Luxury Iceland: How To Spend 5 Days in Southern Iceland
We are suckers for trips to exotic places, hot climates and cosmopolitan cities. So when we decided to visit south Iceland, we had no idea what to expect. We couldn’t even pronounce half of the places we wanted to visit.
We spent 5 days exploring Southern Iceland, which is home to many of the country’s top sights. Since we traveled in April (off-season), we could afford to splash out on our hotels and trips, resulting in some of the most amazing days of our lives.
It is by far the most unique and stunningly beautiful country we have ever visited. We find in very difficult to describe Iceland’s beauty to friends and family because it was like no other country we had visited before.
We have designed this article to help you maximize your own luxury trip to Iceland. It covers details of our 5 day itinerary, as well as our accommodation, the Iceland sights we visited and tips we have to insure you have the perfect Iceland trip too!
To get around Southern Iceland, you need a car. If you plan to stay only in Reykjavik for the entire five days, it may be easier for you to book daily excursions from the city.
Leo decided the only way to travel around Southern Iceland in the short time we had was by renting the biggest hummer you can imagine. It gave us complete flexibility in our schedule to see as much or as little as we pleased.
We loved the comfort and the driving experience immensely, however our pockets hated its fuel consumption! In hindsight, any car rental would be perfectly fine for the trip.
TIP: We strongly recommend hiring at least a 4×4 or SUV since some of the rough roads require good tires. Depending on the vehicle you may also want to carry a can of fuel, make sure it has a spare tire and an emergency kit just incase. The last thing you will want is to be stuck without gas or a flat tire. Otherwise you may end up waiting some time for help to arrive.
———–What To Do In Southern Iceland———–
What does one do when they visit Southern Iceland? You go on some of the best adventures of your life! Iceland is known as the adventure capital of Europe and there are a ton of adventures and excursions in Iceland to keep you busy for weeks! Since we only had five days, we made a short list of the top places to visit in Iceland which happened to all fall along The Ring Road. We also allowed time for random and sporadic finds (of which we warn – there are loads). Some of our favorite highlights are below:
Driving The Ring Road
The ring road that loops around the entire country of Iceland is an attraction itself and has been perfectly designed for road trips such as ours. We enjoyed many hours driving along it and were astounded by its beauty.
Jökulsárlón – Glacier Lagoon
By far one of the most amazing places in Iceland we have ever visited, Jökulsárlón is one of the ultimate photo opportunities in Southern Iceland and one of the most incredible landscapes we have seen on our travels. One of the many benefits of visiting Iceland in off-peak season is the lack of people. We were able to enjoy this beauty almost completely by ourselves. The silence was eerie but it is one of our most memorable travel experiences and well worth a visit.
Located around 180 kilometres from Reykjavik is Iceland’s most southernmost town of Vik. We drove through it from Hella where we were staying and while there are plenty of sights to explore in Vik, we decided to skip it for our next visit. But I did capture one of my favorite photographs from the whole trip when we stopped for fuel.
TIP: Don’t miss the nearby Dyrholaey Nature Preserve, home to hundreds of nesting puffins! Fantastic to see and to photograph.
The Golden Circle
We spent an entire day driving around the scenic landscapes and sights of the Golden Circle. There are four main sights in the Golden Circle, they are:
- Þingvellir National Park (Thingvellir) – Þingvellir is a protected national park located 40km northeast of Reykjavik. It is one of the most visited sights in the country. It is the sight of the first ancient Icelandic Parliament as well as the meeting point of both the European and North American tectonic plates. It is a place of absolute beauty and well worth exploring by foot, or horseback.
- Geysers at Haukadalur – There are two famous geysers here, one called Geysir and the other Strokkur. We loved visiting here although the smell of Sulphur (rotten eggs) did make me rather sick. The main geysir no longer erupts, however the Strokkur geysir erupts every 10 minutes, shooting hot steam and water 100 feet into the air!
- Gullfoss Waterfall– A definite highlight of the Golden Circle is the Gullfoss Waterfall, the most famous waterfall in Iceland. After descending down a long path you reach two waterfalls. The upper waterfall has a drop of 11 metres and the lower one 21 metres. You can get scarily close to the water’s edge here!
- Kerio Crater Lake – The Kerio Crater was one of the first stops we made on the Golden Circle and it can easily be spotted from the Ring Road. Estimated at over 3000 years old, this 55 metre deep crater is a shortstop but well worth a photo and a walk around its rim.
TIP:Visiting the Golden Circle with your own car is far better than an organized tour. It allows you to stop to take photographs whenever you want as well as head off and explore side roads.
The Blue Lagoon
You are traveling to Iceland. Great! Do you know, no visit to Iceland is complete without a trip to The Blue Lagoon, the country’s most famous geothermal outdoor spa. While it is certainly a pricey trip, we think its still worth it although there are certainly other unknown geothermal spas worth visiting as well. We spent half a day here and felt it was more than enough time.
TIP: If you bring any belongings with you, make sure you watch them like a hawk if you leave them unattended (including your towel). We had both of our towels (which you pay for) taken so it was a rather chilly exit from the pool for us!
The Northern Lights
We had zero expectations of seeing the Northern Lights in April, despite it still being an ok time to see them. Unfortunately, we had low clouds for the entire length of our stay in Southern Iceland which meant we had no hope of taking any Northern Light excursions. However we were ambitious to see them and we were told on our last night that there was a good chance of sightings if we headed outside of Reykjavik. So we spent most of our last night in Iceland chasing clear skies in search of the Northern Lights!
TIP: The Northern Lights are one of the biggest draws for tourism to Iceland, with the best period being from mid -September to early April.
Iceland is becoming a hub for luxury hotels and unique accommodation options. During our trip we stayed in two location, Hella and Reykjavik both are considered as Iceland luxury hotel. Below are some of the best luxury properties in Southern Iceland:
- ION Luxury Adventure Hotel – Located in Þingvellir National Park
- Hotel Ranga (we stayed here for 4 nights) Located in Hella near Selfoss
- Bubble Lodge (Secret location!)
- Hilton Reykjavik Nordica – Located in Reykjavik (we stayed here for 1 night)
- 101 Hotel – Located in Reykjavik
Are you planning a trip to Southern Iceland or have you already been? Drop me a message in the comments below!
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