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Iceland Itinerary – How To Spend 1 – 3 Days In Iceland

Iceland, the ‘land of fire and ice’, attracts over 2 million tourists each year.

The island country sits between Norway and Greenland and has a population of just under 400,000, most of whom live in the capital city of Reykjavik.

It’s famous for its dramatic and diverse landscape of volcanoes, glaciers, hot springs, geysers and lava fields. As well as being a favoured destination for spotting the famous Northern Lights (aurora borealis).

So after years of dreaming about visiting Iceland, I partnered up with Jet2CityBreaks to visit Reykjavik and finally venture over on a little frosty exploration.

If you’re looking to do something similar check out Jet2’s European City Breaks or Winter City Breaks for a hassle free tick on the bucket list.

Jet2 organised our Flights to Reykjavik, as well as our accommodation at the awesome Exeter Hotel, and here’s how the Iceland itinerary went down.

How to Get Around Iceland

Iceland is a relatively small country at roughly 300 miles east to west and just under 200 miles north to south.

Car

Iceland has a ring road called Route 1 that encircles the whole of country. This makes it pretty straightforward to get around by car, especially during the better weather in the summer.

Many of Icelands popular tourist attractions are not far from the capital city of Reykjavik. So if you’re based there, you don’t have to go far to hit the top spots.

Hiring a car, or even a camper van, from the one of the many rental companies in Reykjavik, is a great way to explore the country at your own pace.

Bus

The Straeto public bus system operates buses in the city of Reykjavík, as well as around the country.

There are also numerous private bus companies offering tours and excursions from Reykjavík to many of the top landmarks and attractions.

Tour

For those short on time, or that prefer everything to be organised for them, there are some awesome tours on Get Your Guide available to book in advance.

Best Time To Visit Iceland

Iceland is a year round destination and it will depend on your personal preferences as to the best time to visit.

The summer season of June, July and August are when most tourists choose to visit. This is when the days are at their longest and the weather is at its mildest.

If you want to avoid the crowds, either side of these summer months, and when the children are in school, is the best option.

However, don’t rule out a visit during the winter months. Snow covered Iceland is a magical place and, although the days are shorter, there are still plenty of activities on offer.

Between September and March, when the nights are long, is the best time to see the Northern Lights, if that’s a priority on your bucket list.

What To Pack

Photography Camera

Tripod

Day Bag

Power Bank

Reusable Water Bottle

Sunscreen

Lightweight Rain Jacket

Quick Dry Towel

GoPro

Lifeproof Phone Case

Dry Bag

Beanie Hat

Knit Gloves

Dyrholaey Viewpoint Iceland Itinerary

Iceland Itinerary Day 1

Explore Reykjavik

Rainbow Street

For an uplifting start to the first day of your 3 day Iceland itinerary, just head to Rainbow Street in the downtown area of Reykjavik.

Originally named Skolavordustigur, it’s now more well known as Rainbow Street, due to the brightly coloured rainbow painted along the surface of the road.

Initially, the rainbow was a temporary decoration for the city’s yearly Pride Week. However, since 2019 it has become a permanent symbol of support for diversity in Iceland.

Rainbow Street offers up some amazing, colourful photo opportunities, especially with the impressive Hallgrimskirkja church standing proudly in the background.

There are also lots of nice little cafes, cute souvenir shops and trendy boutiques to visit. 

For more information, the First Discovery Walk and Reading Walking Tour is an inexpensive phone app. This talks you through attractions in Reykjavik, including Rainbow Street.

Rainbow Street Reykjavik Itinerary
Rainbow Street Reykjavik Itinerary

Hallgrimskirkja Church

You literally can’t miss the next destination. Located at the top of Rainbow Street, and dominating the skyline, Hallgrimskirkja is the largest church in Iceland.

The spectacular tower of this church reaches 73 metres high. Consequently, from its peak, it offers amazing, panoramic views across the city and out to the surrounding mountains and ocean.

