The Iceland Guy                            

Suggested Itineraries

Based on a survey I conducted of family, friends, and fellow travelers, I found that most people are interested in spending five days or less in Iceland. That makes a lot of sense, as many visitors from North America come to Iceland as part of a brief stopover on a trip to/from Europe or a quick weekend escape. These suggested itineraries will highlight some of the most popular attractions of Reykjavik (capital region) and of southwest Iceland.

All of these itineraries assume evening departure from North American Icelandair gateways. For West Coast cities, an additional day is recommended. They also assume that Reykjavik will be the base of operations for the entire stay. A rental car gives you more flexibility as to where and when to go, but it is not mandatory as there is ample and affordable public transportation and/or day trip excursions. Also, note that rental cars are quite expensive, especially in summer (i.e., $100 plus for a compact model).

Iceland Guy Approved.

Three days, two nights

Evening departure from North America

Day 1 --

  • Arrive Keflavik Airport ~6:30 a.m. local time
  • Before departing airport, be sure to stop at the duty-free store to purchase beer, wine, candy, etc. either for your own consumption during your stay (or as a gift for anyone you may be visiting). Iceland is one of the few countries when you can go to duty-free upon arrival and the discounts are significant.
  • If not renting a car, take FlyBus to Reykjavik -- ~45 minutes, $20. Located just outside of customs.
  • If you can not immediately check in to your accommodations, store your bags at the hotel and head to one of Reykjavik's city pools for a reinvigorating outside swim / hot tub experience.
  • Afternoon city walking tour of Reykjavik. The downtown area is relatively compact so wander around. I would walk the entire length of the main shopping street -- Laugavegur -- from the beginning near the Hlemmur main bus terminal to the end. Be sure to veer off to see Hallgrimskirkja church, tallest building in Reykjavik and take the elevator to the top of the steeple. Other things to see -- new Harpa concert hall at the waterfront; Austurvöllur Square lined with cafes and across from the Althingi (Icelandic parliament); Reykjavik city hall with an enormous relief map of Iceland on the ground floor of the building; Tjörnin, large pond behind Althingi and Reykjavik city hall.
Day 2 --
  • Golden Circle tour þingvellir (Thingvellir) -- location of world's first parliament, Geysir -- series of geysers that regularly spout, and Gullfoss, one of the largest and most dramatic waterfalls in Europe. Many tour companies offer this daily itinerary. Often included is a stop in the village of Hveragerði, one of the biggest geothermal agriculture areas with many greenhouses. If you can, I would get a tour that also includes the black sand beaches at Eyrabakki (near Hveragerði).
Day 3 --
  • Visit Blue Lagoon. FlyBus offers transportation to the Blue Lagoon, then pick up in early afternoon to get you to the airport nearby (20 minutes away) in time for your afternoon departure.
  • If you have a rental car, after visiting the Blue Lagoon, allow time to go to Reykjanesviti, which features a lighthouse and dramatic cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This is usually where I say my "goodbye" to Iceland before my next visit. Nearby, on the road back from Reykjanesviti to the airport, take a few minutes to stop at Brú Milli Heimsálfa "Bridge Between Two Continents", which shows where the North American and European geologic plates are slowly separating. As with the Blue Lagoon, these places are only 20 minutes from the airport.
  • Afternoon flight to North America
Four days, three nights

Same itinerary as left for Days 1 and 2

Day 3 --

  • Take South coast excursion -- see waterfalls at Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss, visit folk museum at Skogar, see black sand beaches and unusual rock formations near Vik. If possible, or instead, include visits to Landmannulaugar and Thorsmork (requires 4WD vehicle).

Day 4 --

  • Visit Blue Lagoon. FlyBus offers transportation to the Blue Lagoon, then pick up in early afternoon to get you to the airport nearby (20 minutes away) in time for your afternoon departure.
  • If you have a rental car, after visiting the Blue Lagoon, allow time to go to Reykjanesviti, which features a lighthouse and dramatic cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This is usually where I say my "goodbye" to Iceland before my next visit. Nearby, on the road back from Reykjanesviti to the airport, take a few minutes to stop at Brú Milli Heimsálfa "Bridge Between Two Continents", which shows where the North American and European geologic plates are slowly separating. As with the Blue Lagoon, these places are only 20 minutes from the airport.
  • Afternoon flight to North America
Five days, four nights

Same itinerary as left for Days 1 -- 3

Day 4 -- Activity day

I would do one or more of the following on this day.

  • Hike Mount Esja, the large mountain that sits across Faxafloi Bay from Reykjavik. If you don't have a car, a city bus can take you there and drop you at the base.
  • Visit Videy Island, a small island in Flaxafloi Bay a 5-minute boat ride from Reykjavik harbor. There is a small museum on the island and abundant bird life. Walking is easy as the island is essentially flat. Yoko Ono dedicated her Imagine Peace Tower on the island in 2007.
  • Swim, in summer, at the Nauthólsvìk geothermal beach. This is a man-made beach where they have pumped in geothermally-heated water into a small section of an adjacent bay. It is located near the Reykjavik city airport and Icelandair Hotel Natura. Unless you have a rental car or are staying at Hotel Natura, you will need to take a taxi.
  • Experience white water rafting - Daily excursions pick up from the major hotels to take you white water rafting (Class 2 - 3) on the Hvita River (about 2 hours from Reykjavik). In addition, Arctic Rafting has now added an option where you can drive to the rafting location (near Gullfoss waterfall), which gives you an exciting option for ending your Golden Circle day.
  • Ride the famous Icelandic horse and do the "tolt", its distinctive gait. Again, there are many daily excursions available from the major hotels.
  • Cycle around Reykjavik -- bike rental is available in Laugardalur, Reykjavik's "Central Park", or here, which is closer to downtown.
  • Whale Watch -- There are a number of companies offering daily trips from Reykjavik harbor.
Day 5 --
  • Visit Blue Lagoon. FlyBus offers transportation to the Blue Lagoon, then pick up in early afternoon to get you to the airport nearby (20 minutes away) in time for your afternoon departure.
  • If you have a rental car, after visiting the Blue Lagoon, allow time to go to Reykjanesviti, which features a lighthouse and dramatic cliffs overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This is usually where I say my "goodbye" to Iceland before my next visit. Nearby, on the road back from Reykjanesviti to the airport, take a few minutes to stop at Brú Milli Heimsálfa "Bridge Between Two Continents", which shows where the North American and European geologic plates are slowly separating. As with the Blue Lagoon, these places are only 20 minutes from the airport.
  • Afternoon flight to North America

The Iceland Guy offers these links to you based on my personal experiences with travel to Iceland and with my personal knowledge of Icelandic goods and services. If you have any questions or doubts about any of these links or recommendations, I encourage you to check with other resources, on-line or otherwise, that can provide you with additional background and feedback on these companies, products and services. The Iceland Guy will not be held responsible for any negative consequences that occur as a result of you doing business with the organizations linked from this web site.

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