The 11 Best Day Trips From Reykjavik

Þingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site
Þingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site | © Frank Hecker / Alamy Stock Photo
Photo of Mulan
Freelance Travel Writer30 September 2019

Reykjavík is a small but bustling city with a rich culture and vast history. But beyond the borders of the Icelandic capital lie multiple attractions and a diverse landscape ranging from glaciers and volcanoes to waterfalls and fjords.

Blue Lagoon

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Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik. Iceland.
Iceland's Blue Lagoon is one of its most popular attractions | © Bruce yuanyue Bi / Alamy Stock Photo

Characterised by its milky blue waters, the Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most popular attractions. A mere 15-minute drive from Keflavik airport, the mineral-rich geothermal spa is the ultimate leisure experience where premium admission tickets include extras like silica or algae face mask and a complimentary drink. A bar is available inside the actual pool area where visitors can purchase a range of drinks from beer to wine. When hunger starts to kick in, head over to the lagoon’s fine-dining restaurant Lava or purchase snacks by the entrance of the spa.

Secret Lagoon: Roundtrip From Reykjavik

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Secret lagoon, Iceland.
In the winter, you can see the Northern Lights from the Secret Lagoon | © John Clarke / Alamy Stock Photo

You may be familiar with the Blue Lagoon, but have you heard of the Secret Lagoon? This secluded geothermal pool is the oldest lagoon in Iceland and unlike its famous counterpart, it has an intimate setting due to a moderate amount of visitors. Situated in the small village of Flúðir in southern Iceland and close to the Golden Circle, the hot spring also offers colourful views during colder months. If you’re lucky and are visiting during winter, you’ll be able to see the Northern Lights whilst relaxing in the 38-40C (100-104F) pool.

Golden Circle Full-Day Tour With Kerid Crater

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Strokkur Geyser, Geysir, Iceland
See geysers in action at the Geysir hot spring area | © Robert Wyatt / Alamy Stock Photo

The eight-hour Golden Circle day tour gives you a taste of Iceland’s fiery and powerful nature. Starting off with the striking Geysir area, where active hot springs spout steaming water 30 metres (98 feet) into the air, the tour then takes you to the glacier river Hvítá where you’ll spot the Gullfoss waterfall – the impressive cascade that plunges 32 metres (105 feet) into a crevice. The tour then continues on to Þingvellir National Park – a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2004 – where you will find the meeting point of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, and then get to discover more of Iceland’s majestic wonders, like the volcanic crater at Lake Kerið.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Tour From Reykjavík

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Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Tour
Jökulsárlón is filled with striking blue icebergs | © GetYourGuide

Driving along the southern coast of Iceland with this 14-hour day tour, you will experience the kaleidoscopic colours of black sand beaches, crystalline glaciers and multi-coloured lava fields. Spot unusual views at Diamond Beach, where chunks of ice resembling sparkling diamonds can be found scattered along the black sand. Marvel at the dramatic landscape of the Glacier Lagoon, one of the largest glaciers in Europe, and admire the environment while riding a boat cruise through the area to see the lagoon up close.

South of Iceland Full-Day Tour From Reykjavík

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Reynisfjara Beach and Halsanefshellir Cave, Vik, Iceland.
Reynisfjara Beach and Halsanefshellir Cave in Vik are the landscapes myths are made of | © Robert Wyatt / Alamy Stock Photo

Iceland is a treasure trove of myths and folklore, and a vast number of them originate from the southern coast with its dramatic landscape. The itinerary of this 10-hour road trip to southern Iceland is filled with glaciers and mountains, before arriving at the Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls. You will also experience the region’s nature with a stop in Vik, the country’s southernmost village just south of the Mýrdalsjökull glacier.

Northern Lights Bus Tour From Reykjavík

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Start off your Northern Lights tour by visiting the Aurora Reykjavík Museum free of charge, where you can learn more about the colourful phenomena. After being picked up from the institution, your three-hour tour will take you to the countryside to avoid light pollution and give you a greater chance of spotting the dancing Aurora. The guided tour takes place in the winter when the lights are more visible, so be sure to dress warmly!

Snæfellsnes Peninsula Full-Day Tour

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The Kirkjufell mountain, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Iceland.
Get your own photo of Kirkjufell mountain | © Karin De Winter / Alamy Stock Photo

Starting off at the Ytri-Tunga farm, the Snæfellsnes Peninsula Full-Day Tour takes you around a few fishing villages like Grundarfjörður, Arnarstapi and Hellnar and the flaming Snæfellsjökull. Besides exploring the coastal region, you will have the chance to see the beautiful Kirkjufell mountain – known as the most photographed mountain in all of Iceland. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula allows you to experience the island’s diverse natural beauty in a single area ranging from sea cliffs and fjords to volcanoes and beaches.

Into the Glacier Tour

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Langjokull Glacier, Iceland.
Visit glaciers while learning about the effects of global warming on their existence | © zoso / Stockimo / Alamy Stock Photo

Heading towards the small village of Reykholt, you’ll have the chance to hop into the Snorralaug Bathing Pool – a small hot spring that has been used by Icelanders since the 12th century. The area is dotted with hot springs, one being Deildartunguhver, which is the highest flowing hot spring in Europe. While on this glacier tour, you’ll also visit Hvalfjörður (“Whale Fjord”) where you will discover a glacier and a man-made ice cage situated in Langjökull, Europe’s second-largest glacier. While sitting in a customised monster truck, you’ll be able to take in the staggering views of icebergs as you learn about the effects that global warming has had on the area through a guide.

Game of Thrones Tour

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Pingvellir National Park, Iceland.
Þingvellir was the site of the world's first democracy | © STEPHEN FLEMING / Alamy Stock Photo

Iceland may not have been a part of Game of Thrones until the second season, but the popular TV show has contributed to the rise of tourists flocking to the island. Relive scenes and admire the landscape that was featured in the show on this tour by visiting locations like Þingvellir National Park and the Settlement-era lodge in Þjórsárdalur valley. Perfect for Game of Throne fans, the tour is also ideal for nature lovers who enjoy being outdoors, as you’ll explore Iceland’s beautiful scenery.

Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike

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Solheimajokull Glacier on the south coast of Iceland.
This tour offers an up-close experience of the Sólheimajökull Glacier on the south coast of Iceland | © Snorri Gunnarsson / Alamy Stock Photo

Located in southern Iceland, roughly two hours from Reykjavík, this 11-km-long glacier hike across Solheimajökull glacier is ideal for adventurers looking to explore Iceland through hiking. With the help of a certified glacier guide, you’ll walk on ice after receiving a quick safety lesson informing you of the dos and don’ts. During the hike, you’ll get great views of both Skogafoss waterfall and Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall originating from the ever-famous Eyjafjallajökull volcano glacier.

Silfra Dry-Suit Snorkelling Tour

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Snorkelling at Silfra rift, Thingvellir Lake in the Pingvellir National Park in Iceland.
You can snorkel between two continents in the Silfra rift at Þingvellir National Park | © Hoi Tung Wong / Alamy Stock Photo

When visiting Þingvellir National Park, you will not only see where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, but you’ll also be able to snorkel between them on this dry-suit snorkelling tour. The two plates separate at a rate of roughly two centimetres (just under an inch) per year, leaving a rift that’s filled with the icy waters from the Langjökull glacier. You’ll be able to experience clear water 100 metres (330 feet) down at the Silfra rift.