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The Best 4-day Itinerary for Iceland & How to Prepare for Your Trip

Iceland is becoming more and more popular as a holiday destination, but what to do if you’re time on the island is extremely limited? Is it possible to still properly explore the country and experience everything it has to offer with a 4-day itinerary for Iceland?

In this article, we provide you with a couple of seasonal itineraries to discover Iceland in 4 days. We'll tell you what the essentials are to pack, how much to budget for, whether you should rent a car or go on a guided tour, and much, much more.

Iceland 4 day itinerary

Can You Explore Iceland in 4 Days?

You'll get to discover some of the country's iconic highlights, but I'll leave you craving more. We generally advise visitors to come to the island for at least 2 weeks. This will allow them to properly explore and experience everything the island has to offer, but in certain cases, it simply is not possible. In these instances, it’s better to have at least a few days here in Iceland than none at all.

Just make sure that you properly plan your trip and pick a time that you’ll have enough daylight hours to not have to rush through your 4-day itinerary for Iceland.

When is the Best Time for Your 4-day Trip to Iceland?

There is no official “best time to visit Iceland”. When you should travel to the island will heavily depend on a few personal preferences and what you have on your Icelandic wishlist. These are some of the factors to take into consideration:

The Weather

Despite it being called Iceland, there is a big difference between the summer and winter weather. If you dislike freezing temperatures and are a nervous driver, winter may not be ideal for you.

And if you are someone who generally tends to struggle with sleeping, the summertime with all its daylight might really mess with you. You also need to ask yourself whether the few daylight hours will accommodate everything you’ve got on your 4-day itinerary for Iceland.

If you’re going to have to rush things or be unable to see or do certain things due to time constraints, it’s best to schedule your trip for another time.

Things to take into account in Iceland

What You Want to See and Do

Many of Iceland’s attractions and activities are seasonal and dependent on certain conditions. For example, you can’t see the Northern Lights at the height of summer, and you can’t experience the Midnight Sun in the wintertime.

Most of the ice caves are closed during the summer months and you won’t be able to see any Puffins in the month of March. What you want to see and do here on the island will impact when you finally decide to come.

The other deciding factor is time. Spending just 4 days on the island is not a lot of time to see or do all that Iceland has to offer. We recommend filling your 4-day trip itinerary to Iceland with all the island highlights, whilst taking distance into consideration. Keep to things in proximity to one another, so you don’t end up spending more time on the road than at the actual attraction.

Your Budget

If your budget is extremely limited, it might not be a good idea to visit the island during the peak season. Peak season here on the island means peak season prices. Your budget won’t be able to stretch as far as it would during the “down” season and shoulder months.

If you are planning on spending 4 days here on the island, you’re looking at roughly $1240 for the entire trip (which includes flights). We delve into a bit more details regarding budget a little further down.

Iceland in 4 days

A Trip Itinerary for Spending 4-days in Iceland in Summer

Since most visit Iceland during the summer, we’ll kick off our itineraries with the detailed outline of a 4-day trip to Iceland during the summer:

Day 1: Arrival

After arriving at Keflavik Airport, make your way to the capital city of Reykjavik. Here you will explore the city.

Highlights of the Day:

Sleep Over at: Reykjavík

Reykjavik, Iceland

Day 2: Drive the Golden Circle

Drive the popular Golden Circle route and stop at some of the main attractions on the way.

Highlights of the Day:

Sleep Over at: Reykjavík

4 days in iceland

Day 3: Explore the South Coast

Head south all along the coast and take in some of the local attractions along the way.

Highlights of the Day:

Sleep Over at: Reykjavík

Diamond beach, Iceland

Day 4: Departure

Ensure that you get a flight a little later in the day, so you still have enough time throughout the day to make one final stop.

Highlights of the Day:

Sleep Over at: On the plane

Blue Lagoon Iceland

A Trip Itinerary for Spending 4-days in Iceland in Winter

Below you will find a detailed trip itinerary when spending 4 days in Iceland in winter:

Day 1: Arrival

After arriving at Keflavik Airport, make a quick stop in the capital city of Reykjavik before heading down the south coast and stopping at the major attractions along the way.

Highlights of the Day:

  • Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

  • Skogafoss Waterfall

  • Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

  • Glacier Hiking at Skaftafell

Sleep Over at: Skaftafell

Skohafoss, Iceland

Day 2: Drive to East Iceland

This is a magnificent drive. Enjoy the views and stop at all the sights along the way.

Highlights of the Day:

  • Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

  • Explore the Blue Ice Cave

  • Vestrahorn Mountain

Sleep Over at: Egillstadir

Vestrahorn, East Iceland

Day 3: Explore North Iceland

Start your drive to the northern regions of the country.

Highlights of the Day:

Sleep Over at: Akureyri

Hverir Geothermal Fields

Day 4: Departure

Finish your trip with a whale watching tour before heading back to the capital city, and catching your flight.

Highlights of the Day:

  • Whale Watching Tour in Dalvik

Sleep Over at: On the plane

What to Pack for Your 4-Day Trip to Iceland

If you’re unsure of what to pack for your 3-4 days in Iceland, you can use our helpful Iceland packing list as a guide. Just make sure you remember the following when attempting a 4-day itinerary for Iceland:

  • Powerbank (if you only have 4 days in Iceland, you’re not going to have too much time sitting near powerpoints - you’ll need to be able to charge on the go.

