It seems that everywhere you look on Facebook or Instagram someone is posting a picture of Iceland. It is usually during an out of this world road trip. And there are usually travel tips on exploring the more remote parts of Iceland. But what happens if you are tight for time? We spent 4 full days in the country which is why we raise the question: Is it possible to experience Iceland in 4 days?
Admittedly we would have loved to have spent weeks here. We would have loved to explore every nook and cranny, and find hidden gems. Unfortunately due to our work commitments and budget this just wasn’t possible. So in answer to our question yes, it is possible to experience Iceland in 4 days. And yes we had an unforgettable time. So if you are short of time don’t let that put you off Iceland. There is still so much to see and do in a short space of time. Here is how to experience Iceland in 4 days.
When to go
Deciding when to visit Iceland all depends on what you want to do when you get there. We wanted to see the Northern Lights so we visited in November. Although it is possible to see them from September to mid-April. It is worth noting that during these times the days are short and the temperatures are low. If you are there to experience nature and get the most out of the long days then visiting in Summer is ideal.
Getting to Iceland is easier than ever. Apart from the flag carrier Icelandair there are a number of budget airlines extending their routes. We flew with Easyjet out of the UK. If you are flying out of the US then try to check out Wow Air. A new low cost airline whose headquarters are in Reykjavik. The main airport is Keflavik and from here you can get a bus transfer to Reykjavik.
Where to stay
If you are only in Iceland for a short time then we recommend basing yourself in Reykjavik. It is a really fun city to explore with bright and colourful houses, and quirky coffee shops. You can also book a lot of day trips from here as well, and most companies will pick you up straight from your hotel door. We stayed at Rey Apartments, located in the heart of Reykjavik. Food can get expensive in Iceland so it was great having cooking facilities to save a bit of money, especially at breakfast.
Our 4 day itinerary
We arrived early so we took the opportunity to spend our first day exploring Reykjavik. There are so many shops, and quirky restaurants and coffee shops to visit. There are also quite a few museums to visit. A highlight for us was visiting Hallgrimskirkja (no we don’t know how to pronounce it either). It is a very architecturally unique church which is also the largest church in Iceland. The highlight for us was heading up to the observation tower on top. You get an amazing view of the city and the surrounding mountains.
Another quirky thing to sea is The Sun Voyager. This is a sculpture located next to the water. It sort of looks like a viking ship although this was not intentional. Apparently it is a dream boat and an ode to the sun. Truthfully we didn’t last all that long as it was really cold and windy so we headed for shelter.
When visiting Reykjavik you have to stop by some of the super trendy bars. Our favourite was the Big Lebowski themed bar. Although it was a one drink maximum for us once we saw the cocktail prices. We also happened to visit during the Iceland Airwaves festival. This is a music festival showcasing new music both local and international. We happened to be in a bar when Sindri Eldon who is Bjork’s son came on stage and played a set. Seriously what could be a more stereotypical Icelandic experience? That is apart from Bjork herself.
That evening we booked the Northern Lights tour. We boarded a coach and they took us to a remote nature reserve about 30 minutes out of Reykjavik. You do spend a lot of time waiting during this tour so be prepared. There is also no guarantee that you will see the lights. We got really lucky and managed to catch a glimpse which made all the waiting around, and frozen fingers worth it.
We decided to book the Golden Circle tour. This is a full day trip and takes around 8 hours. Our first stop was Thingvellir National Park. It was actually the site of Iceland’s parliament from the 10th to the 18th century. Even cooler is the fact that it is the site of the mid-Altantic Ridge. This is where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet. These plates are being pulled apart at a rate of about an inch per year which has created the Thingvellir Rift Valley.
Our next stop on the trip was also our favourite, Gullfoss Waterfall. We got to spend quite a bit of time here which was perfect because it is so easy to become transfixed on this beauty. As it was winter a large part of the walk next to the waterfall was closed off. As it turns out though, a chain and a do not enter sign are not enough to deter busloads of tourists from getting up close to the waterfall. So we strolled down (trying not to slip on sheets of ice) and got our photographs. I suppose this is the point in the article that I advise you to do so at your own risk.
After a bit of soup to warm us up we were then driven to the Geysir Geothermal area. Here you can actually watch the Strokkur Geyser erupt. It does so every 10 minutes or so and is incredible to see.
The whole tour is really worth it and it gives you a real taste of Iceland even if you are based in Reykjavik.
When planning our trip to Iceland, I was really looking forward to going whale watching. We walked down to the harbour and hopped on one of the tour boats that takes you out to see some wildlife. It gets really cold in the winter so the tour provided us with thermal suits to be able to stand on the deck and look for whales. It is also worth noting that you are not guaranteed to see any whales or dolphins on your trip. They are of course wild animals and you cannot control when they will be around. We got lucky and got to observe two whales who were splashing about. I guess you could say they were having a whale of a time (I know I know I couldn’t resist).
Terrible Dad jokes aside our tour operator assured us that they ran a responsible whale watching tour and the safety of the whales was paramount. It really is a wonderful experience getting to see these magnificent creatures where they should be, in their natural habitats. It was also lovely being out on the boat looking at the mountains in the background.
No trip to Iceland is complete without a visit to a geothermal spa. I have read so many blogs about why you shouldn’t visit the Blue Lagoon. Why? Because there are much cooler, less touristy lagoons that only real travellers know about. We personally don’t agree. Ok there may be more secluded places, but visiting the Blue Lagoon was one of our trip highlights.
It does get busy and yes it is full of tourists, but we were so relaxed, sipping wine that we didn’t care. We booked through a tour company and they arranged our pick up and entry fee. Look out for our up coming article on tips for visiting the Blue Lagoon for more information.
After a relaxing day floating around in the warmth of the Blue Lagoon. We got our bus back to Reykjavik and had our last evening exploring the city’s restaurants and bars before our early flight back to the UK.
To start planning your Reykjavik escape checkout Viator for some amazing travel deals.
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