Unless you’ve been living under a rather large rock, there’s a fairly good chance you’re aware of just how attractive Iceland is right now. But with prohibitively increasing car rental costs and rare accommodation outside the capital, planning a road trip can be a daunting task. Fret not: I’ve compiled a list of places that are doable as day trips from Reykjavik.
Visiting Iceland without a car is surprisingly easy as there is only one major ring road and plenty of tour operators catering to permit-free visitors or simply those who’d rather not be bothered with a vehicle.
Whether you’re after northern lights, scenic lookouts, exhilarating adventures or just the plain old scenic route, there’s a tour tailor-made for you.
The Best Day Trips From Reykjavik
This quintessentially Icelandic expedition encompasses some of Iceland’s most photographed and notorious sights, including the tectonic rift at Þingvellir National Park (where it’s not only possible but strongly encouraged to walk in) and the literally boiling Strokkur geyser, as well as the multi-tiered Gullfoss waterfall and Kerið crater lake. Nearby is the Laugarvatn Fontana wellness centre, featuring natural hot springs and geothermal pools – a quieter, cheaper, and more tranquil alternative to the Blue Lagoon.
This tour can technically be done is just a few hours time, making it ideal for travellers with limited time on their hands.
The best day trips to the Golden Circle from Reykjavik:
- Golden Circle Classic Day Trip from Reykjavik
- Golden Circle, Kerid Volcanic Crater, and Blue Lagoon Day Trip from Reykjavik
- Golden Circle Express Tour from Reykjavik Including Gullfoss and Geysir
- Small Group Golden Circle and Secret Lagoon Hot Springs Tour from Reykjavik
- Golden Circle and Laugarvatn Fontana Geothermal Tour from Reykjavik
- Golden Circle Afternoon Tour from Reykjavik
- Golden Circle & Silfra Snorkeling Adventure
ADDITIONAL READING: FACING THE NOTORIOUSLY COLD ICELANDIC WATERS – SCUBA DIVING & SNORKELLING IN SILFRA
ADDITIONAL READING: INSIDE ONE OF THE LARGEST GLACIERS IN ICELAND: LANGJÖKULL
It would be an understatement to say that thrill-seekers will have a field day in adventurous Iceland!
Go deep into Europe‘s second largest glacier at Langjökull, hike up Snæfellsjökull — the glacier that inspired Jules Verne’s Journey to the Centre of the Earth — explore all-natural ice caves at Jökulsárlón, scuba dive in the world’s clearest waters at the tectonic drift in Þingvellir National Park, mingle with birds and whales on a kayaking expedition in the West Fjords or trek on one of the world’s most active volcanoes, Hekla — which, funnily enough, is nicknamed the “Gateway to Hell”.
The best adventure day trips from Reykjavik:
- Icelandic Horseback Riding Tour from Reykjavik
- Small Group Glacier Hiking & Ice Climbing Adventure on Solheimajokull Glacier
- Thorsmork Volcano Hiking Adventure From Reykjavik
- Sea-Fishing Tour from Reykjavik
- Glacier Walk on Solheimajokull Glacier
- Natural Ice Cave Tour of Vatnajökull Glacier
- Snorkeling Silfra Tour From Reykjavik
- Natural Ice Cave Tour of Vatnajökull Glacier
- Lava Caving Experience From Reykjavik
ADDITIONAL READING: WEST ICELAND AND THE SNAEFELLSNESS PENINSULA: 5 PLACES YOU CAN’T MISS
Often described as Iceland in a nutshell, this 90-kilometre long charming peninsula does indeed comprise an impressive concentration of the Iceland’s most evocative attractions: glaciers (Langjökull, Snæfellsjökull), oddly shaped mountains (Kirkjufell), waterfalls (Hraunfossar, Kirkjufellfoss), adorable fishing villages (Stykkishólmur, Grundarfjörður), dramatic beaches and cliffs (Gatklettur, Lóndrangar, Hellnar, Arnarstapi, Djúpalónssandur), lava fields (Berserkjahraun), and saga-related sites (Bárðar Saga statue).
This is the perfect destination for Icelandair stopover first-timers on a mission to fully grasp what Iceland is about, with just a handful of days on their hands to explore.
The best day trips from Reykjavik to Snaefellsness Peninsula:
- Wonders of Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Private Tour from Reykjavik
- Snaefellsjokull, The Glacier and The National Park Tour with Cave Exploration
- Small-Group Snaefellsnes National Park Day Trip from Reykjavik
- Into the Glacier: Langjökull Glacier Ice Cave Tour
- Kirkjufell Mountain and Djúpalónssandur Beach
- Journey to the Centre of the Earth
- Day tour around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula with a local farm meal
ADDITIONAL READING: SOUTH ICELAND ROAD TRIP: MY 7-DAY ITINERARY
The attractive road trip will take you to the East Fjords and back and along some of Iceland’s most jaw-dropping vistas.
Notable and worthwhile stops include Seljalandsfoss, Seljavellir, a concealed man-made hot spring pool right at the foot of Eyjafjallajökull, the Westman Islands, Skogarfoss, the Folk Museum, Dyrholaey and the Reynisfjara black sand beach, Vatnajökull glacier and the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, the picturesque fishing hamlet of Hofn, and, lastly, the stunningly beautiful east fjords – all of which will be awash with Icelandic horses and lush lupine expanses.
This is the lengthiest possible way to fully take advantage of a stopover in Iceland, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.
The best day trips from Reykjavik to South Iceland:
- Southern Iceland Glaciers, Waterfalls and Beaches Day Tour
- South Coast Glacier Hiking Trip
- Landmannalaugar Hot Springs and Hike in the Highlands
- South Shore Ice Climbing from Reykjavik
- Jewels of the South – Jökulsárlón, Diamond Beach, and South Coast Day Tour
- Jökulsárlón Day Trip with Amphibian Boat Ride from Reykjavik