The minimalist interior of the church is filled with light from the tall plain glass windows. Undeniably the stand-out feature of the interior however, is the large church organ that stands at over 15 metres high.

It’s free to visit Hallgrimskirkja church, although there is a small charge to go up to the open-air viewing platform at the top of the tower.

If you like a tour, the popular Sightseeing Walking Tour with a Viking is a unique, 2 hour city tour that includes a visit to Hallgrimskirkja Church.

Hallgrimskirkja Church Reykjavik Itinerary
Hallgrimskirkja Church Reykjavik Itinerary

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur

Now for a food stop and, for something quick and inexpensive, the famous hot dog stand – Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – is perfect.

Bæjarins Beztu’s signature hot dog consists of the normal bun and sausage (Pylsur). However, what makes it unique is that the sausage meat is mostly lamb, rather than pork or beef as seen in other countries.

The toppings available are raw or crispy onions, ketchup, mustard and mayonnaise. The ketchup is sweeter than you would normally expect, as is the mustard, but make for delicious garnishes.

The flagship stand on Tryggvagata is open from 9am until late every day. So don’t miss this famous Icelandic hot dog off your Iceland itinerary.

If you want to save your legs the Reykjavik: City Sightseeing Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour is a great option for getting around the city.

If you’re vegetarian like me, head over to Vikinga Pylsur for a veggie dog.

Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur Reykjavik Itinerary
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur Reykjavik Itinerary
Vikinga Pylsur Reykjavik Itinerary
Vikinga Pylsur Reykjavik Itinerary

The Icelandic Phallological Museum

Next, a popular tourist attraction that is a little quirky and can only be found in Reykjavik.

Just a few minutes walk from Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is the Icelandic Phallological Museum. For a fascinating and truly unique experience, this has to on the 3 day Iceland itinerary.

The exhibition includes 300 penises that have been collected from a variety of species, including humans. There is also a folklore exhibition of mythological penises belong to elves, trolls, kelpies etc.

This modern, large museum has plenty of room to get around and see all the exhibits. It’s also home to a penis-themed bistro and a souvenir shop!

Open every day from 10am – 7pm, admission is 2500 ISK.

The Icelandic Phallological Museum Reykjavik Itinerary
The Icelandic Phallological Museum Reykjavik Itinerary

Svarta Kaffio

For the perfect finish to your day of exploring Reykjavik, I can highly recommend a visit to Svarta Kaffid.

Located on the main shopping street, this family run business famously serves the ‘Best Soup in Reykjavik’. And, when the locals eat there, you know it’s going to be good!

Their speciality dish of soup served in bread, is why the majority of people visit Svarta Kaffid. Although they do offer a few other dishes as well as a selection of beers and spirits.

Each day there are two soups on offer (flavours change daily). With one always being meat and the other vegetarian. So for a delicious meal, in a friendly and relaxed environment, Svarta Kaffid is the place.

For real foodies, with a little more time, the Reykjavik: Icelandic Food Tour is a great option.

Svarta Kaffid Reykjavik Itinerary
Svarta Kaffid Reykjavik Itinerary
Svarta Kaffid Reykjavik Itinerary

Iceland Itinerary Day 2

Iceland Bucket List Ticks

Visit A Lagoon

Visiting one of the lagoons is usually high on most peoples Iceland bucket list and a great start to day 2 of your Iceland itinerary.

Just a 30 minute drive from Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa that is said to be the most visited attraction in Iceland. In fact, it was included in National Geographic’s 2012 list of 25 Wonders of the World.

The warm waters of the lagoon are said to have healing and regenerative powers due to their high levels of minerals. With free silica mud face masks available poolside.

Also home to the Lagoon Spa, the Lava Restaurant and the Blue Cafe, you can spend many hours here enjoying everything on offer. From bathing, saunas, steam rooms, massages, and health treatments to delicious meals and drinks.

