Wondering how you can make it to Iceland on your next European adventure? Why not try a stopover in Iceland on your way to/from your destination?
Due to Iceland’s location the international airport here is known as being the hub connecting Europe and North American and thus making Iceland perfect for a stopover. You will be amazed at how much you can do and see in Iceland in just a few days!
Three different ideas for itineraries!
Whether you have just one day to spend in Iceland or a week, we have three different itineraries for you to help you make the most out of whatever length of time you have to spend in this beautiful country!
1 day stopover In Iceland
Photo: Kaelene Spence
Do you only have 24 hours to experience Iceland? Don’t worry, with the one-day stopover itinerary; you will be able to fit in a lot of Icelandic fun in your one day. Assuming your flight arrives in the morning, as most US flights do, and your next flight will be leaving the following morning to your next European destination, follow along with this itinerary to make the most of your one day in Iceland.
Morning | First thing on the schedule, a trip to the Blue Lagoon. What better way to get ready for an action packed day of exploring then soaking in the stunning blue waters of the Blue Lagoon? Make sure to pre-book your ticket at the Blue Lagoon here.
Late Morning | Now that you have rested after your flight, you are ready to take on a day of exploring. After dropping your bags off at your accommodation walk down Laugavegur, the main street in downtown Reykjavik, and window shop as you make your way to the Laundromat Cafe for a late breakfast/early lunch.
Afternoon | Spend your afternoon exploring the Icelandic nature. Join an afternoon tour to the popular Golden Circle and spend 6 hours exploring some of the most visited, and beautiful, attractions in Iceland. If you are looking for an adventure closer to the city head off for a hike at Mt. Esja or go for a walk around Elliðaárdalur, a lovely nature area located just outside of city center.
Evening | After a busy day treat yourself to a delicious meal at one of the wonderful restaurants in downtown Reykjavik. Visit one of these restaurants for a memorable meal and a taste of Iceland:
- The Fish Market – If you are a fan of lamb the fresh Icelandic lamb here is a must try.
- Tapas – Order the tasting menu!
- The Grill Market – You will be impressed as soon as you walk inside.
Late Evening |Before calling it a night spend some time exploring the streets of downtown Reykjavik, either under the Midnight Sun or the Northern Lights, depending on what time of year you are visiting. This capital city may be small, but there is always something fun happening. If you want to get a taste of the Icelandic nightlife you will find many of the popular bars along the main street Laugavegur.
Make sure to book your return ticket back on the airport bus and arrange accommodation pickup if possible. You can head back to the airport early in the morning knowing you have gotten a real taste of Iceland that will have you back for more.
Check out Visit Reykjavík website for information about Reykjavík
3 day stopover in Iceland
If you have three days to spend in Iceland, you will be surprised at how much you will be able to see and do with the help of our three-day stopover itinerary for Iceland. If you really want to get a feel for the country in this short amount of time your best option is to pick up a rental car at the airport. This itinerary will have you on the go from when you leave the airport to when you head back, but it will be worth it as you will see some amazing things!
Day 1: Reykjanes Peninsula
Don’t let the miles of moss covered lava fields trick you; the Reykjanes peninsula is a region full of things to do and places to see.
Morning | Pick up your rental car at the airport and your trip can begin! Head off to explore the geothermal area of Krýsuvík with a stop at Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on the Reykjanes peninsula, along the way. With unique rock formations along the road, gorgeous views over the lake and a not so visited geothermal area you have yourself a perfect “off the beaten path” adventure in Iceland in just your first few hours in the country.
Early Morning | After exploring Krýsuvík head off for a hiking adventure. Keilir and Helgafell are two trails in the Reykjanes peninsula hat are perfect for those looking for a quick hiking trip with some panorama views at the top.
Afternoon | After a busy morning head to the charming fishing town of Grindavik for a relaxing lunch. Once your meal is over it is time for more exploring. A few attractions to spend your day visiting: Reykjanes Lighthouse, a bridge between two continents and the unique rock formation Eldey.
Evening | A busy day of exploring calls for a relaxing evening in a cozy atmosphere. Spend the evening at one of our quiet accommodations in the Reykjanes peninsula taking in the ocean view and resting up for the next two days of exploring.
Check out Visit Reykjanes website for information about Reykjanes peninsula
Day 2: Adventure day
Photo: Kaelene Spence
Time for another full day of exploring. After a big breakfast say goodbye to the Reykjanes peninsula and head off for your next adventure in the Icelandic countryside. With a full day ahead of you there are several different trips to choose from:
The Golden Circle | Visit the most popular attractions in Iceland with a day exploring the Golden Circle. Spend some time walking around Thingvellir national park, watch the powerful Geysir sprout into the air, and the grand finale, taking in the impressive Gullfoss waterfall.
If you still have time left in the day get away from the bigger crowds with a visit to Kerið crater, Faxi waterfall, and a soak at the Secret Lagoon.
South Coast | The South Coast of Iceland is one of my favorite areas to explore; there is just so much beauty here! From black sand beaches to waterfalls everywhere you look, stunning landscapes that have you in constant awe and adorable Icelandic horses to pet alongside the road, the South Coast of Iceland is the perfect place to spend the day driving around.
A few must see sites in this area: Seljalandsfoss and Skógarfoss waterfalls, the famous black sand beach of Reynisfjara and the charming town of Vik. If you are a hiking enthusiast and want to fit in one more adventure - add a hike at Reykjadalur to your day and don’t forget to pack your swimsuit to enjoy the hot springs at the end of the trail.
