Iceland is an island full of volcanoes, waterfalls, rivers, glaciers, and wildlife. The place justifies its name as a land of fire and ice.
Planning a trip to Iceland may be overwhelming because of all the places there, but thorough preparation will save you the trouble of these issues.
Below are the topmost places to visit and the best things to do in Iceland-
Reykjavik’s most prominent and capital city, is a must-visit tourist attraction during your trip to Iceland. The beauty of the entirety of Iceland lies in its capital city, making visiting it one of the best things to do in Iceland.
Climb up the tallest building of the city, the cathedral of Hallgrimskirkja, and the view in front will have you amazed. The sight may go as far as the Snaefellsnes Peninsula on a fine day.
The nightlife of Reykjavik is vibrant, with all the bars and cafes. The place has a crazy nightlife where people barely sleep at night. So no trip is complete without a party night out.
Top Destinations: Hallgrimskirkja Church, Lake Tjörnin, Harpa Concert Hall, Sun Voyager Statue, Perlan
2. Explore the wholesome of Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Better known as ‘Iceland in Miniature’, Snæfellsnes Peninsula is the perfect combination of geographical diversities. The Snæfelljökull Glacier sits on the volcano of the peninsula’s tip like a gem. It is surrounded by lava fields and beautiful coasts on all three sides.
In 2001, the glacier was recognized as a National Park. Visiting the peninsula and exploring the glacier and the national park is among Iceland’s best things to do. You can go for adventurous caving in the Vatnshellir lava tube of the Snæfelljökull National Park.
Several prominent artistic masterpieces, especially from the literature section, were inspired by the Snæfelljökull Glacier. One of the most famous science fiction novels, ‘A Journey to the Center of the Earth’ by Jules Verne, is also inspired by this lovely glacier.
Many packages provide facilities for self-drive tours all around Iceland for a week and snowcat riding on the crystal transparent icy glacier surfaces.
Top Destinations: Hamlet of Budir, Londrangar Sea Stacks.
3. Enjoy the Spectacular Sights of Kirkjufell Mountains.
One of the top things to do in Iceland visits the pretty Kirkjufell Mountains. It is one of the most captured beauties in Iceland, located in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
The pristine water with a backdrop of the mountains gives you a mirror image, making the place more pleasing to the eyes. The mountain has an exceptional beauty because of its arrowhead shape, coastal location, and being away from other mountains.
The Kirkjufell Mountain is interpreted as Church Mountain. It is the ultimate destination for travellers who long for self-drive tours. Hike your way up the Arrowhead mountains, which will pass you the vibes of the Games of Thrones.
4. Visit the Largest Glacier of Europe- Vatnajökull Glacier.
Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe, which forms 8% of the area of Iceland. The glacier is an overflow of the masterpieces of nature and the numerous breathtaking ice caves.
The ice of this glacier stars as a blanket for three active volcanoes, which are also the tallest peaks of Iceland. Vatnajökull shelters many rivers and outlet glaciers.
If you have watched Game of Thrones, you may have figured out by now that this place is featured in two other James Bond movies.
5. Visit Nature’s intricate creation-Asbyrgi Canyon.
Asbyrgi Canyon is located in North-Eastern Iceland. The place is an intricate beauty of nature shaped like a horseshoe. The beauty of this place is so exceptional that early inhabitants believed that this was a creation of divine power.
In Norse mythology, it is said that this place was created by the hoof of an Icelandic horse with eight legs, Odin. It is also believed that this canyon sheltered ‘Hidden People’ for centuries. It is a must-visit place if you are interested in learning the history of Iceland.
The centre of the place is a plateau surrounded by cliffs which give you the country’s best sights. The valley underneath is also naturally flourishing with rich vegetation and is very profound.
6. The Golden Circle Shows You the Best in Iceland.
This 300 kilometres route of the Golden Circle attracts thousands of tourists every year. This route ventures you to the top tourist attractions of Iceland. The site of Thingvellir National Park of Golden Circle is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The circle connects Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss. Several guided tours ensure a tour of the Golden Circle, but you can also choose a self-drive tour and enjoy the place however you want.
