During your trip to Iceland, you’re probably wondering whether or not there’s a good trip from Reykjavik that you can take. Using the capital city as a base for your excursions is a great plan; I had a friend who did this. Reykjavik day trips save you the hassle of having to constantly pack your suitcase and be on the move. Day trips from Reykjavik, Iceland are a wonderful way to tour our magnificent country. From the Blue Lagoon to the Golden Circle to Snæfellsnes peninsula, these are the best day trips Reykjavik has to offer.
Why Iceland Day Trips Make Sense
Iceland was made for road trips. With the Ring Road going all the way around our small island, it’s easy to circumnavigate the entire country in about a week. Not everyone has the time or inclination to do that, however. In some cases, day trips in Iceland from Reykjavik are the better option. Iceland day trips are an excellent choice for people who want to stay in one place or perhaps can’t afford a full 7-day or 10-day itinerary.
Best Self-Drive Day Trips From Reykjavik: Golden Circle Tours
Of all the Reykjavik day trips available, the Golden Circle is probably the one most frequently chosen by tourists. There are three main stops on the 300 km (190-mile) circuit. These are Thingvellir National Park with the Silfra fissure and its tectonic plates, the Haukadalur valley geysers (Strokkur and Geysir), and Gullfoss waterfall.
Golden Circle tours are one of the best self-drive day trips from Reykjavik because you can stick to the main sights or expand your journey and go to additional stops like the Secret Lagoon, Langjökull glacier, or Kerið Crater. You do as much or as little as you like and you take however long you want at each stop.
If you’re looking to take a day tour from Reykjavik, this is an option that I highly recommend.
Another Idea For Day Trips From Reykjavik: Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Located just a two-hour drive away, Snæfellsnes peninsula is another one of the day trips from Reykjavik I think you’ll enjoy. This part of the country is known as “Iceland in Miniature” due to the concentrated collection of natural wonders the island is famous for. On the peninsula, you’ll find the iconic Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall and Snaefellsjökull glacier and national park. There’s also Vatnshellir lava tube, which takes you 8,000 back into Iceland’s volcanic past.
If you’ve only got one or two days for day trips from Reykjavik, this could be a good choice for you and your travel companions. You get to maximize your sightseeing and experience much of what Iceland has to offer.
While Snaefellsnes peninsula makes a fun day tour from Reykjavik, there are enough highlights in this gorgeous territory to warrant a two-day visit.
Half Day Trips From Reykjavik: The Blue Lagoon
Maybe you’re short on time and are looking for ideas for half day trips from Reykjavik. Well, I’ve got the perfect suggestion: the Blue Lagoon. This is a trip from Reykjavik that you can do on your way to the airport. Go for a dip in the healing geothermal waters before boarding your flight back home. Just make sure to scrub off every inch of that silica face mask you gave yourself. We don’t want you looking crazy on the plane.
Of course, it doesn’t have to be a half day trip. You can make a full day out of getting massages, facials, treatments, and general pampering. You’ll be exhausted after your trip, right? They are open until 9 pm, so depending on the time of year, you might even be able to see the Northern Lights. There’s nothing more magical that soaking in warm water as you watch colorful lights dance across the sky.
Day Trips From Reykjavik in Summer: Vik’s Black Sand Beaches
If you’re looking for day trips from Reykjavik in summer, the best thing you can do is take advantage of the Midnight Sun. Those endless hours of sunshine mean you can go further away from your base and stay out longer. The black sand beaches of Vik and Reynisfjara along the South Coast are the perfect expedition. The hexagonal basalt columns along the shore and dark, volcanic sand are an unusual feature of our landscape. I love taking day trips from Reykjavik in summer as it’s one of the best times to explore Iceland!
Go Chasing Waterfalls
Even if you don’t make it all the way to Vik, you should still carve out some time to visit two of our most famous waterfalls. They are both short detours off the Ring Road along Iceland’s South Coast. Seljalandsfoss is known as Iceland’s most beautiful waterfall and is about a 1 hr 45-minute drive from Reykjavik. Skógafoss is another powerful cascade that’s another 20 minutes up the road.
For waterfall and nature lovers, this is one of the best self-drive day trips from Reykjavik because you can visit both places in the same day. As a bonus stop, take the trek to the Sólheimasandur DC-3 plane wreck site. It’s on the way to (or back from) Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss.
Best Day Trips in Iceland: Bathing in the Reykjadalur Hot River
Be sure to pack your swimsuit when you come for your holidays as there will be ample opportunities to swim. For me, an off-the-beaten-path recommendation of the best day trips in Iceland is to go to the hot spring in Reykjadalur valley. Here, you’ll find our hot river where you can float up and down the stream in 40 ºC (104 ºF) water. This is one of my favorite day trips in Iceland from Reykjavik because it’s not as well known as other sites.
Iceland Day Trips: What I Don’t Recommend
I’ve got bad news for you; are you ready? You are not invincible. I’m sorry to be the bearer of bad news, but there are certain places that are doable but not recommendable as day trips. Vatnajökull National Park and Jökulsárlon glacier lagoon are both spectacular, but not if you’re coming from Reykjavik. The glacier lagoon and national park are just too far away and you will suffer from fatigue.
Let me explain. Iceland day trips should ideally take two or three hours maximum to arrive at your destination. Vatnajökull is four to five hours each way, assuming weather conditions and road conditions are favorable. If they’re not, it can be closer to six or seven hours’ driving time. That is a very long day if you’re trying to get back to your hotel in downtown Reykjavik.
At the same time, there are so many cool things to do at Vatnajökull! From the ice caves and glacier hikes on the glacier to Svartifoss waterfall in the Skaftafell section of the park. This presents quite a dilemma. I recommend staying in the area or coming from Vik rather than taking a day trip all the way from Reykjavik. Whether you’re traveling as an individual or in a small group, you’ll be glad you didn’t try to cram in this destination.
The Ultimate Way to End Your Day: The Northern Lights
This is more of an excursion than a day trip, but it’s a must do on your Iceland itinerary nevertheless. The Northern Lights are visible here from mid-to-late September through the middle of March. After a day out exploring, why not cap it off with a Northern Lights hunt? You’ll want to leave the city in order to cancel out light pollution and try to go on a clear night when aurora activity is high.
Best Cars for a Day Trip from Reykjavik
Not everyone coming to Iceland has time to do a 5-day, 7-day, or 10-day itinerary around the Ring Road. Due to limited vacation time, many travelers choose to base themselves out of Reykjavik and do excursions. If you’re thinking of hiring a car for one or two days, let’s look at some of your options.
For most day trips from Reykjavik, any car that you choose to rent will great. Whether your preference is a luxury vehicle, an SUV, a sedan, or an economy or compact model, they all work well. This is because most Reykjavik day trips, including the standard Golden Circle route, don’t include F-Roads. If you do choose a daylong outing to explore Iceland’s Highlands, then you’ll need to rent a 4x4 vehicle.
Reykjavik Day Trips: A Comprehensive List
This list of the best day trips in Iceland should be plenty to get you started planning your trip. When you decide to visit Iceland, narrowing down what sightseeing stops you want to make might be a little hard at first. Sometimes it helps to break it up into chunks and just take things one day at a time.
It’s important to remember that when mapping out your day trips from Reykjavik, Iceland can be unpredictable. You could run into an unexpected snowstorm or might experience car trouble. Always check the weather forecast, follow the speed limit, and allow yourself extra time. Driving safety is the most crucial factor to keep in mind while listening to your curated playlist or playing road trip games.