If you only have one day in Iceland, the first advice we will give you is to change your flight and stay for at least a week more. If that’s not an option, our next suggestion would be to use the time you have to the fullest, since Iceland is a unique destination.
The Golden Circle
It’s no coincidence that The Golden Circle is the most popular day tour from Reykjavík. There are three stops on the way that just happen to be three of the most captivating destinations in Iceland, and as an added bonus, the tour doesn’t take up more than half of your day. The stops are Þingvellir, the national park where the Icelandic Parliament congregated since Viking times, Gullfoss, the awe-inspiring waterfall which lends its name to the Golden Circle, and Geysir, an erupting hot spring, guaranteed to wow visitors.
Geothermal Areas and Lava Tube Caves
No country does volcanoes like Iceland, there’s a reason it’s called the land of Ice and Fire. The Reykjavík Erupts! volcano hike takes you to a geothermally active area where the effects of the extreme heat underground are clearly visible on the surface. The colours of the earth are akin to a rainbow and there are bubbling cauldrons of mud everywhere. Lava Tunnel tour, on the other hand, allows you to visit a cave that was formed during a volcanic eruption. The rock formations alone make this tour worth the trip.
Since you’re visiting ICE-land, you might want to check out some icy tours and it doesn’t get any icier than hiking on a glacier. Glacier hikes are relatively easy and professional gear is provided so the tour should be accessible for most people. You get to walk on a glacier, with guides who know everything there is to know about glaciers and Iceland in general, what more could you ask for?
The Blue Lagoon
What’s better than having a spa day? Krauma is a natural geothermal spa in West Iceland, next to Deildartunguhver, Europe’s most powerful hot spring. The water of the natural hot spring is mixed with cool glacial water for perfect temperatures. It has five hot tubs and one cold bath, a relaxation room and two steam baths. If you’re in South Iceland, then head to the Secret Lagoon. It’s situated in a geothermal area with plenty of hot water streaming naturally from the ground and steam rising into the air around you. The beautiful location really lets you feel at one with the Icelandic nature.
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. 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. Driving a buggy through rough Icelandic terrain, with mud pools, dusty roads and sometimes snow, offers an exciting adventure!
Marine life abounds in the ocean around Iceland. Of all the creatures that live in these waters, the most spectacular ones have to be the whales. If you’re interested in seeing these immense creatures for yourself, take a whale watching cruise. Even the smallest Icelandic whale you could spot is still the size of a full-grown man, and the largest can reach up to 30 metres in length! If you have a few hours to spare before or after the cruise (or if you get seasick and a cruise is out of the question), check out the Whales of Iceland exhibition for some extra information on these gentle giants.
If you’re in Iceland in the winter, chances are you were planning to go see the Northern Lights anyway, and I wouldn’t dream of dissuading you. The lights are a magnificent sight and there’s really nothing like them. Going on a Northern Lights tour is especially convenient if you only have a short time in Iceland since the tours only go out in the evenings. That means you can go on a tour during the day, or spend it in Reykjavík and still have time to see the Northern Lights after dinner. Just watch the Aurora forecast, you can’t see the lights when it’s cloudy. Also, this is of course only available in the winter, since the midnight sun outshines the Aurora in the summer.
If you only have one day in Iceland, you don’t even have to leave the city. Not only does Reykjavík offer a variety of great museums, restaurants, cafés, and shops, it also has spectacular views of the mountains surrounding the city, right from the city centre. If you’re staying in the city and want to get the most out of your time, invest in the City Card. It’s available for 24, 48, or 72 hours and gives you access to all the city’s museums for free, as well as a discount on the admittance fee to exhibitions around town. It also gives you access to the geothermal pools of Reykjavík, the Reykjavík Family Park and Zoo in Laugardalur, and allows you to use the bus (Strætó) within the Capital Region.
- Whether you are going on tours or staying within city limits, you can be sure of one thing: you won’t have seen enough of Iceland. The next time you’re in Iceland (we’re pretty sure you’ll be back) stop by the What’s On information centre, or contact us here, and ask the staff to help you plan an unforgettable vacation.