Open every day, hours do vary slightly throughout the year. There are a selection of admission packages starting at 9990 ISK.

Relaxing in the warm and steaming milky blue waters of the Blue Lagoon, surrounded by a spectacular volcanic landscape, has to be a big Iceland bucket list tick!

If you need transport From Reykjavik: Blue Lagoon Admission with Transfers is an option.

Make sure you book in advance though when planning your Iceland itinerary as we left it too last minute and couldn’t get in!

Northern Lights Tour

Another experience that is always on everyones Iceland bucket list, is to witness the Northern Lights, also known as aurora borealis.

Iceland, along with the other Nordic countries that lie within or near the arctic circle, is one of the best places to witness this spectacular, natural light display.

Actually seeing the lights is not a given and will depend on the time of year and the weather conditions. So, your best bet is to take a Northern Lights Tour with one of the very experienced local tour operators based in Reykjavik.

Unfortunately we were out of luck (the second unsuccessful northern lights hunt for me following on from Rovaniemi) so I don’t have any incredible photos to share but we still have a fun evening out.

Prices and packages vary from roughly 7000 ISK and you can guarantee that they are always up-to-speed with the weather conditions, as well as the best places to see the lights.

Additionally, you will have a knowledgeable guide, a warm bus, and on my tour, hot chocolate, cinnamon buns and blankets. Furthermore, if the Northern Lights don’t make an appearance, most of the tour operators offer an open ticket lasting up to 3 years!

One of the popular tours is the Small-Group Premium Northern Lights Tour from Reykjavik.

As one of the best places in the world to see this spectacular light display, a Northern Lights Tour is a must for the 3 day Iceland itinerary.

Northern Lights Tour Iceland Itinerary

Iceland Itinerary Day 3

Iceland Roadtrip

Skogafoss Waterfall

Iceland’s Route 1 ring road around the country is perfect for taking a roadtrip to some of the country’s top attractions.

First stop, and just over 2 hours drive from Reykjavik, has to be spectacular Skogafoss Waterfall.

This impressive waterfall measures 25m wide and has a of drop 60m. The water cascades down into the base creating an abundance of spray.

In fact, there is so much spray that when the sun is shining you can often be rewarded with colourful rainbows. Making for some great photo opportunities.

In addition, if you are feeling energetic, there is a steep, narrow staircase of over 400 steps that takes you up to a viewing platform at the top of the falls.

From here you have scenic views across the surrounding rugged landscape and out over south Iceland’s coastline.

Skogafoss Waterfall is a top tourist attraction for good reason and has to on your Iceland itinerary.

Skogafoss Waterfall Drone Iceland
Skogafoss Waterfall Iceland
Skogafoss Waterfall Iceland

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

After Skogafoss, just a 10 minute drive further along Route 1, is the car park (750 ISK all day) and starting point to visit Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

From the car park you can either walk the 2 miles to the plane wreck or jump on one of the shuttle buses (2900 ISK) that run daily.

The wreck is a US Navy plane that was flying to Naval Air Station Keflavik in 1973 when it was forced to crash land on Solheimasandur beach. Fortunately, all seven crew members escaped unharmed. 

Once the wreck comes into view, sitting on the barren stretch of black sand beach with just the ocean in the background and mountains in the distance, it definitely gives off an ‘otherworldly’ feel.

You’re not allowed to go inside or stand on the plane. Nonetheless, you can still get a good look at the interior through the gaping holes of the wreckage. As well as get some really unusual photos.

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck is undoubtedly a ‘must see’ destination for your Iceland itinerary.

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck Iceland
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck Iceland
Solheimasandur Plane Wreck Iceland

Dyrholaey Viewpoint

The final destination of your road trip, and roughly 16 minutes further on from Solheimasandur Plane Wreck, is the Dyrholaey Viewpoint. Just follow the ring road east before turning right on to road 218.

