It is no secret that Reykjavik is one of my favourite cities in the world. It has everything that excites me as a traveller: From music, culture, good food, street art, folk tales, the list goes on. The city also makes for an excellent base for exploring the otherworldly landscapes that Iceland offers. Volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, magnificent beaches, glacial lakes all are within a day’s journey from Reykjavik. Here’s presenting, the top day trips from Reykjavik:
Also read: Things to do in Reykjavik
Golden Circle | Day trips from Reykjavik
I will start with the obvious. Located 50 km from the capital city, the Golden Circle consists of Þingvellir National Park, a geothermal area called Geysir and the mighty Gullfoss Falls. And I suspect that the Golden Circle is the most popular amongst day trips from Reykjavik.
Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park is a UNESCO heritage site today. It is home to the Althing which is the oldest functioning parliament of the world which has now shifted its base to Reykjavik. Another significance of Þingvellir is that it lies on a continental Rift. Iceland is the only place in this world where you can see the rift above sea level. As a result, a part of the National Park lies on the Eurasian plate and the other on the North American plate
The next stop on the Golden Circle is the geothermal area of Geysir from where the word geyser originated. For example, here you will find hot springs, mud pools and gurgling hot water sprouts. While the original Geysir now lies dormant, the younger Strokkur puts up quite a show for us travellers, shooting up every ten minutes.
Gullfoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in the country. I was awed by its sheer force and that’s what made it stand apart for me during my time in Iceland where I ended up visiting quite a few waterfalls.
Around Vik: Black sand beach of Reynisfjara | Seljalandfjoss |Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
While many like to club this with a South coast trip, I think the fishing village of Vik and its neighbourhood deserves a day of its own. However, if Reykjavik is your base, the South Coast and Vik definitely urge a visit.
The black sand beach of Reynisfjara is breathtakingly beautiful. Also, notably the picturesque basalt columns on the beach seem to be the muse for the artist Guðjón Samúelsson. He designed the Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik. The waves are angry and have pulled in quite a few unsuspecting travellers, so be aware of that during your visit.
Read Poetry | Reynisfjara
Seljalandfjoss is in the neighbourhood and it’s quite a. beautiful sight. While it is a serene waterfall, it does fall from quite an elevation. The fall also provides you with the option of walking behind it, on a good weather day.
Solheimasandur DC3 Wreck
The plane wreck on Solheimasandur black sand beach provides quite a dramatic scenery for the photographs. The remnants of a DC plane that went down in 1973 on the beach stands tall despite weathering the gales and the freezing weather. It is a 3km hike from the parking lost and is quite a spectacular sight to see.
Geothermal Pools | Day trips from Reykjavik
The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most popular Geothermal pool by far. Images of travellers in the milky blue waters nursing a drink often populate our social media feeds. Yes it is touristy and yes it does tend to get crowded but it is a must-visit during the time there, in my opinion.
It is beautifully managed, has plenty of changing rooms and when you finally get inside the water at 40 degrees with lava fields surrounding you, it is quite an experience. It is located 50kms from the city and makes for an hour-long drive.
View this post on Instagram
Relaxing in a natural hot springs at Blue Lagoon, Iceland 💧with @s_mok02 . . . . . . . #bluelagoon #bluelagooniceland #iceland🇮🇸 #🇮🇸 #geothermal #geothermalpool #hotsprings #hotspring #beautifulworld #bluewaters #bluewater #travelgirls #iceland_tourist #traveliceland #exploreiceland
Other Man made hot pools
Secret Lagoon or Gamla Laugin is a pool often clubbed with the Golden Circle trips. Located in Fludir, it is 1.5 hours away from Reykjavik. in addition to. the hot pool, it has a small changing room close to it and the town offers good cosy eats to relax in after your warm dip.
Seljavallalaug has captured my imagination ever since I saw a picture of it on the internet. While its source is a natural hot spring, the pool is manmade and requires a 30-40minute hike to reach. It’s free for visitors who visit and even has a small changing room, which is seen in most pictures.
Hot spring Au Naturel
I have to make a mention of Reykjadalur Valley or ‘Steam Valley’ which is a hot spring Au naturel. It is a 30 min drive from the city and takes an hour-long hike to get there. Expect a series of hot pools along a valley and the further you go up the higher the temperature gets.
