Reykjavik Itinerary: 4 days in Iceland

top things to do in Iceland
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Iceland is always a popular spot for long-weekend getaways, due to the fact that it’s not too far from anywhere and is often a direct flight, whether you’re coming from a city in the U.S. or from Europe.

Depending on your travel style, you can easily see Reykjavik and surrounding areas in four days and feel like you’ve done more than scrape the surface. That’s exactly what we did on our 4-day trip. It was short, but packed full of excitement.

If you have more time to spend, you can set off from Reykjavik on one or more of these great Iceland road trips. Here are many of the epic things to do in Iceland that you’ll encounter along the way. You may also want to look at our country guide to Iceland, which includes information on when to go and what to expect.

» Renting a car or camper van? Check out Northbound.is for the best deals and cars on the island. They also have lots of tours you can book on the site.

Rent a Car / Book a Transfer

Most visitors to Iceland choose to rent a car so they can see more of the island than just Reykjavik. However, you don’t have to rent the car at the airport. If you’re going to spend 4 days in Reykjavik prior to setting out on a road trip around the island, you can get a transfer into the city instead, then rent the car in the city.

Pre-book your airport transfers here, so you can avoid the line, and possible delays at the airport. 

Choose a Hotel / Airbnb

Hotel

Pick a centrally located hotel in Reykjavik. We recommend a hotel near the main walking streets, Skólavörðustígur and Laugavegur. Our top pick is the Canopy by Hilton. It’s just 2 minutes from Laugavegur and is a great affordable luxury option. Best of all, the location is easy walking distance to everything included in this itinerary.

Airbnb

If you haven’t tried Airbnb yet, there are some really great options from Superhosts that can offer a more comfortable, feel-at-home, experience than a hotel. (As an Airbnb Associate, I earn when you book through this link.)

Popular Reykjavik Day Tours

Adding these popular day tours from Reykjavik are a great way to see more and experience the countryside outside the city. If you plan to add any day trips, you can use the links below to pre-book the activities you want to do while you’re in Reykjavik so you don’t miss out. Tours in Iceland tend to book up quickly. It’s always best to have your tickets booked in advance.

It’s fairly easy to snag a layover in Reykjavik on your way to other locations in Europe, as well. These tours are perfect for a long layover or stopover in Reykjavik.

Complete Four-Day Reykjavik Itinerary

DAY ONE

Visit the Blue Lagoon

Some flights into Reykjavik from the U.S. arrive in the early morning hours, so you’ll need to fill the first half of the day before being able to check into your hotel room. We thought this was a great time to visit the Blue Lagoon.

When you arrive, if you’re not renting a car, you can book a transfer that will take you either to the Blue Lagoon or to the city center. It’s a very convenient way to get to and from the Blue Lagoon, which is approximately 20 minutes from the airport, and 45 minutes from Reykjavik.

You can check your luggage at the main gate of the Blue Lagoon and continue on to the locker rooms to get changed. I suggest purchasing tickets in advance, so you don’t have to wait in the line. Plan to stay for 3-4 hours total. More if you’re enjoying spa treatments and a nice leisurely lunch, less if all you plan to do is soak in the lagoon.

Lava Restaurant is on the premises and offers an exceptional lunch menu and drinks that will start your day off right.

⇒ Get your tickets in advance for the Blue Lagoon. Book here.

Head into Reykjavik City Center

For a hearty breakfast and caffeine boost, stop in at Grái Kötturinn. After a plate of eggs and potatoes, you’ll be ready to explore the many tourist shops along Skólavörðustígur. This shopping street leads uphill directly to the impressive Hallgrímskirkja Church.

Hallgrímskirkja is named after Iceland’s famous psalm composer, Hallgrímur Pétursson. It was finished in 1986 and stands as a beacon for the city. You won’t get lost no matter where you are in the city, if you use this as a landmark. It’s also a great viewpoint. You can climb up to the top of the tower for a view.

