Top 12 Best Things To Do and See in Iceland

Top 12 Best Things To Do and See in Iceland

Nanna Gunnarsdóttir

12. Go On a Whale Watching Tour

  • 11. Go Horseback Riding

10. Have a Night Out in Reykjavik

9. visit lake myvatn in north iceland, 8. relax in the blue lagoon spa, 7. see dettifoss waterfall in north iceland, 6. places to see in iceland: the westfjords.

  • 5. The Gem of Iceland - Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
  • 4. Take a Dip in a Natural Hot Pool!

3. Tour the Golden Circle and Go Snowmobiling or Snorkeling

2. must see iceland: witness the northern lights.

  • 1. Go Glacier Hiking and Ice Caving

What are the Top 12 activities and experiences to partake in during your holiday in Iceland? What are the most popular tour choices and cultural excursions?

Find out the best things to do in Iceland. Explore all the fun activities, natural wonders, and best places to visit in this list of the 12 top things to see and do in Iceland.

For those wondering what to do in Iceland, the real question should be what isn’t there to do in Iceland! The sheer variety of experiences available gives you plenty of options for things to do during your trip. You’ll find that time and budget will be the biggest limitations when planning your trip rather than the things you want to do.

The most popular way to travel in Iceland is by renting a car or  booking a self-drive tour . This way you can drive to all the places you want to see and try the experiences you like the most. It's also easy to find a place to stay on the largest selection of accommodations in Iceland , with anything from remote cottages to luxury hotels. So if you're thinking of visiting the land of ice and fire, just fly to Iceland and make it happen!

  • Read also the Top 10 Things to Do in Reykjavik

But even if you give yourself plenty of time while visiting Iceland, there's always something that you'll have to leave undone, so it's all about picking and choosing. Because we cooperate with nearly all travel service providers in the country, Guide to Iceland is in a prime position to help you choose the best things to see and do in Iceland. Forget the top 10 things to do in Iceland. Here are the top 12 best things to do!

Top Vacation Packages in Iceland

3-day northern lights tour of iceland’s golden circle & south coast with ice caving & glacier hiking, 8-day guided northern lights winter tour of the complete ring road of iceland, 10-day self-drive tour of the complete ring road of iceland with top attractions & snaefellsnes.

A humpback whale breaching the water.

Whale watching is one of the best things to do in Iceland. Over twenty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises call the Icelandic coastal waters home, ranging from the small harbor porpoises to the earth’s largest animals, blue whales. The accessibility of whale-watching makes it easy to squeeze in a busy itinerary, as you can go whale-watching from the downtown area of Reykjavik.

The most common species to see are minke whales and humpback whales. There’s also a possibility of seeing rarer animals, such as killer whales and fin whales. While the whales are the star of the show, during a whale-watching tour you can also spot various birds that reside in Iceland , such as skuas, terns, guillemots, and even the colorful puffin .

Whale-watching tours depart from three primary locations: Reykjavik , Akureyri , and Husavik . Husavik is considered the 'whale-watching capital of Europe' due to the abundant animal traffic that passes through its fjords. This activity results from fertile feeding grounds found off Iceland’s northern coasts.

There are over twenty cetacean species that live around Iceland.

You can take a whale-watching tour on either a large vessel or a smaller powerboat.

Bigger boats are perfect for larger tour groups. They have reliable tracking technology, so they’re quite reliable for finding whales.

On the other hand, smaller boats mean smaller groups and a more intimate setting. Powerboats can also get closer to the animals themselves as their motors make less noise.

Top Whale Watching & Puffin Tours

11. go horseback riding .

The Icelandic horse is arguably the country’s most famous four-legged resident. Instantly recognizable for its diminutive stature, short legs, and muscular build, this isolated breed is famed for its reliability, resistance to harsh natural elements, and for having not four, but five gaits. Despite their smaller and sturdy stature, they are always referred to as horses, and you might get funny looks calling them ponies to Icelanders!

The Icelandic horse is such a unique breed that breeding them with other horses is prohibited in Iceland, and when a horse leaves the country, it can never return.

By choosing to partake in an Icelandic horse riding tour , visitors guarantee themselves a tried-and-tested method of experiencing Icelandic nature . Touring by horseback has been a popular way of seeing Iceland for centuries, during which time the original breed arrived from Scandinavia and eventually evolved into the animal we know and love today. It’s also a fun activity to do in Iceland for visitors of all ages!

The Icelandic horse is an animal known for its intelligence and mild temperament.

  • See also: The Icelandic Horse | A Comprehensive Guide 

Knowledgeable and certified instructors lead horseback riding tours for both beginners and experienced riders.

Most horse riding tours in Iceland last for approximately one to four hours (though there are options to extend this) and will offer the chance for a quick trot for those who feel confident in the saddle.

Top Horse Riding Tours

Night outs in Reykjavik are great fun.

What is there to do in Iceland at night? Going out at night is undoubtedly a favorite amongst locals, who will jump at the chance to enjoy a few cold ones before the night’s end. We can’t be sure whether this has anything to do with beer only being legalized in 1989 or perhaps the eternal darkness that blankets the country each year.

Downtown Reykjavik is awash with bars , coffee houses , restaurants , and social events. The vast majority of them will see a decent blend of local Icelanders and outside visitors, thus ensuring a night of exciting conversation. There’s a reason why going out at night is one of the popular things to do in Reykjavik!

To alleviate any stress put on your wallet, most establishments have happy hour (a time when drinks are offered at a discount) for at least three hours. They will often offer other discounts and incentives to keep you happily drinking.

Many of Reykjavik's bars serve cocktails.

  • See also: Nightlife in Iceland

Make the most of it! As with most places worldwide, the longer the night goes on, the more rowdy downtown Reykjavik’s general atmosphere will become. Some bars don't close until around 3-4 AM. During the summer, it's always an interesting experience stepping out of a dim-lit bar and realizing it's bright as day outside, despite it being the middle of the night.

Thankfully, most hotels and guesthouses are within walking distance, so it’s only a short stumble back to your hotel after the party ends.

Top Culture Tours

Námaskarð Pass is a geothermal area in the North of the country.

Lake Myvatn is a beautiful lake located in a highly geothermally active area in the north of Iceland . The lake is the fourth largest body of water in Iceland, and you can find multiple islands strewn across it. There you can also find the geothermal Myvatn Nature Baths , to relax in after a long day of exploring.

The area is renowned for its extensive flora and fauna, stemming from the lake's rich sources of energy and nutrition. Reportedly, you can find 58 different species of birds in the area, making it a great place for bird spotting .

One downside of the wealth of fauna thriving in the area can be found in the lake's name. Myvatn means "Midge Lake" in Icelandic, and during the summer, you will find plenty of midge flying about the lake. It's recommended to wear long-sleeve shirts when visiting and if you want to be completely safe from these annoying flyers, bring a head net.

There are more things to do in North Iceland than just visiting the lake. Visitors will find a variety of activities to do in Iceland during their visit. Check out the Skutustadagigar pseudo-craters, the geothermally active Namaskard Pass , and even Dimmuborgir , or “Dark Fortress,” an area of strange yet hauntingly beautiful volcanic rock formations.

Top Myvatn Tours

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most visited places in Iceland, for valid reasons. It has become world-famous in recent years because of its unique relaxing atmosphere and beautiful surroundings. The geothermal spa is well known for its healing silica mud, which can be applied to the face while staying there.

Its convenient location near the airport also helps make it easy to slip into a busy itinerary, so there's no reason to miss out while staying in Iceland.

Even visitors who only have a limited time in Iceland, such as a long layover, can take a quick Blue Lagoon tour or the shuttle bus to the Blue Lagoon .

If the Blue Lagoon is out of your budget, other spas offer similar experiences, such as the Secret Lagoon near the Golden Circle and the Myvatn Nature Baths in North Iceland.

  • See also: The Ultimate Guide to the Blue Lagoon  

Dettifoss waterfall , found in Vatnajokull National Park in the Northeast of the country, is Europe’s most powerful waterfall and an Iceland must-see attraction. When making your list of where to go in Iceland, don’t forget this waterfall.

  • See also:  Waterfalls in Iceland

Falling 144 feet (44 meters) from the Jokulsa a Fjollum river, Dettifoss waterfall crescendos with a mighty crash into Jokulsargljufur Canyon below, creating one of the most spectacular and dramatic natural sites in the country. It was famously used in the opening scene of the sci-fi blockbuster  Prometheus .

Dettifoss waterfall is accessible from Route 862 and one of the main stops on a Diamond Circle Tour , the northern counterpart of the famed Golden Circle . Alongside Dettifoss waterfall, visitors to the Diamond Circle will also visit Husavik , Asbyrgi Canyon , and Lake Myvatn. 

If you’re planning to visit this part of the country, be sure to check out other things to do in Husavik and things to do in Akureyri , both of which are in North Iceland.

Top Waterfall Tours

The fishing village of Bolungarvík,

International guests tend to visit the Westfjords less often than the South, Southwest, and North because the famous Ring Road goes right past it. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a fantastic place to see. It makes it an even more attractive destination if you want to be away from large crowds.

West Iceland attractions have a rich history steeped in folklore, mysticism, and magic . The Westfjords is as beautiful as it is culturally fascinating. From the towering bird cliffs of Hornstrandir to the tumbling Dynjandi waterfalls , the Westfjords have something for everybody.

The Westfjords boasts the northernmost glacier in Iceland, Drangajokull glacier, the picturesque Arnarfjordur bay, the domineering Bolafjall mountain, and the puffin-rich island of Flatey . All of these and more make up the diverse and staggeringly beautiful landscapes of Northwest Iceland.

Arnarfjörður is the second widest fjord in Iceland, and is found in the Westfjords.

  • See Also:  The Westfjords of Iceland

Those looking to examine the region’s history and culture visit the Arctic Fox Center , the Museum of Witchcraft and Sorcery , the Westfjords Heritage Museum , the White-Tailed Eagle Center and the Icelandic Sea Monster Museum .

Top Westfjords Tours

5. the gem of iceland - jokulsarlon glacier lagoon     .

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon with the Northern Lights above.

In a country full of unique natural wonders, it's hard to pinpoint the one that stands out above the others. However, any discussion about the greatest places to visit in Iceland simply must include Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon . 

  • See also:  Northern Lights at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

This glacier-filled lake should be near the top of your list of what to see in Iceland. Glittering icebergs groan and crunch against one another as they make their way from Breidamerkurjokull glacier to the Atlantic Ocean.

While some visitors choose to partake in a zodiac boat tour , others are content to sit on the shoreline and watch as the playful seals that live in the area dip and dive around the chunks of ice in what may be the most beautiful places in Iceland.

Diamond Beach is only 5 minutes from the lagoon.

Just a five-minute walk from the lagoon itself, visitors will discover Diamond Beach. Icebergs frequently wash ashore on this aptly named stretch of coast. The glittering icebergs contrast with the jet-black sand, resulting in one of Iceland’s most visually stunning natural landscapes.

Top Jokulsarlon Tours

4. take a dip in a natural hot pool.

Relaxing in the hot river at Reykjadalur.

Iceland's geological activity doesn't only mean an abundance of volcanoes and earthquakes. It also means... hot springs!

Iceland is a young land mass, being  only  a few million years old, meaning much of the landscape is still alive. Guests here have popularized the pursuit of churning mud pools, steaming volcanic vents, and erupting hot springs, such as Strokkur  on the  Golden Circle sightseeing tour . These natural wonders are worth adding to your list of what to visit in Iceland.

  • See also:  The 30 Best Hot Springs in Iceland

Thankfully, not all of this activity is quite so dramatic. One of the incredible byproducts of living in a geothermally active country is the abundance of natural hot pools dotting the landscape.

Hot spring tours make for fantastic getaways and are the number one way to counter jet lag or a hangover. They’re also an excellent place to kick back and have a friendly chat with fellow bathers. You could even view the northern lights from the hot spring when conditions are right. How amazing is that!

Top Hot Spring Tours in Iceland

Snowmobiling is an action-packed means of breaking up a day of sightseeing.

The Golden Circle is Iceland’s most popular sightseeing route. It comprises three major attractions: The historic  Thingvellir National Park , the highly active   Geysir Geothermal Area , and the majestic Gullfoss waterfall . These are some of the best things to see in Iceland and it's easily accessible as they are close to the capital city of Reykjavik .

See also: Iceland’s Golden Circle | Ultimate Guide and Top 9 Detours

You can drive the Golden Circle in a few hours, making time for other activities for the rest of the day. Others opt to spread out the drive over a whole day, making time for snorkeling tours and snowmobile tours for extra excitement.

Thingvellir National Park is important to Icelanders for many reasons. It's natural beauty is unique as it is where the tectonic plates of North America and Eurasia are drifting part. That creates a dramatic landscape of moss-covered lava fields, deep gorges and waterfalls.

It also has historical significance as Althingi, the oldest working national assembly in the world, was established at Thingvellir in 930 AD. Additionally, it was where Iceland's declaration of independence was formally signed in 1944.

At Thingvellir you will also find  Silfra Fissure , one of the top 10 snorkeling spots in the world.

Þingvellir National Park is Iceland's only UNESCO world heritage site.

  • See also:  National Parks in Iceland  

Haukadalur is home to the hot springs, Geysir and Strokkur, the latter of which erupts to over 65 feet (20 meters) in the air every five minutes or so and is surrounded by numerous steaming fumaroles and bubbling mud pools.

Six miles (10 kilometers) to the north, you will find the third and final stop on the Golden Circle, the Gullfoss waterfall. This 105-foot (32-meter) high is called the "Golden Falls" for a reason, as it cascades over two rocky tiers and into a dramatic valley below. On a sunny day, you will find a rainbow crowned above it, making the view extra special.

Guests who visit Gullfoss waterfall can choose to partake in a snowmobile tour on Iceland’s second-largest glacier, Langjokull . It's an amazing feeling to glide across the snowy surface of a glacier with a white horizon in every direction, and should not be missed!

Top Snowmobile Tours

The Aurora will always fabulous patterns across the sky.

One of Iceland’s biggest draws is the northern lights, otherwise known as the aurora borealis . This natural light display can only be seen in winter and only in the Earth’s northernmost areas. This incredible phenomenon, dancing in ribbon-like waves of purple, green, and gold, must be experienced at least once in a lifetime.

  • See also: The Northern Lights 

The northern lights are infamously elusive. To see them, conditions must be nearly perfect: limited-or-no cloud cover, flaring activity in the magnetosphere, and no light pollution.

When they do appear, there’s no knowing exactly when, where, or how long the lights will dance in the sky. But that’s part of what makes them a must-see in Iceland. Thankfully, there are handy steps you can take to maximize your chances of seeing them.

The Northern Lights most commonly appear in green, though they will often also show up in red, purple and gold.

The best way is to take a guided northern lights tour . Guides know the best and darkest vantage points. They can also provide a wealth of scientific information to add even more color to the experience.

Read our guide on when and where to find the northern lights .

If a tour isn’t something you’re interested in, rent a car in Iceland and drive to a location away from the light pollution in Reykjavik. More remote rural areas will have better visibility than the city. Then be patient! While you can’t control the weather, you can do your best to be ready if the conditions are right.

Top Northern Lights Tours & Holidays

1. go glacier hiking and ice caving       .

The dazzling interior of an Icelandic ice cave.

As its name suggests, Iceland is a land defined by frozen landscapes. While some think Iceland is not quite frozen enough to warrant the name (compared to Greenland), it's still a country of floating icebergs, sweeping glaciers, and dazzling blue ice caves.

During the winter, Iceland truly lives up to its name. It’s an environment perpetually trapped between darkness and glittering white snow. There are many cool things to do in Iceland - literally and figuratively!

The ultimate icy experience is entering one of the country’s gorgeous blue ice caves . These are, however, only accessible in the winter months.

Due to the effects of global warming, Iceland's glaciers are at greater risk than ever before.

Thankfully, Iceland’s best frozen attractions, its glaciers, are accessible to explorers throughout the year via glacier hikes . This availability is good news for those visitors looking to see these mighty giants up close and even better for those willing to slip on a pair of crampons and take to hiking the ice cap itself.

Top Ice Cave Tours

Did you enjoy our choices for the top 12 things to do in Iceland? Did it help you choose what to do in Iceland? Feel free to leave your thoughts and queries in the comments below.

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30 Best Things to Do in Iceland + MAP

Home | Travel | Europe | Iceland | 30 Best Things to Do in Iceland + MAP

Deciding what to do in Iceland is the most difficult part of planning a trip to this beautiful country, as the Land of Fire and Ice is full of majestic landscapes.

Since we love this country so much, we run Iceland photo tours every year. We’ve been to the island many times, so we’ve gotten to explore its most impressive spots, and now we’re sharing our tips! To help you plan your trip, I’m going to tell you about the most beautiful places to visit in Iceland.

But before I do so, I want to tell you that there are several ways to tour this country. The best option is to rent a car in Iceland so you can freely explore the island at your own pace. However, if you don’t want to drive, you can book many excursions from Reykjavík  or take advantage of one of the top  Iceland vacation packages , which include transportation and accommodation.

Now, let’s dive into the best  things to do in Iceland  so you can start planning the trip of your dreams!

1. Take a dip in the Blue Lagoon, the coolest thing to do in Iceland

The  Blue Lagoon  has become one of the must-see  attractions in Iceland , and for good reason.

Nestled in the middle of a lava field, this milky-blue geothermal bath is just 45 minutes from the capital city of Reykjavík and it’s said that the lagoon’s silica and sulfur-rich waters have medicinal properties that can soothe some skin ailments.

Blue Lagoon, thing to do in iceland

To bathe in the Blue Lagoon, you’ll need to buy a ticket, and since it’s one of the most  beautiful places in Iceland , it’s very popular, so I suggest purchasing one in advance. Our guide to  Iceland’s Blue Lagoon  has all the information you need.

Enjoying a soak in the Blue Lagoon is one of the most popular activities to do in Iceland, but if you don’t want to pay, there are several free options such as the Reykjadalur thermal river. I recommend reading our guide to  Iceland’s hot springs  to find a natural pool along your route that fits your budget.

2. Gullfoss, the famous waterfall in Iceland’s Golden Circle

Gullfoss  is one of the most popular  landmarks in Iceland  thanks to its immense beauty. It’s considered one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the country and is also known as the Golden Waterfall. Lying within the course of the Hvítá River, Gullfoss has become one of the most important stops in  Iceland’s Golden Circle .

Gullfoss, Iceland to visit

Visiting this waterfall is one of the best things to do in Iceland because its waters seem to disappear into the depths of the earth. In reality, the waterfall was formed from a crack in the earth’s crust. When you look at Gullfoss head-on, you can see that the waterfall is made of three falls within a 230-foot canyon. The smallest one is about 36 feet high, while the other two are 69 feet and 105 feet high.

Moreover, Gullfoss is one of our favorite places to see the Northern Lights in the Golden Circle. The area is usually crowded with tourists during the day, but if you’re willing to wait until nightfall, you can see the lovely aurora in peace.

3. Geysir & Strokkur geothermal area, an impressive place to visit in Iceland

If you’re wondering  what to do in Iceland ‘s Golden Circle, check out the geothermal area of ​​the  Haukadalur Valley . Also known as the Valley of Geysers, this is where you’ll find  Geysir , the first geyser discovered in the world. This impressive natural phenomenon expels hot steam, gases, and water from inside the earth, making it an awesome  place to go in Iceland .

Geysir & Strokkur geothermal area, attraction in Iceland

While Geysir has been inactive for a long time, you can catch another geyser, Strokkur, erupt about a quarter-mile away. Strokkur can launch jets of steam and water as hot as 194° F to a height of nearly 100 feet. This may seem unimpressive compared to the 260 feet that Geysir was used to reach, but when you see it in person, it’s quite remarkable.

This area is certainly a cool place to visit in Iceland, and the eruptions occur every 5-10 minutes, so you won’t have to wait too long to enjoy this natural spectacle. From my experience, getting there around sunrise is the best time to go, as Strokkur’s jets of steam look amazing at this hour.

4. Thingvellir National Park, a unique place in Iceland you can’t miss

As you may have guessed by now, the Golden Circle is a  must-see in Iceland . Along with the Gullfoss waterfall and the Geysir geothermal area, the Golden Circle is also home to  Thingvellir National Park .

This national park is one of  Iceland’s best attractions  and was even declared a  UNESCO  World Heritage Site since it’s where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates separate. Curiously, these plates shift about half a centimeter every year, creating the  Almannagjá crack , which you can currently walk through.

Thingvellir National Park, best in Iceland

Another interesting  sight to see in Iceland ‘s Thingvellir National Park is the Law Rock, where the world’s first Icelandic parliament,  Alþing , was located. This area is also where you’ll find the  Öxarárfoss waterfall ,  Pingvallavatn Lake , and  Thingvallakirkja , one of Iceland’s first churches.

Plus, Thingvellir is where you can do one of the coolest activities on the island: snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure in Pingvallavatn Lake. It’s one of the most unique experiences because you can dive between two continents. If you want to snorkel here, you’ll need to book a tour like  this one .

5. Bruarfoss, the most beautiful waterfall to see in Iceland

Bruarfoss  is one of the most beautiful waterfalls to  visit in Iceland . It’s also within the Golden Circle, about 9 miles from the town of Laugarvatn.

To get to the waterfall, you have to pass through an area that is privately owned, and ever since the owners decided to cut off access, it’s been harder to get to Bruarfoss.

Bruarfoss, best place to go in Iceland

Now you must park in the official car lot and walk about 45 minutes along the Brúarà River. Trust me, the walk is well worth it because the waterfall is one of the most spectacular  sites in Iceland .

What makes this waterfall especially beautiful is its intense turquoise water, which has earned it the nickname Blue Waterfall of Iceland. Also, now that the area is less accessible, it’s one of the most tranquil  things to do in Iceland .

6. Black sand Beach of Iceland and Vík

Vík , the southernmost town in the country, is one of the   best  places to visit in Iceland  thanks to its beautiful landscapes and interesting attractions.

Here, you’ll find  Reynisfjara Beach , also known as Black Sand Beach of Iceland , which is one of  Iceland’s top attractions . While beautiful, it’s also quite dangerous due to its strong and sometimes lethal “sneaker waves” that can drag you out to sea.

Black Beach of Iceland and Vík, fun things to do in Iceland

6. Black Beach of Iceland and Vík, two top attractions in Iceland

What differentiates  Reynisfjara  from the other black sand beaches is the  Reynishverfi , the striking basalt cliffs where puffins and seabirds nest in the summer. Also, in this area are the  Reynisdrangar  sea-stacks, protruding cliffs that rise nearly 200 feet out of the water. Many locals say they look like petrified trolls.

Vík offers plenty of other  things to do in Iceland , such as visiting the 300-foot-high arch of  Dyrhólaey  near Reynisfjara Beach. If you go, be sure to also check out the Dyrhólaey lighthouse, from which you’ll get a panoramic view of the black sandy beach of Solheimafjara.

I recommend taking full advantage of your time in Vík and also stopping by the  Víkurkirkja Church , which looks like something out of a postcard. Its white walls and red roof look striking against the beautiful Icelandic landscape.

7. Take a Zodiac boat through the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

If you’re looking for  fun activities in Iceland , I highly recommend taking a Zodiac boat tour through the  Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon .

Jökulsárlón  is one of the must-see places to add to your Iceland itinerary. Seeing how the large blocks of blue ice break off the glacier is a unique experience, and if you want an up-close view, I suggest booking  this tour .

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Iceland sights

During your Zodiac boat tour, you’ll cruise among the icebergs of the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and approach the area where the glacier breaks up. Plus, it’s not uncommon to see seals playing in the ice or lounging on the icebergs, so keep an eye out!

Since the tour uses a small boat, you’ll avoid hitting the icebergs while also being able to get closer to the glacier and maybe even see some ice fall from the giant natural structure.

Without a doubt, this is one of the most  adventurous things to do in Iceland . The impressive Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon is the deepest lake on the island, and the ice that forms its icebergs is believed to be over 10,000 years old.

8. Diamond Beach, one of the top attractions in Iceland

Although Reynisfjara Beach is considered one of the most beautiful in the world,  Diamond Beach  is a worthy rival. This beach also has black sand, which contrasts with the chunks of ice that break off the Vatnajokull glacier and travel through the Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon to reach the shore.

Diamond Beach, landmarks in Iceland

It is precisely this contrast of blue ice with volcanic black sand that makes Diamond Beach one of the most popular  attractions in Iceland , as well as one of the most photographed. Here, you can truly see why Iceland is considered the Land of Fire and Ice.

If you’re looking for the best time to visit this place, I suggest going at sunrise when the ice takes on an orange glow. Besides, visiting Diamond Beach is one of the top  things to do in Iceland  if you’re traveling along the  Ring Road , as it’s right at the foot of Highway 1.

9. Hallgrímskirkja & other places to visit in Reykjavík, Iceland

Reykjavík , the capital of the country, is one of the  best cities to visit in Iceland . Among the many  things to do in Reykjavík ,  Hallgrímskirkja  is a must-see. This Lutheran church has a peculiar shape that reflects the hexagonal basalt columns you can see throughout the island.

Hallgrímskirkja’s bell tower is just over 245 feet high, so you can see it from different points in the city. If you want to climb to the top of the tower, you’ll have to pay 1000 ISK (about USD 8.30) for a ticket, but it’s worth it for the amazing views.

things to do in Reykjavik iceland

9. Hallgrímskirkja & other places in Reykjavík, one of the best cities to visit in Iceland

In addition to this beautiful church, Reykjavík is also home to the  Harpa Concert Hall , which has a futuristic appearance that contrasts the Hallgrímskirkja church. Other places of interest are the famous  Sun Voyager sculpture and the artsy downtown area of  Laugavegur , where you can see cool street art. I also recommend getting a  ticket  to the  Perlan Museum , which is dedicated to the incredible geography of Iceland.

Visiting Reykjavík is one of the  coolest things to do in Iceland , and there are so many attractions to see here. I recommend getting the  Reykjavík City Card , which grants you free admission to several sites, as well as unlimited bus rides and a ferry trip to Viðey Island, another popular spot.

10. Seljalandsfoss, the Icelandic waterfall you can walk behind

Seljalandsfoss  is one of the  waterfalls in Iceland  you must see since, in addition to its beauty, you can walk behind the cascading water.

This waterfall is one of the most incredible  sights to see in Iceland , and it’s especially convenient if you’re traveling the Ring Road. Seljalandsfoss is over 195 feet tall, and there is a small cave just behind the water so you can see the falls from behind. Of course, since it’s one of the most popular things to do in Iceland , the area is always full of tourists, but it’s still worth going to.

Seljalandsfoss, must see in Iceland

Another Icelandic waterfall that’s very close to Seljalandsfoss is  Gljúfrabúi , also known as the Hidden Waterfall or the Secret Waterfall of Iceland. While it’s smaller, at just over 130 feet, it’s much less crowded. Plus, it’s inside a cave, so it’s one of the most magical waterfalls in the country.

I recommend taking advantage of your visit to Seljalandsfoss by taking the short walk to Gljúfrabúi; you won’t regret it!

11. Skógafoss, another famous waterfall in Iceland that you must see

Skógafoss  is another  beautiful place in Iceland  that I recommend visiting. Also known as the Perfect Waterfall, it’s located at the end of the Skógá River, just inside the village of Skógar.

The waterfall has a drop of over 195 feet, but what really makes it spectacular is the surrounding area. The waters cascade over black stones that get covered in green moss in summer and snow in the winter, and the color contrast makes Skógafoss one of the most stunning  landmarks in Iceland .

Skógafoss, place to see in Iceland

Another feature that makes Skógafoss special is that you can view it from below or above, although to do the latter you’ll have to climb more than 400 steps. If you can do it, the views are well worth it, and you’ll also find the start of one of  Iceland’s best hiking trails ,  Fimmvörðuháls . It’s a 15.5-mile route that goes to Thórsmörk and passes through glaciers, waterfalls, and lava fields.

While you’re at Skógafoss, I recommend visiting  Kvernufoss , one of Iceland’s secret waterfalls. It’s on the other side of Skógar, and it’s just a 15-minute walk along the path, which is next to the Skógar Museum.

12. Visit Lake Mývatn, an awesome thing to do in North Iceland

Visiting  Lake Mývatn  is one of the best  things to do in North Iceland . The thermal lagoon has become one of the top options for travelers who want to escape the crowds that swarm to the Blue Lagoon. Not only is Lake Mývatn much quieter, but it’s cheaper and just as enjoyable.

The lagoon’s waters have an average temperature of 100° F and come from alkaline natural springs, which is said to make bathing here beneficial for your skin. To be sure that you’ll be able to soak in the hot spring, purchase a  ticket  in advance.

Lake Mývatn, place to visit in Iceland

Moreover, next to the lake is the  Hverir geothermal area , also known as Námafjall, and it’s known for its fumaroles, bubbling mud pools, and geysers. You can find other  must-see places in Iceland  around here, like the  Grjótagjá Cave , which is a lava cave with a small interior lagoon. While it’s impressive, it’s way too hot to bathe in this pool.

There are other cool  things to see in Iceland ‘s Lake Mývatn area, such as  Dimmuborgir . Its name means “dark castles,” and here you’ll find some unusual volcanic formations that resulted from steam eruptions that took place beneath hot lava. The caverns and carved rock structures are often called the catacombs of hell by Icelanders, so it’s quite the sight!

Finally, I recommend hiking to the summit of the  Hverfjall volcano , from which you’ll get incredible views of the lake. Nearby, you can see the  Krafla volcano, Vití crater , and the  Leirhnjukur lava fields , all of which I recommend visiting if you have time.

13. See the Kerid crater, a must-do in Iceland

A good number of  Iceland’s main attractions  are concentrated in the Golden Circle, including the  Kerid crater .

Kerid crater, top attractions in Iceland

This crater was formed over 6,500 years ago and stands out for its circular shape and aquamarine lake, which contrasts the surrounding reddish rocks and green moss. You’re not allowed to swim in the lake, but it’s one of the most  unique places in Iceland  worth visiting. You can sit on one of the benches by the lake and enjoy the scenery.

A few years ago, you could visit the crater for free, but now you have to pay 400 ISK (about USD 3.30) to enter. It’s a small price to pay to see this Iceland hot spot !

14. Svartifoss & Skaftafell National Park, two famous landmarks in Iceland

The  Skaftafell National Park  is another  must-see place in Iceland , and here you can find the  Svartifoss waterfall . Also known as the Black Waterfall, the water cascades onto basalt columns, and it’s this contrast of colors that makes it one of the  best waterfalls in Iceland .

