If you’re visiting Iceland for more than 3 days, you’ll need to get out of Reykajvik.
It’s a nice enough city, but it’s a small city and there is so much to see and do in Iceland. Since the country is so small, you can make a number of day trips by taking a short flight within the country, taking a bus tour, or getting an Iceland car rental and driving yourself around.
I’ve been twice, I’d love to go back again. Here are 7 things you can do in Iceland when you get out of Reykjavik:
The volcano on the western nose of Iceland was inspiration for Jules Verne‘s Journey To The Centre Of The Earth. There are many dramatic valleys, cute harbour towns, and stark landscapes on this drive. Hiking to the top of the crater takes commitment, we just went for a very long drive around the point and back to town. Tip: make sure to stop in Grundarfjörður for a pylsur (an Icelandic hot dog). There’s a little shack outside the tourist bureau.
Iceberg Lagoon (Jökulsárlón)
This is a long day trip to do from Reykjavik (it’s nearly 400km away), but you can do it. Nearly 4 and a half hours southeast of the capital is Jökulsárlón, the iceberg lagoon. Chunks of ice calve from Breiðamerkurjökull and float about in this lake. If you’re doing the entire ring road (see below) this will be one of the highlights of your journey.
The most popular day trip out of Reykjavik is the Golden Circle Route. This gives you all the highlights of the beautiful landscape of the country. From geothermals to table mountains to wide craters to geysirs and waterfalls, it’s all here. Take a bus, or look at the itinerary and drive yourself. It’s an easy one to do, and an absolute must just to get all the checks off the list.
Drive The Ring Road
If you really and truly want to see it all, take 10 days and drive the Iceland Ring Road. All the glaciers, all the harbours, all the small towns, all the horses, all the very narrow winding roads. This needs to be on everyone’s bucket list.
There are many golf courses in and around Reykjavik and getting a game is easy. A little 9 on the east edge of town can be had at Seltjarnarnes. Some tours include a round at Golfklúbbur Suðurnesja (pictured above) along with a ride to the airport. If you really want a challenge, play at of the windiest courses in the world at Vestamnnaeyjar (see below).
Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar)
The eruption of Eldfell in 1973 took over nearly half the the main island in this archipelago. It’s a stark landscape to see the raw lava amidst the houses in town. A visit to Vestmannaeyjar is a quick flight from Reykjavik and gives you time to climb the lava fields, spy the puffin colonies on the cliffs, wander the town to dine on said puffin (one of my all time favourite meals), or perhaps even play a game of golf.
Another short flight away from Reykjavik is the town of Akureyri. Here I grabbed a bus tour that took me across wild fields of geothermal energy that looked positively Martian. The rocks are red, the earth is raw, the heat is steaming everywhere. Akureyri was also named The Best European Destination 2015 by Lonely Planet, and is a great place to get away from city lights to see the Northern Lights on the edge of the Arctic Circle.