With so many low-cost flights layovering in Iceland, it’s become increasingly easier to visit the country en route to some other destinations or for a long weekend away. But what if you have limited time? No worries, this 3 days in Iceland itinerary is made exactly for you.
This itinerary is based on 3 nights and 4 days. Depending on your arrival and departure times, you can easily swap the first and the fourth day , as well as the 2nd and the 3rd. It’s a packede schedule, but it’ll allow you to see the best of Iceland in 3 days. And sleep is overrated, right?
This trip has been on my bucket list for a long time, so I reached out to friends and asked them what are the best things to do in Iceland in 4 days (or 3). Now I just have to book my flights – Iceland, I’m coming soon!
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DAY 1 | Reykjavik + The Blue Lagoon
Most flights arrive to Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, in the early morning, leaving you with the whole day to explore the city. Many visitors arrive in Iceland thinking they could skip Rejkyavik and just head to the wilderness, but you really should make time for it. Rejkyavik is relaxed, hipster, and full of surprises (and an exciting nightlife).
Start the day with a stroll along the harbour. Sit down for coffee and watch the fishing boats return and check out the Solfar statue. Then head to Harpa, a concert hall that’s famous for its crazy design -it’s all made of glass!
Another building you can’t miss is the Hallgrimskirkja church, the tallest church in Iceland. Make sure you buy a ticket for the top of the church tower, from where you have a 360° view over the city and all the colorful buildings.
If you still have time, you can stroll along Laugavegur, the main shopping area, or just walk around, admire the street art, and enjoy some people watching-.
After a flight and a long morning out exploring the city, everyone is going to want to venture over to the Blue Lagoon for a long soak in the hot springs. The water temperature reaches between ninety-eight and one hundred and four degrees Fahrenheit and the three active ingredients of algae, silica, and minerals have numerous benefits.
While at the Blue Lagoon, some people will be happy lounging in the water. However, others will want to have an in-water body massage or apply a silica mud mask from the Silica Bar. The sauna and steam baths are two places that everyone must stop in before they leave to return to their hotel.
DAY 2: Golden Circle + Northern Lights Tour (in the winter)
The Ring Road in Iceland circles the entire country and that can take a week or longer to do, which is why most people choose to drive the Golden Circle when they only have a day available.
You can either choose an organized tour or do the driving yourself. There isn’t much traffic on the roads in Iceland, unless you are in the city, so this drive will be relaxing and easy to do, but in the winter the situation can be a little different. You can also visit Iceland in a campervan if you prefer.
One of the stops on the Golden Circle is the geysers at Haukadalur. Geysir is the original geyser in this geothermal area, but it hasn’t erupted since an earthquake rumbled through the region. However, that same earthquake hasn’t stopped Strokkur from shooting hot water one hundred feet up in the air every ten minutes.
After experiencing the geysers, it is time to start driving until the next stop in the circle, which is the Gullfoss Waterfall. The water for the falls comes from the fast flowing Hvítá River and once it plummets over the edge, it goes down one hundred feet into a hole.
As soon as the water reaches the hole, a thick mist surrounds the ground, making everything moist, but it also produces spectacular rainbows.
Some tours also include a stop at Kerið Crater Lake, which is a red volcanic crater that is completely covered with lush green vegetation. While it used to be a cone-shaped volcano, the top collapsed at one point and it is now an empty magma chamber. At the very bottom of the crater is the bluest water that a person will ever see, and everyone will want to take a few minutes to walk to the bottom to see it up close.
Choose this one if you’re not heading out for the Northern Lights at night, otherwise your risk the tow tours to overlap.
Anyone that is in Iceland during the winter months will want to spend this evening participating in a Northern Lights tour. The Aurora Borealis, as they are also called, light up the night during these months as the colors of green, and sometimes purple, pink, red, blue, and orange dance through the sky.
The tours will bring you away from the city and the lights and will offer you hot chocolate and a blanket to war yourself in while you wait for this magical show.
DAY 3: Thórsmörk and South Coast Day Trip
The third day of adventures in Iceland will take everyone to the Southern Coast, often everyone’s favorite day trip from Rejkyavik as the landscapes are so dramatic and beautiful it hurts.
If you’re into photography, another option you have to spend your third day is to join one of these photography expeditions. The company offers both longer tours and one-day tours, so you’ll be able to insert this in your itinerary even if your time is limited.
Your itinerary on the South Coast will change depending on your tour of choice, but these are the most famous destinations. You’ll probably begin your day in Thórsmörk. This nature reserve is one of the best hiking destinations in the country as it is complete with mountains, rivers, and rugged terrain. The time that everyone spends hiking is up to them, but everyone will want to make sure that they at least do the short hike to explore Stakkholtsgka and see the lava cave and the waterfall.
The black sand beaches of Iceland are truly unbelievable and Reynisfjara is quite dramatic. Out in the ocean, people will see basalt rock stacks, called Reynisdrangar Pillars, rising up out of the water. The beach is beautiful to see at any time of the year, but the puffins that live there during the summer make it even more interesting.
Iceland might not be anymore one of the most remote destinations on Earth, but it definitely feels this way when you are around here!
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Other unmissable destination in the southern part of Iceland include waterfalls and glaciers. The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is a popular option, because everyone can walk behind the falls to see it in a unique way. Anyone who loves waterfalls will love this new perspective with both the view and the sound. Also, it’s one of those waterfalls that remind you that we are so little in front of the nature.
Glaciers are everywhere in Iceland and everyone must go on at least one glacier hike when they are in the country. On the Southern Coast, the best option is the Solheimajokull Glacier, which is part of the country’s fourth largest glacier. It covers Katla, the country’s infamous volcano.
EXTRA TIME? Go Whale Watching or Meet the Icelandic Horses
If your flight departs later in the day, you might stil have time for one last unforgettable activity.
For your last day, you could choose a whale watching tour that lasts approximately three hours. Many of these tours begin at the Old Harbour, which is not far from the center of the city, and passengers board the boat to learn more about the whales before everything begins.
Once out on the water, there is a great chance of spotting humpback whales, minke whales, white-beaked dolphins, and harbour porpoises. Most of the animals will approach the boats on their own and it is a phenomenal experience to see the whales breach nearby. Unfortunately, there are no guarantees that whales will be spotted during these adventures, but most tours do offer return tickets if that does happen. One more reason to come back to Iceland?
Otherwise, another idea to say goodbye to the country is to go for a horseback riding experience. You’ll get to meet the beautiful Icelandic horses and ride through rugged, stunning landcsapes right outside the city. Make sure you choose a tour that is responsible, and that the horses are treated well (this goes for any country in the world).
You could easily spend a month in Iceland exploring the country, but this 3 days in Iceland itinerary lets you see the best that the country offers… I’m sure you’ll want to come back soon!
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[…] Looking for more Iceland inspiration? Check out Every Steph’s brilliant post on how to spend three days in Iceland. […]
Monday 25th of March 2019
Like your post. I definitely agree with the landscape being so dramatic and beautiful that it hurts. No words can describe what I felt when I saw the Northern lights for the first time. A pity we didn't include the whale watching bit in our tours over there. Greetings from sunny South Africa!
Tuesday 6th of March 2018
wonderful pictures i really loved your all photos. Thank you for sharing your personal view.