Top Destinations: Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss Waterfall that leads you to the Langjokull Glacier, Silfra, and the Geysir Geothermal Area.
7. Explore Lake Mývatn.
The Lake Mývatn area is a paradise on Earth, rich in flora and fauna, and is located around 85 kilometres east of Akureyri in Northern Iceland. The lakes came into existence over 2000 years ago due to catastrophic eruptions. Visiting this place is one of the most exciting things to do in Iceland.
The area is now overflowing with lives in the precious lakes formed very elegantly. Several bird species flock in the waters here during the summer. You can also see the rare moss balls. There are many other volcanoes scattered throughout the area.
The geology of this area is very eye-catching. The water may tempt you to dip, but the temperature is relatively low. So, you can go to the Mývatn nature baths, which will significantly relax you for the rest of your trip.
Top Destinations: Namaskard Pass, Dimmuborgir, Dettifoss, Hverir and Grjotagja hot springs.
8. A Relaxing Trip to Rauðasandur Beach.
A trip to Rauðasandur Beach is one of the most relaxing things to do in Iceland with the pink and red sands of the beaches.
You can walk by the coast, enjoy the waves, and sunbathe in the warmth of the Sun. On your walk by the shore, you may spot a cute seal. The Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs is also a famous place where you can go for bird-watching.
9. Go to Diamond Beach.
Diamond Beach is located in the far east of the South Coast. It is also known as “The Crown Jewel of Iceland’s nature”.
The lagoon overflows with icebergs that slowly roll down to the ocean after separating itself from the glacial tongue throughout the year. The stark contrast of the white, icy raging waves hitting the black-sand shore makes the scenery enchanting.
The place looks straight out of your dream with the various shades of the midnight sun or the vibrant colours of the Northern Lights. If you are lucky, you can spot seals and other cute marine animals playing in the lagoon.
10. A Perfect Countryside Trip to Hussey.
Hussey is located in the eastern part of Iceland. Rich in flora and fauna, Hussey has a collection of around 175 different species of plants and 30 species of birds.
It is cradled between two massive glacial rivers and is surrounded by the elegant Eastern Mountains. You may spot reindeer walking around and see seals in the rivers.
11. Take in the Exquisite Beauty of the Black Sand.
Experiencing Black Sand Beach is one of the best things to do in Iceland. Although the place looks like an artist smeared black colour on the sands, the science behind it is just as fascinating.
The South Coast is the victim of glacial flooding, which led to the rock breakdown and flattening into black sand. Additionally, the coastal erosion left a significant part of the shore spiky and full of fjords.
A trip to the South Coast is incomplete without a visit to Black Sand Beach. The place is lovely but is restricted to beach swimming due to its freezing temperature and fast currents.
Reynisfjara is one of the highly striking beaches of the black sand beach, which is very popular among travellers. Some waves gush the shores suddenly, which can be highly risky. Keeping a safe distance of 20 to 30 meters from the waters would be best.
12. Take a Dip in the Blue Lagoon.
Located around 30 miles away from the Reykjavik city centre, the Blue Lagoon is the most visited geothermal spa in Iceland. This hot pool is tucked in the volcanic peninsula of Reykjanes and has pretty nature. The spa is also surrounded by lava fields covered in grey moss.
The water in the geothermal pool is very dense, milky blue, and highly rich in silica, minerals, and good bacteria, which gives it healing properties. This Milky blue lagoon looks very enthralling with the envelope of steam that covers the pool.
The place is an excellent destination for relaxing and rejuvenating yourself from daily hustle life. The place provides in-water massages, silica masks, and beauty treatments for retaining your skin’s glow with rare algae and minerals.
You can go for further luxurious treatments, which are private and must be booked before the visit. And the best way to make the experience memorable is by reaching there early in the morning when it is less crowded.
