If this post accomplishes anything, I hope it’s showing you that with this Iceland itinerary 4 days is still long enough to get a taste of this amazing country.
Iceland is the kind of place you could really use at least a month to explore (and would never get bored or cease to be amazed). However, even with just 4 days in Iceland you can see and do some awesome, otherworldly stuff. (But if you do want to see more of the country and have more time, check out my full 7-day Iceland Ring Road itinerary.)
Iceland is diverse and vast, but there are a lot of amazing things to see and do even in and around Reykjavik. You definitely won’t feel like you’re just killing time if you stay around the capital for your entire 4 days.
Getting to Iceland
Iceland, small and remote that it is, is still surprisingly easy to get to, especially if you come from the East Coast. You can find quick (and often reasonably priced!) direct flights from many U.S. cities (and some Canadian ones).
For instance, Reykjavik is just a quick 4.5-hour flight from Boston where I live so it’s no sweat for us to just pop over for a long weekend. We save our sweat for the geothermal pools, thank you very much. You can also get direct flights to Iceland from:
- Washington D.C.
- New York City
- and Toronto
- (Not to mention all the many European cities on their list)
Icelandair also offers a superb stopover program so you can sample Iceland for free while en route to other European destinations. Think of it as a fun-sized little taster, only covered in hot dog mustard instead of chocolate. Use this stopover opportunity to simply check off a new country, see if Iceland is somewhere you want to spend more time, or just to see all you can see in the time you have available.
The Icelandair Stopover program
The first time I visited Iceland I did so as part of the Icelandair Stopover program. My group of friends and I were headed to Prague for a few days and then on to Oktoberfest in Munich via Icelandair. When booking my flight it asked me if I would like to spend a few days in Iceland at no extra charge.
Obviously, the answer was a resounding YES! (or, you know, just a regular tap on the ol’ trackpad). I love sampling new places, especially when I can do so for free! The world is my Costco and each city in it a small piece of cheese on a toothpick.
When flying to Europe from the United States via Icelandair, every single flight connects in Reykjavik, Iceland. Whether you decide to stay on that plane and continue on to Europe, or get off to see what the heck the big deal is with those hot dogs, is totally up to you. (Pro tip: hot dogs!)
And this is Icelandair’s Stopover program – the chance to add a “stopover” in Iceland at no extra charge. Meaning: your flight will cost the same even if you choose to stay over in Iceland for a few days before continuing on.
How does it work?
When booking your flight on Icelandair, simply check the box that says you want to add an Iceland stopover to your flight plan and, if so, how many nights you want to stay. (You can choose between one and seven nights.) Then, continue booking your flight as always!
It’s as simple as that. Then, you’re free to spend those four days (or however long you choose) however you like. Since the Iceland portion of your trip is all on your own expense, you are free to book whichever hotels, restaurants, and activities you want. (Though Icelandair often has phenomenal package deals!) *No, I am not affiliated with Icelandair in any way I just really love this airline and everything they offer.
You can add a 4-day Iceland stopover to your trip on the way to Europe, on the way home from Europe, or both! Icelandair’s Stopover program is all about helping you test the waters, and as you’ll see, damn those waters are warm!
However, I do want to add that Iceland is AMAZING in and of itself and is absolutely worth a dedicated visit even if you’re not heading elsewhere in Europe. Please do not feel like you should only bother with Iceland if you’re “already headed that way.” It truly is a magical place.
Iceland in 4 days
There’s a lot to see and do here for a country that boasts more sheep than people, but you can still cover so much of it in just a few days. With this Iceland itinerary-4 days, you’ll be able to see Iceland’s tippity-top highlights, the absolute must-sees and -dos, and get in so much ethereal adventure.
With just 4 days in Iceland, you’ll want to stay in the western part of the country, relatively in and around Reykjavik. From here, you can enjoy the country’s vibrant capital city, easily visit some of the most popular sites, get in some unforgettable outdoor adventure, some much-needed relaxation, delicious food, cool bars, and so much more!
You will not feel deprived when you leave the Land of Fire and Ice. The only thing my latest Iceland trip lacked was a quirky musical duo playing “Jaja Ding Dong.” (If you haven’t watched Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga on Netflix, do it now.)
Don’t miss some huge money-saving Iceland tips at the bottom of this post!
