Budget airlines are making it much easier and affordable to take a short break to Iceland. As such, many visitors are basing themselves in the capital and taking day trips from Reykjavik to experience Iceland’s beautiful landscapes.
However, there is so much to do near Reykjavik that deciding which Iceland day trip to take, can be a little overwhelming.
So I decided to ask my fellow travel writers about their own favourite day tours from Reykjavik to help you decide which to take!
The Blue Lagoon and The Golden Circle may seem like the most obvious choices for a day trip from Reykjavik given their proximity and popularity. However, there are some incredible options you may never have heard of or considered so hopefully this article will give you plenty of Iceland inspiration and help you plan a few days in Reykjavik!
For more help planning a trip to Iceland, you may want to also take a look at these articles;
- The Golden Circle Self Drive itinerary (with map)
- Iceland Ring Road Itinerary (8 days)
- Iceland Budget Guide (including how much I spent in 8 days)
- Iceland Hostels Guide
Many of the trips from Reykjavik listed in this article can be done independently by hiring a car and driving yourself. I hired my car with AutoEurope and I saved heaps of money by getting my car insurance separately with Icarhireinsurance.
However many prefer the ease and convenience of a guided tour. In this case, I would recommend Get Your Guide for booking tours. You should know that day trips in Iceland are NOT cheap. However, you will have some once in a lifetime experiences under your belts to tell the grandkids about in years to come…
A little heads up, this article contains some affiliate links. That basically means if you purchase through these links, I will gain a small commission at no extra cost to yourself. This helps towards the running costs of this website. Thanks so much for supporting this blog.
So now I’ll hand you over to some travel experts and get their recommendations for day tours from Reykjavik which they personally loved.
What you can expect from this article...
- 1 The best day trips from Reykjavik recommended by travel writers…
- 1.1 Inside The Volcano Tour, Thrihnukagigur
- 1.2 Snorkelling in the Silfra Fissure, between two tectonic plates
- 1.3 Solheimajokull Glacier Hike
- 1.4 Solheimajokull Glacier Ice Climbing
- 1.5 The Golden Circle
- 1.6 Take a Helicopter Ride in Iceland
- 1.7 The Blue Lagoon
- 1.8 Whale Watching from Reykjavik
- 1.9 Fontana Spa
- 1.10 Take A Viking Sushi Boat Trip
- 1.11 Visit Langjokull Glacier
- 1.12 Visit Iceland’s Diamond Circle
- 1.13 Visit The Beautiful Snaefellsness Peninsula
- 1.14 Diamond Beach and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
- 1.15 Go Horse Riding in Iceland
- 1.16 Other Trips you also should consider include…
- 2 Things To Pack for Exploring Iceland
- 3 Other Iceland Planning Resources
The best day trips from Reykjavik recommended by travel writers…
Inside The Volcano Tour, Thrihnukagigur
By Jennifer and Tim of Luxe Adventure traveler
Thrihnukagigur, a dormant volcano that last erupted more than 4000 years ago, lies just 15 miles from Reykjavik. It’s the only place on the planet that you can actually descend into the magma chamber of a dormant volcano.
Jennifer and Tim, the couple behind Luxe Adventure Traveler, lived in Iceland and say it’s one of the most unique things you can do on a day trip in Iceland.
The Inside the Volcano experience begins with an often windy hike across a lava field in Iceland’s Highlands to the Into the Volcano base camp, where you’re then suited up with a safety harness and helmet in preparation for descending into the volcano.
A type of elevator that is more like a window washer’s basket lowers you 120 meters to the floor of the magma chamber, past a rainbow of colours of golds and reds streaking the volcano’s walls. It’s impossible not to be in awe of the chamber where hot magma once bubbled and carved out this massive mountain cavern.
Click HERE to see prices and availability for an ‘Into the Volcano’ tour.
Snorkelling in the Silfra Fissure, between two tectonic plates
By Patrick Horsfield of Adventographer
One thing I never expected to be doing when I visited Iceland was snorkelling. It’s something I usually reserve for more… well… temperate destinations, but when I came across images of snorkelling Silfra Fissure during my planning for the trip I knew we had to go.
Here, In Þingvellir National Park the earth’s tectonic plates are slowly tearing Iceland in two. it is the only place in the world where you can (reasonably) swim through the no-mans-land between the continents, what an experience!
Geared up in Dry-suits (the water is consistently cold at 2C) we lazily floated through the crystal clear water, Europe to the left and North America to the right. The fissure ranges from only 1m deep in some places to well over 40m in others and can feel akin to soaring over a bottomless pit.
