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The Best Day Trips and Tours in and Near Reykjavík City

By Lára Borg Lárusdóttir

Geysir Strokkur erupting Golden Circle Iceland
Photo: Geysir Strokkur .

Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland, nested by the North Atlantic Ocean, is known for its vibrant culture, friendly locals and stunning nature all around. The capital can serve as an excellent base for exploring the surrounding natural wonders of Iceland, where visitors don’t need to go too far to explore breathtaking landscapes. The best day tours in Reykjavík range from whale watching, horseback riding, snorkelling, city exploring and more. 

An extensive array of amusing trips and tours can be experienced both in Reykjavík city and nearby areas, which will be discussed below.

 

Best Day Tours in Reykjavík City 

Reykjavík is a small but vibrant city and home to about 140,000 people. The city is full of beautiful sights and tours to be experienced, so finding activities won’t be challenging for visitors in Reykjavík. To see the complete guide to Reykjavík city, click here.

 

Viðey Island Tour

Viðey Island is located just outside Reykjavík, where a ferry is taken just off the city’s centre. The island offers a lot of lovely experiences for visitors, such as hikes and a visit to one of the Reykjavík City Museum’s exhibitions. 

One of the most popular tours on the island is the Imagine Peace Tower walk, where participants get to explore the tower created by Yoko Ono as a memorial to John Lennon. The tour begins with a whale-watching experience where guides will shed light on the incredible creatures, learning more about the wonders of whales and seabirds. 

After arriving at the island, a guided walk will be taken where the rich history and unmatched nature of Viðey will be explained. Lastly, participants arrive at the incredible monument of the famous John Lennon, which was first lit in 2007. Since then, it has been lit every year on his day of birth, October 9, and remains lit throughout the winter season.  

For more information and to book the Imagine Peace Tower and Whales tour, click here

Admission: ISK 22,400. Children 7-15: ISK 11,200, free for children under 7.

 

Reykjavík Whale Watching

The waters of Iceland are rich with marine life, making whale watching a popular activity just outside Reykjavík’s centre. Embarking on a whale-watching tour, you will learn more about Iceland’s incredible wildlife with the guidance of expert crew and trained marine biologists. Not only will you learn about this underwater world, but you will also get the opportunity to catch a glimpse of these majestic creatures within reach of Reykjavík’s centre. 

Many whale-watching tours are offered, where you can choose to go on a classic, comfortable whale-watching boat or on a RIB express tour to get more speed and get even closer to the magical creatures of the ocean. You can also combine whale watching with other tours, such as visiting the whale museum in Reykjavík, Viðey Island, or others. 

The tours leave from the Old Harbour in Reykjavík city. 

See all available whale-watching tours here

Whale Watching in Reykjavík
Photo: Golli – Whale Watching in Reykjavík

 

See Real Flowing Lava: Lava Show in Reykjavík 

Those who want to experience real flowing lava in a close-up and safe environment can visit the Lava Show in Reykjavík. 

Lava, the Iceland Volcano & Earthquake Centre, opened first in Iceland in 2017 in Hvolfsvöllur town in the South of Iceland and exhibited the only lava show in the world. The show opened its doors in Reykjavík’s city centre in 2022 and has since then provided the city with a recreation of a miniature volcanic eruption where visitors get to see red hot flowing lava right within arms reach. 

The Lava Show Reykjavík experience can be booked here.

Reykjavík Walking Tours 

In Reykjavík, there is a lot to see and experience, so taking a guided walking tour might be an option for you. By taking a walking tour, you can discover the city’s culture, try Icelandic food and drinks, view the street art, or just get to know the city better. 

Many tours are available, such as a food tour, a classic Reykjavík walking tour, a Viking walking tour, a folklore tour and many more. This could be the perfect crash course when it comes to Iceland, where you get to learn the history of Iceland, visit famous landmarks, and perhaps even learn a few Icelandic words. 

See available walking tours in Reykjavík here

 

Experience Reykjavík from Above on a Helicopter Tour

For those who want to see a bit more of Iceland without having to walk, it is also possible to jump on board a helicopter and see the country and its landscapes from above. 

Many options are available, such as viewing Reykjavík’s city from the comfort of your own helicopter. From there, you could even try to spot those doing a walking tour around the city. Other helicopter sightseeing experiences are also offered, such as flying over glaciers, waterfalls, the Icelandic highland, or volcanic areas. 

The tours leave from Reykjavík Airport in the city’s centre. 

See available helicopter tours in Reykjavík here.

An aerial view of Icelandic landscapes seen from a helicopter above
Photo: Helicopter Tour from Reykjavik, landscapes seen from above

 

 

Best Day Tours Near Reykjavík 

In Reykjavík’s surrounding areas and towns, there are a number of activities to do and tours to embark on. So regardless of whether visitors choose to stay in Reykjavík city during their time in Iceland or not, there are still loads of activities to be explored not too far from the city. 

 

Golden Circle Tours

One of Iceland’s must-visit attractions is the well-known Golden Circle. The whole journey takes travellers to three breathtaking destinations and some of the country’s most extraordinary historical landmarks. Those three areas are Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir geothermal area. 

The adventure is conveniently accessible from Reykjavík and offers a day-long adventure that combines the beauty of Icelands’ geological wonders and its rich cultural heritage and history. 

