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Iceland is one of the most scenic spots on earth, but let’s face it: Stopover programs from airlines like IcelandAir and WOW are the real driving force behind the Nordic nation becoming a hot travel destination. For the price of one flight, the stopover lets you spend a few days in Iceland—gratis—on your way to almost any other major European city. Two vacays for the price of one? Count us in. But planning all this might seem super complicated—it is, after all, two vacations. Here’s how to pack the most into your short Iceland visit.

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Double-check your airport

Iceland has two different airports: Keflavik International Airport and Reykjavik Airport. While Reykjavik Airport is more convenient for most travelers, as it’s right in the city center, it’s only used domestically. Make sure you know which one you’ll be flying into, since this will inform where you stay and how much you can see and do during your short stay.

Join Orbitz Rewards

Orbitz nearly always has a promo code that offers pretty good discounts on most hotels; however, if you join Orbitz Rewards, you can instantly use the Orbucks earned on your flight toward a hotel—on top of your promo code savings. Plus, with Orbitz Rewards, the more you book, the more you get: Once you’ve stayed 12 room nights, you get Platinum status which affords you cool perks that are perfect for stopovers—think TSA Pre✓ and airport lounge passes. Be sure to also check the site’s weekly deal offerings for to take advantage of other hotel deals.

Rent a car

Once you’ve got your hotel settled, look for a rental car because, unless you’re going directly to Reykjavik and staying there, you’ll need one for touring around. If you plan on leaving the city and having an adventure, it’s a necessity, and is often less expensive than any other options. Plus, all the signs are in English, and it’s easy to drive through this small country—unless you’re attempting to do all this in the middle of winter (in that case, hire a driver).

ALSO: Seriously, Orbitz Rewards is dásamlegt—and it’s free to join!

Krauma-Spa in iceland

Photo courtesy of Danielle Braff

Zap your jetlag with a sauna

Halfway between the airport and Reykjavik is the famous, gorgeous Blue Lagoon, which opens at 8am (so essentially, you’ll get off the plane and go directly there). Getting outdoors, soaking in the warm hot spring and sipping on a Skyr smoothie (Iceland’s version of a yogurt, which they’ve been eating for nearly 1,000 years) is the ideal way to get rid of jet lag immediately.

Get your money’s worth

Let’s face it, you’re probably going to want to fit many activities into a relatively short amount of time—and Iceland is not cheap. The Reykjavik City Card makes sightseeing more affordable. You can purchase the card for 24, 48 or 72 hours, and it’ll give you unlimited access to attractions, including the National History Museum, many art museums and dozens of thermal pools. The card also offers free travel on buses in the capital area.

Create an itinerary ahead of time

This is key to fitting everything in. Here’s a very doable two-day Iceland itinerary offering adventure, food and relaxation:

Day 1: Arrive in the morning, drive to Husafell (2 hours) and check into Hotel Husafell. Do the Into the Glacier guided tour to Langjokull glacier. Drive to Krauma Spa and relax in the hot springs followed by dinner at the spa. Return to the hotel.

Day 2: Drive to Hraunfossar Lava waterfalls, continue to Bjarteyjarsandur for a tour of an Icelandic farm followed by lunch at the farm. Drive to Thingvellir National Park, then check in at CenterHotel Plaza in Reykjavik. Dinner at Ox in Reykjavik.

Day 3: Do the Blue Lagoon en route to Keflavik Airport. Start the next leg of your vacation in a completely different country.

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Tagged: Europe, Iceland

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Danielle Braff

Danielle Braff

Danielle lives in Chicago with her family, two cats and a dog, but she's constantly researching her next vacation. Check out her other articles at

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