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Recommendations for Two Days in Iceland

We are doing an Extended Layover in Iceland in May and will have two full days. We will rent a car so we can get out to see more. I just started looking at hotels in Reykjavik, but now I'm wondering if that is the best area for a home base. Should we stay in Reykjavik and head out to others areas both days, or is there somewhere further out we should stay in order to see the most in that timeframe? Would love any suggestions. Thanks!

Posted by
72 posts

The hotel Skalakot is well located and the hotel is simply amazing. I would spend both nights there and do your touring from there. I wouldn't stay in Reykjavik and we spent 15 days touring the west and east of Reykjavik.

Posted by
2399 posts

I personally wouldn't rent a car for just two days as at least half a day in Reykjavik is worthwhile (and no point having a car there). There are many decently designed day trips from central Reykjavik - Golden Circle, South Coast, etc. and plenty of tour companies to choose from. Most use the tourist bus stop system for easy pick up/drop off from central city areas, so staying in the city is not a huge inconvenience in that regard. Also note it takes a solid 45 minutes to drive from KEF to central city, so factor that in to your planning to/from airport.

Posted by
72 posts

And if you want to go west, "The Black Timber House" is an airbnb that is just plain awesome. We loved, loved, loved it there! We spent 4 nights there and would go back in a heartbeat.

Posted by
72 posts

Our personal opinion, was that, with 2 full days in Iceland, you don't even need to visit Reykjavik. It's a city. The beauty of Iceland is the countryside. In my personal opinion and my husband's too.

Posted by
692 posts

I assume that if you are coming from the US that your flight arrives early morning the first day. Jet lag is very real due to the fact that the overnight flights from eastern US aren't long enough to get good rest. Could you make your layover three days? Use the first day to go to Blue Lagoon and stay in Reykjavik to recover from jet lag. Then on second and third day head down the south coast as far as Vik and stay in that area, then staying somewhere near the airport before your flight out.

Posted by
2141 posts

We spent 2 1/2 days in Reykjavik on our own after disembarking from a cruise. We stayed at the Canopy by Hilton and would recommend it, good downtown location. We booked a northern lights tour with Bus Travel for one evening. We also did an 11-hour tour with Nice Travel that covered the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, and Kerid Crater. There were only 8 people on the tour, the guide was great, and we enjoyed the day. For 2 days, I wouldn't rent a car. Lots to see in and around Reykjavik.

https://nicetravel.is/tours/golden-circle-blue-lagoon-and-kerid-crater/

https://bustravel.is/

Posted by
107 posts

Thank you all for this advice! Lots to think about.

I love the idea of not getting a car if we stay in Reykjavik and scheduling tours to get further out. We did that in Dublin and it worked well, so I know that could be good.

But also, those two places posted by @matureandtravels both look amazing! Wow. We would absolutely love something like that, with a car, and traveling around on our own to see the sights in those areas.

Thanks for the specific tour recommendation, @Donna.

@naalehuretiree This extended stay is on the tail end of a trip to Norway so jetlag shouldn't be an issue by then. Good thoughts, though.

Posted by
8971 posts

I was only in Iceland for 2.5 days in Aug. Stayed in town and did a food tour on my arrival day, from 1500-18:00, so got to see a bit of the city, have some great food, and learn some history too. Next day, did a South Coast tour, with bus pick up and only 19 participants. It was a lot of driving, but it was soooo worth it and our guide was great. Next day, did a Golden Circle tour, ending with 2 hours in at the Sky Lagoon, including their 7 step ritual. Again, a long day, but so what. That tour was small, only 4 more people and me.
You can read my trip report under the trip report section.

If I had to pick one tour over the other, would do the South Coast over the Golden Circle tour. Though I liked both of them for different reasons, the South Coast tour is more stunning and you see more I think.

Posted by
2094 posts

We have been to Iceland a number of times and if I were you, I would take Ms Jo's plan. On arrival day I would also suggest doing the
Citywalk "free" walking tour (tip at the end). It gives such a great overview of the city/country and is a lot of fun. We have done that a. couple of times on arrival day and it works well for us. Same with the food tour, which we are doing again on our upcoming arrival day. There are coupons right now for the original food tour if you book with Wakeup Reykjavik.

There are some wonderful local pools right in Reykjavik as well. Or Sky Lagoon which is on the outskirts of town, about a 10-15 minute drive or bus ride.

As for lodging, there are numerous great places to stay. Without having an itinerary, I would work the itinerary first and then decide on lodging.

Even though you are traveling in May, if you rent a car do not forget to keep checking the weather and road apps as weather in Iceland changes on a dime.

The south coast is a very typical place for first time visitors to go. It is great, but don't forget to look at Snaefellsness. A full day trip there is sort of like a mini version of the island as the terrain is constantly changing and you see so many different things. If you do this and want to go a hot spring, Hvammsvik is especially good. It is our favorite commercial one of all of the ones we have done on various trips. It sits right on a fjord and that is. the cold plunge. Plus 7 or 8 hot pools of varying temperatures. The setting is just beautiful and when we went last July, it was not busy at all and had a fraction of the people at Blue or Sky.

Posted by
107 posts

Thanks, @Ms. Jo and @mikliz97! I really appreciate the specific recommendations. I'll look into all these options!

Posted by
9 posts

Hi mhsrmoore, I had the same question you asked. Really appreciate Donna's recommendations. We too will be disembarking from a cruise in Reykjavik, (June - arrive Sat early and leave on Tuesday) and are looking for a hotel and tour company for day trips. We have 3 days and will only get a glimpse of what Iceland has to offer. I haven't booked a flight out yet, so we might get an extra half day. We will rent a car if it makes sense, but it would be lovely to leave the driving to the local experts. I know it's considered touristy, but we want to do the Blue Lagoon, plus Gullfoss and Seljalandsfoss are on our list. I'm wondering if that's all we can squeeze into our time frame. What else is a must-do? It's just two of us and our interests are architecture, history, beautiful scenery and of course food! Thanks to this great travel group for your time and advice. Meg

Posted by
2440 posts

Stay in Reykjavik. We twice have had an apartment ( booked thru booking.com ) near the big church. Don’t bother with a car, Iceland has an excellent tourism infrastructure. One day take a ‘golden circle’ tour, the second do a ‘southern coast’ tour.

Posted by
107 posts

Hi, MegWest. We have decided not to rent a car but to do tours out of Reykjavik. We are doing the Wake Up Reykjavik Food Tour the first evening we arrive. Then we'll do an all-day tour the next full day. I'm figuring out which one now; probably the south coast. Then we have a partial day before an evening flight, so I think we can do the Golden Circle before heading to the airport. I'm working on that plan, anyway. I think this will work well for a quick stay in Iceland!