Bucket List Trip Itinerary: A Long Weekend in Iceland

5 Apr
Credit: Iceland Tourist Board

Credit: Iceland Tourist Board

Iceland has been on the radar of in-the-know travelers and experts for quite some time. Best known for its stunning beauty and extraordinary excursions, Iceland has a little something for everyone. Thanks to some awesome deals (see here) and a pretty cool promotion from Iceland Air (and here) that allows you to stopover in Iceland (for up to a week) without an additional charge, Iceland is now top of mind for Average Joe travel enthusiasts, like myself, who love to travel, but sadly don’t get to do it for a living.

For those who are being enticed by the ridiculously good deals to Iceland but aren’t quite sure if this is a trip that would suit their travel needs or interests, I’ve pulled together an itinerary for a long weekend for first-time visitors that is sure to help you decide. If you’re interested in visiting Iceland but unable to make it work during the days available through current deals, I’ve included prices in this itinerary so you can get a sense of what a trip would cost if you booked it yourself.

Downtown Reykjavik (Getty)

Downtown Reykjavik (Getty)

Bucket List Trip Itinerary: A Long Weekend in Iceland

Ideal Length of Time: 3 full days (but can make do with two and half); leave on a Wednesday or Thursday evening so you arrive fresh the next day, ready to sightsee!

Fly into: Keflavik Airport and head straight to Reykjavik (the capital); this is where you will set up shop during your long weekend

Sample Airfares from NYC (priced with a Wed departure; Sunday return):

May: from $611

August: from $629

Labor Day: from $501 (Thurs departure; Monday return)  **low fare  alert!**

November: from $684

Christmas Break: from $530

New Years: from $727

Getting to/from Airport:

–   Flybus Airport Shuttle: $31 per person for roundtrip transportation to/from BSI Bus Terminal in Reykjavik city; website (make sure they list your hotel on their website; might have to change buses as well so allow extra time)

–   Taxi: approximately $120 total; taxis line up outside the airport

–   Blue Lagoon + Airport Transfer: many people head straight to the

Blue Lagoon (Getty)

Blue Lagoon (Getty)

Blue Lagoon after landing, before heading to Reykjavik as its on the way (you can also do this the morning of your departure, if you have time); Blue Lagoon is 40 mins outside of the city/20 mins from the airport; $55 per person with Reykjavik Excursions, including entrance to Blue Lagoon; website (Iceland Excursions offers the same service for $55 per person without entrance fee; website)

Visa Requirement: Not required for visitors from USA

Weather: Iceland has pretty moderate year-round temperatures. According to its official tourist board, visitors should dress similar to how they would in NYC- for cool weather during fall/spring, and cold temperatures during winter months. Summer temperatures remain mild, however, rarely ever reaching above 75°F (keep a light, water-resistant jacket on hand). The weather in Iceland can be pretty unpredictable so don’t sulk if you see rain in your forecast as it could change to sunshine rather quickly!

Language: Icelandic is the official language however most people are fluent in English. Danish, German and Spanish is also widely spoken.

Currency: Króna; $1 USD = 114.000 ISK / $20 USD = 2,280.00 ISK


Location note: Reykjavik is fairly small and easily to navigate by foot or a short (but expensive) taxi ride; for the best experience, stay in the city center.

Hotel Borg

Hotel Borg

  1. Hotel Borg (from $328/nt in May): located near an array of great restaurants and the main shopping area (Austurvöllur Square); highly recommended by Trip Advisor users (most say it has the best location in town); website
  2. The Hilton Nordica (from $202/nt in August): often featured as an upgrade in Iceland Air packages; has a great restaurant inside the hotel but also surrounded by other restaurant options; 12-15 min walk to the main shopping area; 10 min walk from Laugardalslaug, the town’s biggest outdoor geothermal pool; website
  3. Fosshotel Baron (from $232/nt in May): three star hotel, noted for a great location and helpful staff; website
  4. Castle House Apartments ($128/nt in May): allows you to choose where you’d like to stay, but all are centrally located; rated #1 on Trip Advisor; website
  5. Central Apartments (studios from $78/nt in Nov): basic, clean apartments, centrally located; rated #2 on Trip Advisor; website
  6. Hotel Reykjavik Centrum (from $261/nt in May): Centrally located privately owned hotel; popular bar for happy hour; website
  7. Icelandair Hotel Loftleidir (from $172/nt in Sept): owned by Iceland Air (frequently featured in Iceland Air packages); nice hotel with good service but located about 30 min out of the city center; website
  8. CenterHotel Thingholt (from $239/nt in May): decent 3 star hotel; centrally located but has received mixed reviews (mediocre service, basic accommodations, etc.); website
  9. Radisson Blu 1919 Hotel (from $254/nt in May- with 3 night
    Raddison Blu

