15 AWESOME Day Trips From Reykjavik [2019 • Local Guide]

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15 AWESOME Day Trips From Reykjavik [2019 • Local Guide]

Reykjavik is an amazing travel destination. Whilst the city itself is small and compact with all of its major sights viewable in a day, the capital of Iceland is the gateway to a whole country full of incredible landscapes.

There is a whole lot of adventure to be had in easy day trips from Reykjavik. Travel just an hour from the city limits and you’ll be surrounded by surreal landscapes, rushing waterfalls and be in with a chance of catching the Northern Lights as they illuminate the night sky.

When it comes to budget travel, Iceland doesn’t usually come to mind but we’ve gathered together the best cheap day trip from Reykjavik to proves that Iceland doesn’t always have to break the bank.

There are some amazingly romantic day trips from Reykjavik for couples, just think about discovering glistening caves full of icicles.

And for those of you travelling with children, you can spend amazing days out having adventures you’ll never forget.

Additional reading – Where to Stay in Reykjavik [No Stress Guide], 17 Unbelievable Hotels in Reykjavik [Budget Guide] and 20 AMAZING Things to Do in Reykjavik [Bargain Guide]. 

Quick Answer: Best Day Trips from Reykjavik

#1 – Golden Circle

Romantic Day Trips from Reykjavik City for Couples

Reykjavik-Golden-Circle-Full-Day-Tour-with-Kerid-Crater

  • Erupting geysers
  • Explore amazing scenery
  • UNESCO landmark

Making a romantic day trip from Reykjavik is a must if you’re in the city with your other half. This day out is ideal for couples and packs a whole lot of sights in for the ultimate adventure. Be treated to a day being driven around to the iconic sights for a totally stress-free time.

Firstly, stop off in the Geysir area where you can see the amazing spectacle of geysers erupting; the boiling water of the Strokkur Hot Spring as it spouts water 30 metres into the air is quite something. Then it’s onwards to the incredible nature of Þingvellir National Park.

This is where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia are separating a few centimetres every year. The park is actually a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is where you can see the stunning scenery of the rift valley and the first Viking Parliament at the Rock of Law.

You’ll also get to see Lake Kerið and drive through rural Iceland around what’s known as ‘the Golden Circle’ – and for good reason.

#2 – Waterfalls South Coast Tour

Iceland-Full-Day-South-Coast-and-Waterfalls-Tour

  • Rugged farmland
  • Incredible basalt columns
  • Gushing waterfalls

Travel to the rural regions outside of Reykjavik and gaze in wonder at the farmland in the south of Iceland. A super romantic day trip from Reykjavik for couples, you’ll get to spend the day together being pretty mesmerised by the Land of Fire.

See the black sand on the beach at Reynisfjara and be awestruck by the basalt columns along the coast here. The scenery has been created over the millennium by volcanoes and glaciers and a simple day trip feels like you are visiting another world entirely.

There are many myths and legends surrounding the area; one, in particular, says that the basalt columns are actually naughty trolls which were turned to rock by the sunrise.

Make sure to explore the Skogafoss waterfall and feel the power of the spray as the river tumbles over the precipice above. There are caves and cliffs to explore behind the falls for an extra spot of adventure.

#3 – Gullfoss

Gullfoss

photo credits:Arctic Adventures

  • Powerful waterfall
  • Amazing natural scenery
  • Winter wonderland

There is something about waterfalls that always seems to attract people looking for a bit of adventure. Perhaps it’s the power of nature and lush natural scenery that usually surrounds them, this thing about this day trip from Reykjavik for couples is that it’s to a waterfall in a cold climate.

There be no swimming in tropical pools or jungle hiking here but actually, it’s a whole lot more romantic than that.

There are a whole lot icy waterfalls in Iceland but Gullfoss is the most spectacular one by far. This unbelievably awesome waterfall is set in a wintery wonderland and will wow you with its power.

Located in a canyon in the Hvítá river, you can watch as the water cascades through the canyon over two different drops.

The big and powerful waterfall has the highest volume of water of any fall in Europe, which is no surprise when you see it. Make sure to pack your camera: when the light catches at the right angle, a magical rainbow is revealed.

#4 – Lava Caving

From-Reykjavik-Lava-Caving-Small-Group-Adventure

  • Real adventure
  • Lava tubes
  • See the winter caves

You and your partner might be looking for a romantic day trip from Reykjavik, but don’t you want a little bit of added adventure as well? Push the boundaries of your trip and try out something really exciting…

This day trip is set in the subterranean world that lies beneath all of Iceland’s lava. Other tours might take you for a stroll around the lava fields themselves, but this one goes a whole lot further. Get kitted up in all the necessary safety equipment and enjoy a few hours undergrounds on this couples’ day out.

It’s a weird and wonderful world down there. You’ll get to see the mysterious phenomena of lava tubes where lava once flowed and discover more about our planet and how it was formed.

Check out curious rock formations from ancient volcanic eruptions and, for the most romantic part of this day out, step inside the winter cave and see the cavernous space glisten with thousands of icicles – sure to make this adventure super special.

