Advice for 2 Day Layover in Iceland

Good afternoon, We will be spending two days in Iceland en route to other destinations in Europe and were wondering if anyone has any advice or prior travel experience. Although we tend to be independent in our traveling with only two days to tour the country I am thinking it may be best to book an excursion with a tour operator each day instead of exploring on our own. We will be based out of Reykjavik. Any suggestions for "must-see" sights, excursions, or recommended tour operators? Thank you all so much! Aaron

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
827 posts

We spent 3 days in Iceland last September. We spent the first day driving the "Golden Circle" loop. It was our favorite part of the trip. If you don't have a car, there are many day long tours of this area. Or you might consider renting even for just a day and doing it at your own pace. Just south of Reykjavik is the Blue Lagoon. I think you can use public transportation to get to the Blue Lagoon. It is quite pricey (30 plus euros a person), so we did not go in. We did spend a day driving around the Keflavik Peninsula and stopped to see it. We visited another hot springs right on town that was very reasonably priced, but not much different than using a hot tub at a local pool or resort. Our last 2 days it was rainy (Our first day was spectacular). Because of that, we did visit the National Museum in Reykjavik and it was quite good. If it had not been rainy, we would have driven north to hike and see some more waterfalls. I checked out the Lonely Planet guide and Frommers Iceland book at the library and used them for help in planning. I highly recommend you do that as well. I really did not want to buy a guidebook fro a 3 day trip, but the library had the most current editions and they were very helpful.

Posted by Aaron
Minnesota
4 posts

Connie, Thank you for the great advice! We are much more independent and hoped we would be able to go off an explore on our own, provided it was feasible and doable. What was your experience with the car rental agency (which one did you use) and if you went back, would you use them again? Thanks Connie!!!

Posted by Connie
Everett, WA
827 posts

We used SS car rentals and were very happy with them: http://www.carrentalss.com/ They met us at the airport with the car. They showed us what to do when we dropped it off, we paid and it could not have been easier. They did warn us about how no insurance covers the under carriage, but we were not planning on taking it on any rough roads anyway. There are a lot of 4 wheel drive roads in Iceland, but we did not plan on doing any of those. If you do want to do that, You should rent a 4 wheel drive vehicle! All the roads we used were either paved or well groomed dirt roads. We liked being able to visit and stay at each site for as long as we wanted. We picked up our car about 7:00 am and headed right up to Gulfoss Falls. (awesome) We also visited "geysir" and Pingvelllir. We stayed out in that area in a Youth Hostel, but we easily could have made it Reykjavik for the night. Let me know if you have any other questions.

Posted by Heather
Seattle, WA, USA
30 posts

Hi Aaron, My husband did the Golden Circle Bus Tour (all day, hits the major geological attractions of Geysir, waterfalls, etc). He especially enjoyed the stop to see a greenhouse where tomatoes and cucumbers are grown YEAR ROUND, and learning more about agriculture and geothermal energy use in Iceland. It is fascinating how Icelanders have adapted technology to harness the resources they have. You can't do the country of Iceland in 2 days, that's for sure, but doing the "Golden Circle" on your own with a car, or with one of the tour companies, is the best way to get a taste for the diverse landscape. Reykjavik is a fun city to explore, and we did it on foot (it's mostly flat, with wide pedestrian / bicycle right of ways) and by city bus, which was fast and frequent. Of course Reykjavik is mobbed with tourists, but Icelanders are generally friendly and receptive to your curiosity. Our favorite experience: We were staying at an apartment we rented through airbnb. We met the family that lived downstairs because their cat came running into our flat. The family invited us in for drinks and pastry at 11:00 at night, and told us all about their lives, pulling out photo albums, sharing their views on current events. Have a great time, and if you can, extend your stay to more than 2 days. We were there 4 days, and it was not enough time!