Iceland is popular for stopovers, located between North America and Europe. Stopover packages are great because they offer you the opportunity to experience Iceland without added airfare. Usually, you will not have a lot of time during a stopover. We will sum up the best half-day tours departing from Reykjavík, so that you can get the most out of your stay. You should also know some of these if you’re looking for a short tour to go on before you have to catch your flight, or if you’re just looking for a fun activity!
Golden Circle afternoon tour
The Golden Circle tour is Iceland’s best-known tour, and for good reason. During this tour, you visit three beautiful natural phenomena. The first is Þingvellir National Park, where the Icelandic parliament used to gather between 930 and 1798 AD. After this, you will visit Gullfoss, a spectacular waterfall, with water scattering 32 metres down in two stages. The third stop is the valley Haukadalur, where you will find the active geyser Strokkur, that erupts every 6 to 10 minutes. Strokkur is but one highlight in the valley, as it is filled with all kinds of bubbling hot springs that are worth checking out! Our personal favourite is “Litli-Geysir”, just look for the sign when you are there! Because all three locations are pretty close to Reykjavík, this tour takes maximum 6 hours. Did this spark your curiosity? Then book the Golden Circle afternoon tour!
Horseback riding morning or evening tour
If you have a couple of hours to spend, go on a horseback riding tour through Icelandic nature! Icelandic horses are a small and sturdy breed (pony-sized, one might say, but Icelandic breeders always refer to them as horses), known to have few diseases. They are famous because they have five natural gaits, up to two more than most horses! They are honoured for their bounce-free strides. It is supposedly possible to drink a cup of coffee while riding, without spilling a drop. This makes Icelandic horses ideal for inexperienced riders, but you will also get a riding lesson before going on a tour. A horseback riding tour from Reykjavík will take you to the beautiful hill Hólmsheiði, Stallion Valley and the red and magnificent volcanic landscape of Rauðhólar. It will take 3 hours in total, with a light Icelandic meal included, and small groups are guaranteed (max. 8 riders).
Caves & volcanoes
Iceland is one of the most volcanic places on earth, so there is lots of lava! When a lava stream runs from a volcano, the first part to cool down and harden is the outermost layer, which can form a crust around the liquid lava underneath. Then, if the volcano stops erupting, sometimes the lava will continue running, until you’re left with an empty crust of lava, and this is how lava caves are formed. From the roughly five hundred lava caves that are currently discovered, there’s estimated that Iceland has about ten thousand caves in total. Some are better, more beautiful and more approachable than others. Caving tours from Reykjavík usually take you to the famous Leiðarendi tube cave just outside of the city, and on the way there you will stop at lake Kleifarvatn and geothermal area Seltún. A caving tour will take about 4 hours in total.
Whale watching from Reykjavík
You don’t have to travel far to go on a whale safari, as Reykjavík offers good options for whale watching. Different whale watching companies have regular departures from the Old Harbour area. White-beaked dolphins and harbour porpoises are seen year-round in Faxaflói bay, a large bay next to Reykjavík, stretching all the way between Reykjanes and Snæfellsnes. In summertime, there are regular sightings of humpback whales and minke whales. You can choose to go on a bigger boat with a refreshment bar, or to go on a small RIB boat. The bigger boats have snug inside areas that offer shelter for bad weather, but the small boats have the advantage that you can get very close to oceanic wildlife. At the ticket office you can get complimentary motion sickness pills, but don’t worry, tours are cancelled if the waves are too high! A whale watching tour will take between 1 and 3 hours, depending on the tour you pick.
Looking for a thrill? Then go on a buggy ride. A buggy is a fast, sturdy and stable ATV, perfect for everybody who loves the outdoors. Driving a buggy through rough Icelandic terrain, with mud pools, dusty roads and sometimes snow, offers an exciting adventure! Before the tour, you will get special gear and a short training. When going on a buggy tour, you better be ready to get dirty, with water splashing up on the side of the tires and dust being blown around your head. Tours will take you to Mt. Esja, Mt. Hafrafell and Mt. Úlfarsfell, or Hafravatn lake, all close to Reykjavík and offering beautiful views. Buggies are suitable for two persons, and please note that you need a valid driver’s license if you are the driver. A tour will take 1 to 2 hours.
Enjoy your stopover in Iceland!