Svartifoss & Skaftafell National Park, tourist attractions in Iceland

This waterfall will leave you speechless any time of year, but it’s at its most beautiful in autumn when the surrounding vegetation turns a lovely orange color.

If you like hiking, then you must do the  Kristínartindar  route, which is one of the  best hiking trails in Iceland . The trail passes through Svartifoss and gives you sweeping views of the glaciers, fjords, and waterfalls that make up Skaftafell National Park. If you’re not sure  what to do in Iceland ‘s national park, I also recommend visiting the  blue ice caves , which I’ll describe below.

15. Visit an ice cave and hike on the Vatnajökull glacier

Hands down, the  best place to go in Iceland  in the winter is an  ice cave . Visiting one of these caverns is like traveling to a magical world, and it’s an experience you’ll never forget.

Vatnajökull glacier, visit in Iceland

Of all the excursions out there, I recommend  this tour , which will give you the chance to see the most spectacular ice formations. As you enter the blue ice cave, your guide will explain how the glaciers form and how they’re being affected by climate change.

The tour also includes a hike through the Svínafellsjökull glacial tongue, an incredible  attraction in Iceland  that originates from Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull. If you go on a clear day, you can see  Hvannadalshnúkur , the highest point on the island, so it’s a great  thing to do in Iceland  if you love landscape photography.

16. DC-3 Plane Wreck, Iceland’s abandoned plane

The  DC-3 Plane Wreck  is another curious  sight to see in Iceland . This plane belonged to the U.S. Navy, and it crashed on the black sand beach of Sólheimasandur in 1973. While the pilot survived, the accident left the aircraft useless, so it was abandoned on the beach. Now, it’s a popular tourist spot in  Iceland to visit .

DC-3 Plane Wreck, activities in Iceland

Until a few years ago, you could get to the wreck in a private car, but now the area is fenced off. So, you can either walk an hour to the crash site or  take this shuttle , an option I recommend if you’re short on time and don’t want to walk.

Moreover, just across the road from the plane wreck is the Sólheimajökul glacier, so be sure to take advantage of visiting it. You can even do  this guided hike , which is another  interesting thing to do in Iceland  if you have a few hours and you’d like to immerse yourself in the environment.

17. Whale-watching in Húsavík, one of the most popular activities in Iceland

For me, one of the  best things to do in Iceland  is  seeing whales in the wild . Witnessing these fascinating creatures in their natural habitat will be one of the highlights of your trip. We took  this tour from Húsavík in northern Iceland since it’s considered the whale capital of the country. It was an incredible experience because we were surrounded by beautiful landscapes in addition to seeing cetaceans and seabirds.

Whale-watching in Húsavík, best in Iceland

Since these are wild animals, each whale-watching tour is slightly different, and the guides can’t guarantee that you’ll see cetaceans. However, the whales are around the island all year, so, depending on when you go, you’ll have higher chances of seeing them. If you travel in the summer, it’s best to book an excursion from Húsavík or Akureyri in the north. Whale-watching tours from Reykjavík are available throughout the year.

Another thing to remember is that the whale species vary depending on the season. You’ll likely see minke whales, humpbacks, white-nosed dolphins, and porpoises in the summer. If you want to see killer whales, it’s better to go in the winter.

This is one of the top  activities in Iceland , so I recommend reading our guide on  Iceland’s whale-watching tours .

18. See the Northern Lights, the best thing to do in Iceland in the winter

Seeing the Northern Lights  is one of the top  things to do in Iceland  since the island is one of the best places in the world to see auroras. If you dream of seeing this magical celestial show, the  best time to travel to Iceland  is from September to March.

That said, you must consider other factors, such as cloud cover and solar activity. In other words, even if you visit Iceland  during Northern Lights season, you may not see the auroras if the weather conditions are unfavorable.

See the Northern Lights, best thing to do in Iceland

If it’s your first time hunting auroras, it’s best to book a Northern Lights tour from Reykjavík . An expert guide will take you to the spots where you’re most likely to see them, and you’ll be able to repeat the tour for free if you don’t see any the first time.

This is the  best thing to do in Iceland in winter  and to get the most of it, I recommend reading our guide with everything you need to know to  see the Northern Lights in Iceland .

19. See puffins and the midnight sun, one of the best things to do in Iceland in summer

Although the Northern Lights are one of the most popular  things to see in Iceland , there are other spectacular sights to see on the island in summer. This is when the midnight sun occurs, and tens of thousands of puffins arrive on the island.

You can see the  midnight sun  during the summer solstice, which occurs around June 21 in regions above the Arctic Circle. During the midnight sun, the area sees 24 hours of sunlight a day, so it’s one of the most  interesting things to see in Iceland .

Puffins and the midnight sun, Iceland sights

There are many ways to enjoy this natural phenomenon, but if you want to make the most of your time, I suggest  this tour , which combines whale and puffin-watching with the midnight sun.

Seeing puffins  is another fun  summer activity in Iceland , particularly from April to August when the birds settle on the island to nest. You can find them in different parts of Iceland, although the best place to see them is in Reynisfjara, the black beach I mentioned earlier. You can also book  this tour  to see puffins while cruising on Reykjavík’s Old Harbour.

20. Stokksnes, one of the most amazing stops on Iceland’s Ring Road

Iceland’s Ring Road  is the most popular route in the country where you can find famous Icelandic landmarks, including the  black beach of Stokksnes .

This beach is in the southeast part of the island and stands out for its black dunes covered with golden straw and the impressive views of the  Vestrahorn  mountain in the distance. It’s no wonder why such an idyllic place is one of the  top attractions in Iceland .

Stokksnes, landmarks in Iceland

To get to Stokksnes, you must go through the private area at the  Viking Café , so if you’re not staying at this hotel, you’ll have to pay 900 ISK (about USD 7.50). If you look at the visitor reviews, you’ll see that many travelers say that it’s not worth it, but if you’re into photography, it’s a  must-see in Iceland , and we always include it in our  Iceland photo tours .

Besides, Stokksnes is also home to the Viking village where they shot the popular  Vikings  series, so it’s quite interesting. It’s also a good  place to visit in Iceland  if you want beautiful views without the tourist crowds.

21. Dettifoss and Selfoss, two beautiful places in Iceland you should see

Dettifoss and Selfoss are two other waterfalls to see in Iceland. Both are within the course of the same Fjöllum River in northern Iceland.

Dettifoss  is the largest waterfall in the country (and all of Europe) and is located between two waterfalls, Selfoss and Hafragilsfoss. Dettifoss has a drop of nearly 150 feet, and it’s nearly 330 feet wide. The water flow can vary depending on the time of year, but it’s always an impressive sight to see.

Dettifoss and Selfoss, most beautiful places in Iceland

The  Selfoss  waterfall is considered one of the country’s most impressive falls. While it’s only 36 feet tall, it has a peculiar, elongated shape that makes it one of the  most beautiful places in Iceland . During your visit, I suggest also seeing the  Hafragilsfoss  waterfall, which is lesser-known but still magnificent.

To get there, you’ll need a 4×4 to drive on Highway 864, which is unpaved but leads to the best views. If you don’t have the appropriate vehicle, you can take Highway 862. It’s paved, but the views from here aren’t as good.

22. Visit the Godafoss waterfall, another thing to do in northern Iceland

Goðafoss , also known as the Waterfall of the Gods, is another  beautiful place in Iceland  that you should see.

It lies within the course of the Skjálfandafljót River and is within walking distance of the Ring Road. At 40 feet high and about 100 feet wide, it’s quite impressive.

Godafoss waterfall, must see places in Iceland

This  Iceland attraction  also has a legend surrounding it, which says that when the Christians came to the island, they threw the statues of the Norse gods into the water, which is why Goðafoss is called the Waterfall of the Gods.

If you have a 4×4, you can take advantage of your visit to Goðafoss and also see the  Aldeyjarfoss  and  Hrafnabjargafoss  waterfalls, two other  Icelandic landmarks . Aldeyjarfoss is my favorite waterfall, and, like Svartifoss, it cascades over black basalt columns. However, Aldeyjarfoss is much taller, and its deep blue water is mesmerizing. Hrafnabjargafoss is upstream.

23. Kirkjufell & the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, some of the best places in Iceland

Kirkjufell  is one of the top  Iceland tour spots  and the most photographed mountain in the country, thanks to its appearance in  Game of Thrones . At 1,520 feet high, its peculiar conical shape makes it easily recognizable. It’s a must-see on Iceland’s  Snæfellsnes Peninsula  and is especially beautiful at sunset or at night during Northern Lights season.

One of the drawbacks of this place is its popularity, so you’ll find quite a few tourists here. If you want to visit the  Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall  at sunset with the Kirkjufell mountain in the background, you’ll have to get there about an hour beforehand to secure a good spot.

Kirkjufell & the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, sights to see in Iceland

While you’re on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, I suggest also visiting  Arnarstapi and Hellnar , two charming fishing villages. It’s best to hike the trail that goes from one town to the other so you can enjoy the landscapes full of cliffs, nesting seabirds, and the Gatklettur Arch.

Another interesting  place to go in Iceland ‘s Snæfellsnes Peninsula is the  Vatnshellir lava cave , which is about 8,000 years old. You can walk up to 650 feet into the cave, and it’s within the  Snæfellsjökull National Park , a great area for hiking. The peninsula is also home to the famous black  Búdakirkja church  and  Ytri Tunga beach , where you can see wild seals.

24. Landmannalaugar, the most popular area to visit in the Highlands of Iceland

If you’re looking for  things to do in Iceland in summer , I recommend going to  Landmannalaugar , the most popular area in the  Icelandic Highlands . You’ll need a 4×4 to cross the F-roads that lead to this area, which is where you’ll find one of the most active volcanoes in the country, the  Hekla volcano .

Landmannalaugar stands out for its beautiful rhyolite mountains, its fascinating hiking trails, and its hot springs, which have an average temperature of 98.6° F to 104° F.

Landmannalaugar, top attractions in Iceland

In addition to its hot springs, Landmannalaugar’s main attraction is  Brennisteinsalda , Iceland’s most colorful mountain. It’s close to a campsite as well as longer hiking trails. If you have the time and enjoy hikes, I recommend the  Laugavegur route , which takes 3-4 days and leads to Thórsmörk. There is also the  Bláhnúkur route , known as the blue mountain, which takes just 4-5 hours.

On the way to Landmannalaugar, you can stop at a few other cool  places in Iceland ‘s Highlands. For example, there are the  Haifoss and Granni  waterfalls and the lovely lakes of  Bláhylur ,  Ljótipollur ,   and  Frostastaðavatn . I also recommend the  Sigöldugljufur Canyon and its many waterfalls, and the Stutur Volcanic Crater, also known as the apple volcano for its small size, perfect shape, and red and green color, depending on the season.

25. Thórsmörk, one of the most remote places to see in Iceland

Thórsmörk , while one of the most remote places, is another  must-visit in Iceland . I don’t recommend going there on your own, not even in a 4×4, because you have to ford a few large and potentially dangerous rivers. Instead, it’s best to book a bus to Thórsmörk  here  or take  this tour  from Reykjavík.

This mountainous area is perfect for lovers of nature and hiking, so if you’re like us, this is one of the  best attractions in Iceland . Besides, some of the most important  hiking trails in Iceland  pass through this valley.

Thórsmörk, tourist attractions in Iceland

The two most popular routes are  Fimmvörðuháls , which connects Skógar with Thórsmörk; and  Laugavegur , which connects Landmannalaugar and Thórsmörk. The first is about 18.5 miles, while the second is 34 miles, so you’ll need several days to complete either of the two.

If you don’t have the time, you can do a shorter trail, such as  Valahnukur , which is less than 3 miles. There is also the  Tindfjöll Circle , which is just over 10 miles. Whichever route you take, you’ll be in for a treat since Thórsmörk has some of the most magical landscapes on the island.

26. Fly over Iceland’s glacial rivers by helicopter

Some of the top  sightseeing tours in Iceland  are the  helicopter rides over the country’s glacial rivers . I can tell you that seeing the island and its vast geography from a bird’s eye view is an incredible experience.

Iceland helicopter tour, what to do in Iceland

To get the most of your flight, I recommend reading through our guide on the  best helicopter tours in Iceland , as there are many excursions and they each have something unique to offer. Of course, all of them will introduce you to Iceland’s various landscapes, including glacial rivers, lava fields, volcanoes, and lakes. Moreover, if you’re into photography like us, you’ll have plenty of things to shoot!

We did  this tour , which allowed us to customize our itinerary based on our preferences. We were able to see some of the most amazing places in Iceland, such as the Katla volcano, Thingvellir National Park, Vatnajökull glacier, several geysers, and other incredible sights. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I encourage you not to miss out!

27. Hveravellir and Kerlingarfjöll, two incredible sites to see in Iceland’s Highlands

In the  Highlands of Iceland , you’ll find plenty of interesting places, including  Hveravellir and Kerlingarfjöll . They’re both accessible via the F-35 road, which runs from the northern part of the island to the south.

Hveravellir  is a geothermal area with several natural pools. This was one of our favorite  places to go in Iceland , and we loved it so much that we spent a night in the mountain refuge here. Not only are the thermal baths wonderful, but the landscape is also quite spectacular.

hveravellir and kerlingarfjoll what to do in iceland

Kerlingarfjöll  is another awesome area to  visit in Iceland  within the Highlands, especially if you like hiking. Here, you can spend the whole day walking among rhyolite hills, valleys, glaciers, and areas teeming with geothermal activity. The most striking thing about Kerlingarfjöll is that in the summer you can see snow on the taller peaks. Don’t worry if you’re short on time because you can still take the Hveradalir route, which is the best of all the trails.

While you don’t have to ford any large rivers to get to Hveravellir or Kerlingarfjöll, keep in mind that they’re in the Icelandic Highlands, so you can only visit during the summer months because the roads are too dangerous in the winter. You’ll still need a 4×4 in the summer, so if you have any concerns, be sure to read our article on  how to drive in Iceland .

28. Fjadrargljufur, the canyon you must see in Iceland

The  Fjadrargljufur Canyon  is another impressive  attraction in Iceland  that you can’t miss. It’s in the southern part of the island and has become one of the most magnificent places to visit, as the canyon is nearly 330 feet deep and over a mile long.

It’s estimated that the canyon took 9,000 years to form as the Fjaðrá River slowly eroded. Also, the type of moss that grows on the canyon’s edges is very fragile, so the Icelandic government had to close the area to prevent foot traffic from trampling it. There is a designated pathway, so if you visit, stay on the trail. Destroying a natural marvel that took thousands of years to create just for a photo isn’t worth it!

Fjadrargljufur, best place in Iceland

Along with the  Sigöldugljufur Canyon , Fjadrargljufur is one of my favorites. That said, I can’t forget the  Stuðlagil Canyon  in eastern Iceland, specifically in the Jökuldalur glacial valley. It’s a bit out of the way, but it’s so beautiful that it’s part of most Ring Road itineraries.

This canyon stands out for its numerous basaltic columns that contrast the intense blue of the glacial river. You can visit this popular  Icelandic site from the east or west sides, although I recommend the longer route that goes through the eastern side. This way, you can descend to the river and get amazing views.

29. Reykjanes Peninsula and the best things to do near Iceland’s airport

The  Reykjanes Peninsula  is another  scenic place in Iceland  that you should visit. This is where you’ll find the Blue Lagoon, as well as Keflavik International Airport. So, you can maximize your time on your day of arrival or your return trip to this area.

Along with the Blue Lagoon, the Reykjanes Peninsula is popular for the recent eruption of the  Fagradalsfjall volcano , which resulted in some incredible sights.

Reykjanes Peninsula, famous landmarks in Iceland

Scientists still aren’t sure how long the lava in this area will last, but regardless, the peninsula has other interesting sites to check out. This includes the famous  Krýsuvík geothermal area , where you’ll find the Seltún geothermal field. It’s full of fumaroles, bubbling pools, and hot springs.

The peninsula is also home to the  volcanic rock cliffs of Valahnúkamöl ; its postcard-perfect scenery makes it a  must-see in Iceland . I also recommend  this tour , which takes you to the  Thrihnukagigur volcano .

In case it’s Northern Lights seasons, I recommend going to the area around lakes Kleifarvatn and Gígvatnsvatn . This is one of my favorite  places in Iceland  to see the auroras. If the  Northern Lights forecast  is good, another spot I recommend is  Straumur við álverið .

30. West Fjords, the most remote area to visit in Iceland

Finally, another  tourist attraction in Iceland that you shouldn’t miss is the Westfjords. This beautiful place is full of interesting sites, such as the Dynjandi waterfall . Also known as the wedding veil for its willowy appearance, it’s one of the country’s tallest waterfalls. Part of what makes it so stunning is that it’s made of seven falls that, together, reach nearly 330 feet high.

Also in this area, you’ll find the  Latrabjarg cliffs , which are home to several species of seabirds, including the crowd-pleasing puffins. Visiting these cliffs and seeing the cute birds is one of the  best things to do in Iceland in the summer .

West Fjords, fun things to do in Iceland

Raudasandur Beach  is another  must-see in Iceland , as its sandy beaches have a distinct pink color.

Last but not least, I recommend going to  Ísafjörður  and taking a boat to the  Hornstrandir Nature Reserve . Since it’s a remote area and you can only get there by boat, you won’t find too many tourists. It’s worth the extra time and effort because the striking landscape is full of hiking trails that you can explore. This region is also the home of the arctic fox, so if you’re lucky, you might spot one!

Now you know all the  best places to visit in Iceland , the Land of Fire and Ice! I suggest taking a look at our tourist maps of Iceland , so you can locate all your preferred attractions and organize your trip much more easily.

Iceland is one of the most beautiful countries on earth, so I know you’ll like this place as much as we do. Also, I’ve written a guide on  where to stay in Iceland , which I’m sure will be helpful as you plan your trip.

If you have any questions about these  places to visit in Iceland , you can leave me a comment below, and I’ll help as much as I can. Now, all that’s left to do is wish you a happy journey!

iceland travel things to do

Ascen Aynat

como ver la aurora boreal en islandia cuando y donde. mejores hoteles

12 replies on “ 30 Best Things to Do in Iceland + MAP ”

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Amazing island need to go back soon

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I can’t wait either. We will come back to Iceland in three weeks!

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Am very glad that I found your blog. I will be on a tour for most of my time in Iceland this August, but am spending an additional 4.5 days on my own at the end. I am renting a car from Lotus and have reserved lodgings through Airbnb and It was difficult to find reasonably priced lodgings in South and East Iceland. I will not have my own bathroom, but will have a sink in my room. For my 3 choices, I snagged the last available room. My guest houses all had great ratings and look like they have personality. Meanwhile I did try unsuccessfully to download your maps into I probably need to find a teenager. However, I am getting wifi in my rental car so I can use google or for my navigation. With wifi I will be able to make phone calls if necessary using Whatsapp or Vibr. Am looking forward to my adventure. Thank you for a very thorough blog. I you want me to provide you feedback on my lodging choices, I will be happy to do so. The guest house in Djupivogur sounds amazing. As I do not have much time, due to having to get a COVID test in Reykjavik the day before leaving, I am spending 2 nights in Kirkjabaejarklaustur with the one night in Djupivogur in between those 2 nights. This is an attempt to reduce the hours driving each day and to reduce driving time back to Reykjavik to under 3.5 hours so I can get my test and still have time to prowl afterwards. My tour does not go further South east than Vik, but does cover Akureyri, Godafoss, and Lake Myvatn in the North. Now to figure out how to pronounce these names.

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Hi Debbie, We usually switch from one accommodation to another every day so we can be closer to the attractions we want to visit, is that your plan?

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Hi there, thanks for all the incredible info!! This has made my trip planning so much easier. 🙂 I noticed though that you didn’t mention any of the volcano and lava tube tours in your list. One of the main things calling me to Iceland is the volcanoes. Have you done any of those tours and do you have any recommendations or advice about them at all? Thank you!

Thanks for your message!

There are many volcanoes in Iceland but none of them are spitting lava at the moment. On the other hand, there are a few Volcanic caves that you can visit throughout the island. In the post, we mentioned the one I took in the snæfellness peninsula, in the cave where Jules Verne was inspired to write “Journey to the center of the earth”. I highly recommend that cave, it wasn’t very expensive and you really feel like being in another world 😉

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This is probably the best travel blog I’ve ever read! Incredibly informative and accompanied by some absolutely stunning photos! Thank you for taking the time to share your experience in this wonderful article!!

Thanks Kevin for your kind words about our blog! 😉

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Hi thanks for a really informative piece on visiting Iceland. My primary reason for visiting is to see the spectacular icebergs and glacial lagoons. When would you recommend a visit to see these at their best? Wendy

You can (still) find small “icebergs” and pieces of ice in the Glacial lagoon throughout the year. The amount of ice will depend mainly on the season (more in early spring, less in summer), but it depends on the glaciers. Going in late march you’ll have high chances of seeing big chunks of ice in Iceland 😉

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Hello, Thank you for all the helpful information! Your photos are beautiful! I was looking at your gallery of Iceland and there was one photo that I couldn’t quite place. It looks like a panorama of a lake surrounded by mountains with a peak in the background. On the slideshow it located between Sigöldugljufur and Skogafoss. Would you mind sharing where you went for that shot? Thank you so much!

Hi, Thanks for your beautiful words about my work!

That photo was taken in the Icelandic highlands. It was taken from a vantage point in the way towards landmannalaugar. To be honest, I don’t even know if that location has a name, I was just struck by its beauty!

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bruarfoss is one of the best things to do in iceland

40 Best Things To Do In Iceland: Ultimate Iceland Bucket List

March 14, 2023 //  by  Iceland Trippers

Are you looking for the best things to do in Iceland ? This guide has some of the most amazing places to visit in Iceland.

When people think of the best activities in Iceland, they often think of hot springs, glaciers, and waterfalls. And while Iceland does have all of those amazing natural wonders, it has even more to offer!

This magical country also has stark black sand beaches, winding canyons, adorable churches, and gravity-defying rock formations. Basically, the list of interesting places in Iceland can go on and on!

Whether this is your first trip to Iceland or you have been many times in the past, we bet you will find something new and exciting to see in this amazing country!

We have broken this list down by region so you can easily use it to write your own Iceland itinerary.

No matter when you are plan n ing to go to Iceland , there will be something epic to see!

Get a FREE printable “Hidden Gems In Iceland” E-book by joining our private  Iceland Facebook Group  and sharing your photos and asking for tips and tricks.

A woman in yellow on black sand beach in front of vestrahorn mountain, one of the best things to do in Iceland.

Best Things To Do In South Iceland

Soak in the warmth of the blue lagoon.

If you are looking for what to do in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is undeniably one of the most popular attractions in the Land of Fire and Ice!

There are a ton of hot springs in Iceland and the Blue Lagoon, found just outside of Reykjavik, is one of the most notable because of its iconic, milky blue color.

This color comes from a mix of algae, silica, and minerals. The minerals are great for your skin and the constant 102-degree Fahrenheit water will relax your muscles.

This is easily one of the best Reykjavik hot springs , but it can be a bit pricey. Check out our tips on traveling to Iceland on a budget .

Book Here: Blue Lagoon: Entry Ticket with Drink, Towel, and Mud Mask

man standing in bright blue waters of blue lagoon

Hike To Bruarfoss Waterfall

There are so many stunning waterfalls in Iceland , and the Bruarfoss Waterfall is one of them!

While Bruarfoss Waterfall is quite small in comparison to the other Iceland waterfalls, it’s the colors that make it stand out.

With its brilliant, turquoise water, this waterfall pops with dazzling hues. These colors actually make it one of the most popular stops of the Golden Circle .

The easy hike to the waterfall is about 2.2 miles and very scenic with two other waterfalls along the way.

The short Bruarfoss waterfall with vivid blue colors.

Watch the Eruption of Strokkur

Another Golden Circle attraction is Strokkur, an epic geyser in the Haukadalur Valley.

This geyser is very active, shooting into the sky every five to ten minutes. It usually reaches heights of about 50 to 60 feet but has been known to break 100 feet.

Interestingly, this geyser is found next to Geysir. This is where the word geyser comes from, however, it is no longer active.

This is one of the best day trips from Reykjavik . If you are traveling with your family, it is also one of the best things to do in Iceland with kids.

Book Here: Reykjavik: Golden Circle Full-Day Tour with Kerid Crater

Strokkur geyser shooting into the air during the golden hour.

Hike Through Þakgil Valley

Þakgil, or Thakgil, Valley is filled with marvelous hikes through a greenery-laden canyon. The name means “Roof Canyon.”

Just as Iceland is filled with so many different geographical features, Þakgil Valley is as well. While you can hike through canyons, you can also venture to glaciers and trek to waterfalls.

There is also one of the best campsites in Iceland here. Make sure to check out our complete guide on camping in Iceland !

Sharp mountain peaks covered in greenery with adjacent waterfall

Feel The Spray Of The Gullfoss Waterfall

The Gullfoss Waterfall is one of the most powerful waterfalls in the country, making it one of the most fun things to do in Iceland. Its name means “Golden Falls.”

It’s so powerful you can feel the waterfall mist fleck your face. As a matter of fact, the mist of this 105-foot waterfall often creates a colorful rainbow during summer in Iceland , making a picture-perfect image.

If you want to see a waterfall that does not require a hike, Gullfoss is for you. It is only a short walk to the main viewpoint.

Book Here: Reykjavik: The Golden Circle Day Tour

Top of Gullfoss waterfall flanked by rainbows and mist.

Take A Dip In The Reykjadalur Hot Springs

Reykjadalur Hot Springs is one of the coolest hot springs in Iceland !

Typically, when people think of a hot spring, they think of a warm, natural pool. Reykjadalur Hot Springs is a little different, in that it is a river rather than a pool.

To reach Reykjadalur Hot Springs, you will have to hike for about an hour and the trail is steep. The hike boasts a beauty of its own, including untouched waterfalls and grazing sheep.

Keep in mind that there are no changing rooms here, only partitions that provide a little privacy.

Even so , this is one of the cool things to do in Iceland for a great memory!

Book Here: Private Reykjadalur Hike & Hot River Geothermal Tour

A man sitting in river hot spring during golden hour.

Peek Behind The Magic Of The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall

Typically, you can view waterfalls from in front or above. The Seljalandsfoss Waterfall provides an alternate viewing experience as you can venture behind this cascading 200-foot waterfall!

While you can visit the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall at any time of the year, do know that the path behind the waterfall may close temporarily in the winter for your safety.

The waterfall is only a short walk from the parking lot.

Book Here: From Reykjavik: South of Iceland Full-Day Trip

woman in blue skirt near cascading waterfall at sunset

And Then Find The Gljufrabui Waterfall

While everyone goes to see the Seljalandsfoss Waterfall, most have no idea that the Gljufrabui Waterfall is not far away!

To reach the Gljufrabui Waterfall, head right from Seljalandsfoss and continue until you see a sign for the Gljufrabui Waterfall. You’ll see a cavern with a river, and you’ll have to hop through the river on the rocks (preferably in waterproof boots).

Then, when you finally reach the cavern, you’ll find the Gljufrabui Waterfall. When you look up, you’ll be standing at the base of a 130-foot waterfall and a natural skylight.

It truly feels like an otherworldly place and should be on any Iceland itinerary!

A person in red raincoat standing at base of Gljufrabui waterfall, one of the best things to do in Iceland.

Peek At The Skogafoss Waterfall From Above

Many of the best things to do in Iceland are hopping from one waterfall to another. Why not add the Skogafoss Waterfall to your list?

This 200-foot waterfall can be viewed from both the base and from the top.

Both views are wonderful, but, if you’re adventurous enough to climb the 500 steps to the top, you can continue your adventure with an extended hike along the Skoga River to hunt for a few more breathtaking Icelandic waterfalls.

Book Here: South Coast Classic: Full-Day Tour from Reykjavik

Couple kissing in front of Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland.

Explore The Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

Situated on the Solheimasandur black sand beach, the Solheimasandur Plane Wreck looks like it was swiped from a dystopian Hollywood movie set.

In 1973, this DC-3 US navy plane crash-landed on the beach. Mercifully, everyone onboard survived, but the wreckage has remained for nearly fifty years!

It is a moderate 4.6-mile hike to the plane. It is a must-see in Iceland!

Book Here: From Reykjavik: South Coast, Plane Wreck, & Beach ATV Tour

Sunset over the iconic Solheimasandur plane wreck on a black sand beach.

Enjoy The Natural Set-Up Of The Hrunalaug Hot Springs

Hrunalaug Hot Springs is one of the small gems of Iceland. There are three different pools of warm water (all of different temperatures), so you can find the one you like best.

This wonderful hot spring can only hold about ten people before it starts feeling crowded, so plan accordingly!

If you do choose to visit Hrunalaug Hot Spring, please be respectful! Many recent visitors have not treated the hot spring well, causing the owner to consider closing it down.

Please do your part to keep this wonderful Iceland gem preserved and open.

woman sitting in Hrunalaug hot springs best things to do in Iceland

Stare In Awe At Haifoss Waterfall

At over 400 feet, Haifoss Waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls in Iceland. It’s accompanied by the just-as-tall Granni Waterfall, making this pair a force to be reckoned with.

You’d think this would be one of the busiest places to visit in Iceland, but that’s not the case. You need a 4×4 in Iceland to reach these flowing waterfalls, and it’s often closed off during the winter months.

All of that said, it’s one of the best stops on the South Coast and a must-do in Iceland.

Book Here: From Reykjavik: Landmannalaugar & Háifoss Waterfall Tour

A woman in yellow skirt in front of Haifoss waterfall, one of the best things to do in Iceland.

Catch A Stunning View of Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach From Dyrholaey

While you’ll have to venture off the paved road for a little bit, Dyrholaey is definitely worth a stop, especially if you’re tackling Iceland’s Ring Road .

In addition to a natural stone arch, Dyrholaey also presents unparalleled views of Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

This is one of the best free things to do in Iceland if you love views!

A woman in yellow overlooking black sand beach from viewpoint.

Visit Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach

Then, after you’ve seen Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach from above, head down to the beach itself to see the stark black sand close up.

Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is one of the best black sand beaches in Iceland , due to its stark color, towering basalt columns, and roaring waves.

Make sure not to get close to the water and keep your eyes on the waves. The sneaker waves are dangerous and are known to take lives.

This beach is one of the best things to do in Vik !

Book Here: Iceland: Full-Day South Coast, Black Beach & Waterfalls Tour

A woman in a yellow skirt sitting on a basalt column overlooking Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach.

