2 Days in Iceland: Reykjavik, Golden circle and the south coast
We’ve been to Iceland twice and it’s one of our all-time favorite destinations; for Paul it takes first place for me it’s in the top 5. The first time we made a 10 day road trip, the second time was 2 days in Iceland on a stopover on our way to our epic road trip from New York to Orlando and from Orlando to San Francisco. This epic road trip was the best thing for our family at that moment and Iceland was the perfect start. Here is our perfect itinerary for 2 days in Iceland. Be ready for waterfalls, geysers and otherworldly landscapes.
2 Days in Iceland itinerary
This itinerary assumes previous arrival and departure on Day 3.
- Blue Lagoon (19 kilometers, about 20 minutes from Keflavik).
- Reykjavik (49 kilometers, about 45 minutes).
- Golden circle (47 kilometers, about 45 minutes): þingvellir, Geysir (61 kilometers, about 50 minutes), Gullfoss (10 kilometers, about 9 minutes), Kerið (56 kilometers, about 45 minutes). Towards the hostel is another 15 kilometers, about 15 minutes.
- Seljalandsfoss (91 kilometers, about 1 hour and 15 minutes).
- Skógafoss (30 kilometers, about half an hour).
- Vík (34 kilometers, about half an hour). Back to the hostel is 150 kilometers, about 2 hours.
Day to day itinerary
Day 1: Blue Lagoon
One of the most famous geothermal spas in the world and one of the most popular Iceland stopover ideas. We didn’t go to the Blue Lagoon on this visit, but visited previously. Our son didn’t feel well, so we didn’t stop here, although it was on our itinerary. Back in 2006 Paul and I loved our visit here. It’s not cheap, see it as a luxury experience.
The spa is in a lava field near Grindavík in southwestern Iceland. It’s not a natural spring, although there are many natural hot springs in Iceland. The Blue Lagoon is supplied by water from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station.
Day 1: Reykjavik
Reykjavik has plenty to offer, we opted for the Sun Voyager, a statue of a Viking ship. It’s on the coast and a popular tourist spot. Just a short stop on a walk along the boulevard. Enjoy the Reykjavik skyline, which is perfect seen from the boulevard. Along the boulevard is also another artwork, called The Shore Piece. Sigurotur Guotmundsson took large rocks out of the 2,5 kilometer breakwater wall, and had them polished in China. According to one of the locals, this is one of the absurdities from the years before the Icesave-crash of 2008. Although the artwork isn’t hidden, there’s no marker to point attention to it. Almost looks as if it’s not an artwork Reykjavik is proud of.
Of course the greatest landmark of Reykjavik can’t be missed and that is the Hallgrímskirkja. The church resembles a mountain with trap rocks. The changing skies match well with the white, modernistic outer appearance of the church. The inside of the church is sober and has a beautiful organ. When visiting the church go up in the tower to enjoy the beautiful views on Reykjavik, the harbor and the coast. Reykjavik is one of our Best Cities in Europe to Visit!
Day 1: Golden circle
The first stop on the golden circle is þingvellir national park, the historical site of the start of the Alding, the Icelandic parliament. It’s also the place where the North American and Eurasian plates meet. You can see the divide clearly here. It’s crazy to walk here and realize that.
Geysir is the second stop on the Golden circle. Geysir is the original geyser, after which the other geysers are named. It doesn’t erupt that often anymore, you have to be lucky to see it erupt. But Strokkur, next to Geysir, erupts every 4 to 8 minutes. So waiting on the eruption is worth your time. Besides these 2 geysers, there are even more and you can stroll around and look at them. Although the chances of seeing the others erupt are small. We watched Strokkur erupt a few times, strolled around, made sure our 5 year old didn’t touch the hot, boiling water or stand too close and amazed ourselves again about the rotten eggs smell.
The third stop on the Golden circle is Gullfoss. Gullfoss is a beautiful waterfall, and I could look at it for hours. Sadly for us our son didn’t like getting wet from the spray from the waterfall. So he saw it from above and Paul and I each went separately on the path and up close to the waterfall. Gullfoss is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland and easily reachable. Gullfoss is situated in the rover Hvítá (white river). Hvítá is a gletcher river. Gullfoss falls down in 2 parts and is a powerfull waterfall.
Kerið is the 4th and last stop on the Golden circle. It’s a less popular stop. We haven’t made this stop yet, but it’s still on our list. Kerið is an explosion crater and a volcano. Inside the crater is a lake.
Day 2: Seljalandsfoss
Another famous waterfall in Iceland. The 60 meters high waterfall appears in many photos and on calenders. Seljalandsfoss is located close to the ring road. The cool thing about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it, and come out on the other side. It’s a thrilling experience to stand behind a waterfall. Again our son chose not to walk behind it, he admired it from a small distance.
Day 2: Skógafoss
A really beautiful waterfall in the south of Iceland along the ring road. There are stairs next to the fall, which you can climb and then admire the view of the top of the waterfall and enjoy the views on the coast. I think what Yuri loved the most about this waterfall is the fact that there was a grass field to run around at on top. The Skógafoss has a drop of 60 meters and a width of 25 meters. Iceland knows how to do waterfalls, because this is the 3rd waterfall on the itinerary and words like imposing, grand and beautiful qualify again.
