48 Hours in Iceland – A 2 Day Itinerary

I have been going to Iceland for years and it is hands down my favorite place to visit. I’m always looking for unique things to do in this beautiful country, so I decided to put together a 2-day itinerary for those of you who want to experience the best of Iceland in a short amount of time.

This itinerary will give you the chance to explore some of the most breathtaking sights and attractions that Iceland has to offer. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast or just looking for an adventure, this itinerary has something for everyone!

I’ve spoken with many travelers who are unsure what they should do in Iceland over two days, so I’m here to provide some insight into the best places and activities you can explore during your stay.

Plus, since I’ve lived in Europe and have spent lots of time in Iceland, I can assure you that these suggestions are based on reliable information from an experienced traveler. So let’s get started!

Majestic lupine flowers glowing by sunlight. Unusual and gorgeous scene. Popular tourist attraction. Location famous place Stokksnes cape, Vestrahorn (Batman Mountain), Iceland, Europe. Beauty world.

Iceland is a destination that keeps growing in popularity. With its stunning landscapes including enormous glaciers, lava fields and hot springs, it’s easy to see why. It’s a common stopover location between Western Europe and North America, making the country easy to get to if you’re in the Northern Hemisphere.

If you’re wondering how many days in Iceland is ideal or how many days do you need in Iceland? well it all depends on what your plans are? You could easily spend 2 weeks in Iceland or 2 months and still not see or do everything.

Below is a great guide on what to do in Iceland for 2 days because sometimes 2 days in Iceland is all you have, especially if you’re going over on a cruise or you’re short on time and want to be able to tour some of the other areas within Iceland.

While it may not seem like enough time, there’s a lot you’ll be able to see and do during while in Iceland in 48 hours layover.

Whether you choose to how to spend 48 hours in Reykjavik only or explore as much of the country as you possibly can, you’re guaranteed a memorable adventure. Keep reading this guide to find out some of the ways you can best spend two days in Iceland, check out our 48 hours in Iceland itinerary.

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Discover 2 days in Iceland in this informative video! Wondering what to do with 2 days in Iceland, unique local experiences, or you’re unsure what area to visit in Iceland, our guide covers it all.

Dive into things to see and do in Iceland over 2 days and find your perfect home away from home. Watch now for insider tips and make your Iceland trip unforgettable!

Overview Of 2 days in Iceland itinerary

Day 1 in Iceland

  • An hour or 2 at the Blue Lagoon
  • Travel to Reykjavik
  • Have lunch in Reykjavik
  • Explore Local museums and art galleries
  • Enjoy dinner in one of the Harbor Restaurants
  • Northern Lights tour

Day 2 in Iceland

  • Breakfast at Hungry Chef Cafe or Sandholt
  • Enjoy a full day Golden Circle tour (8-10 hours)
  • Dinner at Hlemmur Food Hall
Icelandic horse in the scenic nature landscape of Iceland. The Icelandic horse is a breed of horse developed in this country.

The Best Time to Visit Iceland

The best time to explore Iceland depends on your personal preference. Every season has its own benefits, so it’s up to you to decide the right time to visit according to what you want to see and do.

Are you looking to enjoy a road trip, taking in the lush greenery of Iceland, or do you want to see what it’s like after being transformed by the snow?

The best weather in Iceland is during summer, particularly July and August. June sees 24 hours of daylight (you can see the midnight sun), and while sunshine at midnight is definitely a unique experience, it may not help with the jetlag!

Summer is the most expensive time to be in Iceland because there are more tourists, so keep in mind you’ll have to pay a little extra during this period. Don’t go expecting warm weather, however.

The average temperature is only around nine to 14 degrees Celsius, but it’s slightly better than the winter alternative of two degrees. That being said, if you absolutely love the snow, maybe the wintertime is for you.

When you visit Reykjavik you have to see the stunning aurora borealis (aka the northern lights), they’re visible anytime in between September and mid-April. The darkest months are November to February, meaning you’ll have more hours to see them. 

There is often heavy rain or snow during this period so the bad weather may get in the way of your plans. If you want to meet the cute puffins, know that they begin to emerge in April and May. Any time you have a layover in Iceland, even in the off-season of spring and autumn, you’ll have a wide range of things to do.

Tour Pick
Northern Light, Aurora borealis at Kirkjufell in Iceland.

Northern Lights Tour

  • 4 hours 
  • Small group tour
  • FREE photos of you with the Northern Lights
Northern Light, Aurora borealis at Kirkjufell in Iceland. Kirkjufell mountains in winter.

Things to do in Iceland

Still wondering how to spend 48 hours in Iceland? It can be hard to know where to even begin, so let’s start with a little Reykjavik travel guide.

