1 Week in Iceland; Everything You Need To Know About Visiting

1 week in Iceland

On the hunt for the perfect guide to 1 week in Iceland? Look no further! Visiting this beautiful country out to sea 7 times, I’ve picked up a few helpful tips along the way.

Traveling to Iceland year-round offers a diverse array of activities, landscapes, and natural wonders (and no matter what anyone says, it is doable on a budget!) From the Northern Lights in the winter to the Midnight Sun of summer, there’s really no ‘bad’ time to visit Iceland.

In this guide, you’ll find helpful tips on where to stay in the capital city of Reykjavik, bucket-list day trip ideas, the ins and outs of renting a van, and money-saving tips for first timers to spend a week.

reykavik coast and sun voyager

Traveling To Reykjavik

While Iceland does have five major airports, more often than not you’ll be flying into the country’s main hub: Keflavik Airport. Located just 45 minutes or so from Reykjavik, this is the best starting point to begin your 1 week Icelandic travels!

There are numerous airlines that fly into Iceland, but I always suggest choosing the home brands of PLAY Airlines or IcelandAir. Both carriers offer incredible deals throughout the year (with their infamous ‘layover’ option too if you’d rather a quick stopover in Iceland. 

With the East Coast being the closest location to Iceland, flights are typically between 4-6 hours depending on their route – a smooth and easy journey (with potential views of Greenland from above). 

reykjavik city harpa music hall

Once at the airport, you’ll need to make the venture to the capital – which is extremely easy! As soon as you exit through arrivals, you’ll notice a few ticket offices for local companies- which you can purchase day-of if needed.

I’m a planner, so I have always booked my tickets in advance online! Buses are always parked outside the airport to coincide with arrival times, so you’ll never have an issue getting on a bus one way or another! The two main options are FlyBus or Airport Direct

Don’t be alarmed! Most of the buses in Iceland will pick you up from Keflavik Airport and then bring you to the BSI Main Bus Terminal in Reykjavik where you’ll be given a ticket dependent on your hotel location. You’ll be directed to a smaller van that can access the narrow city streets easier than the bus!

Renting a Van in Iceland

Any guide to Iceland has to mention renting vans! While there are local buses throughout the country, if you want to see as much of Iceland as possible, then shelling out the cash for a van is your best bet. Buses are a solid choice if you want to explore a little outside of Reykjavik, but aren’t super reliable for long-haul travel. 

With a multitude of car and van rental options, it’s pretty difficult to narrow down which to choose from. Personally, I’ve always stuck with Happy Campers. Only a few minutes away from Keflavik Airport, if you book a van prior to arrival, you can actually catch a pickup straight to their headquarters to collect your ride – for free!

A family-run business, Happy Campers has the cutest vans on the road! A fully eco-friendly company, they even have a “free zone” in the office which allows travelers to use whatever returning customers haven’t used on their trips.

happy camper vans iceland

1 Week In Iceland; Where To Stay

Reykjavik Neighborhoods

A small country, Iceland offers diverse landscapes and a wide array of campsites, hotels, and neighborhoods for travelers to stay. A guide to Iceland’s towns and cities isn’t complete without mentioning Reykjavik.

The neighborhood of Midborg spans from the coastal walk to Reykjavik International Airport. Here you’ll find the famous Hallgrimskirkja church, Braud bakery, National Museum of Iceland, Rainbow Road, and plenty of nightlife to keep you busy.

On the very edge of Reykjavik’s shopping street of Laugavegur sits Hlíðar. Steps from the city center, this area is home to few hotels, rentals, and hostels. Within walking distance to restaurants, an indoor food hall, and bars.

The open spaces of Vesturbær encompasses the Old West Side and Harbor area. Here you’ll find seafood shacks, traditional architecture, boat tours, museums, whale watches, (and my favorite female-owned ‘Lady Brewery!’)

winter in reykjavik

Best Accommodations In Reykjavik

From boutique hotels to affordable hostels, Reykjavik is full of local accommodations. After visiting 7 times, I’ve stayed in my fair-share of hotels and hostels during my time in Iceland, and with 1 week, it may even be possible to hop around a little..

views from center hotel laugavegur

Other Places To Visit 

Iceland’s second largest city, Akureyri is a charming town in the North. Located along the  scenic Eyjafjörður fjord. It offers a variety of cultural attractions and natural wonders. 

The coastal city is also one of the best whale-watching spots in Iceland, so if you’re a wildlife-lover, then be sure to head on up to Akuyeri! (A 5 hour drive or 45 minute flight from Reykjavik).

Step off your flight and you’ll find yourself in Keflavik! Yes, it’s where Iceland’s main airport is located, but this quaint city has a variety of museums, including The Viking World Museum, The Maritime Centre, The History Museum, and the Museum of Rock and Roll.

south coast iceland

A small coastal village, Vik is a cozy spot if you’re looking to get away from the bustle of the cities and prefer to be amongst nature. Some of Iceland’s most magnificent waterfalls and attractions are easily accessed from here (Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss, Svartifoss, Gljúfrabúi. Ice caves, and puffin colonies!) 

