No two trips to Iceland are the same. With so many natural wonders to see and awe-inspiring landscapes to explore, but with time constraints to consider, there’s always an element of picking and choosing. That’s why so many people return for a second visit!
Whether you’re staying in Reykjavik and exploring the nearby region or rounding the ring road, the villages, towns, and cities you stop at will help make your trip memorable.
At Your Friend in Reykjavik, we know the Land of Fire and Ice inside out. Our Reykjavik walking tours showcase the best of our capital city, while our many day trips and tours in Iceland ensure you find as much adventure on the road as possible.
So, where should you visit? Read on to find out our recommendations for some of the best cities in Iceland.
If you have questions about our day trips and tours, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.
Reykjavik: The Perfect Hub and Starting Point
Let’s start with the largest town and the only city in Iceland. According to 2021 figures, 63% of all Icelanders live in the Greater Reykjavik area and around 130,000 in Reykjavik itself. Colorful, lively, and a hotbed of creativity, our capital city has plenty to offer any visitor.
Your Iceland trip will almost certainly begin and end in Reykjavik, no matter how long you spend in the country. Our city is small and walkable, and its main attractions include:
- Hallgrimskirkja Church
- The Old Harbor
- Harpa Concert Hall
- Sun Voyager Sculpture
- Reykjavik Art Gallery
You absolutely must try the array of local foods on offer here. And be sure not to miss happy hour! Every bar has its own window of time to enjoy cheaper drinks.
Many half and full-day tours leave Reykjavik daily. The iconic Golden Circle is only a short drive away, while whale watching and northern lights tours set out over land and sea to find incredible sights.
Is the Blue Lagoon on your bucket list? It’s an approximate 45-minute drive southwest of the city.
Akureyri: The ‘Capital of the North’
All trips around the ring road pass through Akureyri. As Iceland’s second-largest city, it’s well worth making this a stop on your itinerary.
Sat deep within the Eyjafjörður fjord (which is 70km, or 43.5 miles, long), Akureyri offers some of our country’s most jaw-dropping mountainscapes.
Kaupvangsstræti, one of the main streets in the city, is lined with art galleries, some of which have local works for sale. There are also plenty of small eateries with tasty traditional foods to try. And if you struggle to pronounce Kaupvangsstræti, you can also call it “Art Street”.
Is whale watching on your list of must-do Iceland activities? Akureyri is one of the best places to head out onto the water in search of humpback whales, minke whales, and other marine life.
As a major town, it’s also a great place to stock up on the best road trip food in a grocery store.
Húsavík: Reportedly Iceland’s First Settlement
Located an hour’s drive from Akureyri, Húsavík is, according to legend, Iceland’s first temporary settlement. The story says that a Swedish man named Garðar Svavarsson arrived in the area with another man called Náttfari. Two slaves accompanied them.
When Garðar Svavarsson departed for home, he left the other men to establish and care for a farm. Húsavík was then named after the houses these three men lived in.
Today, Húsavík is a charming fishing town highly popular with tourists. Along with neighboring Akureyri, it’s one of the best places for whale watching. It’s even home to the Whale Museum!
The town gained even more fame as a setting for the Netflix comedy film Eurovision Song Contest: The Story of Fire Saga.
Looking for Icelandic movie recommendations? Check out some of the best Icelandic films.
Egilsstaðir: A Popular Stop in Picturesque East Iceland
Egilsstaðir is a small, young township, so there isn’t necessarily an awful lot to explore in the town itself. However, it is a perfectly placed stop on the ring road between popular locations in the southeast and northeast of our country.
Outside the town, you can find some of Iceland’s most beautiful scenery, from mountains and glaciers to waterfalls and farmland. It’s little surprise, then, that Egilsstaðir has a healthy, rewarding hiking culture.
On your way out of (or into) Egilsstaðir, pullover at Lagarfljót. According to legend, this lake contains a similar beast to the Loch Ness Monster. With a mirror-like surface framed by rolling mountains, this makes a great spot for a picnic.
Vík: A Tiny Village Packed with Things to See
This photogenic coastal village counts its inhabitant in the hundreds. And yet, it’s among the most-visited places in Iceland.
One of the main draws to the village itself is the famous black sand beach. And when we say black, we mean basalt black! This natural phenomenon is due to Vík’s location. It’s directly south of Mýrdalsjökull glacier which sits on Katla volcano.
Other natural wonders in Vík í Mýrdal are the towering cliffs looming to the west and the ghostly Reynisdrangar sea stacks rising out of the ocean.
If you do plan to approach the ocean for photographs, please be aware that the waves are incredibly aggressive and unpredictable here.
Vík is also less than a 20-minute drive from the visitor’s car park for the US Navy DC-3 plane wreck on Sólheimasandur beach. From there, it’s around a 40-minute to one-hour walk to the wreck site, depending on your pace.
Ísafjörður: The Largest Town on the Westfjords Peninsula
If your Icelandic adventure takes you out to the Westfjords region, consider making Ísafjörður your base.
The area is renowned for its dramatic landscapes and outdoor activities, including kayaking, hiking, skiing, and birdwatching. The latter includes puffins! The Westfjords is one of the best places to see these wonderful birds in the wild.
Ísafjörður is also famous for its cultural and musical festivals. In fact, the town hosts some of the largest and best events outside of Reykjavik. These festivals represent an excellent opportunity to spend time with Icelanders and embrace our country’s heritage.
Discover the Best of Iceland with Carefully Crafted Day Trips and Tours
There’s so much to see and do in Iceland, and with a proud history, folklore, and culture, there’s just as much to learn about our incredible country too.
At Your Friend in Reykjavik, we want to help visitors explore every corner of the Land of Fire and Ice. That’s why we provide an extensive range of day trips and tours in Iceland.
For the ultimate freedom and flexibility, we also offer Reykjavik and Iceland custom tours. Simply look through our range of pre-planned tours and let us know what you’d like to include in your tailor-made itinerary.
Are you ready to start planning your dream vacation in Iceland? Contact us today to take the first step toward your adventure.
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