Discover the Northern Lights

Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is one of the best experiences you can have! This natural phenomenon is a sight to behold and is an Iceland bucket list activity.

The dancing lights can be spotted all over the country from September through March. There’s even the chance to see the Northern Lights in Reykjavik if you are not able to venture far.

For the Northern Lights to be visible, the conditions have to be right. The sky needs to be dark and clear.

For the best chance to see the lights, consider booking a Northern Lights tour with experts who know where and when to look.

Check out our guide on photographing the Northern Lights too so you can capture some gorgeous photos while enjoying one of the top things to do in Iceland at night!

Book Here: Iceland: Northern Lights Bus Tour from Reykjavik

The vivid green Northern Lights dancing over a glacial lake in Iceland.

Take A Game of Thrones Tour

Most Game of Thrones fans know that the most of otherworldly landscapes of the show are actually in Iceland.

While the filming locations for Game of Thrones are all around the country, most of them are along Iceland’s South Coast. So why not take a Game of Thrones tour during your time in Iceland?

You will see some of the most impressive landmarks in Iceland!

A woman in red at the base of a powerful waterfall in Iceland

Best Things To Do In Southeast Iceland

Take in the views of fjadrargljufur canyon.

Between the astounding depth and brilliant greenery, the beauty of Fjadrargljufur Canyon lives up to the rest of Iceland’s attractions.

It is easily one of the best canyons in Iceland !

And in the winter, when snowflakes dust the canyon, it transforms it into a completely different landscape of wonder.

Recently, Fjadrargljufur Canyon has gained a lot of popularity. While lots of visitors can be great, many visitors have chosen to wander off the designated paths, consequently destroying some of the canyon’s beauty.

If you do choose to visit, please be respectful of the canyon and its rules! Moss, especially, should not be touched or stepped on. This is one of our top Iceland travel tips .

river flowing through greenery-laden canyon best things to do in Iceland

Get Your Fill Of Waterfalls In Mulagljufur Canyon

Mulagljufur Canyon rivals the depth and greenery of Fjadrargljufur Canyon while also boasting a couple of waterfalls.

Over the course of the 1.5-mile hike, you’ll meander through muddy pathways and cross over rivers before reaching the 164-foot Mulafoss and 400-foot Hangandifoss.

Because Mulagljufur Canyon is rather well-hidden, there’s a good chance you’ll have this Iceland hidden gem all to yourself.

woman standing on top of green canyon with waterfall and river

Gape At the Towering Basalt Columns Surrounding The Svartifoss Waterfall

While the 65-foot Svartifoss Waterfall isn’t the tallest of Iceland’s waterfalls, it is still special enough to make it onto this list of the best things to do in Iceland.

What it lacks in height, it makes up for in towering basalt columns. These black, octagonal columns surround the flow of water until it reaches its natural pool at the base.

If you do choose to visit the Svartifoss Waterfall in Skaftafell Nature Preserve, be sure to pay attention to the signs and stick to the designated areas.

The natural landscape around this waterfall is particularly fragile, so please do your part to try to preserve it!

River leading to Svartifoss waterfall surrounded by black, basalt columns.

Take A Glacier Tour of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is a unique natural wonder. Once upon a time, it was a full-on glacier, but, over time, it has melted to become Iceland’s largest lake (although it does still include large chunks of the glacier).

During the summer months, the ice continues to melt, and the waters teem with wildlife. During winter in Iceland , these same waters start to refreeze.

Basically, every time you visit Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, it will look completely different.

The best way to immerse yourself in the wonder of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is by taking a glacier tour by boat.

Then, you’ll be able to sail through all of the hidden iceberg nooks rather than simply seeing what is visible from the shore. This is one of the best Iceland activities!

Book Here: From Reykjavik: Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach

woman wading in Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon with a swim suit.

Adore The Glacier Chunks Gracing The Black Sand Of Diamond Beach

Arguably just as cool as a glacier tour of Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is a visit to Diamond Beach.

Located just across the highway from Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Diamond Beach is littered with frozen glacier chunks!

When contrasted with the obsidian color of the sand, Diamond Beach makes for a truly one-of-a-kind landscape. It will also look different each time you visit.

Book Here: Reykjavik: South Coast Waterfall Tour with Diamond Beach

Pink sunset over the ice on the back Diamond Beach.

Best Things To Do In East Iceland

Stand in the shadow of the towering vestrahorn mountain.

Situated on the Stokksnes Peninsula, Vestrahorn Mountain is one of Iceland’s most memorable mountains.

There’s really no question of why this mountain made it onto this list of the best places to go in Iceland. The sharp gray peaks topped with a sprinkle of white snow contrast with the ebony-colored sand below.

As if this striking picture was not enough, you can also capture the coolest picture with Vestrahorn’s reflection in the waves of the black sand beach.

Then, add the warm colors of a sunrise or sunset, and it’s like pure magic. It is definitely one of the best Iceland photography locations !

A woman prancing towards sharp Vestrahorn mountains during golden hour.

Skip Along The Rainbow Street To The Sky Blue Church

In the tiny town of Seydisfjordur is one of the most adorable churches in Iceland : the Seydisfjordurkirkja Church.

A rainbow pathway leads through the town’s shops to this tiny powder-blue church. It’s sure to put a smile on your face!

The drive to one of the cutest towns in Iceland is picture-perfect as well. You will cruise through the mountains before coming down into the fjord.

It is one of the best places to visit in Iceland !

woman in yellow skipping down rainbow street to blue church

Tackle Two Hikes At Once To Hengifoss And Litlanesfoss

At a staggering 420 feet, Hengifoss is the third-highest waterfall in Iceland.

Unfortunately, it takes three miles of moderately difficult hiking to see it. Fortunately, your efforts will not go unrewarded as, in addition to Hengifoss, you’ll also see the 100-foot Litlanesfoss about halfway through your journey.

In other words, you’ll get to see two waterfalls for the effort of just one!

 Aerial view of Hengifoss in a canyon with red and orange stripes.

Bask In The Otherworldly Landscape of Studlagil Canyon

We often forget the world can change and shift, creating new, beautiful landscapes. Studlagil Canyon is one of those new creations.

In 2009, humans played a small role in the creation of Studlagil Canyon when the hydroelectric plant Karahnjukavirkjun was built.

This allowed the bright blue waters of the Jokla glacial river to lower, revealing the orange and gray basalt columns.

You do not want to miss one of the best things to do in East Iceland !

Looking through the Studlagil Canyon with basalt columns and blue water.

Best Things To Do in North Iceland

Soak in the power of dettifoss waterfall.

Dettifoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Iceland. As a matter of fact, it’s been given the title of the most powerful waterfall in all of Europe!

As you stand alongside this rush of water, you’ll feel dwarfed by its sheer massiveness – in the best way possible, of course.

There are two different viewpoints to see Dettifoss: The East and the West. While they are both lovely, I recommend choosing just one, because they are an hour apart.

Book Here: From Akureyri: Private Dettifoss Waterfall Jeep Tour

A wide, powerful waterfall with a cloud of billowing mist.

Take A Dip In The Myvatn Nature Baths

Often dubbed the Blue Lagoon of the North, the Myvatn Nature Baths are a perfect way to escape the cold Icelandic air.

The temperatures of the different pools hover between 97 degrees Fahrenheit and 104 degrees Fahrenheit, making it the perfect temperature for soaking.

This is one of the best things to do in Iceland for adults who want to relax.

Book Here: Mývatn: Myvatn Nature Baths Admission Ticket

A woman in light blue hot spring in Iceland.

Watch Whales Breach In Husavik

Husavik is known as the whale capital of Iceland as these marvelous creatures often like to settle here during the summer months.

I recommend taking a whale-watching tour to get a better view of the whales, but you can also spot them at certain places along the shoreline, including the Geosea Spa.

This is one of the best places in North Iceland for a soak!

Book Here: Húsavík: Whale Watching Tour with Guide

whale tail peaking up from the ocean

Take In The Beautiful Hvitserkur Rock Formation

Through the natural rise and fall of powerful waves, Iceland has become home to a myriad of fascinating rock formations, including the Hvitserkur Rock Formation.

With two arches carved through the base, many have decided the rock formation looks like an animal, although people haven’t been able to agree on which one.

Some say an elephant, some say a rhino, and some say a dragon. I guess you’ll just have to visit for yourself to decide!

The craggy Hvitserkur Rock Formation in the water.

Beam In the Beauty Of Godafoss, The Waterfall Of The Gods

Hands down, one of the best things to do in Iceland is visiting Godafoss.

The name of this stunning semi-circle of cascading water actually means “Waterfall of the Gods,” and this natural landmark certainly lives up to its name.

As if the waterfall wasn’t beautiful enough on its own, it settles into an eye-catching turquoise pool at the base. The two-mile loop trail is so worth it!

This epic waterfall is also one of the best things to do in Iceland in winter . It looks amazing surrounded by snow.

Book Here: From Akureyri: Lake Mývatn & Goðafoss Waterfall Day Trip

Woman in yellow sitting on a ledge overlooking the powerful Godafoss in Iceland.

Head Off The Beaten Path To Aldeyjarfoss

Iceland has a lot of waterfalls and basalt columns. For another chance to see them together, visit Aldeyjarfoss.

Found on the Skjalfandafljot River, this 65-foot waterfall is one of the best places to visit in the highlands of Iceland.

From the parking lot, it is only a ten-minute walk to the viewpoint.

woman in pool in front of powerful waterfall surrounded by basalt columns best things to do in Iceland

Best Things To Do In West Iceland

Veer off the ring road to the westfjords.

When most people visit Iceland, they stick to the Ring Road. Little do they know, they’re missing out on the Westfjords , which should definitely be added to everyone’s Iceland itinerary!

Hands down, the best thing to see in the Westfjords is the Dynjandi Waterfall. This waterfall flows down a set of natural lava rock steps, creating an almost lace-like quality to it.

But if you’re tired of Iceland’s waterfalls, you can also venture to the Dragnes Hot Pots, spot the puffins at the Latrabjarg Cliffs, or gape at the red sand of Raudasandur Beach.

An Atlantic puffin on a cliff next to flowers.

Test Your Balance As You Head Off On The Natural Bridge At Arnarstapi

Located on the Snaefellnes Peninsula , the little town of Arnarstapi rarely gets the recognition it deserves. The village is adorable, the fish and chips is delicious, and the people are kind.

If there’s one stop you have to make in Arnarstapi though, it’s the natural archway known as Gatklettur. If rock formations really pique your interest, take your time exploring the nearby area, because it’s filled with them!

There is a natural stone bridge nearby perfect for a cool photo-op too!

Book Here: From Reykjavik: Snæfellsnes Peninsula Full-Day Tour

A person running across greenery covered rock sea arch.

Photograph The Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellfoss Waterfall

The most photographed mountain in Iceland is Kirkjufell Mountain. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you may know it as Arrowhead Mountain.

This soaring mountain is accompanied by the wonderful Kirkjufellfoss Waterfall, both of which look gorgeous no matter the time of year.

If you’re really up for an adventure, you can hike to the top with the help of a guide, but most people just choose to take pictures from afar.

Book Here: Reykjavik: Snaefellsnes Peninsula and Kirkjufell Day Trip

A woman in yellow in front of Kirkjufell Mountain and Kirkjufellfoss Waterfall, one of the best things to do in Iceland.

Check Out The Hraunfossar Waterfall And Barnafoss Waterfall

The Hraunfossar Waterfall and Barnafoss Waterfall are another pair of lovely Icelandic waterfalls.

Hraunfossar Waterfall cascades down a rugged obsidian terrain, creating an entrancing lacy effect with many small streams. The glacial water here is a gorgeous blue you will love.

Barnafoss Waterfall cascades powerfully through a rocky gorge, spaying light blue water.

Each waterfall is found on an easy boardwalk path. This is one of the best places in West Iceland !

Book Here: Reykjavik: Silver Circ le, Canyon B aths, and Waterfalls Tour

Short waterfall with many streams surrounded by greenery and ending in turquoise pool

Tackle The Trail To The Glymur Waterfall

At a staggering 650 feet, Glymur Waterfall claims the title of Iceland’s second-tallest waterfall, making it one of the best things to do in Iceland.

But the trail to Glymur Waterfall is not easy. With sections steep enough to warrant using ropes and a few river crossings, the 4.5-mile hike to the Glymur Waterfall is not for the faint of heart.

View looking down at the split waterfall cascading into a canyon.

Watch The Waters Boil At Deildartunguhver Hot Springs

While you can enter most of Iceland’s hot springs, you can’t enter Deildartunguhver Hot Springs – but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit.

With temperatures reaching nearly 400 degrees Fahrenheit, these hot springs are a tribute to the powerful geothermal activity reverberating throughout Iceland.

A hot spring river steaming with heat.

Best Things To Do In Reykjavik

Climb the tower of the hallgrimskirkja church.

One of the most popular things to do in Reykjavik is to visit the Hallgrimskirkja Church. This iconic building towers over all of the others in the city, making quite a statement.

It is free to enter the church. There is a small fee to climb the tower, but it offers stunning views of the city, so it’s worth it.

The church has a very modern design completely different than other churches in Iceland.

Make sure to check out our full Reykjavik itinerary !

Book Here: Reykjavik: Sightseeing Walking Tour with a Viking

Aerial view of Hallgrimskirkja towering over Reykjavik at sunset.

Marvel At The Sun Voyager Sculpture

The dream-like Sun Voyager sculpture was created by the artist Joe Gunnar.

Made of stainless steel, this boat-shaped structure glistens in the sunlight and looks particularly beautiful during sunrise and sunset.

Purple dusk over the Sun Voyager Sculpture next to the water.

Trek Up Mount Esja

Mount Esja is often called the “city mountain,” because it is located just 20 minutes outside of Reykjavik.

Once you reach the end of this five-mile hike, you’ll be rewarded with stunning views of the city and beyond. It is one of the best hikes in Iceland !

City of Reykjavik with Mount Esja in background across the water.

This list just scratches the surface of the best things to do in Iceland. There are just so many amazing attractions in Iceland

We’re excited you’re considering what to see in Iceland and where to go in Iceland. Please let us know in the comments section if you have any questions or just want to share what you think are some of the top things to do in Iceland. 

Skogafoss waterfall partially frozen in the wintertime with snow surrounding it

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Every day, there is an adventure waiting to happen in Iceland. With it's abundance of mountains, volcanoes, glaciers, rivers, lakes, caves and otherwise rough terrain waiting to be tackled, Iceland is truly and outdoor enthusiast's paradise. But, it is also warm and welcoming place for the rest of us.

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The 28 Best Things to Do in Iceland, From Puffin Spotting to Bread Baking

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Narrowing down the best things to do in Iceland isn't a simple task. Whether you've come for adventure or leisure (or both), this Nordic island has enough to fuel a lifetime of vacations—one of the many reasons I've visited the Land of Fire and Ice a dozen times over the last decade.

At 20 million years old, the small, New York –sized country of Iceland is Europe’s youngest island—and it’s still changing, given its placement on top of two actively moving tectonic plates. It’s a country with major range: Driving 30 minutes out of Reykjavik in any direction offers access to diverse landscapes that will have your head spinning. Fields of porous black rock, mountain valleys, subterranean caves with walls of lava, glaciers looming far off the road, and mysterious black sand beaches welcome everyone who makes the trek. There’s something magical about the never-ending playlist of weather that rains (or snows, or hails, or blows) down on the island, bringing you face to face with the natural elements—whether you like it or not. Locals have adopted a level of acceptance, never working against the elements and choosing to co-exist instead, a mindset us out-of-towners can learn a lot from.

A country with so much to offer can be hard to nail down in a single itinerary. As a self-proclaimed Iceland enthusiast, I did my best to sift through my own favorite stops to help you whittle down your own. Read on for ideas for short layovers, long-weekend adventures, weeks-long vacations, and more.

All listings featured in this story are independently selected by our editors. However, when you book something through our retail links, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Settle into a good read at the Nordic House

One of my favorite things to do when I first arrive in Reykjavik is to head to the Nordic House . Admittedly, it’s a bit of a walk from the downtown hub (at least 20 minutes, depending on the ever-changing weather) but this Alvar Aalto-designed community center houses a hidden gem. The library is not only an exhibit space showcasing some of the Finnish architect’s most iconic designs, but it’s a tranquil space to get your bearings before taking on the city. Don’t miss a snack at Sónó, which serves up vegetarian fare.

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The city of Husavik's manmade hot spring overlooks the sea, making it a perfect place to spot whales.

Stop for a Soak at Geosea

If you find yourself in the northern city of Husavik—the best place to spot whales—make time for at least two visits to Geosea . Walking into this manmade hot spring is not entirely unlike walking onto a James Bond movie set. Located next to a quintessentially Nordic-looking lighthouse, the pools overlook the sea. There’s nothing more calming than grabbing a drink from the swim-up bar and watching the clouds fall over the distant mountain.

Get to know the creative community at DesignMarch

Fun fact: Despite its name, DesignMarch happens in late April or May. (In 2024, it’s taking place April 24-28.) During the annual design week, the city comes alive with creative spirit—galleries are open late, special exhibits draw visitors from around the world, and the annual DesignTalks spotlight some of the world’s most inspiring designers and artists. Experiencing this festival is like unlocking a secret level of a video game; the city is a thriving playground for creators and lively discourse.

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The Dimmuborgir lava field is full of hulking rock formations begging to be explored.

Hike Through Dimmuborgir

If you’ve ever heard about the Yule Lads—Iceland’s fictional 13 “Fathers of Christmas”—Dimmuborgir is the place that they call home. Located in the northern Myvatn region, this massive lava field is full of hulking rock formations with curious holes and waiting to be explored. There are several trail options: the 15-minute Small Circle, the 20-minute Big Circle, the 30-minute Mellönd Circle, the 40-minute Krókastígur, and the 60-minute Church Circle.

Climb Hverfjell Crater

While we’re talking about Dimmuborgir, it would be a crime not to mention Hverfjell Crater. Located north of the lava field, there’s a trail that will take hikers away from the rocks and toward a massive volcanic crater. Be warned: There are two ways to get to the top. There’s a well-trodden path that gently zig-zags to the top and a more strenuous walk with ropes to assist with the steep incline. When you exit the rocks of Dimmuborgir and first set eyes on the crater, the tougher route will be to your right and the other option is a bit of a walk to your left—there is also a set of bathrooms located at the bottom of the easier trail.

Interior at Highland Base Iceland

Luxury and isolation go hand-in-hand at the far-flung Highland base - Kerlingarfjöll, which counts on its premises a capsite, hostel, huts, lodges, and a hotel.

Book a Room at Highland Base — Kerlingarfjöll

The Icelandic Highlands are a notoriously tricky place to reach, and it’s usually recommended that you hire a guide to show you the sights. This part of the country is not often associated with luxury, but the Highland Base - Kerlingarfjöll has changed that. Built by the same people behind the Blue Lagoon, there’s a range of accommodations: a campsite, hostel, huts, lodges, and a hotel. The hotel is a masterclass in Scandinavian design manifested as wood-lined walls, moody lighting, and iconic furniture—but even the service house for the campsite feels upscale. And, of course, there are hot springs offering unbeatable views of the surrounding landscape.

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Skool Beans's school bus coffee shop setting offers visitors to Reynisfjara black sand beach a welcome respite from the wind.

Caffeinate at Skool Beans

If you are making the trek to Reynisfjara—the instantly recognizable black sand beach along the southern coast— Skool Beans will be a welcome respite from the wind. You may be a bit confused at first sight, but roll with it. The micro-roaster and tea lab set up shop in 2020—inside of a school bus. Located a quick detour off Route 1 in Vik, warm up with a cup of coffee or hot chocolate while watching people pass by the bus window.

Start the day at Sundhöllin

Most first-time visitors will book it to one of the more Instagram-famous hot springs around the country, but I recommend everyone experience a local pool at least once. Sundhöllin is a great spot to do this for a few reasons. It’s really easy to get to, thanks to its prime downtown location. The architecture is striking—designed by Guðjón Samúelsson, it’s the oldest pool in the city dating back to 1937. And the best part? It costs less than $10 to get in (and kids under the age of 15 are free.) Locals tend to stop by before and/or after work to socialize, relax, and settle into the day.

Ring Road

A drive along Iceland's Ring Road is a classic bucket list entry.

Drive the Ring Road

This is the classic Iceland road trip. The Ring Road spans 828 miles around the entire coastal region of the country. Driving this route, you'll have easy access to waterfalls, glaciers, geysers, hiking trails, lava fields, and hot springs. The best time to experience it is during the summer, when the weather is a bit more mild (meaning less snow and rain, but it’s always a possibility) and the 24-hour sun means you can drive late into the night.

Hike through the Vatnshellir lava tube cave

This is one activity you’ll need a guide for, since it’s easy to get lost or injure yourself inside the Vatnshellir lava tube cave . At 8,000 years old, the cave is known for its colorful walls, created by the lava that once coursed through its tunnels. Its location is particularly fantastic—it’s on Snaefellsnes Peninsula , which is home to so many other worthy sights, including Budirkirkja, an iconic church that’s painted black; Ytri-Tunga, a beach full of seals; Rauðfeldsgjá, a deep mountain rift you can hike through; and the quaint seaside village of Stykkisholmur.

Jökulsárlón Lagoon

Jökulsárlón glacial lake is full of massive pieces of ice broken off from a nearby glacier.

See icebergs up close at Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach

Jökulsárlón and Diamond Beach are quintessential Iceland attractions for a reason; with that in mind, expect crowds. Located on the eastern corner of Iceland, they’re actually just across the street from one another. Jökulsárlón glacial lake is located behind a tall sand dune. Here, you’ll find massive pieces of ice that have broken off from the nearby Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier . At Diamond Beach, there are smaller ice chunks you can walk up to and touch—just be careful of the incoming waves. Catching the sunrise or sunset at either of these spots cannot be beat, especially if you fancy yourself a photographer.


Friðheimar tomato farm doubles as a restaurant and provides 40 percent of Iceland's tomato supply.

Feast on tomatoes at Friðheimar

About a 13-minute drive from the popular Secret Lagoon hot spring , you’ll find Friðheimar , a tomato farm that doubles as a restaurant and provides 40% of Iceland’s total tomato supply. The catch: You’ll only find tomato-themed items on the menu. From the wonderfully simple heirloom tomatoes with locally made burrata to the tomato schnapps (served in a hollowed-out tomato), the food at this greenhouse restaurant is an experience. If you’re staying in an Airbnb with a kitchen, bring home some tomatoes from the farm’s shop.

Stay at a bubble hotel

When it comes to accommodations in Iceland, Airbnb is often the easiest way to go . If you’re looking for a once-in-a-lifetime experience, however, check out the Five Million Star Hotel (or The Bubble Hotel , as it’s known locally). This “hotel” is a set of transparent bubble rooms in a wooded area near Reykholt in Southern Iceland. The land is owned by a friendly farmer, who will greet you upon arrival and introduce you to your home for the night. The bubbles are just private enough for changing into your pajamas, and there’s a communal building with bathrooms and a small kitchen available to all guests. Plus, it’s an incredible place to see the Northern Lights if you find yourself there during the wintertime. If you’re visiting during the Midnight Sun months instead, make sure to bring an eye mask for sleeping.

Silfra Fissure

Snorkeling Silfra Fissure means you can see the ever expanding fissure forming between the two tectonic plates Iceland sits on.

Snorkel Silfra Fissure

One of the most interesting things about Iceland is its location on two tectonic plates that are moving away from each other at a rate of around two centimeters per year. Should you wish to explore the ever-expanding fissure, there’s a section of river in Þingvellir National Park where you can snorkel or scuba dive down into the crack. You have to go with a tour operator, as entry into the fissure can be dangerous, but check out Iceland Adventure Tours for a great experience. Your guide will take all the photos for you so you can just enjoy the scenery. And don’t worry: While the water stays a cool 34 degrees Fahrenheit, you’ll be comfortable in a dry suit.

The Herring Era Museum of Siglufjördur

Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður.

Tour the Herring Era Museum in Siglufjörður

It’s easy to shrug off this three-building museum dedicated to the art of catching and distributing herring, but then you’d miss out on one of the more interesting educational moments you’ll find in northern Iceland. The Herring Era Museum breaks down everything you would ever want to know about the industry, including how the fish are caught, the consequences of overfishing, and the conflict between the locals and Norwegians who fish in Icelandic waters. One of the buildings, Róaldsbrakki, invites visitors to explore a traditional boarding home for women who worked in herring fishery that dates back to 1907. You can also walk through Grána, an example of what a small herring factory would have looked like in the early 1900s.

Explore the Arctic Coast Way

If battling fellow tourists along the Ring Road is not your idea of a vacation, consider the Arctic Coast Way route instead. At 470 miles long, the road trip comprises 21 villages and 4 islands and should take about a week to drive. It’s generally a bit less busy than the Ring Road and perfect for those looking to experience the smaller communities that give Iceland its character. Go whale watching in Husavík, hike in Fjörðurnar, and check out the wave catchers at Ólafsfjörður, which is considered one of the best places to surf under the Northern Lights.


Fiskfélagið mixes fine dining service with fresh-from-the-boat fare.

Dine on incredible seafood at Fiskfélagið

There are a lot of places you can have a delicious seafood dinner in Reykjavik , but Fiskfélagið is one of the best for its mix of fresh-from-the-boat fare and fine dining–level service. Known locally as Fish Company, the restaurant is a vehicle for chef Lárus Gunnar Jónasson’s creative dishes, which pair Icelandic fish like cod and salmon with international ingredients like Spanish chorizo, French truffles, Mexican chipotle, and American apples. Choosing your meal is a trip around the world in itself.

Learn about farm life at Bjarteyjarsandur

Go to Iceland between mid-May and mid-September and you’ll see sheep roaming all over the island. (There’s actually a law stating that farmers can release the animals in the summer months and that locals will help round them back up in September.) If you want to learn more about Iceland’s sheep—and how they contribute to the country’s booming agriculture industry—head to Bjarteyjarsandur . An hour’s drive north of Reykjavik, the family-run farm is a popular field trip destination for local schools, but adults will also love learning about the animals, from horses and sheep to rabbits and pigs. If you visit from October to April, you can even go digging for mussels on nearby shores.

Drangey Island Iceland

Drangey Island is a must-hit during summer to see the puffins.

Spot puffins on Drangey Island

You can’t visit Iceland during the summertime and not try to see puffins. These adorable birds can be tough to find though, since they prefer to make their nests on smaller islands off the main coast, like Drangey Island. There’s only one company that takes people there, aptly named Drangey Tours , and you’ll want to dedicate an entire afternoon to the excursion. After a 20-minute boat ride from Sauðárkrókur marina, you’ll set out for a steep hike. There are parts that require climbing a ladder and shimmying along a rock face, but once at the top, you’ll see puffins everywhere on the surrounding cliffs. You’ll also enjoy an incredible view of Skagafjordur, a fjord overlooking a bay in Northern Iceland that’s known for its hiking and bird-watching opportunities.

Laugarvatn Fontana

Laugarvatn Fontana offers daily baking alongside its hot springs.

Bake bread underground at Fontana

Fontana is a geothermal spa with a beautiful pool overlooking þingvallavatn, a rift valley lake in þingvellir National Park (which is also home to famous sites like the Gullfoss waterfall and Geysir geothermal area). Here, you can enjoy the hot springs, then pay an extra fee to participate in the daily baking , which involves tapping geothermal energy from underground to make bread. For around $19, an employee will bring you out to the water’s edge with a shovel to dig up a bread tin that was buried there the prior day. Sweet and delicious, the bread tastes similar to pound cake, but looks like a loaf of rye. Try it topped with smjör (butter) and smoked trout from the lake, and be sure to buy some extra for the road.

Visit the sound domes above Seydisfjordur

A 15-minute hike from the Brimberg Fish Factory parking lot in the town of Seydisfjordur you’ll find Tvísöngur , a sculpture by German artist Lukas Kühne that honors Iceland’s unique tradition of five-tone harmony. Made from concrete, the artwork features five interconnected concrete domes, each designed to resonate at its own harmony as wind rushes through its arched opening. The effect is like a giant instrument playing itself.

Reykjadalur Hot Spring River

Reykjadalur's winding trail up a mountain and down a valley leads to its hot spring river, where the water gets warmer the farther up the boardwalk you go.

Relax at Reykjadalur Hot Spring River

If you’re looking for a hike that ends in a hot spring session , head 50 minutes east of Reykjavik to the remote Reykjadalur Hot Spring River. You’ll start in a parking lot and follow a winding trail up a mountain, then down into a valley. The entire path is marked, though there are rocky sections here and there. After hitting a wooden bridge over some boiling mud pits (about a 30-minute walk from the parking lot), you’ll find the hot spring river. Take note that the water gets warmer the farther you go up the boardwalk.

two figures heads rising out of steaming water. mountains reflecting on the sides

It's worth booking an early time slot at Sky Lagoon to unwind on the day you arrive in Iceland.

Indulge at Sky Lagoon

For a special treat, book the earliest time slot at Sky Lagoon —Reykjavik’s newest design-forward hot spring —on the day you arrive in Iceland. Most tourists will head to Blue Lagoon given its proximity to the airport, but if you can hop in the car (or on the bus), get to the city center, drop your luggage at your hotel or Airbnb, and make it to this beautiful hot spring first thing, well, there’s no better way to put yourself in the Iceland state of mind. Reserve a Sky Pass , which will grant you access to private changing rooms for a post-flight shower, plus the seven-step Ritual. After a soak in the hot springs, a dip in the cold pool, a visit to the sauna (with breathtaking views of the hot spring), a walk through cold mist, an exfoliating body scrub, time in the steam room, and a cool rinse, you’ll forget all about that red-eye flight.

Soak among the trees at Forest Lagoon

Iceland’s newest place to relax with a view, Forest Lagoon is located right outside the northern city of Akureyri and features a slightly unusual natural feature for the area: lots of trees. Designed by Reykjavik-based Basalt Architects , the hot spring also boasts thoughtful elements like built-in tables and benches (all the easier for sipping your drinks from the swim-up bar), as well as a cold pool and a river-like section with higher temps.

Diamond Circle

The harbor at Skjálfandi Bay, Husavik, Northeastern Region, Iceland.

Enjoy an aerial view with Zipline Iceland

Hiking, kayaking, biking, and camping are all traditional outdoor activities in Iceland. More recently, however, zip-lining has emerged as a popular way to experience the landscape. Located near Vik in southern Iceland, Zipline Iceland offers four different lines. The only catch is you have to hike through a stunning canyon to get there, of course.

Tides' Whole Arctic Char stuffed with lemon dill amp garlic butter and their Herboni.