Hallgrímskirkja
Hallgrímskirkja

In front of the church is a statue of Leifur Erikson, a Norse explorer who is credited as the first European to land in North America. Don’t miss the Einar Jónsson Museum next door, dedicated to Iceland’s most renowned sculptor.

Laugavegur Street

Walk down to Laugavegur street for a look around the shops. There are many restaurants and bars among the shopping, so plan to stop for a bite to eat at Sushibarinn or Prikið. Kaldi was one of Iceland’s first craft beers, and you can sample a range of their beers at their bar at 20b Laugavegur.

At this point, you’re probably ready for a break, so you can settle in for an afternoon refresher and some great people-watching at Te & Kaffi or Stofan Cafe.

Check into your hotel and get a bit of rest before dinner.

Dinner at Grillmarkadurinn

Langoustine

Reservations for dinner are always advised, and sometimes absolutely necessary. Plan ahead at least a couple of weeks so you won’t be disappointed. Grillmarkadurinn is just the right place for your first dinner.

The tasting menu will lead you through an array of impressive Icelandic dishes. Save room for the crazy good bread and butter service.

For an after-dinner drink and some LIVE music, stop in at the Kofinn, or hit up one of the many night-clubs nearby for a rowdier evening.

DAY TWO

Museums

Start out your day by heading south on the walking street toward the marina. Hit up the Tourist Information Center first to grab some maps and information. There are also some nice tourist shops nearby to pop into for a look.

There are a few museums nearby to spend a few hours visiting. The Saga Museum is a history museum with wax displays to tell the story and the Aurora museum is one for Northern Lights enthusiasts, the Reykjavik City Museum and the Maritime Museum are just a few blocks away.

Lunch

If you’re a foodie like us, you’ll want to start early so you can try many of the special treats near the marina. Start with a lamb hotdog with “everything” at Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur (or try Pylsuhusid Hot Dog House recommended by Eating the Globe), then head to Saegreifinn for a bowl of their famous lobster soup and our choice of skewer from their display case.

SÆGREIFINN
SÆGREIFINN Lobster Soup

If you still have room, grab an order of fish and chips and a local beer across the street at Icelandic Fish and Chips.

Tour the Harpa Center

harpa center
Harpa Conference Center and Concert Hall

Take a walk around Harpa Conference and Concert Center and enjoy the view from the top floor, overlooking the beautiful bay and mountains in the distance. A little further down the seawall you’ll find the Solfar (Sun Voyager) Sculpture, which is also a popular location for viewing the Northern Lights during the winter months.

Sample Local Craft Beer

MicroBar in the Center Hotel opens at 4pm and has an impressive selection of bottled beer from all over the world, as well as taps from many of the local breweries that you can try in a tasting tray. Spend a couple hours here exploring their selections and quizzing the knowledgeable staff.

⇒ Sample up to 10 of Iceland’s craft beers on an Icelandic Beer Tour in Reykjavik.

Dinner

Fishmarket's great fish dishes
Fishmarket’s great fish dishes (Photo via Flickr by Jon Aslund)

When you’re ready for dinner, head to Tapas Barinn to enjoy the tasting menu or choose your own dishes from the extensive list of Tapas on offer. Don’t forget to try the local liquor, Brennevin.

Another restaurant we suggest is Fiskmarkadurinn. It’s the gold standard for fish with a beautiful setting and great service. You can order the tasting menu and just sit back and enjoy all the dishes that are brought out, or you can order a la carte.

Northern Lights Evening Tour (During winter months)

Iceland Northern Lights

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting Reykjavik from September to March, many of the local tour companies lead evening trips to search for the Northern Lights. Typically, you’d be picked up around 7-9pm and spend a few hours driving in a large tour bus in search of the lights.

There are smaller tours available as well as private excursions that also allow the opportunity to bathe in a thermal pool while waiting for the lights to pick up.

⇒ Check out the Northern Lights tour we went on in Reykjavik.

