3 Days Itinerary in Iceland
Iceland is most known for its spectacular landscapes of glaciers, waterfalls, geysers, springs, volcanoes, and beaches. There are tons of outdoor activities available, as well as some of the most picturesque photo opportunities in the world. The land of fire and ice is also home to a myriad of art, culture, and luxury. There is so much to see, do and learn about Iceland that is unique specifically to this fantastical, otherworldly country it can’t possibly all be experienced in three days; but here’s one possible itinerary that can help visitors make the most of a short visit.
DAY ONE – Reykjavik
This dormant volcano last erupted more than 4,000 years ago and there is no reason to believe it will be active again the near future. This volcano in particular is worth a visit for a couple of reasons. One of its unique characteristics is the distinct coloring inside, which is quite striking. It’s also extremely large – big enough to fit the entire Statue of Liberty inside it. Another curiosity about the Thrihnukagigur is the magma chamber, which is entirely empty. The magma either solidified onto the walls or sank back down into the earth. Either way, it’s quite something to see!
National Gallery of Iceland
The National Gallery, originally founded in 1884 as an independent institution, features 19th and 20th century art from around the world and includes the largest collection of Icelandic work in the country. Its collection of works by famous artists is impressive, as well, with pieces by Picasso and Munch.
Whales of Iceland
Visit the Whales of Iceland museum and see life-sized replicas of 23 types of local whales that have been sculpted and personalized down to the minutest details. Every scratch and scar you see is authentic to the whale it was based on. The founders and staff at Whales of Iceland have the utmost respect and love for whales and they hope guests will share in the joy and bewilderment that comes with learning about this amazing mammal.
DAY TWO – The Golden Circle
There are no less than a dozen things to see along this driving path that highlights some of the most popular sites in Iceland, including visitor centers, photo opportunities, and places to stop and have lunch. Here are two stops, however, that absolutely should not be missed.
The most famous waterfall in all of Iceland is Gullfoss, meaning “golden falls”. This breathtaking dual cascade pours water from 32 meters up and is absolutely stunning to behold. The waterfall was nearly destroyed in the early 1900s in favor of a hydroelectric project; however, the family who owned the land protested. In 1979 it became a nature preserve and is now protected. Be sure to take note of the statue at the foot of the staircase – there’s a lovely story behind her and the stairs she built.
Geysir and Strokkur
Pronounced gay-zeer and meaning “gusher”, this hot water spout is one of the country’s most well known attractions. This original geyser is what all other geysers have been named after. Next to Geysir sits Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes so guests are never disappointed. The hot spring shoots water roughly 20-30 meters up in the air before going back into hiding.
DAY THREE – Snaefellsjokull National Park
Iceland’s first established national park is situated at the foot of a volcanic glacier and is the only park of its kind in the country to extend all the way out to the sea. The nearly 1500-meter high Snaefellsjokull Glacier was the basis for Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth” and has been described as one of the seven greatest energy centers of the Earth. The view from the top is unparalleled, providing views of the Reykjanes Peninsula to the south, the Westfjords to the north, and everything in between.
The coastline of the park is also great for bird watching and is home to a variety of sea bird species. Several types of birds including guillemot, razorbill, kittiwake and shag can be found nesting in Arnarstapi. Many different kinds of gulls can be seen, as well as oystercatcher, ringed plover, sandpiper and many others. While you’re near the water, also be on the lookout for seals – you never know when you might see them sunning themselves on the rocks!
There are many seasonal activities throughout the year that draw visitors from around the world. The summer months are a good time to go whale watching and see the Aurora Borealis is an absolute must during the winter season. There are also endless music, fashion, art, and food festivals throughout the year, so no matter what month you go there will always be something exciting and unique to experience.