Parking and entry to Dyrholaey Nature Reserve, where you will find Dyrholaey viewpoint, is free. Opening times are daily from 7am – 7pm, although certain areas can be closed during the nesting season.

Dyrholaey Viewpoint offers a variety of spectacular vistas including the stunning Endless Black Beach which, true to its name, stretches as far the eye can see.

There’s also dramatic Dyrholaey Arch, sitting in the waves, and Dyrholaey lighthouse, with its bright red lantern, perched on top of the cliffs.

This whole area has stunning views of cliffs, ocean, beach, sea stacks, mountains and glaciers. Not forgetting a rich variety of birdlife including Puffins and Arctic Terns. 

So, as the final destination on your Iceland itinerary, Dyrholaey Viewpoint is certain to leave you with some lasting memories of this unique country.

Dyrholaey Viewpoint Iceland Itinerary
Dyrholaey Viewpoint Iceland Itinerary
Dyrholaey Viewpoint Iceland Itinerary
Dyrholaey Viewpoint Iceland Itinerary

Where To Stay In Reykjavik

Luxury

The Reykjavik EDITION

Set in Reykjavík, 600 metres from Solfar Sun Voyager, The Reykjavik EDITION offers accommodation with a fitness centre, private parking, a terrace and a restaurant. This 5-star hotel also offers a bar. 

The accommodation provides room service, a 24-hour front desk and currency exchange for guests. 

The units at the hotel come with a seating area, a flat-screen TV and a safety deposit box. With a private bathroom equipped with a shower and free toiletries, rooms at The Reykjavik EDITION also have free WiFi, while selected rooms will provide you with a city view. 

At the accommodation all rooms come with bed linen and towels. Guests at The Reykjavik EDITION can enjoy a continental breakfast.

Mid-Budget

Exeter Hotel

This contemporary design hotel is located in Reykjavík’s Old Harbour area, 500 metres from Harpa Concert Hall & Conference Centre. 

It features free WiFi, an in-house restaurant and a bakery, as well as a sauna and fitness room. 

Each room at Exeter Hotel comes with industrial décor, modern furnishings and wooden floors. Every room has a smart TV, refrigerator and Nespresso coffee machine. Some also feature a sea/mountain, or city and/or garden view. 

Staff can help organise tours and activities for guests. Solfar Sun Voyager and Hallgrímskirkja Church are both within 1 km. 

Budget

Igdlo Guesthouse

This family-run guest house, 500 metres from Reykjavik Bus Terminal, is a 45-minute bus ride from Keflavik International Airport. 

It offers free in-room WiFi and access to a communal kitchen and dining room. The bright and airy rooms at Igdlo Guesthouse feature wooden furnishings and floors. Some rooms also have a washbasin. Shared bathroom facilities are available on each floor. 

Guests can make use of barbecue facilities in the summer and self-service laundry services are available in the evenings. Free public parking is also available on site.

For more places to stay in Reykjavik, you can check the latest prices on Booking.com.

Planning Your Trip

Book Your Flight

Use Skyscanner to find a cheap flight. 

They search websites and airlines around the globe to find you the best possible routes and prices.

Book Your Accommodation

Use Booking.com to find the best accommodation deals.

They consistently return the cheapest rates on everything from guesthouses to hotels for all of your budget needs.

Don’t Forget Travel Insurance

Use SafetyWing to find the best travel insurance for you.

They provide travel and medical incident insurance built specifically for digital nomads.

Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations.

Book Your Tours & Activities

Use GetYourGuide to book your activities in advance.

They sell the best tours, excursions and activities to attractions around the world.

Conveniently book, download and access your tickets on the move all from your mobile. 

Book Your Rental Car

Use RentalCars.com to find the best deals on rental cars in the area.

They compare all major car rental companies and allow you to easily book the perfect vehicle for your trip.

Buy Those Last Minute Bits

Use Amazon to buy everything you need for your adventure.

They offer next day delivery and you can use my travel packing checklist to make sure you haven’t forgotten anything.