#5 – Thingvellir & Thjorsárdalur

Full-Day-Iceland-Game-of-Thrones-Tour

  • Great for Game of Thrones fans
  • Learn about Icelandic history
  • Incredible scenery

Are you and your partner Game of Thrones fans? If so, this could just be the perfect day trip from Reykjavik for you.

Littered with filming locations for the epic HBO series, Iceland is a hotspot for all things Game of Thrones. From Reykjavik, you can travel to Thingvellir, home to a sweeping, rugged gorge that you’ll recognise as the home of the White Walkers – the lands Beyond the Wall, of course.

This national park of Thingvellir was once the seat of Iceland’s parliament (10th to the 18th centuries) and is home to important historical sites, like the ruins of stone shelters and Thingvellir Church.

You’ll also get the chance to explore nearby Thjorsárdalur valley, home to starkly beautiful scenery (and one of the bloodiest scenes in Game of Thrones, of course). There’s a Viking-era settlement to learn about here, too.

All in all, as nature, history and fantasy rush into one thing, you’ll find that this is easily one of the best romantic day trips from Reykjavik.

 

P.S. – These are the 25 MUST KNOW facts about the history of Reykjavik!

#6 – Northern Lights by Boat

Northern-Lights-by-Boat-in-Reykjavik

  • Evening at sea
  • Search out the northern lights
  • Luxury boat

Spend an evening speeding your way across the water to hunt down the northern lights. A magical way to experience the aurora borealis, this is an amazingly romantic day trip for couples from Reykjavik.

You’ll leave Reykjavik’s old harbour and city lights behind and cruise across the North-Atlantic ocean for a trip that will be unforgettable. Sit back for the next few hours aboard the luxury boat glimpsing the views along the coastline as your captain sails in search of the Northern Lights.

Within half an hour at sea, you’ll drop anchor in the ideal location and wait as the sky opens up and is illuminated with majestic waves of colour: the Lights themselves.

An effortlessly romantic evening spent under the stars, and a chance to tick off an amazing experience from your bucket list.

#7 – Vik

Vik

photo credits:Arctic Adventures

  • Charming village
  • Enormous Glacier
  • Amazing beach

Taking time on your holiday to Reykjavik to explore other towns and villages means that you get to learn so much more about Icelandic cultures.

Make the day trip from Reykjavik to the village of Vik. It’s easy to get to from the city, just take the bus in the morning as travel along the south coast all the way to the southernmost village in the country.

A fantastic place to spend the day out, the small, remote village has a lot going for it and is the ideal location for a romantic day trip for couples from Reykjavik.

Sitting just south of the magnificent Mýrdalsjökull glacier that is perched over the Katla volcano. Kalta hasn’t erupted since 1918, but the village’s fate lies in the shadow of the volcano as it is thought to erupt at any point in the near future.

Aside from scary volcanic eruptions, the area is home to amazing scenery with intriguing rock formation along the coast here.

#8 – Northern Lights

Day Trips from Reykjavik with Kids

Iceland-Northern-Lights-Bus-Tour-from-Reykjavik

  • Learn about the Northern Lights
  • SEE the Northern Lights!
  • Enjoy atmospheric nature

Iceland is one of the best places in the world to see the famous Northern Lights (also known as the Aurora Borealis), so what better way to amaze your children and have a memorable time on your Iceland holiday than with a day trip from Reykjavik to see this spectacle of nature?

Since it’s unpredictable when it will appear – though it’s best viewed in winter – you can actually go on a tour that only leaves when meteorologists have predicted the lights will be at their very best.

So on this family day trip from Reykjavik, you’ll head out to areas where there’s little to no artificial light to get the full effect of the show. A guide will be with you to teach your children (and you) about what causes this natural phenomenon.

It’s no doubt that seeing these incredible lights dance in the sky will leave a lasting impression on you and children. What a cool way to spend a day trip from Reykjavik with kids in tow.

 

Like tours? These are the BEST tours in Reykjavik!

#9 – Jökulsárlón Glacier

Jokulsarlon-Glacier-Lagoon-Full-Day-Tour-from-Reykjavik

  • Glacier gazing
  • Educational
  • Huge lagoon

If you’re in Iceland with your children then you probably want to show them loads of the incredible scenery, a great way to explore the drama of this part of the world is by visiting a glacier.

Take the bus all the way along the picturesque southern coast to the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon for what is surely one of the top day trips from Reykjavik with kids.

This visit to the largest glacier in Europe is sure to leave an impression and teach your children about the ecosystem and the natural balance of the planet, as well as being a pretty epic place to visit as well.

The deepest and biggest glacier lagoon in Iceland, Jökulsárlón borders the Vatnajökull National Park in an area of outstanding natural beauty. Make sure you take a trip on a boat that will take your family right up close to glaciers. You might catch sight of some seals too!

#10 – Whale Watching

Whale-Watching-Excursion

  • Fun boat trip
  • Dramatic Icelandic coast
  • See whales!

A beautiful sight to see, whale watching is definitely one way you’ll be able to give your children a rewarding experience on your holiday to Reykjavik.