    Raddison Blu

    promo): centrally located modern hotel; rooms on the small side; website

  10. Hotel Holt (from $204/nt in Nov): Clean, basic hotel located just a few minutes walk outside the city center; website

Activities (** denotes must-do activities):

1. **Golden Circle (appx 8 hours): Visit Thingvellir, Gullfoss and Geysir, some of Iceland’s world-famous geothermal areas. See the hot springs, pools of bubbling mud, and exploding geyers in Geysir, Gullfoss’ waterfall, and the famous Pingvellir National Park. This tour gives you a taste of Icelandic history, a look at where two tectonic plates move apart, volcanoes, waterfalls and more. It will also take you to the area where the oldest working parliament in the world was established.

–   Book With: Reykjavik Excursions ($86 per person; website); Iceland 4 You ($81 per person; website); Iceland Excursions ($81 per person; website); Season Tours ($215 for private tour; website); Super Jeep ($260 for private tour with option for snowmobiling, rafting, etc. for additional charge; website); Go Travel Iceland ($70 per person; website)


Credit: Iceland Tourist Board

Credit: Iceland Tourist Board

2. **Visit the South Shore: Visit beautiful waterfalls, black sand beaches, and various towns all the way to the town of Vik and back, giving you a true taste of Iceland’s various landscapes.

–   Book With: Season Tours ($295 for private tour; website); Reykjavik Excursions ($108 per person; website); Iceland 4 You ($113 per person; website); Iceland Excursions ($188 per person; website); Super Jeep ($260 for private tour with option for snowmobiling or dog sledding for additional charge; website); Go Travel Iceland ($127 per person; website)

3. **Blue Lagoon: save this excursion for the morning of your departure if you are taking a 5pm (or later) flight. You only need a few hours to bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take pictures, even if you intend to use the spa, and the site is located on the way to the airport (see airport transfers for tour pricing)

4. **Familiarize yourself with Reyjavik: walk around town, enjoy a long dinner, do a pub crawl, etc.


Downtown Reykjavik (Getty)

Downtown Reykjavik (Getty)

5. Northern Lights: from September to early April, visitors can try their luck at spotting the famed Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) by trekking on a late night adventure.

–   Book With:  Season Tours ($83 per person; website); Reykjavik Excursions ($45 per person; website); Iceland 4 You ($43 per person; website); Iceland Excursions ($43 per person; website); Super Jeep ($127; website); Go Travel Iceland ($45 per person; website


Northern Lights over Mt. Esja

Northern Lights over Mt. Esja (Getty)

6. Glacier Hike and Glacier Lagoon Boat Ride (June-Sept only): Visit Vatnajökull for a day of adventure

–   Book With: Vatnajökull Voyager ($263 per person; website)


Iceland Tourist Board

Credit: Iceland Tourist Board

Other Great Tour Companies:

Eskimos: http://www.eskimos.is/english/html/golden_circle3.html

Iceland Horizon: http://www.icelandhorizon.is

Destination Islande: http://www.destination-islande.com

Additional Tidbits:

–   Country Code: 354

–   Electricity: 220 Volts, 50 Hz AC, the European standard, and plugs have two round prongs.

–   Reykjavik is the world’s northernmost capital city

–   Reykjavik is the same distance from New York to Iceland as from New York to Los Angeles.

–   During the summer, Reykjavik receives 22 hours of daylight

–   Reykjavik is known for its music scene and wild Friday night runturs (pub crawls)

Helpful Links:

–   Lonely Planet: http://www.lonelyplanet.com/iceland/reykjavik

–   New York Times: http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/01/11/travel/11hours.html

–   Trip Advisor: http://www.tripadvisor.com/Tourism-g189970-Reykjavik-Vacations.html

–   Iceland Tourism Board: http://www.goiceland.org/

–   Iceland Air: http://icelandair.com/

Why Go Iceland: http://www.whygoiceland.com/dining-on-a-budget-in-reykjavik.html


Happy Planning!


3 Responses to “Bucket List Trip Itinerary: A Long Weekend in Iceland”

  1. Jessica April 7, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    I didn’t know about almost all of this! Iceland is high up on my list and it just keeps moving higher.

  2. J April 28, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    Great info….love the itineraries. We are in the starting stages of planning a trip and this will definitely come in handy.


  1. Wednesday Travel Deal Roundup « eagerfortravel - April 6, 2011

    […] out this Bucket List Trip Itinerary for a long weekend in Iceland to help you decide if you should […]

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