Golden Circle tours can be combined with other activities, such as a trip to the Blue Lagoon, snorkelling in Silfra fissure, horse riding, and more. 

See the many available tours to the Golden Circle here. 

 

Relax in the Blue Lagoon 

The Blue Lagoon, named one of the 25 wonders of the world by National Geographic, is a unique experience and one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. The lagoon is conveniently located only about 40 minutes from Reykjavík and about 20 minutes from Keflavík airport. 

Entering the Blue Lagoon, visitors are brought into another world, where the unique spa experience even has healing powers. The powers of the geothermal seawater come from its primary elements, silica, algae and minerals, which can be highly beneficial for the skin. In addition to being a healing and relaxing experience, visitors can see the extraordinary surrounding lava landscapes and bathe in the beautifully blue geothermal water. 

See available Blue Lagoon tours here. 

 

Experience Icelandic Bathing Culture in Sky Lagoon 

Sky Lagoon is located in the capital area, in the town of Kópavogur, only about a 10-minute driving distance from Reykjavík’s centre. The lagoon offers a stunning spa experience with breathtaking views over the Atlantic Ocean. Sky Lagoon offers a large heated infinity pool overlooking the ocean, a pool bar, a cold tub and saunas. During the visit, you can experience a seven-step bathing ritual to fully immerse yourself in Icelandic bathing culture. 

Yout trip to Sky Lagoon can be combined with other tours, such as Silfra fissure snorkelling, horseback riding or the Golden Circle, or taken on its own.  

See available tours to Sky Lagoon here. 

Sky Lagoon Iceland
Photo: Signe – Sky Lagoon

 

Snorkel or Dive Between Two Continents in Silfra Fissure

The Silfra fissure is nested in the historical Þingvellir National Park, both a UNESCO World Heritage site and a beautiful scenic place to visit. The park sits on tectonic plates that divide it between two continents, North America and Eurasia. Silfra started forming in 1789 following the movement of the tectonic plates, forming a rift. Melted ice from Langijökull glacier fills the crack up with crystal clear water as it gets filtered through lava capillaries on the way, making it fresh, cold and not only perfect to swim in but also very drinkable. 

This has made the Silfra fissure a unique place to snorkel or dive in, which National Geographic has described it as one of the top dive sites in the world. 

Dive and snorkel tours let participants visit the world below the surface, exploring the colourful underwater landscape, marine life and geological formations. The fissure has become a mecca for scuba diving and snorkelling, where underwater enthusiasts around the world visit for the unique experience. 

All gear needed for the tours is provided, such as a drysuit. At the tour’s end, you get to enjoy hot coffee or chocolate to warm up, and subsequently, you will receive pictures from the experience. Many options are available, such as combining it with other experiences or choosing transportation from and to Reykjavík city. 

See available Silfra fissure diving and snorkelling tours here. 

Two people scuba diving in Silfra Fissure
Photo: Ants Stern and Jóna Kolbrún Sigurjónsdóttir – Diving in Silfra Fissure

 

ATV and Buggy Tours Adventures

For those seeking an adrenaline-fueled adventure in an awe-inspiring landscape, taking an ATV or buggy tour is the ultimate off-road experience in Iceland. The tours let participants experience the rugged and remote corners of the country, from black sand beaches to moss-covered lava fields to geothermal areas, offering panoramic scenic views wherever you go. 

Many ATV and buggy tours are available within reach of Reykjavík city. Tours range from midnight sun expeditions, volcanic tours, caving area tours and black sand beach adventures. The ATVs and buggies navigate effortlessly through rough landscapes, allowing participants to explore areas often inaccessible otherwise. 

See available ATV and buggy tours here. 

 

Ride the Majestic Icelandic Horse 

Horseback riding tours in Iceland offer a journey where participants explore the beautiful Icelandic scenery, connecting riders with the country’s history, the unique nature and the majestic Icelandic horse. It’s an experience for both skilled horseback riders and beginners, creating an unforgettable adventure for all. 

Multiple horseback riding tours are available near Reykjavík, where specially trained guides take participants on a ride through contrasted landscapes, such as green hillsides and lava fields. The tours also provide participants with the opportunity to learn more about the beautiful and friendly creatures and to familiarise themselves with the history of the Icelandic horse. 

See available horseback riding tours here. 

Icelandic horse in the nature
Photo: Ian Funk – The Icelandic Horse

 

Chasing the Dancing Northern Lights in Iceland

With its dark winter nights and remote landscapes, Iceland offers visitors front-row seats to one of nature’s most breathtaking sights, the northern lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis. The northern lights are created when energised particles from the sun hit Earth’s upper atmosphere at high speeds, giving off energy leading to the atmosphere’s fluorescence.  

The dark Icelandic winters, therefore, reward locals and visitors with the stunning sight of colourful dancing skies. The northern lights are the most active between September and March. However, the chance of seeing the northern lights improves during mid-winter, where more darkness provides the optimal circumstances. 

Many northern lights tours are available, where guides take participants to the best possible locations to hunt for the magnificent light show. Tours such as the Reykjavík Northern Lights Cruise offer excellent conditions with a panoramic view of the sky and surroundings. Other tours, such as Northern Lights Hunting Tour and Northern Lights Bus Tour, are also feasible options, where guides bring participants to remote and peaceful locations in the hopes of hunting for the unique Aurora Borealis.

See all Northern Lights tours here. 

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