Iceland is the northern lights, volcanoes with unpronounceable names (try saying Eyjafjallajökull), majestic waterfalls, craggy mountains, a land of sheep, and otherworldly landscapes. It is one of the most beautiful places on earth for all. It is amazing to me how can such a tiny island has such a diverse and beautiful terrain? It from verdant fields, snowy mountains, and brilliant glaciers to looking like Mars. It never ceases to amaze me. If you’re planning to visit Island you will watch movies and pictures in magazines of a land with jagged mountain peaks, volcanoes with desolate lava fields, rolling hills with grazing sheep, and glaciers that stretched for miles. In this content, I describe the best things to do and see in Iceland.
Iceland fulfilled all those expectations. In recent years the country has seen an explosion in tourism and it’s gotten a lot more expensive but most of the tourists concentrate in the south near Reykjavik.
So, today I publish my best things to do and see in Iceland to honor of Iceland guide that will inspire you to make a plan to visit Island.
1. Gaze in wonder at the many waterfalls in Iceland
Iceland is popular for its vistas of astounding beauty. Here are situated more than 10,000 waterfalls. Bruarfoss Morsi Waterfall which tumbles from 240 meters (787 feet). This waterfall. A wonderful tour to Iceland is incomplete without gazing at these stunning sites.
The best waterfalls to visit in Iceland. You’re spoilt for choice, so for the best of the best read our article on the best waterfalls in Iceland. We think that Skogafoss, Seljalandsfoss, and Gullfoss should be top of your list.
Actually, you might recognize Skogafoss waterfall, with its bright green banks from the Walter Mitty movie. You can creep behind the watery curtain of Seljalandsfoss waterfall and discover what secrets it hides, whilst Gullfoss is a large traditional two-tiered waterfall.
2. Head to the Hot Springs in Iceland
To satisfy everyone’s thirsty, Iceland has enough geothermal waters. So, what an amazing trip to enjoy Iceland. You can find many hot springs across the country, from the mega town to the most remote location, one of the most famous is the Blue Lagoon.
Blue Lagoon. Stepping into the Blue Lagoon area will make you feel like you just stepped into a fairytale. The strangely colored bright blue waters due to the large amounts of silica and sulfur lap against the jet black volcanic rocks. Just remember to make sure that your camera has enough battery you’ll need it!
Blue Lagoon Alternatives. Now, the Blue Lagoon is just one of many options (and it’s quite expensive). So, always try to look into some of the opportunities such as the remote and peaceful Myvatn Nature Baths, Landmannalaugar which is free and therefore, busy with other tourists, or the oldest man-made hot spring Seljavallalaug.
3. Catch the kaleidoscope of colors in the Northern Lights
Once considered to be the glitter of Valkyries taking dead souls to the afterlife, these magical lights are still one of the wonders of the world. Actually caused by solar particles entering the earth’s magnetic field and being drawn to the North Pole we all know that you need good planning and luck in order to see them. In Iceland, almost 8 months out of the year they are visible and unlike other countries, there is less cloud cover which means that your probability just went up a notch!
Naturally, October and April is the best time to visit there. In Iceland, a popular formula to see them: complete darkness + no moonlight + no/part cloud cover + being at the right time in at the right place.
There is no definite way to forecast the activity of this natural kaleidoscope, although there are a certain number of apps and websites such as Vedur to help with your planning.
There are a few different options to go Northern Light hunting. Firstly you can sit still in the town that you’re staying in and hope for the best. This might not be the best option as light pollution seriously affects your chances.
Your third option is to see the Northern Lights from a boat tour such as this one from Reykjavik.
4. Ice Caves in Vatnajökull Glacier in Iceland
From the depths of Vatnajökull Glacier, here is an ever-shifting, ever-changing, colorful icy world just waiting to be discovered. If you ever thought that Elsa from Disney’s ‘Frozen’ was cool, then you will love this place.
Vatnajökull Glacier, at 8100 km2, is Europe’s largest glacier and covers a whopping 8% of the country. Deep maze-like formations are created every year and are best explored with a guided tour.
Is it safe to visit the caves without a guided tour? Regardless of how experienced you are, we would recommend taking a guided tour. No one will stop you from entering, but the caves are constantly shifting and it is best to have a well-trained eye to ensure your safety.
Ice cave season is from November through to March when the weather has been consistently cold enough for the caves to be deemed stable.
5. Dyrhólaey in Iceland
This dramatic coastline offers a majestic glimpse into the ferocious power of nature. As the sea gushes below you with turbulent waves you can stand atop this 120 meter (393 foot) coastline and, quite simply, enjoy the view. If you’re feeling a little bit like a daredevil then you can walk the archway and stand at, what seems like, the edge of the world.