Since a tour to go to actually watch the whales leaves from the city’s harbour itself, this actually makes for a good half day trip from Reykjavik with kids – leaving you time to do more in the city after seeing the graceful giants of the sea.

Peak season, i.e. when the whales migrate, is from April to October, so this is the best time to embark on this family day trip from Reykjavik.

Of course, even if you don’t get to see anything, there’s still the absolutely stunning Icelandic coast to soak up – and the boat trip itself is going to be an exciting day out, especially for younger children.

The boat itself will come complete with friendly, professional guides who’ll teach your children all there is to know about whales. And if anyone gets hungry you can buy snacks and drinks on board. There’s even Wi-Fi!

#11 – Horse Riding in Lava Fields

Icelandic-Horse-Riding-Tour-in-Lava-Fields

  • Lava Field landscapes
  • Explore ancient paths
  • Strange rock formations

There can’t be a better way to get outdoors in Iceland and get acquainted with the wilds of nature than on the back of a horse. This excursion will lead you and your family on a fun day trip from Reykjavik as you travel through actual lava fields.

There’s nothing to worry about if you aren’t the best rider: the horses are very friendly and more than used to trotting along the old paths. Trek across amazing green hills in search of strange and sometimes silly looking rock formations on a day trip that you can all enjoy.

The horses are a traditional way to travel around here and have been used as transport for over a thousand years; they’re actually specially bred and are able to steadily traverse the landscape with a unique gait called a tölt.

An enjoyable time in unique surroundings, the area you’ll be exploring is just outside of Hafnarfjörður, only ten minutes drive from Reykjavík.

#12 – Hveragerði

Hveragerdi

photo credits:Hveragerði

  • Local day out
  • See steaming geysers
  • Swim in the river

For a super fun family day out from Reykjavik, head to the town of Hveragerði. It’s only 45 kilometres west of Reykjavik and though it can rbe eached by the easy bus network in a couple of hours.

A fun and very local day out, this is a favourite of locals from the city – and you can join them in the family atmosphere. Make sure to pack your swimming gear… because after a walk along the winding river you’ll see why so many people like spending their days off here.

After an easy hour’s hike from Hveragerði, you’ll notice numerous steaming geysers will be letting off steam from beneath the earth.

Walk on a little further along the river for about half an hour until you until where you see people in the river: they’re enjoying the benefits of the geothermal power of the Earth itself here, bathing where the river itself has been heated.

Make sure you and your family get in where it’s not too hot and then spend the afternoon splashing in the warmth of these magical thermal waters.

#13 – Esja

Best Cheap Day Trips from Reykjavik

Esja

photo credits:Nordic Visitor Iceland

  • Easy bus trip
  • Hike on a volcanic mountain
  • Soak up amazing panoramic views

Why not make the trip northeast of the city to the Esja mountains? Ok, they might not be really far from the city, but that means being easily reached by public transport which is always great for keeping costs low.

Take the bus from Reykjavik to Mjódd and then change for the bus to Esjuræter Hiking Center for a day for a super simple and cheap day trip from Reykjavik.

This is the ideal for trying out some hiking when you don’t fancy using a guide, beyond the hiking here is rough countryside landscape is a barren and mountainous and weaves through farmlands that stretches on for miles.

Make sure you have packed some lunch and a flask filled with a hot drink and head off on your hike. Stick to a path, head upwards and you’ll be rewarded with some breathtakingly fantastic views from the top of the volcanic mountain range.

#14 – Rauðhólar

Raudholar

photo credits:Guide to Iceland

  • Easy hiking routes
  • See amazing black sand
  • Otherworldly landscape

For a simple, straightforward and, moreover, cheap day trip from Reykjavik, you don’t need to travel too far at all. Take the bus from the city and change at Mhódd, after which you should take the bus to Norðlingabraut for some really great hiking trails at Rauðhólar.

You can spend the day at this suburban nature reserve either hiking, mountain biking or even horse riding through the wild Icelandic scenery.

There’s a wide selection of trails to follow and signs to let you know that you’re heading in the right direction, it’s a really special place where you can hike in the alien landscape, formed by a cluster of pseudocraters.

Snap some pictures of the heaps of black volcanic sand and the weird rock formations. This is a really unique place for a easy hike in a marvellously mysterious martian slice of the countryside; you’ll see why this place is called Rauðhólar – red hills.

That’s it!

There’s an amazing amount of nature to pack into your trip to Reykjavik – you’re going to find it hard to decide what trip to do first.

Exploring the lava caves is a pretty awesome and unique day trip to do and something that you’ll always remember, but visiting the many waterfalls and glaciers is always going to an be epic adventure too.

We just hope that you get good weather and perfect skies for when you head out to catch sight of the Northern Lights!

About the Author Aaron Hovanesian

Born in Los Angeles, Aaron Hovanesian is one of the original staff writers for Hotel Jules. Having backpacked the world as a young man, Aaron now prefers to travel the world in luxury, proudly staying in the world's most amazing hotels and properties. When Aaron is not traveling he lives in Western Colorado he can be found brewing his own beer (probably an IPA) or spending time with his two amazing golden retrievers.

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