4 days in Iceland: When to go
Obviously, if you’re visiting Iceland on a stopover, when you spend your 4 days in Iceland will largely depend on the rest of your trip. However, if you’re visiting Iceland on its own, you have a few options:
Visiting Iceland in the winter
While it’s much colder and much snow-ier at this time, visiting Iceland in the winter does have its advantages. First and foremost is the chance to see the Northern Lights, a bucket list for many including myself. (I’ve managed to see them twice, both times from the plane while flying into Iceland.)
The Northern Lights technically occur in Iceland between September and May, but your best chance of seeing them is between October and April.
Winter in Iceland also means the chance to go glacier hiking, snowmobiling, ice cave exploring, and more that you can’t do in the summer. Plus, you can still do most of the most popular things too – hot springs, horseback riding, etc. However, keep in mind that the amount of daylight will be slim.
Visiting Iceland in the summer
Okay so Iceland in the summer is still cold, but the lack of snow and wintry conditions on the island’s western coast makes most outdoor adventures a bit easier and urban exploring more enjoyable.
Summertime is Iceland’s most popular season for visitors and you can see and do just about everything Iceland is famous for. Plus, when visiting in the summer you get to experience 24-hour daylight which is THE COOLEST! (Just remember to bring your sleep mask.) The sun does set, but it’s never fully dark out.
Spending 4 days in Iceland in the summer is going to be your ideal time as all of the activities you’ll want to partake in will have their least chance of being affected by weather. Many of Iceland’s outdoor adventures depend on the weather conditions and may force last minute cancelations. Visiting in the summer means you probably won’t have to deal with this (as you would more so during the rest of the year).
And if you do plan on visiting in the summer, be sure to check out my post on what to pack for Iceland in the summer. It checks all the boxes and even includes a free printable checklist for you!
Visiting Iceland in the fall and spring
When I visited Iceland in the fall, it was cold and cloudy and rainy for the entirety of my visit. It was not fun; it was not beautiful; I did not see the Northern Lights as I was hoping to. I did see a rainbow. From what I’ve read, this seems to be the norm in Iceland during the fall months.
I personally have not visited Iceland in the spring, but from what I gather it’s a lot like spring here in Boston. By that I mean, it shouldn’t even be called “spring” as it is nothing like the “spring” you’re imagining. It’s more like an extended winter.
It can be cold and rainy or even snowy in Iceland late into April and road conditions are not ideal. However, because some of the snow is already melting, the waterfalls are at their mightiest during this time!
Iceland itinerary 4 days: where to stay
If you’ve only got 4 days in Iceland, I highly recommend staying in downtown Reykjavik. This way, you’ll have the benefit of convenience as well as a solid base from which to explore outwards. Don’t try to move around too much—it’s really unnecessary and will only complicate your trip.
Center Hotels Plaza
My personal recommendation for where to stay in Reykjavik is the Center Hotels Plaza. This is where I stayed on my most recent visit to Iceland (2021) and I found it to be fantastic in every way.
Its location is perfect. You can walk everywhere you want to go in Reykjavik and it’s convenient for tour pickup and drop off. It’s right around the corner from Iceland’s famous hot dog stand. (What? This is totally a perk! I ate there four times in four days!) It’s also just a couple of blocks away from the Kolaportid flea market, the Harpa, and the harbor if you’ll be taking any water-based tours.
The staff is so nice and helpful. They offer a great breakfast every morning and luggage storage if you need it. We had great city views and the rooms were just what we needed. Read more reviews here on Tripadvisor then book your room here!
Note: “Center Hotels” is the name of the chain and “Plaza” is this particular location that I stayed at. You may see a number of Center Hotels in Reykjavik so I just wanted to clear that up. I wouldn’t hesitate to stay at any of the others though.
Iceland hotel tips
Big pro tip here: splurge on the early check-in. Regardless of where in the U.S. you’re coming from, your flight will land in Reykjavik at either 6:10, 6:15, 6:30, or 6:40 AM. That’s just the way it is. And since most hotels don’t allow you to check in until something like 2:00 PM, you’ll have to make a choice.
Sure, powering through the jet lag sounds like the best option. (Narrator: “It was not the best option.”) But really, you’ll fare much better with a nap and a post-airplane shower, if your hotel offers early check-in that is. I’m just saying, at least consider it.
Secondly, keep it simple—stay in Reykjavik. On my first trip to Iceland I wanted to stay somewhere outside the city in the hopes of maybe seeing the Northern Lights during my quick stay. All five of us stayed at Hotel Laxnes in Mosfellsbær. The hotel was great, but this decision had its downsides.
- The notoriously unpredictable fall weather was more than uncooperative so the Lights were a no-go anyway.
