Check out our list of the best day trips from Reykjavik, Iceland!

Nestled amidst the stunning landscapes of Iceland, Reykjavik is not just a city rich in culture and history but also the perfect launching pad for day trips around the country.

Whether you’re looking to explore the rugged coastlines, volcanic terrains, or quaint Icelandic villages, there are lots of amazing day trips from the city.

Each journey from Reykjavik leads to a unique destination, offering an intimate encounter with Iceland’s raw, unspoiled beauty.

From the awe-inspiring geysers and waterfalls of the Golden Circle to the tranquil beauty of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, these day trips present the best of Iceland’s natural wonders.

The itineraries are diverse – whether it’s chasing the dance of the Northern Lights, soaking in the geothermal bliss of a natural hot spring, or hiking through scenic trails that tell tales of bygone volcanic eruptions.

So if you’re visiting Iceland’s capital city, here are some of the most unforgettable day trips from Reykjavik.

Find more amazing things to do in Iceland so you can embrace this beautiful country!

14 Best Day Trips From Reykjavik

From seeing a black sand beach on a South Coast tour, to touring the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Thingvellir National Park along the Golden Circle, there are so many epic day trips to take from Reykjavik, Iceland.

See the Northern Lights, go whale watching, snorkel between tectonic plates, hike a glacier, explore ice caves, and more.

There is a huge range of incredible tours that take you to the most popular attractions around Iceland and allow you to engage with the landscape. So while visiting Reykjavik, consider some of these popular day trips!

1. The Golden Circle

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 160km to the furthest point along the Golden Circle
  • Driving time: 3 hour loop

The Golden Circle Day Trip from Reykjavik is a quintessential Icelandic excursion, offering an unforgettable journey through some of Iceland’s most spectacular landscapes.

This popular day trip covers three of Iceland’s most iconic natural landmarks: Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir National Park), the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss Waterfall, each site boasting its unique geological and historical importance.

Thingvellir National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is not only a place of stunning natural beauty but also a cornerstone of Icelandic history, being the original site of the world’s oldest parliament established in 930 AD.

The park is situated in a rift valley where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet, offering a remarkable display of geological wonders.

The Geysir Geothermal Area is next, where visitors witness the awe-inspiring Strokkur geyser, which erupts every few minutes, shooting water up to 30 meters into the air.

This geothermal wonderland is a vivid demonstration of the Earth’s natural power.

Lastly, the tour visits Gullfoss, or the ‘Golden Waterfall’, an iconic waterfall that plunges into a deep gorge, creating a spectacular sight, especially on sunny days when rainbows often appear in the mist.

Golden Circle Tours typically last about 7 to 9 hours, making them an ideal full day trip from Reykjavik. These tours are available year-round, providing different but equally stunning experiences in each season.

While summer offers lush landscapes and extended daylight, winter reveals a magical, snowy wonderland, often with fewer tourists.

Departing from Reykjavik, Golden Circle Tours are available in various formats, from large bus tours to smaller, more personalized groups, and often include knowledgeable guides who enhance the experience with insights into Icelandic culture, history, and geology.

The Golden Circle Tour is a must-do for anyone visiting Iceland, encapsulating the beauty, power, and history of this unique land in one memorable trip.

2. The Blue Lagoon

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 49km
  • Driving time: 45 minutes one way

The Blue Lagoon is undoubtedly one of the best day trips when visiting Iceland. Located just 45 minutes away from Reykjavik, it’s super easy to venture out to this stunning natural wonder on a day trip from the city.

The Blue Lagoon in Iceland is a mesmerizing natural wonder, renowned for its stunning turquoise waters set against a backdrop of rugged volcanic landscapes.

Located in the heart of a lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula, this geothermal spa offers visitors a unique opportunity to rejuvenate in its mineral-rich waters, which are heated by underground volcanic activity.

Because the Blue Lagoon is like a spa, the most popular way to visit is by booking round trip transfers from Reykjavik with the entry ticket. You’ll be whisked out of the city in a comfortable bus or van and have the day to enjoy the Blue Lagoon however you choose.

Lounge in geothermal pools, smooth the white silica mud on your skin, or venture into the steam rooms. This day trip offers the opportunity to relax and renew, so enjoy it!

