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Read Rick's book, but decided to do it a tad differently. Please help me see if my plan would work!

We are fully vaccinated and are planning on traveling to Iceland for 9 days in August. I have read Rick's book partially to get an idea of what we want to do, but we aren't following his advice closely for this trip because we don't want to always be on the move and relocating to a different place to stay every night. Don't get me wrong, I would have loved to follow his advice exactly, but for this trip we want to take things at a much slower pace. 

Would you please advise on whether my options below work? I don't generally love the idea of driving in a foreign country. In the past I have always relied on public transportation, and had driven once in the countryside of France. But recently with covid, we are considering renting a car for a few days in Iceland. Would my initial itinerary work? Please note that I haven't worked out all the details yet, this is just an initial thought to see if we need modification before starting to book things.

1) Arrive in Iceland on Friday early morning, take public transportation/cab to the hotel to wait for covid result, explore Reykjavik on the same day if/when covid result returned negative. 

2) Saturday: Golden circle tour (not self-driving). Stay in Reykjavik.

3) Sunday: Snorkeling tour in Silfra, thermal bath after? (We need to look for a convenient thermal bath from Reykjavik or from Silfra, probably Krauma?)

4) Monday: rent a car and drive to Southcoast, and stay there as base for a few days. Self Explore in Southcoast or book an ice cave tour.

5) Tuesday: Southcoast tour to explore the main attractions. 

6) Wednesday: Jokulsarlon for Zodiac boat tour and probably self explore the area

7) Thursday: Westman Islands

8) Friday: drive back to Reykjavik, stop at Blue Lagoon. 

9) Saturday: day trip from Reykjavik

10) Sunday: depart to go home

I would love to hear your thoughts and recommendations for anything! Iceland has been on my list for a long time, and I'm bummed my injury doesn't allow me to move at a faster pace and seek out more hard-core adventures, but I will be back another time for the things I won't be doing this coming trip.

Thank you so very much!

Posted by
244 posts

I love this itinerary. We've been to Iceland a few times and you really do need a car. While we almost always follow Rick's itineraries we always take things slower too usually adding a day or two to our stays. I hate being in a hurry. But looks good to me!

Posted by
7562 posts

We went a few years ago, before there was even a Rick Steves guidebook. Looks like you’ve got a good plan, and in August, you’ll have better road conditions than we had in April. We couldn’t do the Westmanns, so that’s still on the wishlist - should be fantastic when you go!

We did a driving road trip one day up to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Didn’t get to the end of it, but it was a great day. We got homegrown (greenhouse) strawberries at a roadside stand. Just leave your money in the box and take your berries - what a great place, where you can do that!

Posted by
247 posts

It would probably be far more cost effective to rent a car straight from the airport than to pay for transport to Reykjavik and pay for the golden circle tour, neither are very cheap. Also, I think you would enjoy being able to go at your own pace and stay at each site as much as you want. Maybe even add on slight detours that aren’t always on the tour like the kerid crater or Efstidalur.

Also, is there a reason why you chose to split your time in Reykjavik? Since you like to travel slower, how about renting a car from the airport and driving straight to the south coast to spend the first half of your journey, then Reykjavik for the second half. You could easily return the car in the city (they don’t usually charge extra) if you don’t want to keep it the whole trip. That way you’re only moving locations once during your trip.

You mentioned ice cave tours and I’m pretty sure they only operate during the winter so that is something to investigate and consider. For one of your day trips you could explore the Snæfellsnes peninsula if you were looking for other areas to visit. In response to a thermal bath convenient to Reykjavik, they just opened a new one near the city called Sky Lagoon that is right on the coast and opens up to a view of the ocean.

Posted by
96 posts

If you want to visit a thermal bath after Silfra, I can't remember for sure, but Fontana might be a good option. Right on the Golden Circle, I think it's closer than Krauma, but I may be remembering wrong.

Posted by
36 posts

Thanks for all the wonderful responses so far! Love them!

@Christina - I agree with you that it's far more cost effective to rent a car straight from the airport, but realistically I can't see us arriving early in the morning (6am) after a long flight (we aren't plane sleepers), figuring out airport logistics, navigating through covid requirement (if any at the time we travel), picking up a car and driving for 3 or more hours in a foreign country. That just seems too ambitious for us so we opted a slightly less convenient plan, but more realistic for us.

I would love to do an ice cave, but yes I have heard in the summer that might not be happening. I did see a couple tours but we need to look more into those tours. I love your suggestion on the Snaefellsnes peninsula! We will definitely look into that!
And Sky Lagoon looks absolutely stunning! That is why I love Rick Steve's forum. I often receive suggestions that I normally miss during my research. Thank you so much!

Posted by
36 posts

@Cyn thank you for such a helpful tip! I hope the berry stand would still be there when we visit. That sounds delicious!

Posted by
316 posts

One note on Day 8 - if I'm reading Google Maps correctly (which is a big "if"), the volcano is threatening to overrun the southern Ring Road such that it may not be possible to take the Ring Road from the south coast to the Blue Lagoon.

Posted by
705 posts

When we were there a few years ago, we took a tour of the Golden Circle as our first activity. Having a guide was a great introduction to the geologic features of Iceland, easier and more interesting than what you'd get from reading a guidebook.

Posted by
15510 posts

You'll find that the majority of people visiting Iceland and not renting a car at the airport take the


into Reykjavic. A cab will be extremely expensive as it is a 45 minute drive from airport to the city. And nothing in Iceland is cheap.

Posted by
36 posts

Thank you for all the wonderful tips and recommendations. I found these information so valuable! Love this community!