36 Hours in Iceland Itinerary

En route back from Amsterdam, we opted to do a long layover in Iceland. With only 36 hours to work with, we had to work smart, not hard. See below for how we did it.

Day 1:

  • The easiest way to get from the airport to Reykjavik is the FlyBus. Book your ticket online to reserve a seat, then follow signs for the FlyBus to the airport exit.
  • We landed in the afternoon, so by the time we got to our hotel and got situated, there wasn’t time for any major excursions. I recommend using your first afternoon/evening to explore Reykjavik.
    • Obviously, you have to visit the oft-photographed Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral and the Leif Erikson statue out front. Admission to the church is free, but if you want to go up in the tower, there is a small fee.
    • There are a ton of cute shops downtown, so make sure you stop in. One of my favorite places was the Handknitting Association of Iceland shop right down the street from Hallgrimskikja, which offers handmade sweaters, hats, scarves, and adorable felted wool toys and ornaments.
    • Another must see is the Sun Voyager Statue, situated on the Reykjavik waterfront.
  • Hear me out. You should have Icelandic Hot Dogs for dinner. I know it sounds bizarre, but the hot dogs are REALLY good. Traditionally served with raw onions, ketchup, sweet brown mustard, and mayo-based remoulade, these dogs are tasty, filling, and, most importantly, cheap! Try out Baejarins Beztu Pylsur or The Hot Dog House.

Day 2:

  • There are many, many options for day tours around the Golden Circle. We decided on this Hot Golden Circle tour because, in addition to the standard National Park/Waterfall/Geysir trifecta, it also offered time at a geothermal spring called the Secret Lagoon. I know the Blue Lagoon is the geothermal pool that gets all the hype, but did you know that’s man made? And located next to a power plant? No judgment if you want to check it out (because any geothermal spring is better than no geothermal spring), but we wanted a more authentic experience.
    • A word to the wise — pack for literally every weather scenario. It rained, snowed, hailed, and was sunny, all at different points in our day on the Golden Circle Tour.
  • When you get back from the tour, I recommend finding somewhere to have a seafood dinner. Fishing is one of the few main industries in Iceland, and the fish is SO so fresh. It’s also not QUITE as pricey as other kinds of food because it isn’t imported.

Day 3:

  • If you have some time in the morning before leaving for the airport, try a Puffin Express Boat Tour. It’s only an hour long and about $55, and then you can brag to all your friends about seeing Puffins in the wild.

Have you been to Iceland? If so, leave a comment below with some of your recommendations.

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