- It’s way outside the city so getting to and from there (especially in the middle of the night) was a bit of a hassle. (Our flight to Prague was at 1:00 AM.)
- It’s pretty remote so we had just one option for dinner: a Domino’s Pizza we could walk to. Where we spent $75 US on two medium pizzas and a 2-liter of Sprite.
- We missed out on really getting to explore Reykjavik.
So while this is definitely doable, I would still recommend just parking it in Reykjavik, especially if this will be your first time to Iceland.
Read more: How to Pick the Perfect Hotel for Your Trip Every Time
Iceland vacation rentals
Besides hotels, there’s always the option of booking a vacation rental if that’s more your thing. I have a few friends who have done this in Iceland and it’s always a popular option. You can check out available Iceland vacation rentals here.
4 days in Iceland: How to get around
Iceland has really nailed the concept of tourism. So, one of the many great things about Iceland is how easy it is to get around, even on just a short stopover. You’ll have no trouble seeing and doing everything you want during your 4 days in Iceland.
Renting a car in Iceland
For longer stays in Iceland, most people rent their own cars, allowing them the freedom to explore every piece of this beautiful country at their own pace. If this is your wish for your 4-day Iceland itinerary, you can absolutely do this!
You’ll have full control over where you go and when you do it. You’ll be able to head out into the countryside and check out some amazing waterfalls, meet some sheep, see it all. Maybe you even want to go explore some of Iceland’s World War II sites. (Yes, Iceland played a part in the war that many don’t know about! Click that link for more info.)
If this is something you’re interested in for your 4-day Iceland itinerary, check out car rental options in Iceland here at RentalCars.com.
Getting around without a car
Otherwise, you can absolutely spend 4 days in Iceland without renting a car of your own. For any tours you book, transportation to and from Reykjavik (and even pickup and drop off at your hotel) will probably be included. Just one less thing you need to think about!
Transportation between the airport and Reykjavik is also down to a science. The whole thing is very quick and smooth–like what I imagine it feels like to be whisked from the back of a limo into a grand opera house while being shielded from the paparazzi. For this, you’ll want to book your airport transfer with one of Iceland’s airport transfer companies. You can book private cars or simply a seat on one of their shared shuttles.
I have used both Grayline and Flybus (part of Reykjavik Excursions) and they were both fantastic. For what it’s worth, it’s been a while since I’ve used Grayline and I used the Flybus on my most recent visit. (Keep in mind that the Reykjavik airport is actually 45 minutes or so outside the city in the middle of nowhere. So, no, calling an Uber is out of the question. But also because Uber doesn’t exist here.)
At the time of publishing, both companies charge about the same price for this service. Don’t forget to book transportation both from and back to the airport lest you get trapped in the land of geothermal spas and delicious hot dogs. Oh no… that would be awful…
Getting around in Reykjavik
If you’re staying in downtown Reykjavik, you can walk just about anywhere you want to go. However, if you’re looking to head into the outskirts of Reykjavik beyond reasonable walking distance, you have options.
You or someone from your hotel can easily call a taxi for you (but know that since this is Iceland that taxi ride is going to be much more expensive than you’re probably used to). You can also utilize Iceland’s public bus system which is much cheaper. Get bus schedules and routes here.
Iceland itinerary 4 days
So what should you do with your time in Iceland? You have so many options! This 4-day Iceland itinerary will narrow them down for you and cover a wide range of site and activities. (Feel free to steal in whole!)
Depending on your travel schedule, you may need to amend this itinerary a bit, but it (and Iceland) is quite flexible. Most, if not all, of these tours and activities operate multiple times, every day, year round.
Iceland itinerary day 1: exploring Reykjavik
If you choose to power through the jetlag (go you!), your first day in Iceland will start around 6:00 am. If that’s the case, drop off your bags at your hotel and go get yourself some much-needed sugar and caffeine.
Brauð & Co
First things first, walk over to Brauð & Co (Bread and Co.) for coffee and some of the most delicious pastries you’ll ever have. (On my latest 4 days in Iceland, we stopped here a few of those days, and one day we went back for seconds.)
Everything I’ve had here is phenomenal, especially the rhubarb cake and the vanilla roll. The staff is so friendly and all the goodies are freshly made. It’s the best way to start all 4 of your Reykjavik mornings.
There’s a good chance you’ll have much of the city to yourself at this hour. Take advantage of this and check out all there is to see in Reykjavik without lots of other people. (This is a good time to go see the famous Sun Voyager sculpture.)
