Best Day Trips in Iceland From Reykjavik
Here's a short video my husband put together in Iceland.
So, Why Iceland?
My husband and I recently went to Iceland to celebrate my 28th birthday in August. I wanted to do something different and was on a mission to find a place to get in touch with nature. As I narrow down my choices of places, Iceland was the final choice.
Iceland is a Nordic island nation that is defined by its dramatic landscape with geysers, hot spring, lava fields and volcanoes. Massive glaciers are protected by Vatnajökull and Snæfellsjökull national parks. It is a country of sharp contrasts. A place where fire and ice co-exist. Most of the population lives in Reykjavik, which is the capital of Iceland that runs on geothermal power and is home to tracing Iceland's Viking history.
Planning The Trip
I booked our trip to Iceland last May and planned the trip exactly on my birthday. Although some people book a trip separately, I found a pretty good deal and was able to book the flight and the hotel together in a really good price compared to other prices that I've seen. Even though we weren't able to see the northern lights due to it was summer time in Iceland, we were able to explore so much of what the country has to offer without being covered in snow. The best part was, the sun only sets for around 3 hours per day and there is effectively light for the whole 24 hour period.
Why Rent A Car?
In my full honest opinion, I believe the best thing to do when in Iceland is to rent your own vehicle and be your own tour guide. Even though you will still need to hire a professional or book a tour if you plan to swim between the continents, snowmobile, or if you plan to hike/climb the glaciers, I think everything else you can explore and do on your own. Just make sure to read up about the places you want to see and things that you will need to bring along during your trip. I can't never say this enough, but knowledge is power and it's better to know what to expect when going to unfamiliar places. The freedom of having your own car allows you to explore outside of the main city of Reykjavik. Though Reykjavik has plenty of activities to do, the rest of the country is filled with breathtaking views just waiting to be seen.
You get to see random cute animals on the side of the road just like this one!
Jaw dropping scenery and back drops.
Driving around the coast and the small fishing villages become much more memorable.
Random stops on the side of the road when you see something so beautiful!
What more can I say?
During our trip, I found waterproof hiking shoes, water proof pants, and water proof jacket to be the most helpful. I also recommend to bring lots of water, toilet paper, snacks, and a towel during your road trip because you never know when you're going to need it. It is also important to fill your gas tank every chance you get because it's better to be safe than sorry since there are not that many gas stations around.
To find out more about what to bring in Iceland in the summer, click here.
Our Day Trips In Iceland
We flew and stayed in Rekjavik, a population of 332,000 in 2016. For Houston with a population of being in the millions, it was a lot more calmer and quieter in Reykjavik. Life seemed simpler and less stressful. It's not as demanding compare to many major cities in the world. Everyone that we met were very helpful and nice. When we bought water bottles to bring along with us during our road trip, many locals told us that their water from that sink is very safe and very clean and probably one of the cleanest water in the world. They were concern about the amount of money we spent on water when we could have gotten it for free. We found this very touching knowing everything in Iceland is pricey.
DAY ONE: BLUE LAGOON Upon arriving, the first thing we did was to visit the famous Blue Lagoon. I highly recommend that you book your reservation in advance to skip the line and in case they turn you away due to the place being so packed and full. We booked directly from their website before our trip. Also, make sure you put conditioner on your hair before getting in the water. We also made a reservation at the LAVA Restaurant to finally have my birthday dinner celebration. It was pretty tasty!
DAY TWO: A trip in Iceland wouldn't be enough without taking a trip to the South.
Best places to see?
Seljalandsfoss - a waterfall that you will be able to see while cruising down the ring road that drops 60m down from a cliff. The best part is you can walk behind the waterfall to see a different perspective. Get ready to get wet!
Skogafoss - located in the town of Skogar. This waterfall is simply breathtaking. There's also a wooden pathway that you can hike up for great views of the coast and the waterfall.
Dyrhólaey & Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach (Vik)- a truly unique sight. The perfect place to spot see puffins! Iceland is also known for their famous basalt stacks that sticks out of the ocean and the black sand beach. Do not forget Hálsanefshellir, a sight not to be missed.
Jokulsarlon or Solheimajokull Glacier - depends with your choice and the time you have. Most ice climbing that we saw were in Solheimajokull. But these places are not to be missed. The icebergs floating in the lagoon is breathtaking.
DAY THREE: SNAEFFELLSNES PENINSULA AND THE GEMS ALONG THE WAY On our third day, we decided to visit Snaeffellsnes Peninsula. Another great day trip from Reykjavik. If you're a fan of Game of Thrones like me, they shot part of the "North of the wall" scene here. It has all of the beautiful landscapes of Iceland combined in one small region. During this drive, we also stopped by to check out a few gorgeous spots such as the few beautiful waterfalls and the view of the coast.
Beautiful Kirkjufell. There's a rainbow after the storm.. yep thats a real rainbow. no gold found at the end of the rainbow though...
Londrangar, Hellnar, many Snafellsbaer waterfalls, Arnarstapi hiking, the coast in general and many more! While driving, you will see a good amount of stunning waterfalls on the side of the mountains. So much more especially when it was raining.
hubby was a little nervous taking this picture of me. LOL
DAY FOUR: GLYMUR & REYKJADALUR Hiking and waterfalls, how perfect does that sound? The hike to Glymur will bring you to the second largest waterfall in Iceland. It's a great day trip because it's very close to Reykjavik. On your way to Glymur, you will also witness the most beautiful scenic view of Hvalfjordur.
I HIGHLY recommend the right hiking shoes. It can be very slippery and dangerous. It was also raining when we hiked up so it made it extra slippery for us. We also took the shorter route because I just wanted to get up there already. Don't worry, theres an easier longer route that wouldn't be as difficult. I think the whole time we were hiking, my husband kept telling me to slow down. I swear, I'm not trying to rush when I hike. I just really walk fast when I know Im on a mission. I also believe doing lots of inclined workouts helped me get through. I don't even remember the last time I felt sore on any of the hikes I've done. If you are an active soul, kudos to you! Just make sure to be cautious at all times.
If you are into hot springs, Reykjadalur is the spot for you. This was something we just added in our list and totally was a bit out of the way. But since we completed Glymur in half a day, we had plenty of time to explore. We didn't get to swim around because I just didn't feel like taking off all the layers of clothing I have, but it was enough to see it in person. If you had plenty of time to kill, this is definitely a must.
DAY FIVE: GOLDEN CIRCLE & BRUARFOSS WATERFALL
Our first stop was the Golden Circle. The Golden Circle is probably the most visited sight in Iceland other than the Blue Lagoon. It has some of the most iconic plates in Iceland and the most convenient spot that is close to Reykjavik. You will find Þingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss here. This route is easily drivable in one day. I hardly took any photos here due to the crowd.
The next stop was Bruarfoss Waterfall. My husband's favorite waterfall due to its blue water. We kind of got lost looking for the waterfall because the navigation doesn't exactly take you to the spot so don't be afraid to ask around if you're lucky to find someone. It took us a good 15 minutes before we bumped into some people.
If you are someone who will need to watch something to understand direction, click here.
If you are someone who can easily read and follow direction, click here.
We were suppose to stay for another day to explore more of Iceland but due to Hurricane Harvey hitting our city, we were nervous and worried about our home and our family and friends. We were able to rebook our ticket for free and got to re-route to Dallas since Houston airport was closed until further notice during that time. Gladly, we came home with our house dry and our friends and family safe and sound. It was a horrible feeling being away during that time but I can't be anymore thankful and blessed coming home to what we did.
I had so much pictures and had to cut a few out but hope this helps! Iceland is definitely a place to put in your bucket list.