Waterfalls in front of a mountain peak under a blue sky

The Most Popular Day Trips From Reykjavík

Reykjavík, the capital city of Iceland, is a vibrant hub of culture, art, and history. However, beyond the city limits lies a world of natural wonders waiting to be explored. Day trips from Reykjavík offer an opportunity to immerse yourself in Iceland’s breathtaking landscapes, from majestic waterfalls and geothermal wonders to rugged coastlines and mystical glaciers.

Keep reading for the most popular day trips and attractions beyond the Icelandic capital, including hot springs, volcanic eruptions and even the meeting of tectonic plates.

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The Golden Circle

One of the most popular day trips from Reykjavík is the Golden Circle, a route that encompasses some of Iceland’s most iconic natural attractions.

Thingvellir (Þingvellir in Icelandic) National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the first stop. Here, visitors can witness the dramatic geological features of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. Popular activities include hiking and even snorkelling in the Silfra fissure where the plates meet. There’s more information about snorkelling in Silfra in our article Discover the Best Iceland Summer Activities.

Continuing along the Golden Circle route, travellers encounter the geothermal area of Geysir, home to the original geyser after which all others are named. The sight of Strokkur, a powerful hot spring that erupts approximately every 10 minutes, is a mesmerising display of nature’s forces.

After Geysir is Gullfoss, a majestic two-tiered waterfall that cascades into a deep canyon, creating a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. Depending on the tour you might also visit the Faxafoss and even the Selfoss waterfalls, which are smaller and less crowded with tourists. Further stops may include the ‘secret lagoon’ in Flúðir and the Kerið Crater, a volcanic crater Lake.

The Blue Lagoon

Just a short drive from Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa renowned for its soothing waters and stunning surroundings. Set in a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula, the lagoon’s milky-blue waters are rich in minerals, offering a rejuvenating experience for visitors. The spa’s unique setting, amidst a rugged and otherworldly landscape, creates a sense of tranquillity and relaxation unmatched by the spas in Reyjavík.

A visit to the Blue Lagoon is a rejuvenating escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Whether it’s soaking in the warm waters, indulging in a spa treatment, or enjoying the picturesque views, the Blue Lagoon offers an experience unrivalled by other destinations. You can find plenty more information by reading Planning a Day Trip to the Iceland Blue Lagoon from Reykjavík.

Exploring the South Coast

Venturing along Iceland’s South Coast from Reykjavík unveils a dramatic and diverse landscape that includes towering waterfalls, sprawling glaciers, and powerful volcanoes. The journey along the coast is adorned with natural wonders, such as the stunning Seljalandsfoss, a waterfall that visitors can walk behind for a unique perspective. Nearby, the impressive Skógafoss captivates with its thundering cascade, leaving an indelible impression on all who behold it.

Further along the journey, you’ll witness the imposing presence of Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull, two of Iceland’s most famous volcanoes. You’ll also stop by the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier, under which lies the Katla volcano.

The South Coast offers further opportunities to witness glaciers, such as Sólheimajökull and Vatnajökull. Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Europe, is also one of the most popular destinations for ice caving tours. For more information about glacier tours and ice caving, read our article Frozen Wonders: The Top Iceland Winter Activities.

South Coast day trips from Reykjavík usually go as far as Vík. The town is the southernmost settlement in Iceland, as is famous for its black sand beaches and iconic basalt sea stacks. You can stop for a break at one of the cafes, or even see a Lava Show.

a field of purple flowers under a blue sky with a church and snow capped mountains in the distance
Snæfellsjökull National Park

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula

For those seeking a more off-the-beaten-path experience, a day trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a magical journey that showcases Iceland’s diverse landscapes in a more compact area. The peninsula, home to Snæfellsjökull National Park, is often referred to as “Iceland in Miniature” due to its variety of natural features.

Exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula allows visitors to witness the otherworldly lava fields of Berserkjahraun, formed over 4000 years ago. Next, you’ll see the distinctive Kirkjufell Mountain, as well as the mystical landscapes of Djúpalónssandur black sand beach. Another popular stop is the more familiar looking golden sand beach of Ytri Tunga, famous for its seal colonies.

You’ll probably also stop at the Lóndrangar View Point, an observation deck overlooking the coast. Additionally, Arnarstapi, a quirky fishing village dating back to Viking times, is great for hiking and birdwatching. At the heart of the peninsula stands the iconic Snæfellsjökull, a glacier-capped stratovolcano. Despite the fact that he never actually visited Iceland, it apparently inspired Jules Verne’s novel ‘Journey to the Centre of the Earth.’

Planning Day Trips from Reykjavík

When planning day trips from Reykjavík, it’s essential to consider the logistics and time required for each excursion. Many tour operators offer guided day trips to these popular destinations, providing transportation and expert knowledge to enhance the experience.

You can book excursions from Reykjavík on sites like Viator, Get Your Guide and Tiqets; just make sure you research all the options. These trips are great for those who prefer a more structured approach, and can alleviate the stress of navigation. Guides also provide valuable insights into the history and significance of each attraction.

Alternatively, independent travellers can rent a car. It’s pretty easy to reach attractions outside of Reykjavík, as you can follow the well-marked routes. Make sure to compare prices on rental platforms like Discover Cars and Qeeq so that you get the best deal.

It’s advisable to check the weather forecast and road conditions before embarking on any day trip, as Iceland’s unpredictable climate and terrain require careful consideration. Be especially mindful during winter when conditions are most difficult.

Tips for a Safe and Enjoyable Experience

While exploring the beauty of Reykjavík’s surroundings, it’s important to prioritise safety and responsible travel practices. Weather in Iceland can change rapidly, so dressing in layers and carrying essential gear such as waterproof clothing and sturdy hiking boots is crucial.

It’s also advisable to carry a fully charged mobile phone, along with a portable charging device. If you’re planning on venturing into remote areas, make sure to bring a detailed map or GPS device, as well as emergency supplies.

Respecting the natural environment and adhering to designated paths and trails ensures the preservation of Iceland’s delicate ecosystems. Additionally, being mindful of wildlife and refraining from disturbing native flora and fauna contributes to sustainable tourism practices.

Finally, staying informed about local regulations and guidelines, such as restricted areas or seasonal closures, helps ensure a safe and respectful experience for both visitors and the environment.

If you require emergency assistance in Iceland, dial 112 to contact emergency services.


If you’ve gotten this far, you”ll now know that Reykjavík’s surroundings offer a multitude of day trip options. From the geological marvels of the Golden Circle to the tranquillity of the Blue Lagoon, each day trip presents a unique opportunity to connect with the country’s diverse landscapes.

Whether you decide on a guided tour or prefer to explore independently, Iceland will leave a lasting impression on all who venture beyond the limits of the capital.

CTA: Check out Booking.com for flights, hotels and activities in Iceland, and get more travel inspiration from our article Exploring Iceland: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Activities and Attractions.

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