Spend some time just walking around the city, checking out the architecture and street art, and making friends with all the street cats begging for pets. Or, if you’re into walking tours, join this VIP Reykjavik walking tour. (It has a 5-star rating with over 4,200 reviews!)
The Handknitting Association of Iceland
This is also a great time to pop into the Handknitting Association of Iceland and pick up some ahh-mazing (and warm) handmade Icelandic goods. Want to take home a lopapeysa, one of the famous Icelandic sweaters? Get the real thing here.
The Handknitting Association of Iceland hand knits (obviously) all of these sweaters from pure Icelandic wool. They are handmade locally with love and care and will be the best quality you can find. While many other shops around Reykjavik sell lopapeysa, the ones you’ll find are often imposters, many of them made in China or elsewhere and certainly not from true Icelandic wool. This is the only place you can go where you know you’re getting the real thing.
These sweaters are truly special and make the absolute best Icelandic souvenir. However, do know that their prices reflect their quality. Prepare to spend between $100 – $200+ US for one of these. (Totally worth it! Especially if you live in arctic New England like me!) The good news is that you can get a refund on all the tax money you spend here! Instructions for this are at the bottom of this post.
The Handknitting Association also sells many other items like scarves, mittens, hats, figurines, and so much more. (I bought a scarf too and it’s possibly my favorite purchase ever.) I highly recommend stopping here early in your trip so you can take advantage of your purchases while you’re here.
More ways to buy
Fun fact: the Handknitting Association didn’t have my size in the design I wanted, so I ordered it instead and they knitted one specially for me! It wasn’t available for my trip unfortunately, but it arrived at my house in Boston just two weeks later (and with a hand signed card from the woman who knitted it). Talk about warm and fuzzies!
Also, if you don’t see your size in a design you like, you can also ask them to call their other location.
While you’re out and about, stop by Reykjavik’s famous Hallgrímskirkja, the tallest church in Iceland. Both the exterior and interior are interesting, but don’t miss the elevator to the top where you can get awesome views of downtown Reykjavik and beyond (on a clear day).
Kolaportið Flea Market
If you’re in Reykjavik on a weekend you can stop by the Kolaportið Flea Market. It’s only open on Saturdays and Sundays and it’s relatively small but you can still find some neat stuff in there from local vendors.
Grab some famous Icelandic hot dogs
When it’s time for lunch, be sure to stop by Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur, the famous Icelandic hot dog stand. Iceland is famous for their hot dogs, and when you try one you’ll know why. They are fantastic! And cheap in a land where nothing is cheap! I eat one every day I’m there.
Icelandic hot dogs are made from lamb and they are far superior to regular ol’ dogs. You can choose from a wide variety of toppings, though they will all be different from what you’re used to. Yes, they have mustard, ketchup, mayo, etc., but they serve all Icelandic versions of these. However, the Icelandic versions are way better.
The traditional way to order one is “with everything” which means it’s topped with: crispy fried onions and chopped raw onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and remoulade (a kind of sauce made with mayo, mustard, herbs, and capers). Even if none of that sounds appetizing, I still say try it. The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, after all. (Pretty sure Aristotle was talking about Iceland’s hot dogs here.)
Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur is just a small kiosk on a corner in downtown Reykjavik. (Right around the corner from the Center Hotels Plaza!) There’s often a line but it’s always worth the short wait.
Sægreifinn – The Sea Baron Restaurant
Still hungry? Head a few blocks west along the water and stop by the Sea baron. This tiny seafood shack has probably the best soup I’ve ever had in my life (and many others agree). You absolutely must try the lobster curry soup here. (Again, I visited here on 2 of my 4 days in Iceland. I like what I like, shut up.)
And if that isn’t enough, do know that everything here is good. You can pick which kind of fish you want from the display case and they’ll cook it right up for you. It’s all amazing and deliciously prepared.
If you’re the type of traveler who enjoys visiting cemeteries around the world, definitely check out Reykjavik’s Hólavallagarður Cemetery (also known as the Old Cemetery). It dates back to just the 1800s, but the place is so neat.
Hólavallagarður Cemetery is basically a forest, which is interesting because Iceland is a virtual land without trees. Huge twisty trees sprout from the graves here giving this place a truly hauntingly beautiful vibe.
Happy Hour in Reykjavik
Happy hour in Reykjavik is a pastime of its own. Iceland has many cool bars and a seriously interesting craft beer scene. But, as you’ll discover, Iceland is not cheap, especially when it comes to alcohol.
Your new best friend will be the Appy Hour app. This app shows you which bars in Reykjavik have happy hour specials, what they are, and when they are happening so you can bar hop accordingly. Get it here on Google Play or the App Store.
