Are you wondering what to do in Iceland in only four days? Are you overwhelmed by the choice of tours and trips on offer? Read on for the best tips for what to do and where to go when you’ve got a four-day holiday to Iceland.
Four days is more than enough time to have a holiday where you can immerse yourself in Icelandic culture and nature. While you will not be able to encircle the whole island like you could if you came for six days or more, you'll still be able to take multiple trips out of the capital city, enjoy several exciting activities and can even embark on a multi-day journey out into the country.
Still, choosing exactly how you will spend your limited time in Iceland can be quite confusing, and your dream holiday is based on many factors, such as the age and abilities of your group, whether or not you want to drive yourself, your interests and, of course, whether you are coming in summer or winter.
After all, four days to Iceland in summer promises to be a vacation under the midnight sun, with endless sightseeing opportunities and a wealth of exciting activities such as rafting available. Four days in Iceland in winter, however, will be a holiday centred around the aurora borealis, the crystal blue ice caves, and the majestic snowy landscapes.
Photo from Iceland's Seasonal Contrasts
Thankfully, however, there are many activities and experiences you can enjoy over this period regardless of the time of year.
Reykjavík, for example, is a colourful, cultural capital, filled with cute buildings, impressive street art, designer boutiques, quality restaurants, lively bars and many museums. Whether you visit in summer or winter, you will doubtless find a wealth of things to do, and you're recommended to spend at a few hours exploring, at least on your arrival and departure days.
A Reykjavík City Card will give you access to many museums, galleries and swimming pools, as well as free public transport including the ferry to Viðey Island. It also provides discounts to many other cultural spaces, and at some restaurants and shops.
A Golden Circle tour takes you to three incredible destinations, including a National Park, a geyser and a great waterfall. Blue Lagoon tours take you to and from the world-famous spa, while South Coast tours show you the waterfalls, glaciers, volcanoes and coastlines of Iceland's South.
These tours can be combined, such as with this trip that goes to both the Golden Circle and Blue Lagoon. This ticket, meanwhile, provides you with access to tours to the South Coast and Golden Circle for a discounted price.
Sightseeing is not the only activity you can enjoy in Iceland over four days. There are a wealth of adventures that can also be partaken in regardless of the season of your arrival date.
Whale watching tours, for example, leave from Reykjavík's Old Harbour throughout the year. In summer, you are more likely to see Humpback and Minke Whales (and its the only time you can see puffins), whereas, in winter, you have more chances of spotting Orcas.
Tours upon glaciers, such as glacier hiking, ice climbing and snowmobiling, are year-round activities too. Most of the excursions that involve you riding over Iceland's rough terrain, be it on horseback, by super jeep, or on an ATV, can, likewise, be enjoyed in either season.
Although it seems unlikely due to the temperature in Iceland, snorkelling and diving tours are popular even in winter, due to the beauty of the Silfra ravine. Certain caves are also open throughout the year, so you can always partake in a subterranean adventure through lava tubes such as Leiðarendi. You can even combine these activities into a single day.
In summer, there are a wealth of tours that allow you to enjoy Iceland's beautiful, colourful landscapes, the midnight sun, and the wealth of activities on offer. While you can piece together a holiday yourself, it is often much more convenient to book a package tour or a self-drive.
The advantage of these is that they cut down on your holiday planning time dramatically, as all rentals, transfers, tours and accommodation will be sorted prior to your arrival.
This 4-day self-drive tour of the Golden Circle and the South Coast, for example, allows you to explore Iceland's most popular regions, without missing out on any adventure.
If you don't want to drive yourself, then this four-day summer package may appeal instead. It offers a similar itinerary to the self-drive tour above, with the added bonus of having the summer-exclusive opportunity of descending into a frozen magma chamber.
If you elect to rent a car rather than book transfers, then you can use it to seek out puffins across the country, which arrive in May and leave in September. You could even use it to travel up to the Westfjords, where there are a wealth of nature opportunities that cannot be accessed in winter. You could also head down south and take the ferry to the Westman Islands.
Most coming to Iceland in winter seek two things: the Northern Lights and the ice caves under Vatnajökull glacier. While both of these phenomena are weather-reliant, those who seek them have a great chance of catching both.
Northern Lights tours leave from Reykjavík every night in winter that they are expected to be seen. If you rent a car, you can seek them yourself using the cloud cover forecast and aurora forecast on Iceland's weather website. You could also choose to take this 3-day self-drive tour, which focuses on seeking out the auroras as it takes you from hot spring to hot spring.
For a slightly different experience, it is also possible to take a Northern Lights tour from Reykjavík by boat.
While the Northern Lights can be seen from September to April, the ice caves under Vatnajökull only open from mid-October to March, and many operators don't start tours until November. Even so, if you are in Iceland for four days within this window, you have the opportunity to see them.
If you are driving yourself, you can book this convenient 3-day self-drive tour to the ice caves, which will also take you to Jökulsárlón, Skaftafell, and other marvellous locations in the country's South. If you'd rather compose your own itinerary and sort out your own accommodation and rentals, you can also meet your guides with this tour by Vatnajökull.
A lesser-known winter-exclusive activity is dog-sledding, where you can be led across the frozen landscapes of Iceland by a pack of Siberian Huskies. You could also elect to take a more unconventional multi-day tour, such as this 3-day adventure to Landmannalaugar in winter.
Regardless of when you arrive, whether you choose to drive or be driven, and which activities you partake in, four days is enough time in Iceland to get a true taste of the country that will no doubt leave you eager for more.