DAY THREE

Golden Circle Tour

Gullfoss waterfall
Gullfoss Waterfall, Iceland (Photo by Savored Journeys)

A great way to see the surrounding countryside without venturing too far afield is on a Golden Circle Tour. The full-day tour departs around 9am and takes you to see Faxi waterfall, the Geysir area with the 20-meter-high hotspring geysir called Strokkur, the Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Thingvellir National Park. 

If you have a rental car, you can do this tour on your own. It’s not recommended to do it in the winter when the roads can be very dangerous. But in the summer, it’s a great way to spend a day. If you don’t have a rental car, you can book a group tour. We just recommend looking for a small one. The one below has a maximum of just 14 travelers (compared to some with up to 60).

⇒ Get your tickets in advance for the Golden Circle Tour

Dinner at Sjavargrillid

Seafood Grill
A beautiful plate at Seafood Grill (photo courtesy of Seafood Grill)

When you arrive back in Reykjavik, you’ll probably be hungry. Sjavargrillid (Seafood Grill) is the perfect place for a laid-back dinner and amazing cocktails. The interior of the restaurant is gorgeous and they have a bit of outdoor space as well.

They have a 4-course Lobster Feast menu that includes their famous lobster tacos, plus plenty of delicious seafood options on the a la carte menu, like salted cod and grilled lamb.

DAY FOUR

Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss Waterfall

With most flights back to the U.S. leaving at 5pm, you’ll have just half a day to enjoy on your 4th day, enough time to head out on another half-day tour, en route to the airport.

Some possible activities include Whale Watching, Icelandic horseback riding, or the Lava Tunnel Tour. All of these tours take under 3 hours and leave from Reykjavik.

CONCLUSION

We hope you enjoy your four days in Reykjavik and the rest of Iceland as much as we did. Feel free to contact us with your Reykjavik itinerary questions.

Just returned from Iceland? Tell us about your trip in the comments section. We’d love to hear how you like it and what you did.

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Reykjavik in 4 days

Reykjavik Itinerary: 4 days in Iceland

37 thoughts on “Reykjavik Itinerary: 4 days in Iceland

  1. Rocky Smith says:

    Hi Laura!

    Thanks so much for an awesome blog post. I’m not sure when it was written as there is no time stamp, but I can only imagine that it is pretty current and up to date. Last night, I booked my partner and I flights to Reykjavik. I’ve never been to Europe (yet have lived all over the world) and thought this would be an interesting adventure a little off the beaten bath. We are going to be arriving on May 14th at 4am and Leaving on the 18th at 5pm. I agree with your advice about traveling to the blue lagoon on the last day before the airport, but at this point, I’m a bit at a loss when it comes to what to do arriving at 4am so early in the morning 45 minutes away from downtown. Any advice on how to get downtown or is there some sort of tour company that helps with this? Also, we were contemplating renting a car and making the trek around the tourist areas all by ourselves. We are 28 and love to explore, but I’m weary of roaming around and being tired/spending so much time in the car. Do you think the Golden Circle Tour is enough time for us to truly get a grasp and experience the beauty Iceland has to offer? We love being around nature and this is a huge part of the reason Iceland is my destination of choice. I just don’t want to miss out on the highlights. We will definitely need the first day to rest and be in Reykjavik, but day two, I’m wondering if we will need another FULL time to experience Reykjavik. Any advice you have would be fantastic!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hey there! Glad you’re finding the post useful. The date of the post is in the URL, in case you’re ever curious. This post was written recently, so it’s all relevant info. I’d be happy to help. I’ll send you an email with some more information to answer your questions! Definitely send a day or two in Reykjavik, then the rest of the time driving the Island. The Golden Circle Tour is good, but there are other great things to see if you’re driving. Good luck and have fun!

      • Kellie C says:

        Hi Laura and Rocky,
        I wanted to follow up to Rocky’s question – were there any suggestions about what to do after you land at 4am? I’m visiting in September and we are renting a car, but we can’t check in to our room until the afternoon.