Did you know that Iceland has a street art scene? Most of downtown Reykjavik’s street artists are women, and there’s a lot of vibrant pieces to check out. It’s not unusual here to see entire houses and buildings painted in bright colours and bold, detailed murals.

While a project named Wall Poetry is responsible for a bulk of the art, artists like Sara Riel contacted private real estate owners to seek permission for permanent murals on their walls. Many other business and homeowners commission artworks to brighten up their neighbourhoods.

Most of these street art pieces can be found in the north of Reykjavik, around Nýlendugata, Hverfisgata and Laugavegur.

Reykjavik - 15 Remarkable Things to see and Do in Iceland

There are still a lot of things to do in Reykjavik in winter too. When you want to escape the cold, there’s also an impressive range of art galleries and museums to go and look at.

It’s no exaggeration when I say there’s honestly something for everyone here. There’s the Settlement Exhibition, where you can learn about how the 10th-century Vikings lived, or the Volcano House, which can teach you all about Iceland’s geology, including its 130 volcanic mountains.

There’s also the Living Art Museum, a non-profit that showcases experimental and innovative artworks, and the tiny Icelandic Punk Museum. For those into more traditional art, you can’t go wrong with visits to the Reykjavík Art Museum and the National Gallery of Iceland.

Hallgrímskirkja - 15 Remarkable Things to see and Do in Iceland

Among the other Reykjavik, tourist attractions are the Sun Voyager sculpture, the modern Hallgrímskirkja church, and the small lake of Tjörnin in the middle of the city.

Foodwise, there are tons of local dishes to try. Icelandic Street Food is one of the top places to go for families and groups of friends, and it’s very affordable by Reykjavik standards.

There’s traditional local recipes, fantastic service, and free refills of lamb and shellfish soups. For something more extravagant, go all out at Ostabúðin.

Plokkfiskur - Traditional Icelandic Cuisine, Icelandic fish stew

Places to visit in Iceland

The first place you’ll want to visit is, of course, Blue Lagoon Iceland. It’s only 15 minutes from Keflavík International Airport, so it’s worth popping in for a visit before you make your way to Reykjavik, the Blue Lagoon Iceland is also a great idea for Iceland stopovers.

If you flew in from anywhere other than Western Europe, it’s the perfect way to relax and unwind from your long flight. The geothermal spa is located inside a lava field and is one of 25 wonders of the world. You really don’t want to be miss it while in Iceland, especially if you’re ding a long trip!

In addition to the lagoon, there’s also a sauna, a steam room, and a mask bar. You can enjoy cocktails at a swim-up bar, or even receive an in-water massage.

The Blue Lagoon is known for destroying the look and feel of your hair, so if you have long hair, try to keep it out of the water and use a lot of the leave-in conditioner provided or bring a high quality hair treatment!

Top Pick
Grindavik, Iceland-Aerial view of The Blue Lagoon, a geothermal bath resort and one of the most visited places in the south of Iceland. Grindavik, Iceland.

Blue Lagoon Ticket

  • 3 hours
  • Pick up offered
  • Guarantee entry

Iceland is home to some incredible national parks. With only 48 hours in Iceland, Thingvellir National Park is the one to visit as it is only a 45-minute drive from Reykjavik. This unique location shows the meeting of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates (you can also dive between them if you’re brave enough!).

From the visitor centre, you can take in the beautiful view of the park. It’s a must for anyone interested in geography. Be sure to see the small yet beautiful Öxarárfoss waterfall while you’re nearby.

Iceland waterfall travel nature famous tourist destination. Skogafoss waterfall with rainbow and woman under water fall in magical landscape popular Europe attraction.

You may also be interested in finding the site of the famous Sólheimasandur plane crash. It’s located at the black beach, in between the Skógafoss waterfall and the town of Vik.

Here you’ll be able to take some stunning photos. It’s even more breathtaking at night during the northern lights.

Lutheran church in Vik. The picturesque landscapes of forests and mountains. Wild blue lupine blooming in summer. Orange sunset in Iceland.

Where to stay in Iceland

With only 2 nights in Iceland, you’ll likely be staying the 2 nights in Reykjavik or somewhere close by in the southern end of Iceland. Options for accommodation outside Reykjavik are limited regardless, particularly during winter.

Here are some excellent options to consider when you’re deciding where to stay. We have also written an extensive guide on Where to stay in Iceland.

Skólavörðustígur Apartments: Booking an apartment in Reykjavik is ideal if you’re travelling in a group or with family. There’s also the added benefit of having a kitchen so you can save a bit of money by preparing your own meals if you’d like.

Apartments at Skólavörðustígur offer one double bed and two singles. The rooms are beautifully decorated with a homey feel that’ll put even the most homesick of people at ease.

Ion Adventure Hotel: If you’ve got the extra money to spare, staying at this incredible hotel will be an unforgettable experience. It’s luxurious, eco-conscious, and a prime location for beginning your Golden Circle journey.