With all your gear and transportation included, snorkelling in the Silfra Fissure is one of the best day trips from Reykjavik!
Solheimajokull Glacier Hike
By Marta of Learning Escapes.
The most memorable tour from Reykjavik we took during our last stay in Iceland was a glacier hike on Solheimajokull glacier. Located in between Reykjavik and Vik, in South Iceland, Solheimajokull is popular with day-trippers because it offers breathtaking views without being particularly challenging to access.
I got there on a bright February afternoon and the first thing that caught my eye was the impressive lagoon at the bottom of the glacier. The lagoon forms a vast basin of water and what is beautiful about it are the many icebergs dotting its surface.
The contrast between the white of the ice and the black rocks of the mountains around is a peculiarity of Iceland and our guide did not fail to notice that it looked like Mars! Indeed, there is something otherworldly about this place.
To access the hike you need a guide and some special gear, both available for hire at the base of the glacier. The gear includes ice crampons, a helmet, a pick and a harness for extra safety. The hike lasts a few hours and is suitable for all levels of fitness.
The view from the top over the lagoon and valley is indeed special and was the highlight of our trip!
Click HERE for prices and availability for a Solheimajokull glacier hike.
Solheimajokull Glacier Ice Climbing
By Tim Kroeger of Universal Traveller
One of the best day trips from Reykjavik is the Glacier Walk and Ice Climbing Tour at Sólheimajökull glacier in the south of Iceland.
I did the tour with Troll Expeditions. Meeting point is the parking lot at Sólheimajökull. This means you have to organise your own transportation from Reykjavik. I rented a car for the 160 km drive. I recommend departing early as the weather can change quickly in Iceland and you may not arrive in time.
The tour starts at 12 or 1 PM depending on the season and includes an experienced glacier guide, safety gear such as Harness, Ice Axe, Carabiners and Crampons as well as Glacier boots.
Our guide was really professional and ensured the safety of the group at any time. Before we started climbing we walked up the glacier and our guide explained us a lot about the glaciers in Iceland and the impact of global warming.
Once we arrived at the climbing spot our guide prepared the route and the equipment and explained to us how to use the ice axe.
Rock climbing is already really cool but climbing an ice wall is an indescribable experience. Definitely, a Must-Do when you are in Iceland.
Click HERE to check prices and availability for ice climbing in Iceland.
The Golden Circle
By Keri of Little City Trips
A visit to the Golden Circle is one of the most popular day trips from Reykjavik and with good reason! The circle is a route covering about 300 kilometres: it starts from just outside Reykjavik and touches many Icelandic attractions before looping back to Reykjavik city.
The circle can be visited in all seasons and you can chose between self-driving and one of the very many guided tours available in the area. We visited Iceland in winter and, scared of the road, conditions, booked a tour.
The Golden Circle has some popular stops that showcase some of Iceland’s beautiful nature and help you tap into the country’s history. Having a guide proved invaluable for us as it allowed us to learn facts about the country we would have otherwise missed.
Highlights of the tour were a stop in Thingvellir National park, where you can see where the tectonic plaques of Europe and America meet (incredible!), the famous Gullfoss waterfall and of course geyser.
This last stop in particular is an impressive one: the geyser is not large in size but it explodes regularly, making it quite an exciting stop for travellers of all ages!
Click HERE to see prices and availability of tours to The Golden Circle.
Take a Helicopter Ride in Iceland
By Amy of Oceans to Alpines
Iceland is a beautiful country with so much to see. There are numerous options and places to visit, which if short on time can be stressful and challenging.
A great day tour from Reykjavik to accomplish a visit to numerous locations in a short amount of time is by taking a helicopter ride! The Fire and Ice Helicopter tour allows you to land at two popular natural formations in Iceland: Þórisjökull and Hengill thermal area.
The helicopter will land in a clearing and you will have the opportunity to walk around on the “ice” – the glacier – and then around the “fire” which is the thermal area!
Yourself and the at most four other people, will be the only ones at the location at the time of the landing making it a private tour.
Additionally, you will fly over two other popular locations: the Silfra fissure, and then the highest waterfall of Iceland – Glymur.
Overall, this helicopter tour will give you breathtaking views of the famous Icelandic landscape making it a must-do day trip from Reykjavik.
Click HERE to check prices and availability for helicopter tours from Reykjavik.
The Blue Lagoon
By Lizzie of Wanderlust and Life.
