Going to Iceland for 10 days is long enough to see a bit of everything, but also leaves enough time to focus a little more on a particular region. While a proper 2-week trip is ideal for a first stay, in 10 days the traveler can discover most of the wonders that the island has to offer.
Most 10-day tours go around the island, often with a short stop on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. But some prefer to focus on the south, especially in winter to avoid long car trips.
The time of year will change just about everything about your plans in Iceland. Iceland in winter is fantastic for its own reasons, but you won't be able to enjoy summer activities. With such short days, you simply don't have the time (or the light) to venture into the wilderness.
Many roads are closed and therefore tourist sites further inland in particular can be completely inaccessible. On the other hand, this is the only season when you can see the famous Northern Lights.
You can find more information in our article when to go to Iceland.
The choice will also depend on what you're looking for: long-distance hikes? A true adventure with risks and rewards? Extreme sports? Volcanoes? Glaciers? All of the above?
Our map of tourist sites by region is a good starting point. This will help you pick the best places in the country to visit based on your preferred activities.
Below are some 10-day itineraries that you can choose to figure out on your own, or on a self-guided tour put together by a specialist.
Whether you are doing a self-guided tour in a rental car or traveling by Bus, these itineraries will serve you well. If you are on foot, many buses will take you to and from popular sites, the BSI company for example has lines all over the country.
You can find more information in our article about buses in Iceland.
If you are car-free, you can choose organized excursions, most of which depart from Reykjavík, via Guide To Iceland, our local partner.
Day 1: After arriving at Keflavik Airport, might as well visit the capital Reykjavík. After strolling through the streets of 101 AKA the tourist district and visiting Reykjavik's must-see attractions, stop for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the capital.
Day 2: Before you head to the Snaefellsnes peninsula and its magnificent landscapes, you can stop in the Husafell region to admire the delightful Hraunfossar Falls. The peninsula is like a mini version of Iceland with startling variety: Buðir, Raudfeldar Canyon, Ytri Tunga... For this first day in Snaefellsnes, we recommend visiting the south coast. Learn more about the Snaefellsnes peninsula and its points of interest in this article.
Day 3: On the 3rd day, try one of the numerous hiking trails that cut the Snaefellsjokull National Park, before heading to the very photogenic Kirkjufell. The quaint fishing ports of Hellisandur, Olafsvik and Stykkislholmur are typical of western Iceland.
Day 4: The 4th day is dedicated to the Golden Circle. This is truly a tourist hotspot with 3 major sites: Geysir, the Gullfoss waterfall and Thingvellir National Park. In the evening, rest your weary bones in the hot baths of the Secret Lagoon in Fluðir.
Day 5: Time to strike out for the highlands, specifically the Landmannalaugar region, probably one of the most beautiful in the country and known for its incredible hikes. On the way back, plan a stop near Haifoss, a magnificent waterfall lost in the austere highlands.
Day 6: Time to head south and for some breathtaking landscapes. After a stop near the Kerið crater, the famous road number 1 will take you straight to the superb Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, some of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. Then you can go see the hidden pool of Seljavallalaug before sleeping near Vik for an unforgettable sunset on Reynisfjara beach, a true gem known throughout the world.
Day 7: Skaftafell Park has scores of hiking trails that take you through lunar landscapes surrounded by glaciers. Don't miss your chance to visit Jokulsarlon and Fjallsarlon to see sedately floating icebergs, among the most beautiful sights Iceland has to offer. Finally, at the end of the day, you can go see Stokksnes Beach and Vestrahorn, one of the most photographed landscapes in the country before sleeping near Höfn.
Day 8: On your penultimate day of travel, head west again to see the canyon who's name no one can pronounce: Fjaðrárgljúfur. The afternoon will be spread across the Vik region and its black sand beaches, the Reynisdrangar, and Cape Dyrholaey, and if time permits, it's a good spot for puffin viewing.
