Iceland is one of the most geologically diverse places on the planet and is an excellent place to plan a summer vacation. For those of you living in the US or Europe, Iceland is just a stop on the way and Icelandair offers stopovers without any additional fees. You can spend a few days in Reykjavik and head out from there to other parts of Iceland to go whale watching, visit a volcano, or climb a glacier. During the summer months Iceland is very easy to navigate by car around Highway 1 or the ring road which goes completely around the island.
Don’t let the name Iceland fool you, due to warm ocean currents and an active geology just below its surface, Iceland has moderate temperatures year-round for its latitude. The average temperature in the summer is around 20 degrees Celsius or about 70 Fahrenheit. Its even mild in the winter, except that the nights are long (around 18 hours) but you get the opposite (18 hours of sun) in the summer. When you make your plans to Iceland, you can base them off of your tastes and start by going to Reykjavik, where international flights land at Keflavik Airport. As you make your way into the city youll drive by the Blue Lagoon, which is Iceland’s most popular tourist destination. You’ll see the steam rising from the warm waters and although its a bit expensive to take a bus and purchase an entrance ticket, its one place that simply wont disappoint. You can swim in the warm waters and enjoy a snack or drink at the bar afterward. Be sure to bring your own towel and swimwear though, renting them at the Blue Lagoon can be quite expensive.
Inside Reykjavik, which is a fairly small city, you can walk from most points to the Hallgrimskirkja Church and up the tower to get to the highest point (and best view of the city). Entrance to the church, when its not in service, is absolutely free and the charge to take the elevator to the top of the tower is nominal. You shouldn’t have much trouble finding the Hallgrimskirkja Church either, you can see it from most parts of Reykjaviks downtown.
There are also tours out from Reykjavik during the summer and winter months to go whale watching. Its actually not too expensive of an activity and you can find tours being advertised across most hostels and in many hotels and likely wherever you happen to be staying. Whale watching tours typically last 2-4 hours depending on the time of year. You’ll also want to book well before your departure date in case the weather causes your tour to get pushed back a day or two.
Right outside of Reykjavik you can also see the Northern Lights if you happen to be in Iceland during the winter months, or visit the area around the Hekla volcano. Iceland is small and accessible enough that at most times of the year you can see quite a bit by renting a car or even just staying in Reykjavik. With a bit of prior planning you can make the most out of your stopover or trip to Iceland.