There is a big question why go there? But here is a simple answer – for the incredible views in all directions. Looking out North you’ll see the bewilderingly large Mýrdalsjökull glacier (Iceland’s fourth largest ice cap), turn eastwards for the interesting Reynisdrangar rock formations and to the west, your gaze will follow a seemingly endless black sand coastline.
The area is an entitled bird sanctuary, primarily for puffins and arctic terns. As such, its part closed during the nesting season in May and June. The exact dates vary from year to year.
6. Hallgrimskirkja in Iceland
It is a white concrete church which was designed by Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937 and can be seen from anywhere in the capital. Particularly, its design took inspiration from the volcanic basalt pillars that are dotted across Iceland’s countryside.
Atop of the hill, with his back to the church, it seems that the statue of Leifur Eiríksson, Discoverer of America, is standing guard. There are great views from here, but take the lift next to the main door of the church and you’ll be whisked up to the viewing platform and rewarded with panoramic views over the capitals bright rooftops and beyond.
If you want you could participate in this evening tour which will take you around Reykjavik and the surrounding area to discover much more history and folklore.
It is the best time to visit from mid-June to mid-August. There is a roster of activities in the church, from Choir Concerts, organ recitals on the 5000-pipe organ and Sunday services. Some of the activities have a charge so check online before you turn up.
7. Landmannalaugar in Iceland
Iceland is home to many magical landscapes from its multicolored mountains, meandering lava trails, crystal clear lakes and calming hot springs. But, where can you find all of these incredible natural phenomena in just one area?
The answer, of course, is Landmannalaugar. It makes you wonder what makes the unique colorings of the mountains as they stand proud against the skyline. Naturally, the peaks are made mineral-filled lava called Rhyolite, which, as it cools unusually slowly it creates splashes of rainbow colors.
Also, one of the best hikes in Iceland – Laugavegurinn (which takes in rainbow-colored hills to jet-black volcanic deserts, mystical ice caves, and luscious green valleys) starts here.
A challenging 34 mile (55km) hike where the landscape morphs into steaming and bubbling hot springs all along the route and the colors run wild through the mountain peaks. You can book a full four-day tour to do the trail and really explore the area.
Landmannalaugar is only accessible in the Summer months, from June to September. For the rest of the year, the roads are closed.
8. Geysers in Iceland
Not only are geysers great fun (hands up how many of you have jumped with surprise when a geyser currently erupts), but they are also a fairly rare natural phenomenon, only about 1,000 exist on the whole planet.
Geysers are a natural spring. When the water meets superheated magma far below our feet, it forces the water to bubble and gushes upwards until it explodes into the air with unbelievable speed and, in some cases, incredible height. The term ‘Geyser’ was actually coined from the Icelandic work ‘geysa’ which means ‘to gush.’
A 90-minutes drive from the capital, Reykjavik, the ancient Great Geysir is located in Haukadalur Valley. Although for now, this sleeping giant is classified as dormant the Great Geysir was the first European Geysir to be discovered. In fact, when active, it shoots boiling deep water up to 70 meters (229 foot) in the air.
Not far from the Great Geysir is the restless Strokkur Geysir which erupts every few minutes! Although smaller in eruption size, at just 20 meters, you’ll be able to watch it a few times during your visit, we still jump every time it does though.
9. Vestrahorn Mountain in Iceland
Imagine this, you’re sitting on the shore of a gentle lagoon as the crystal clear water laps at your toes, a flat black sand beach that you are sitting on stretches out before you and one of the most stunning peaks of Iceland dominates the view. Vestrahorn, a 454 meter (1,489 foot) tall screen mountain is definitely one of our top spots to visit during your trip to Iceland.
Why go there? To capture this awe-inspiring landscape on camera, due to its rural location, it isn’t crowded so you can capture amazing shots tourist-free. If photography isn’t your passion don’t worry, you’ll enjoy strolling along the unique black-sand beach, petting the Icelandic ponies and if you’re lucky you might even see a few seals.
Best time to visit? Open all year but, remember in Winter that it will be both cold and icy so be prepared for a somewhat difficult trip. You’ll be rewarded with snowy peaks, icy-black reflections on the water and moody skies.
10. Whale Watching in Iceland
Iceland is one of the best places in the entire world for whale watching. Here is a real fact, the whale-ultra-celeb, Keiko from Free Willy was captured in Reyðarfjörður Fjord, Iceland. Keiko was a Killer Whale but there are about eleven species which are regularly sighted year-round.
