The Best Day Trips From Reykjavik
Iceland has a lot to offer, one need look no further than a large spike in recent tourist interest as evidence of this. The Capital, Reykjavik is a vibrant city with unique people, culture, history, nightlife, and a thriving arts scene. But the real draw for most people visiting Iceland is its stunning natural beauty.
If moonscapes of ice, jagged volcanoes, plentiful waterfalls, breathtaking glaciers, geothermal pools and lava caves sound appealing to you, you may have found your next destination. There are many ways to access some of these natural wonders but renting a car is one of the easiest, and it certainly provides the most freedom. The good news is renting a car in Iceland is easy and straightforward, so you won't have to rely on local transport or join a bloated tour group.
So now with a couple of the minor details out of the way we can get to real fun: an insider's review of some of the best day trips from Reykjavik. Enjoy!
1. Spend an afternoon at the Blue Lagoon
One of the most popular and well known destinations it only makes sense to start with the Blue Lagoon. If you feel like a relaxing float in warm geothermally heated waters, making a quick jaunt here is a great way to spend a few hours outdoors. In our opinion the Blue Lagoon puts the Dead Sea to shame (in terms of floatable water) and it's the image many people have in their minds when it comes to Iceland. It's only about 24 miles from the Reykjavik to the Lagoon, entry prices are reasonable, and best of all it's open year round!
2. Go volcano hopping
Iceland is blessed with a large number of volcanoes scattered throughout the country. Spending some time checking them out is a must. Map of volcanoes in Iceland is a handy map outlining the locations of all major Volcanos in Iceland. Eyjafjallajokull is the most famous Volcano perhaps, it erupted in 2010 and created an enormous ash plume which disrupted air traffic all over Europe. In the end this cost the airline industry and estimated 1 billion dollars. But beyond Eyjafjallajokull there are many other choices, such as Snæfellsjökull, Hekla or Katla. Grab your map, jump in your rental car and make it a day seeing volcanoes a choose your own adventure! But of course exercise some caution as well, active volcanoes obviously present their own set of risks.
3. Take a day trip to the Snaefellsnes Peninsula
In the western part of the country, Snaefellsnes Peninsula is another extremely popular destination for visitors. In a way this small geographic is a microcosm of the country itself. with a wide range of natural sights on display in a small area. Snaefellsnes boasts countless lava caves, hot springs, and waterfalls. It's a wonderful place to trek around, get some fresh air, and take in the marvels of icelandic nature. To get from the capital to Snaefellsnes, it's roughly a 2-hour drive. The route there takes you along the “ring road” (Iceland’s Highway 1), along the way you’ll pass through the Hvalfjörður tunnel and see quite a few other sights making the drive there enjoyable in and of itself.
4. Cruise along Iceland's south coast
Another great way to spend a day is to take a short trip along the southern coast. There is a well trodden guided tour route here, and while tours can be fun we prefer the DIY method. Going solo, by renting a car in iceland, means you can see the sights at your own pace The sights include spectacular Skogarfoss waterfall along with Skaftafell National Park. You can even take a boat ride on Jokulsarlon glacial lagoon (time allowing). Many films (think Bond, James Bond) were shot in this area of Iceland, and once you see it for yourself you’ll know why.
5. Check out Langjökull glacier
No trip to Iceland would be complete without seeing a glacier up close and personal. Glaciers cover roughly 10% of the landmass of Iceland. But they are not to be trifled with. They can be quite dangerous and should not be approached without guidance or experience. No one should attempt driving up a glacier on their own. That said taking a day trek on one or driving on one with a specialized vehicle can be an unforgettable experience. Langjökull is one of the most easiest to access, and although there are many others it stands as our recommendation.
So there you have it, five of the best days trips you can take from Reykjavik. Although this is barely scratching the surface of the plans you could dream up. Sometimes another good strategy is to ditch Tripadvisor and Lonely Planet, hit the road in your rental car and see what you stumble upon. Often times the best travel experiences aren’t planned, they simply happen.