Iceland has become an incredibly popular spot for long weekend getaways thanks to direct flights from many US and European cities. If you’re up for it, you can see Reykjavik and get a taste for the surrounding areas over a 4 day itinerary in Iceland in summer…but prepare for some whirlwind days!
I spent 4 days in Iceland in July, which turned out to be a perfect long weekend…and one of my favorite solo travel adventures of all time! I was able to take advantage of the incredibly long daylight hours and explore at all hours of the day and night. With the midnight sun in July, the days are truly endless and you can pack in so much exploration!
Between Iceland’s stunning glaciers, black sand beaches, and hot springs, I was set for an epic long weekend. I hope my guide for a 4 day itinerary in Iceland will help you to plan your trip!
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Overview of 4 Day Itinerary in Iceland in Summer
Before we dive into the details, here is a quick overview of your 4 day Iceland itinerary:
- Day 1: Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik Food Tour
- Day 2: South Shore
- Day 3: Golden Circle
- Day 4: Reykjavik & Horseback Riding
Best Time to Visit Iceland
If you only have enough time for a 4 day itinerary in Iceland, weather will be a key factor. Are you trying to have the most ideal weather possible, see the Northern Lights, go whale watching, or explore Iceland on a budget? With that in mind, I have a little breakdown below on the best time to visit Iceland depending on the goal of your trip.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for the Best Weather:
The summer months of June, July, and August are going to be warmest weather-wise. As another awesome perk, you can enjoy nearly 24 hours of daylight, so you’ll really be able to pack in the fun and enjoy Iceland to the fullest. It is important to note that even in the height of summer, Iceland weather is sporadic and you can experience all four seasons in the span of a day, no joke. One of my days in Iceland, I wore everything from just a tank top and leggings to that same outfit plus a fleece, puffy jacket, raincoat, and beanie.
If you want to enjoy the ideal weather, slightly lower prices, fall colors, and less crowds, September is also a great time to consider. Temps haven’t dropped drastically, though you do have some additional rainfall. May is the other month in shoulder season that you should consider; however, some roads and/or hiking trails may still have winter closures in place, so for that reason I’d prefer September over May.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for Northern Lights:
Planning a trip to see the Northern Lights is definitely a bucket list item, but planning a trip solely for the purpose of seeing the Northern Lights can lead to major disappointment. Your best bet for seeing the Northern Lights will be October through March, though make sure to check the aurora forecast before you go! One additional consideration is that due to winter snowfall, some roads can be closed.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for Whale Watching:
If you’re going to Iceland to see the whales, you’ll want to book your trip between May and September, though peak months are June and July.
Best Time to Visit Iceland for Cheap:
Honestly, you’re never going to visit Iceland for cheap…Iceland is an expensive country. However, if you travel during off-season (not peak summer months), you can usually find less expensive accommodations. Another perk is that you’ll experience fewer crowds!
My Recommendation for the Best Time to Visit Iceland:
My personal recommendation would be to shoot for a September trip to Iceland. You’ll be able to enjoy temperate weather, accessible roads, and fewer crowds (it gets really busy at the main tourist attractions in peak season). Fewer people means lower prices and greater availability on tours, at hotels, and even in parking lots. Plus, the fall colors in September look absolutely gorgeous. However, I don’t think you can go wrong visiting Iceland any time of the year!
Is 4 Days Enough for Iceland?
Many people ask if 4 days is really enough for Iceland. The answer is really yes and no. Four days in Iceland is a great intro to the country, and you can enjoy the highlights of Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, and the South Shore of Iceland. However, to explore the full Ring Road, you really need at least a week.
My recommendation? If you only have 4 days and want to go to Iceland, absolutely go for it. I had a blast and would 100% do it all over again. I do plan to go back one day and explore the entire Ring Road loop to see what the eastern coast and northern areas of Iceland have to offer.
4 Day Itinerary in Iceland in Summer
Your 4 day itinerary in Iceland in summer has some jam-packed days, but you’ll be able to see so much and have an amazing experience. With the long daylight hours you get in the summer, you can really take advantage of your time there. With only 4 days in Iceland in summer, I’d recommend the following itinerary. Note that since I was traveling solo and hate driving, I opted to base myself in Reykjavik and do day trips out of the city. Reykjavik is an excellent home base and nearly every tour offers pick-up from hotels around the city…so convenient!
Day 1: Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik Food Tour
Day 1 of your 4 day itinerary in Iceland in summer all depends on when your flight arrives. Most flights from the US arrive early morning, so I’ll be operating under that assumption. If your flight arrives later, you may want to tweak the itinerary to fit your needs.
First up after you land is a trip to the famous Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon is the hot spring that you see in every Instagram post – the bright blue water, mud masks, and swim-up bar make for an excellent first stop. Personally, after an overnight flight from the US, a few hours of rest & relaxation were exactly what I needed and I felt so rejuvenated after my morning at the Blue Lagoon.
After a little rest & relaxation at the Blue Lagoon, head to Reykjavik and drop your bags at your hotel. I hope you’re hungry because this afternoon is dedicated to Iceland’s food scene! Buckle up because there are some incredibly unique foods (puffin, fermented shark). I’d recommend hopping on a Food Tour of Reykjavik to get a taste of all that Iceland has to offer. If you’re not super big on tours, I’d recommend creating your own tour…I highlight some of Iceland’s delicious food options in my Supreme Food’s Guide to Iceland (link below).
