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Iceland is an absolutely stunning country that is full of exciting things to do. It is so different than any other country I have visited and is definitely a must visit at some point in your life. In no other country have I experienced such amazing natural phenomenon’s and beautiful landscapes. From the lava formed lands, exploding geysers, piercing blue waters and magnificent waterfalls – no other country compares. Beyond the natural beauties, Iceland also impressed me in the beauty of Reykjavik, the friendly people and the cute cafes. In this post, I put together the perfect 3 days in Iceland itinerary just for you!
Table of Contents (skip directly to the info you're looking for)
- 1 Getting Around Iceland in 3 days
- 2 3 day trip to Iceland Itinerary
- 3 Additional Information and Tips
Getting Around Iceland in 3 days
Although Reykjavik is small, Iceland is quite big. Therefore, exploring and seeing things in the city of Reykjavik is relatively easy, what becomes more difficult is choosing what activities to do outside of the city. Because most major attractions outside the city take hours to get to, we rented a car. If you are unable to rent a car for any reason, try one of the many bus tours!
Iceland on your own – Driving in Iceland
Car Rental we used and the cost
- Thrifty Car Rental. This cost us 185 euros for 3 days.
3 day trip to Iceland Itinerary
My visit to Iceland was action packed because I wanted to fit in as much as possible in a short amount of time. Therefore, this 3-day itinerary will keep you busy and adventuring for your whole visit. It’s time to make your dream trip, in a magical country, a reality.
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Iceland Day 1: Blue Lagoon & Reykjavik
Morning: Blue Lagoon
Most flights arrive in Iceland during the morning hours; therefore, I suggest you make the Blue Lagoon your first stop. The Blue Lagoon is 45 minutes from Reykjavik and only 15 minutes from Keflavik Reykjavik airport. If you are hungry grab a quick bite to eat at the airport and then pick up your rental car. Following this, you are ready to head straight to the Lagoon.
After a long flight, the Blue Lagoon offers the perfect oasis to relax and unwind. The geothermal waters have temperatures between 98- and 104-degrees Fahrenheit and are packed minerals that are amazing for your body. They also offer silica, algae, mineral salt mud masks that are perfect for detoxifying and hydrating your skin.
Many people are hesitant to head to the lagoon based on the price and how many people it attracts. But fear not, you have nothing to worry about. Every penny you spend is 100% worth it! Packages start at 55 euros and include a towel, mud mask, and a free drink from one of the swim up bars. Beyond this, you can spend as much time as you want relaxing in the geothermal waters. As for the amount of people, I didn’t think it was overly crowded at all. The lagoon is huge and there are lots of places you can go where there are less people around.
Blue Lagoon Travel Tips:
- Pre-booking is required, you need to book your tickets and times online before heading to the Lagoon.
- Set aside around 4-5 hours for this activity. It really is a once in a life time opportunity to get to enjoy the waters heated naturally from the earth.
- The Lagoon opens at 8:00am and closes at 10:00 pm or 0:00 (depending on the season).
- Luggage can be stored for a fee.
- Towels and swim suits can be rented.
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Afternoon: Exploring Reykjavik
Many tourists arrive in Iceland eager to explore the wilderness aspect of the country, and skip the city of Reykjavik, but really this should not be skipped. Reykjavik is a quaint city, but it is beautiful and full of surprises.
Start your afternoon with a walk to the Church of Hallgrimskirkja, which is located in the centre of Reykjavik and is the largest church in Iceland. The best part is you are able to go to the top of the church (240 ft high) to get a breathtaking view of the city from above. If you would like to go up, which I highly recommend, it costs around 10 euros.
After seeing the city from above, it’s time to start exploring downtown Reykjavik’s little streets and cute shops. The actual city of Reykjavik took me by surprise. I was not prepared for how cute and ‘hipster’ the downtown actually is, but I was pleasantly surprised by the vibrant colours and aesthetic buildings. One great thing about Reykjavik is that due to the cities small size it can easily be explored by foot. While downtown you should check out the beautiful green and white church, which is called Reykjavik Free Church and opposite from it – the Pond.
While exploring the city it’s good to have a next destination in mind so you aren’t just wondering in circles. In this case, the next destination is the harbour. The harbour in Reykjavik is where some prime Icelandic tourist attractions are located. Such as Harpa Concert Hall and the Sun Voyager Sculpture.
Exploring the city to the fullest will
easily take all afternoon and evening. This is fine, because it is the only
time you will have in the city for exploring! After you feel like you’ve seen
it all head to a grocery store to grab food for dinner and some snacks for the
Iceland Day 2: South Iceland
As I had mentioned the activities in Iceland are quite far apart, therefore I suggest waking up early on day two to make the most of your time. So, hop in your car bright and early, pack some food, and be ready for a Southern Iceland tour that will take around 10 hours – depending on how long you take at each spot.
