Let’s face it, even though Reykjavík is pretty awesome, as cities go, you didn’t come to Iceland to stay in town for the whole trip. Icelandic nature is what draws people in, and for good reason! Its sublime beauty will stay with you long after you leave the country. Iceland is at its very best during the summer months when mountain slopes take on a green hue and the delicate subarctic flora erupts with its fresh-smelling blooms. Whether you want to go hiking, sightseeing or just take a relaxing picnic with a view to die for, one thing’s for sure; you need to get out of town!
How to Travel?
There are a few ways to get out of town, depending on your preferences and what type of traveller you are. If you’re unfamiliar with the country and want to learn more, taking a guided tour might suit your needs. Reykjavík tourism companies offer tours almost all over the country, some short enough to fit into your afternoon, others longer, so just figure out where you want to go and book it. The standard of service is generally pretty high in Iceland but if you want recommendations, you can contact the What’s On Information centre, or just drop by.
If you prefer a little more freedom to explore on your own, renting a car is a comfortable option, allowing you to travel at your own pace. The freedom to go wherever you feel like is incomparable and there’s plenty to see in Iceland, just about wherever you go! Just be careful, conditions in Iceland might be different from what you are used to, even in the summer. Be sure to check out Icelandic driving regulations and our guide to driving in Iceland.
If driving on your own feels a little too risky, you can always take the bus. The city bus company, Strætó, will take you to some of the larger towns around the country. Other bus companies will take you to great hiking spots or all the way around Iceland.
Where to Go?
Almost wherever you go, you’ll find natural wonders, lovely little towns and all the untamed Icelandic nature you can imagine. Certain regions do have their specific charm however, so depending on your needs and preferences, here are some destination suggestions.
One of the most popular destinations in Iceland is the South Coast. This stretch of land between the coast and the mountains is an exercise in contrasts, with verdant farming communities and jet black sand beaches, towering glaciers as well as a whole host of volcanoes, still and clear lakes.
If you don’t have the time to stray too far from the city, exploring the Reykjanes peninsula might be just up your alley. Just a short drive away from the city, this area has still lakes, lava fields and a colourful geothermal area as well as charming little fishing villages.
The Snæfellsnes Peninsula is often described as a microcosm of Iceland. Black beaches, hot springs, charming fishing villages and the majestic Snæfellsjökull glacier overlooking it all are sights that are not to be missed!
If you have the time (at least 4-5 days), you can even drive all the way around the country. Route 1 or the Ring Road follows most of the coastline of Iceland and connects most of the major towns in Iceland.
Photo by Francesco Tortoli via Flickr
What to Do?
If you have a car, you might just want to find a town to stay in and explore the surrounding region. During the summer season many towns host festivals that are well worth checking out. If you’re travelling during the first weekend of August, be on the lookout for summer festivals. This is a long weekend known as Verslunarmannahelgi (Merchants’ Weekend) and several music- and camping festivals take place all around the country.
If you’re feeling active, July – August is the best time of year to go hiking in Iceland. Not only can you expect the best weather but popular hiking trails in the highlands are only open this time of year. The most popular one is the Laugavegur hiking trail, leading from the hot springs in Landmannalaugar to the beautiful Þórsmörk nature preserve.
If you’re simply keen to explore the nature and landscapes of Iceland, driving around the country, stopping for hikes and picnics is a great way to spend your days. Look for the square with the looped corners indicating interesting spots ahead. If you want to be prepared for your trip, contact the What’s On office on Laugavegur and get some advice!