        Thanks, this post was great!
        Kellie

        • Laura Lynch says:

          Kellie, if you’re worried about needing to “burn” time that early and think it might be difficult to jump right into touring around, I think the best option is to go the Blue Lagoon at that time. It’s less crowded, you can get a shower, and you’ll be able to relax instead of hitting the ground running. It will take 3-4 hours at the BL, so once you get into Reykjavik your room may be ready. If you have any other questions, please feel free to contact me (savoredjourneys at gmail.com).

  2. Ticking the Bucketlist says:

    We got back after spending six winter days iceland… Awesome!
    Did you go to the south shore? We went to Vik Beach and Jokulsarlon…. Totally enthralled by Nature’s creation!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      We didn’t get to the south shore. It was near blizzard conditions while we were there, sadly. Glad you had a great time!

    • Jennifer says:

      We have a rental car and are going next week. Staying in Reykjavik…is Vik Beach and Jokulsarion do-able with little daylight? They’re definitely on my list!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Charleen. We spent $2500 total on our trip. Half of that was our airfare. The biggest expenditure was food and wine, and we ate well. 🙂

  3. Melissa Pacheco says:

    Thanks so much for all your travel advise. I am taking my 16 year old to Iceland in February. Just the two of us and I really want this trip to be great for him. Any advise you may add on? Maybe some packing insight? We will be in town for 5 days. Thank you!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Melissa. In February, it will be fairly cold and icy in Iceland. You won’t be able to get around to some of the outer areas where the roads might be shut off due to weather issues. We went in March and weren’t able to get to much outside of the Golden Circle area. For packing, you should definitely pack layers – thermal underwear, sweater, winter coat, gloves, hat, etc. You can always remove it when you’re too warm. There are plenty of museums and things to do in Reykjavik, too. I’m sure you’ll have a fantastic time. If you need more information as you’re planning, feel free to email me.

  4. Marc says:

    I love Island and would love to see it one day. My friend who went last year loved it and it’s my turn now . Thanks for the great post.

  5. Julie Steele says:

    My daughter and I just came back from a 12 day trip to Iceland, which extended from late December to early January (including the frenetic New Year firework celebrations). Despite driving on the opposite side of the road and never having cold weather driving experience, we safely drove around the entire Ring Road, with only a detour in one section due to road closures. We experienced every type of weather from hurricane winds, to snow storms, and beautiful sunshine, all of which added to the amazing experience. If you drive slowly, respect the weather conditions, and refer to the relevant road condition maps on the web each morning it is very safe. Our biggest tip would be to plan ahead and book tours well in advance (we booked a month before arriving) so you are not disappointed by the tours being booked out. We road Icelandic horses across the snow, went ice caving, climbed craters, hiked alongside glaciers,soaked in numerous thermal spas and chased the Northern Lights. There are great website to help you plan. Try and chose well-established companies that are local to the area you are visiting as they seemed to offer the best experiences when other companies would cancel trips. Icelandic people are extremely welcoming and we would dash back in a heartbeat (despite the 38 hors to get there from our home in Australia).

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Thanks for such great information, Julie! It’s awesome that you braved the weather and drove yourself around the country. It sounds like you got to do a bunch of the awesome things that Iceland is so well known for.

  6. Dominie says:

    Hi, this is a great and detailed post, thanks for all the info! On footwear, would you recommend hiking boots or will winter boots be ok? I’m going this week so I know it will be cold but is good sole grip important? TIA

    • Laura Lynch says:

      I think either would be just fine. I took hiking shoes (not boots) with good sturdy soles and those were perfect (it can be slippery), but it gets bitingly windy there, so you might want more warmth. Have a great time!

