If you’re planning to stay in Reykjavik and find yourself with a free day, there are plenty of activities that make the most of the great outdoors. The people behind The Lava Tunnel offer several combo tours that enable visitors to combine a visit to one of Iceland’s most impressive lava caves with some of the country’s most popular locations for half-day trips. They’re all located within easy reach of the capital, so if you’re looking for an outdoor activity near Reykjavik, then perhaps one of these will tick a box or two?
The iconic Golden Circle is a must on every first-timer’s Iceland itinerary. The country in microcosm, it combines some of the nation’s most breathtaking natural attractions with its most important cultural location. At Geysir, geothermal processes send a jet of boiling water and steam high into the air at regular intervals – this is Strokkur geyser. It is one of those phenomenal (and rare) places where such is the awesomeness of nature, you literally stop talking mid-sentence. Equally majestic is Gullfoss, a steep-sided gorge where vast quantities of water tumble into the foaming cauldron below. You’ll get a soaking, but it’s more than worth it. Rounding up the trio of attractions is þingvellir National Park. Located where the North American plate meets its Eurasian counterpart, this is the site of the Alþingi, Iceland’s first parliament and the oldest surviving legislature in the world.
Iceland’s become one of the world’s premier destinations for whale watching. The cool and warm sea currents meet in the waters surrounding this mid-Atlantic nation, providing near-perfect conditions for krill and fish which in turn are a reliable food supply for larger species. Trips depart from Reykjavik’s Old Harbour at regular intervals and this combo tour makes good use of an early afternoon departure slot. You’ll be kitted out with thermal overalls, a must when it comes to Iceland’s over the top weather. Then you’ll set sail and head out into Faxaflói Bay, the stretch of water that separates the capital from the Snaefellsnes peninsula. It’s home to a wide variety of marine wildlife – expect to spot humpback and minke whales, white-beaked dolphins and harbor porpoises. Tours are operated all year, weather permitting.
Rugged, raw Reykjanes is so close to Reykjavik that it would be foolish to miss out. Many visitors will have stopped off at the famous Blue Lagoon spa on their way in from the airport, but there’s plenty more to explore in this wild and windswept region. Few visitors make it to the ancient manor farm of Bessastaðir, home to Iceland’s Presidents since 1941. At the most south-westerly point in the country, you can pay a visit to Reykjanesviti lighthouse. An earthquake destroyed the original structure in 1905, but a replacement was erected a few years later and is the oldest surviving lighthouse in the country. Leif, the Lucky’s Bridge, is also a must-see. It spans the North American and Eurasian plates, which are slowly moving apart, little by little each year, leaving what might first appear to be a dried-up river bed. Rounding off the Reykjanes adventure are the lava fields that surround Lake Kleifarvatn and the mud pools and steam vents of Gunnuhver and Krýsuvík. Reykjanes peninsula is a sight that you won’t want to miss.