3 Days in Iceland: What Should you See & Do?

Seems like everyone is heading to Iceland. I have friends, as well as cousins, heading there this summer and fall. Whether it’s because of Icelandair expanding its routes or WOW Airlines offering sales on fares, there’s a general buzz that’s surrounding trips to Iceland right now. I’ve noticed that some travelers are using Iceland as a destination in and of itself, and others are using Iceland as a layover for a few days, and then heading someplace else. One of my friends, Jason, goes to Europe every fall to visit his mom, but he stops in Iceland for a few days first. He loves it. I’ve casually listened as he tells me what he does in Iceland, but it got me thinking, what would he tell other travelers who are enjoying Iceland as a stopover for a few days? Here’s what Jason suggests. As a reminder, he travels to Iceland in the fall months, so there’s plenty of sunlight.

For your first day in Iceland, Jason suggests renting a car and driving the southern coast between Reykjavik and Jökulsárlón. It’s called Ring Road and it’s about 230 miles long. The road is paved. He says to make it a leisurely day because there’s plenty of amazing beauty to see. As for the waterfalls, his favorite walk is up to the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls. You can hike glaciers such as Mýrdalsjökull glacier. There are beaches that are spectacularly different from anything he’s ever seen. Jason likes the black pebble beach of Reynisfjara. And for Game of Thrones fans, in Vik, you can see the rocky spires from Iron Islands.

Seljalandsfoss Falls in Iceland. Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seljalandsfoss

Day two might be spent enjoying a more city-like experience. Jason isn’t much of a shopper but his wife, who enjoys the arts and clothing, likes the shops along Laugavegur Street. He calls the national dish of fermented shark an infamous dish. He’ll admit to trying it once at Cafe Loki. He said once is enough for him but certainly worth a try if you have no objections to eating shark. I looked at the Cafe Loki menu and while I’m much more likely to eat the herring and smoked trout, it looks interesting and like a fun place to experiment with local food. While you are in town, check out Iceland’s tallest building, the Hallgrimskirkja cathedral. Taking in the panoramic view from the top is tops on his list!

View from the top of Hallgrímskirkja in Iceland. Image source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hallgr%C3%ADmskirkja

I’ve never met anyone who has gone to Iceland and not raved about soaking in the geothermal pools. There are municipal pools throughout the city and Jason enjoys these and mixing in with the locals. He has, of course, also gone out to the Blue Lagoon, which is 40 minutes outside the city, for more of a spa day. I can get pretty jealous when he sends me photos from the Blue Lagoon :)

Day three ideas: When I think of Iceland, I think of blue icebergs. I think of them as Iceland icons. So if you have a third day, Jason suggests getting back into nature and perhaps heading out on the Ring Road again and enjoying some of the spots you may have missed on your first trip. Depending on the time of year, if you’re there in the fall, you can explore the ice caves. There is a zodiac boat that takes you to the base of Breiðamerkurjökull, and he says it’s 2,400 foot ice face is beyond amazing to see.

Blue Ice Caves in Iceland. Image source: https://www.extremeiceland.is/en/activity-tours-iceland/glacier-hiking-iceland/ice-caves/ice-cave-inside-vatnajokull

So while Jason is certainly no Iceland expert, this is what he suggests for first timers who only have a few days in Iceland. I like having a simple plan like this from someone who has been to a country/city a few times. I hope it adds to the ideas you’re putting together for your Iceland travels. And in exchange for this itinerary, he’s gotten me to promise that I’ll move Iceland to the top of my list for trips next year!

What do you think of these three-days-in-Iceland suggestions? If you have any of your own to add, please comment below. Grant is heading there soon and now I’ve got to schedule a trip, as well!

P.S. Check out these other Iceland posts from the TWG team:

4 thoughts on “3 Days in Iceland: What Should you See & Do?

  1. Mardi

    I just did four days in Iceland and drove around Snaefellnes Peninsula, on the recommendation of someone who lived there for 3 years. The quaint town of Stykkisholmur, the amazing Kirkjufell mtn (featured in The Secret Life of Walter Mitty) and the glaciated volcanic peak of Snaefellsjokull were among the many highlights. Plus, it’s off the well worn tourist track that is the Golden Circle.

  2. Dimi

    We’ve done all the activities you’ve mentioned plus
    -short (2hrs) self-tour on Reykjanes peninsula,
    – guided walk with iheartreykjavik.com in Reykjavik,
    – half-day “Inside the Volcano” tour (very expensive but very much worth it)
    -spent two wonderful days touring Snaefellsness peninsula
    – visited the one and only Seljavallalaug pool (google directions since it’s in the middle of nowhere)

    Of course for all these you need much more than 3 days. Have a wonderful trip!


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