Soak in the pool under the northern lights, and enjoy a farm-fresh meal while looking out at the lava fields. You’ll find it in Nesjavallavirkjun, 45 minutes from Reykjavik or just over an hour from the airport.

Djopivogur Iceland - Hotel in town of Djupivogur in East Iceland

How to get around Iceland

The most popular and easiest way to get around Iceland by yourself is by car. There are a heap of many places to rent one once you land, and most rental companies can be found at the airport for your convenience.

However, if you’re not an experienced driver and aren’t used to icy conditions and rapid weather changes, you may want to reconsider driving – actually we would highly recommend you don’t drive, as you are likely to get into an accident – there are plenty especially in winter as people are not used to the ever-changing weather changes that can come in rapidly!

Renting a car in Iceland can be fairly expensive, along with the silly amount of “extra insurance options” such as volcanic ash and sand insurance, windshield insurance, and gravel road insurance.

The insurances themselves are decently prices but adding that to the car pricing, it can be quite expensive. You could probably get away with not paying for is theft insurance as crime in Iceland is pretty low, however, this is a risk you have to work out for yourselves – I take no responsibility for a stolen car.

Luckily, there are other ways to explore Iceland without missing out on anything. If you don’t want to rent a car or book a tour, there are regular bus services around Reykjavik and throughout the entire country. If you’re going out for a drink at night, your safest bet is to call a cab to come and get you.

Don’t bother pulling up the Uber app, as it’s not available in Iceland. Keep in mind that taxis are fairly expensive so try to have a few drinks new your hotel and consider a tour as it is likely going to be a lot cheaper to take a day trip around Iceland, than it would be hiring a taxi for the day.

South Iceland, Nature reserve Fjallabak: Off road car Toyota Landcruiser driving on dirt mountain road F210 through black lava sand desert with green Maelifell mountain and myrdalsjokull glacier, blue sky white clouds

Tours to do in Iceland

One of the best day trips from Reykjavik has to be the Golden Circle Iceland. It’s the most popular trip to take in Iceland, as it allows you to see so many gorgeous places in a small amount of time.

The Golden Circle Iceland self-drive is a popular trip, as you can stop to take photos and get a closer look whenever you like.

However, if you’re visiting in winter or any time there’s snow, you’ll want to book a guided tour so someone can drive you, as the roads can get quite dangerous with the weather changing pretty quickly.

When going through a tour provider, the Golden Circle typically takes 8 to 10 hours. You can take group tours by large and small buses, or book your own private tour if you prefer.

Most take you to visit all the same major attractions, with some slight variations. You’ll usually begin with Thingvellir, which you already learned about earlier.

Next up is Gullfoss, the most prestigious waterfall in Iceland. It’s a spectacular view, and you might even spot a rainbow while you’re there.

Amazing huge beautiful waterfall Gullfoss, famous landmark in Iceland

Another stop is Geysir, a geothermal field, which is a hot spring that often shoots water up to 70 metres in the air.

Although eruptions are becoming rarer, it’s a beautiful place to see nonetheless. Fortunately, the more reliable Strokkur is very close by and erupts almost every 10 minutes.

Some tour providers, such as Gateway to Iceland, will also take you to the Secret Lagoon. It’s a smaller and more low-key hot spring, where temperatures of the water are 38 to 40 degrees Celsius year round.

Thermal lake Blesi and eruption of Strokkur Geysir Golden circle route in Iceland

Be aware that a lot of tours to see the northern lights Iceland are assessed on a day to day basis based on weather reports and solar activity data.

The Northern lights in Iceland (and a lot of places around the world) are natrually occurring and can NEVER ever be guaranteed. Almost half of tours are cancelled due to the conditions not being favorable.

While that may seem frustrating, you’ll avoid having your time and money wasted this way. If you sign up for one of these trips, be prepared to have a backup plan to avoid being stuck and disappointed.

90% of the time, the tour operators will offer a ticket to come back another time so I would recommend booking in to see the Icelandic Northern Lights on your first night in case you miss them the first night.

More Recommend tours in Iceland:

Aurora reflected in water. Northern lights in Lofoten islands, Norway. Blue sky with polar lights. Night landscape with aurora, sea with sky reflection, beach, mountains. Polar lights. Aurora borealis

2 Day Itinerary for Iceland

Here’s a quick overview of what you can fit into two days in Iceland.

Day 1 in Iceland

Aim to get into Iceland early in the morning to make sure you can get full Icelandic experience, however, if you arrive later, mix and match this 2 day layover in Iceland itinerary. Go to the Blue Lagoon straight from the airport and spend an hour or two there.