  • Hafnarfjörður
  • Seyðisfjörður
  • Kópavogur
  • Egilsstadir
  • Ísafjörður
  • Vestmannaeyjar
  • Hvammstangi
  • Neskaupsstaður
  • Geysir
  • Hofn

What To Do With Only 1 Week In Iceland

Explore Downtown Reykjavik

If you have 1 week in Iceland, don’t skip over Reykjavik! The colorful city is the social center of the country, bringing together people worldwide. Graffiti lined streets, art on every corner, cozy cafes, and superb gastronomy. Reykjavik offers an array of cultural and artistic experiences for all visitors. If you want to meet fellow travelers right away, then I’d sign up for the Wake Up Reykjavik Food Tour!

What Not to Miss in Reykjavik

  • Hallgrimskirkja Church
  • Harpa Music Hall
  • Sky Lagoon
  • Reykjavik Food Tour
  • Lady Brewery
  • Boat to Viðey Island
blue lagoon

Go Lagoon and Hot Spring Hopping

Icelanders definitely take relaxation year round to a whole new level with over 45 hot springs and 200 pools. if you have enough time to venture around the country, you may be surprised to see a few natural springs in places you wouldn’t expect along the desolate roads.

With only 1 week in Iceland and Reykjavik as your hub, it’s easy to cross off the beautiful Sky and Blue Lagoons. From the city, it’s easy to organize transfers to both spots (some people even opt to visit the Blue Lagoon on their way home, as it’s very close to the airport!) Sky Lagoon is a quick 15 minute ride, while the Blue Lagoon is closer to 45 minutes or so.

Another favorite of mine is the lesser-known Secret Lagoon. This natural spot is included in some of the Golden Circle tours as a stop-off- and it’s certainly worth a visit. Small in size, extremely serene, and a lagoon where you’ll find very few tourists.

  • Reykjadalur Valley Springs
  • Hrunalaug
  • Hvammsvik
  • Seljavallalaug
  • Kvika Geothermal Footbath
  • Landbrotalaug
  • Lake Mývatn Nature Bath
  • Gamla Laugin
  • Hveravellir
  • Landmannalaugar
  • Kerlingarfjöll
iceland atv tour

Explore the South Coast

Imagine being surrounded by black sand beaches and glaciers in every direction. The South Coast of Iceland is certainly not a destination you’ll want to miss. With its rugged coasts and mountainous terrains, it’s arguably one of the most beautiful spots to visit with only 1 week in Iceland.

Home to numerous waterfalls, epic hikes, and magical beaches, almost every tour company in Iceland offers a South Coast trip option. Technically, this region begins in Selfoss (waterfall stop). If you’re looking to self-drive and begin your adventure here, it’ll take about an hour. To reach the town of Vik and the black sand beaches, it’ll take around 2.5 hours- it’s doable!

Don’t Miss These Spots in Iceland’s South Coast

  • Vik Village
  • Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
  • Skogafoss Waterfall
  • Selfoss Waterfall
  • Seljalandsfoss Falls
  • Sólheimajökull glacier 
  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Tours to do in the South Coast

  • South Coast & DC-3 Plane Wreck Black Beach ATV Adventure
  • Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Ice Caving
  • South Coast Trip and Glacier Hike

Visit the Museums

Most people travel to Iceland for adventurous experiences, breathtaking hikes, and natural hot springs. Sure, these are all great.. but did you know Iceland has a multitude of museums scattered near Reykjavik? If the vibrant city is your home base, then I’d suggest making a day or two out of exploring what the city really has to offer.

  • Whale Museum
  • Icelandic Punk Museum
  • Lava Center
  • Northern Lights Center
  • Reykjavik Art Museum
  • Reykjavik Maritime Museum
  • Viking World

Take a peek at the full list of Museums here!

rainbow road iceland

Venture to the Golden Circle

Geysirs, waterfalls, and volcanic crater lakes, the Golden Circle is one of the first destinations first-time travelers visit. Seeing as I’ve visited this area around 6 times in the past.. that should tell you something!

If you want to leave from Reykjavik and do the complete loop driving, it’ll take around 4 hours.. but it’s important to keep in mind that there are sooo many day trips to the Golden Circle that can easily fit into 1 week spent in Iceland. My advice? If you’ve visited Iceland more than once, switch up the tour you choose. These are a few of my favorites;

  • Golden Circle Tour & Friðheimar Greenhouse
  • Golden Circle & Kerid Crater
  • Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon

Must-Visit Spots Along the Golden Circle

  • Thingvellir National Park
  • Silfra Fissure
  • Reykjadalur Valley
  • Kerid Crater
  • Gullfoss Falls
  • Haukadallur & Geysir
  • Friðheimar Tomato Farm
  • Secret Lagoon
kerid krater

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