Iceland stopovers are becoming a popular addition to any Europe trip these days. Everyone from Icelandair, Wow Airlines and Air Canada offer passengers a day, or even a couple of days in Iceland for little or no extra cost. It originally was started by Icelandair as a way to promote tourism to the country and has really kicked off.
As tourism booms, Iceland has made its way to everyone's bucket list and travellers are wondering how they can see the best of Iceland in a stopover. Last year, we visited the beautiful country for a glorious 10 days. If you have the chance I would strongly recommend you take the time and travel the Ring Road.
If time isn't on your side and an Iceland stopover is all you can manage, I've put together a list of the top 5 things you should put on your list.
The trip from the Iceland Airport to Reykjavik is only about 50 minutes. It may be worth your time to rent a car while you're there. If you're short on time, relying on buses may not be the way to go. Driving around Iceland is much easier than I thought it would be and for the purpose of this trip you definitely won't need a 4x4.
Just east of Reykjavik you'll find the infamous Golden Circle. It takes just over 3 hours to drive around the circle but you'll want to give yourself some extra time for the stops you'll be making along the way.
Driving around the Golden Circle on your Iceland Stopover is definitely the best way to see the best of the country. Popular stops include; Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, Kerid Crater and Geysir.
In my opinion, I would start at Þingvellir National Park and make your way clockwise. This is especially true if you arrive early in the morning. The crowds can get rather large at Geysir and Gullfoss so you'll want to do them as soon as possible.
Depending on the time of year you visit, your experience of the Golden Circle can vary. If you're travelling in the winter months, make sure to set expectations. The weather on your Iceland Stopover will really determine how much you will be able to do. Stick to the main roads, as they'll more likely be groomed and well kept.
One of the best experiences you can have in Iceland is to dive or snorkel the Silfra Fissure. There are multiple snorkelling tours and diving tours available. While they aren't cheap, I would definitely say that the money is worth it!
From start to finish the activity generally takes 4 hours so if you have more than a few hours on your Iceland stopover you'll be able to fit this in. You can choose to either do the dive in the morning or the afternoon. The water is absolutely freezing all throughout the year so the afternoon may be a better option when the outside temperature may be higher.
The best part of the dive? The snorkel takes you in between the tectonic plates of North America and Europe. You are literally in two places at one. Plus, you snorkel in dry suits meaning you can wear your clothes underneath during the whole time you're in the water.
The most popular of the tourist stops for an Iceland stopover is the Blue Lagoon. I promise, it's worth it. The experience is both relaxing and incredible as you swim through the sauna-like pool. You won't believe the colour of it as you walk out either, bright cloudy blue that almost seems to glow no matter what the light outside.
Only a certain number of people are allowed into the lagoon at one time so make sure you get your tickets in advance. Visiting earlier in the morning is recommended because it can get pretty busy later in the day.
You can also get food or drink on location but the prices are rather expensive so if you can, buy something before you get to the Lagoon and bring it in with you.
Reykjavik as a city isn't overwhelming. There are no skyscrapers or glorious buildings. It looks similar to most other fishing towns around the world. The buildings are colourful, the streets are easily walkable and the people are friendly. It's not a place that you need several days to see, you could easily see the city sights on your Iceland stopover.
Drinking in Iceland can be rather expensive so make sure to find out when happy hour is at the bars near where you'll be. Most, if not all, of the bars have happy hours and usually at different times. You could do a pretty cheap pub/bar crawl if you plan it correctly!
Make sure to try some local cuisine while you're there as well. Iceland is known for their lamb and trust me, there's a reason for it. Splurge on one meal while you're visiting Iceland, you won't regret it. Try Lækjarbrekka, located in the centre of the city if you're looking for great food with a cosy atmosphere.
No Iceland stopover or trip to Reykjavik would be complete without a tour to the top of Hallgrimskirkja church. This church is probably the most famous building in all of Iceland. Its unique structure is something of wonder.
From the top of the bell tower you'll have the best views of the city and beyond. Because of its popularity the lineups can get 'long' (nothing compared to what you'll see in other famous buildings in Europe, but still). You have to pay to get to the top as well but it won't break the bank.
Make sure to take a snap of the interior as well, the beautiful white walls and high ceilings are quite stunning.
Now that you've got some ideas for your Iceland stopover, which one will you choose?