I was excited about visiting Iceland, but when there are so many tours, how do you decide which are the must-try excursions to take from Reykjavik?
If you’re visiting for a few days, your hub will most likely be Reykjavik. It’s central, close to the airport, and the hub for it all! Many excursions in Iceland will pick up or depart from the main city, making it the ideal starting point to plan your trip.
After trying two, smaller companies, I have ZERO regrets and am so happy with my choices! Below is a list of the excursions I did during my time in Iceland, and the ins and outs of each! As someone who was personally traveling alone, I’m focusing my content on solo travelers; however, each one of these tours is perfect for families, couples, friends, and solo travelers! — [All opinions below are my own]- HAPPY TOURING!
Wake Up Reykjavik Food Tour
The Wake Up Reykjavik food tour was one of my highlights! As a solo traveler, it’s often difficult to meet people on a trip; therefore, this was the IDEAL first-day activity. This excursion ideally meets in Reykjavik at the Harpa Concert Hall main entrance, downtown. They all leave at multiple times throughout the day/evening, so this gives you some flexibility with your planning.
Showing up at the meeting point and seeing travelers with their significant others or families was a bit of a disappoint as a solo traveler; however, despite obviously being alone, there was DELICIOUS food, new friends, and many people ready to mingle regardless of who they were with!
SO, if you’re a solo traveler- DO THIS UPON ARRIVAL. It’s an amazing way to chat with locals, meet fellow travelers, and just enjoy traditional Icelandic food and beer! (I even tried the fermented shark!)
FOOD TOUR DETAILS:
- Availability: The tour runs everyday and has multiple departure times! (Mine was on a Thursday at 4pm)
- Duration: About 3-3.5 hours (dependent on each group)
- Allergies/Accommodations: The restaurants can accommodate food requests. However, most of the Icelandic delicacies are not vegetarian friendly (think salmon, lamb, shark..)
- What the tour includes: In the price, you visit 5-6 restaurants around the Reykjavik area. Each restaurant provides a few dishes to try. (You can even try the famous FERMENTED SHARK!)
- How many people are on the tour: The tour company says no more than 13! My tour had about 10 people, with a mix of ages, which was ideal!
Golden Circle & Secret Lagoon Full Day Tour
Tour Company; Golden Circle trip offered by Your Day Tours!
I was picked up for this excursion from my hotel in Reykjavik. Below are the trip highlights and some need-to-know tips for this FULL DAY tour! (It really is a full, fun-filled day, so make sure to read my recommendations and travel-savvy pointers!)
- Þingvellir– UNESCO site and home to stone walls and gorgeous landscapes. This is the closest you will ever be to two continents at the same time! The Eurasian and American tectonic plates separate about 2cm every year. (There is a cafe here and restrooms).
- Gullfoss Waterfall– “Mini Niagara Falls.” The walk to the waterfall is quite steep and slippery, so I suggest visiting the cafe before you make the trek down- I got a delicious apple pie and cappuccino, and there’s also a huge gift store for on the way back!
- The Great Geysir– There are 2 ways to get to the geyser locations.
1. The simple way; Follow the arrow across the street, straight to the geysers.
2. The hiking way; Walk straight by the playground and climb the Lupine-covered hills to the top.
- Secret Lagoon– If you don’t pay ahead of time, and change your mind, the tour guides are very flexible! This was one of the highlights of the trip. It wasn’t overloaded with tourists and you can grab a beer or glass of wine to float around with. (Entrance is about $23.)
NEED TO KNOW TIPS For the Golden Circle Tour;
- PRO TIP: WATERPROOF/WATER RESISTANT IS THE WAY TO GO for the Gullfoss stop– before walking down to Gullfoss, I made sure my belongings and I were protected with my REI waterproof backpack cover and rain jacket. (I had waterproof pants and a hat in my backpack just incase.)It’s also extremely slippery and rocky- so RENT HIKING BOOTS or pack some for the trip!)
- PRO TIP: when you reach they geyser area, set your phone video or camera to record and wait.. sometimes the Geysir would erupt within 2 minutes, and others times we had to wait for at least 7 minutes. It’s unpredictable, and you don’t want to be waiting around for the ideal shot, so BE PREPARED.
- PRO TIP: There are numerous stops on this trip and opportunities to get food/drinks; however, I would advise AGAINST buying something at each, as the cost adds up- especially in Iceland! Instead, buy yourself one treat (mine was a pie and cappuccino) and pack a lunch/snacks– you’ll thank me later!
- PRO TIP: The secret lagoon requires everyone to shower before entering the hot spring. (They ask you to do this completely naked..) Now, for many Europeans this is very normal, but for others this may be a bit of a culture shock. Personally, I showered in my swimsuit which seemed fine and changed in the toilets (there are also no private changing rooms, so you’ll have to make do with what you’ve got on this one!)
South Coast & Glacier Hike Tour
Tour Company; I decided to go with Troll Expeditions because I really wanted to explore the South Coast. (They also offered this package with a Glacier hike- bucket list moment!) You hit 4 major stops along the way, making this one of the best excursions to take from Reykjavik.
Stop 1; Skógafoss Waterfall
Stunning area. The van parks at the bottom, where there are restrooms, a stunning stream, and mountain views. If you have waterproof gear, you can go close to the fall. (Be careful, if it’s windy, you really do get wet!) If you climb the 370 steps to the top, you’ll be glad you did! You’ll be stunned at the amazing views from the top (and the instagram-able shots you can get!)
Stop 2; Vik Village
This wasn’t a part of the tour, but this is why Troll is so great! We had some time in between stops, so we took a short drive to Vik village! Home of the red-roofed church, cute cafe’s, and a black sand beach. Be sure to grab a sandwich and eat by the water! Making the trek up from where the bus stops to the church is a bit complicated. There are signs pointing where to go, but the path is covered by wildflowers and hidden behind houses. We only had about an hour, so I decided not to go up and just settle with pictures from below!
Stop 3; Reynisfjara Beach
The views here are distracting and the waves unpredictable. (Wear waterproof shoes and socks!) There are some stunning rock forms to see, black sand, and PUFFINS! Spotting puffin nests above the rocks is pretty easy and a must-see. (When I was looking, I backed into the freezing cold water– my waterproof hiking socks were a life-save here!) There are restrooms here where you can pay a couple coins to enter.
- pick-up; 9am or 5pm- the tour usually lasts about 5 or so hours.
- what to bring; water, protein bars/snack, warm clothes, rain jacket, & hiking boots (you can rent these too from the company!)
Iceland Volcano Tour
Traveling to Iceland during the peak of the Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption was obviously epic; however, as nature prefers, the flow is unpredictable and visitors can often times find themselves disappointed.
While there are numerous tour companies that’ll take you up there, I opted to stick with Troll Expeditions (as I had already done a tour with them!) In my opinion, this is one the best excursions to take from Reykjavik. The bus will pick you up at a stop close to where you’re staying, which will typically be in the late afternoon for the best lava-flow views!
My tour went from 5:30-10pm ish, which allowed us enough time to make a a stop along the way to admire some natural, hot springs and even try some Icelandic chocolate bars (thanks, Jacob!)