Get your backpack with towels and clothes and a lunch pack if you may. The hike is well marked out so don’t you worry about getting lost. Visiting a geothermal pool is one of the most recommended day trips from Reykjavik.
Hello Snaefellsness I : Stykkishólmur, shark curing farm at Bjarnarhofn, Kirkjufell, Grundarfjordur and whale watching:
They call Snaefellenss ‘Iceland in a nutshell’ because it considered being the microcosm of the Island. This peninsula has everything right from a National Park, a glacier, a volcano, wildlife, whales, lava fields, wildlife, small towns and fjords. While some may prefer to cover the entire peninsula on one day, I would recommend taking it a wee bit slower.
The harbourside town of Stykkisholmur basks in understated beauty. Its first brush with fame came with its appearance on the movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.
Located by a fjord, one can take a cruise into the waters, spot some wildlife and birds and if you are lucky you can taste some fresh catch from the sea while on the cruise. The town has a movie hall, a supermarket and beautifully preserved traditional homes which are simply picture perfect.
View this post on Instagram
#StoriesfromIceland Stykkishólmur is a tiny fishing town in the western part of Iceland. It has a natural harbour that was one of the primary landing spots for boats historically. What really won me over were these colourful houses that this town had, they had an Elfin quality about them that I still can’t get over. I did a series called #housesofstykkisholmur a while back as I was completely enamoured by them. #stykkisholmur #snaefellsness #iceland #icelandinwinters #throwback #travelstoke #travellove #travel #travelblogger #adventure #instapic #instadaily #instatravel #instalove #latergram
Very close by is the Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum which is essentially a shark curing farm. The friendly hosts will tell you about the local Greenland Shark whose meat is used to make the “Hakarl”.
They give you a tour of the farm, show you the process and also give you a taste of the infamous Hakarl along with some Brennivin to wash it down. Let’s just say that Hakarl is an acquired taste.
Kirkjufell and Grundarfjordur
Vast lava fields will lead the way to the famous Kirkjufell next an oft-photographed mountain of Iceland. Nearby, the sleepy neighbouring town of Grundarfjordur is a surprising hub of whale watchers. In essence, this day covers the northern fringe of the peninsula and you could definitely use a soup break at Borganes on your way back.
Snaefellsness II: Borganes, a hike to a volcanic crater at Grabok, black Church in Budir, A beach with seals, a fishing village of Arnarstapi
Grabok and Borgarnes
The second part of the Snaefellsness peninsula is equally exciting. While entering the peninsula, a 30km detour will take you to the Grabok crater where one can do a quick hike up. It’s not every day that one can hike up a volcano. Borgarnes is the main town of Snaefellsness Peninsula and has all the musings for a lunch break and a short walk around. the cafe at Settlement centre serves good food (a very elaborate vegetarian menu I must add) and it displays 2 exhibitions too.
The first stop on the southern coast of the Peninsula will be the white sand Ytri Tunga beach where often you can spot seals hiding behind the rocks. The beach is picturesque with the Snaefellsness Glacier as the background.
The Black Church at Budir
When you drive ahead, you will reach the town of Budir where you can walk through lava fields to reach the famous black church of Budir. Surrounded by mighty mountains, the church does offer a dramatic sight, chosen by many couples as a site for their wedding or pre-wedding photo shoots.
Arnarstapi and Hellnar
Driving ahead will bring you to the fishing village of Arnarstapi. It now houses a few homes and a visitor centre and a quaint pier for boats. In addition, one can hike from here to the next village of Hellnar along the coastline and that promises to be a fun 30 minutes.
Djupalonssandur black sand beach
The black sand beach of Djupalonssandur is equally beautiful and dangerous as its south coast brother, the Reyjnisfjara. The shores reward you with black sand and smooth black pebbles.
Westman Island | Day trips from Reykjavik
Westman islands or Vestmannaeyjar is a volcanic archipelago off the south coast of Iceland. Its only inhabited town is an island called Heimaey. As a day trip from Reykjavik, it includes a drive till the port at Landeyjahöfn and then a ferry across. If you are driving your own car, the car can come with you on the ferry and explore on your own.
Puffins and Volcano hikes
The island is famous for its puffin colony and the best time to spot it is June-September. Apart from that, it makes for a great day walking around town, visiting the Eldfell Museum which chronicles the volcanic eruption in 1973 which forced all the locals to leave the town. A hike up to the newly formed Eldfell mountain offers spectacular views of Heimaey and the that embraces it. The island also has some very good places to eat, some of them are the best restaurants in all of Iceland.