And while you’re out, don’t miss the Lebowski Bar, arguably Iceland’s most famous bar. This bar is full-on Big Lebowski themed from top to bottom. There are bowling alleys on the wall, rugs on the bar, and a long menu of white Russians.
I’m not gonna lie to you – I have tried watching The Big Lebowski like five times and I fall asleep every time. I am not one of the ones who “get it.” However, I do love an over-the-top theme and a white russian! So even if you’re not a fan of the film, it’s still a fun place.
Iceland itinerary day 2: Horseback riding & Golden Circle
Now that you’re more rested, it’s time to seek out some beautiful Icelandic adventure. The second of your Iceland itinerary 4 days is going to start off with a
Horseback riding in Iceland
Iceland’s horses are an adorable and well-known symbol of this country. They are smaller than “regular” horses, have the playful personalities of puppies, have a gait that no other breed has, and you can’t deny they’re the studliest of all the horses. Case in point:
Maybe he’s born with it? Yes, Icelandic horses are true natural wonders and they are so fun to watch. They jump and play and roll around on the ground. They’re friendly and loveable and, let’s be honest, they’re the Fabios and Cindy Crawfords of the horse world. They are highly protected and are the direct descendants of the horses the Vikings brought to Iceland in the 9th century. I call them Thorses.
If you’re out driving around Iceland, you’ll no doubt spot many of these horses in the fields. But if you stick around Reykjavik during your 4 days, you could potentially miss out on meeting these babies. However, you can (and should) book a horseback riding excursion.
Like I said, Icelandic horses have a gait that is unique to them. While your ordinary, run-of-the-mill horse has three gaits—walk, trot, and gallop—the Icelandic horse has five. Nowhere else can you experience the tölt and pace of the Icelandic horse. This is a lot more exciting if you’re already a horse person.
Also, horseback riding in Iceland is a great way to access some remote country areas, see some waterfalls, and get up close with Iceland’s lunar landscape. Plus, Icelandic horses are patient and therefore perfect for riders of all skill levels. Even riders with absolutely no skill level whatsoever.
Icelandic horseback riding tours
Icelandic horseback riding tours typically include roundtrip transportation, rain gear if necessary, helmet, and rubber boots, but check with your tour company to make sure so you can plan accordingly. Because of timing, in order to fit in both horseback riding and the Golden Circle tour (which I’m about to explain) into one magnificent day, I recommend booking this combination tour.
It includes both activities, hotel pickup and drop off, and the express Golden Circle tour so you can concentrate on the highlights and not a bunch of other stuff you might not be interested in. This is what my friends and I did and it worked out great!
However, if you’d like to try to book all of your excursions separately, here are some of Iceland’s top horseback riding tours to choose from:
- Red Lava Horse Riding Tour From Reykjavik – Top rated tour, 2 hours, beautiful scenery in the Heiðmörk Nature Reserve, includes pickup and drop off
- Icelandic Horseback Riding Tour from Reykjavik – Highly rated, 2 hours, you can opt for pickup and drop off
- Private Horse Riding Tour in Thoromodsdale from Reykjavik – Also highly rated, half-day tour, includes refreshments, private guide for your group, intimate experience
Golden Circle tour
You’ve probably heard by now that touring the Golden Circle is one of the top things to do in Iceland. And I totally agree! With just 4 days in Iceland, this tour shows you some really cool stuff and introduces you to some of Iceland’s iconic landscapes—geysers, waterfalls, tectonic plates, etc.
All Golden Circle tours cover three significant sites all within 62 miles of Winterfell. I mean Reykjavik:
1. Þingvellir National Park is where the Vikings established the world’s first democratic republic in the year 930. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site with some Game of Thrones filming locations.
2. Gullfoss is Iceland’s most famous and iconic waterfall (in a land with more waterfalls than unpronounceable words). Gullfoss is also the largest waterfall in Europe (when ranking by volume).
3. The Geysir geothermal area is the last and stinkiest stop on the tour. No, not geyser, Geysir—the geyser from which all geysers worldwide got their name. Like Kleenex or Band-Aid. This is the name brand product right here.
And right next to Geysir is Strokkur, the geyser that erupts every five to ten minutes without fail. At this site you’ll see a number of geysers, big and small, and a bunch of random pools of boiling water that smell like broken sewer pipes. As stinky as Iceland’s geothermal areas are, seeing the earth boil right in front of you is still pretty incredible. It’s like Earth soup.
