You’ve finally made it to the land of fire and ice and I’m sure you’re ready to get out there and explore. Upon arrival, the first thing you’ll notice is the swarms of other tourists. In order to avoid crowds, this itinerary brings you along the west coast of Iceland to discover some of the best hidden gems on the island.
Iceland West Coast Itinerary Day 1
For the first day of your Iceland west coast itinerary, I’m keeping you in the Reykjavik area. Although you’ll be staying relatively close to the capital, you’ll still experience some incredible adventures.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs
I’m sending you to one of the coolest hot springs in Iceland. Although there are hundreds of hot pots and springs to discover, you’ll quickly see why this is one of the best.
Reykjadalur Hot Springs is a thermal river located approximately 45 minutes from downtown Reykjavik. Once you arrive at the parking lot for the thermal river, lace up your hiking boots; you’ll need to traverse 2.2 miles of Icelandic steep backcountry to reach the river.
Bring your swimsuit and towel for this Iceland west coast adventure. Soak in these hot springs to relax your muscles from that stiff plane ride.
Note: I wouldn’t recommend going to these hot springs if the weather is poor. The river becomes cold when it’s raining and cold outside. Take this into consideration when planning your trip.
This small island capital is one of the most quaint cities in the world. In Reykjavik, you’ll find the friendliest locals and delicious seafood. A few things to add to your Reykjavik itinerary include the famed Hallgrimskirkja church, the National Museum of Iceland, and Reykjavik’s Maritime Museum.
Keep in mind, you’ll be spending several hours at Reykjadalur Hot Springs, so you won’t have a lot of time to explore Reykjavik. Plan your itinerary in Reykjavik accordingly.
Budget tip: It’s no secret that Iceland is an extremely expensive country. Even though I knew this from the first time I visited Iceland, I was just as shocked by prices the second time around.
In order to save money during your Iceland west coast road trip, buy groceries from the local Bonus market. Bonus has the cheapest food on the island.
Day 1 Iceland Itinerary Map
Since you’ll be spending the first day of your Iceland west coast road trip near Reykjavik, you’ll only be driving for approximately an hour and a half.
Total driving time: 1 hour and 31 minutes round trip
Note: Parking is difficult to find in Reykjavik, so keep that in mind if you plan to stay outside of the city center.
Where To Stay In Reykjavik
For the first night, you’ll want to stay in Reykjavik. This is the perfect location for your day one activities and an excellent place to start your second day, too.
There are plenty of quality hotels and hostels in Reykjavik. I recommend staying at 41 – A Townhouse Hotel for a more luxurious stay or Kex Hostel for budget-friendly accommodation. Both of these accommodation options are located downtown Reykjavik.
Alternatively, if you rent an Airbnb in Reykjavik, you could potentially save a lot of money. Use our Airbnb referral link* to get $40 off your first stay.
Iceland West Coast Itinerary Day 2
Day 2 of your Iceland west coast itinerary will include an amazing hike and a visit to relaxing hot springs. This drive will finally take you out of Reykjavik as you begin your journey up the west coast of Iceland.
Glymur Waterfall Hike
One of my all-time favorite hikes in Iceland is to Glymur Waterfall. Just a short drive out of Reykjavik, this waterfall delivers on multiple levels. Not only is it the second-highest waterfall in Iceland, but the canyon that houses this waterfall is colossal.
If you’re lucky, the river will be tame enough to venture to the far side of the canyon. If not, don’t worry. You can still enjoy the views of Glymur Waterfall from the near side of the canyon.
For more details about the Glymur Waterfall hike, read our post: The Best Day Trip Out of Reykjavik, Iceland.
Landbrotalaug Hot Springs
Landbrotalaug Hot Springs is another great stop to add to your itinerary. These natural hot springs are small and relaxing. Take some time to soak in these springs before continuing on to Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Day 2 Iceland Itinerary Map
During your second day on the west coast of Iceland, you’ll experience approximately two and a half hours of driving. Expect amazing sea views throughout much of this drive.
