If you have a layover in Iceland or just a few days to kill in beautiful Reykjavik here are a few amazing things you can do. If you do not have the means to rent a car then flybus is a great option for round trip airport transfers(expect to pay 5000ISK roundtrip).
Where to stay
If you are staying at a hostel I would highly recommend the Loft Hostel. Expect to pay around 39USD per night. They are centrally located in downtown Reykjavik and they have an outdoor deck overlooking all off Reykjavik. They are reasonably priced by Iceland standards and the staff are super friendly! They host a lot of local events and also have a great happy hour. The staff is very helpful in booking excursions for you while you sip on their amazing hot chocolate!
Time needed: 4 hours depending on how long you want to stay
The Blue Lagoon is one of most visited tourist attractions in Iceland. It is situated between KEF airport and Reykjavik(Ray-ka-vick) in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland. This location makes it a great option for people leaving on a late flight out. The Blue Lagoon offers several options to accommodate the needs of all types of people from the budget minded to the luxury traveler. If traveling in the winter months, renting slippers and a bath robe is highly recommend so you can walk around outside to get some good pictures. Also, booking an earlier arrival to the lagoon is recommended due to overcrowding at peak hours.
Reykjavik Excursions is a great option for getting to and from the Blue Lagoon. Using them expect to pay 9.400ISK with pickup to and from your hostel/hotel/guesthouse and it includes standard admission. This is also the same price if you are stopping off on the way to KEF before you leave.
If you are driving yourself you can book online directly through blue lagoon on their website for lower rates.
(I personally used Reykjavik Excursions and went on the earliest tour. I was there in mid November during the seasons first snow. It just so happend to be before dawn with ripping winds! This made for an unforgettable experience coupled with the super moon it was quite incredible! I would also definitely recommend buying a waterproof case for your camera or cell phone because holding your phone above water in air temps just above freezing takes a toll quite fast! This was my biggest regret of the whole trip!)
South Shore Adventure
Time needed: 10-11 hours; full day trip
This tour is definitely geared for the nature lover out there. The impressive views and short hikes across the southern shore is breath taking at every corner. If you do not have your own transportation I would recommend using Reykjavik Excursions (expect to pay 13.900ISK). They provide pick up from your hostel/hotel to the main hub where you transfer to your bus for the day (each seat has a USB charge port and WiFi so you can update your Instagram along the way!) then they take you back to your hostel/hotel at the end of the day which is pretty convenient.
On this adventure you spend the day along one of the most scenic regions of Iceland. One of the best stops of the day will be the Skógafoss waterfall where you will find breath taking views from the bottom of the falls and the top (the hike up the steel grated steps takes about ten minutes but is definitely worth the hike up for the panoramic views).
You also will want to spend some time exploring the black sand beach(see above) and the surrounding rock formations. Be very careful not to get to close to the water. A lady on my tour did not listen to the warnings and almost got swept out to sea! There are some great photo opportunities here along the beach and rock formations.
A stop off at the Skógar Folk Museum will show you how the Icelanders lived since they colonized the island. There is a pasture with horses right next to the museum so if you’re lucky you might get up close with famous Icelandic horses for an impromptu photo-op!
The gorgeous Seljalandsfoss waterfall is another well known and magnificent stop in the region. It is quite impressive and walking behind the waterfall will give you a very unique perspective! This is a must do as long as it’s not frozen over in the winter time.
Time: full day
Spend the day walking around downtown shopping. Start the day off with a morning coffee at one of the many coffee shops on the corners and then head up to the Hallgrimskirkja church for the best views in the whole city.The church and the tower are open daily from 9am-9pm. Admission to the tower costs 700kr (around 6$/4.5 Euros). 100kr for children over 7. Spend the morning exploring the church then head back down the street to downtown and stop by to grab one of the famous Iceland hot dogs. I recommend Baejarins Beztu Pylsur down by the port. The hot dogs are around 450ISK but well worth them (Make sure you get them with everything. I went back for seconds!). Then spend an hour around the corner at the Harpa Concert Hall exploring the modern architecture. Then head back to the main drag in downtown for so well deserved shopping. The Nordic Store has a great selection and reasonable pricing then head back to your hostel/hotel and relax over some hot chocolate. For dinner eat at Ostabudin off Skólavörðustígur 8, 101. It is a hidden gym of Reykjavik and is a must have while there.
Time: 3 hours
The northern lights is one those once in a lifetime experiences that you cannot miss! Unfortunately the weather was not cooperating while I was there and I did not see them..major bummer. However, if you are fortunate enough to have good clear sky’s while you are there it is a must see. The best time of year to see them is during the winter months of September to April. I used Reykjavik Excursions again and they charged 6.400ISK (about 64USD). The nice thing with this company is that if you do not see the northern lights then they give you a voucher to comeback till you do see them! This is awesome! I ended up having three opportunities to go out and see them. Make sure you take a tripod to take photos because you need to have a really stable platform to take photos at night.
Other Things To Do
There are plenty of other things you can do in a few days in Reykjavik. If you want to switch out the South Shore Adventures with the Golden circle that is a great option too! If you have more time than a few days in Iceland I would recommend renting a car and driving the ring road. This is an amazing opportunity but try and do this during the summer months of May to September because some of the road may be hard to pass.
I found that I needed another day or two in Reykjavik to not feel rushed. I would highly recommend bringing some waterproof hiking shoes or boots with you if you are wanting to do any off trail adventures such as glacier climbs or off trail hiking. Iceland is an amazing country that is a must see on any adventure seekers itinerary. I hope this helps and if you have any questions shoot me an email!