Remember, although you are heading to
certain spots, it is encouraged to stop along the way if you see something you
find interesting! We stopped plenty of times on the side of the road to see the
little houses built into the mountains, to take photos of the Icelandic Horses or
whatever else looked interesting.
Nonetheless, the first stop of your day 2 itinerary is Sólheimajökull, which is a glacier located 2 hours from Reykjavik. It is Iceland’s fourth largest glacier and is located in-between the famous volcanos Eyjafjallajökull and Katla. If you are interested, you can even hike the glacier (takes about 2-3 hours). This is the best glacier to see because it is the most accessible.
Your second stop will be Seljalandsfoss. This is a huge 200 ft waterfall that you can walk behind. I absolutely loved walking behind this waterfall and hearing the roaring of the water. Be sure you wear waterproof clothing and shoes that won’t slip, the winds often blow the water in odd directions which can easily soak you.
Following the waterfall, you will head down the road to these GPS coordinates: 63°29’28.4″N 19°21’48.2″W. Here you will find a parking lot (don’t worry if you don’t see any signs) where you will park to begin your walk to the abandoned plane. This location holds a US Navy plane that crash landed in 1973. Everyone survived but the shell of the plane still remains and has become a very popular tourist spot. The walk to get there takes 45 minutes each way, but the plane is a pretty cool site to see.
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Eat some of your snacks you packed in the morning for a quick lunch break before setting of on the 3 – 3.5-hour journey to Rejnisfjra Black Sand Beach. This is a really amazing beach where the sand is completely black and there are huge basalt column caves towering over you. Although this is a beach, you must stay far away from the edge of the water due to the extremely powerful waves and currents in the ocean. Many tourists have died here as a result of being too close and getting sucked into the freezing waters and carried away.
If you drive just 10 minutes from the beach there is a little area where you can get a photo of the sands from a higher point. When I was in Iceland, I took any turn that looked interesting and found cool spots like this. I suggest you do the same!
From Reynisfjara, you will continue along the route to the town of Vik. This is a nice little town of 271 residents where you can stop for some dinner – if it’s not too late – and to refuel. It also has a tourist shop where you can buy IceWear goodies. Depending on how long you spend at each location, it should be evening time. Now it’s time to head back to Reykjavik to get some sleep to prepare for tomorrows adventures.
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Iceland Day 3: Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is one of the most popular routes in Iceland which includes: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir and Gulfoss Waterfalls. This whole tour will take around 9 hours, so if you’d like some time to further explore Reykjavik in the evening, I suggest you wake up early to have enough time.
The first stop on the Gold Circle tour is Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir). This is an UNESCO heritage site in Iceland and the importance of it stems from both historical and geographical reasons. Historically it was the seat of Althing – Iceland’s parliament. Geographically it was Iceland’s first national park. Walking around Thingvellir and viewing the lava ground, crazy rocks and lovely rivers is a very nice way to start the day.
The next stop is something you must see while in Iceland – the Strokkur Geysir.Geysers were completely forgein to me before my visit but blew me away. Simply put, they are holes in the ground filled with water that intermittently shoot boiling hot water 65 ft into the air. I found it so amazing that the Earth is capable of this, and took way to many videos. This stop has toilets, a suvinour shop and a cafe, so grab a bite to eat if you are starting to get hungry.
The final stop on the Golden Circle tour is Gullfoss. This is a huge waterfall located in the Hvita canyon. It is one of the most popular stops on the Golden Circle and for good reason. There are two obseration areas, one closer to the falls and one further so you can get various views of the powerful waterfall. During the summer months the amount of water passing through almost doubles, but it is still beautiful anytime of the year.
The drive back from Gullfoss to Reykjavik will be around 2 hours. If you have budgeted your time you can make it back to spend the evening exploring Reykjavik and eat at one of the restaurants in town.
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Additional Information and Tips
Best Time to Visit Iceland
The best time to visit Iceland really depends on what you would like to do! If you go from September – March you can have the option to view the Northern Lights, which is an amazing natural phenomenon. But the weather is a lot cooler. Meanwhile, if you visit April – September the weather is warmer, and it can be more enjoyable to do all the outdoor activities.
Accommodation – Great places to stay in Iceland
We booked via booking.com from 101 apartments. This supplied a cute little apartment right in Reykjavik that was perfect for our needs.
Visit Iceland in 3 days: Things to know before you go!
- Iceland is expensive: save money where you can. One great way to do this is by buying food in grocery stores instead of always eating out
- Get a tourist map before exploring the city so you can keep track of where you are
- Iceland uses different currencies – make sure you take out some cash before heading there for attractions that are cash only
- Reykjavik has a great night life: if you are wanting to experience it the first night is your best options
This is a guest post by: Samantha Karen of the blog Sam sees world.
Author bio: Samantha Karen is the founder of the travel bog Sam Sees World. She is a millennial traveler on a mission to seek the new and unknown so she can document her experiences and inspire others to travel this wonderous world. You can follow her adventures on Instagram.
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