Total driving time: 2 hours and 24 minutes
Where To Stay In Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Helgafell Guesthouse is one of the best accommodation options on the west coast of Iceland. I highly recommend making reservations here for your trip.
Iceland West Coast Itinerary Day 3
Day 3 of your Iceland west coast tour will be a busy one. Get a head start on your day and be out the door by 8 am, if possible.
Start your third day on the west coast by exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with a 3.8-mile coastal hike. You’ll begin in Arnarstapi and turn around when you reach Hellnar, both located in Snæfellsnes National Park.
Use this Google Maps link to find the trailhead for the Arnarstapi-Hellnar hike.
Kirkjufellsfoss, Lóndrangar Basalt Cliffs, and the Búðir Church
Continue on your adventure by stopping at Kikjufellsfoss, one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland. A few other stops in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula include the Lóndrangar Basalt Cliffs and the Búðir Church.
Keep in mind that these are fairly popular destinations in Iceland. To avoid crowds, consider coming early in the morning. You’ll also find fewer people on the trail from Arnarstapi to Hellnar, so enjoy it while you can.
If you decide to spend more time in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, check out the Snæfellsjökull Glacier Hike. There are great tours to explore this beautiful mountain and glacier, which you can find on TripAdvisor.
Day 3 Iceland Itinerary Map
Luckily, all of the activities and stops in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula are relatively close. You’ll spend approximately an hour and a half driving to all of the places I mentioned above.
Total driving time: 1 hour and 19 minutes
After you’re done with the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, it’s time to move onto Drangsnes. Drangsnes is a bit of a drive from the peninsula, so give yourself enough time to get there before dark.
Total driving time: 3 hours and 2 minutes
Note: even if you choose to drive to Drangsnes in the dark, you are relatively safe. There aren’t any large game animals running across the road, it’s just more difficult to see street signs without daylight.
Where To Stay In Drangsnes
Our favorite stay in Iceland was the Hvammur Bjarg Cottage with a Private Hot Tub. We’ve stayed in hundreds of Airbnbs over the years and this Airbnb was one of the best. The added private hot tub on the deck was the cherry on top of a perfect stay.
Iceland West Coast Itinerary Day 4
The next stops on your Iceland west coast itinerary are the small towns of Holmavik and Drangsnes.
These two towns were unlike anything we experienced during our Iceland road trip. Not only were we the only tourists in the area, but we learned so much about the history and culture of Iceland. And who could forget about the amazing hot pots that dot the Westfjords?
Drangsnes Hot Pots
Perched directly on the ocean are several incredible hot pots waiting for you to soak your worries away. The Drangsnes Hot Pots are a must-visit when exploring the Westfjords of Iceland.
The Museum of Icelandic Witchcraft and Sorcery
Similar to the Salem Witch Trials that took place in Massachusetts in the late 1600s, Iceland had its own witch hunt. Most of the accusations were just finger-pointing by town officials, but learning about the terror that struck the Westfjords during that time is very interesting.
I highly recommend adding the Museum of Icelandic Witchcraft and Sorcery to your west coast Iceland itinerary. I think you’ll be just as intrigued as we were.
The Sorcerer’s Cottage
Another stop to add to your west coast itinerary is the Iceland Sorcerer’s Cottage. This is a replica of how farmers lived during the superstitious times of the mid-17th century. This cottage is actually located directly next to the Airbnb that I recommended above, so it’s really accessible even on foot.
Hiking and Waterfalls
There are so many isolated and deserted waterfalls and hikes in this area of Iceland. It’s a miracle that other travelers haven’t discovered these incredible places. Spend your time in the Westfjords exploring the many unique trails and cascading waterfalls.
Day 4 Iceland Itinerary Map
Everything I have suggested in the Drangsnes and Holmavik area is in close proximity to each other. The farthest you can expect to drive is 30-40 minutes. This gives you more time to explore the area and less time being crammed in a car.
Where To Stay In Drangsnes
I highly recommend staying in the Hvammur Bjarg Cottage for more than one night. This was our favorite stay in Iceland and I know you’ll quickly feel the same.