  • Sleeping mask (if you’re traveling during summer when there is little to no darkness.

  • Earplugs (for the summer nights, you have to deal with those who want to party or be extra productive during all the extra daylight hours)

  • Moisturizing Cream & Lip Balm (this is especially important for a winter trip; you have not felt dry and cracked ‘till you’ve been to Iceland in the wintertime.

  • Snow boots (solely when visiting Iceland during the winter season)Snowboots (solely when visiting Iceland during the winter season)

  • Crampons (solely when visiting Iceland during the winter season)

How Much to Budget for Your 4-Day Trip to Iceland

It is important to budget for your trip to Iceland, so you don’t end up with empty pockets halfway through your trip. The following should give you a good idea of what to plan for:

  • Airfare (return) = $500

  • Accommodation = an average of +/-$300 per person per night. This will be cheaper if you opt for cheaper accommodation options such as one of the many campings in Iceland or staying at hostels, and will be more expensive if you opt for more expensive accommodation options such as hotels.

  • Transport = $1200 per rental vehicle per week + $300 per week for gas

  • Food = an average of +/- $50 per person per day (keep in mind that this will only be possible if you stick to street food and cooking for yourself. For eating out, you will need to drastically increase this amount)

  • Day Tours & Activities = Ranging from +/- $45 per person entrance fees to $800 per person for certain tours

 4 day iceland tour budget

Is it Better to Rent Your Own Transport or Book a Spot on a Guided Tour?

Both have their own pros and cons, and you will need to weigh them all up and see which suits you and your needs the best:

Tours are a Good Option for Solo Travelers

If you are a solo traveler, it might be best to book a spot on a 4-day Iceland tour rather than do a self-drive. That’s because solo travel can become pretty expensive with no one to share the costs of the car rental, gas, etc. with. Booking a spot on a group tour is also the best way of meeting others and making friends.

Tours Allow You to Have no Responsibilities During a 4-day Iceland Itinerary

Some enjoy going on guided group tours as it completely takes the responsibility off their shoulders. You don’t need to worry about where to stop, when to stop, where to get gas, pay for the gas, etc. To some, going on guided tours is the ultimate relaxation, especially when you have only 4 days in Iceland.

On a Self-drive You are in Control of Your 4-day Itinerary

The only way that you will be in complete control of your itinerary and time is if you plan your own self-drive. This way you can include some of the hidden gems on the island and not just stop at all the big tourist attractions.

Iceland 4 day itinerary self-drive

Tours Can Become Very Expensive Very Fast

When taking into account that an entire week-long road trip on the island (car rental, gas, accommodation, activities, etc.) can cost about $630 per person, yet the simplest of day tours already leaves you $100-$200 out of pocket, it makes no sense to blow your 4-day Iceland holiday budget like that.

Tours are a Great Way to Learn

4-day itinerary guided tours come with the added bonus of having a guide. These guides are usually locals who are experienced and very knowledgeable about the specific attraction and the area.

Helpful Tips for Your 4-Day Trip to Iceland

If this is your first time visiting the island, the following tips will come in handy during your 4 day trip to Iceland:

Keep an Eye on the Iceland Weather

We have a local saying here on the island that goes: “you can experience all four seasons in a day in Iceland”. If that’s the saying for just one day, you can only imagine the surprises a 4-day trip to Iceland can have in store. Although this doesn’t mean that you will suddenly have snow in mid-summer, it does mean that you need to be prepared for the unexpected.

It’s not strange to wake up to an overcast day that turns into a bright, sunny day that ends in stormy weather with rain. As you can imagine, this can get you into tricky situations depending on what you have on your trip itinerary for the day.

So, the best way to manage this is to always keep an eye on the Iceland weather forecast - especially before heading out for the day.

Keep an Eye on the Iceland Road Conditions

This tip goes hand in hand with the weather checks throughout your 4-day trip to Iceland, although it does extend to some other unforeseen circumstances. The weather can create havoc on the roads in Iceland with sudden road closures meaning timely detours and abrupt ends to road trips and outings. To ensure that you don’t end up at one of these dead ends, we recommend that you always check the Iceland road conditions.

Iceland winter itinerary

Always Keep Your Waterproof Clothing & Gear Near

This tip is very helpful when it comes to the whole “four seasons in one day” thing, but this is definitely not the only time this is good advice. You will thank us when you’re wearing your waterproof hiking boots on those muddy hot spring paths. Or when you’re watching others get drenched in a powerful waterfall’s mist and spray, whilst you’re high and dry in your waterproof clothing and raincoat.

If you only have 4 days in Iceland, you also won’t have the time (and most definitely wouldn’t want to) have an outing spoiled because you weren’t prepared or have to rush back to your accommodation to fetch waterproof clothing or gear.

A 4-day Itinerary for Iceland is Possible!

As you can see, even though we’ll always advise for a longer stay, a short 4-day itinerary is possible. If you choose any of our 4-day itineraries (depending on the season), you will be able to see quite a lot of the country and get to see some of our must-visit attractions. If you have a couple more days to spare, you can also check out some of our other itineraries:

Depending on whether you’ve decided on a self-drive tour or a guided tour, you can rent a car in Iceland or hop on your tour bus and start exploring the island. Just remember to prebook if you’re planning on visiting the island during our busy summer peak season, or you might be left thoroughly disappointed. Hope to see you soon!



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