For us, one of the best day trips from Reykjavik has to be a trip to the Blue Lagoon.
The Blue Lagoon is located about a 45-minute drive from Reykjavik, but if you don’t have your own car, you can book a bus tour instead.
The Lagoon itself is actually man-made which we were shocked about and the temperature is generally 37 – 40 degrees Celsius. I
f you do plan on visiting, you really do need to book in advance, as there is a limit on how many people can use it, and there are set entrance times.
You probably need a good few hours there to just relax and take it all in. You can book massages and other treatments and there is also a restaurant in case you want to eat.
Even though the Blue Lagoon is really touristy we loved it. We visited in winter, and it is such a magical experience from the moment the cold air hits your face, but then is pleasantly soothed as you slowly submerge yourself in the steamy blue water.
The Blue Lagoon was definitely a bucket list experience and we would highly recommend it to anyone looking to do a day trip from Reykjavik.
Click HERE for tickets to The Blue Lagoon. Always book weeks in advance as it sells out quickly. I had to rearrange my plans when I tried booking 2 weeks before as the time slots I needed had gone!
Whale Watching from Reykjavik
By Sherrie of Travel by a Sherrie Affair
If you are staying in the old section of Reykjavik you can pretty much just take a walk down to the harbour and pick a whale watching tour. It is one of the best day trips in Reykjavik. But you should book ahead of time to get the exact schedule that fits your itinerary.
You can choose from small speedier boats or larger vessels. The smaller boats have more speed which can be important if there are any sightings that are at a fair distance, they will, of course, get there faster.
However, the drawback for these boats, of course, you feel more of the movement. If you are not used to boats this could be a problem for you. The larger boats move a little slower but can be a more comfortable ride.
The tour boat we used, one of the larger boats, had sea sickness pills available to any who felt they could become sick. I did not hesitate! The boats are comfortable with seating upstairs and downstairs. Food, drink and restrooms are also available.
Iceland can be chilly on the water no matter what time of year and you will be out there for 2-3 hours; therefore, it is important to be prepared with proper clothing. Some tours provide overalls are if you need them.
Whale watching is available all year long with the peak season being in the summer months. It is very likely you will see either whales (Minke, Fin, Humpback, Sperm and more), dolphins or porpoise’s anytime you go. Don’t forget your camera and extra batteries for all your photo opportunities.
No whales for us, but still enjoyed our day trip! The dolphins put on a great show for everyone and seeing the children on board really enjoying them made this excursion even more special.
Click HERE for price and availability of Whale watching tours in Reykjavik. Make sure you book in advance in peak season to avoid disappointment!
By Laura from The Mamma Fairy
Fontana thermal Spa is located along the Golden Circle route between Thingvellir National Park and Geysir. This makes it the ideal location to stop along the way for some lunch and a nice long soak in the thermal pools or sauna or for those braver a dip in the ice cold lake.
However, Fontana to our surprise is far more than thermal pools.
There is an onsite cafe with serving a very tasty buffet lunch and really interestingly a geothermal bakery. There are tours twice a day where the bread is baked underground for 24 hours in the natural heat of the hot springs. My mouth is watering just thinking of the bread. Quite honestly the tastiest bread I have ever eaten.
We visited Fontana as a party of 2 adults and 2 kids ages 3 and 6 and all enjoyed the wonderful experience. The food was tasty, the facilities clean and welcoming and the thermals pools were not crazy busy. Location wise this is the perfect stop for lunch and a relaxing dip before you embark on your journey along the breathtaking Golden Circle.
Click HERE to see prices and availability for tours to Fontana Spa.
Take A Viking Sushi Boat Trip
By Kavita Favelle of Kavey Eats
If you are happy to hire a rental car and self-drive in Iceland, a great excursion from Reykjavik is to visit Stykkisholmur harbour in North West Iceland during the summer to head out on a Viking Sushi boat trip with Seatours.
The drive is about two hours each way. The boat trip we chose lasted 1 hour 20 mins and cost 5,025 ISK per person (about £25).
The first part of the boat trip takes you out to small local islands rich in bird life. You’ll be regaled with stories of local legends about trolls and locals.
Next, the crew lowers a net into the sea and moments later, it’s winched back up and emptied of its bounty of scallops and sea urchins. Guests are invited to enjoy fresh raw seafood, sweet and slippery, with soy sauce available if you like. Delicious!
Click HERE for prices & availability of the Viking Sushi Boat Trip!
