Iceland: Urban Excitement and Spectacular Scenery

Iceland, an island offset from both the continents of North America and Europe, beckons even the most seasoned travel veterans with its mix of active culture, unique history, and the truly spectacular array of natural wonders that are proximal to the capital city of Reykjavik. Even if you only have time to make a short trip to Iceland, you can still have a great experience in combining the best of what Reykjavik has to offer with easy day trips to different sites in the countryside. It is essential to rent a car to take advantage of the unique mix of urban enjoyment available in Reykjavik and the rural beauty surrounding the capital city.

International flights arrive at Keflavik International Airport, which is about a 40 min drive from the capital. While there are numerous car rental options, one should instead consider checking out the wide array of providers for car rental at Reykjavik airport, Iceland’s primary domestic terminal. One can find better deals at this secondary airport, which is less frequented by international tourist travelers with heavy pockets. Do not be afraid to do your research ahead of time and make a reservation before arriving.

Rekyjavik is home to many rich sights, sounds, and tastes that will be sure to satisfy. Established by Viking explorers many centuries ago and relatively isolated from mainland European influences, the characteristics of the capital city reflect this unique heritage. Consider signing up for a walking tour in order to learn more about the unique history of Iceland. It is a small city, but easy to explore on foot and full of delicious restaurants with many great seafood offerings. Take pride in knowing that you are strolling through the most geographical northern government capital of any sovereign state.

Marco Bellucci

Reykjavik by Marco Bellucci

Numerous enchanting outdoor activities lay just beyond the city limits. With a rental car, you can knock them out in a few days. Driving outside the city for several miles and you will encounter numerous different providers for off-road jeep and all-terrain guided adventure tours. Take your time, explore the options, and consider negotiating in person to get the best price. Enjoy the rush as you rip through Iceland’s rugged terrain.

Motivated travelers should consider either a full or an abbreviated expedition along Iceland’s Ring Road, an 800 mile loop which covers the whole country. This is the most comprehensive manner of seeing Iceland, but it requires a significant time commitment. More constrained travelers should look to driving the Golden Circle, a shorter, but equally impressive road trip route that can be completed in a day’s time.

Þingvellir National Park

Öxarárfoss in Þingvellir National Park by Jon Connell

The Golden Circle encompasses landmark sites such as Thingvellir National Park, the Haukadalur geothermal geysers, the Gullfoss waterfall, and the Kerid Crater Lake. Map out the route ahead of time or considering bringing a Global Positioning System (GPS) unit along on your journey to ease the navigation effort. Driving non-stop along the route only takes about 3 hours, but you will want to budget between 6 to 8 hours to stop and fully experience the previously mentioned sites.

Strokkur geyser

Strokkur geyser by Paul Taylor

Iceland can satisfy the demands of travelers that prefer urban adventures or rural tranquility. Given its relatively compact size, a great number of sites are proximally located to the urban capital. Transit to the countryside is enhanced by taking advantage of contracting a car rental at Reykjavik airport. Come to the one and only Iceland, experience the urban center, and bask in the spectacular scenery.