Reykjavik, the far-flung yet surprisingly cosmopolitan capital of Iceland, is filled with more attractions than its compactness might suggest. And its small size means you can see a lot in a single day, from historic landmarks and Viking influences to mountains and geysers. Here are a few ways to spend one day in Reykjavik.
Morning: Take in the City’s Sights
Reykjavik is a highly walkable city, making an on-foot tour an enjoyable way to see the sights. Most walking tours comprehensively cover the main landmarks, such as Hallgrimskirkja Church and Harpa Concert Hall, with enlightening commentary. To get just outside the city center, opt for a bike tour or book round-trip transport from the Blue Lagoon. Private or group minibus tours, on the other hand, cover even more ground in less time, while hop-on hop-off bus tours have the added benefit of allowing you to set your own itinerary and pace.
Afternoon: Experience Otherworldly Landscapes
Although it’s impossible to see all of Iceland in one day, you can still see some of Iceland’s famed geysers, hot springs, and lava fields from the air. Helicopter tours leave from Reykjavik’s domestic airport (conveniently located downtown) and typically fly to Thingvellir National Park and Thorisjokull glacier, or to Eyjafjallajokull glacier and Katla volcano. Some helicopter tours focus on Iceland’s geothermal landscapes while others allow for mountain summit landings. If you’d rather stay on the ground, off-road quad biking tours can give you a taste of the wilderness in a short time.
Night: Marvel at Iceland’s Night Sky
If traveling in summer, long daylight hours mean you can fit in more activities. Take advantage of the midnight sun to get out of the city on an evening Golden Circle tour that departs from Reykjavik and travels to Thingvellir, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. Winter, on the other hand, brings the aurora borealis. You have several options for northern lights tours: travel by coach, boat, or Super Jeep. Most tours head out into the countryside and away from light pollution, and some offer a free second chance if you don’t see the aurora that night.