Blue LagoonBlue Lagoon
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is a super popular day trip from Reykjavik!

3. Iceland South Coast

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 187km to the southernmost village of Vik on the South Coast
  • Driving time: 2.5 hours one way

The South Coast of Iceland is a stunning part of the country that makes an excellent day trip from the city. On this full day tour, you can see the highlights of Iceland’s south in one action-packed day.

Stroll along a gorgeous black sand beach, marvel at majestic waterfalls including Seljalandsfoss Waterfall and Skógafoss Waterfall, and take in the glacial views.

At Seljalandsfoss Waterfall you may even be able to walk behind the waterfall if the weather permits!

Other highlights you may see on a South Coast day trip include Vik, the country’s southernmost village, and Sólheimajökull, a dramatic glacier snout, and the impressive basalt sea columns at Reynisfjara.

The South Coast of Iceland just has so much to see in terms of natural beauty, making it one of the best day trips from Reykjavik!

This region is not only a testament to Iceland’s geological wonders but also a playground for adventurers, offering amazing views of hiking trails, lava fields, glacier walks, waterfalls, and remote beaches.

4. Katla Ice Cave

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 207km
  • Driving time: 3 hours one way

Continue your exploration of Iceland’s South Coast with a visit to Katla Ice Cave. Located just inland from the coast, guided tours through Katla Ice Cave provide an unforgettable experience, allowing adventurers to navigate through narrow passages and expansive chambers adorned with dazzling ice formations.

Day trips to Katla Ice Cave usually depart from Reykjavik or Vik, and they bring you into the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier on Iceland’s South Coast.

Named after the mighty volcano beneath which it lies, Katla Ice Cave provides a unique opportunity to explore a world sculpted by centuries of glacial movement.

During your ice cave tour, you’ll be able to see the intricate patterns and textures of ice as you explore the inside of a glacier. Exploring the inside of ice caves is an unbelievable experience!

Your guides will supply crampons and helmets to ensure everyone stays safe during ice cave tours. This Katla Ice Cave Tour combines the cave with other highlights of South Iceland including waterfalls and the black sand beach.

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Katla Ice CaveKatla Ice Cave
Venture into an otherworldly landscape in Katla Ice Cave.

5. Langjökull Glacier

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 103km
  • Driving time: 3 hours one way (2 hours road driving and 1 hour driving up the glacier)

Here is another glacier day trip for those hoping to explore the icy wilderness outside Reykjavik!
Langjökull Glacier, Iceland’s second-largest ice cap, is a vast expanse of shimmering ice in the heart of the Icelandic Highlands.

Langjökull, which translates to “Long Glacier,” is a marvel of nature, spanning approximately 953 square kilometers (368 square miles).

Its icy surface conceals a world of wonders, from hidden ice caves to mesmerizing blue ice formations, offering a glimpse into the breathtaking forces that have shaped Iceland’s landscape over millennia.

Guided tours across Langjökull’s icy plains provide adventurers with the opportunity to traverse this frozen wilderness, marveling at the sheer magnitude of the glacier and its surrounding snow-capped peaks.

You’ll drive from Reykjavik out to the glacier and actually drive across the glacier in a specialized vehicle.

Then explore the world’s largest ice tunnel and learn about the geology, history, and formation of glaciers from your expert guide. This sightseeing tour is an excellent way to appreciate the beauty of Iceland’s glaciers!

6. Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 165km
  • Driving time: 2 hours and 15 minutes one way

Adventurous travelers can also join a glacier hike on one of their day trips from Reykjavik. Sólheimajökull is one of the most accessible glaciers for day tours onto the ice.

Glacier hiking is something that should definitely be done with a reputable tour company, as you need the right gear and instruction. You also need to know exactly where to go! Arctic Adventures and TrollExpeditions are two top choices for booking a glacier hike from Reykjavik.

Another option is Glaciers and Waterfalls ehf, which includes the Sólheimajökull Glacier hike with other highlights of the South Coast including the black sand beach.

Once you’ve booked your day trip with one of the top-rated tour companies, get ready for an unforgettable day of outdoor adventure through Iceland’s icy landscape!

Towering ice formations, crevasses, and crystal-clear blue ice create a surreal atmosphere on the glacier.

