Iceland is one of the most magical places on this planet. Its northern location creates a landscape that's simply otherworldly. Despite being such a tiny island nation, there's so much that can be seen and done in Iceland in just a few days if planned properly. With IcelandAir's offering of a stopover in Reykjavík at no additional airfare cost, seizing the opportunity to visit this Mars-like oasis is simply a must. Here are ten things to do on a 3-day layover in Iceland.
10 Visit The Blue Lagoon
Despite being described by locals as "the world's largest outdoor toilet," the Blue Lagoon is truly unlike anything else in this world. Yes, it is extremely popular, and it's easily one of the most sought-out things to do in Iceland, but for a good reason. The Blue Lagoon is a giant outdoor thermal pool where you can spend the entire day soaking in the rich, luxurious milky waters with an entry ticket price of approximately $56. Don't let the haters of popular activities get to you; The Blue Lagoon is awesome.
9 Scuba Dive Between Continents At Silfra
Looking for something unique to Iceland? How about scuba diving between the tectonic plates that separate the North American and European continents? That's right, in Iceland, you can scuba dive between continents at Silfra! You will need to know how to scuba dive in a drysuit, so if you do not have the proper training for that, three days might not be enough time to do it all. However, if you're a serious adventure chaser and are looking for a unique experience, diving between two continents should be at the top of your list.
8 Take The Golden Circle Day Tour
The most popular route for tourists in Iceland is the Golden Circle. Along the way, you'll see active geysers, waterfalls, horses, and craters, to name a few. Iceland really is like Mars on earth, and a great way to see some of its many natural offerings is by touring the Golden Circle. You can rent a car and drive if you want to move at your own pace, but if you're worried about being limited on time, Viator offers plenty of Golden Circle tours.
7 Go Whale Watching
If visiting Iceland from April to September, get on a boat and go test your chances of seeing some whales. The most common species of whale found in Iceland is the humpback whale, but you'll also have a high probability of catching sight of a killer whale or a blue whale. You might be surprised that after your whale-watching experience, you'll see whales on menus. Please note that whale is not a traditional Icelandic meal and is strictly geared toward tourists, so if you care about these majestic creatures, try ordering anything else.
6 See Puffins
If you're afraid of giant water animals and are looking for something a little cuter, go on a puffin-watching tour. You'll be amazed by how clumsy these creatures are. Note that they are incredibly tiny and fast, making them difficult to photograph. If you have a good camera, definitely bring it on this tour. It's also highly recommended to bring binoculars. Similar to whales, puffin will be on many Icelandic menus, but it's strictly for touristic purposes and not recommended contributing to their declining population by creating higher demand. In simpler terms, don't eat puffin.
5 Indulge In Icelandic Cuisine
Despite Iceland not necessarily being known for its delectable cuisine, the freshness of the ingredients might surprise you. Icelandic cuisine is surprisingly delicious. Some popular Icelandic meals include plokkfiskur (fish stew), hangikjöt (smoked lamb), harðfiskur (dried fish), rúgbrauð (deeply rich rye bread made in hot springs), and even hákarl (fermented shark). Iceland also has delicious street hotdogs, similar to its other Scandinavian neighbors, and an Icelandic yogurt called Skyr.
4 Chase The Northern Lights
If your long layover in Iceland happens to be from October to March, you have a pretty good chance of catching The Northern Lights. You'll need to get out of the city and to a quieter spot on this tiny-island nation to catch them. There's no real planning in seeing The Northern Lights as it's totally weather-dependent. If you are confused as to how to sight this phenomenon, jump on Viator and book a Northern Lights tour. Just understand the risk involved in that sighting. The Northern Lights are not always possible due to weather.
3 Gaze At One Of The Many Waterfalls
Iceland is home to more than 10,000 waterfalls, so there's a good chance you'll see at least one waterfall during your layover, even if unintentional. The largest waterfall in Iceland is Glymur. Gulfoss Falls are some of the more popular waterfalls, and Seljalandsfoss waterfall is one of the most photographed landmarks in the entire country. Whatever waterfall you choose to chase while visiting in Iceland, you're bound to be left stunned.
2 Visit Diamond Beach
A whopping five hours from Reykjavík lies one of the coolest beaches on planet earth: Diamond Beach. If driving five hours (one way) seems like too much of a stretch on your short three days in Iceland, rest assured that the sights at Diamond Beach will be well worth the hike. Diamond Beach is a black sand beach known for its giant iceberg/glacial remnants that resemble that of, you guessed it, diamonds. It looks like someone dropped giant diamonds from the sky onto this pristine black sand beach!
1 Walk Through An Ice Cave
Walking through an ice cave in Iceland is quite a fun experience. Some ice caves are available to walk through all year, although more are naturally available during the winter season. Hire a tour operator to ensure you have the proper gear, including the proper layers and crampons, and definitely don't leave the camera at home for this one. Walking through an ice cave in Iceland is almost like walking through a giant mirror in a funhouse. It's shiny, and reflective, and its beauty is so vast that it doesn't feel real.