From our blog
When is a city break not a city break? When it’s in Iceland, of course! The city’s charming and there’s no shortage of places to explore, but to come to Iceland even for a short break and not see its incredible scenery would be a sin. Iceland is all about nature and its extraordinary landscapes just shouldn’t be overlooked. For instance, drive the famous Golden Circle circuit and you’ll get to experience a tectonic valley at historic Thingvellir, a jaw-droppingly powerful waterfall at Gullfoss and of course Strokkur, the most dramatic of the country’s geysers. It’s possible to visit on a guided excursion, but having your own vehicle gives you the flexibility to set your own pace and stay a little longer than the tour groups.
Let’s use the example of thermal baths. Everyone’s heard of the Blue Lagoon, but although it is as amazing as it looks in the photos, it’s not the only thermal baths within a short drive of the capital. New opening Sky Lagoon boasts fabulous views out over the Atlantic Ocean – you’ll find it in nearby Kópavogur. Rent yourself a car to get there more quickly. You could also be wallowing in the warm water at the Secret Lagoon. Located close to the village of Flúðir and temptingly close to the Golden Circle, it is one of Iceland's oldest swimming pools, dating back to 1891. Fontana Geothermal Baths near Lake Laugarvatn is another popular stop in the same area.
Within about a two hour drive of Reykjavik are the south coast’s most famous waterfalls of Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss or the turf houses at Keldur. In the opposite direction, how about the unusual shark museum at Bjarnarhöfn on the Snaefellsnes peninsula, which is just begging to be teamed up with a selfie stop at Kirkjufellsfoss. Before you drop off the car, take a detour to the country’s newest attraction, the volcano Fagradalsfjall on the Reykjanes peninsula. After all, it’s not every day you get to see an eruption close up.
Reykjavik has an excellent bus network but nothing beats the convenience of having your own car. Many of the capital’s best value and most modern hotels are in the suburbs or on the outskirts. If you’ve chosen accommodation that’s not right at the heart of downtown Reykjavik, you’ll be glad you opted for a hire car to get you out and about. Though sights like the famous Sun Voyager sculpture are located within the city centre, they’re also easily accessible by car with ample parking nearby. And of course you may wish to take a drive out to the outskirts of the city to try to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights. One of the best places to do so is near Grótta Lighthouse, west of the city centre. You won’t be tied to bus schedules if the fabulous green and purple aurora borealis put in an appearance. In any case, they often show up late at night after the drivers have gone home for the evening.