Iceland West Coast Itinerary Day 5
Day 5 of your Iceland west coast itinerary will be a long journey back to Reykjavik. But in order to spice things up on your drive, we’ve included several epic stops.
A little out of the way (but completely worth it) is Kolugljúfur Canyon. This is one of the best canyons to explore in Iceland. Spend time gawking at the power waterfall or take the hike down into the canyon. Whatever you choose to do at Kolugljúfur Canyon, you’re sure to be in awe of its beauty.
Deildartunguhver Hot Springs
Deildartunguhver Hot Springs is another place to stop during your journey back to Reykjavik. This natural hot spring is one of the most epic springs in Europe. Check out the incredible boiling water here and stretch your legs before continuing on.
Day 5 Iceland Itinerary Map
Did I mention that this was a long day? Because I wasn’t lying. You’ll be exploring the west coast of Iceland for 6+ hours on day five of your itinerary. Start this journey early so you have enough time to explore all the stops along the way.
Total driving time: 5 hours and 37 minutes
What To Skip On The West Coast of Iceland
Planning your Iceland west coast itinerary can be difficult when you’re being told differing stories. Some people recommend spending a day or two exploring the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon, while others suggest against it.
I’m one of those people who will encourage you to skip the Golden Circle and the Blue Lagoon altogether. Although these are iconic locations in Iceland for tourists, I can almost guarantee that you’ll be underwhelmed by both of these places.
The Golden Circle is a madhouse for tourists. If you’re looking to push your way through crowds to see a blocked-off waterfall, take the Golden Circle route. If you want to enjoy nature and avoid masses of people, avoid the Golden Circle at all costs. I can promise that you’ll find better destinations in Iceland than this silly circle.
As for the Blue Lagoon, I’m a hater.
Some people enjoy it while others see right through the ridiculous prices and disgusting amounts of people packed into these springs. There are hundreds of fun hot springs to discover in Iceland that are free and have far fewer people (or none at all!). Opt-out when it comes to the Blue Lagoon.
Car Rental In Iceland
During our west coast Iceland trip, renting a car was necessary for the itinerary we had planned. Just like everything else in Iceland, renting a car is pricey. You’ll also want to make sure to rent from an honest company.
For our rental, we went through Iceland Car Rental. There were several pros and cons of this company, but overall we had a good experience with them.
During our drive up the west coast, our car started to have problems. We were able to make it to our destination safely, which was a relief. Another relief was the way that Iceland Car Rental handled the issue.
We were approximately 3 hours from Reykjavik, but Iceland Car Rental had a representative drive up to our location immediately. He traded cars with us, which turned out to be a huge upgrade from our previous vehicle.
In the end, we were happy with their professionalism and would rent from them again. If you plan to rent a car for your Iceland west coast road trip, I recommend Iceland Car Rental.
Things To Pack For Your Iceland Adventure
Apart from the traveling basics, I recommend including these two necessary items on your Iceland adventure:
The weather in Iceland is so unpredictable. You could leave your hotel and see entirely blue skies. Minutes later it could be downpouring. We experienced all of these Icelandic weather mood swings during both of our trips to the island. Do yourself a favor and pack a raincoat every day.
Our friends used Frogg Togg raincoats. Although these are great for light rain, they couldn’t hold up to the torrential rains in Iceland. Spend a few extra dollars to stay dry. We love our North Face Rain Jackets.
2. Quality hiking boots
Trust me when I say you’ll need waterproof hiking boots or shoes for your trip to Iceland. Merrell always makes quality hiking boots. I currently wear the Merrell Women’s Yokota 2 Hiking Shoes for all of our mountain adventures.
The Wrap-Up: Iceland West Coast Itinerary
With so many tourists flocking to Iceland, it’s difficult to get away from the hustle and bustle of tour buses and crowds. Luckily, this west coast Iceland itinerary will help you avoid the other travelers while still experiencing some of the best hidden gems on the island.
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