Check out South Iceland website for information about The Golden Circle and South Iceland
Snæfellsnes Peninsula | Nicknamed “Iceland in Mini” a day spent exploring around the Snæfellsnes peninsula will give you a little bit of everything the unique Icelandic nature has to offer. In this area you will find beaches to walk along, miles of moss covered lava fields, charming fishing towns and waterfalls trickling down along the way. If you want to see as many different elements of the Icelandic nature as possible, spend your second day exploring the Snæfellsnes peninsula.
This area is great for just driving and stopping as much as you please, but a few sights that are not to be driven past the golden sand beaches at Langaholt, the colorful fishing town Stykkishólmur and the famous Kirkjufell mountain.
Check out West Iceland website for information about Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Day 3: Relaxation day
Photo: Kaelene Spence
After a busy two days exploring Iceland, today is all about relaxing and enjoying Reykjavik before it is time to head back to the airport.
Morning | Head off for breakfast in the city. A few places to check out for breakfast:
- Cafe Paris – Everyone in the family will find something to enjoy.
- Vox – The breakfast buffet will keep you full for hours!
- Snaps – A cozy spot with a French twist perfect for the last meal in Reykjavik.
Late Morning |If you have a few hours to spare after breakfast spend time exploring the charming streets of Reykjavik. Wander around town on your own, go whale watching or learn some fun facts about Iceland on a guided tour. This capital city may be small, but there are lots of hidden gems to be discovered.
Afternoon | Before you say your last goodbyes to Iceland make a stop at the Blue Lagoon on your way to the airport. Spend the last few hours before your flight soaking in the relaxing waters before saying goodbye to Iceland and making your way to the airport.
Note: You will need to book your ticket online to the Blue Lagoon before your visit.
5 day stopover in Iceland
Photo: Kaelene Spence
With five days in Iceland, you will be able to get a full on Icelandic experience. If you are staying for this long, I recommend renting a car to explore the country.
Day 1: City day
I always like using the first day of a trip to get oriented with the city that I am staying in. Use this day to take a city tour, enjoy a local pool, and dine on some delicious local cuisine. If you want to add some adventure to this day, head out to for an afternoon hike. There are several hiking trails just a short drive from downtown. Two of my favorites are Ulfarsfell and Esjan; both offer amazing views over the city at the top.
Day 2: Golden Circle tour
Photo: Kaelene Spence
I recommend to explore the Golden Circle first, it is a great introduction to the Icelandic nature. While many people visit the three main attractions along the Golden Circle, Thingvellir National Park, Geysir, and Gullfoss, you are going to make this day even more memorable with a few extra stops off the beaten path.
The places I recommend adding to your Golden Circle day: the stunning Brúarfoss waterfall, Kerið crater, a lunch stop at Friðheimar, some spa time at Laugarvatn Fontana and if time allows an ice cream stop at Efstidalur. The day exploring the Golden Circle will be memorable and unique.
Stay in South Iceland for the night; there is plenty of accommodations to choose, from self-catering apartments to rusting farm stays
Day 3: South Coast adventure
This day can also be called the day of waterfalls. In my opinion, the South Coast of Iceland is the perfect area for a road trip. The road takes you past lush rolling farm fields with adorable Icelandic horses. Mountains and cliffs with the most unique formations will have you stopping to take pictures multiple times during the day, and these aren’t even the main attractions!
There is no wrong way to explore the South Coast, and everything you see will be wonderful. If you are looking for some ideas on the main attractions the popular route to take is to drive from Reykjavik to the small town of Vik. In this path, you will come across the popular attractions such as Seljalandsfoss and Skógarfoss waterfalls and the black sand beach of Reynisfjara. Take your time exploring this region and see what hidden gems you will find and stay the night.
Day 4: West Iceland
Photo: Kaelene Spence
After two packed days of exploring you may be feeling a bit tired so you can decide how busy you would like this day to be. The West of Iceland is perfect for a day exploring that doesn’t involve a long drive. There are two options for this day, the shorter one and the longer one.
The shorter itinerary: If you want to get a bit of adventuring in but not too long of a day head off to explore the Hvalfjörður area. After a busy few days in Iceland, this area will feel like a peaceful sanctuary with few others around. You can easily spend your time just driving around this area taking in the views, but for a bit more of an adventure take a hike back to the impressive Glymur waterfall or go kayaking around the serene fjord for a unique view of the area. Don’t forget to pack some snacks to enjoy a picnic, a meal with these views is going to be memorable.
The longer itinerary: Want more of the Icelandic countryside? Use this day to explore the region that has a little bit of everything, the Snæfellsnes peninsula. I recommend following the same schedule for visiting the Snæfellsnes peninsula as listed in the previous itinerary above but you have the time to stay the night and explore the area well.
Day 5: Relaxation day
I think every vacation should end with some relaxing spa time, and that is exactly what you are going to do on this day. Depending on your flight, use your last few hours to enjoy one last meal and walk around Reykjavik before making your way towards the airport. Before officially saying goodbye to Iceland though make one last stop at the famous Blue Lagoon and spend a few hours floating around the milky blue waters, the perfect place to relax and recap all the fun you had in Iceland!
Ready to start planning your Iceland stopover? For even more ideas of ways to spend your time in Iceland check out the wide range of tours, we at Icelandic Farm Holiday have to offer.