Reykjavik is the little known capital city of seldom explored Iceland.
With thanks to budget airlines and a nationwide investment in tourism Iceland is now firmly on the bucket-lists of travellers the world over.
This enticing and enchanting city has a lot to explore, from Harpa to the Sun Voyager to the Hallgrimskirkja church there is a lot to keep you busy.
A small city compared to many, there is a whole other icy world lying outside Reykjavik that will see you connect with nature in a way you never have before.
Strap on the ice boots and pop on your wooly hat, it’s time to explore the best day trips from Reykjavik.
1. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon spa is one of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Europe.
Touted to be one of the most romantic places to spend a day on earth, the Blue Lagoon is a must-visit when in Reykjavik.
These thermal waters lie outside Reykjavik city centre and being so popular makes them very easily accessible.
A trip to the Blue Lagoon is the perfect way to relax and unwind, an ideal way to release the stress and tension that built up during your flight to Iceland.
The Blue Lagoon complex has a spa centre where you can book in for massages and other holistic treatments.
2. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Heading towards Iceland’s south coast and you will discover the hidden gem that is Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
This majestic, powerful waterfall is a prime example of Iceland’s untouched perfection and is not to be missed.
Easily one of the most picturesque, photogenic places you will ever visit, be prepared to be awestruck as you walk besides the powerful aquatic cascades of the Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
If you want to have a relaxed day then you can easily spend hours gazing at the beauty of Seljalandsfoss waterfall but if you think you’ll get a bit chilly standing in one place then team a visit to Seljalandsfoss waterfall with Hekla and Eyjafjallajökull volcanos.
Skógafoss is an impressive, powerful waterfall that lies on the Skóga River.
This single drop waterfall sees the river plummet, dramatically 60 m into the earth below and is an impressive 25m wide.
Skógafoss Waterfall is another must-visit when in Iceland and can be coupled with Seljalandsfoss Waterfall or perhaps Sólheimajökull for a more varied day.
Driving to Skógafoss is easy, the roads in Iceland make driving fun.
Skógafoss can be found a 148 km drive from Reykjavik.
There are countless look out spots and beautiful landscapes to pull over and take in along the way.
4. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
If you have a sense of adventure about you then a day trip from Reykjavik to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is the best decision you’ll make all vacation.
The Jökulsárlón Glacier is the largest glacier in Europe and is simply breathtaking to observe.
This glacial lagoon is covered with floating icebergs that shimmer and shine in the sunlight.
The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is, in fact, the largest and deepest glacier lagoon in Iceland.
A visit to Jökulsárlón sees you leave Reykjavik in the early morning and enjoy a spectacular coastal drive south.
A wonderful opportunity to see all the wonderful scenery Iceland has to enjoy.
5. Þingvellir National Park
Lying to the east of Reykjavik is the incredible Þingvellir National Park.
Steeped in history, Þingvellir National Park holds great historical significance for Iceland people for it was the site of Iceland’s parliament for over eight centuries.
Must-visit historical spots in the park include Þingvellir Church and the ruins of ancient Icelandic shelters.
Those interested in geography will be fascinated by the Almannagjá fault; caused by the pulling apart of two major tectonic plates the Almannagjá fault leaves in its wake jagged, rocky cliffs.
This fault marks the geographical divide between North America and Europe.
You can walk the fault until you meet the magical Öxaráfoss waterfall.
There are thousands of waterfalls in Iceland but none so spectacular as Gullfoss.
A hidden gem no more, Gullfoss features high on the bucket-list of almost every traveller to Iceland.
You will find Gullfoss in the canyon of the Hvítá river, it has two tiers (unlike Skógafoss) and is, in fact, the largest volume waterfall in all of Europe.
For budding photographers Gullfoss is the perfect muse, if you can find an unobstructed view that is.
When the light rain starts to fall a magical rainbow appears over Gullfoss adding to the picture-perfect landscape.
Geysir is one of the most impressive natural phenomenons in the world.
This violently erupting hot spring has to be seen to be believed.
As the Geysir prepares to erupt the ground beneath your feet starts to shake and the temperature rises.
It is quite the sight to behold.
The Strokkur Geyser erupts every few minutes and catching a glimpse of this impressive natural feat is almost 100% guaranteed if you hang around long enough.
If you want a jam-packed day you can incorporate a visit to Gullfoss waterfall into your day trip to Geysir.
8. Whale Watching
Reykjavik shares a coastline with the abundant Atlantic Ocean.
