During my trip to Iceland, I stayed in downtown Reykjavik for a whole week. There was so much to see in the area, or close by at least, so we rented a car and did lots of road tripping! Here are my favorite places that we made stops at during my stay (everything is within three hours of driving from downtown Reykjavik).
1. Downtown Reykjavik
The area has a lot to offer from restaurants to historical museums, to a wild nightlife. The pier is close by and most of the restaurants serve lots of seafood, especially cod, although there is a variety of menu options as well. The National History Museum is about a fifteen minute walk from the city center and is worth the visit. There’s a lot of information about the settlement and a plethora of cool Viking artifacts. We visited a Viking museum as well as a Northern Lights Museum downtown.
2. Larvurger Shopping Street
The shopping street runs straight into the downtown area. Everything is close by because it is a small city. Our hotel was almost directly between the two so I would definitely recommend staying at the City Center Thingholt Hotel. It was perfect! The shops are fun to look in and you might pick up some licorice candy, ceramics or a wool sweater while you’re there.
3. Skogafoss Waterfall
The Golden Circle contains some of Iceland’s top natural attractions. This waterfall was one of them, and one of our longer drives, about three hours away, but definitely worth it. This waterfall stands about 200 feet tall and you will most likely feel like you just got out of the shower if you get too close!
4. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
This waterfall is about 15 minutes away from Skogafoss so it’s convenient to visit them back-to-back if you’re going to make the drive. There are also plenty of day tours that will take you to a few different attractions if you would rather take that route. This waterfall was amazing because you can actually walk behind it (you will most definitely get soaked if you do), so wear a waterproof jacket! The scenery was amazing behind the fall – vibrant green grass was growing out of the pitch black lava rock and icicles were stuck to the ends.
5. Gullfoss Waterfall
Gulfoss or “Goden Falls” is in a flatter area, so when we visited, it was the most windy place I have ever experienced in my life. It was freezing! This waterfall is shaped like a staircase flowing into a crevice. It covers a much larger space than the other two.
6. Stokkur Geyser
Geysers are one of the coolest natural forces that I have ever seen. The Stokkur Geyser is one of the famous geothermal hot spots in Iceland, and it shoots a column of water up to 30 meters in the air every 4-8 minutes.
7. Turf Houses, Skogar
When in Iceland, you must visit a turf house! Most of these houses from the Viking age have been preserved pretty well. There is a well preserved area in Skogar, by the Skogafoss waterfall. There is a little museum and artifacts still in the houses. They dressed some of it up to look how it would have back during the Viking age.
8. Reynisfjara Beach, Vik
The Black Sand Beach is about three and a half hours away, but definitely worth the trek. This was one of my favorite places in Iceland. The sand is pitch black from the lava rock, and the water is so fresh. Take precautions on getting too close because the waves are gigantic. There are also iconic basalt sea stacks emerging from the ground on the beach. You won’t see this rock formation anywhere else!
9. Solheimajokull Glacier
There are lots of glaciers worth visiting in Iceland, it just depends on what time of the year you are visiting the country. Many of them are closed in summer, when we went, for caving or hiking due to dangers from the ice melting. We still did a hike on one of the smaller glaciers and it was amazing! The ice appears to be baby blue (it is really just a reflection of the sky giving it a blue tint) and layers of black ash embedded in the ice. It is gorgeous and the weather is very unpredictable –- it rained, snowed, and hailed all in a matter of the two hours that we were up there!
10. The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon was my absolute favorite place in Iceland, maybe even in the world. There is no other place like these natural hot springs. We stayed at the Blue Lagoon hotel for one night. It is pricey, but definitely worth it. The large day spa that is open to the public is huge and very crowded during the day. The hotel offers a private lagoon to the guests staying the night. I enjoyed this hotel pool even more because it is a lot less crowded and there is a natural silica mud lining on the bottom of the pool so it is all squishy under your feet. The minerals in the baths and silica mud will leave your skin feeling plump and your muscles feeling completely rejuvenated. The Blue Lagoon Iceland is absolutely stunning, relaxing, and provided excellent service!
And of course you need to see the Northern Lights during your stay, but the location will change depending on the weather each night!
Katie has been an adventure seeker her whole entire life. She grew up in Colorado, went to Arizona State University, and is now living the California dream in Los Angeles. She loves to travel and experience or seek out an understanding of different cultures. She has always loved design and been in tact with her creative side- recently deciding to pursue work in graphic design and photography. Combining these two interests, she has created www.fitblondevagabond.org. This is a female travel blog where readers can explore beautiful destinations and once in a lifetime things to do in certain destinations all over the world and ‘check it off their bucketlist!’ And yes, she loves health and fitness too. She has been a locally competitive crossfit athlete for two years now.