Visit Langjokull Glacier
By Emily of Kids and Compass
Langjokull glacier makes a great day trip from Reykjavik. It’s Iceland’s second largest glacier at over 30 miles long, and the ice is nearly 600m deep at its thickest point; it’s an impressive place! The meltwater from this enormous glacier feeds the waterfalls on the nearby Golden Circle route, including the mighty Gulfoss.
From Reykjavik, it’ll take you about two hours to drive to the foot of the glacier at Hotel Husafell on easy roads. While you can choose traditional glacier activities when you arrive, such as snowmobiling, Langjokull is probably most famous for its man-made Ice Cave.
You can take a tour of the cave from Hotel Husafell. Board a monster truck which drives you to the mouth of the cave, where you’ll don waterproof suits and crampons before descending into the glacier.
Inside, the ice walls almost seems to glow blue, and you can walk through tunnels and around several chambers including a chapel (yes, you can get married here too!). If you’re lucky your guide will sing to you to demonstrate the fantastic acoustics.
This is something that you can’t do anywhere else in Iceland; definitely recommended!
Click HERE for prices & availability of tours into the Ice Cave at Langjokull
Visit Iceland’s Diamond Circle
By Priya Vin of Outside Suburbia
You hear a lot about Iceland’s Golden Circle but you don’t hear much about Iceland’s Diamond Circle which covers the lesser known route of Godafoss, Lake Myvatn and the most powerful waterfall in Europe, Dettifoss in North Iceland.
When we were in Iceland we wanted to go north but we were on a time crunch and didn’t think we would make the drive all the way up North. So we decided to do a tour with Air Iceland on their Grand tour of Northern Iceland, which covers the Best of North Iceland.
You can visit the beautiful Lake Myvatn area, Godafoss, Akureyri, Fumarole fields of Hverarond, Asbyrgi, Husavik and other areas on this packed day trip from Reykjavík.
Catch an early morning flight at the domestic airport in Reykjavík for a short 40-minute flight to Akureyri where the North Iceland tour starts. After enjoying lunch and all the sightseeing, you will be dropped off at the airport around 18.15 in the evening to catch the flight back to Reykjavik.
Click HERE for prices and availability of Diamond Circle Tours
Visit The Beautiful Snaefellsness Peninsula
By Allison Green of Eternal Arrival
If you are planning a trip to Reykjavik you’re in luck as there are a ton of great Reykjavik day trips out there! One of the best (long) day trips you can do is to visit the Snæfellsnes peninsula in Western Iceland.
There is so much to see on this tiny peninsula that it has gotten the nickname “Iceland in miniature!” On this peninsula you will find black sand beaches at Djúpalónssandur, stunning waterfalls with mountain backdrops at Kirkjufellsfoss, a black church at Búðir, basalt stacks at Arnarstapi, glaciers at Sn Snæfellsjökull National Park, and lava caves at Vatnshellir.
Now you can see why it has that nickname!
My favourite places in the Snæfellsnes peninsula are definitely Kirkjufellsfoss (it’s famous for a reason!) and the beautiful red church against the sea in Hellnar.
You can easily self-drive Snæfellsnes peninsula if you have rented a car or opt for a day trip if you’d rather not drive. Most day tours will bring you easily around all the highlights before bringing you home to Reykjavik late in the evening, taking about 12 hours.
Click HERE for prices and availability of day trips to Snaefellsness peninsula
Diamond Beach and Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon.
By Julianna of The Discoveries of
I’ve travelled in Iceland a couple of times, yet few places captured my imagination in quite the same way as Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and the nearby Diamond Beach.
The lagoon is one of the most spectacular sights in Iceland – a deep lake (Iceland’s deepest in fact) upon which icebergs float serenely, ranging in colour from glacial white to a brilliant blue with a few streaks of black and brown thrown in for good measure.
It’s simply spectacular: the icebergs vary in shape and size, looking more like deliberate pieces of art than anything formed by nature. We hiked around different parts of the lagoon, looking out at kilometre after kilometre of this surreal landscape – everything eerily silent apart from the occasional roar as an iceberg split and splashed into the water.
Diamond Beach is a short walk away. It’s one of Iceland’s incredible beaches – famous because of the stark contrast between the inky black sand and the so-called “diamonds”. These are parts of icebergs that have washed out to sea from the lagoon and been brought onto the beach by the tide.
Visiting on a day trip from Reykjavik makes for a relatively long day, but it’s totally worth the effort.
Click HERE for prices and availability of tours to Jokulsarlon and Diamond Beach.