Also read about Top female travel writers
View this post on Instagram
The cutest little animal that lives here in Iceland must be the puffin, just look at them they late adorable. This shot was taken at the Westman islands day before yesterday, I could go there again and again 🙂 #visiticeland #westmanislands #travelling #cuteanimals #atlanticocean #puffin #puffins #cute #adorable #animal #bird #small #funnyanimals #beak #iceland #travel #travelphotography #canon #canonwildanimals #nesting #grass #fotka_mesice #foto_mesice #photooftheday #naturephotography #travelgram #aroundtheworld #fotkakazdyden
Adventure Activities: Ice Cave tour| Glacier Hike | Snowmobiling| Snorkeling | Whale watching
Iceland is perfect for the adventure traveller. The best part is that you can indulge in these experiences right from the city. There are guided tours and groups that leave from the city.
On to the glacier
You can visit a Natural ice cave under the Katla volcano at the Myrdalsjokull glacier or a manmade Ice cave at the Langjokull. Interestingly, both can be clubbed with snowmobile tours. Meanwhile, the crystal ice cave tour in Vatnajokull is purely a winter phenomenon and is NOT a day trip from Reykjavik.
Snorkeling and water cruises
How about snorkelling in a continental rift, where you can see both the continental plates underwater? Not just that but the visibility in the Silfra Fissure and the richness of the aquatic life is reason enough to go. During winters (September-March) you can also go on Northern Lights chasing tours on jeeps or on a cruise in the harbour. All this can be done on day trips from Reykjavik.
View this post on Instagram
Le bout du tunnel 🙌🏻 • Il y a un mois, je décidais de partager une photo par jour sur mon compte 30 photos plus tard, je réalise que c’est déjà la fin 🤯 Malgré une certaine dose de stress pour arriver à éditer comme je veux une photo j’y ai pris goût car c’est une mega dose de kiff de lire vos commentaires. On ne va pas se le cacher, cela permet aussi de distiller les contenus sponsorisés et aussi de vous proposer des photos diversifiées. Maintenant, la question c’est : Est-ce que je continue ? Je ne veux pas me forcer, je veux garder une certaine qualité et non céder à la quantité mais j’ai envie de vous partager toujours plus de contenus… Vous en pensez quoi vous ? 🧐 P.S : Petit coucou à @localicelander Qui nous a emmené voir ces #IceCave ! Une visite où il n’y avait pas de touriste : un gros kiff 🔥 • Shot by @ryadoug W/ @sonyalpha #A7RII & #SEL1635GM #AlphaPro #SonyAlpha • #OnePicADay #Iceland #iceland🇮🇸 #icecaves #icecaveiceland #icelandscape #icelandtravel #icelandic #icelandadvice #ice #travelblogger #travelphotography #travelguide #traveller #travelbag #travel_captures
Boutique Stay experiences from Reykjavik
While I didn’t get a chance to experience any of these, but we do send our travellers at The Blueberry Trails to have these stay experiences which are a few hour’s drive away from the city. We recommend overnight stays in these, so they don’t technically qualify as a day trip.
Glass Igloos and lodges
Theme based hotels
Ion Adventure hotel lies brooding amidst a lava field in Nesjavellir, near Selfoss. Hotel Rangaa near Hella delves in rustic luxury and is the only 4-star hotel in South Iceland currently. It has a stargazing observatory on site.
For those who want to soak in the Blue Lagoon experience with a luxurious stay, you have the choice of an overnight stay at the Silica Hotel. It offers complimentary entrance to the geothermal spa too.
View this post on Instagram
Bookings for the period after February 2020 will open up this summer (latest end of July). We’re just waiting for our new booking system and new website to launch 👍. If you subscribe to our mailing list on our website you’ll be informed straight away when bookings go live. Please note, everything’s booked out all other months until February already. 📷: @cabanasefogo . . . #panoramaglasslodge #cabinlove #roomwithaview #bedwithaview
So much to see and so much to do from the capital city that it can be a tad overwhelming and too much to do on one trip. I feel that Iceland is a country that needs more than just one visit. It has a distinct summer and winter persona and you should come here at least twice in your life to experience the two shades that the country has to offer.