We had a 19-hour layover in Iceland, and with 19 hours we weren’t going to stay hanging around the airport. So we got ourselves a car and went adventuring.
If you’ve got an extra-long layover or just a short amount of time, you can still experience some of the best things Iceland has to offer.
The first thing you’ll need to do is rent a car, from there you can go explore as much of the country as you have time for. Outside the city of Reykjavik things are pretty spread out, so having a car to get around is kind of a necessity.
Depending on how much time you have, some of the big things to hit would be the Blue Lagoon, Thingvellir National Park, Kerid Crater, and Downtown Reykjavik. In just 19 hours we managed to see all of these things!
The Blue Lagoon
I’d heard a lot of mixed reviews about the Blue Lagoon, that it’s crowded and expensive and not worth it. I’d heard that there are other hot springs that are better. I’d also heard it’s amazing.
Here’s what I thought, it is crowded and it is expensive, but it is also really cool and a totally unique experience. And when you are on a time crunch it is easy to do rather than going out searching for other hot springs. It is in between Reykjavik and the airport so you can make a stop there on your way into town or heading to the airport.
The basic “Comfort” package is between $63 and $94 depending on what time of day you go. It comes with lagoon entrance (obviously), a face mask, and a drink from the bar.
The crowds can be off-putting to people, when I went into the locker room it almost gave me a panic attack it was so crowded and chaotic and I wasn’t sure what to do or where to go. But once in the lagoon, the crowds didn’t seem bad at all. The lagoon is so large you can escape the crowds and find a quiet spot. We ended up in an inlet with no one else around and it felt like we had the whole thing to ourselves!
Thingvellir National Park
This geological wonder is definitely worth going to. The Mid-Atlantic Rift runs right through Iceland with part of the country on the North American Tectonic Plate and the other on the Eurasian Tectonic Plate. You can see the rift and the edges of both plates in Thingvellir.
Walk alongside tectonic plates and enjoy the awesome and interesting scenery. And don’t worry there are waterfalls too!
The Kerid Crater is a volcanic caldera that is around 3,000 years old. As far as volcanic areas in Iceland go, this crater is relatively young. The most interesting thing about the crater is the bright red slopes and rocks surrounding it. The red color comes from iron and it is a huge contrast from the rest of Iceland’s volcanic soil which is black.
There is an entrance fee to be able to walk around the crater, but it’s only a few dollars. There is a path that goes around the whole edge of the crater so you can get a view of it at every angle.
Reykjavik is the largest as well as the capital city of Iceland. There is quite a bit to explore and around town including the Hallgrimskirkja Church, the Solfar Sun Voyager sculpture, and the waterfront. We sort of just wandered around downtown. The streets are colorful and lively and all the bars and restaurants were packed with people.
So whether you’ve got a long layover or just a short amount of time in Iceland you can still see and some awesome things in this beautiful country.
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