With expert guides and equipment to keep you stable, you can hike across the ancient glaciers and marvel at nature’s grandeur. You’ll gain insight into the glacier’s formation, its ecological significance, and the impacts of climate change.

If you’re an active traveler who loves hiking and unique outdoor challenges, glacier hiking is one of the best day trips to try in Iceland!

Find more epic hikes in Europe with our Beginner’s Guide to Hiking in Norway!

Sólheimajökull Glacier HikeSólheimajökull Glacier Hike
Explore the wilderness on a thrilling Sólheimajökull Glacier Hike.

7. Snaefellsnes Peninsula

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 180km
  • Driving time: About 2.5 hours one way

Located on the coast of west Iceland, the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is known for its dramatic cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and volcanic peaks. This peninsula offers a visual feast for adventurers and nature enthusiasts alike.

At its heart lies the iconic Snaefellsjökull volcano, with its glacier-capped summit towering over the surrounding terrain.

From the charming fishing villages dotting the coastline to the windswept beaches teeming with birdlife, every corner of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula has something cool to see.

The Snæfellsjökull glacier, Saxhóll Crater, Kirkjufell and Berserkjahraun lava fields, small villages, and black sand beaches are among the most popular sites in the area.

Those interested in Icelandic history can also check out the mysterious Budakirkja, also known as the “Black Church” which has artifacts from the 19th century.

This is an easy day trip to do with a rental car if you just want to drive around the peninsula and visit the various landmarks. Or you can choose a guided tour with a knowledgeable local who will take you to all the best spots.

This Snaefellsnes Peninsula Full Day Tour or this Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Kirkjufell Day Trip are both top-rated options!

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8. Silfra Fissure

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 54km
  • Driving time: 55 minutes one way

One of the absolute coolest day trips to try in Iceland is snorkelling in between tectonic places! Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park is a geological wonder that mesmerizes visitors with its crystalline waters and otherworldly beauty.

Carved by the shifting tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia, this underwater chasm offers a unique opportunity for snorkelers and divers to traverse the gap between continents.

Its exceptionally clear, glacial-fed waters provide visibility of up to 100 meters, unveiling a unique underwater landscape with intricate rock formations.

Day tours to Silfra Fissure depart from Reykjavik so you can explore this underwater world with an experienced adventure guide.

Snorkelling between tectonic plates at Silfra Fissure is another one of those adventures that should not be attempted on your own without a guided tour! You need the right gear and the knowledge of a local to ensure you stay safe.

On this Silfra Fissure snorkelling tour, you are provided with hefty dry suits, snorkel gear, and a PADI-certified dive guide so you can stay dry and warm while you swim in glacial waters. This small-group activity is one of the best day trips from Reykjavik for adventurers!

9. Horseback Riding in Hafnarfjörður

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 13km
  • Driving time: 20 minutes one way

Another one of the best day trips around Reykjavik is horseback riding through the lava fields of Hafnarfjörður. If you’re looking for a fun adventure that’s a bit tamer than hiking a glacier or snorkeling between tectonic plates, a leisurely horse ride around the idyllic landscapes of Iceland is a great tour to choose.

This tour with Íshestar Stables provides visitors with an authentic Icelandic horse riding experience through the dramatic lava fields and beautiful green hillsides.

The tour guides provide warm overalls, rain gear, riding boots, and helmets that will keep you safe and dry as you explore the outdoors by horseback.

This is one of the best ways to connect with nature, escape the city, and marvel at the pristine natural beauty around Iceland. And it’s right outside Reykjavik, making it one of the easiest and closest day trips to town!

10. Northern Lights Day Trips

  • Distance from Reykjavik: Locations vary
  • Driving time: Most northern lights tours are around 3-4 hours

When venturing anywhere in the Earth’s far north, seeing the northern lights is a must (also called Aurora Borealis). Admiring the mystical northern lights is a bucket-list experience for many, and Iceland is one of the best places to watch this marvelous natural phenomenon.

You might not see the northern lights in Reykjavik, as there is a good amount of light pollution from the city. To see the northern lights while visiting Reykjavik, your best bet is to book guided day trips out into the remote wilderness of Iceland.

You can always look for the northern lights on your own if you have a rental car, but going with a local guide gives you a much better chance of seeing the Aurora Borealis.