Golden Circle tours
A tour of the Golden Circle is always a must-do on any Iceland itinerary and is a great introduction to the unique landscape that is Westeros. I mean Iceland. You’ll see waterfalls, geysers, mountains, rainbows, and of course Game of Thrones filming locations.
Again, I highly recommend booking this combination tour that includes both Icelandic horseback riding and the Golden Circle highlights tour. But if you’d like to book them separately, here are some of Iceland’s most popular Golden Circle tours:
- Golden Circle Classic Day Trip from Reykjavik – Definitely the most popular Golden Circle tour in Iceland, 7 hours, includes local guide and all transportation (hotel pickup and drop off from certain locations only, Center Hotels Plaza is one of them! I’m just saying.)
- All the Golden Circle tours to choose from – check out this full list that features many different kind of Golden Circle tours. You can filter the results at the top according to your needs.
Iceland itinerary day 3: Volcano hike & best meal of your life
Day 3 of your 4 days in Iceland is going to make up for all the time you spent sitting down yesterday (on a horse, on a bus). Then, it’s going to end with the delicious reward you’ve earned.
Fagradalsfjall volcano hike
You may have heard, in March of 2021 the Fagradalsfjall volcano began erupting and putting on a real show for Icelanders. Previously, this volcano in the Geldingadalir Valley had actually been dormant for over 6,000 years. This eruption is the area’s first active volcano in 800 years. So, obviously this has been a major coup for Iceland’s tourism.
Also obviously, yours truly is going to get as close as she (safely) can. And now I’m recommending you do the same!
The Fagradalsfjall volcano is conveniently located on the Reykjanes peninsula, also known as the part of Iceland where the Keflavik airport and the Blue Lagoon are located. So, not that far from Reykjavik, yay! This makes a day hike to the volcano super accessible even on just a short visit.
If you have your own car you can drive to the site and hike yourself. However, I highly recommend going with a trained guide. The environment is fragile and the volcano—because it’s, umm, an erupting volcano—is unpredictable and makes the conditions in the area potentially very dangerous.
Hike Fagradalsfjall with a guide
Going with a guide ensures you won’t go into a dangerous area, will leave when the conditions get too bad (i.e., poisonous air), and will be as safe on your hike as possible. He/she/they will guide you to the best viewpoints and to some other very cool (but like super duper hot) areas. But they’ll also give you tons of freedom so you never feel corralled at all.
You’ll get to see the unbelievable lava fields that are still red hot and smoking. We got to see hot red lava bursting out of the erupting volcano and hear the roar of the eruption (my favorite part). You’ll see so much amazing scenery. It’s definitely one of the coolest things to do in Iceland right now and was hands down one of my all-time favorite hikes.
Iceland graciously offers a number of well-reviewed Fagradalsfjall volcano hikes. Choose from these:
- Guided volcano hike tour from Reykjavik (5.5 hours) – This is the most popular Fagradalsfjall hike. It includes transportation to and from Reykjavik and plenty of free time at the site.
- Full-day Fagradalsfjall hike (8 hours) – If you’d prefer to spend more time exploring around the volcano, this is the tour for you. All transportation, headlamps, and a great guide is included.
- Private Fagradalsfjall volcano tour for your group – this tour is great if the thought of hiking in a group gives you anxiety. (Like, maybe you’re not a strong/fast hiker or just prefer to go at your own pace.) This tour includes a private guide for your group, gas masks (if necessary), crampons if you need those too, trekking poles, and free energy bars. Plus, your guide carries a gas meter as well to stay on top of the air quality. This is actually a fantastic deal!
Seltún Geothermal Area
The eruption of Fagradalsfjall isn’t random—the entire Reykjanes Peninsula is literally bursting with geothermal activity. Another great place to see some of that up close is at some of the surrounding geothermal areas.
Just a short drive from the volcano you can visit (for free) the Seltún Geothermal Area and/or the Gunnuhver Hot Springs (though they are in opposite directions so you might have to choose). Personally, I visited the Seltún Geothermal Area and it was such an unexpected treat. The kind of treats that are covered in mud and smell like rotten eggs, that is.
At Seltún, you get to see the boiling mud pits, the hot springs, and the many different colors up close thanks to the boardwalks and walking paths. There are informational signs explaining the pits and restroom facilities on site making this a real pit stop.
If you’re driving yourself, there is a free parking lot at the site right off the main road. However, there are also a number of Fagradalsfjall volcano hikes that include a stop at a geothermal area afterwards. These combo tours also include a few other notable sites in the area like the Reykjanes Lighthouse, the Bridge Between Continents, and Kleifarvatn Lake.