Tides' Whole Arctic Char stuffed with lemon, dill & garlic butter and their Herboni.

Treat yourself to drinks and dinner at Tides

New-ish to the Reykjavik food scene, Tides in the EDITION hotel serves up some next-level mocktails (and food, of course). I hosted my own wedding dinner at the restaurant, and my partner was blown away by the detail in the non-alcoholic drink options. The menu favors local ingredients and changes regularly, meaning you’ll always discover something new to love. And if you find yourself nearby in the morning hours, check out the Tides Café, where you can enjoy a pastry and coffee in the cozy breakfast nook. Long gone are the days when Reykjavik wasn’t known as a food city.

Step back in architectural time at Glaumbær

Iceland’s famous turf houses are historic structures, constructed hundreds of years ago with soil, stone, wood, and grass. To learn more about them, plan a trip to Glaumbær Farm , an open-air museum where you can walk through all the buildings to discover their purpose. Here, the grass-covered homes date back to the mid-18th century and tell the story of life on Iceland at that time.

Pick up a new scent at Fischer

There are plenty of places to shop in Reykjavik, but Fischer is a hidden gem on a quiet street. Once a recording studio, the space now functions as a perfumery, run by Sigur Rós frontman Jónsi and his family. Focused on scents for all genders, the store also sells skin- and haircare products, and features a downstairs gallery with local art exhibits. Even if you’re not looking for a new scent, it’s worth a visit to soak in the calming vibes.


Highland Base Kerlingarfjöll

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The 21 best things to do in Iceland

Check out the best things to do in Iceland, an island of magic and wonder that goes well beyond the famed Blue Lagoon

Photograph: Shutterstock

Imagine a world where the Northern Lights, the  Northern Lights , are a cherry on top? That’s Iceland. Full of  steaming geothermal pools, smouldering volcanoes and unique museums, the best things to do here are out of this world.

Reykjavik remains one of the most enchanting capital cities on the planet and is a fantastic base to explore the rest of the country. Sure, Iceland is weird, but that is sort of the point, and the best way to make the most of this place is to let it wash over you. You’re going to fall in love with Iceland . 

RECOMMENDED: 🍴 The best restaurants in Reykjavik 🏨 The best   hotels in Iceland 🏘️ The best   Airbnbs in Iceland

At Time Out, all of our  travel guides  are written by local writers who know their cities inside out. For more about how we curate, see our  editorial guidelines . 

Been there, done that? Think again, my friend.

Best things to do in Iceland

1.  soak in the blue lagoon.

Soak in the Blue Lagoon

A constant presence in lists of the world's natural wonders , the Blue Lagoon – Iceland’s most famous thermal bath – is a magical sight with pearly blue waters dotted against a landscape of black lava rock. The steaming pools can get pretty crowded, so visit early in the morning or late in the evening for a relaxing soak with cocktails from the swim-up bar. There a spa treatments available, or you can DIY like the locals and slather yourself in chalky white silt from the lagoon bed, which supposedly has anti-ageing properties.

2.  Dance through rainbows at the bottom of Skógafoss waterfall

Dance through rainbows at the bottom of Skógafoss waterfall

It’s easy to go chasing waterfalls in Iceland, and while the mighty Dettifoss and Gullfoss may be the country’s most famous and ferocious, Skógafoss is the most beautiful. Nestled along the south coast the fall cascades down a 26-metre drop, and on sunny days you’ll almost certainly see a gorgeous rainbow rising from the foam. Take time to venture to Kvernufoss, a secluded fall off the tourist track that lies a few minutes walk east of Skogafoss.

3.  Go whale watching from Húsavík

Go whale watching from Húsavík

The colourful harbour town of Húsavík has become the unofficial whale watching capital of Iceland. (The area relies so heavily on the industry that it was at the forefront of calls to stop the resumption of commercial whaling in Iceland in 2006.) Book a tour at the harbour – there are plenty to pick from – grab a sturdy raincoat and set sail across Skjálfandi bay. On most tours, you’ll catch a glimpse of dolphins, porpoises and minke. You may see humpbacks dancing along the swells, or even fin whales, blue whales, orca and sperm whales if luck’s really shining on you.

4.  Spot puffins on the sandy white beach of Breiðavík

Spot puffins on the sandy white beach of Breiðavík

Only a handful of tourists make it out to the Westfjords, narrow fingers of land joined to the country by only a six-mile-wide stretch. Wild and unspoilt, this is one of Iceland’s treasures, and Breiðavík beach is the area’s best gem. With deep blue waters, a sweep of white sand and towering cliffs, this is one of world’s most alluring and pristine coasts. When the sun shines, its empty stretches are irresistible. Don’t miss Látrabjarg up the road, Europe’s largest bird cliff where you can get up close and personal with a posse of Puffins.

5.  Stroll down the black, volcanic Reynisfjara beach

Stroll down the black, volcanic Reynisfjara beach

The tiny village of Vík on Iceland’s south coast is an isolated smattering of pretty buildings, particularly its handsome white church sitting high above the town against a backdrop of craggy cliffs. But the spot’s real gem is Reynisfjara, a beach of sweeping Goth-black sands. Watch waves crash across the coal pebbles, ogle at Reynisdrangar  (three gnarled sea stacks said to be petrified trolls in Icelandic folklore) and climb up the enchanting basalt columns jutting out from one of the beach cliffs.

6.  Visit Lystigardur, one of the country’s rare botanical gardens

Visit Lystigardur, one of the country’s rare botanical gardens

Akureyri, the largest town outside of Reykjavik, is still pretty tiny, housing just over 18,000 people. What it lacks in size it makes up for in charm, with richly-coloured wooden houses, a picturesque harbour and heart-shaped traffic lights. A must-see here is Lystigardur, one of only two botanical gardens in the country, which seems to defy the elements by holding gorgeous Icelandic greenery plus subtropical plants despite an average temperature here of just 3.4C. Visit in summer when the place is awash with colourful blooms and dizzying floral scents.

7.  Bathe in geothermal pools at Myvatn Nature Baths

Bathe in geothermal pools at Myvatn Nature Baths

Immerse yourself in the Myvatn Nature Baths , north Iceland’s answer to the Blue Lagoon. Icelanders have been bathing in these parts for centuries, and with water temps at 40C, its pretty delicious lolling about in the creamy blue waters, which are packed with minerals. Nearby Myvatn Lake is a must-see with lots of geothermal thrills and a famous duck colony. Don’t miss the ‘underground bakery’ on the way to the baths, where loaves of rye dough are baked in geothermally-heated soil.

8.  Walk through Heimaey, a town once buried under lava

Walk through Heimaey, a town once buried under lava

Heimaey is the only inhabited island in the Westman Islands’ scattered archipelago. A quick ferry ride from Iceland’s south coast, it's an idyllic place with puffin-shaped signposts, fleets of fishing boats, staggering volcanic peaks and bird calls filling the air. In 1973, things weren’t so pretty here when a volcanic eruption engulfed a third of the town in ash and lava. Learn more about the eruption at Eldheimar, a museum showcasing a house dug out of the lava 40 years after the catastrophe. After, hike to the top of Helgafell volcano (if the exhibition hasn’t terrified you too much) and check out the island’s delightful puffin colonies. Check out the Vestmannaeyjar's Matey Seafood Festival , on every September. 

9.  See where one of the world’s first democracies began at Þingvellir National Park

See where one of the world’s first democracies began at Þingvellir National Park

Iceland is bursting with sublime natural landscapes, but what makes Þingvellir National Park special is its connections to the beginnings of the Icelandic state. In 930 AD over thirty ruling chiefs from across Iceland met at this spot, forming one of the world’s first parliaments. The UNESCO World Heritage Site also happens to be ruptured by the North American and Eurasian plates physically tearing apart; it's a sight that’ll leave you awestruck at the exquisiteness and fragility of the natural world. While there, check out Þingvellir church, Öxarárfoss waterfall and Iceland’s largest lake, Þingvallavatn, all of which are pretty easy on the eyes too.

10.  Have lunch inside tomato-filled greenhouse Friðheimar Tomato

Have lunch inside tomato-filled greenhouse Friðheimar Tomato

Iceland’s climate isn’t the most hospitable for growing vegetables, so you’re likely to see plenty of glowing greenhouses peppered across the country. Friðheimar Tomato is a huge, eco-friendly greenhouse teeming with lush tomato vines in neat rows next to an airy cafe. This place grows around 18 percent of the country’s tomatoes, helped by pollinating bees that zoom around the glasshouse. Some of the vegetables go into lip-smacking vats of soup that visitors can help themselves to, buffet style. Order the tomato ice cream and the Bloody Mary for a real treat.

11.  Get entranced by the Northern Lights at Grótta nature reserve

Get entranced by the Northern Lights at Grótta nature reserve

Mother nature’s most marvelled phenomenon can be glimpsed for around eight months out of the year in Iceland, from September to April, all around the country. To increase your chances of catching the alien glows, it’s best to head out of light-flooded city centres at night and into more remote spots. Grótta nature reserve on the tip of Seltjarnarnes peninsula outside of Reykjavik is a perfect spot to get an eyeful of the dancing Aurora.

12.  Join the locals on a runtur

Get your thermal gladrags on and paint Reykjavik red on a runter, a ‘round tour’ or bar crawl along the main shopping street Laugavegur. The festivities usually start around midnight on Friday and Saturday nights and involve lashings of booze. However, alcohol is a pricy commodity in Iceland, so make sure you neck it back at the right places – visit Húrra for alt live music and plenty of dancing, the famous Kaffibarinn with its London tube logo and brilliant happy hour, Kaldi for local brews on tap and Slippbarinn for cocktails.

13.  Swim in Seljavallalaug, a secret pool in a volcano valley

Swim in Seljavallalaug, a secret pool in a volcano valley

If you can find Seljavallalaug, a secret swimming pool hidden in a valley at the foot of Eyjafjallajökull (the volcano that erupted back in 2010), prepare to have your mind blown. You’ll have to veer off the country’s main ring road and hike across a rugged path to reach this little white bathing house and its long rectangular pool, fed by a nearby hot spring, both constructed in 1923. It’s not the warmest, but lolling in its inky waters in the shadow of towering, waterfall-strewn mountains will be one of the most exhilarating things you ever do, trust us.

14.  Watch a boiling natural eruption at the Geysir Hot Spring Area

Watch a boiling natural eruption at the Geysir Hot Spring Area

At first sight the Geysir Hot Spring Area might not look so exciting, but beneath the grassy plains and tranquil pools water is bubbling away at 125C, ready to explode. You can’t miss the steaming fountains that burst from Strokkur, the most active of the area’s geysirs, shooting out 30-metre tall spouts every few minutes - it’ll soak you if you get too close. Other less volatile, but no less alluring, sights are the Blesi twin pools (one is clear turquoise, the other pastel blue, steaming next to each other) and Little Geysir, which viciously churns bubbling water.

15.  Get a view of Reykjavik from Hallgrímskirkja, the country’s largest church

Get a view of Reykjavik from Hallgrímskirkja, the country’s largest church

You can’t miss Hallgrímskirkja, the country’s largest church, whose rocket-shaped tower looks like it’s been plucked from the Wizard of Oz ’s Emerald City. There’s something alienly beautiful about the smooth concrete lines of the building, which is named after the 17th-century poet Hallgrimur Petursson. Although building started just after WWII, work has only just finished—most of it has been done by a family firm consisting of just two people. Head up the lift to the top of the 73-metre steeple where you can get a charming view of the city and its gorgeous coloured roofs.

16.  Walk around the rim of Kerið, a colourful volcanic crater

Walk around the rim of Kerið, a colourful volcanic crater

Around 3,000 years ago, a giant volcano in Grímsnes collapsed in on itself, and thank your lucky stars it did, because the results are a treat for the eyes. Kerið is one of the lesser-known stops on the famous Golden Circle tour, but its shining turquoise waters cupped in steep red slopes of volcanic rock are truly breathtaking. A 15-minute walk will take you around the rim of the mesmerising crater where you can see the ribbons of colourful rocks and soil that make up its technicolour slopes.

17.  Snowmobile across Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier

Snowmobile across Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier

Measuring a whopping 8100 km 2 , Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe with monstrously thick ice and active volcanoes lurking beneath its frosty top. This extreme landscape isn’t for the fainthearted, but thrill-seekers can explore the icy reaches of Vatnajökull National Park on an organised snowmobile tour. GlacierJeeps and Extreme Iceland offer guided journeys where you can learn more about how the vast expanse of white was created and what issues affect its future and gaze open-jawed at the snowy peaks surrounding you.

18.  Get to know Iceland’s ancient Sagas at Safnahúsið

Get to know Iceland’s ancient Sagas at Safnahúsið

Reykjavik's answer to the British Library, and one of its most elegant buildings, Safnahúsið  (the Culture House) holds everything from contemporary art to ancient relics, including a collection of Icelandic sagas written down in ornate medieval manuscripts. The sagas are a huge part of Icelandic identity, detailing the beginnings of the nation. Don’t miss a glimpse at Flateyjarbok, a beautifully illustrated document written in the 14th century, and Codex Regius, the world’s oldest script of Old Norse mythology. You’ll hear a lot about sagas in Iceland and getting nose to nose with them here it's easy to see what the long-lasting fascination is all about.

19.  Channel your inner Johnny Rotten at the Icelandic Punk Museum

‘No Sexism, No Politics, No Hate, No Bullshit’ read the stairs leading to this former public toilet, now a subterranean and lovingly curated exhibition of Iceland’s punk heritage. Tracking the genre's history from the ‘70s to the Sugar Cubes’ break up in the early ’90s, the Icelandic Punk Museum 's small rooms spill over with memorabilia plastered across the wall like an anarchistic collage. Exhibits sit in old sinks and toilet bowls, while headphones hanging from the ceiling play Icelandic punk belters. There's also a drum kit, guitar and bass to thrash around on if you fancy yourself as the next Joe Strummer.

20.  Fill your eyes with stars in stand-out church Þingeyrakirkja

Fill your eyes with stars in stand-out church Þingeyrakirkja

In an isolated spot between two gloomy-looking lakes i n Þingeyrar, on the north coast, Þingeyrakirkja is a squat stone church erected in 1877. It may not look like much from the outside, but step through the doors and you’ll quickly realise why this is a must-see. The deep-blue arched roof is studded with a thousand dazzling golden stars; the clinquant altarpiece, originally made in the Netherlands in 1696, is full of beautifully carved wooden figures; and the wonderful pulpit boasts silhouette of a golden dove at its centre. It’ll have you green with interior envy.

21.  Discover a local band at annual music fest Iceland Airwaves

Discover a local band at annual music fest Iceland Airwaves

Thanks to Björk and Sigur Rós, Iceland has an enviable musical heritage and Reykjavik's annual music festival, Iceland Airwaves , does not disappoint. For four days in the winter months, the fest takes over venues across the city, including the wondrous Harpa Concert Hall, which twinkles by the harbor-edge. It’s a chance to discover little-known local bands, as well as to see acclaimed international acts – Father John Misty, Florence and the Machine and PJ Harvey have all graced past line-ups. There are also more than a few raucous after-parties taking the good vibes into the early hours.  

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Full Suitcase Travel Blog

25 Absolute-Best Places to Visit in Iceland (+Things to Do & Tips)

By Author Jurga

Posted on Last updated: June 28, 2024

25 Absolute-Best Places to Visit in Iceland (+Things to Do & Tips)

There is so much written about Iceland that it can get really overwhelming to figure out where exactly to go and what are the best places to visit in Iceland . In this article, we cover some of the most popular areas but also some lesser-known places that I think are worth visiting in Iceland the most. Find out!

Good to know: This article with top things to do in Iceland was initially published after our second trip to Iceland. In the meantime, we have visited Iceland 6 times, and so it was time to update it. I’ve now been to Iceland in all seasons and traveled in pretty much all regions. While there is still so much more to be explored, I feel that I can now give you a much better idea of the best areas to visit and the very best places to see in Iceland.

While the list now contains more than the initial top 10 places, it does not list every single attraction or landmark separately. We also didn’t include all the details about everything that you can do in Iceland.

The aim of this article is to give you an overview of the most beautiful areas, the best things to do, and the nicest places in Iceland that are worth visiting the most . So that you have a good idea of where to travel in Iceland without getting too overwhelmed with all the details.

BEST OF ICELAND IN A NUTSHELL: * MUST-SEE:  South Coast, Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon, Golden Circle, Reykjavik, Snaefellsnes Peninsula. * MUST DO: Blue Lagoon  and/or  Sky Lagoon (book well ahead!!!). * FUN TO DO: Glacier hiking ,  whale watching ,  Silfra snorkeling . * WINTER:   Northern lights & natural ice caves (some ice caves can now also be visited in the summer!!!) * MUST TRY: Icelandic hot dog ( pylsur ), Skyr, lamb, fish stew ( plokkfiskur ). * WHERE TO STAY:   Where to stay in Iceland  –  Where to stay in Reykjavik  –  Where to stay in Snaefellsnes Peninsula .

TIP: If you are looking for more information about each area mentioned in our guide below, please make sure to read the more detailed articles that we link to from this post. If you are looking for ideas on how to plan your trip and day-by-day itinerary suggestions, please check our guides below:

  • 4-day South Coast itinerary .
  • 7-day winter itinerary .
  • One-week Iceland itinerary for summer months .
  • Iceland Ring Road itinerary in 10 days .
  • Iceland itineraries for any duration (1-14 Days) .

What to see in Iceland - best places and regions

Without further ado, here is a list of the best places to visit in Iceland :

1. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is not coincidentally the first one mentioned on this list. If there is one place that you really don’t want to miss in Iceland, then it’s Jokulsarlon.

The glacier lagoon is just amazing and the scenery changes all the time. Icebergs move all the time and no two visits are ever the same. In addition to the lagoon itself, you should also visit the so-called Diamond Beach , just across the road. When the weather conditions are favorable, you can see the most extraordinary ice formations scattered all over the beach. Shining in the sunlight like huge diamonds…

For me, this beach is even more special than the lagoon itself. Especially on a sunny winter day or at sunset. Magical!

TIP: You may want to check out the nearby Fjalljökull glacial lagoon as well. It’s smaller and less touristic than Jökulsárlón, and it’s very nice too. Nearby Stokksnes headland is also well worth a visit.

How to visit: You can see the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon from ashore, or take a boat tour (May-Oct) between the icebergs. You can choose between an amphibian boat or a zodiac tour.

Places to visit in Iceland - Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon

2. South Coast – Vík Beaches

Iceland’s South Coast is one of the most visited areas in the country and rightly so. This area is simply stunning!

The picturesque village of Vik and the nearby Reynisfjara beach and the impressive coastline are well worth it in any season. Vik black sand beach was once ranked as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world.

TIP: Don’t miss the nearby Dyrhólaey Lighthouse and the stunning rock formations visible from there.

How to visit: There are several parking areas along the coast near Vik. You’ll need a car to get here. Alternatively, you can visit with a South Coast tour from Reykjavik .

Important! Be VERY careful on this beach – the waves here are unpredictable and it’s very dangerous to walk close to the water. Even if the water looks calm, stay as far away as you can. Under no circumstances go into the sea at Reynisfjara beach!

LEARN MORE : Best Stops & Attractions of Iceland’s South Coast

Vik black sand beach in Iceland at sunset in winter

3. Golden Circle

By far the most popular place to visit in Iceland is the so-called Golden Circle . The Golden Circle, formerly also known as the Golden Triangle, refers to three main locations – Thingvellir National Park , Gullfoss waterfall , and Geysir area with a very active Strokkur geyser.

Thingvellir National Park is best known for its continental divide, the Mid Atlantic Ridge. It’s a place where you can see the opening between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America. It’s a beautiful area to explore on foot. Don’t miss the somewhat hidden Öxarárfoss waterfall.

Gullfoss , or The Golden Waterfall, is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Must see!

You just cannot go to Iceland and not see a geyser erupt! Geysir area is a geothermal area where the mother of all geysers – Geysir – is located. While Geysir hasn’t been active in a long time, there is a smaller geyser called Strokkur that erupts at regular intervals every 5-10 minutes. So you never have to wait long in order to see it.

TIP: While extremely touristy, the Golden Circle is popular for a reason. If you can, visit early in the morning or late in the evening in order to avoid the biggest crowds.

How to visit: You’ll need a car to explore the Golden Circle. Alternatively, there are lots of organized Golden Circle tours from Reykjavik .

Oxararfoss waterfall in Thingvellir NP in Iceland in winter

4. Snæfellsnes Peninsula

Somewhat lesser visited than the previously mentioned places, Snæfellsnes Peninsula is another region that you really should see in Iceland. This is one of the places that you can quite easily in all seasons.

Best known for its picturesque Kirkjufell mountain and Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, this area has so much more to offer than that! Volcanic landscapes, rugged coastlines, stunning rock formations, countless waterfalls, beautiful beaches, colorful lighthouses, quaint little villages, and tiny picturesque churches… These are just a few of the reasons to visit Snaefellsnes.

TIP: If you are visiting in summer and have the time, I recommend at least 2 days for this area.

How to visit: You’ll need a car to get around. Alternatively, join one of the guided Snaefellsnes day tours from Reykjavik .

LEARN MORE: Complete Guide to Snaefellsnes Best Things to Do in Snaefellsnes Peninsula

Ultimate guide to visiting Snaefellsnes Peninsula in Iceland

5. Blue Lagoon & Sky Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most popular tourist attraction and is considered the no. 1 must-visit place in Iceland. It’s a huge outdoor geothermal pool with a distinctive blue or milky blue color and nice warm temperatures.

Good to know: Blue Lagoon is extremely popular so it’s essential to reserve your tickets in advance. You can book tickets here .

How to visit: Blue Lagoon is located close to Reykjavik KEF airport and you can either get there by car or by taking a Blue Lagoon bus transfer from Reykjavik . It takes about an hour to get there from the city and you will probably spend at least 2 hours in the water, so count at least 4 hours for your visit.

TIP: You can also visit the Blue Lagoon on your way to or from the airport. Bus transfers are available for Keflavik airport as well (see the link above).

Alternative: Instead of Blue Lagoon (or in addition to), you may want to visit the amazing geothermal pool Sky Lagoon . It’s been opened a few years ago and has quickly become a favorite among tourists and locals alike.

Sky Lagoon is located in Reykjavik, much closer to town, and offers amazing sea views and a unique Spa ritual. You can reserve your tickets here (also here, you really have to book in advance!).

Blue Lagoon geothermal pool is one of the most popular places to visit in Iceland

6. Skógafoss & Seljalandsfoss Waterfalls

After Gullfoss, these are the most visited waterfalls in Iceland. Located along the South Coast, both – Skógafoss & Seljalandsfoss – are among the must-see landmarks in Iceland.

Skogafoss is a really majestic waterfall. It’s so photogenic that if you ever see pictures of a waterfall in Iceland, it’s most likely to be Skogafoss. You can also climb the stairs all the way to the top of the waterfall for some great views of the area.

Seljalandsfoss is the only Icelandic waterfall that I know of where you can walk behind the falling water. In the winter, the waterfall is partially frozen and the whole area around it looks like an ice skating rink, so the walk behind it is usually closed. It’s still nice to see and worth a short stop. But it’s most magical when you can walk behind this waterfall and experience how special this place is. Prepare to get wet!

TIP: Don’t miss the hidden Gljúfrabúi waterfall located inside the gorge just a short walk from Seljalandsfoss. It takes just a few minutes to visit – follow the path to the left from Seljalandsfoss and you’ll see informational panels on the right side.

Iceland must see - Skogafoss waterfall

Myvatn Lake in the North of Iceland is another place you really should visit in Iceland. This area is very diverse and has a lot to offer, especially in the warmer season.

Here are some of the best things to do at Myvatn: a walk to the caldera of Krafla volcano and the lava fields, short walk to the pseudocraters at Myvatn Lake , Leirhnjukur hiking trail, Dimmuborgir area of remarkable lava formations and the 45-minute walk to Kirkjan lava tube structure.

Námaskarð geothermal area is also a must-see in North Iceland! It’s an easily reachable compact area with bubbling mud pools and colorful steaming geothermal features. You have to prepare for the smell though.

Myvatn Nature Baths are also not to be missed. This geothermal pool offers beautiful views, and it’s less busy and cheaper than the Blue Lagoon. However, it’s changed a lot in recent years, and so if you travel here in summer, expect it to be very busy. You may want to book your tickets in advance here too!

How to visit: You’ll need a car to get to Myvatn. If you are stopping in Akureyri on a cruise ship, you can visit Myvatn with this popular shore excursion .

LEARN MORE: Things to Do in Myvatn

Myvatn Lake - one of the best places to visit in Iceland

8. Húsavík

Known as the best place to see whales in Iceland , Húsavík definitely deserves a mention as one of the best places to visit in Iceland as well. If you are visiting Northern Iceland in summer, whale watching in Husavik is a must.

The town is very picturesque too and you can visit the Húsavík Whale Museum .

GeoSea – geothermal sea baths are also very popular and boast stunning sea views. It’s one of the most scenic pools in Iceland.

TIP: There are many whale watching tours that run from Husavik , but they’re extremely popular and have to be booked in advance. One of the best options I always hear people mention is this tour with Gentle Giants .

How to visit: You’ll need a car to get to Husavik.

Husavik town in North Iceland

9. Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel

Located just a short drive from Reykjavik, Raufarhólshellir Lava Tunnel is one of the most unique places to visit in Iceland.

This underground lava tube was created by a volcanic eruption over 5,000 years ago and is one of the longest lava tubes in Iceland. It’s definitely the easiest one to access and you can visit here all year round.

Good to know: The lava tunnel can only be visited with a guided tour. Tours take about 1 hour and there are several time slots during the day, depending on the season.

How to visit: If you have a car, you can easily drive here on your own (just don’t forget to book a time slot for your visit so that you are sure to have a spot). Alternatively, this is a very nice 3-hour excursion from Reykjavik, and there are several companies organizing tours here.

Raufarholshellir lava tunnel near Reykjavik Iceland

10. Westfjords Region

If you want to get a bit off the beaten path in Iceland and discover some of its most impressive, vast landscapes, then you really should consider visiting the Westfjords region .

It’s quite far away from everything, however, distances are immense, and most roads are gravel. So it’s best to travel here in summer and come well prepared.

Some of the most beautiful places not to be missed in the Westfjords are Dynjandi waterfall (most beautiful waterfall in Iceland), Látrabjarg bird cliffs (best place to see puffins in summer), Rauðisandur beach (endless red sand beach; unique in Iceland), and Ísafjörður town.

You’ll need at least 2-3 days to see the whole region and it will be rushed, but you can also see the main attractions in 1-2 days.

How to visit: You’ll need a 4WD or a 4×4 vehicle in the Westfjords. Make sure that your car insurance covers driving on gravel roads.

TIP: The easiest way to get to the Westfjords is by taking a car ferry from Stykkishólmur on Snaefellsnes Peninsula. That way, you can also just come for one or two days and see the landmarks on the southern side of the Westfjords region.

LEARN MORE: Westfjords One Day Itinerary

Places to visit in Iceland - Westfjords

11. Skaftafell National Park

Skaftafell NP is one of the easiest-accessible and most beautiful National Parks in Iceland. It, therefore, deserves a mention on every list of the best places to visit in Iceland.

There are many short hiking trails in this park. The most popular hike is that to Svartifoss – a waterfall surrounded by impressive black basalt columns.

If you have a few hours to spare, consider the Svartifoss – Sjónarsker – Sel walk and the walk to the glacier Skaftafellsjökull. Alternatively, the Svartifoss – Sjónarnípa hike is somewhat longer but even more impressive.

How to visit: Skaftafell NP is located just off the Ring Road in the south of Iceland. You can easily get here in a regular car. There is a Visitors’ Center where you get more information and find detailed hiking maps.

Things to see in Iceland - Svartifoss in Skaftafell NP

12. Icelandic Highlands

The biggest part of Iceland has hardly any roads and is very little explored, but if there is one part of Iceland that is worth visiting more than anything else, it’s the Icelandic Highlands !

Since the highlands are so vast and there are so many beautiful hidden gems, it would be impossible to mention even a small part of them. At the same time, most areas are very remote and require local knowledge and super jeeps with oversized tires in order to visit them… Furthermore, the highlands are only accessible from approximately mid-June to mid-September.

Some of my favorite places in the highlands that are somewhat easy to visit are Kerlingarfjöll , Háifoss , and Landmannalaugar . Haifoss waterfall is quite easy to visit on your own as well.

How to visit: You’ll need a good 4WD or a 4×4 for all of the places mentioned above, but the easiest way to visit is by joining a tour. If you want to get a taste of what the highlands are about, the most popular highlands tours are those to Landmannalaugar. You can check availability and book Landmannalaugar tours here .

LEARN MORE: Icelandic Highlands Tour with a Private Driver

Landmannalaugar in Iceland on a beautiful day in September

13. Reykjanes Peninsula

One of the easiest areas to visit in Iceland from this list, the Reykjanes Peninsula is often overlooked by most Iceland visitors. Their loss! This stunning area close to Keflavik airport and Reykjavik city is home to the popular Blue Lagoon and is well worth a visit too.

With colorful geothermal areas, endless lava fields, and stunning rugged coastlines, Reykjanes Peninsula is like the best of Iceland in a nutshell.

Don’t miss the Valahnúkamöl Cliffs at Reykjnesviti Lighthouse and Seltún Geothermal Area . Bridge Between Continents is another nice spot, just as Strandarkirkja and Garður . Krysuvikurberg Cliffs are really beautiful too, but require a 4 WD vehicle to get there.

How to visit: You can easily visit most of the attractions of the Reykjanes Peninsula by yourself with a regular car. Alternatively, join one of the guided tours from Reykjavik . Some areas require a 4WD or even a super jeep.

LEARN MORE: Ultimate Guide to Reykjanes Peninsula

The Last Great Auk statue and Valahnukamol Cliffs on Reykjanes Peninsula Iceland

14. Recently-Active Volcanos

This is the newest addition to the best things to do in Iceland – hiking to one of the recently erupted volcanos!

In March 2021, there was an eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano on the Reykjanes Peninsula. The nearby Geldingadalir valley was filled with burning lava and the scenery was changing daily. The volcano quickly became the new most popular sight in Iceland attracting locals and tourists alike.

In August 2022, another volcano erupted just near the first site – Meradalir .

In the summer of 2023, Fagradalsfjall volcano erupted again, but this time it didn’t last long. In the winter of 2023-early 2024, there have been several major eruptions in the same area.

