Inn. Shared bathroom. Breakfast included.
Day 10: Reykjavík
Accommodation: Guesthouse Sunna. Shared bathroom. Breakfast included. I wasn’t really a fan of this place – it was more like an old hotel than a guesthouse. I’m not sure why we didn’t do AirBnB for our last night, too, so that’s what I recommend you do if the option is there.
Day 11: Fly home
Finish off your trip by luxuriating in the postcard perfect Blue Lagoon on your way back out to the airport. Ladies, wear a swimming cap or bring a lot of conditioner! The mineral rich geothermal waters completely fried my long hair and it felt weird the whole way home.
The ring road is well maintained and there is very little traffic, so you need not worry about driving on your own. I would not hesitate at all to do this trip again, and felt completely safe the whole time. However I would not recommend driving this route in the winter (or even late spring or early autumn) as weather, snow and lack of daylight can make things dangerous quickly.
The only thing I would change would be to add more time! I think two weeks would be ideal for this road trip, and you could add even more time if you want to explore the Westfjords or the Snæfellsnes peninsula. Iceland is a spectacular country that lives up to all of the praise that is heaped upon it.
21 thoughts on “11 day Iceland itinerary: Part two”
This is amazing!! You did a fantastic trip, and it’s so inspirational. Iceland is so high on my bucket list, thanks for the great advice! xx
Wow, thank you so much for your thoughtful and encouraging words Sarah! I hope you can make it to Iceland soon; it’s so worth it!
Great itinerary! I’m thinking about a trip to Iceland later this year so this is really useful.
Thanks Bethaney! I hope you decide to make the trip.
Very insightful Karlie. Your photos of Iceland are beautiful! I really want to see the glaciers, volcano and try out the Blue Lagoon. I sure hope we get there…
Wow the pictures looks so real and the history is amazing . Thank you for sharing
I’m planning a trip to Iceland for April! You mentioned at the end of your post that you would have liked to add more time. Based on your experience where would you have stayed and explored longer? We have 14 days.
It’s so hard to decide because everywhere we were was worth exploring more! For a first trip to Iceland, unless you know more specifically where you want to be exploring and feel you need three whole nights somewhere, I would split the nights up. One way to do it would be to add one more night in each region – the East Fjords, maybe add a night in Húsavík or another night in the Mývatn area, or anywhere else in the north, and a night on the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
I need to bookmark your Iceland posts! I’m leaving for my honeymoon to Iceland in a month, and I have NOTHING planned yet! (EEK!)
Oh man! Are you driving the ring road? Feel free to email me if you need any help!
Thank you for posting your adventure. I haven’t read it all yet, but plan to. We are going to Iceland in August with our two teenage sons. Really looking forward to going as it has been on our list of places to see for years!
Thanks so much for this.. I am starting to plan a trip for June/July and was looking at those Self Guided tours which includes car/GPS/wifi and accommodation(basic)
but for 14 days they are priced at $2700- $3700 with whats included..
TRANSFER FROM KEF AIRPORT TO REYKJAVIK ON ARRIVAL
ACCOMMODATION (BUDGET/COMFORT/QUALITY) FOR 13 NIGHTS, INCLUDES BREAKFAST
RENTAL CAR OF YOUR CHOICE WITH UNLIMITED MILEAGE, CDW AND VAT FOR 12 DAYS
FREE IN-CAR WI-FI (1GB), USE OF GPS & TWO AUTHORIZED DRIVERS FOR THE DURATION OF THE VEHICLE RENTAL PERIOD
FERRY FROM BRJÁNSLÆKUR TO STYKKISHÓLMUR
TRANSFER FROM REYKJAVIK TO KEF AIRPORT ON DEPARTURE
INFORMATION MEETING WITH YOUR TRAVEL CONSULTANT (OPTIONAL)
MAP OF ICELAND AND DETAILED PERSONAL ITINERARY
ROAD ATLAS & “HIGHLIGHTS OF ICELAND” BOOKLET
DRIVING IN ICELAND PAMPHLET
TEMPORARY USE OF MOBILE PHONE
24-HOUR EMERGENCY SERVICE
TAXES & SERVICE FEES
My question to you Karlie is I am a confident traveller and can plan ahead using their travel plans and yours and build my own trip. Do you think I can do it for significantly less than their rates..
Did you have temporary mobile phone for safety?(I am travelling with my 13 year old daughter) was Wifi expensive.
I realize your trip was a couple of years ago and prices go up but would appreciate your input.
Thanks for the great blog.
Thanks for your comment Penny. I definitely think you could do the trip independently for less money. I’m sure prices for accommodations have gone up since I was there, but I managed to spend only $120CDN per night. Eat cheaply. Accommodations and car rental will be your biggest cost. Iceland itself is the greatest attraction, so you won’t be spending a lot on museums or activities necessarily. I didn’t use a cell phone when I was there, but wifi was abundant so I didn’t have any problems with staying in touch. Lots of cell phone providers offer good travel rates/bundles. The pay per use can get pricey if you’re using it daily, but if you just need to use it an in an emergency, it might not even be worth the trouble getting the bundle. Let me know if you have any more questions!
I am about to do my own with my gf for 10 days (more like 9 and a half) just rented 4×4 and gonna do my own as we please. no guide no rush to go to next stop.
I am traveling by myself at the end of April/beginning of May, and trying to decide if I am going to book a camper van and race around the entire ring road in 8 days, or fly to Hofn and hire a cheep 2 wheel drive car and head clockwise and fly back from Akureyri. My questions are:
1) given the choice, (not considering price) which would you choose?
2) How many hours a day did you spend driving verses out and about visiting sights on average?
3) How much interaction did you have with your airbnb hosts and was this a significant part of enjoying the trip and discovering the culture? If I am in a camper I would not be staying in any other accommodation.
Thanks for any advice, I enjoyed your follow up post. Lisa
Thank you for the informative post, Karlie! My family is planning a two week vacation to Iceland next June/July 2017 and I’ve already booked 3 places using airbnb – an apartment in Reykjavik, a house in Isafjordur and a house in Akureyri. Like you said, the costs were considerably less than hotels and more roomy accommodations for our family of 4. It sounds like we made a good choice after reading your experience with airbnb!
What a perfect itinerary! I must go to Iceland ASAP! xx Hannah & The Sunny Side of Things
We did a 20 day trip, and our only regret is that it should have been a bit longer. Circled on Route 1. The north is amazing, as is the east. We added the West Fjords (puffins, to see fly from cliffs, not eat) and were glad we did. The Snaefellsnes is brilliant. Lunches from markets and bakeries, tailgated. It is like a US National Park everywhere you go. Stop, spin around, and everyhting you see is all volcanic in origin. Lovely people. Be tolerant of their lack of (US standards) facilities, and undertouristed experience. It is ok to get wet. It is ok to drive in one lane tunnels with two way traffic. Lovely people. (Did I say that before?) We will be back. In winter next time, northern lights. Akureyri.
Stunning ! Your photos are beautiful. This is a trip my girlfriend and I have been dying to do and I am so glad to have an outline of where all to go. I can’t wait to try out that fresh lobster!
Wow that’s pretty impressive that you did the entire ring road! I was only in Iceland and just did the Southern part, as we only had 5 days. Next time I’m in Iceland, i’ll try to stay 11 days and do the entire ring road like you!
Great itinerary. I’m heading there in a few weeks. So excited!