The locals always know the best places to go at the right times, so it’s worth booking group tours for a once-in-a-lifetime experience like this.

Some of the top-rated Northern Lights tours are with Northern Lights Bus, Gray Line Iceland, or Rvk Sightseeing. The best chance of seeing the northern lights on your tour is during winter, and most tours offer a free return tour if you don’t see anything. Because we can never truly predict Mother Nature!

Iceland Northern LightsIceland Northern Lights
The Northern Lights are a must-see if you come to Iceland in winter!

11. Landmannalaugar and the Valley of Tears Tour

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 308km
  • Driving time: 5 hours

Landmannalaugar, nestled in the heart of Iceland’s Highlands, is a geological marvel and a haven for outdoor enthusiasts seeking unparalleled natural beauty.

Renowned for its colorful rhyolite mountains, bubbling hot springs, and vast lava fields, this remote wilderness in Fjallabak Nature Reserve is another one of the best day trips to try from Reykjavik!

Here, hiking trails wind through the terrain, offering panoramic vistas of volcanic peaks, moss-covered valleys, and geothermal vents.

The lava fields and the rhyolite mountains were formed by ancient volcanic activity. In this area, you can admire lots of black obsidian volcanic rock which is known for its unique and smooth appearance.

The natural hot springs are another draw of Landmannalaugar, as is Sigöldugljúfur which is a dramatic canyon known as The Valley of Tears.

There are lots of incredible things to see and do, but the terrain is very rugged so the best option for travelers is booking a 4WD tour or a guided trek. Glaciers and Waterfalls ehf and Try Iceland Tours both offer action-packed, full-day tours of the area that include the best waterfalls, mountains, hot springs, lava fields, and more.

Love cold landscapes? Check out our complete Travel Guide to Antarctica!

12. Reykjanes Peninsula

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 68km
  • Driving time: 1 hour

The Reykjanes Peninsula, situated on the southwestern coast of Iceland, is a geological marvel teeming with dramatic landscapes and unique natural phenomena.

Renowned for its rugged volcanic terrain, Reykjanes is characterized by steaming hot springs, bubbling mud pots, and expansive lava fields, making it a captivating day trip from Reykjavik.

A highlight of the peninsula is the Seltún Geothermal Area, a space filled with vivid hues of red, yellow, and green, steaming fumaroles, and hot springs.

Geldingadalir Valley is another hotspot here with cool walks and hiking trails. The valley gained worldwide attention in 2021 with the eruption of the Fagradalsfjall Volcano.

Visitors can also check out the Reykjanes Lighthouse and the Bridge Between Continents, the latter of which spans the narrow fissure where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates diverge.

Explore the Reykjanes Peninsula by either renting a car and doing a road trip around the area, or joining a guided tour!

13. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

  • Distance from Reykjavik: 379km
  • Driving time: 4.5 hours

Another one of the coolest day trips from the city is Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon on the southeastern coast of Iceland.

Fed by the Vatnajökull Glacier, Europe’s largest ice cap, this otherworldly lagoon showcases a mesmerizing array of icebergs, sculpted by the relentless forces of nature.

A bit further along the coast from this stunning glacier is Diamond Beach, and most day trips combine the two natural attractions into one tour.

Named for the glistening icebergs that wash ashore from the nearby lagoon, Diamond Beach is covered in countless crystalline fragments, resembling diamonds strewn upon black volcanic sands.

Diamond BeachDiamond Beach
Diamond Beach is a beautiful sight in Iceland.

14. Whale Watching Tour

  • Distance from Reykjavik:
  • Driving time:

Another fun day trip to try when you visit Reykjavik is whale watching! Anyone interested in animals and marine life should definitely book a whale watching cruise that takes you around the icy waters and gives you the chance to spot these majestic giants frolicking in the ocean.

April to late September or early October is the best time for whale watching tours from Reykjavik, with June, July and August being the absolute best months.

There is nothing quite as spectacular as touring the North Atlantic Ocean and admiring the humpback whales, minke whales, porpoises, and dolphins in their natural habitat.

Combine your whale watching tour with a visit to the Whales of Iceland Exhibition located in Reykjavik Harbour. This is a super cool place to learn more about whales in Iceland!

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