Day 9: On the way to Reykjavík, a stop in the small town of Hveragerdi with its characteristic greenhouses is followed by a short hike to Reykadalur and its hot water river. Learn more about hiking in Reykadalur and bathing in the hot water river. Swing through Reykjavík to visit the sights you missed the first time around before returning to Keflavik the following day.
Day 10: Depending on the flight time, you could sneak in a dip at the nearby Blue Lagoon, a heavenly hot spring ideally located between the airport and the capital.
As you can see these regions provide a huge variety of landscapes and fantastic natural phenomena. No doubt that after seeing the South and the West, you will want to come back to see the rest.
Here are a few self-guided tours that will give you alternative itineraries:
You can complete all these itineraries by Bus or by car. You can find additional information in our article about buses in Iceland.
Day 1: After arriving at Keflavik Airport, head to the nearby Blue Lagoon, a heavenly hot spring, before heading to visit the capital Reykjavik. After strolling through the streets of 101 AKA the tourist district and visiting Reykjavik's must-see attractions, stop for a bite to eat at one of the many restaurants in the capital.
Day 2: Head south for some breathtaking landscapes. After a stop near the Kerið crater, continue down the famous road number 1 to find the superb Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls, among the most beautiful waterfalls in the country. You'll be sleeping in the Vik region with its black sand beaches, and Reynisdrangar and Cape Dyrholaey deserve a tour as well. Also, depending on the time of year, it's a great place for puffin viewing.
Day 3: Day 3 takes you to Skaftafell National Park which features numerous hikes to see the majestic glaciers. A stop at Jokulsarlon and Fjallsarlon will be a must to watch icebergs float by sedately, one of the most beautiful shows that Iceland has to offer. In late afternoon, not far from your accommodation in Höfn, you will be close to one of the most photographed panoramas in the country: the Vestrahorn and Stokksnes beaches.
Day 4: Time to leave the south to discover the charming eastern fjords, Djupivogur, Faskruðfjorður and the beautiful Seyðisfjörðdur. This is also reindeer territory, so keep your camera handy. End the day with a hike to the beautiful Hengifoss waterfall.
Day 5: Next stop, Myvatn. It would be a shame to miss Dettifoss, the second most powerful waterfall in Europe and probably the most impressive in the country. It'll take at least a day to see all that Lake Myvatn and its surroundings have to offer. There are numerous dazzling sights in the region. A short drive from the lake in any direction will land you in a dozen tourist sites worthy of note: the Viti crater, filled with its magnificent lake, the Skútustaðir site and its pseudo-craters, the lava labyrinth of Dimmuborgir, the Grjótagjá hot spring, Leirhnjúkur and its lava field, Namafjall and its fumaroles and sulphurous air and the vivid green, red, and yellows of its soil. From Hverfjall, a small mountain that dominates the region, you can see it all in a sweep of your gaze.
Day 7: Turn back west via the north coast to see another of Iceland's most striking water, the Godafoss waterfall, before visiting the beautiful city of Akureyri. You will end the day with the Vatsnes Peninsula and its famous Hvitserkur ark and seals.
Day 8: Head to the Snaefellsnes peninsula and its stunning landscapes but first, don't miss the Husafell region to admire the delightful Hraunfossar Falls. The peninsula is like a mini-Iceland: Buðir, Raudfeldar Canyon, Kirkjufell, Ytri Tunga... The sights are varied and together showcase the country as a whole. Learn more about the Snaefellsnes peninsula and its points of interest in this article.
Day 9: A day in the Golden Circle. This is one of the the country's tourist hotspots with 3 major sites: Geysir, the Gullfoss waterfall, and Thingvellir National Park. In the evening, stop in Fluðir for a dip in the hot baths of the Secret Lagoon, before your overnight stay in Fludir or Reykjavík.
Day 10: depending on the flight time, a morning swim at the nearby Blue Lagoon, a heavenly hot spring, will have you ready to fly out. The Blue Lagoon is ideally located between the airport and the capital.
Here are some alternative self-guided tours so you can adjust your itinerary as needed: