You can undoubtedly spend weeks driving the famous Ring Road (1491km/926mi) and not see everything in Iceland. However, if you can’t afford the vacation time, you can still experience some of the best this Nordic island nation has to offer. In fact, you can visit the Blue Lagoon, tour Central Reykjavik, drive the Golden Circle, and see the Northern Lights all in one weekend, without renting a car.
With the introduction of cheap airfare, courtesy of WOW Airlines, you can fly round-trip from the U.S. for as little as $198US, even less from some European cities. Pre-book activities through the airline or Viator.com and you’ll have everything set before arrival. We’ve put together the below sample itinerary to show you just how easy it is! (Of course, this would vary based on your time of arrival, number of days in Iceland and overall goals.)
PLEASE NOTE: The below itinerary is based off of an early morning arrival. Individual itineraries will vary.
Arrive at Keflavík International Airport (KEF) and transfer to Reykjavik. Make a reservation for the Blue Lagoon and book a Blue Lagoon transfer to visit this geothermal spa en route to your hotel/apartment (also available when departing). In the afternoon, take advantage of the free city tour to explore the heart of Reykjavik while learning the history of Iceland and evolution of the city from a local, English speaking History Graduate. Now that you have your bearings, use the rest of the day to explore, shop and have dinner at one of the many restaurants along Laugavegur Street, the main shopping street in the country, or hit the town to check out Reykjavik’s famous bar scene!
Take the Golden Circle Tour, which departs at 9:00 in the morning and returns to Reykjavik ~1700 (5:00pm), and Northern Lights Tour (available September to April) departing at 19:30 (7:30pm) or 21:00 (9:00pm).
Depart Reykjavik and make your way back to Keflavík International Airport for an afternoon flight (stop by the Blue Lagoon if you didn’t on arrival).
If you have a few extra days, explore your options! We highly recommend renting/hiring a car to take an overnight trip to Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park to visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach and the Ice Caves at Vatnajökull Glacier. Tours are also available to these locations, as well as numerous others, if you don’t feel like driving yourself.
If you take advantage of the above itinerary, logistics are simple; everything from airport transfers to tours is taken care of. Book a hotel/apartment close to Laugavegur Street and you’ll be in the center of action and nightlife in Reykjavik. Iceland is not an inexpensive country, but credit cards are widely accepted. Budget conscious travelers can save cash by staying at a hotel/apartment with a kitchen or kitchenette (bookable through Travelocity.com or other hotel and travel sites) and buying groceries from a supermarket near your hotel/apartment….Bonus Supermarket (Laugavegur 59) if you’re staying close to Laugavegur Street.