Only have 3-4 days in Iceland? If traveling to Iceland for the very first time the options of activities and tours can easily become overwhelming. You could spend weeks in Iceland, without running out of things to do or see. So what are the must-see places for those on a short visit? How do you get it all in? We have come up with a three day itinerary, perfect for solo travellers and families alike who choose to base themselves out of Reykjavík.
DAY 1 OF 3 DAYS IN ICELAND
Plan on flying in the night before so you have 3 full days in Iceland. The Golden circle region, although considered popular, should not be missed by anyone. The area is loved by locals and visitors alike with its rich history, powerful waterfalls, geothermal pools, geysers, separating continental plates and delicious food production all on Reykjavík’s doorstep. On our Golden Circle: Platinum tour we start at the Secret Lagoon to bathe in Iceland’s oldest hot pool built in 1891. We arrive here just after opening and before the crowds. The perfect relaxing start to the morning. It’s a short drive to lunch at Friðheimar Tomato Greenhouse, famous for their tomato soup and homemade bread. After lunch we make our way to the three main sights within this famed area. The jewel of the area, the mighty Gullfoss waterfall is first. Next is the ever erupting geysers of the Geysir geothermal area. We finish the day at the idyllic Þingvellir National Park. The late afternoons are devoid of crowds and perfect for the short walks the area offers. You’ll be returning back to Reykjavík just in time for dinner.
Learn more about the Golden Circle: Platinum tour here.
DAY 2 OF 3 DAYS IN ICELAND
The south coast of Iceland has some of Iceland’s quintessential sights. Enormous and vivid blue glaciers, thunderous waterfalls, volcanic black beaches and infamous volcanoes. The south coast really has it all, and you can experience it all in one unforgettable day. On the South Coast: Fire & Ice tour we start the day by walking along the valley towards a viewpoint to the Sólheimajökull glacier for great view. This is a wonderful walk as well as a great educational part of the day. We then visit the volcanic black sands of Reynisfjara Beach. Once we arrive at the picturesque town of Vík we are treated to the world’s only indoor Lava Show with real re-melted lava pouring mere metres from your face. Don’t worry, it’s very safe. From here we start to make our way back west to Reykjavík, but not before a couple more famous sights. We still are yet to visit the mighty Skógafoss waterfall, the flow of this 60 metre cascade hypnotising in its power. Our final stop is the ever popular Seljalandsfoss waterfall. Being able to walk right around behind this fall makes it everyone’s favorite.
Learn more about the South Coast: Fire & Ice tour here.
DAY 3 OF 3 DAYS IN ICELAND
Snæfellsnes peninsula to the northwest of Reykjavík has some of the best sights on it’s 100 km long peninsula. The beauty and mystique of this area has inspired world famous novels and enchants every visitor. Sparkling fjords, dramatic sea cliffs, glacier capped volcanoes and endless lava fields. This area really has it all. The communities on Snæfellsnes peninsula were the first in Europe to receive certification from Green Globe for sustainable travel and tourism. I can go on and on about this stunning area.
It’s a full day trip with it’s first stop being Selvallavatn. This short stop provides a lookout over the incredible mountain range, lava field and lake. Hidden away is a stunning small waterfall. From here it is only a short drive into the charming fishing town of Stykkishólmur. Here we have lunch at Narfeyrarstofa who make the most out of the local produce and seafood available in the cosiest of settings. After lunch it’s on to Kirkjufell mountain famous for it’s appearance in Game of Thrones and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall. Next up is the black beach of Djúpalónssandur. Walking through the where the small gorge and lava fields past the mineral water pool to reach the beach feels like a fairytale. From here we start to see the enormous and powerful Snæfellsnjökull volcano who will dominate the skyline for the remaining drive. Our penultimate stop is Arnarstapi, a small fishing village sitting on the edge of dramatic sea cliffs with it’s vivid birdlife. It’s only a short drive to the enchanting Búðarkirkja black church. The stunning backdrop of lava fields, coastline and mountains makes it the perfect stop to watch the sun set on a fantastic day.
Learn more about the Snæfellsnes Peninsula tour here. Do plan on a late flight from KEF airport as this trip goes until dinner time.
ALTERNATIVES… DAY 2 & 3 OF 3 DAYS IN ICELAND
JÖKULSÁRLÓN GLACIER LAGOON 2 DAY TOUR
If you aren’t bound to staying in Reykjavik then you should definitely consider an overnight trip. You could swap out the South Coast: Fire & Ice and the Snæfellsnes day tours, adding in our Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon 2 Day tour. This one allows you to explore the entire south coast. You’ll witness the unbelievable iceberg filled glacier lagoon and ice covered Diamond Beach. Get up close to spectacular glaciers. In summer hiking up to the ice fall, or in winter going inside an ice cave. You’ll stay overnight in a secluded modern guesthouse that is perfect for spotting the northern lights. In summer you’ll get the midnight sun lighting up the glaciers and lambs roaming the fields. This 2 Days really is the ultimate adventure in Iceland.
Hopefully this gave you a good overview of the areas worth the visit on a short three day stopover to Iceland. The trips mentioned run all year round and these places can be appreciated no matter the season or weather. Just pack your warm layers if you do come during the colder months! These three days in Iceland should have you ticking the boxes of your bucket list all day long and filling up the memory card on your camera.
Hi I’m Dagný Björg, a twenty-something Reykjavík-dweller, mother, designer and freelance journalist who loves getting lost in nature, coffee and easy Sunday mornings.