Iceland’s best spots for whale watching. Although whales can be spotted all along the coast, there are three stunning main locations for whale watching tours. Húsavík is Iceland’s premier destination for whale watching. There are only 182 inhabitants live in this small town and is surrounded by rolling green hills. Take to ensure that you will be visiting the Whale Museum. Eyjafjörður which is the longest Fjord in Iceland and Reykjavík, the capital, has a friendly, colorful and welcoming feeling that you’ll love!
Best time to visit? You can see whales at any time of the year in Iceland but the best period is during summer (June-September) when the warm seas are abundant with krill and fish. The best time is from June to August, so be sure to book in advance.
11. Visit Reykjavík in Iceland
Reykjavík is a colorful view of houses in Iceland. This capital city is awash in thriving cafes, high-energy clubs, friendly pubs, and a brightly colored old town with rows of wooden houses clustered together. Though it’s super small, it’s worth a few extra days to really get a feel for the art and café culture of the city. If you’re a night bird, you’ll like the party life (Icelanders know how to drink). Really, I like this city and always I find myself cheerful here. From reading in cafés to wandering the coastline to enjoying drinks with my friends, Reykjavik sucks me in during every visit.
12. Explore the Westfjords in Iceland
The Westfjords is a large peninsula in northwestern Iceland with tons of mountains and a coastline heavily indented by fjords. It’s one of the finest parts of Iceland and my favorite destination. Few people live here and fewer visits, though Icelanders make their way here on summer vacation. It’s tiny towns, fishing villages, mountains, waterfalls, and lakes.
In the summer months, puffins and whales call it their home. Most of the roads are closed by ice and snow for several months in the winter. Here you’ll find tiny towns, deep fjords, and beautiful hikes all to yourself. It’s hard to get around but locals will let you hitch rides with them easily because bus service here can basically be non-existent. Be sure to eat at Tjöruhúsið in Ísafjörður for an all you can eat, catch of the daily buffet. Delicious!
13. Soak in a Relaxing Lagoon in Iceland
Visit the Blue Lagoon in Reykjavík Iceland. Most people soak in the Blue Lagoon by this huge, milky-blue spa is fed by mineral-rich heated seawater from the nearby geothermal plant. Though it’s the most expensive one, you cannot deny that Iceland’s most famous geothermal pool is the country’s top tourist attraction. But there are so many other hot pools in the country. In the north of Reykjavík , there is the Myvatn Nature Baths, and on the way to Vik, there’s the famous “secret” (but not so secret) mountain springs. You’ll find plenty of free hot springs all around the island. Use the website Hotpot Iceland to find them.
14. See The Golden Circle in Iceland
Including Gullfoss waterfall, Geysir, and Thingvellir National Park, the Golden Circle is the popular tourist destination. It will be an easy day trip from the capital or airport, so people on a short layover always visit this area. It may be possible to drive the whole ring in a day. On the way, you can see a few farms where you can stop and see Icelandic horses. Remember that they are free to enjoy! The sites are:
Langjökull is the second biggest glacier in Iceland’s, it is one of the most photographed waterfalls in the country. If it is not the largest or most majestic, its V shape is unique and powerful to watch. The most famous waterfall in Iceland’s tumbles 105 feet into a steep-sided canyon, kicking up a wall of spray. The spray creates shimmering rainbows over the gorge on a sunny day. This is a truly amazing spectacle and a rewarding scene after a nice hike.
Geysir is a famous hot spring in Haukadalur Valley. Geysir never erupts anymore, but Strokkur spouts 15-20 meters of water about every 10 minutes. A large number of strikingly colored hot pools in the area along the path. For hiking up the mountains nearby (takes 20 minutes to get to the top), you’ll be rewarded with picturesque views of farmland.
Thingvellir is a place that is full of hiking trails and stunning camping grounds, but its big draw is that it’s the only place in the world where you may see two main tectonic plates drifting apart above sea level. To walk through the park takes a good 1-2 hours, but the landscape is so gorgeous (and it’s not a difficult walk). If you want you can go scuba diving between the plates and there are some good guided walks.
With a vehicle, it will better to take Highway 1 east from the city until you hit Route 35. Follow that north to Gullfoss. The tour will be just under 2 hours. On your way back to Reykjavik you can stop at Geysir and Thingvellir via Route 37/365. If you are not returning to Reykjavik, do Gullfoss last so you can continue on Highway 1 around the island.
15. Watch the Northern Lights in Iceland
It is the Northern Lights in Iceland. These Lights become more visible here from September to April. These lights are one of the greatest natural wonders in the world. To watch the aurora borealis in all their glory in Iceland requires patience, luck, and darkness. The best place to see the lights are the country towns in the north. Remember that if the lights are originally strong, you may sometimes see them in Rekjyavik.