Iceland geothermal tours
This combo tour is the route I took and it was perfect. Choose from these volcano hikes + geothermal tours:
- Fagradalsfjall Active Volcano Hike & Geothermal Tour from Reykjavik –This 10-hour tour covers everything. You get to visit the lake, hike to the erupting volcano, visit both Gunnuhver and Seltún geothermal areas, see the lighthouse, and walk across the bridge that connects the Eurasian and American continents.
- Guided volcano hike and the Reykjanes Peninsula – This awesome volcano hike tour includes most of the things already mentioned, but also includes stops at the beautiful Grænavatn lakes and the cliffs of Krisuvikurberg. This tour also includes trekking poles, headlamps, and crampons.
- Half-Day Afternoon/Evening Volcano Hike from Reykjavik – If a full day of outdoor adventure is not your thing, check out this half-day (6-hour) tour. It covers a Fagradalsfjall volcano hike and a visit to the Seltún Geothermal Area.
Dinner at Apotek
Now that you’ve had some time to shower (…the smell of eggs out of your hair) and rest after your day of adventure in Iceland, it’s time for more happy hour. If craft beer is your thing, don’t miss Skúli Craft Bar.
This intimate little joint has a big selection of beers you’ve never heard nor can pronounce. I literally just told them to fill a flight with some beers. All delicious, all interesting. Afterwards, head to Apotek for what just might be the best meal of your life. (At least, it was for me!)
Apotek is no doubt a splurge, but one definitely worth making. The food here is phenomenal and so are the drinks, the service, the atmosphere, and everything else. For dinner, my husband and I had:
- Waffle bites – Cured sea trout, lamb shoulder, and duck confit… all on waffles with delicious toppings and sauces. Amazing.
- Arctic char on a Himalayan salt block
- Rack of lamb
- Lamb rump steak
- The Skyr Fantasia (skyr fromage, skyr mousse, strawberry and lime gel, lime sponge cake) – I am a lover of all things skyr.
- And I have no idea what my husband got for dessert but this is what it looked like:
They also serve their super fancy, award-winning cocktails in some hilarious mugs. Look, I cannot recommend this place enough. It was superb, top to bottom. And while the place is pretty big and walk-ins are welcome, I would definitely make reservations so you don’t miss out.
They also serve lunch, brunch on the weekends, and afternoon tea every day of the week.
Iceland itinerary day 4: Wildlife watching & the Blue Lagoon
Iceland is wild, yes, but even the capital city of Reykjavik is surrounded by abundant wildlife. If your 4 days in Iceland take place between April and September, you’ll have some easy opportunities to see it for yourself.
One of the most popular things to do in Reykjavik is to go on a whale watching tour. Iceland is home to more than 20 species of whales, but here you’ll most likely see minke whales, humpback whales, and even orcas! Whale watching tours in Iceland take place year round, but between April and September is when you’re going to have the best viewing experience.
Whale watching tours operate outside of Reykjavik Harbor, within walking distance from most downtown area hotels. They last between 2-3 hours and are such fun experiences. I personally am a big fan of whale watching and I’m lucky that I live in Boston and get to see whales on a pretty regular basis. However, if you’ve never taken a tour like this, you definitely should!
Check out these Iceland whale watching tours:
- The original classic whale watching tour in Reykjavik – This 3-hour tour is the most popular and has 95% success rate of seeing whales during the summer months. You’ll have a knowledgeable guide and overalls, raincoats, and blankets will be provided.
- Small-group RIB whale watching cruise – If you want a more intimate experience, check out RIB tours. These tours use much smaller boats and fit just 12 people max. This 2-hour speedboat tour spends more time wildlife viewing and less time traveling.
Take a puffin tour
If you’ve seen whales before and want something different and unique to Iceland, check out puffin tours instead. Iceland is home to between 8-10 million Atlantic puffins from May until August and many of them can be seen on a quick tour from Reykjavik Harbor. (They even have combination whale and puffin cruises!)
These adorable little birds spend their summer on a small island off Reykjavik’s coast and you can take a trip out there with a local nature guide. You won’t be able to step onto the island yourself, but your guide will get you as close as is safe for the birds so you can get great views of them.
Because the boats are much faster and the destination is set, these tours are much shorter than the whale watching tours. They take just one hour, so that might be something to consider if you have to choose between the two.
Pro tip: some of the puffin tours include binoculars for you to use, but keep in mind that you’ll probably have to share. Instead, just bring a small pair of your own. You may want them for the volcano hike and whale watching as well.