At the moment of the last update, these volcano eruptions have stopped. But many of the eruption sites remain a very popular place to see in Iceland, attracting lots of tourists every day.

Good to know: The easiest way to get to the volcano eruption sites is by joining a tour (on foot or by helicopter). There are quite a few volcano tours available . Most of them include pick-up/ drop-off in Reykjavik and some also visit a few other places, e.g. Blue Lagoon.

Best things to do in Iceland - Fagradalsfjall volcano

15. Tröllaskagi Peninsula

If there is one area in North Iceland that seems to be completely overlooked by international tourists, it’s the beautiful town of Siglufjörður and its surroundings, aka the Tröllaskagi Peninsula . It’s simply stunning!

The fishermen’s town Siglufjörður is extremely picturesque and The Herring Era Museum is well worth a visit. But probably even more impressive is the scenic drive to get there. Road 76 which leads from Varmahlíð to Siglufjörður is probably the most beautiful scenic drive in Iceland.

TIP: Make sure to stop at Hofsós swimming pool . Don’t miss the Grafarkirkja (said to be the oldest church in Iceland)! Víðimýrarkirkja and Glaumbær Farm & Museum are also worth a visit.

How to visit: You’ll need a car to explore this area.

LEARN MORE: Best Things to Do in Siglufjörður and Trollaskagi Peninsula

Best towns in Iceland - Siglufjordur

16. Heimaey Island

Part of Iceland’s Westman Islands, Heimaey Island is the biggest island and one of the most beautiful places in Iceland.

It’s a place where you can get acquainted with the more traditional way of living in Iceland and feel what it’s really like to live on a remote island. Especially if you visit off the main season.

The landscapes here are stunning, and in summer, you can see lots of puffins on the island. There is also a whale sanctuary where you can see white Beluga whales.

How to visit: You’ll need to take a ferry to get here. Private tours from Reykjavik are also possible, but very expensive. For comparison, be sure to check this option as well – the prices depend on your group size.

LEARN MORE: Visiting Westman Islands

Travel guide to Westman Islands in Iceland

17. Dettifoss & Asbyrgi

There are two more places in Northern Iceland that are well worth visiting and deserve a mention among the best things to do in Iceland – Dettifoss Waterfall and Asbyrgi Canyon .

Dettifoss is Europe’s most powerful waterfall. With 100 meters (330 ft) in width, a drop of 44 meters (144 ft), and an average water flow of 193 m³/s, this is the place where you feel the power of nature as nowhere else in Iceland. Must see!

Asbyrgi Canyon is a somewhat lesser-known place located between Dettifoss and Husavik and it’s well worth a short stop or a longer visit. It always amazes me how such completely different landscapes can be so close to each other and the tranquility of Asbyrgi is just incomparable to the roaring powerful Dettifoss.

How to visit: Road #862 to Dettifoss is paved and easily accessible (road #864 is not and requires a 4WD). Road #861 to Asbyrgi is also paved. However, road #862 north of Dettifoss is gravel and it’s best to have a 4WD if you are planning to drive here. Alternatively, you can reach Asbyrgi from Husavik.

Places to visit in Iceland - Dettifoss

18. Vatnajökull Glacier

With so many glaciers in Iceland, it’s hard to pick just one to mention as the best one to visit. However, Vatnajökull Glacier is the largest ice cap in Iceland. So if you visit just one glacier in Iceland, it will likely be this one.

With a total area of +- 7,900 km 2 (3,100 sq mi), Vatnajokull is immense. It has around 30 glacier tongues (outlet glaciers), each with its own name, and so it’s likely that you’ll see those names mentioned in the description of various glacier tours and activities.

How to visit: You can see various glacier tongues from the Ring Road in southern Iceland. But the best way to visit glaciers in Iceland is by booking a glacier hiking tour , visiting the ice caves , and snowmobiling . Keep in mind that you need to book an organized tour for any activities where you go on the glacier itself.

In winter – from about October to March – you can see some of the most beautiful natural ice caves in Iceland. You can only visit with a tour and you should book in advance.

Good to know: There are now a few places along the South Coast where you can visit natural ice caves in the summer as well (this is very exceptional!). One of the best spots is a newly-discovered ice cave at Vatnajokull Glacier . Alternatively, check out Katla Ice Cave near Vik (also possible to visit with this day tour from Reykjavik).

READ ALSO: Glacier Hiking in Iceland

Hiking on Solheimajokull glacier in Iceland

19. East Fjords

Another region that is often overlooked by travelers who just drive the Ring Road from South to North is the East Fjords . It’s a stunning region that is well worth visiting if you pass eastern Iceland!

The nicest towns are probably Eskifjörður and Seyðisfjörður , the latter is famous for its colorful rainbow path leading to the church. In season, Borgarfjörður Eystri is a good place to see puffins.

There are also lots of waterfalls in the area, hiking trails, Laugarfell hot pool, and Petra’s Stone collection in Stöðvarfjörður…

The eastern part of Iceland is where you’re most likely to see reindeer.

How to visit: You will need a car to visit the East Fjords.

Things to do in Iceland - visit East Fjords

20. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon near Kirkjubaejarklaustur used to be one of my favorite places in Iceland. It was so peaceful and undiscovered. Nowadays, it’s so popular that the walking path along the side of the canyon had to be closed so that nature could recover a bit.

There are other incredibly beautiful canyons in Iceland, but this one is the easiest to access. So if you want to visit a canyon in Iceland, Fjaðrárgljúfur is well worth a trip. Just please be respectful to nature and obey the signs.

How to visit: You’ll need a car to get here. This Jokulsarlon day tour also stops at Fjadrargljufur.

Fjadrargljufur Canyon is one of the must see places in Iceland

21. Goðafoss Waterfall

Goðafoss , meaning the waterfall of Gods, is one of the most visited waterfalls in Northern Iceland.

It’s extremely beautiful and especially on a sunny day. Often, you can see a rainbow over the falls and it looks simply magical.

How to visit: Located just next to the Ring Road, Godafoss is very easy to get to by car. All North Iceland tours that visit Myvatn stop here as well. Paved walking paths connected by a pedestrian bridge allow you to see the waterfall from two sides of the river.

Places to see in Iceland - Godafoss

22. Hvitserkur

Hvitserkur is a beautiful rhino-shaped rock along the northern coast of Iceland. While the rock itself is very impressive, the entire area around it is simply phenomenal.

We were not sure if it was worth the long drive, but it absolutely is. I, therefore, think that Hvitserkur deserves to be mentioned among the most beautiful places in Iceland. If you are driving in the north anyway, this is just a rather short detour from the Ring Road.

How to visit: You’ll need a car to get here. The road is gravel but in good condition.

LEARN MORE: Hvitserkur

Iceland best places - Hvitserkur

23. Reykjavík

While I think that Iceland’s beauty lies mostly in its nature and people rather than its towns, no list of the best places in Iceland would be complete without mentioning its capital city, Reykjavik .

Reykjavik has changed beyond recognition in the past years and it has more to offer to tourists than ever before.

In the past, I would have told you that one day is more than enough to see all the highlights, which include the views from Hallgrimskirkja church tower, discovering the streets of the colorful town center , feeding ducks at the Reykjavik Lake Tjörnin , visiting Harpa concert hall, seeing the Sun Voyager statue, and visiting some museums.

However, there is now so much more to see and do in Reykjavik than that, with new amazing attractions opening up all over the city all the time. So if you do have some extra time to spare, plan a few days in Reykjavik (see here our guide on where to stay in Reykjavik ).

TIP: My favorite museum that I absolutely recommend in Reykjavik is Perlan . Here you can find our guide to Perlan, the best museum in Reykjavik .

Other great attractions include FlyOver Iceland , Whales of Iceland , Magic Ice Bar , and the geothermal pool with cliffside ocean views, Sky Lagoon .

LEARN MORE: Top Things to Do in Reykjavik & Reykjavik 1-Day Itinerary

Hallgrimskirkja church in Reykjavik

24. Langjökull Glacier

Langjökull is the second-largest glacier in Iceland. Its name means “the long glacier”.

Because of its proximity to the popular Golden Circle, it’s easy to visit Langjökull glacier when you are touring the area or on a day trip from Reykjavik. It’s also possible to reach the glacier from Húsafell which is closer to Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Important: Keep in mind that you need to go with a local guide who knows the area and potential dangers. You can see what kinds of tours are available here .

The glacier is vast and rather diverse, so there are some unique glacier tours here. There are also some ice caves that you can visit. There is a man-made ice cave that is accessible the whole year round, but there is also a natural ice cave , which is much more impressive, of course.

For many years, the most popular way to visit Langjökull Glacier was by snowmobile which allows you to cover big distances in a short time (there are snowmobile tours starting from Reykjavik or from the Golden Circle).

But if you want to see the ice caves of Langjokull, you should opt for a glacier truck tour instead. You can visit a man-made ice cave from Húsafell , but we recommend the newly-discovered natural ice cave that you can visit from the Golden Circle side instead. This recently launched glacier truck tour is one of the best options if you want to visit a natural ice cave near Reykjavik!

No matter which tour you choose, a visit to Langjökull Glacier is one of the most amazing experiences in Iceland. It will definitely make your trip so much more memorable!

Natural ice cave on Langjokull Glacier in Iceland

25. Akureyri

For those of you who are wondering why Akureyri is at the bottom of this list… While I think that it’s a nice place to stop for an hour or two if you have plenty of time in Iceland, I also believe that there are so many nicer places to see in North Iceland that are worth your time more.

That being said, if you go to Akureyri, take some time to walk through the old town and also don’t miss the Botanical Gardens . The new attraction here is the geothermal pool called Forest Lagoon . Akureyri is also a popular place for whale-watching excursions .

There are also some nice places to see nearby, so you could use Akureyri as a ‘base’ location for exploring more of Northern Iceland.

If you are just passing by, you may want to stop at the Christmas House just outside of town.

Akureyri town in Iceland

So, this is our guide to some of the very best places to visit in Iceland.

I hope that it will inspire you to discover this beautiful country beyond its most popular tourist attractions like the Golden Circle, Reykjavik, and the South Coast.

Below, is a video showcasing some of our favorite places in Iceland . Take a look! And further down, you can find links to our other guides that should help you plan your own dream trip to Iceland.

How to plan a road trip in Iceland:

  • Itinerary Suggestions: Iceland itinerary for 1 to 14 days
  • The musts: 4 days in Iceland
  • Best summer itinerary for one week: 7 days in Iceland
  • Complete Ring Road: Iceland’s Ring Road in 10 days
  • Winter trip: Iceland winter itinerary for one week
  • A bit off the beaten path: 10 days in Iceland (summer only)

READ ALSO: Where to Stay in Iceland

Planning a trip to Iceland and have questions? Please check our recommended articles below and in our Iceland travel guide .

If you have a specific question about any of the places mentioned in this article or want to share your favorite landmarks or attractions in Iceland, feel free to leave a reply below.

More tips for your trip to Iceland:

  • Good to know: Iceland Travel Tips
  • When to go: When to Visit Iceland – Summer vs. Winter
  • Airport transfers: How to Get to Reykjavik from Keflavik Airport
  • Budget: How Expensive is Iceland (& How to Save Money)
  • Packing: What to Wear in Iceland in Winter & What to Pack for Iceland in Summer
  • Tours: Best Tours and Day Trips in Iceland & Best Winter Day Trips from Reykjavik
  • Winter trip: Tips for Visiting Iceland in Winter & Northern Lights in Iceland
  • For at home: Nordic Gifts

READ ALSO: Northern Lights in Iceland

TIP: Planning a trip to Iceland and have questions? Join our Facebook Group for Iceland and Scandinavia Travel !

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Must see places in Iceland - ultimate guide

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Gustavo Correa

Monday 11th of March 2024

Hi, Jurga. Very nice and interesting your blog. I'm planning a trip with my family to see the Auroras borealis. I know to see Auroras borealis is very dependent from the time and place you go, is it Iceland a place where you can see the auroras borealis with great certainty? Any recommendations on best dates and place to go for it? Thanks, Gustavo

Monday 1st of April 2024

@Jurga, thanks a lot for your prompt answer. Very valuable and precise information. I'm already reviewing the options in Tromso and will give you feedback on my experience. Already subscribed to your Newsletter. Regards. Gustavo

Tuesday 12th of March 2024

Hi Gustavo, Iceland is a good place to see auroras, but it's impossible to predict. If it's cloudy for days in a row, you may not see anything. But if you are lucky, you may see them multiple times during your winter trip. For more practical information, take a look at our guide to the Northern Lights in Iceland for more information. Also remember that there are so many other great things to do in Iceland in winter! That being said, if auroras are your main interest, then consider other places that are closer to the aurora circle = the chances of seeing them are higher. One of the best places for the Northern Lights in the world is Tromso in Northern Norway. But also there, if you are very unlucky with the weather, you may not see them. The good thing is that being that close to the aurora circle, you can see some amazing displays even when the aurora activity is very weak. That's not the case in Iceland where you need a much higher solar activity in order to see really strong auroras. Here you can find our guide to the Northern Lights in Tromso. Whatever destination you choose, the longer you stay, the more chances you have.

Wednesday 29th of November 2023

Darn if I wasn't booked up for the next 2 years I would go here next summer. I can plan this for 2026 though.

Friday 1st of December 2023

Thursday 30th of November 2023

Ha ha, life's too short for all the trips we want to make, isn't it... But if you are making plans for the future, you really can't go wrong with visiting Iceland. It's so different than anywhere else. In the meantime, enjoy all your other trips!

Monday 23rd of January 2023

Hi, Your blog is great and super helpfu!! I love all of the details. I am going to Iceland in February (less than a month). I am doing a 5 day tour that includes a hike on a glacier. I am going a few days early and have 1 day to do an excursion. I am debating between the Glacier Lagoon and Kalta Ice Caves. We will not be going to Vik on the tour. Any thoughts on which is better? If you recommend the ice caves, I was planning on use viatour, but the Kalta tour is no longer available. Any suggestions on tour companies? Thanks, Alissa

Tuesday 24th of January 2023

@Jurga, Hi Thanks for the reply! Unfortunately, I can't get my money back and have already booked my tickets. Here is the tour that I am doing. I have some free time in in Reyjavick on my own before the tour starts and was thinking of doing an excursion. Unfortunately, 2 excursions won't work. I tried to past the website and highlights for my tour, but I couldn't. I will email you the link. Any thoughts would be appreciated.

Hi Alissa, I'm not sure I'm following - you are going on a 5-day tour in winter and it doesn't include Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and doesn't visit any ice cave??? All the best winter tours - even those that take just 2-3 days include both of these in their itinerary (see a 3-day tour and a 2-day tour). Plus, the ice caves that these tours visit are nicer than Katla, but they are too far to visit from Reykjavik in just a day (that's why it's best to go on a 2-3 day tour). Not knowing what you will see on your tour, it's difficult to suggest much. Except that maybe you should book another tour that has a better itinerary... Sorry, but I can't imagine how they wouldn't at least include Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon in a 5-day itinerary... It's really one of the must-see places in Iceland. Or are you talking about some other glacier lagoon? Or maybe you didn't read the description of your tour in detail... Anyway, if you want to visit Katla, there are still plenty of tours available for February (see on GetYourGuide - it's better than Viator anyway ;)). Hope this helps. Have a great time in Iceland - no matter what you end up visiting, you'll love it!

Friday 28th of January 2022

thank you so much i got all of my homework done because of this!

Glad to help, Landon. We have lots more info and travel itineraries for Iceland that can help you plan the trip. Happy travels!

Sunday 22nd of August 2021

Hello, this article is very helpful. My daughter wants to go to Iceland for her sweet 16 and I was wondering what the odds of us catching the northern lights in November are? What do you recommend so that I can make her bday memorable? Thanks in advance!

Thursday 6th of October 2022

@Jurga, You recommend not driving on your own - would you say this is due to unpredictable weather or because it is generally not safe to drive on your own in Iceland? Wondering if when I visit, if my home base is in Reykjavik, would it be a good idea to rent a car for a couple days to do a few day trips on our own as opposed to hiring a guide for a few?

Tuesday 24th of August 2021

Hi Jessica, in general, November is a great time to see the Northern Lights in Iceland, but it remains a natural phenomenon (and the weather will have a big impact as well), so you can never guarantee that you'll get to see them. I was once in Iceland in November for a week and we had the best weather and the most amazing aurora displays a few times during the trip. But you can also have snowstorms and cloudy skies and not see much. So don't plan the trip just for the auroras - there's so much to see in Iceland and the Northern Lights will be just a nice extra if you get to see them.

I recommend either staying in Reykjavik and booking day tours or taking a multi-day tour with a local guide/driver if visiting Iceland in November. Don't drive on your own! If you stay in Reykjavik, you can visit some cool geothermal baths - Blue Lagoon, Sky Lagoon, and take some nice tours. There are just so many choices, it's hard to suggest something specifically not knowing what your interests are. This might give you some ideas: * Best half-day trips from Reykjavik * Best winter tours from Reykjavik Don't miss the Golden Circle and especially the South Coast! There are also museums, nice restaurants, and other activities in town. Here are just a few suggestions: * Perlan museum * Fly over Iceland experience

For more info on the Northern Lights, please check this article: Northern Lights in Iceland.

One more recommendation comes to mind - you could stay in Reykjavik for the majority of the trip and book a 2-day tour for the South Coast. 2 days is a good time to see the highlights of the South Coast and visit Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon which is quite far to be done in a day. In addition, most 2-day tours include a visit to an ice cave and that can be the most amazing experience that your daughter will never forget! Take a look at this highly-rated 2-day tour for more info.

Hope this helps.

The Planet D: Adventure Travel Blog

22 Best Things to do in Iceland

Written By: The Planet D

Updated On: June 11, 2024

Beautiful is the best word to describe Iceland. It is a beautiful country with beautiful waterfalls, national parks, hiking trails, and wildlife. Even its active volcanoes are stunning, just in a slightly terrifying and humbling way. Iceland has an addictive quality, and whether it is your first visit or fifteenth, there is always a new place or thing to experience.

With such an exciting and picturesque landscape, it is no wonder there are many things to do in Iceland. This guide will cover the best things to do in Iceland – hopefully giving you some inspiration before your trip.

Table of Contents

Top Things to Do in Iceland

Iceland is a big country and it is packed with things to do and see, so let’s dive straight into all the best things to do in Iceland.

Note: If you are visiting Iceland, the best way to get around is to rent a car. You can check out car rental prices at

1. Bathe in the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Hot Springs in Iceland

The Blue Lagoon is easily one of Iceland’s most well-known tourist attractions. And is it worth the hype? We think so.

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa complex. The water contains lots of minerals and is a clouded, milky blue color because of the high silica content. The health benefits of bathing in the Blue Lagoon are endless, but the water is especially beneficial to skin health. You can also visit the Blue Lagoon all year round, as it stays constant temperatures between 37 and 40 degrees Celsius.

The Blue Lagoon is commercialized enough to make the spa a suitable day trip. There is a pool bar, artificial caves, bridges, individual pools, and a face mask kiosk handing out natural creams. Each guest also receives a robe and slippers.

Unlike most geothermal pools in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon is actually manmade rather than natural. The Blue Lagoon gets its water from a geothermal power plant next door and is an unusable by-product. It definitely seems like a reward for investment in renewable energy sources. Read more: How to Visit The Blue Lagoon in Iceland

Where to stay near the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Retreat  is a luxurious escape that overlooks the lagoon and stands high enough to see the lava fields of the Reykjanes Peninsula  Your stay includes access to the Blue Lagoon, and Private Retreat Lagoon.

The Silica Hotel is just a 10 minute walk from the Blue Lagoon, nestled among the lava fields this award-winning hotel is an excellent option when staying over night at the Blue Lagoon.

2. Visit a black sand beach

best things to do in iceland black sand beach

Black sand beaches are one of the most extraordinary phenomena in Iceland. If you’ve wanted to travel to Iceland for a while, you’ve probably already seen the pictures of dramatic black sand beaches and the arty shots on social media.

While black sand may seem unusual and bizarre, its explanation is straightforward. Iceland’s volcanoes have formed a lot of volcanic minerals and rocks over the past thousands and thousands of years. In some regions of Iceland, this volcanic matter has broken down and been worn into black sand.

This private South Coast Tour offers a glimpse into the best things to do on the South Coast.

  • Admire the black sand beaches of Reynisfjara in Vik
  • Enjoy magnificent views as you drive past the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers
  • See the Seljalandsfoss and Skógarfoss waterfalls
  • Option to customize the tour to your interests. See more details here.

Visiting a black sand beach is easily one of the best things to do in Iceland. Luckily, you have a lot of options. Reynisfjara Beach is one of the most popular and was used as a film set in Star Wars’ Rogue One. Reynisfjara Beach is located in south Iceland, along the south coast.

Vik Beach is another good black sand beach to visit in south Iceland, and Vik is a popular destination on south coast road trips anyway, so it is often a convenient add-on. You may find it quieter than Reynisfjara Beach, which is always a bonus. Read more: Best of Iceland’s Ring Road – GLACIERS, VOLCANOES AND WATERFALLS

3. Take a Golden Circle road trip or tour

Barnafoss on Iceland Ring Road

The Golden Circle is like the ultimate introduction to Iceland. The 186-mile route loops through Reykjavik, Geysir geothermal area, and the Icelandic highlands. You’ll also pass attractions like Gullfoss waterfall (more on that later). The route has become so iconic that it is now one of the most popular things to do in Iceland.

To drive the Golden Circle takes around four hours, although plan to take longer in winter months when conditions require slower, more careful driving. If you choose to self-drive the Golden Circle route, you should allow at least a full day to stop and enjoy all the different attractions that you pass.

Those who can’t drive can always purchase a Golden Circle tour.  This highly rated tour takes you to see the best of southwest Iceland. This 8-hour Golden Circle tour takes you by bus from Reykjavik to the Geysir area Gullfoss Waterfall. Discover and where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet in Þingvellir National Park.

4. Visit Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon

Icelands Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon is magical. An outlet glacier feeds the meltwater lake, but not just any outlet glacier – Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull.

If you’ve ever dreamt of visiting Antarctica, this glacier lagoon is the next best thing. The lake is full of massive icebergs, and visitors can book zodiac tours to experience the lagoon from the water. On the water, you can appreciate the scale of the icebergs much better, and the experience is truly awe-inspiring.

You can book a zodiac tour online or when you arrive in Iceland. Keep in mind that things tend to sell out quickly, so try to book in advance where possible.

5. Hike to glacier ice caves

things to do in iceland ice caves

When you think of things to do in Iceland, hiking to a glacier ice cave has got to be one of the most magical. You’ll find many inspirational travel pictures of ice caves in Iceland online. The ice is a stunning turquoise, and the tunnels and caverns look like they’ve been carved from crystal.

Caves are scattered all over Iceland, but the most popular are on the Katla, Vatnajokull, and Skaftafell glaciers. The most important thing to know about ice caves is their lifespan. Ice caves generally form over winter and eventually melt in summer. Therefore, winter and early spring are the best months to see glacier ice caves in full glory.

Because ice caves are constantly melting and forming, the best way to visit them is with an organized tour. There are no set hiking trails to reach the ice caves, and you are usually guided on a short walk across the glacier to find them. It is safest and most effective if you visit on a tour like this one.

6. See the northern lights

things to do in iceland northern lights

Seeing the northern lights is one of the most amazing things to do in Iceland. Sadly, it is also one of the least predictable things to do in Iceland.

As you may know, the aurora borealis is not specific to Iceland. However, the country is famous for having fantastic northern lights displays. In winter, the long nights also create the perfect conditions for aurora hunting. The extra hours of darkness and lack of light pollution are ideal and often result in beautiful northern lights displays.

You can track the northern lights yourself using apps and tracking websites. If you get fortunate, you may even see them by accident. However, we recommend purchasing a northern lights tour to maximize your chances. You can book plenty of tours online, including this  tour on Get Your Guide .

7. Take a dip in the Myvatn Nature Baths

things to do in iceland hot springs Myvatn Nature Baths

The Blue Lagoon is fantastic – there is no denying that. But if you want naturally heated and less touristy thermal baths, add Myvatn Nature Baths to your list of things to do in Iceland.

Myvatn Nature Baths are located in Myvatn in North Iceland. The complex is commercial but quiet and is equally visited by locals and tourists. The baths are right next to Myvatn Lake, so they are an excellent addition to a day on the lake.

While the lagoon is manmade, the thermal energy source is entirely natural. The lagoon was built over natural hot springs, so you can reap all the benefits of mineral waters, alkalines, and naturally heated water all year round.

If you are planning to travel to north Iceland, it may be worth skipping the Blue Lagoon for this quieter and cheaper spot in Myvatn. Alternatively, treat yourself and visit both. Iceland is known for its thermal baths. As the saying goes, ‘when in Rome , do as the Romans do’.

8. Visit the Geysir Geothermal Area

things to do in iceland geyser

Everyone knows that Iceland is full of geothermal activity. And if you are wondering where is best to experience it first hand, Geysir Geothermal Area is your answer. Haukadalur is home to the Geysir Geothermal Area, an approximate 3km area of bubbling geothermal pools and highly active geysers. Even better, it is free to enter.

Great Geysir is one of the most famous geysers in the world, although unfortunately rarely explodes these days. Keep your fingers crossed, though, and you may get lucky. Stokkur Geysir is the most reliable and explodes every few minutes.

You can easily spend about an hour walking through the geothermal reserve and watching the explosions. Remember to respect the roped-off areas. Anything that could explode, collapse, or otherwise hurt you is roped off, so pay close attention to where you are walking.

9. Visit Asbyrgi Canyon

best things to do in iceland Asbyrgi canyon

Remember the whale-watching capital of Husavik? Well, Asbyrgi Canyon is just a forty-five-minute drive east of the town. The canyon sits in the Vatnajokull National Park, and visiting it is one of the most beautiful things to do in Iceland.

Asbyrgi Canyon is a deep glacial canyon that runs over two miles. Its cliffs are up to 100 meters tall, and the canyon is spread out in a horseshoe shape. The horseshoe shape is a significant factor in Norse mythology. According to Icelandic legend, the god Odin was riding his horse too close to the earth, and the horse left a huge hoofprint on the ground – forming Asbyrgi Canyon.

The canyon is still somewhat of a hidden gem amongst tourists, mainly because it is off the main travel routes. In summer, you should have the hiking trails to yourself or at least be very quiet.

10. Admire Diamond Beach

Sunset at Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

Unlike Asbyrgi Canyon, Diamond Beach is established as a tourist attraction. The black sand beach is famous for its chunks of washed-up glacial ice, which some have compared to diamonds due to their glistening appearance.

Outlet glaciers surround Diamond Beach, so new chunks of glacial ice are constantly washing up along its shores. Even in summer, the temperatures stay mild enough to allow a long enough melting cycle that fresh ice chunks are washed up as others disappear.

Diamond Beach is easy to find on Google Maps, located near Reynivellir, just under Vatnajokull Glacier. We recommend combining it with an ice cave or glacier hiking experience.

11. See Dettifoss Waterfall

Dettifoss stop on Iceland Road Trip Itinerary

It is safe to say that Iceland has a beautiful waterfall or two, but if you want to be blown away, visiting Dettifoss is one of the most amazing things to do in Iceland.

Dettifoss is (controversially) the most powerful waterfall in Europe – a title that we think warrants a visit. The falls are forty-five meters tall and create a mist surrounding the waterfall for a several-mile radius. Dettifoss is fed by a lot of water, and the Jokulsa a Fjollum River is the largest in Iceland. Visitors can get up close by standing on the observation deck, just a short walk from the car park.

If you’ve watched the film ‘Prometheus’, prepare for deja vu as Dettifoss is featured as a film set.

12. Go for a glacier hike on Vatnajokull glacier

things to do in iceland Vatnajokull glacier

Even if you don’t visit an ice cave in Iceland, you should go glacier hiking on the Vatnajokull glacier. The glacier is the largest in Iceland and is situated in Vatnajokull National Park. The size of the Vatnajokull glacier is hard to comprehend, and it covers an astounding 8% of Iceland’s land mass.

To go glacier hiking, you need a guide. Vatnajokull glacier is not an easy environment to navigate, and you’ll need a guide with the best local knowledge, equipment, and glacier hiking experience. The company will provide you with crampons, an ice axe, and a helmet. Warm, waterproof layers are a must, so pack and dress wisely.

The glacial terrain is genuinely stunning. And, if you’ve not experienced it before, being able to walk on ice is an incredible experience. Adventure lovers should add glacier hiking to their list of things to do in Iceland.

13. Snorkel Silfra

things to do in iceland silfra

Everyone learned about the tectonic plates at school. But what if we told you that you could snorkel between them? You can book this tour where you’ll have the chance to explore this UNESCO World Heritage Site where the tectonic plates of North America and Europe. You’ll keep dry and warm with the high quality dry suits that are included in the tour.

The Silfra fissure is a rift in the mid-Atlantic ridge, a boundary between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. The fissure is located underwater in a narrow passage leading to Thingvellir Lake and is up to sixty meters deep in sections. The water is crystal clear, and adventurous visitors flock to dive or snorkel the channel.

Silfra is located in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, an area of Thingvellir National Park. It is on the Golden Circle route and less than an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, so it is very easily accessible.

It may be one of the most fun and bizarre things to do in Iceland. After all, how many people do you know who have snorkeled between tectonic plates? Read more: Diving in Silfra – Iceland Underwater

14. Akureyri Botanic Gardens

Botanical gardens may not be the first thing that pops into your head when looking at things to do in Iceland. However, Akureyri Botanic Gardens are undoubtedly worth a visit.

The garden is one of the northernmost botanic gardens in the world. In spring and summer, it is a stunning spot to wander and admire over 7,000 different plant species. There are also stone busts of important Icelandic figures and benefactors of the gardens scattered throughout.

If you are in Akureyri, the botanic garden is a brilliant place for just a short walk. Nature lovers and botany enthusiasts will especially appreciate the variety of plant life on display. Read more: 30 of the Best Places To Visit In Iceland

15. Go whale watching on a zodiac tour

best things to do in iceland whale watching

For many people, whale watching is one of the best things to do in Iceland. In fact, many people plan their Iceland trip dates to match the whale season just so they can go whale watching. Book this whale watching tour from Husavik as you go through Skjálfandi Bay. Besides whales, you’ll also see dolphins, and sea birds as you cruise in a traditional oak boat.

Iceland has a lot of whales. The most common to spot are blue whales, humpback whales, minke whales, and fin whales. If you are lucky, you may also spot orcas – the largest dolphin species in the world.

