Your layover in Reykjavik is cause for celebration: you can organize a few exciting excursions that get you up close and personal with nature: from natural, geothermal hot springs; centuries-old lava tubes; and even walk through one of Iceland’s largest glaciers. Renting a car is necessary if you want to spend a couple days exploring the outskirts of Reykjavik. At the airport, book a rental and take a drive to some of the nearby attractions to the capital. Here are the top four:
Detox in a less busy hot springs than the Blue Lagoon
Although the geothermal springs are frequented mainly by adults, you may see a 4 or 5-year-old Icelandic child braving the warm waters. The geothermal baths at Krauma is located an hour and a half drive from Reykjavik and is a less competitive hot springs than the Blue Lagoon to visit. The luxury facility offers five baths of varying warm temperatures, and sources hot water from Iceland’s hot spring, Deildartunguhver.
The spring brings forth waters that reaches around 212°F, and is cooled to human bearable temperature by the cold water that comes from the glacier, Ok, the smallest glacier in Iceland. In addition to “chillin’ out” in one of the natural geothermal baths, try to reset your body with a plunge in the cold tub; detox in one of the calming saunas or steam baths; or meditate in the relaxation room near the fireplace.
Explore a 1,000-year-old lava tunnel
Only 30 minutes away from Krauma is a cave you can walk through with hard hats with lights: the Víðgelmir cave. If you decide to skip Krauma, plan for a 2-hour drive to the cave from downtown Reykjavík. Called “Iceland’s Mightiest Lava Cave”, the 1,100 year old lava tube is 5,200 feet long and formed when a nearby volcano erupted, scorched the earth, and created an underground pathway as the magma cooled. Your guide will stop at points along the way to explain the geological formations and the intricate properties of the cave.
Trek a Cold Glacier
When you think of Iceland, you probably think of “ice” being somewhere in your experience with the landscape. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that a tour was created where you could trek inside Langjokull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. The man-made ice tunnels of the Into the Glacier tour were created over the span of a few months by demo teams so that you could trek over hundreds of feet of thick ice beneath your feet. You suit up at basecamp with complimentary snow suits and waterproof boots to protect from the chill temperatures inside the glacier.
One of the most interesting aspects of the tour is the journey from basecamp to the entrance, where the modified glacier vehicles drive impressively over sheets of ice and pools of water made by the glacial ice cap. Before your 3-hour tour, have lunch at the Húsafell bistro, which is next to the pick up spot for the Into the Glacier bus. The buffet usually has Icelandic and international cuisine, like meat soup, pizza, and salads. After you finish the Into the glacier tour you can stop by the Hraunfossar waterfalls which are not too far away.