Now that you’ve spent your morning on the water, it’s time to get in the water. Specifically, some superheated geothermal milky blue water in the middle of nowhere.
The Blue Lagoon is arguably the most well-known tourist site in Iceland. And while many people may be turned off by this fact and think it’s going to be “too touristy,” I can assure you that it is, in fact, amazing and every bit worth a visit.
First of all, don’t listen to the haters. If you want to do the most popular thing for visitors to do in Iceland, go for it! The Blue Lagoon is fantastic and you’ll have such a fun time. It’s unique and interesting, hot and relaxing, and definitely an activity you’ll never forget. I’ve been multiple times and I still love it.
Before you book your day at the Blue Lagoon though, definitely check out my post on visiting the Blue Lagoon and all you need to know before you go. It has all the info, tips, cool hidden things not to miss, and more.
As always, if you’re driving yourself, you can show up to the Blue Lagoon any ol’ time. But if not, you’ll need to book a Blue Lagoon tour. These tours include admission to the Blue Lagoon as well as round trip transportation to and from downtown Reykjavik.
Your 4 days in Iceland is sadly coming to a close. Back in Reykjavik, hit up happy hour somewhere new and stop by one of Reykjavik’s well-loved eateries. Grab some more soup (at Svarta Kaffið), some fish ‘n’ chips (at Reykjavik Fish), and/or maybe even end your trip with this awesome Reykjavik walking food tour.
Iceland itinerary 4 days – tips:
I have a few additional notes to add to this 4-day Iceland itinerary that I hope will save you tons of money and time. Or at least recoup some that you spent on hot dogs and petting cats on the street.
Don’t forget about the Northern Lights
Remember, if you visit in the winter months, you can add a Northern Lights tour to this itinerary! And because the late hour at which they take place, you probably won’t even have to sacrifice anything else. Turns out you can have it all!
The Northern Lights can best be seen in Iceland from October to April, so if you’re visiting during that time, check out these Iceland Northern Lights tour options. (But this one, the midnight adventure, is the most popular!)
Buy in bulk
One of the great things about Iceland’s tours is that you can mix and match until the Icelandic horses come home. You can book all separate tours if that’s what works best for you, or you can book tours that include two, three, or more activities all together. Like, say, a Golden Circle + Blue Lagoon + Kerid volcanic crater tour.
This is a very popular and convenient way to plan your Iceland itinerary for 4 days. There are tons of options and combinations too. Take a look through the many Iceland tour options to see which ones are perfect for your needs.
Get your money back!
If you’re a non-Iceland resident, you are automatically eligible for tax-free shopping while in Iceland. The way it works is: you do your shopping in Iceland as normal (lopapeysas, other souvenirs, etc.), submit your receipts at the airport, then get your tax money back. It’s that simple.
When you make a purchase in Iceland, make sure the store fills out the information on the tax-free form and staples the original receipt to the form. Do this everywhere you buy items you plan to take back to the U.S. (or wherever home is). All of the shops will have these forms and know exactly what to do with them. And if you forget, there’s a good chance the clerk will ask if you’re collecting tax-free forms. To which you’ll answer: OMG YES I forgot thank you for reminding me!
They will give you a little brochure-sized folder to keep them all in. Back at the airport before you depart, stop by the International Refund Point to submit these receipts and forms. You’ll get a refund for all the tax money you paid on these items (known as a VAT refund). (And if you’re like the guy who checked out before me at the Handknitting Association who spent over $1200 US, that will be a lot.)
A few things to note:
- Your total purchase at each store much be at least 6.000 ISK (that’s around $46 US) – so make sure if you’re going to buy a couple of something, do it at one place.
- You must submit your forms at the airport before checking your bags because you might need to show the items you purchased. So, enter the airport, head to the refund point, then check in for your flight.
- Only physical items that you are taking back home qualify. So, meals at restaurants, tours, services, hotels, etc. do not count.
- The tax in Iceland is already included in the price you see on the tag. So, you’re actually getting a portion of the original price back. Woohoo!
- You’ll get your money back as a direct deposit to your credit card. (They say this will take about 4 to 6 weeks to get your refund back, but for me it was 4 to 6 months. Who knows! Just don’t expect it immediately.)
I hope this 4-day Iceland itinerary shows you how much amazing stuff you can fit into just a short visit and helps you plan your trip. As always, feel free to comment below with questions or reach out via email, Facebook, or Instagram. Have a great time in Iceland!
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