  7. Lorraine Patterson says:

    This is a fabulous article. I am planning 4/5 days in Iceland in late November and both the info and comments have been so much help. Thank you

  8. Nicole W. says:

    Hi, are there any other thermal spas that you recommend near Reykjavik besides the Blue Lagoon? My sister and I are traveling to Iceland this November for 5 days and would like to spend some time in one, but heard the Blue Lagoon can be overrated and pricey. Any help is appreciated! Thank you!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Nicole. Unfortunately, there aren’t any other thermal spas near Reykjavik that I know of that aren’t as unique and interesting as the Blue Lagoon, unless you get pretty far outside of town. The ones that are closer in are more like regular swimming pools and don’t have the same atmosphere. I’m not sure those are what you’d be looking for. The Blue Lagoon can be somewhat pricey, if you add on a bunch of extras, and it’s commercial, but it’s still a fun experience that can be worthwhile. Try to go at a time that is less busy and you’ll have a much better time.

  9. Wynn says:

    Hi Laura, I have trip to iceland in December for a group of nine friends for only four days. We are trying to figure out which option on places to stay and tour packages is the most cost effective? Would renting airbnb and renting a car be best for large groups OR booking a private tour guide that includes hotel stay, transportation, and ticket admissions for around $750 (in my opinion, seems a bit much). Please help! thank you!

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Wynn, I don’t think that price (per person, I assume) sounds too high for the things it includes, especially because you’d have to rent a huge van for 9 people and you wouldn’t have professional assistance. I’ll email you some more thoughts.

  10. Georgina says:

    Hi
    Planning a trip to see the Northern lights for 4 nights but don’t know if it’s best to go January or March?
    Also how much spending money would you suggest we need per person? The flights, hotel and excursions (northern lights, golden circle, secret lagoon and blue lagoon) will be paid for before we go.
    Thank you

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Georgina. If you’re going for the lights, you should probably go in January (it’s more likely to see them then than in March), but keep in mind that it could be colder and worse weather, which could lead to no clear skies. It’s hard to say how much spending money you’d need, not knowing how you like to travel, but I will remind you that food can be quite expensive, so keep that in mind when deciding.

  11. AtlasDreamer says:

    Great blog!
    I fell in love with Iceland too after out trip there in winter, you can see what we did there during 4 our days https://wp.me/p8Q7z0-nL
    My dream is now to visit Iceland in the summer 🙂

  12. Camper van Rental Iceland says:

    Nice to see you went to one of my favorite restaurants Grillmarkaðurinn. But, I must admit, I only go the for this one meal, an appetizer we shall not mention by name! 🙂 Anyway, if possible and one is not stuck in Reykjavik due to weather, one should “get out there”. Here is a list of every town and village you would pass if you drive the Ring road around Iceland, clockwise! 🙂
    https://www.rent.is/blog/villages-along-the-ring-road/
    Happy travels!

  13. Jill Troughton says:

    Finally, I get the right and complete information through this blog… I was searching from many times…Thanks for written and share this post. I also get the package of this trip to Iceland through one of the best and very helpful travel agency tripguide.is

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  17. Mary Rose says:

    Hi there. Just a few questions – which restaurants do you recommend for dinner, in order of preference, quality and price? Going on a very short trip to Iceland, arriving on Friday morning (Blue Lagoon then Lava for lunch, check into hotel, birthday dinner and northern lights tour). Saturday – driving and doing the Golden Circle (do you recommend it)? Sunday – maybe doing a couple of waterfalls, exploring Reyjavik (where do you recommend we go and shopping) then dinner for a birthday dinner. Monday our fight departs at 8:30am.

    • Laura Lynch says:

      Hi Mary. Have you seen our other post on where to eat in Reykjavik? This should answer all your questions: https://www.savoredjourneys.com/where-to-eat-in-reykjavik-iceland/. I honestly think any of the high-end options are incredible and totally worthy of a special dinner. If I had to pick, I’d go with Food Cellar or Grillmarket. For a fancier dinner with an incredible view, you really can’t beat Grillid.

  18. NE Taxi says:

    I really enjoyed reading the article above, the article is very interesting and effective. Thank you for sharing your information & amazing thoughts, it was such a useful article.

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