May to September is the best time to see whales in Iceland. While you can take whale-watching tours along the south coast and Reykjavik, north Iceland attracts more whales with its quieter waters. Husavik is in northeast Iceland and is considered the whale watching capital – so if you are serious about whale watching, head there.

16. Kerid Crater

things to do in iceland crater

Looking for natural things to do in Iceland? Kerid Crater is a fantastic place to visit. The crater is over three thousand years old and has a milky blue lake in its center. Kerid Crater was formed by a collapsed magma chamber rather than a standard explosion like most of Iceland’s crater lakes. While the average visitor won’t notice the difference, this does make Kerid a special scientific location in Iceland.

The crater is cut from striking deep red rock, which creates a stunning contrast to the typically grey skies and dull green of the Icelandic highlands. Visitors can walk the crater rim and down to the crater lake at its base. We recommend allowing an hour to visit Kerid Crater and complete both walks.

17. Get up close to Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss on your Iceland Road Trip

So, as we mentioned, Gullfoss Waterfall is a famous natural tourist attraction and is part of the golden circle route. But, if you don’t drive the golden circle, should you still visit Gullfoss as a stand-alone attraction? Yes, of course.

Gullfoss Falls isn’t just a standard single-drop waterfall. The waterfall cascades down multiple drops as the Hvita River turns a 90-degree bend. It is considered to be the most iconic waterfall in Iceland – which is impressive when you think about the number of beautiful waterfalls in Iceland.

Visiting the waterfall is one of the most impressionable things to do in Iceland. It is only an hour and forty-minute drive from Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital city, so it is a feasible day trip. You may wish to stop in Thingvellir National Park on the way, as the route cuts straight through it.

18. Visit one of Iceland’s active volcanoes

things to do in iceland volcanoes

With all that geothermal activity, it is no wonder that Iceland usually has an exploding volcano or two. The country is full of active volcanoes, so it is always a matter of waiting for the next explosion. Since Iceland is the ‘land of fire and ice’, you’ll want to experience some fire, right? Just from a safe distance.

Of course, volcanoes are life-threatening and extremely dangerous. It is essential to monitor updates and subscribe to alerts from the Icelandic government while you travel Iceland. Similarly, you should always visit an active volcano with an experienced guide. Dangers aren’t always visible; gases can be a silent, invisible risk to volcano visitors.

Fagradalsfjall, Eyjafjallajokull, Katla, and Hekla are some of the best volcanoes to visit. Fagradalsfjall famously exploded in 2021, Eyjafjallajokull grounded flights with its explosion in 2010, Hekla last erupted in 2000, and Katla caused chaotic flooding when it erupted in 1918. All powerful and active, it is important to visit these volcanoes on an organized tour.

19. Spend a day in Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park in Ring Road in Iceland

Of course, if you are short on time, prioritize visiting Silfra in Thingvellir National Park. But if you have a little longer and have a car hired, consider spending a whole day in the national park.

Thingvellir National Park is full of cultural history, geography, and geology, and the area is a protected UNESCO World Heritage Site. The North American and Eurasian tectonic plates split the national park in half, and you walk between them at Almannagja Gorge or snorkel between them at Silfra. However, the park is also home to the world’s oldest surviving parliament, established in 930. Norse culture and traces of paganism can still be found in Thingvellir, making it an interesting place to spend a day.

Game of Thrones fans should note that the park was also used as a filming location – so keep your eyes peeled for familiar places. Read more: Game of Thrones Filming Locations You Can Visit in Real Life

20. Ride an Icelandic horse

Icelandic Horses

Riding an Icelandic horse is one of the most fun things to do in Iceland. You may not know, but Icelandic horses are very special. The breed has a particular, unique gait called a tolt, which to non-equestrians looks hilariously like a speed walk.

Icelandic horses are also very rare, and once they have been exported from Iceland, they are no longer allowed to be imported back into the country. Because of this, you very rarely find an Icelandic horse outside of Iceland.

There are trekking centers all over Iceland, so you can take your pick of which area you want to explore on horseback. If you want, you can choose a black sand beach ride. If you are experienced, try a herd ride, where you run along beautiful Icelandic terrain with a herd of loose horses. Read more: The Icelandic Horse – All you Need to Know About this Beautiful Breed

21. Eldhraun Lava Fields

things to do in iceland Eldhraun Lava Fields

A lava field might be the most Icelandic thing you’ve ever heard. Yes, entire sections of land are now lava fields following volcanic explosions from centuries ago.

Eldhraun Lava Fields were formed by an explosion in the late 18th century. Over two years, the lava eventually cooled to form a lava rock area of 218 square miles. Over the centuries, a delicate green moss has grown over the rock – creating the lava field phenomenon.

Moss is incredibly protected in Iceland, so you mustn’t walk on the lava field. However, you can park alongside the fields and take photos from the roadside. Think of it as a massive, completely protected nature reserve.

22. Take a day trip around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula

things to do in icealnd kikjufellsfoss

A day trip around the Snaefellsnes Peninsula is our final recommendation of things to do in Iceland. Short on time? Fancy a road trip? Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a great option. You’ll need a car, but you are richly rewarded for the drive. A day trip around the peninsula is a great way to cram a lot in a short time as there is so much to see in such a small area.

We recommend including Budir Black Church, Kikjufellsfoss Waterfall, Landbrotalaug Hot Springs, Vatnshellir lava tube, and seal spotting at Ytri-Tunga Beach. Pick a few attractions before you set off and plot a rough route. Then you can always detour as you go. The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is a perfect place to unleash your inner adventurer.

Iceland Quickfire FAQs

things to do in iceland church landscape

Now we’ve covered the best things to do in Iceland, let’s look at some commonly asked questions.

How to get to Iceland

best things to do in iceland waterfalls

Flying is the most popular way to visit Iceland. As an island, Iceland is impossible to reach by any transport other than ferry or airplane. And while ferries sail from Denmark and you can purchase cruises to Iceland, flying is much more practical.

Keflavik International Airport is the only place you can fly to from overseas, and it is just a short drive from the capital city, Reykjavik. Reykjavik is in northeast Iceland and is the perfect base to explore northern Iceland, the south coast, or the golden circle route.

If you want to visit western Iceland or are on a time limit, you can save an overland journey by catching a domestic flight from Reykjavik Airport.

Getting around Iceland

things to do in iceland getting around

As we’ve touched on, domestic flights are a good option to skip overland travel when visiting Iceland. However, one thing to stress is that Iceland mainly consists of wilderness and the occasional sparsely populated, remote town or village. You can drive for hours just to reach a ‘nearby’ attraction or a café to eat . Read more: Icelandic Food: 15 Traditional Dishes to Try in Iceland

Therefore, even if you take a domestic flight to reach a specific area, be prepared to hire a car or purchase coach tours to see things you want. Buses aren’t always reliable, and the routes are usually very limited.

Of course, you can always just embrace the distance and embark on a road trip . Car hires and fuel can be expensive in Iceland, but the freedom may be worth it. Reykjavik is a good starting point for road trips and has the most car hire options. Save time to weigh up and research your transport options. Compare rental car prices here.

Best time to visit Iceland

Skaftafell National Park on the Ring Road in Iceland

The best time to visit Iceland is massively dependent on what things you want to do.

If you want to go whale watching, you’ll have to visit between late spring and fall. If you’re going to see the midnight sun, you’ll have to visit in the summer months. And, if you want to see the northern lights, avoid summer and visit in the winter months – when nights are dark and long.

Planning a trip to Iceland is unique compared to other destinations. You really have to know all the best things to do in Iceland before choosing when to visit. In short, weigh up what you want to get out of your trip to Iceland, and then let the seasons select your dates for you. Check out What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Iceland

To conclude

Visiting Iceland is incredible. Whether you visit the top Iceland attractions, see the northern lights, or just admire volcanic landscapes, Iceland will be memorable. There are so many places to visit in Iceland that traveling around the country feels effortless at times.

Iceland is all about adventure, so tick off the bucket list things to do, discover the hidden gems, and you’ll soon learn firsthand how amazing the country is.

  • Icelandic Food: 15 Traditional Dishes to Try in Iceland
  • Fun and Interesting Facts About Iceland
  • Best of Iceland’s Ring Road – GLACIERS, VOLCANOES AND WATERFALLS
  • 30 of the Best Places To Visit In Iceland
  • Iceland – Experience the Land of Fire and Ice
  • What to Pack for a Winter Trip to Iceland

Travel Planning Resources

Looking to book your next trip? Why not use these resources that are tried and tested by yours truly.

Book Your Flights: Start planning your trip by finding the best flight deals on Skyscanner. We have used them for years and have found that they have the best flight deals.

Book your Hotel: Find the best prices on hotels with these two providers. If you are located in Europe use and if you are anywhere else use TripAdvisor.

Find Apartment Rentals: You will find the cheapest prices on apartment rentals with VRBO . 

Travel Insurance: Don't leave home without it. Here is what we recommend:

  • Safety Wing - Occasional Travelers.
  • Medjet - Global air medical transport and travel security.

Book Your Activities: Looking for walking tours, skip-the-line tickets, private guides, and more? Then we recommend Get Your Guide.

Need more help planning your trip? Make sure to check out our Resources Page where we highlight all the great companies that we trust when we are traveling.

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20 Best Things to do in Reykjavik in 2024

About The Planet D

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14 things to know before visiting Iceland in 2024

Alexis Averbuck

Feb 6, 2024 • 7 min read

iceland travel things to do

Here's everything to consider when planning your trip to Iceland © Cavan Images / Getty Images

The number of visitors to small, ravishingly beautiful Iceland is soaring.

But this tiny country wasn't always so popular, and there are many important things to be aware of ahead of your visit. In these wild landscapes, small errors can lead to life-threatening situations for both the visitor and the search and rescue operations mounted to save them. 

This handy guide will help first-time visitors avoid social embarrassment, travel responsibly and have a safe and informed trip.

An Iceland volcano erupts while a group of travelers watches it from a distance

1. Keep up-to-date on Iceland's volcanic eruptions

Travelers heading to Iceland in 2024 will be aware there has been a series of volcanic eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula in south-west Iceland, not far from Keflavik International Airport, the main entry point to the capital Reykjavik . No flights have been affected so far, and the rest of Iceland is safe to visit.

The volcanic activity has only affected the town of Grindavik and the local area. All roads to Grindavik and the surrounding area are closed due to danger related to new crevasse openings. Hiking in the area is also prohibited. Icelanders have asked "lava chasers" to respectfully stay away.

The Blue Lagoon , one of Iceland's most popular attractions, also closed for a series of days due to seismic activity in the area but has since reopened.

The UK Foreign Office recommends checking alerts and advice from  Icelandic Met Office  and  Safe Travel Iceland . 

2. Use common sense to stay safe in the wild

Some tourists have been a little foolish in Iceland's incredible landscapes. Visitors have been seen strolling onto the  Sólheimajökull glacier in sneakers and light jackets; a family attempted to drive across Langjökull  glacier in a small SUV. We've also watched a teenager jump into 2°C (35°F) waters at Þingvellir National Park for a dare and witnessed tourists being sucked into the waves at black-sand Djúpalónssandur beach, one of Iceland's best .

Though Iceland's dramatic terrain can be perilous, there are usually no safety rails beside cliff edges and no ropes alongside plummeting waterfalls. Icelanders prefer not to mar beauty with obvious signs, or railings, instead they rely on people to be smart. If there are signs or barriers, heed them!

A couple sit on the edge of a lagoon filled with icebergs

3. Plan ahead when hitting the road

Having your own wheels in Iceland is a wonderful treat: it allows you to roam the grand countryside at your leisure. Always prepare before setting out: investigate driving times and road conditions (via the Icelandic Road Administration ), weather forecasts, safety issues and, if you're walking in nature, trail conditions and requirements.

Plan an itinerary that's realistic for you. Ask locals, who will know the tricks and troubles of each place. You don't want to be caught on a hillside in fog or sleet (whether on foot or in your car) with no food and water and no idea how to get back to safety.

Safe Travel is a site run by ICE-SAR (Icelandic Search & Rescue), with travel and weather alerts and information, a smartphone app (useful in emergencies) and procedures for filing a travel plan.

A river runs through a canyon with steep walls

4. Do not drive off-road

Never drive off-road. It's illegal and incredibly damaging to the fragile environment. Cavalier tourists leave tracks where they've flouted the rule, and those tracks entice others to do the same. Even with a 4WD, stick to marked roads.

5. Always shower with soap before taking a dip in hot springs

Part of the unique gift of Iceland's volcanic landscape is the excellent natural hot springs you'll find from the town center to the fjord side. It's practically a national pastime to hit the local hotpot, soak and gossip. It is, however, an absolute mandatory hygiene and etiquette rule to wash thoroughly with soap before donning your swimsuit to enter the hot springs and pools.

Most pools are untreated with chemicals, so cleanliness is a real factor. Whether you're at the famous Blue Lagoon  or the remote Krossneslaug, there's no quicker way to disgust an Icelander than to jump in dirty. You should also take your shoes off and put them on the rack provided as you enter the changing room.

6. Dress appropriately for hikes and pack proper outdoor gear

Bring good maps and appropriate gear, plus (you've heard it before): common sense. Consult a proper hiking or cold-weather packing list. Consider this – if you had no access to a car or building, would you be warm and dry enough in what you are wearing?

Never go hiking in jeans. Don't climb on glaciers without proper guidance. Don't try fording rivers in subcompact cars. And don't go camping without hardcore waterproof tents. With proper gear you can relax and enjoy all that beauty, no fear required.

Being prepared can open up great wilderness areas such as the Westfjords' beautiful Hornstrandir Nature Reserve , known for its Arctic foxes, spectacular birding cliffs and unspoiled hiking and camping.

If you need additional equipment once in Iceland, Reykjavík has a bevy of suppliers for gear purchase or rental, including  Fjallakofinn .

Another good information source is Ferðafélag Íslands (the Icelandic Touring Association), which runs many huts, campgrounds and hiking trails.

7. When driving, stick to the right road for your vehicle

Know which roads are accessible in the type of vehicle you're driving. Beyond Iceland's main Ring Road (Route 1), fingers of sealed road or gravel stretch out to most communities until you reach the F Roads, bumpy tracks only passable by 4WD.

F roads are truly unsafe for small cars. If you travel on them in a hired 2WD, you will also invalidate your insurance. Steer clear, hire a 4WD or take a 4WD bus or super-Jeep tour. Similarly, trying to ford a river in a 2WD vehicle or low-slung 4WD is asking for trouble.

Inside a blue glacial ice caves of Breiðamerkurjökull, part of the Vatnajökull glacier, Iceland

8. Take a tour of the more remote or dangerous landscapes

Iceland's tour operators are a professional and knowledgeable bunch and can get you out into rugged country via super-Jeep, amphibious bus, snowmobile, helicopter and more. Going on a tour can offer insights and guidance through dangerous landscapes you shouldn't tackle alone.

9. Understand the impact of tourism on Iceland

Iceland has a population of around 366,000. Before travelers started arriving in droves (with numbers that topped 2 million per year in 2019), most Icelandic sights , from thundering waterfall Skógafoss and basalt beach Reynisfjara to the wild interiors at Landmannalaugar & Þórsmörk, had no need for big car parks, safety placards or hordes of park rangers.

Developing an infrastructure that can cope with its appreciative new visitors while maintaining the untouched feeling of one of the world's most unique landscapes has been a major challenge for Iceland.

10. Travel responsibly and sustainably

Remember the basics of responsible travel: don't litter, reduce your environmental footprint, leave places better than you found them, and protect wild animals and natural flora. This applies to popular sights like the Golden Circle as well as the wild interior where it's just you, the glaciers and volcanoes.

Friends drinking beer at a hipster bar in Reykjavik

11. Appreciate the open-minded creativity of Icelanders

Icelanders are a generally hardy and open-minded group with a dry but vibrant sense of humor. They tend to speak impeccable English and are game for a chat, or to tell you about their favorite places to go. Respecting local etiquette and laws (along with not whingeing about the weather, or how hard it is to get to the natural wonders) will go a long way in endearing you to them and open opportunities for local connections.

They are also broad in their curiosities – it seems like half of Icelanders are in a band or making some sort of art or craft. They're used to thinking big and having fun. Why not get out there and join them.

12. Take the weather seriously

You may encounter bus tours and droves of visitors in popular places, but Icelandic weather is highly volatile, no matter where you are. A sunny day can quickly turn to snow flurries, and the stakes get even higher as you head into the true wilds. Never underestimate the weather – plan ahead with forecasts from the Icelandic Met Office .

13. Remove your shoes indoors

Icelanders often remove their shoes when they head inside. Pack flip-flops or slippers for indoors.

14. Yes, you can drink the tap water

It's pure and wonderful; Icelanders will look at you askance if you ask for bottled water.

This article was first published Jul 8, 2015 and updated Feb 6, 2024.

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The Crazy Tourist

Home » Travel Guides » Iceland » 25 Best Things to Do in Iceland

25 Best Things to Do in Iceland

Iceland is known for its contrasting landscapes that literally cause the earth here to smoke and erupt under your feet. Being located so far north, Iceland is a country that seems to be perpetually covered in snow and ice, but underground it is a different story, and this is actually one of the most volcanic regions in the world, with a huge number of active volcanoes ready to erupt at any moment.

This contrast also means that you will find a huge amount of geothermal activity here which has given rise to famous natural spas such as the Blue Lagoon and other ancient warm water pools. If you like cities, then you can enjoy the engaging capital of Reykjavik which has one of the best hidden dining and nightlife scenes in Europe, but if you are a nature lover then you will be absolutely spoiled for choice on a trip here. As well as volcanoes and geothermal lakes, you can find glittering glaciers, underground caves, and elegant national parks covered with wandering reindeer.

Whatever you are looking for, Iceland is also a land of myths and legends, and you can tour the country learning of trolls, elves, giants, and mythical creatures that all add to the allure of this mysterious yet inviting country.

Here are the best things to do in Iceland :

1. Visit Snæfellsjökull National Park

Snæfellsjökull National Park

Snæfellsjökull National Park sits on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and is best known for its signature glacier called Snæfellsjökull.

As well as the mighty glacier you can also enjoy amazing lava tubes and lava fields here and the site also attracts a wide range of local flora and fauna.

Nature lovers can go whale watching and bird watchers will find a plethora of local coastal species.

The park is covered in attractive hiking trails and you can climb up and walk along the glacier depending on the time of year.

Interestingly, it is this glacier that was featured in Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne.

2. Admire the Dynjandi Waterfall

Dynjandi Waterfall

Dynjandi is known for being one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the Westfjords part of Iceland and is situated on the Dynjandivogur Bay.

The waterfall gives way to lots of smaller waterways as you ascend to its location before you finally see the main event, the raging waters of Dynjandi.

The area in which the waterfall sits is a protected nature reserve and there is also a camping area here if you want to stay and take in the majesty of the waters for a while longer.

Bear in mind however that the falls literally thunder over the side of a mountain so this is not the quietest area to lay your head.

3. Go hiking at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Hornstrandir Nature Reserve

Much of Iceland is made up of far flung locations and craggy scenery, but Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is all of that and more.

The terrain here is spectacular and you will find dominating sea cliffs, thundering waterfalls, and romantic mountain bluffs.

Anyone who enjoys hiking should not miss the chance to go walking in one of the most remote parts of the country where you will have a good chance of seeing cute Arctic foxes as well as seals and the occasional whale.

If possible you need to come here in the summer season from June to August as outside of this period the weather is changeable and the park may be closed.

4. Observe the Tectonic Plates

Tectonic Plates

The Tectonic Plates sit on the Þingvellir Plain which is the point between North America and Europe where the plates are shifting away from each other.

This movement causes cracks and rifts in the landscape and results in rivers, lakes, and ragged gulleys.

There is a path here that you can trace along the fault lines and watch this freak of nature up close.

Signature points to look out for here include the Öxará River which falls off the side of one of the plates leading to an epic series of waterfalls and the Drekkingarhylur Pool.

5. Spend time on Rauðasandur Beach

Rauðasandur Beach

Rauðasandur Beach is a sight to behold as the sand here is pink and red and backs on to the Látrabjarg Peninsula.

Sunbathing is not really the most popular activity here as the weather in Iceland is not especially conducive to sunning yourself on the sand, but you will be able to go for a seaside walk and enjoy the pounding waves and the turquoise lagoon.

You can go for a stroll along the water’s edge and look out at the resident seals here, or you can take the coastal trail that stretches to the famous Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs which should be a hit with keen bird watchers.

6. Swim in the Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is probably the most famous attraction in Iceland and this is a geothermal spa which is made of heated seawater that is a striking turquoise color.

The waters here had long been said to have healing properties as they contain silica and other minerals and people flock here every year to treat a range of skin conditions and other ailments.

There is a clinic here for those seeking treatments as well as a luxury spa.

Book online : Blue Lagoon: Entrance Package incl. Towel and Drink

7. Visit Viking World

Viking World Museum

Viking World Museum will make you feel as if you have gone back in time and ended up in the Viking Age.

Here you will find a replica of a Viking ship from the 9th century called the Icelander which had the claim to fame of sailing across the Atlantic in 2000. You can explore the ship and wander underneath the hull as well as learn more about Viking history through a range of static and rotating exhibitions.

There is a section on fascinating Norse mythology as well as a Settlement Zoo and a Viking playground.

8. Hike along Asbyrgi Canyon

Asbyrgi Canyon

Sitting in the northeast of the country is the Asbyrgi Canyon which is in the shape of a horseshoe.

The canyon is 3.5 kilometers long and 1 kilometer wide and there is a cliff in the middle of it from which you will be able to take in the vistas over both sides.

In the bottom of the canyon you can walk through pine, birch, and fir forests and legend has it that the canyon is also the home of the ‘Hidden People’ who have lived in this mountainous area for centuries.

9. Enjoy the black sand of Djúpalón Beach

Djúpalón Beach

Djúpalón Beach in Snæfellsjökull National Park is famed for its dramatic black sands and creative rock formations, some of which are said to look like trolls and elfin churches.

There are also pretty rock arches and limpid pools dotting the sands and you may even find evidence of the Eding, a ship that was wrecked off the beach in 1948. This is one of the better beaches to visit in the area as for all its legends and myths it is also easy to access and has an asphalt road that leads straight to it through the park.

10. See the Northern Lights

Northern Lights

Iceland is said to be one of the top spots in the world if you want to see the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis.

To that end, if you are very lucky you may even be able to see them from the capital city of Reykjavik, although if you are staying in the city then it is best to travel to Seltjarnarnes where there is a much higher chance of success away from the light pollution.

11. Check out the animals on Puffin Island

Puffin Island

Half a mile away from the capital city Reykjavik are the islands of Akurey and Lundey which are known for their gorgeous and cuddly puffin colonies.

Of the two Akurey is more famous as it has the larger puffin population and you can also see a plethora of other wildlife here including cormorants, ducks, seagulls, and guillemots.

The island is uninhabited but you can take a boat across from the mainland and watch the puffins nesting and tending to their young.

12. Photograph Hallgrimskirkja Church

Hallgrimskirkja Church

Located in the capital city of Reykjavik is the Hallgrimskirkja Church which incidentally is the largest of its kind in Iceland.

You can take an elevator to the top of the hill on which the church sits and check out its amazing design.

The church is actually modeled on the Svartifoss Waterfall in the south of the country and you may also notice that it has a statue of Leif Ericsson outside who was famous for discovering North America in 1000 AD, some 500 years before Christopher Columbus.

Included in : Reykjavik City Sightseeing by Minibus

13. Travel along the Golden Circle Route

Trokkur Geyser

If you don’t have a lot of time in Iceland but want to see as many of the top sights as quickly as possible then consider a tour along the Golden Circle Route.

Along the way you will find attractions such as the famous Thingvellir National Park, the Tectonic Plates, the spot on which the Icelandic Parliament used to sit in ancient times, and the Strokkur Geyser.

The route then moves on to the Gullfoss Waterfall and the Kerid Crater Lake.

Top rated tour : Golden Circle Full-Day Tour with Kerid Crater

14. Bathe in Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area

Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area

Around 90 kilometers away from Akureyri lies Lake Myvatn which has the claim to fame of being the fourth largest lake in Iceland.

The lake is said to have been formed as the result of a large volcanic eruption over 200 years ago and this area is still known for being prone to volcanic activity with a range of other volcanoes dotted around the landscape.

Legends abound at the lake and the area that surrounds it is covered with lava formations that are called Dark Cities and are said to be the spot where Satan fell to the ground having been banished from heaven.

He was then cast out from the region by elves who then reclaimed the Dark Cities as their own homes.

There are several spots here where the natural heat under the earth has warmed up some of the pools and you can bathe in the hot waters.

Book online : Myvatn Nature Baths Entrance Ticket

15. Hike in Skaftafell Park

Skaftafell Park

Skaftafell Park spans an amazing 4,800 square kilometers and has some of the most unique landscapes on earth.

Much of the area is covered in thick bird wood forests as well as black volcanic sands and icy raging rivers.

There is also a famous ice cap here and you can hike all around the park following a series of trails that take you to sections such as the Black Fall where you will find a waterfall that tumbles over black basalt cliffs.

You will also find a blue lagoon which is studded with icebergs and you can take to the waters in a boat and get up close to these spectacular blocks of ice.

16. Have a drink at Olgerdin Brewery

Olgerdin Brewery

Olgerdin Brewery is famous for being the oldest brewery in all of Iceland having first opened its doors in 1913. The brewery produces a range of alcoholic drinks as well as requisite Icelandic beer and you can take a tour which will fill you in on how beer has been made here through the ages.

There is also a chance to sample some of the products of the Olgerdin Brewery such as the schnapps and the beers and you can even try a honey wine that would have been the tipple of choice during the Viking Era.

17. Explore Thingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park

If you want to get out into the wilderness within easy reach of Reykjavik then consider Thingvellir National Park which is just 45 minutes away.

This is the spot where you will find the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and the Tectonic Plates but it also offers a wealth of other attractions such as the Silfra Diving Spot which is said to be one of the best diving experiences in the world as it is directly above the rift between the plates of North America and Europe.

Go diving : Silfra Fissure Snorkeling Tour with Underwater Photos

18. Visit Husey


Husey in the east of Iceland sits sandwiched between two mighty glacial rivers and is encircled by the majestic Eastern Mountains.

It is well known for its flora and fauna and you will find 175 different kinds of plants here as well as 30 species of birds.

Depending on the season you will also find graceful reindeer roaming around and you can find seals relaxing on some of the river banks that straddle the area.

19. Dive into the Seljavallalaug Pool

Seljavallalaug Pool

The Seljavallalaug Pool dates from 1923 which makes it one of the oldest swimming pools in the country.

The pool is part of a hillside at the base of a mountain and it is filled with water that pours down the side of the rock face.

As such, you can enjoy the warm geothermal waters here as well as admire the spectacular surrounding scenery at the same time.

20. Drive to Helka Volcano

Helka Volcano

Helka Volcano has the rather unfortunate claim to fame of being one of the most active volcanoes in the world and it rises to 1,500 meters.

The volcano first erupted in 1104 and has done so on and off every since, leading to it being described as the location of the Gates of Hell.

If it looks familiar to you, this may be because it has been used over the years as a film location, and it was most recently referenced in the film Prometheus where it was meant to represent an alien planet.

21. Go whale watching

Whale Watching

You may think that you need to be far away from civilization to see whales but actually you can go on a whale watching tour from Reykjavik, the capital city of Iceland.

There are trips that depart from the central harbor several times a day throughout the winter months and there are an amazing 23 different kinds of whales in the waters around Iceland including humpback and minke whales.

On a whale watching trip you can also expect to see puffins, dolphins, and a wide variety of sea birds.

22. Ride a skidoo at Langjokull Glacier

Langjokull Glacier

Nestled high in the mountains, the Langjokull Glacier is one of the best places to come if you want to spend time in one of the most scenic spots in Iceland while also engaging in a fun over ground activity in the form of riding a skidoo.

Once on the skidoo you will power over the slippery surface of the glacier and take in the crisp air and the jet blue skies for which Iceland is famous.

Related tour: Glacier Snowmobiling on Langjokull Glacier

23. Marvel at Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfall is perhaps the most famous waterfall in Iceland and lies on the Hvita River.

The name actually means ‘Golden Falls’ as the sediment in the water glints gold in the sunlight making the whole cataract appear to be shimmering.

The falls rise 32 meters in the air and you can either watch them from a path that takes you to the base or stay at the summit.

24. Descend into the Leidarendi Lava Caves

Leidarendi Lava Caves

The Leidarendi Lava Caves are famous for their colorful lava interiors and the stalactites and rippling rock formations that you will find when you descend into them.

The caves are the result of lava deposits that have solidified over the years and their name in Icelandic translates to ‘The End of the Journey’. The caves are easy to visit as part of a day trip from neighboring Reykjavik and you can crawl through the underground chambers using a torch to show you the way.

Suggested tour : Lava Tunnel Caving from Reykjavik

25. Climb Mount Esja

Mount Esja

Close to Reykjavik is Mount Esja that rises 914 meters into the sky.

The mountain is made of volcanic sediment and basalt and is famous for its multi-hued rhyolite rock.

It dominates the skyline of Reykjavik, although it also offers its own amazing views over the city if you climb to the summit.

In order to do that you will find a range of routes up the mountain and there are both gentle trails for novice hikers as well as steeper paths to the summit for experienced climbers.

25 Best Things to Do in Iceland:

  • Visit Snæfellsjökull National Park
  • Admire the Dynjandi Waterfall
  • Go hiking at Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
  • Observe the Tectonic Plates
  • Spend time on Rauðasandur Beach
  • Swim in the Blue Lagoon
  • Visit Viking World
  • Hike along Asbyrgi Canyon
  • Enjoy the black sand of Djúpalón Beach
  • See the Northern Lights
  • Check out the animals on Puffin Island
  • Photograph Hallgrimskirkja Church
  • Travel along the Golden Circle Route
  • Bathe in Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area
  • Hike in Skaftafell Park
  • Have a drink at Olgerdin Brewery
  • Explore Thingvellir National Park
  • Visit Husey
  • Dive into the Seljavallalaug Pool
  • Drive to Helka Volcano
  • Go whale watching
  • Ride a skidoo at Langjokull Glacier
  • Marvel at Gullfoss Waterfall
  • Descend into the Leidarendi Lava Caves
  • Climb Mount Esja
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This Nordic Nation Was Named One of the Safest and Most Peaceful Countries on Earth — How to Plan the Perfect Trip

How to plan the perfect trip to the land of fire and ice.