Day 2: South Shore
Wake up bright and early on day 2 of your 4 day itinerary in Iceland because you have a big day! Today, you’re off to see Iceland’s stunning South Shore. Picture endless waterfalls, black sand beaches, and rolling green hills for miles. Highlights for today include Skogafoss (waterfall), Seljalandsfoss (another waterfall), Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, and Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. By far the easiest way to see all of these sights in a day is to take a tour of Iceland’s South Shore. You get picked up from Reykjavik and the tour is pretty long (like 14-16 hours), but it’s so much better when you don’t have to drive it yourself!
Day 3: Golden Circle
Iceland’s Golden Circle will be another fun-filled adventure. This is another full day excursion, though it will be a bit less lengthy than your day on the South Shore. The Golden Circle is one of the most visited areas in Iceland, so it’s best to start early to beat the crowds (otherwise you may be battling for parking spots).
A few of my favorite spots on Iceland’s Golden Circle are Gullfoss (waterfall), Geysir Hot Springs, and Þingvellir National Park -the national park contains the division between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, which was super cool to see. If you’re up for an adventure, check out a combo tour that includes the Golden Circle and snorkeling between the tectonic plates! If you’re more inclined to stay dry, a classic Golden Circle Tour may be more your speed.
Day 4: Reykjavik Photo Ops & Horseback Riding
For your last day of your 4 day itinerary in Iceland, you’ll spend the morning exploring Reykjavik before setting out for an afternoon horseback ride. Reykjavik is a surprisingly cool city, and one that is often under-explored. Many travelers skip the city altogether in favor of Iceland’s nature (which is totally fine too)!
However, I really enjoyed visiting Reykjavik’s highlights during my visit, so I put together a handy guide of Reykjavik’s top 10 photo ops. Using the guide, you can create a little walking tour for yourself that will take you around Reykjavik and show you what the city has to offer.
After a morning of exploring Reykjavik, saddle up for an afternoon on horseback. The Icelandic horses are just adorable and this horseback tour takes you through the scenic lava fields. It absolutely is an experience like no other and is the perfect way to wrap up your 4 day itinerary in Iceland!
Where to Stay in Reykjavik
Since I only had a 4 day itinerary in Iceland, I opted to base myself in Reykjavik and do day trips out from there. There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to planning your 4 day Iceland itinerary…you can choose to rent a car and do a self-drive tour, staying in different places each night or you could do as I did and use Reykjavik as home base.
Since I was on my own, get very sleepy when driving, and am an absolutely horrendous navigator, I opted to not drive myself. I’ll give you some of my recommendations for where to stay in Reykjavik.
Boutique Hotel: Stay at Hotel Ódinsvé—this hotel has an awesome location downtown, and offers cool amenities like a terrace and café bar. Try and book one of the rooms with a balcony so you can enjoy the views!
Mid-Range: I’d recommend Hotel Frón; this hotel is also centrally located and even has kitchen facilities in the apartments, which definitely comes in handy if you end up using Reykjavik as a home base.
Budget: If you’re looking to avoid hotels and go the hostel route, I recommend checking out Hostelworld; there are plenty of options in Reykjavik! My personal hostel recommendation is Loft Hostel. You have an amazing location in the heart of the city, and I absolutely loved the ambiance of the common area/bar and the outside terrace.
Local Stay: Another option to forgo the hotels and stay at this adorable house in the heart of Reykjavik. You’ll enjoy views of old town and the harbor while being surrounded by quaint restaurants and shops. One of the cool things about the house is that it is owned by a family of artists, which gives the home many unique touches. Also, the house includes parking, which is somewhat rare in Reykjavik these days!
Getting Around Iceland
You have a handful of options for getting around for your 4 day itinerary in Iceland, so it all really comes down to preference.
1. Stay in Reykjavik and book groups tours on the days you plan to leave Reykjavik. This is what I did – it was easiest as a solo traveler that doesn’t know how to drive a manual car and detests long drives alone. I also booked an airport shuttle to Reykjavik in advance. Traveling solo, it saved me a bunch of money on taxis. Plus, the bus had wifi and was super clean and fast – I would definitely recommend this.
2. For those of you that enjoy driving, check out Expedia Car Rentals. Iceland is made for road trips and one day I fully intend to drive the entire Ring Road around Iceland. If you’re planning to go to Iceland in the winter months (October – April) when there may be snow on the ground, consider investing in a 4×4 car.
3. Join a fully planned small group tour! G Adventures offers this 3 day summer mini-adventure or a 5 day Northern Lights & Golden Circle Tour. I personally am such a huge fan of G Adventures since my first adventure with them through Jordan. The company designs small group tours with expert guides that can truly give you a local experience.
Flying to Iceland
Finding cheap flights to Iceland has never been easier, and airlines are continually expanding their routes. I’d recommend searching through eDreams. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and feature special flight deals. You can typically find good flights on IcelandAir. You’ll fly into Iceland’s Keflavík Airport, which is about 45 minutes outside of Reykjavik. As a nice perk, the airport offers free unlimited WiFi, which I used to pass the time as I waited in the immigration line. Make sure you book your shuttle to/from Keflavík Airport to Reykvaik in advance!
And that wraps it up for your fabulous 4 day itinerary in Iceland in summer! I definitely plan to visit again, so what are some of your Iceland highlights? Let me know in the comments how you would spend your 4 days in Iceland in summer!