There’s secure luggage storage available for suitcases. Once you’re rejuvenated, catch a taxi into the capital city of Reykjavik and check into your hotel or apartment. Head out for some lunch at Icelandic Street Food, Old Iceland, or Apotek Restaurant.

When you’re finished enjoying the local cuisine, go exploring the local museums and art galleries that interest you. Walk if the weather permits, so you can check out the street murals and other outdoor attractions too.

Enjoy dinner and a drink at Kopar or the harbor restaurants overlooking the old harbour. Book your Northern Lights tour for your first night, in case it gets cancelled and you can re book for your second day.

Top Pick
Aurora reflected in water. Northern lights in Lofoten islands, Norway. Blue sky with polar lights. Night landscape with aurora, sea with sky reflection, beach, mountains. Polar lights. Aurora borealis

Northern lights Small Group Tour

  • 4 hours
  • Photographs of you and the lights
  • Hot chocolate or Rum!
Blue Lagoon, Iceland- People bathing in The Blue Lagoon a geothermal bath resort in the south of Iceland a 'must see' by tourists.

Day 2 in Iceland

Start your day with a hearty breakfast at Hungry Chef Cafe or Sandholt. Get ready to be picked up and hop aboard your bus or minivan ready for your Golden Circle tours. Depending on the tour, you’ll be set for the next 8 to 10 hours.

After a full day of exploring you’ll be ready to take it easy, so grab some no-fuss street food for dinner at the new Hlemmur Food Hall, which is open from 8pm to 10pm on week days or 10am to 10pm on weekends..

There really are a lot of things to do in 48 hours in Iceland, and you can easily fit a lot of them in without too much stress.

Now you know what to do in Reykjavik during an Iceland layover, and the must-sees around the Golden Circle and the south of Iceland.

Top Pick
Thermal lake Blesi and eruption of Strokkur Geysir Golden circle route in Iceland

Classic Golden Circle Day Trip

  • 7 hours
  • Local guide
  • Wifi on board
Iceland waterfall Skogafoss in Icelandic nature landscape. Famous tourist attractions and landmarks destination in Icelandic nature landscape on South Iceland. Aerial drone view of top waterfall.

FAQs About 2 day itinerary iceland

What is the best way to get around in Iceland?

Exploring Iceland by car is the best way to make sure you don’t miss any of the important sights. Renting a car can be relatively inexpensive and gives you complete flexibility when travelling.

Keep in mind that driving in Iceland may not be the same as driving in your home country and you absolutely need to get insurance (which can be expensive). Alternatively, public transportation options like buses and coaches are available but may not serve all areas.

There are also a lot of tours (group and private) that might be better suited for you, to be able to relax and enjoy your trip rather than worrying about driving.

is it worth going to iceland for 2 days?

Yes, Iceland is absolutely worth a visit if you have two days to spare! With its stunning landscapes, fascinating culture, and unique natural wonders like the Northern Lights, it makes for an unforgettable experience.

From taking a dip in the Blue Lagoon hot springs to visiting nearby volcanoes and glaciers, there’s plenty to explore over two days. Plus, because of Iceland’s small size and efficient transportation system, it’s easy to get around and make the most of your short stay.

is 2 nights in iceland enough

2 nights in Iceland is definitely enough to see the country’s main attractions. While you won’t be able to cover every single thing, you’ll get to experience the incredible natural beauty and culture of the country.

Iceland is a great destination for those looking for an adventure! You can explore glaciers, waterfalls, hot springs, volcanoes, and much more. Plus, Reykjavik is filled with museums and fun activities for all tastes – from music festivals to walking tours, there’s something for everyone!

So while two nights might not be enough to do everything there is to do in Iceland, it’s still plenty of time to get a taste of its unique atmosphere and have a memorable experience.

Final Thoughts: itinerary for a weekend in iceland

Iceland is a great destination for travellers looking to immerse themselves in nature and experience the stunning beauty of this unique country. From the picturesque waterfalls to the majestic glaciers, there’s something for everyone. With a two-day itinerary, you can see some of Iceland’s most iconic sites and make the most of your time in this magical place.

The best way to experience the country is to mix and match this itinerary with some tours or activities that you may not have experienced before. There are plenty of options available, such as glacier hikes, whale watching, horseback riding, Northern Lights spotting, jeep safaris and more – all designed to give you an unforgettable experience.

So if you’re looking for an adventure packed trip that will leave you with memories that will last a lifetime, Iceland is the perfect destination! Mix and match our two-day itinerary with some tours or activities and make the most out of your time in Iceland.

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  • Samantha King

    Sam, a seasoned traveler across four continents and 49 countries, is a leading authority in travel planning. Her website, Travelling King, offers tailored itineraries and expert guides for seamless trips. Sam's expertise in luxury travel, fast travel, and destination guides keeps her at the forefront of the travel community.

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