Lindsay Cohn is a writer, editor, and avid traveler who has visited 45 countries across six continents — and counting. She contributes to Travel + Leisure, Hotels Above Par, InsideHook, Well+Good, The Zoe Report, and more.

iceland travel things to do

Best Hotels and Resorts

Best things to do, best restaurants, best time to visit, how to get there, towns and cities to know, how to get around.

Makito Umekita/Travel + Leisure

Iceland has become one of the top adventure travel destinations in the world. Though, in many respects, it still feels like a well-guarded secret. Perhaps that's because of its bountiful natural resources, empty roads that wind through the vast volcanic landscape, or the swaths of open land with nothing but wild horses and waterfalls for miles.

Not surprisingly, most travelers come to seek out the stunning natural beauty —  from Skógafoss to Thingvellir National Park — and are ready for adventure. To that end, ecologists and environmentalists recommend not eating puffin or whale — sometimes presented to tourists — and following the leave no trace rule. That means taking all of your trash with you and sticking to marked paths to avoid harming the precious ecosystem.  

Besides unimaginable scenery, Iceland provides a wealth of local culture. It's known for having warm hospitality and a strong national pride in its history and mythology. Reykjavik, the capital and largest city brims with museums, churches, cozy restaurants, and bars. Icelanders are quite friendly and helpful. It’s the most peaceful country in the world, according to a recent Global Peace Index report, and the crime rate is extremely low. All this makes it an excellent destination for worry-free solo travel. 

Ready to plan an epic trip to the land of fire and Iceland? Scroll on for expert-approved picks for the best places to explore, eat, drink, and stay.

The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland

Susmita Baral/Travel + Leisure

A spa lover's dream, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland ranks among the most upscale and relaxing stays in the country. On the pampering side of things, it has an award-winning subterranean spa for mind-body treatments and a private lagoon fed by healing, geothermal waters. Guests also get to enjoy morning yoga, Icelandic coffee time, Michelin-starred dining, and modern suites. "The property is a great choice for the end of an Iceland trip," said Susmita Baral, Travel + Leisure 's travel editor. "Not only is it a great way to relax and indulge in self-care before returning home, but it's also just 20 minutes from the airport."

The Reykjavik Edition

The Reykjavik Edition is a luxury hotel right in the heart of downtown. In addition to a prime location, the newly built property possesses contemporary rooms and a sleek spa with a hammam, steam room, and sauna. Ryan Connolly, owner and a guide for Hidden Iceland , suggests heading up to the rooftop bar in the winter months for cocktails, a lively atmosphere, and a chance to spot the northern lights on a clear night. 

Highland Base at Kerlingarfjöll

Surrounded by the remote, untouched wilderness of Iceland’s central highlands, the newly minted Highland Base at Kerlingarfjöll supplies the ideal home base for adrenaline-fueled adventures. There are special packages for northern lights chasers and snowmobile enthusiasts. After all the thrills, tuck into a cozy sanctuary with neutral decor, sweeping views, and protection from the elements. "Whether you want to explore the outdoors or stay in, this hotel is truly a cozy base," said Baral. "There's even an underground passageway so you can access the restaurant and other parts of the property without stepping foot outside."

Panorama Glass Lodge

If you’ve ever dreamt of glimpsing the northern lights from the comfort of bed, Panorama Glass Lodge in southern Iceland will turn those fantasies into reality. “The tiny cabins in the middle of nowhere are completely made of glass and come with both private hot tubs and saunas to warm up on cold days and nights,” says Kyana Sue Powers , Iceland expert and travel advisor.

Hotel Rangá

Courtesy of Hotel Rangá

Imagine staying at the base of a volcano! Hotel Rangá boasts such a unique location that it's almost always booked at the height of the season. Available tours emphasize the beauty of the stars and northern lights as well as the luxurious experience of geothermal baths. It’s also a great launchpad for outdoor activities such as hiking and kayaking.

Golden Circle

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

The most popular tourist route in Iceland, the Golden Circle is an easy path between three stunning, famous natural spots: Thingvellir National Park , the Geysir geothermal area , and the Gullfoss waterfall. You can either drive or arrange a guided tour.

Diamond Circle

nicolamargaret/Getty Images

Located in northern Iceland, the Diamond Circle has four primary stops: Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss waterfall, Ásbyrgi glacial canyon, and the fishing town of Húsavík (home to the Húsavík Whale Museum). Such scenic and cultural wonders make it one of Iceland's most popular sightseeing routes.

South Coast

Tours of Iceland’s south coast typically begin in either Reykjavik or Vík and bring travelers to many striking natural sights — namely the famous Eyjafjallajökull glacier and Skógafoss, a towering waterfall that often produces a rainbow on sunny days. Other highlights include the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon, Seljalandsfoss waterfall, Sólheimajökull glacier, and Reynisfjara black-sand beach.

Blue Lagoon

While Iceland brims with rugged adventures, it’s also a great place for relaxing. Situated in a lava field near Grindavík, the Blue Lagoon is a bucket-list geothermal spa that’s famed for its mineral-rich waters and mud. It’s the perfect spot to spend the day soothing sore muscles and unwinding. (Pro-tip: If you don't want your hair feeling like straw, be sure to lather it in conditioner when you're changing at the property.)

Ice Cave Tour

Ratnakorn Piyasirisorost/Getty Images

One of the most unique features of Iceland, the natural ice caves form in late fall, gleem blue all winter, and melt in the spring. “This makes each visit truly unlike any other,” says Connolly. Due to the rough terrain and the need for glacier safety training, it’s essential to go with a guide. “ KatlaTrack offers tours to the best and most accessible ice caves every year.”

OX Restaurant

One of the best and most unique dining experiences in Iceland, Michelin-starred OX Restaurant serves flavorful fine dining dishes in an intimate, 16-seat counter setting. “The chef doesn’t just prepare incredible food with local products but also shares the story of where the ingredients came from and the inspiration behind the dishes,” adds Connolly.

Hailed as the best new restaurant in Reykjavik by both critics and diners, Oto is a rather unique concept. “On paper, a culinary fusion of Japanese and Spanish influences made with Icelandic ingredients sounds quite unconventional. I’m this case, thinking outside the box results in some exceptional sharing dishes,” says Connolly. “Don’t forget to try the cocktails and mocktails.”

Fish Company

Tucked inside the old Zimsen building, a former store built in the 19th century, the Fish Company feels at once contemporary and cozy — a style also reflected in the seasonally influenced menu. Chef Lárus Gunnar Jónasson whips up gourmet fare with an emphasis on local seafood and other fresh Icelandic ingredients. 

You have to take a 45-minute ferry to the Westman Islands to reach Næs (pronounced like "nice"). “I make the trip time and time again because it’s such a lovely place with delicious food,” says Powers. “The sweet tomatoes and stracciatella alone are well worth the journey.

Moss Restaurant

The perfect place to celebrate a special occasion or savor a spectacular post-spa meal, the Michelin-starred Moss Restaurant occupies the top floor of the Blue Lagoon Icelandic ingredients shine in wildly creative ways through chef-prepared coursed menus — including a vegan option. "Every course was delicious," said Baral, "But I will say the cod crisps were addictive — light, crispy, and flavorful. It was created to use the entire fish and minimize food waste."

Powers advises to “ask for a tour of the wine cellar, where world-class vintages are held underground in an alcove between volcanic rocks.”

Iceland is a country of extremes in many ways. The best time to visit really depends on what you’re hoping to see and do. Peak viewing season for the northern lights stretches from September through March, but the country also gets quite cold then and daylight only lasts about five hours. Connolly also steers visitors away from attempting to navigate Route 1 between mid-October and mid-April. "Regardless of how good or skilled of a driver you are, it’s about changing weather and road closures.” 

The period between early June and late August brings temperate weather for visiting countless natural wonders. Travelers should be advised to bring a sleeping mask — at the height of summer, the sun stays up until the middle of the night. 

Icelandair and PLAY operate low-cost direct flights between many major U.S. airports and Reykjavik. You can usually score a deal, which makes a trip to Iceland — or a multi-day stopover on the way to another European destination — an economical (and exciting) option.

Reykjavik: Vibrant, welcoming, and gorgeous, Reykjavik is the capital and most popular tourist destination in Iceland. This makes sense given that it’s the largest city, close to the airport, and in the middle of some of the most famous landmarks. 

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Akureyri: Sometimes referred to as the “capital of the North,” Akureyri is a port city at the base of Eyjafjörður Fjord that’s home to Akureyri Church, the Akureyri Botanical Garden, and some of the best whale watching in the world, plus

Húsavík: Most people visit Húsavík to see Húsavíkurkirkja, the iconic wooden church built in 1907. Travelers will also enjoy the geothermal baths and Húsavík Whale Museum. 

Höfn: Primarily known for scenic views of the Vatnajökull glacier, the largest ice cap in Europe, the fishing town of Höfn in southeast Iceland also supplies shoals and beaches that make it a popular film location. 

Vík í Mýrdal: A village of just 300 people, Vík í Mýrdal (or just Vík) ranks among the most popular stops on the Ring Road for those taking the south coast sightseeing route. Two of Iceland's most iconic waterfalls — Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss — sit between Reykjavik and Vík, making the two-and-a-half-hour drive more than worth it. On clear days, the Eyjafjallajökull and Mýrdalsjökull glaciers are visible, too. However, the biggest draw is without question the black-sand beach of Reynisfjara.

Ísafjörður: Surrounded by sweeping vistas, Ísafjörður hosts Iceland's popular musical festivals — the Ísafjörður Rock Festival and Við Djúpið Music Festival. "If you make it here, definitely visit Tjöruhúsið for a meal," said Baral. "The restaurant serves the daily fresh catch in a family-style buffet in the warmer months."

Vestmannaeyjar: A volcanic archipelago off Iceland’s south coast Vestmannaeyjar (or the Westman Islands) is accessible by ferry. It’s a must-visit to see some diverse wildlife — including puffins and Beluga whales.

Iceland has one main highway, called Ring Road or Route 1. As you might expect based on the name, it goes all the way around the island country. Many of the most famous and beautiful natural wonders sit along or near this route. Most travelers start in Reykjavik, the city closest to Keflavík International Airport (KEF), and either rent a car and do a self-drive itinerary or arrange a multi-day tour through one of the many local operators. Within the capital, it’s possible to utilize the public bus service or take a shuttle to attractions such as the Blue Lagoon.

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Things to do in Iceland


Seeking adventure? Would you like to visit Iceland and experience the Northern lights , bath in the geothermal waters of the Blue Lagoon or see the black sand beaches? Or would you rather go on a hike in the pristine nature of the Icelandic highlands or go on a road trip to see all the natural wonders of Iceland ? Here are a few things to do in Iceland .

What to do, what to do! We here at Iceland Travel offer great selection of tours – whether you are just stopping over or visiting for couple of weeks, let our team of expert travel enthusiast help you find the perfect tour for you. We have a great selection of various  day tours  and  short breaks , if you’re just stopping over.

Type of tours

Road-trips – not as scary as you think.

If you’re seeking more in depth experience you should look at our selection of  self-drive tours and road trips.  Yes, we know that embarking on a such a tour can be intimidating, but we provide you with a digital itinerary and a tablet, so you won’t miss a thing on your tour and you have access to all the needed information at all times.

Guided tours

We also offer a great selection of  escorted and guided tours .  From sightseeing tours of the most popular Icelandic landmarks, to exploring the remote highlands , we offer a fantastic range of guided group tours escorted by the best guides in Iceland .

Type of activities

Atv/quad bikes.

Don’t limit your sights to what can be seen from a tour bus window; get up close to Icelandic nature in its purest state with a thrilling ATV/Quad Bike adventure.

There are several areas in the country that offer ATV tours, each with a different viewpoint of Iceland ’s stunning natural scenery.

iceland travel things to do

Places to quad bike in Iceland

In Vatnajokull National Park, ATV bikers have the unique opportunity to ride directly up to the outlying tongue of Europe’s largest glacier where it can be heard creaking as the glacial ice melts in the glistening sunlight.

You can also go racing across the black sand beaches of Vik on the south coast, or the lush forest in Haukadalur valley, where the renowned Golden Circle is also located.

ATV in Reykjavik area

If you don’t wanna travel far from Reykjavik city to go quad biking,  Reykjanes peninsula has plenty of ATV tours to offer in its rough landscape of lava fields, as well as the majestic mountains of Hellisheidi heath, only 30km east of Reykjavik.

No matter which surroundings you choose, one thing is for sure: ATV adventures in Iceland will provide fun memories that last a lifetime.

Iceland is an ideal place for bird watching as it lies on a major junction of migratory routes, and hosts at least 278 different bird species.

iceland travel things to do

Where to go birding in Iceland

Latrabjarg cliff in the Westfjords is the largest bird cliff in the world. A great variety of cliff-nesting species can be found there, including the world’s largest razorbill colony.

The Vestmannaeyjar Islands are also famous for many kinds of seabirds, and are home to both the world’s largest puffin population.  Lake Myvatn  in the north has more species of breeding ducks than any other place in Europe.

Skua and puffins

The great skua colony on the sands in southern Iceland is the largest in the world. Seabirds such as puffins can be seen in many places around the country, including the popular Snaefellsnes peninsula , as well as eiders, Arctic terns, waders and passerine birds. The areas of glacial sand wasteland to the east and west of Skaftafell are home to huge colonies of great and arctic skuas.

Other common bird types seen in the country are guillemots, gannets, fulmars, cormorants, and kittiwakes. Especially sought-after sightings include the barrow’s goldeneye found all summer at Lake Myvatn , harlequin ducks seen on several Icelandic rivers, the white tailed eagle occasionally spotted in  Breidafjordur  bay, and the gyrfalcon which is Iceland ’s national bird.

Whether taking a relaxing ride through Reykjavik’s city streets or rushing over rugged landscapes, biking in Iceland is an invigorating way to explore unspoiled nature while breathing in our fresh clean air.

Cycling in Reykjavik area

Like many cities in Europe, Reykjavik is bike-friendly with charming city streets to explore as well as a multitude of amazing mountain bike tracks. With the opening of the new cycling and walking path between Reykjavik and Mosfellsbaer, it is now possible to cycle all the way from Grotta on the tip of Seltjarnarnes to the west of the capital, through Oskjuhlid in central Reykjavik, where the Perlan landmark building is located, and onwards to Mosfellsbaer, around 30 kilometers (18.5 mi).

Cycling in Iceland’s countryside

Iceland is a rewarding but also a demanding locale for a long-distance bike trip. The countryside is ideal for the more adventurous mountain biker, particularly during summer months. A ride along the Ring Road reveals amazing variety of nature from green riverbeds, black desert landscapes and colorful mountains to steamy hot springs, wild horses and highland tracks.

What to beware of when cycling in Iceland

The most important thing when cycling in Iceland is being well packed and prepared. The weather in Iceland is unpredictable, so the right gear and clothing is crucial. GPS, communication equipment and tools for basic bike repairs as well as extra tubes and tires are recommended. Bring warm and protective clothing that is both water and wind resistant.

If you plan on cycling in the Icelandic highlands, it is extremely advisable not to do so on your own. There, you should be prepared to ride on gravel roads, and you should be prepared to cross unbridged rivers. Don’t underestimate the power of nature – take proper safety measures beforehand.

To protect Iceland ’s nature and vegetation, all off-road riding is forbidden. Helmets are a legal requirement for children under 15 years of age.

Last but not least, make sure you let someone know of your travel plans and itinerary. It can turn out to be a vital safety measure, in case of an emergency.


Iceland’s unique rugged landscape is taken to an otherworldly level when seen from above. Aerial flightseeing, whether by plane or helicopter, takes visitors to stunningly beautiful, yet remote areas that are difficult to reach by other means.

iceland travel things to do

Flying over geysir at the Hengill area – Highland – Iceland

Airplane tours in Iceland

Aptly named the land of fire and ice, this tiny island in the North Atlantic provides a wealth of geological eye candy for the flight seeing visitor – impressive mountain ridges, ash cones, volcanoes, craters, vast lava fields and glaciers.

Various types of scenic flight tours are operated year round in several areas of the country and can be arranged for 20 minutes up to a few hours.

Glacier exploration

These glaciers aren’t going to climb themselves! Glacier exploration is a unique experience, literally transporting travelers to a higher plane, where different values apply.

The beauty of glaciers is eternal, but obstacles to enjoying it are largely a thing of the past. Glacier exploration is a unique experience, literally transporting travelers to a higher plane, where different values apply.

Tours are available where travellers make the ascent by bus or super jeeps, and then have time to explore in a variety of ways including glacier hiking, ice climbing, and by snowmobile. The main starting point for exploring several of the many glaciers that form the Vatnajokull cap is the town of Hofn in southeast Iceland .

Other glacier favorites are the mystical Snaefellsjokull on Snaefellsnes peninsula , Myrdalsjokull on the south coast, and Langjokull where west Iceland borders the highlands , the closest major glacier to the capital.

Crystal ice caves 2

Glacier caves

Ice caving is another glacier activity that intrigues visitors. In the wintertime, glaciers form natural ice caves that can be explored by travellers if the circumstances are favorable.

However, if you are travelling in the summertime, don’t worry, you still have the opportunity to see a man-made ice cave in Langjokull glacier, available to travellers all year round. It may be man-made, but it’s nonetheless spectacular.

Iceland boasts over 60 golf courses, with dramatic landscaping you won’t see anywhere else in the world. Golf can be played from May through September, with 24-hour golf available in summer due to the midnight sun.

Best golf courses in Iceland

The world’s most northerly 18-hole course in  Akureyri , Jadarsvollur, is set in vibrant grasslands and hosts the annual Arctic Open Tournament in June. One of Iceland ’s oldest courses was founded in 1938 on the Westman Islands and is considered to be the most stunning course on the island with tee-off against a backdrop of volcanic walls, changing wind directions and steep ocean cliffs.

There are three 18-hole courses found in the greater Reykjavik area with jaw-dropping ocean panoramas. Some of Iceland ’s course designs pay tribute to the first golf courses in Scotland while others are designed by famous course architects.

Golfing in the midnight sun

If you want to make your golfing experience even that much more memorable, try golfing in the midnight hours on a beautiful summer day, with the landscape and surroundings fiery lit from the midnight sun. Because of its northerly position, Iceland makes this enjoyable experience possible in the summertime.

Whether you’re teeing off near an exploding geyser or meandering on a seaside course with black sand beaches, golfing in Iceland is undeniably a one-of-a-kind experience.

Take day or weekend hiking tours during winter and longer tours in summer, across lava, glaciers, lakes and sand.

Iceland ’s unique topography and endless variety of stunning landscapes make it a natural location for hiking. Hikers love to breathe in our fresh clean air and unveil the island’s natural mysteries filled with ancient lava formations, thundering waterfalls, black sand beaches, vibrant vegetation and outdoor hot springs.

Laugavegur – Iceland’s most popular hiking trail

The most popular hiking trail in Iceland is the 79 kilometer (49 mi) Laugavegur that stretches through the island’s uninhabited interior. Only open in summer, the well-worn trek has cozy huts along the way and the scenery is spectacular with colorful rhyolite mountains, hot springs and thermal vents, neon-green mosses, enormous ice caps and raging glacier-fed rivers.

Other popular hiking trails in Iceland

There are several other favorite hiking spots located throughout the country including the picturesque Heidmork Nature Reserve located on the outskirts of Reykjavik which is known and loved by locals for its lush woodlands and beautiful wildflowers.

Skaftafell is Iceland ’s most popular protected area, with good walking paths and varied glacial and forested scenery. Within  Thingvellir National Park  (UNESCO) and protected areas such as  Myvatn  in the north, there are marked paths ideal for day hikes. Another area that is attracting a growing number of backpackers is Hornstrandir in the extreme northwest, where unmarked trails link the beautiful fjords and bays of this rugged, uninhabited area.

The East Fjords district from Borgarfjordur Eystri southwards and Lonsoraefi in the southwest both offer challenging and exquisite wilderness hiking. The Kjolur and Sprengisandur routes are tough but highly rewarding to part hike.

The most recent location for hiking enthusiasts is the area surrounding the now famous Eyjafjallajokull volcano. Here trekkers can see for themselves the aftermath of the 2010 eruption with brand new lava formations and land freshly sculpted by floodwater from the melting glacier.

Horseback riding

The pure bred Icelandic Viking horse is the perfect riding companion for both beginners and experienced riders.

iceland travel things to do

The Icelandic horse

When Vikings arrived in Iceland a thousand years ago, they brought the Viking horse with them. Strong and muscular, yet small and gentle, with great stamina, speed and intelligence, they are the perfect riding companions for handling the rough Icelandic terrain.

They are friendly, willing, docile animals that take obvious pleasure in carrying their riders across grassy plains, up and down rocky slopes, through rivers and over fields of rough lava, offering a unique way to enjoy the splendors and nature of Iceland .

The Icelandic purebred Viking horse controls five gaits while most other breeds only have three or four. The tolt gait is a very smooth ride that feels like gliding over ice. The Icelandic horse is perfect for the beginner rider.

Horseback riding tours in Iceland

It’s not going to be difficult to find horseback riding tours in Iceland . Dozens of farms and agencies all over the country offer tours suited for both beginners and the more experienced riders. Whether an hour’s tour or a multi-day tour, from an easy level to difficult, your wishes and needs can undoubtedly be accommodated.

Is there a weight limit when horseback riding in Iceland?

The Icelandic horse is capable of carrying adults without difficulty. The maximum weight is dependent on the tour chosen as well as the person’s riding experience, physical condition and height.

Iceland’s pristine wilderness provides a bounty of wildlife game in reindeer, geese, ducks, ptarmigan and seabirds.

What animals can you hunt in Iceland?

There are large flocks of geese that gather in the fall in the valleys and along the mountainsides, before migrating to the south for the winter period. Ptarmigan are the most popular target for wing shooting and can be hunted from mid-October through mid-December.

Most seabirds are fair game and the season lasts from September through early May.

Reindeer hunting in Iceland

The reindeer hunting season lasts from July 15 to September 15 and takes place in nine defined hunting areas in the central highlands in east Iceland . Every year around 1200 tags are issued. The reindeer population in Iceland is 7000.

Are guns allowed in Iceland?

All automatic and semi-automatic rifles and most handguns are banned for public use in Iceland . People who hold a gun license can buy semi-automatic shotguns, bolt-action rifles, single-shot rifles and double-barrel rifles to hunt with, but all rifles over 8 millimeters in caliber are banned in Iceland .

Most visiting hunters bring their own guns and ammunition.

How to get a hunting license in Iceland

Those who plan to hunt in Iceland need to have a valid local firearm license as well as obtain a short-term gun license from the local police authorities, where you will need to present a valid hunting license and a personal ID.

River rafting and Kayaking

River rafting thrills and spills in swirling glacial waters. Lucky kayakers may also get a close-up glimpse of a seal or rare birdlife.

iceland travel things to do

Let’s go river rafting!

Action lovers and adrenaline seekers will love Iceland ’s swirling glacier-fed rivers tearing through narrow volcanic gorges, forming the perfect rapids for adventure rafting. Only one hour from Reykjavik is the stunning Hvita River rushing through the chasm down from Gullfoss waterfall.

Its stunning balance of serene canyons and dramatic rapids is ideal for newcomers who want to experience the white water thrill. Among the best-loved rivers for rafting enthusiasts are Jokulsa River East and Jokulsa River West located in North Iceland near Skagafjordur which both have dramatic waters in glorious surroundings.

Experienced river rafters head to the Holmsa River in the South which has been considered for the Rafting World Championship and offers spectacular backdrops of barren lava, fertile pastures and majestic waterfalls.

One of the most fulfilling ways to experience Iceland ’s quiet nature is by kayaking along the many fjords, inlets, and sheltered coastlines. Sea kayaking just off the Icelandic coast is an unforgettable experience especially when you can get up close to curious seals, bird cliffs, and sea caves that are unreachable from land.

Best places to kayak in Iceland

It’s impossible to mention which places are the best to go kayaking in Iceland . It all depends on your level, needs and wishes. Be it in the surroundings of bird cliffs in the Westfjords , the rugged cliffs of East Fjords, the calm waters of the inland lakes or just the beautiful areas around the capital city – you’ll find that your kayaking options in Iceland are as versatile as the nature itself.

Tours for all experience levels are available in the Hvalfjordur Fjord area and lakes near Reykjavik, as well as Stokkseyri in the South, Isafjordur in the Northwest and Seydisfjordur in the East.

Skiing and Snowboarding

Downhill, cross-country, snowboarding, off-trail and heli-skiing are available in many parts of the country. And the best part about skiing in Iceland ? No trees!

Best places to ski and snowboard in Iceland

Blafjoll mountains:  Winter skiing, both downhill and cross-country, is available in many parts of the country. Located just 33 kilometers (21 mi) from the city center, Blafjoll (Blue Mountains) is the largest ski resort close to Reykjavik with great slopes for downhill skiing and snowboarding as well as tracks for cross-country skiing. The season in Blafjoll runs between mid-November and May and the resort is open when snow and weather permit.

Hlidarfjall ski resort:  Undoubtedly Iceland ’s favorite ski destination is Hlidarfjall in North Iceland near  Akureyri . This premier ski resort is famous for consistent snow and enchanting water views of the surrounding fjords. The season lasts from the beginning of December until the end of April and floodlit slopes make night skiing possible during the dark days of winter.

Westfjords :  The  Westfjords  are an up-and-coming locale for extreme skiers with opportunities for off-trail, downhill skiing and the ultimate adventure, heli-skiing where high-mountain peaks are accessed by helicopter and skiers race along the mountainside all the way down to the ocean.

Snorkeling and Diving

Dive in a volcanic fissure filled with icy glacial water where you are literally swimming between continents.


Snorkeling between continents in Silfra

Iceland may not be the first place that comes to mind when considering a snorkeling or diving destination, however Silfra in  Thingvellir National Park  (UNESCO) is rated by professional divers and snorkelers as one of the best freshwater sites in the world. Silfra is a deep, dramatic fissure at the bottom of Lake Thingvallavatn that lies between the American and Eurasian tectonic plates where divers are literally swimming between continents.

The crystal-clear, pale blue water comes from a melting glacier 48 kilometers (30 mi) away. The clarity of this water is so remarkable that divers experience a heady flying sensation as they plunge through the glacial waters. This exotic and serene journey is made even more surreal by the bizarre submerged lava formations and underwater landscapes.


Whether you call them snowmobiles, sno-cats, or skidoos, they all mean the same thing – winter adventure! Snowmobiling is a great outdoors sport and driving across an Arctic glacier is an incredible experience.

There is nothing quite like the feeling of racing across an Arctic glacier at 40 kmph (25 mph) with nothing but icy snowfields surrounding you and the heavenly skies above.

Snowmobiling is an exciting, empowering sport where no prior skill is needed and after only a few minutes you feel like a professional snowmobile racer.

Snowmobile tours in Iceland

Iceland has a total of five glaciers, three of which are Europe’s largest, so there are plenty of opportunities for snowmobile excursions all year round.

We offer plenty of tours and activities where you can explore the glaciers riding on or in a snowmobile. Make sure you don’t miss out on this great experience.

Spas and Swimming Pools

Thanks to an abundance of geothermal water, spas are a way of life in Iceland and one of the highlights of any trip.

Take a dip in one of Iceland ’s hundreds of outdoor, geothermally heated swimming pools. Soak away life’s stresses by relaxing in a hot tub while chatting with the locals. Many facilities offer sauna, steam rooms, massage therapy and other spa treatments.

iceland travel things to do

Outdoor geothermal pools and spas

Outdoor hot springs are hidden throughout the countryside and are the ultimate interaction with Iceland ’s raw nature and a highlight of any trip. The most famous outdoor spa is the Blue Lagoon located near Keflavik Airport. The therapeutic, milky blue, mineral-rich waters are ideal for relieving jet lag when arriving or for a last dip before the transatlantic flight home.

Lake Myvatn Nature Baths in the north offer bathers a completely natural experience in an area of fragile beauty.

The newly opened Laugarvatn Fontana Spa is located near the Golden Circle of geothermal wonders, where you also have the chance to taste rye bread made in a geothermal bakery!

Finally, the Krauma spa is something else and absolutely superb. Make sure you check it out.

The Secret Lagoon

The oldest swimming pool in Iceland is the Secret Lagoon, located in the small village of Fludir in the Golden Circle area. It was built in 1891 and has recently become increasingly known in Iceland , especially for being a great alternative to the often fully booked Blue Lagoon. The water in the Secret Lagoon is fed by a hot spring that constantly provides it with fresh water that stays at 38-40 degrees Celsius throughout the year.

Sport fishing

All good things come to those who wade! Iceland ’s pristine waters abounding in fresh fish are sought out by anglers from all over the world.

Sport fishing in Iceland provides countless possibilities. There are over 100 self-sustaining salmon rivers in the country, 20 of which fall into the elite category. Lakes and rivers provide outstanding trout fishing opportunities for both brown trout and Arctic char, and deep sea fishing is possible from virtually every coastal town on the island with success in nearly every trip. During winter, ice-fishing is quite popular.

Fishing season in Iceland

The salmon season spans from May 20 until the end of September. An increasing number of rivers in Iceland are open exclusively for fly fishing throughout this season.

The trout and char fishing season spans from the beginning of April until October 10.

License for fishing

For salmon fishing, permits must be reserved well in advance, but trout fishing permits can be obtained at short notice, often the same day.

Important to know before fishing in Iceland

Iceland’s unpolluted and fragile waters are disease-free. Therefore, if you are coming from abroad, you will need to show a certification that all your equipment, including waders and boots, are disinfected. This can be done upon arrival at Keflavik airport for a small fee.


Super Jeep adventures are a thrilling way to traverse Iceland ’s landscape of extreme contrasts and an experience unique to the country.

Let’s face it – to really discover Iceland in winter, you need suitable transportation! Super Jeep adventures are a thrilling way to traverse Iceland ’s landscape of extreme contrasts and an experience unique to the country.

What is a Super Jeep?

Sometimes called super trucks or monster jeeps, these modern day Viking vehicles are not your average 4WD vehicles. They are specially modified to handle Iceland ’s demanding terrain with meter-high tires, upgraded engines, and state-of-the-art GPS navigational systems that could guide drivers through winter’s worst blizzard.

Offroad travelling in Iceland

Super Jeeps are especially good for the offroad travelling in Iceland ; forging through rivers, driving on snow or traversing icy glaciers, mountains, volcanic terrain and black sand beaches. However, it is strongly recommended you go offroad travelling only under the supervision of a professional who knows in which areas it is permitted, areas where precious nature will not be spoiled or damaged.

