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6 days/nights in Iceland in July

We (2 adults, 1 teen) are traveling to Iceland for 6 days/nights in July. Our first visit to Iceland! I know the ring road cannot be done in this amount of time, so we're going to focus on attractions along the south coast. I'm looking for advice on where to stay.

Our flight lands at KEF at 7am, so we've booked a remote cottage near Jokulsarlon for our first two nights -- planning to do a glacier hike and/or kayak at the glacier lagoon, Diamond Beach, and hiking at Múlagljúfur Canyon (also possibly Stokksnes if time allows). I assume we can stop at Vik area sites and waterfalls (Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, etc.) on the drive out and back. Staying in Vik is not really an option due to lack of affordable accommodations (trying to stay at or under $300/night). I cannot decide if we should spend the remaining 4 nights near Selfoss for easy outings to golden circle (or more south coast adventuring), or if we'd be better off doing 2 nights in that area, then 2 nights in Reykjavik. I want to make sure we see and spend time in Reykjavik, just don't know if it makes for a good "hub" for daytime adventures.

Posted by
2108 posts

Where are you flying in from? If it is the US or another place with an overnight flight, I would not even attempt to drive even half ay to Jokulsarlon upon arrival. I would stay in Reykjavik the first night, enjoy the arrival day there and then the next morning head out. That lets you adjust to the time zone, and in thee morning you will feel much more refreshed and ready to go.

You are right that the ring road really isn't a good option for your time. With 6 days your plans sound good:) First night in Reykjavik and then head up the south coast and meander back down. You could head over to the Westmann Island for the day, or even a night.

I would figure out exactly what places you want to see and what excursions you want to do, and then figure out lodging based on that. I know when we did our ring road trip, our time slot for the zodiac boat tour at Jokulsarlon was first thing in the morning, which meant we had to stay somewhat nearby. Also remember that driving in Iceland can be slower than anticipated, especially when you factor in all the stops that you stumble upon;)

Posted by
27 posts

We're flying nonstop from Minneapolis. My thought was that with a 7am arrival, we'd have plenty of time to make our way to Hof, even if a bit jet lagged.

Posted by
2108 posts

IMO/IME, no, that is way too far for the day of arrival. I know I am particular about this, but it is because I had a relative that fell asleep at the wheel and became a paraplegic from that accident. So I know all too well what the reality of it can be. The drive to Hof from the airport will be a good 6 hours, without any stops. I am not trying to be negative at all, but rather trying to help and to help keep everyone on the road safe:)

Posted by
27 posts

Makes total sense, and I appreciate your concern! And I'm sorry to hear about your relative. I'm used to arriving in European cities and walking off jet lag all day, so I suppose driving is a whole different ballgame that we have no experience in.

All of that said... do you think one full day/night is enough to take in Reykjavik? We're not really looking for a city experience on this trip (if we were, we wouldn't be going to Iceland!) but I do want to make sure we give sites/shops in Reykjavik the time they deserve.

Posted by
2108 posts

We do the same thing, walk all day on arrival days in Europe. Driving though is a whole other ballgame;). Thank you for understanding where I am coming from on the driving thing.

There is SO much to do right in Reykjavik! We fly from Seattle and arrive very early as well, usually about 30-60 minutes earlier than the airline states. A couple really fun things that our family has enjoyed on arrival day include the Citywalk "free" walking tour (pay what you want at the end, as a tip), the food tour (AMAZING!!!) checking out all the cool street art and murals, checking out Harpa (inside as well), visit the Sun Voyager, and of course Rainbow Road and the church. Up towards the church is one of the Handknitting Association stores, which is a great place to look for sweaters, hats, yarn etc. The food tour is so good, and plenty of food for lunch and dinner. Or go to the Sea Barron down by the wharf for really good seafood. The murals are just gorgeous, and it is fun to wander the side streets to see many more. A stop at Braud earlier in the morning for a cinnamon roll is a must.

You could also do either a local pool right in town, such as Sundhollin, or head to Sky lagoon about 15 minutes from the city center. Both are really good, just different. Sundhollin is an easy walk from the heart of downtown and the cost is only about $8 US dollars per person. They rent towels as well, or you can bring one from your hotel.