Go Horse Riding in Iceland
By Luke & Meagan of Two Restless Homebodies
When you drive the Golden Circle, you’ll see hardy Icelandic horses roaming nearly every pasture. They’re stocky, VERY fluffy in the winter and, because they have no natural predators, they’re extremely confident.
We had fun walking up to fences and canoodling with the horses that approached us, looking for snacks. And then, we actually got to ride these adorable and very special horses by booking an excursion with Islenski Hesturinn, a reputable stable just outside Reykjavik.
Our ride was gentle and good for riders of any level, and because we went in the winter, we got to ride through volcanic fields covered in a very peaceful layer of snow. It was nothing short of magical to ride up on a hill overlooking the city below as snow fell and the sun started to sink.
We also got to experience the tolt, the fifth gait unique to many Icelandic horses. It sits right between a trot and a canter and is a smooth, fast, ground-covering gait that’s a pleasure to experience.
If you’re a horse person, or if you just want to see Iceland from a slightly different perspective, this is 100% the way to do it. It’s truly one of the best trips from Reykjavik that we can imagine!
Click HERE to see prices and availability of horse riding tours in Iceland
There are some brilliant ideas here for day trips both to iconic Iceland locations and to the more ‘off the beaten track’ destinations. There are so many trips you can take in this area so Reykjavik is a great city to base yourself in.
Other Trips you also should consider include…
- A Northern Lights Tour. You won’t get to see much of the Northern Lights whilst in the city but a Northern Lights tour will take you to the best places with the lowest cloud cover and the prettiest back-drop to see this natural spectacle which many visit Iceland to witness. This particular trip offers the chance to return again for free another night if you do not manage to see the Northern Lights the first time around.
- Explore a natural Ice Cave. This is only available in Winter Months as its too dangerous in the summer when the ice is melting. The scenery here is stunning!
- Go snowmobiling. I did this when I was in Borovets in Bulgaria and it is SO much fun! I’ll definitely be looking into doing this when I return to Iceland in Winter!
- Take a Game of Thrones Tour. When you visit Iceland and see the incredible scenery, it’ll be no surprise to you that some of The Game of Thrones was filmed here. If you love the films, you should definitely take a film location tour!
- Go Sea Fishing. If you like fishing then you’ll love trying your hand at sea fishing in Iceland where fishing is one of the main industries.
- Visit South Iceland. Some of the best scenery in Iceland is a few hours South Of Iceland and is easily visited on a day trip. Walk behind the stunning waterfall at Seljelandsfoss, visit black sand beaches and see the impressive Skogafoss!
If you are travelling as a family and looking for trips to keep the little ones amused, then read more about seeing Reykjavik with kids.
Things To Pack for Exploring Iceland
Remember the weather is unpredictable in Iceland. You can expect snow storms, sand storms, wind rain and hail and beautiful sunshine all in the same day so you need to pack accordingly. Pack plenty of warm layers and lots of waterproof clothes! As well as a good camera for travel photography, here are a few things you will definitely need…
Other Iceland Planning Resources
I’ve written several Iceland planning articles you may find useful;
• Iceland Budget Guide (including how much I spent in 8 days)
I hope you’ve found this article useful and that you’ve found some day trips from Reykjavik to book onto. Remember always book well in advance if you are travelling in the high season as tours get booked out quickly. I would plan to book your Iceland activities at least 2-3 weeks before you travel.
As always, I absolutely love hearing from you! Are you planning to go on any of these trips? Have you been? Do you just want a moan about how expensive Iceland is?! Please feel free to drop a comment below and I’ll reply as soon as I can.
If you’re feeling super generous please share this article with your family and friends on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. I’ve created some handy pins for Pinterest below so that you can come back to this article later!
Over the past 16 years of travel, I’ve picked up a few tips about how to plan my trip with ease and save a few pennies. Below are the resources which I personally use and recommend!
For flights, I love Skyscanner. I always find the best deals there and the ‘search everywhere’ option is great for inspiration.
For day trips, my preference is to use Get Your Guide. If you’re looking for longer trips or group tours then my absolute fave company is G Adventures. Other companies I recommend are Intrepid Travel, Dragoman and Tour Radar.
For renting cars, I use Europcar – hassle-free!
And for insurance – please don’t travel without it – try Nomads!
For more Iceland Tips, consider following my Iceland Travel Board on Pinterest. It’s packed full of useful articles I’ve found that have inspired my own Iceland trip. You can check it out by clicking HERE or by clicking the photo below.