Day 2: Vík í Mýrdal
Vík is a small town situated at a black sand beach. The town is lovely to stroll through, but the reason for coming here is to visit the black sand beach, which is special to walk over. Other attractions are the Reynisdrangar. 66 Meter high basalt rocks that stand in the sea. The mountain Reynisfjall and Dyrhólaey are both birders paradises.
Where to stay
At our first night we stayed at the Airport Inn in Asbru. This hotel is 8 kilometers, about 11 minutes driving from the airport in Keflavik. It’s a simple hotel, which is completely selfservice, including the check-in.
For our second and third night we stayed at Ljósaossskóli hostel in þingvallavegur. It’s close to the Golden circle, but in the middle of nowhere. It’s quiet and there’s a big gym in which you throw a ball or just play.
Where to eat
We went to a bakery on our first day to get our breakfast and lunch. The bakery we went to is Kornid bakari in Fitjar. We had dinner on day 1 at Restaurant Geysir Glima. It’s at the visitor center near Geysir and Strokkur. The second day we had dinner at the Surf & Turf steakhouse in Selfoss and we loved it here. One of the must try out things in Iceland is pylsur, the Icelandic hotdogs. We think they’re delicious.
When to visit
This small road trip of 2 days in Iceland is best suited for Summer time. In winter time the days are short. It’s a lot of driving in one and a half day and you would visit half the sites in the dark if you keep this schedule. However in Summer, when the sun doesn’t set it doesn’t matter how long you take for your tour.
Weather wise, when planning a trip to Iceland, be prepared for everything, and all on the same day. In 2006 we had sun, rain, and snow. In 2015 we had a lot of rain and gloomy weather. So pack lots of layers.
- Rent a car at the airport. It doesn’t have to be a 4WD for these 2 days in Iceland, since you’re just driving on paved roads. We had a Suzuki S-cross.
- Keep in mind that sites can be crowded and that you can get in a traffic jam towards the popular tourist spots.
Since we drove with our 5 year old, who was not feeling well during our time in Iceland, we did less stops that in the main itinerary shared above. Traveling with a 5 year old has it’s own challenges, but doable following the road trip with a kid ideas. Here’s a more extensive itinerary:
- Reykjavik (47 kilometers, about 40 minutes).
- Golden circle (106 kilometers, about an hour and a half): Geysir, Gullfoss (10 kilometers, about 9 minutes). Towards the hostel is another 66 kilometers, about an hour.
- Seljalandsfoss (91 kilometers, about 1 hour and 15 minutes).
- Skógafoss (30 kilometers, about half an hour). Back to the hostel is 118 kilometers, about 1 hour and 40 minutes.
Thoughts on our 2 Days in Iceland
In 2006 we fell in love with Iceland, it’s such a beautiful country, with almost otherworldly landscapes. We noticed during our 2 days in Iceland that it had gotten far more touristy than in 2006. On some places where we were the only ones in 2006, now it wasn’t possible to take a photo without others in it. Like at Seljalandsfoss.
Looking for another short road trip in Europe with mountains and beautiful landscapes? Check our 4 days in Switzerland route. Or another road trip with waterfalls? Then look at the Toronto to Halifax Road Trip.
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Iceland is so high up on my bucket list. It looks like such a beautiful country!
It’s a really beautiful country. We’ve been twice and want to go back again.
This is a great guide for visiting Iceland in 2 days! We went for 5 and saw all of the locations you listed as well.
5 Days is also great, you have more time. We went once for 2 days and once for 10 days. In the 10 days we drove the whole ring road.
Iceland is so beautiful! I’d love to visit one day. Good to know you can still see a lot with so little time.
Yes, Iceland is really a beautiful country, and yes with 2 days you can see the highlights in the southwest of the island.
I was so into Iceland about two years ago and I almost got there and then just didn’t follow through. Now I really wish that I had gone. It is unlike any other country in the world. The photos are fabulous. Not sure about the food though.
Hope you get to go to Iceland in the future, it truly is a beautiful country. We liked the food, lots of fish and lamb meat, served with veggies.
I’ve always wanted to visit Iceland!! Seeing those waterfalls in person would be so surreal.
Yes, it is surreal to see all those waterfalls for real, they’re truly beautiful.
I have always wanted to visit Iceland! It looks like such a beautiful place and these photos really do do it justice! One day.
Hope you get to visit Iceland in the future. It really is a beautiful place.
Rob + Ann @TravelLatte
It seems almost impossible that one country has SO much natural beauty! We have yet to go, but pretty much everything in here is on our wish list to see. 🙂 Thanks for stoking our wanderlust and remind us how much we want to visit Iceland.
Yes, it truly is that beautiful. Hope you get to go to Iceland in the future.
Iceland has been on my list for a long time. I have heard and read a lot about the amazing things to see and do there. The waterfalls and geothermal activities are top on my must do list.
The waterfalls and geothermal activities are truly mesmerizing to see. Hope you get to go to Iceland in the future.
Iceland is on top of my bucketlist ..so tempted to visit soon
Iceland is very high on my bucket list, looks so beautiful. So many good ideas in this article. Thank you for sharing
I wanted to visit Iceland this year in September/ October. Unfortunately, travel restrictions are still quite high, so I choose another destination instead. However, it´s on my list and I´ll keep it in mind for next year! Thanks for this guide!
What a great itinerary for 2 days in Iceland! Reykjavik, Golden circle, and the south coast looks amazing!