Which, no idea about your budget etc, but with 3 people take a look at Hotel Fron. It is very centrally located and they have penthouse apartments (not fancy, so don't let that scare you off) that have 2 bedrooms. We were upgraded to one of those rooms on one of our trips and it was great for 3 of us. Plenty of room to spread out, a nice seating area etc. It had a small kitchenette, which was nice as we got groceries for the rest of our trip and were able to keep them in our fridge there and then head out immediately the next morning without wasting time. Plus there is Mjuk which is an amazing hat/mittens store right across the street. A must, IMO;)

Posted by
696 posts

I agree with Mikliz. Reykjavik is a fun city to spend a day and night. We fly direct From Denver and jet lag is real.

You could add more time on Reykjanes Penninsula to your itinerary.

Posted by
27 posts

This is all great advice, thank you! Ok, so Reykjavik seems like a must do (especially for a first visit). Perhaps going as far as Jokulsarlon is too ambitious for a first-time, 6-day visit? I guess I love the idea of that glacier lagoon, as well as nearby Diamond Beach, etc. At the same time, I know it will be a lot of car time, and I do want to maximize our time outside seeing things.

Posted by
2108 posts

Yes, stick to Reykjavik for the first night. After that though definitely head ups to Jokulsarlon! it is beautiful. If you can, do the zodiac boat tour. They fill up fast so I would book that ASAP! It is so much fun though! When we did it, the guide noticed the glacier was calving so raced us as close as possible, but still a safe distance, and we got to watch the entire event unfold. Diamond Beach is basically across the road from the glacier, and that was also a highlight for us. You have plenty of time do stay in Reykjavik as well as get up to the glacier area for this trip.

Posted by
27 posts

Thanks for all this feedback! Based on the advice here, we're going to make sure we venture out as far as Jokulsarlon. I think we've decided to spend our last 2 nights (of 6) in Reykjavik for easier travel back to the airport. Since driving all the way to Skaftafell/Jokulsarlon on arrival is not advised, we will likely do that in the middle portion of our trip. Any tips on an area to spend the first night or two, if not Reykjavik, but moving in the direction of Jokulsarlon? We currently have a cottage booked in Eyrarbakki, but I'm also considering Selfoss, Hella, and Hovlsvollur.

I should add that my preference is to stay in as few places as possible -- if we could stay in one hotel/cottage/apartment the entire trip, we would, but I know that's not all that doable in Iceland if you want to explore!

Posted by
7417 posts

We're planing a trip from the NYC airports in June/July. While there are often warnings to buy air tickets from the actual provider here, I want to note that I found that Expedia offered me multiple Business Class seats on flight 622, June 27, 2023 from Newark, but the actual Iceland Air site says that Business Class is not available on that departure.

I really was only on Expedia to scope out the options. That was because so many of the two segment flights to KEF were on bargain airlines, which I try to avoid, like Jet Blue. Yeah, I know people who swear by Jet Blue.

Posted by
1 posts

Hello,

My sister and I are planning to travel to Iceland in August. We will be going for 6 nights. We will not be renting a car. We are most interested in seeing the South coast of Iceland and a day trip to Westmans Island. We would like to stay in Reykjavik and then take tours. Has anyone booked their flights through Icelandic air and done one of their vacation packages. Is it more cost effective just to book our air fair and then book our tours when we arrive to Iceland? We will travel from Newark airport and most flights arrive around6:15am. What do you recommend we do for the first day while we are experiencing jet lag and before we can check into our hotel? Any moderate 1/2 day hiking trips you would recommend? What are most sees for our first time to Iceland?

Also, I saw the comment about booking flights through Expedia, is that less expensive than going directly though the airline? We are looking for non-stop flight. Any advice you could share would be helpful.

Posted by
696 posts

Lew, you are posing a new question specific to your needs, so you should start a new thread.

Quick answer to a couple of your questions (1) common consensus is to always book direct with the airlines.That way if anything goes wrong, they will take care of you. If you book through Expedia, then good luck dealing with them when your flight is cancelled or delayed. (2) A lot of your questions are answered in other threads here and on the TripAdvisor Iceland forum. Almost of of us who fly from the US arrive at 6:00 to 6:30 in the morning. (3) when you ask for "must sees" be prepared to tell people a little bit about what you like to do. (4) August is a busy month. Book your tours in advance, or risk them being sold out.