This portion of the coastline is frequently visited by whales, dolphins and porpoise, some of the most impressive marine life on earth.
When in Reykjavik you simply must get out on the water to get up close and personal with the biggest mammals on earth.
Iceland’s income was once heavily dependant on fishing, which in turn depleted the ocean’s resources.
In a change of heart Iceland is now seeing the benefit in sustainable tourism.
A whale watching tour is not only an incredible way to observe wild animals but an innovative way to protect their ecosystem, it’s a win-win in Reykjavik.
Vik is Iceland’s southernmost village and is something of a tourist honeypot.
This delightful Icelandic village has seen a dramatic rise in visitors over the past five years and is thriving.
Home to just 318 people, Vik is Iceland’s final coastal frontier and is a privilege to visit.
Sitting at the base of the Katla volcano, Vik lies in the shadows of the vast Mýrdalsjökull glacier.
When in Vik, be sure to take a moment or two to visit the Vik I Myrdal Church, that dates back to 1929. Being right on the coast means that Vik village has its very own beach, Reynisfjara beach that features black pebbles and jagged offshore formations.
It’s probably too cold for a swim though.
10. Kirkjufjara Beach
Kirkjufjara Beach is a complete hidden gem.
From the beach you can catch a glimpse of the Dyrhólaey arch and the Reynisdrangar stacks.
Kirkjufjara Beach lies to the west of Reynisfjara beach and is practically untouched.
If you’re seeking an off the beaten track location for a day trip from Reykjavik with the opportunity to observe some of the most pristine and rugged coastline in the world then Kirkjufjara Beach provides just that.
This is a raw piece of coastline that should be respected.
Do not visit Kirkjufjara Beach during high tide and heed the advice of the local coastal authorities.
Leave Reykjavik in the early morning and head due east, over the Hellisheidi Pass towards Myrdalsjokull, Iceland’s 4th largest glacier.
This is one of the most impressive glacial landscapes in the world, it is often overlooked by travellers and in that instance is something of a hidden gem.
For those interested in hiking, Myrdalsjokull is the place to explore.
There are a number of reputable companies offering hiking day tours of Myrdalsjokull as it is not-advisable to head out without a guide.
Myrdalsjokull is an accessible hike and requires minimal fitness levels.
12. Langjokull Glacier
The Langjokull Glacier and ice caves are a truly unique experience that make for a wonderful addition to any Icelandic adventure.
You can explore the Langjokull Glacier by foot or by snowmobile, even raft down the Hvita River to the caves entrance.
The Langjokull Caves are man-made but totally breathtaking, the Langjokull Glacier itself is, of course, 100% natural.
The Into The Glacier experience is like nothing else on earth and a guided tour of the complex sees you learn about the cultural and geographic significance of this natural wonder to the Icelandic people and the wider world.
13. Kerid Crater
The Kerid Crater is one of Iceland’s picture postcard landmarks and is often considered the highlight of the Golden Circle tour.
Kerid Crater is a huge volcanic crater that sits in the Grimsnes region of southern Iceland.
From season to season the vegetation that surrounds the Kerid Crater changes from vibrant hues of red and pink to lush, jungly greens.
The water too seems to change colour with the seasons and sunlight and in the winter months even freezes over.
The Kerid Crater is a must-visit during your trip to Iceland.
14. Snæfellsnes Peninsula
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is a truly magical area of Iceland that makes for the perfect day trip for geography gurus and practicing photographers.
Along the Snæfellsnes Peninsula you will find some of the most dramatic landscapes in Europe.
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is home to countless quaint fishing villages such as Arnarstapi and Hellnar.
During a day drive around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula you’ll have the opportunity to observe the incredible volcanic craters of Kirkjufell and Ljósufjöll and the magnificent Snæfellsjökull itself.
Be sure to schedule time to visit the seal colony at Ytri Tunga to snap some wonderful wildlife photos.
Landmannalaugar is one of Iceland’s more raw and rugged landscapes that is picturesque and beautiful in its own right.
Landmannalaugar is known affectionately as the pearl of Iceland’s Highlands and indeed it is.
Mt Hekla is not to be missed for it is Iceland’s most active volcano.
There is nothing quite like standing at the foot of an active volcano and feeling the heat emanate from the rocks beneath you.
The Laugahraun lava field features vibrant, colourful rhyolite mountains contrasted beautifully by the jet-black lava field below.
A visit to the Landmannalaugar geothermal pools is the perfect way to round off a day trip from Reykjavik before returning to the city.