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Rick Steves' Suggested 11 Day Itinerary

Hello,

I am considering a trip to Iceland and was wondering if anybody has followed Rick Steves' 11 day itinerary:

Day 1: Arrive, pick up car, stop at the Blue Lagoon on the way into Reykjavík (sleep in Reykjavík)
Day 2: Reykjavík (sleep in Reykjavík)
Day 3: Begin the Ring Road drive by heading for Borgarnes, then Skagafjörður (sleep in the Skagafjörður countryside)
Day 4: Drive the Tröllaskagi Peninsula, stopping in Siglufjörður and Akureyri; spend the evening heading to the Mývatn lake area (sleep in Mývatn)
Day 5: Mývatn area and Húsavík port town (sleep in Mývatn)
Day 6: To the Eastfjords (and Dettifoss falls) (sleep in Seyðisfjörður)
Day 7: Along the Eastfjords to the southeast (Vatnajökull area) (sleep in Höfn, Jökulsárlón, or the Skaftafell area)
Day 8: South Coast sights (sleep along the South Coast)
Day 9: Westman Islands day trip (sleep along the South Coast)
Day 10: Golden Circle highlights en route to Reykjavík (sleep in Reykjavík)
Day 11: Fly out
With only 10 days: Spend only one night in Mývatn (and skip Húsavík)

Specifically, I was wondering:
- How rushed did this itinerary feel? Was the vacation still relaxing, or did you have to stay pretty focused to make it all the way around the loop?
- Does this itinerary allow time for some tours? I'd like to do a horsebackriding tour, see puffins, and possibly an ATV/offroading experience. Will I need to add extra days to allow for this or is it built into this itinerary?
- He suggests cutting out Húsavík if needed. Have people been happy with their decision to do this?
- Is this itinerary missing any major highights?
- We probably won't have time to stop at the Blue Lagoon on our arrival day, I'm assuming. It may be too late in the day by the time we fly all the way there. Can we fit in in one of the other days?

Lastly, on an unrelated note, I've heard that while flights tend to be affordable, everything else tends to be pretty pricey once you get there. I'm nervous about buying airfare and then finding out after we get there that we are going to go way over budget. Are there ways to keep costs down, e.g. options along the way for humble meals? We don't need the fanciest hotel or restaurant each time, but want to make sure that there will be some cheaper options at least available to us so we don't go overboard on spending.

Thanks!

Posted by commila OP
193 posts

I guess a related question would be how this compares to Rick's 6 day tour in terms of must-see-ness. Does this 6 day itinerary that Rick Steves suggested below hit all the major sights (with the longer tour being more side sights), or is there a pretty big difference in the overall experience if we splurge for the 11 day? Obviously we will see much more with the 11 day, but trying to figure out if the 6 day option would be considered a satisfactory overview of the country if we never get a chance to return in the future. Any opinions would be welcomed as we begin to do our own research. Thanks!

Day 1: Arrive, pick up car, go to the Blue Lagoon, then head to the South Coast; sleep along the South Coast
Day 2: Westman Islands side-trip (sleep along the South Coast)
Day 3: South Coast sights, to Reykjavík (sleep in Reykjavík)
Day 4: Golden Circle (sleep in Reykjavík​)
Day 5: Reykjavík, or excursions — whale watching, horseback riding, glacier hikes, volcano cave tours (sleep in Reykjavík​)
Day 6: Fly out

Posted by Northwest adventurer
WA, USA
273 posts

Hello,
My family and I went to Iceland a few years ago for 4 full days. We explored Reykjavik, did the Golden Circle loop, and drove all the way to Vik- seeing waterfalls. Our final afternoon was spent at the Blue Lagoon - stayed at their hotel and then woke early to get to the airport.
We are actually stopping there again in a few weeks. This time we are driving South and stay for 4 full days. Staying at the Westman Island, and heading to the glacier lagoon area. Hoping to see puffins on the Westman Island.

If I could have planned a better trip first trip- staying 6 days and basically adding the long drive to the glacier lagoon.
We did purchase Rick’s Iceland book and feel that it’s very helpful.

For our family of 4 - it basically comes down to expenses when traveling to Iceland. Everything is SO Expenive in Iceland. We have booked airbnb’s for our second trip and will try to save money with cooking our own meals. The drive can be very tiring. It’s absolutely beautiful, but long stretches between places. Hard on the driver.

Have a wonderful adventure!

Posted by commila OP
193 posts

Thanks for taking the time to share your experience - I appreciate it!