Our most popular Road Trips


Self Drives | 8 days/7 nights

Ring Road Highlights

“Ring Road Highlights” is one of our bestselling car rental packages, giving you the chance to visit all of Iceland’s main attractions in eight ...


Guided Tours | 12 days/11 nights

Across the Wilderness

Explore Iceland’s hidden highland beauty as well as famous natural wonders with this popular combination of small group sightseeing and nature walks. ...


Self Drives | 6 days/5 nights

Adventurous South Iceland

Dive into a week of amazing activities on the beautiful South Shore, a perfect setting for unforgettable adventures. From rushing rivers and jagged cl...


Self Drives | 5 days/4 nights

Golden Circle Self-Drive

Do you have just a short time in Iceland? Book this Golden Circle road trip and you can experience Iceland’s most famous natural wonders in a few shor...


Fantastic Iceland Scheduled Self Drive on Fixed Dates – 8 days

Our self-drive holidays with fixed dates feature pre-booked hotels on select travel  dates. You only need to choose a car and start looking forward to...

Our most popular Guided Tours


Guided Tours | 10 days/9 nights

Iceland Complete

Come join us on our best-selling Ring Road tour! You’ll visit all the main attractions of the legendary Ring Road. You’ll find this classic circle tou...

Our most popular Activities


Day Tours | 40min

Amphibian Boat Tour on the Glacial Lagoon (meet at Jökulsárlón)

Enjoy an exciting boat trip on the Glacier Lagoon in a unique amphibian boat. During the excursion, you’ll sail among the huge icebergs in the p...


Day Tours | 3hrs

Silfra Snorkelling (Meet on Location)

Silfra Snorkelling in Iceland is an unusual adventure and an experience you’ll never forget. Enjoy an amazing snorkelling experience in Silfra ...

Safety & Responsibility

Weather can be unpredictable, help keep iceland clean, safe roads, safe people, take care on the trail, know how to call the emergency services, prepare for a trip to iceland.


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12 Best Things To Do On A First Trip To Iceland

Visiting Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach In Iceland And The Dyrhólaey Arch

Iceland is a beautiful country to visit and one of the most unique when it comes to the most epic places to see ! And, although a first-time visit to Iceland is an exciting prospect, there’s a heap of planning, logistics and bookings to be made to ensure a nice smooth trip. This is exactly why I wanted to share some of the best things to do on a first trip to Iceland. 

Honestly, the whole country is as diverse as you can imagine, with the most incredible hikes , quaint towns , dramatic landscapes and stunning ice caves all within one beautiful country.

Best Things To Do In Iceland (34)

Now, as it’s your first visit, you’ll probably be thinking about starting in the southwest of Iceland. This is where nearly all international flights arrive and depart, so it’s a good starting point for your adventure. 

Now, most of these are within a 5-hour drive from Iceland’s international airport, Keflavik and easily reached by main arterial roads.

This all makes it a bit easier when seeing the bigger picture of how much driving is involved. 

Best Things To Do On A First Trip To Iceland

Take a little look at some of the best things to do on a first trip to Iceland.

1.) Bathe in the Blue Lagoon

11 Dramatic Experiences You Must Have In Iceland (24)

Iceland is known the world over for its famous geothermal heated pools, with the Blue Lagoon being one of its most pristine!

Staying In The Retreat At Blue Lagoon In Iceland – A Travel Guide

Head across to the Blue Lagoon (around a 10-minute drive from the airport) and spend a good few hours relaxing in these piping-hot pools. Alternatively, you can stay at The Retreat , for an extra special treat. 

Staying In The Retreat At Blue Lagoon In Iceland – A Travel Guide

Now, the lagoon can get busy, so book your tickets in advance and make sure to visit at less busy times. Usually, first thing in the morning is a little quieter. 

Also, If you arrive in winter, you can head to the Blue Lagoon and watch the sunrise, a magical experience that is well worth doing!

Staying In The Retreat At Blue Lagoon In Iceland – A Travel Guide

Oh, and don’t forget to book these Blue Lagoon tickets that include a mud mask, drink and towel. It’s totally worth it and such a unique experience. 

Best Way To Visit The Erupting Volcano In Fagradalsfjall, Iceland

Afterwards, if you’re looking for an adventure, hike to the erupting Fagradalsfjall Volcano that’s only a 15-minute drive from the Blue Lagoon. Then, once here, you can join this hiking trail and see the most incredible eruption in Iceland.

It’s beautiful and one of the best things to do on a first trip to Iceland for sure. 

Read more: How to visit the erupting Fagradalsfjall Volcano

2.) Spot the northern lights

Best Things To Do In Iceland (49)

No visit to Iceland is complete without (at least looking for) the Northern Lights .

If you’ve rented a car, it’s best to head out of the towns and head for some of the darker rural areas. We drove about 30 minutes out of Reykjavik to see them clearly in the dark and within the national park itself. 

The months around March and September are the brightest for the northern lights but you can be lucky and see them at any time of the night. 

When the lights are really strong, you’ll be able to watch them prance overhead regardless of the (small amounts of) light pollution from the towns. Always keep your eyes peeled for those dancing swirls.

Now, you can book this incredible Northern Lights tour , which is great if you don’t drive (or just don’t fancy driving). The tour picks up from Reykavik and takes around 4 hours. It’s incredible. Best of all, they will know all the places to go to avoid light pollution. 

That being said, if you have a car, then you can go out alone. It just depends on what suits you best.

Read more: Best tours to book from Reykjavik

3.) Go Whale Watching

Best Things To Do In Iceland (36)

There is an abundance of whales that call the shores of Iceland home. Book this incredible whale-watching tour that departs from Reykjavik and try your luck at spotting some of these majestic animals in the wild.

Taking roughly 3-4 hours, it’s the perfect way to see whales in their natural habitat. Just be aware, that sometimes the tours can overrun a little, so have a buffer for any plans just in case. 

Oh, and be sure to book your tour in advance . Tickets can run out at peak times. 

Read more: Our whale watching trip in Iceland

4.) Eat typical Icelandic cuisine

14 Best Restaurants in Iceland To Visit (16)

Traditional Icelandic cuisine is a little unknown outside of Iceland but that doesn’t mean it’s not yummy!

Head to one of the delicious restaurants in Reykjavik and try some local dishes like; Harðfiskur which consists of dried fish and is a firm favourite! 

Volcano Eruption In Iceland (Near Reykjavik)

If you’re feeling a little more adventurous, chow down on Svið a baked sheep head. Now, I can’t say I’ve tried the latter, but you know what, as they say, ‘when in Rome’ you might want to give it a try.

Though, don’t fret if you don’t know what to try or where to go in Iceland. Book this 3-hour foodie walking tour in Reykjavik that’s such a great way to try Icelandic cuisine.

You’ll get to try different local dishes to get a full flavour of Icelandic cuisine across different shops, restaurants and stalls. We loved it.  

Read more: Best restaurants in Iceland

5.) Bake Hot Spring Rye Bread in the earth

11 Dramatic Experiences You Must Have In Iceland (11)

There are few places where the heat of geothermal activity can bake bread in the ground.

Iceland is one of these places! Head over to the Fontana Hot Springs , or even to some hotels and restaurants, where they will help you prep, make and (the best bit) eat the baked rye bread. 

The 1st Day in The Land Of Fire and Ice - Iceland! Lava Baking, Geo-Thermal Pools And The Golden Circle (Part 1) (18)

Work up an appetite and spread with lashings of butter.

If you want to explore but don’t drive, book this Golden Circle tour that’ll take you to some of the best places in Iceland in this area. Along the way, you’ll get to see the iconic Geysir, visit the Gullfoss waterfall, and explore the wider Þingvellir National Park.

Read more: How we baked bread at Fontana

6.) Watch the sunset at Go To Vik & Dyrhólaey

Best Things To Do In Iceland (29)

One of the best places to watch the sunset is Vik and Dyrhólaey.

11 Dramatic Experiences You Must Have In Iceland (35)

Head here to see the sun slowly descend over the horizon, all whilst standing on the iconic black beach that Iceland has become so famous for.

Best Things To Do In Iceland (46)

…It is a beautiful place to visit in Iceland.

Also, don’t forget, you can book this incredible ice-cave and glacier tour from Vik that’s just incredible.

It’ll take you to the top of the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier and you’ll get to explore the iconic ice cave below Katla Volcano.

Visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, An Ice Cave Tour And Stokksnes In Iceland

It’s immense and all guided in an all-weather jeep.

Just be sure to book before arriving in Iceland – these Glacier tour tickets fill up fast. 

Read more: How to book an ice cave tour in Iceland

7.) Drive the Golden Circle

The Northern Lights in Iceland and Hotel Laki - (40)

One of the main ‘routes’ visitors to Iceland take, the Golden Circle encompasses quite a few incredible sites you’ll not want to miss.

Best Things To Do In Iceland (61)

Including the iconic Strokkur Geyser (that erupts every few minutes) and Gullfoss, which looks stunning in both winter and summer.

Best Things To Do In Iceland (71)

The golden circle can take about 4-5 hours to complete but I’d always give a little extra to relax and enjoy this stunning route. It is one of the best things to do on a first trip to Iceland.

Read more: Dramatic natural spots to see in Iceland

8.) Visit the capital city, Reykjavik

Best Things To Do In Iceland (16)

The capital city of Iceland,   Reykjavik is one place you’ll likely spend an evening or two. Head here on weekends when the bars are filled with live music, friendly locals and an amazing atmosphere.

Best Things To Do In Iceland (14)

In the days, explore the city itself, visit the Hallgrímskirkja Cathedral or head over to the Harpa concert hall which is home to the national opera and symphony.

Read more: What to pack for Iceland

9.) See the roaring Skógafoss

Best Things To Do In Iceland (22)

Skógafoss is approximately 2 hours east of the airport, and it is one of Iceland’s most popular waterfalls to visit.

Entry is free to Skógafoss and if you arrive early in the morning, or late afternoon, you’ll notice the crowds dissipate, leaving the waterfall just for you. It’s lovely. 

10.) Explore the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Best Things To Do In Iceland (1)

The glacier lake of Jökulsárlón is probably the farthest east you’ll travel out of all these places (it’s about 5.5 hours from Keflavik airport) but well worth seeing if you’ve made it as far as Vik. 

Lloyd and Yaya at Jökulsárlón - The Glacier Lagoon in Iceland

Head over to Jökulsárlón and see the incredible landscape that surrounds this region. It really is an impressive sight (just don’t fall whilst taking a selfie, as Yaya did).

Oh, and if you fancy it, pop out onto the lagoon via the boat trips that happen here. 

Visiting Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, An Ice Cave Tour And Stokksnes In Iceland

If you don’t have a car, book yourself onto this epic Jökulsárlón tour . It’s an incredible way to see the ice caves of Vatnajökull Glacier on a tour from Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. All with the experts who know all the safety precautions needed. 

Read more: Best hikes in Iceland

11.) Go troll spotting on horseback

Horseback riding is a beautiful experience in Iceland, especially with the friendly Icelandic horses that are so full of character.

Head out onto the tundra and keep your eyes peeled for Icelandic trolls! Legend has it that they live in the little grassy humps you’ll spot all over the country.

Make sure to book an Icelandic horseback tour and discover the natural beauty of Iceland. It’s such a great way to experience its dramatic landscapes. Just be sure to book in advance, places do get filled up when visiting Iceland.

Read more: Best towns to visit in Iceland

1 2.) Walk behind a waterfall at Seljalandsfoss

Best Things To Do In Iceland (37)

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is approximately a 10-minute drive from Skógafoss, so it’s well worth doing these at the same time.

If you need help planning (or just want an easier trip), you can book an Icelandic day trip tour that’ll take in all the main spots to see, including Seljalandsfoss. Plus, you’ll get to visit the black beaches and explore more of the south coast of Iceland, too. 

Now, for us, one of the best things about Seljalandsfoss is that you can walk behind the falls themselves, which is incredible to do!

Visiting The Best Waterfalls In Iceland

Though, remember, when conditions get really dicey, the path behind the waterfall is closed off. If that’s the case, don’t be too disappointed; after all, it’s for your own safety.

Visiting The Best Waterfalls In Iceland

Finally, if you’re looking for Icelandic tours, check out these incredible ones (we love), below. They all have 24-hour cancellation policies, which is great for Iceland, especially as plans can change fast with weather or trip changes. 

Read more: Best things to do in Iceland

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Don't Overlook These Amazing Budget-Friendly Things To Do On Your Trip To Iceland

I celand has become the sleeper hit of European travel. For decades, Iceland was an obscure volcanic island near the Arctic Circle, known only as an Icelandair pitstop for budget travelers. Yet by 2022, Iceland's tourism boom drew a full 1.7 million visitors, about 4.5 times the nation's population. The reasons are obvious: mythic scenery, immaculate infrastructure, and many direct flights from the United States have turned the land of ice into northern Europe's coolest vacation spot.

What's the catch? Iceland is pricey. Accommodations get competitive, especially in the summer, and nearly all household products must be imported. The price for dinners and drinks can add up, as can the obligatory rental car and tour fees. If you want to see puffins up close or experience the 4K planetarium at the Perlan Museum , expect to pay a pretty penny.

Yet Icelanders are also an intensely civic people, cultivating municipal spaces, public art, and national parks for all to enjoy. The island's most impressive feature is its otherworldly landscape, which is wide open and easy to explore. Very little in Iceland is "free," especially if you have to drive to a remote location to reach it. But you'll find lots of budget-friendly activities, in the capital city of Reykjavik and across the country, that are effectively unique to Iceland. If you blew your budget on planes and lodging, don't worry. Using personal experience as a guide, we'll share some experiences you can still enjoy, all for a reasonable price.

Read more: 28 Bucket List Destinations That Everyone Needs To Experience At Least Once

Hallgrímskirkja Church

The steeple of Hallgrimskirkja rises like a sharp stalagmite out of the Reykjavik skyline, and its striated gray facade has wowed visitors for years. This imposing Lutheran church stands at the top of the hill in the very center of Iceland's capital, and the tower is visible from miles away. The full structure took about four decades to build and was consecrated in 1986, making it far younger than other famous churches of Europe. Tourists can enter the building for free, attend a service, or just walk around the minimalist choir when it's open. There's also a plaza out front featuring a brawny statue of Leif Eriksson.

But the best part of visiting Hallgrímskirkja is its tower, which rises 244 feet above the street. The elevator to the top costs the equivalent of about $7, but the ascent is fast and the 360-degree views through the medieval-looking windows are incomparable. There is no better view of Reykjavik, and you can see the simple analog clock from the inside.

Explore Reykjavik's Shore Walk

Reykjavik is a busy seaport, and so much of its history revolves around the ocean. The city has invested heavily in its urban shore, building walkways, docks for cruise ships, and Harpa, a massive glass-and-steel concert hall. This district is replete with high-end shopping and diverse restaurants, and visitors could while away for entire days shopping and eating their way through the city. Truly, the high-season tourism deluge is no joke, so you may want to consider the  best times of year to visit Iceland to avoid big crowds .

But you don't  have  to spend a lot of money to enjoy the Shore Walk. The Sun Voyager sculpture, which is designed to look like a modernist Norse ship, is just one of many public art pieces that grace the city. Many people end up here, especially in the warmer months, to watch sunsets over the bay. Floods of tourists make this a bustling, cosmopolitan corridor in the high season. Plazas and playgrounds seem to pop up whenever young children need space to run around. You can even download the Hopp app and rent a scooter for a few hours; they're dirt cheap and can zip you all through downtown in a matter of minutes.

Bicycle Around The Capital

The cycling season may be short this far north, but the entire city of Reykjavik is well-connected with bike paths, and summer tourists can rent a ride from several different shops. This part of Iceland is remarkably level, so you can pedal from the downtown waterfront to the Grótta Island Lighthouse, at the very tip of the peninsula, in less than a half-hour. You can then continue along the coast, skirting the airport and venturing into one quiet suburb after another.

Indeed, many of the towns in the Reykjanes region have multi-use paths running between them, so you could theoretically spend a sunny day walking or cycling from one village center to another. Some of the more intrepid travelers to Iceland bring their own bicycles and either take a spin around the developed southwest or take more ambitious bike tours around the island. Icelandic drivers tend to be respectful of bicycles, and the twin-lane paths are often separate from pedestrian walkways, making two wheels a great way to explore.

Reykjavik Zoo And Family Park

The Húsdýragarðurinn Zoo is a must-see for families, especially with young children. The zoo isn't enormous, but its size is fitting, given that isolated Iceland is home to only a limited number of species. Here, you can acquaint yourself with the island's livestock and wildlife, from horses and goats to Arctic foxes and the famous reindeer. Located in a quiet suburb just east of downtown Reykjavik, the zoo is easy to get to by taxi or scooter. Admission costs a little more than $11 for adults, and children under five are admitted free. More than 200,000 people visit the zoo annually, including residents and travelers.

The zoo is adjacent to the Family Park, which is like a whimsical combination of playground and carnival. Kids can take a spin on the carousel, recreate a pirate battle on a tall-ship play structure, or (in warm weather) pump a pedal boat around the ponds.

Nauthólsvik Geothermal Beach

You've probably heard of hot springs, but have you heard of a geothermal beach ?  Nauthólsvik is peculiar not only for its warm waters and jacuzzi-like pools but also for being within Reykjavik's city limits. Indeed, the beach is just south of the city's domestic airport, and you will likely see small planes flying overhead. The highest daily admission is the equivalent of $6, and visitors can spend all day sunbathing in the sand or warming themselves in the conspicuously sultry waters. Although the heating is technically geothermal, warm water is artificially pumped into the cove, so the pleasant temperatures follow a predictable schedule. The beach has restrooms and places to change, and special hot tubs are available as well.

Note that many of the towns and neighborhoods in Iceland have their own indoor swim centers, which typically have heated pools and even waterslides. These are extremely affordable and can be enjoyed any time of year, even in the dark of winter.

Cross A Bridge To Another Continent

From a geologic perspective, Iceland is just a baby, having formed only 20 million years ago. Lava oozed out of the ocean, cooling and hardening into stark mountains and coal-colored fields. What made this possible was a crack in the earth's surface, a rift between tectonic plates. As a result, the western sliver of Iceland is considered part of North America, and the rest lies in Europe.

To help visualize this, the Icelandic government built a 50-foot-long pedestrian bridge over a shallow canyon. If you start on the western side, you're standing in "the Americas." Walk across the bridge, and you're now in "Eurasia." This high-concept bridge is located a little over an hour southwest of Reykjavik, and it's a popular spot for selfies. You can stroll the bridge itself or the slopes and depression beneath it. The best part: the bridge is open 24 hours a day and totally free to visit.

Reykjadalur Hot Spring River

The moment you say "Iceland," someone almost always responds, "Oh, go to Blue Lagoon!" This hot-spring development has become a world-famous wellness center, and if you have money to burn, Blue Lagoon is a rewarding place to relax. Influencers routinely photograph themselves among its steaming waters or inside the space-age spa, and you're pretty much guaranteed a good time.

But Iceland has lots of hot springs, and many of them are cheap to visit and more natural in character. The Reykjadalur Valley is located about an hour away from Reykjavik, and this misty river flows directly out of the mountains. The soothing waters gurgle over a rocky stream bed, and visitors can soak, splash, or sun-bathe in any arrangement they like. The creek is framed with boardwalks and simple changing stations, so that visitors can slip into swimsuits and stow their belongings on dry walkways. You'll have to drive to get there, and there is a park admission fee, which is best paid online. You'll also have to hike into the hills to reach the springs, but if you're in decent shape, getting there is half the fun.

Krýsuvikurbjarg Sea Cliffs

There is no shortage of scenic cliffs in Iceland, but Kr ý suvikurbjarg is special for several reasons. It's located only an hour's drive from Reykjavik, plus a little extra time to trundle over the rocky access road. The grassy soil abruptly ends, dropping straight down into the ocean. Except for its dark volcanic slopes, the vertical walls of Kr ý suvikurbjarg look much like the Cliffs of Dover. Foot paths snake their way across the land, granting visitors picturesque views of the windswept coast. The area is free to visit and hike around, and it's a little off the beaten path, so you won't encounter many crowds.

Kr ý suvikurbjarg is popular among birders, who will find thousands of specimens nested among the crags, including puffins in the summertime. While you're there, you may also enjoy visiting the adorable local lighthouse, which is perched high up and painted orange.

See An Abandoned DC Plane

Luckily, there were no fatalities when this U.S. military plane expended its fuel and crashed into the dark sands of Sólheimasandur in 1973, so you probably won't disturb any restless spirits as you poke around its rusty ruins. The "abandoned DC plane" has lost its wings, windows, and most of its interior, but the fuselage remains largely intact, attracting many adventurous travelers to this obscure spot on the southern Icelandic coast. People have come here for decades to gaze at the ruins, but it's particularly popular among photographers and drone operators, who try to capture this haunting husk against the barren backdrop.

Sólheimasandur is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Reykjavik, and you'll have to pay for parking in the designated lot. But the land is free to visit, and travelers are free to explore the plane as much as they like. More than one tourist has climbed on the plane's roof; just be careful around the jagged old metal.

Kirkjufell Mountain

There is no shortage of epic mountains in Iceland, and it's hard to believe than any particular peak would stand out. Yet the swirling cone of Kirkjufell is a favorite among locals and travelers alike. Translated as "Church Mountain," Kirkjufell stands alone, separate from any range. The slopes are sweeping and smooth, and the summit rises 1,519 feet above sea level. Steep as it is, Kirkjufell has a well-trod trail up its side, and most hikers can reach the top in about 90 minutes. The trailhead is about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Reykjavik, making this hike a reasonable day-trip or an even better overnight excursion; you can stay in the beautiful village of Grundarfjör∂ur nearby.

Kirkjufell rises out of the Snæfellsnes peninsula, in the middle of the western coast. This region may feel isolated, but there are several villages along the route. While you're there, make sure to visit the Kirkjufell waterfalls (pictured above).

Explore Small Towns

The vast majority of Icelanders live in and around Reykjavík, but towns and villages are spread out along the full periphery of the island. Many of these places are sleepy fishing towns, which have been the backbone of Iceland's economy since time immemorial. Others are colorful, storybook villages that cater to tourists and host regular festivals and events. Populations range from a few hundred to a few thousand, but all have a walkable Main Street with (at least) basic amenities.

In recent years, modest seaside villages like Vik and Ísafjörður have transformed into getaways for kayaking and horseback riding, and even the remote fjord of Seyðisfjörður on the far-eastern coast offers its share of epic vistas and outdoor activities. Local houses are often rented out during the winter months, so real bargain-hunters may find a way to affordable stay in rural Iceland for extended periods. Nearly every town is connected by the national bus line, so you don't even have to rent a car.

Not long ago, Iceland had a reputation for being a trekkers' paradise, where tourists could set up a tent wherever they pleased. The government has since cracked down on wild camping, and it's only legal to overnight on an official campground. This is partly for the safety of outdoorspeople, but also to protect the rights of landowners, whose estates might not be well marked. Fortunately, there are more than 200 official campgrounds across the country, and you can almost always stay the night for less than $20.

Camping in Iceland is an economical option, as long as you don't mind taking loads of equipment on the plane. Because of the temperamental climate and rugged conditions, you should stock up on quality gear. Alternatively, several outfitters in Reykjavik rent camping equipment to travelers. You can also consult shop owners for recommended hiking routes and places to crash. If you're on a solo journey, you may need a refresher on how to  master camping on your own .

Drive The Ring Road

The Ring Road is quickly becoming one of the most famous highways in the world, as it circumscribes the island with smooth, dependable pavement and extends 821 miles from Reykjavik and back again. The act of driving this road and admiring the endless succession of peaks and glaciers along the way has been added to many a bucket list in recent years. There isn't a single toll booth along this route, except for the Hvalfjarðargönginn tunnel, which you can navigate around. Except for car rental, gas, and lodging along the way, taking this journey is extremely kind to your wallet. Also, the best stops on Iceland's Ring Road  may easily be your trip's highlights. 

So, what if you don't feel like renting a car? You can take advantage of the  Strætó bus system , whose 18 rural routes cover the entire Ring Road (and more). You can leave the driving to someone else and pay a fraction of the price, as long as you have a little patience and reserve places to stay along the way. For really adventurous travelers, Iceland's interior attracts more and more bikepackers every year, who pedal their way down the remotest roads and camp as they go.

See The Northern Lights

The aurora borealis is one of the most majestic natural occurrences on Earth, and looking up at the sky is free. Many travelers come to the country with the express purpose of seeing (and photographing) Iceland's northern lights — and truly, this is one of the most famous locations on Earth to observe them. That said, the emerald wisps are hard to predict, and the best time to view this cosmic phenomenon is between September and April, the chilliest months of the year. Keep in mind that the weather can shift unexpectedly in Iceland, and even perfect conditions can be ruined by sudden overcast or rain.

To increase your chances of seeing the northern lights, try to get away from big towns and other manmade sources of light pollution. Finding a remote location is best, where the sky is clear and unaffected by street lamps. Keep tabs on the media, as meteorologists can usually predict when the aurora borealis will be most visible. If you find yourself with a little money to spare, many Icelandic tour operators cater to aurora-chasers.

Celebrate The Midnight Sun

Fact: Iceland goes for a full month, from mid-June to mid-July, without experiencing "night." This period of 24-hour sunlight is the most invigorating on the Icelandic calendar, and it naturally triggers the tourism high season. That said, the "midnight sun" doesn't match what many people imagine: The sun doesn't linger straight above and shine at a high noon position for 30 days. More dramatically, the sun makes a strange journey toward the horizon, casting long shadows and a gloaming light, before turning around and easing back across the sky. You wouldn't know how strange this is unless you looked at your watch, realizing that sunrise and sunset are basically the same, even at 2 a.m.

Icelanders celebrate this season with "midsummer" festivals and concerts. The most famous event is the old folk tradition of Jónsmessa, which both celebrates John the Baptist and involves rolling (naked) down grassy hills. You don't have to partake in this free-spirited ritual, nor must you believe in the elves and talking cows that allegedly come out of the woodwork around this time. But if you do decide to tumble down a heath in your birthday suit, remember: It's free!

Read the original article on Explore .

Backpacker stands on rocky shore.


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    Here are our favorite places to visit in Iceland in 2024. 1. Mosfellsbær. Best for a quiet escape near Reykjavík. Reykjavík's friendly rural neighbor is Mosfellsbær. Its biggest attractions are the small mountains that surround the town, including Úlfarsfell, Mosfell, Helgafell and Reykjafell - all great for short hikes.

  9. The 28 Best Things to Do in Iceland, From Puffin Spotting to Bread

    Enjoy an aerial view with Zipline Iceland. Hiking, kayaking, biking, and camping are all traditional outdoor activities in Iceland. More recently, however, zip-lining has emerged as a popular way ...

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    4. Spot puffins on the sandy white beach of Breiðavík. Only a handful of tourists make it out to the Westfjords, narrow fingers of land joined to the country by only a six-mile-wide stretch ...

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    Brúarfoss: An off-the-beaten path attraction and possibly the bluest waterfall in all of Iceland. Glymur waterfall: The second tallest waterfall in Iceland. Seljalandsfoss waterfall: Can walk behind the falls⁠—best to see at sunset. Gluggafoss: A quick detour from Ring Road and much less crowded.

  12. 55 BEST Things To Do In Iceland

    Svartifoss. Svartifoss is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland as it is surrounded by basalt columns. The waterfall is located in Vatnajökull National Park, the largest national park in Europe. To reach the waterfall you must hike around 30-60 minutes from the Skaftafell Visitor Center.

  13. 33 Unforgettable Places To Visit In Iceland (+ Map)

    1. GOLDEN CIRCLE (THINGVELLIR, GEYSER, GULFOSS) The Golden Circle is a driving loop that visits three of the most popular places to visit in Iceland. It is easily accessible from Reykjavík. The main stops on the Golden Circle are Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss Waterfall, and Geysir.

  14. 25 Absolute-Best Places to Visit in Iceland (+Things to Do & Tips)

    Rauðisandur beach in the Westfjords. Dynjandi waterfall - Westfjords region. 11. Skaftafell National Park. Skaftafell NP is one of the easiest-accessible and most beautiful National Parks in Iceland. It, therefore, deserves a mention on every list of the best places to visit in Iceland.

  15. 22 Best Things to do in Iceland

    11. See Dettifoss Waterfall. It is safe to say that Iceland has a beautiful waterfall or two, but if you want to be blown away, visiting Dettifoss is one of the most amazing things to do in Iceland. Dettifoss is (controversially) the most powerful waterfall in Europe - a title that we think warrants a visit.

  16. 14 things to know before visiting Iceland in 2024

    1. Keep up-to-date on Iceland's volcanic eruptions. Travelers heading to Iceland in 2024 will be aware there has been a series of volcanic eruptions on the Reykjanes Peninsula in south-west Iceland, not far from Keflavik International Airport, the main entry point to the capital Reykjavik . No flights have been affected so far, and the rest of ...

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    Here are the best things to do in Iceland: 1. Visit Snæfellsjökull National Park. Source: flickr. Snæfellsjökull National Park. Snæfellsjökull National Park sits on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula and is best known for its signature glacier called Snæfellsjökull. As well as the mighty glacier you can also enjoy amazing lava tubes and lava ...

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    Susmita Baral/Travel + Leisure. A spa lover's dream, The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland ranks among the most upscale and relaxing stays in the country. On the pampering side of things, it has an ...

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    Travel + Leisure spoke with three local experts to gather their thoughts on the best of Iceland. Davíð Logi Gunnarsson, head guide of Nordic Luxury, shared his favorite museums, food and drink ...

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    Spas and Swimming Pools. Thanks to an abundance of geothermal water, spas are a way of life in Iceland and one of the highlights of any trip. Take a dip in one of Iceland 's hundreds of outdoor, geothermally heated swimming pools. Soak away life's stresses by relaxing in a hot tub while chatting with the locals.

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    It is one of the best things to do on a first trip to Iceland. Read more: Dramatic natural spots to see in Iceland. 8.) Visit the capital city, Reykjavik. The capital city of Iceland, Reykjavik is one place you'll likely spend an evening or two. Head here on weekends when the bars are filled with live music, friendly locals and an amazing ...

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    South Iceland is a top destination for many travelers in Iceland. Reykjavik, the capital city, is located in southern Iceland, and there are a huge number of waterfalls, hot pots, massive glaciers ...

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    I celand has become the sleeper hit of European travel. For decades, Iceland was an obscure volcanic island near the Arctic Circle, known only as an Icelandair pitstop for budget travelers. Yet by ...