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The beauty of traveling in such a small country – roughly 40,000 square miles, slightly smaller than Kentucky – is that most of the highlights are no more than a stone’s throw from Reykjavik. Nicknamed the Land of Fire and Ice for a reason, Iceland is home to an abundance of natural phenomena – from fiery volcanoes to cooling waterfalls.

Day Trips from Reykjavik


Exploring another country entirely – and a one located on a separate landmass more than 170 miles away – may not seem doable in a single day, but Air Iceland does offer day tours to the rapidly melting glacial paradise. Book far in advance as seats are limited and fares are high. Flights run most frequently between mid-June and mid-September; after that there's a limited schedule.

, 011-354-570-3030,
Tags: outdoors | day trip

The Blue Lagoon

Bathe in the eerie, therapeutic waters of Bláa Lónið (said to help cure conditions like psoriasis), where temperatures are always kept above a pleasant 100 degrees. Create your own free facial by taking advantage of the silica mud pots that line the perimeter of the pool.

25 miles west of Reykjavik,
Tags: family | outdoors | culture | day trip

The Golden Circle

Some of Iceland’s most striking attractions are conveniently located along the same southwestern route: Þingvellir, a postcard-worthy valley surrounded by undulating lava; Gulfoss, an impressive waterfall that rivals Niagara; and Geysir, the country’s first active hot spring. Most buses make stops at each spot, and plenty of tour operators offer full-day excursions.

Approximately 180 miles round trip from Reykjavik,
Tags: family | outdoors | tour | day trip

The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)

Visible from late September through May, these vivid natural spectacles can be seen for miles. For the best show, head as far out of the city as you can get and sit and wait for Mother Nature to work her magic. If you don’t have that much time, head to the Northern Light Inn at the Blue Lagoon, 15 minutes from the airport.

Northern Light Inn, Blue Lagoon Rd., 240, 011-354-426-8650,
Tags: outdoors | day trip

The South Shore

A jaunt down Iceland’s southern coastline will leave you with a true appreciation for the country and a photo album full of memories. Along the Ring Road route – the highway that encompasses the entire island – you’ll pass waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss), glaciers (Vatnajökull, Mýrdalsjökull), and black-sand beaches (Vík).

830 miles round trip from Reykjavik,
Tags: family | outdoors | day trip | road trips

Whale and Puffin Watching

Though you’re almost guaranteed to spot whales any time of year (if you don’t, most companies will give you a free return pass), finding puffins is more of a feat. They’re only out during the breeding season (April to August), when whale-watching boats detour to the islands of Akurey and Lundey in hopes of spotting them. All boats depart from Reykjavik harbour.

Whale Watching Centre, Aegisgardur 7, 011-354-533-2660,
Tags: family | cruise | outdoors | day trip | wildlife

Winter Sports

As the country’s name might suggest, Iceland is exlempary for those keen on winter sports. The largest resort, Bláfjöll (, has 15 lifts and pistes for skiiers of all abilities. If you like the outdoors but skiing’s not your bag, try your hand at ice climbing, glacier walking, or snowmobiling on the enormous ice cap, Vatnajökull.

Tags: family | outdoors | day trip | sports

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