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Word is getting around that Iceland is great for casual 3- or 4-day escapes. The basic components of an Iceland long weekend are Reykjavík, and excursions from Reykjavík; and more often than not, the Blue Lagoon spa. Every night of this itinerary is spent in Reykjavík. In high season, make sure to call a few days ahead for dinner reservations (and for in-water massages at the Blue Lagoon).

Day 1: Reykjavík

If you're out and about before 9am, head to Grái Kötturinn for pancakes, bacon, and strong Icelandic coffee. Begin the sightseeing stage at the Tourist Information Center, where you can pick up maps and brochures, and arrange tours and car rentals if necessary. Nearby are three compelling sites -- the 871?2 Settlement Museum, the City Cathedral (Dómkirkjan) in Austurvöllur Square, and the Harbor House Museum (Hafnarhús), dedicated to contemporary art. All three open at 10am; if you need to kill time until then, stroll over to Tjörnin Pond and gaze at the enormous 3-D map of Iceland inside Town Hall (Ráðhús).

On weekends, most of Reykjavík's finest restaurants are closed for lunch; two notable exceptions, both close to Austurvöllur Square, are Fjalakötturinn and Við Tjörnina. For a casual lunch, visit Sægreifinn for lobster soup and a seafood kabob. After lunch, head to the eastern half of the city center and survey Reykjavík's two main shopping streets, Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur. Nearby is Culture House, with a wonderful exhibit of medieval manuscripts. To recharge, drop into the city's oldest cafe, Mokka Kaffi.

Skólavörðustígur leads uphill to Reykjavík's most iconic landmark, Hallgrímskirkja, where you can ascend the elevator for a panoramic view. Don't miss the Einar Jónsson Museum next door, dedicated to Iceland's most renowned sculptor; weekend hours are 2 to 5pm. From here it's a half-hour walk to the National Museum south of Tjörnin Pond. If you're too pooped, catch bus 14 to Laugardalslaug for a rejuvenating taste of Iceland's geothermal bathing culture, and ply your hot tub companions for travel advice. (Be prepared for the ubiquitous question "How do you like Iceland?")

Enjoy an unforgettable dinner at Sjávarkjallarinn (Seafood Cellar), followed by nightclub-hopping into the wee hours, and -- last but not least -- a 2am hot dog at Bæjarins Bestu with "everything on it."

Day 2: The Golden Circle

An enormous wealth of day excursions depart from Reykjavík, but the most popular is the "Golden Circle" tour to Tþingvellir, the historic rift valley where the Icelandic parliament first convened in 930; Geysir, the geothermal hot spot that lent its name to all geysers; and the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. Sign up for an 8-hour bus tour, or for more flexibility, rent a car.

Day 3: Hot Springs Tour

The bathable geothermal hot springs of Reyjkadalur Valley are tucked inside the scenic Mt. Hengill hiking area, near Hveragerði. The most memorable way to reach Reyjkadalur is on horseback; Eldhestar offers a 9-hour tour from Reykjavík, with 5 or 6 hours in the saddle. (The small, manageable, good-natured Icelandic horse is great for beginners.) Alternatively, rent a car for the day and hike the route. The drive is less than an hour one-way, and the hike can be accomplished in as little as 2 1/2 hours round-trip. Don't forget your swimsuit.

Day 4: The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon spa -- built around a blue-green geothermal lake within a jet-black expanse of black lava -- is Iceland's most popular visitor destination. Sign up with tour company Tþingvallaleið for transportation to the lagoon on the way to the airport. Allow 2 hours at the lagoon, more if you plan on spa treatments or eating at the restaurant.

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.