13. Take a Drive Along the Ring Road.
A Ring Road itinerary is one of the best things to do in Iceland. You can visit all the famous places while on wheels. The route is 1332 kilometres, covers the entire island, and can take a week to 10 days.
During the drive, you will come across various places like waterfalls, hiking trails, glaciers, beautiful towns, peaceful wildlife, and much more. It is recommended to take the drive from May to September as the weather is clear then and the days are longer.
You can also take the tour during winter as it is all serene and white everywhere, but the snow may lead you to hardships while travelling. A 4×4 will make the journey more memorable as you can experience the ice and snow while driving.
14. Try Snorkeling or Scuba Diving at Silfra.
Snorkelling in Silfra is one of the most entertaining things to do in Iceland.
It is the opening between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. The crystal clear water in the fissure has sight a little more than 100 meters from under the water.
The place attracts thousands of snorkelers and scuba divers every year. You need a professional certificate for scuba diving, unlike for snorkelling, which you can try as a tourist.
15. Go Whale Watching.
One of the most exciting things to do in Iceland is whale watching, which is one of the best spots. You can capture a memorable sight of the whales in the water right from the shore. Many places like Reykjavik, Akureyri, a small town of Husavik in the north, and Westfjords facilities for whale watching tours.
Husavik is better known as the whale watching capital of Europe’. Watching the adorable puffins are considered one of the most exciting things to do in Iceland. The summer months are the nesting for many migratory bird species like the puffins.
Top Destinations: Husavik, Akureyri, Reykjavik, Snaefellsnes Peninsula, and Westfjords.
16. Kayaking in Jökulsárlón is a must.
Located on the South coast of Iceland is the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Kayaking here is one of the best things to do in Iceland if you are an adventure seeker. You can drive to the spot and enjoy the incredible view.
But, if you are not into kayaking, you can still enjoy the place by Taking a zodiac tour around the lagoon and enjoying the snow. This glacier lagoon has scenery that constantly changes based on the weather.
17. Watch the Dancing Northern Lights or the Glorious Midnight Sun.
The Northern Lights happen to be the top thing on the bucket lists of many travellers. Likewise, seeing the never-setting sun is just as stunning. Watching these two phenomena are the best things to do in Iceland. The two have thorough guided tours to make your experience more memorable.
The best time to see the Aurora Borealis is during the winter months, from late August to early April. Hiring expert guides generally increases your chances of spotting the magical lights.
On the contrary, the most suitable time to see the Midnight Sun is from May to early August. There are many guided tours to experience the Sun too.
Since the two of them are not visible on one trip, you might have to pack your bags for a second time as these are the best things to do in Iceland.
Breathtaking Wildlife in Iceland
Iceland is rich in flora and fauna. Here are the best places to visit for nature lovers-
1. Skaftafell Nature Reserve
Once a national park, the Skaftafell Nature Reserve is located on the south coast of Iceland and is one of the most popular tourist attractions for nature lovers and people who fancy peace. The reserve covers an area of 4800 square kilometres.
The reserve is full of glaciers and lagoons that are the origin of Europe’s largest glacier. On reaching the top by hiking, you will be rewarded with ecstatic views underneath. You can also go camping in the greens by a clear running stream, a little away from the black deserts and lava fields.
Several other hiking trails, such as the trail to Svartifoss Waterfall. There is a blue lagoon full of icebergs which you can see by renting a boat.
Top Destinations: Svinafellsjokull, Svartifoss Waterfall, Vatnajokull Glacier and National Park.
2. Snæfellsjökull National Park
The Snæfellsjökull National Park is located in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula. The glacier-topped volcano in the centre of the park is the leading beauty of the park. The Snæfellsjökull Volcano is featured in a famous novel by Jules Verne, A Journey to the Center of the Earth.
You can climb up the crown of Snæfellsjökull and be rewarded with scenic views. Many other volcanoes, lava tubes, and fields spread all over the place, along with a wide range of local wildlife. You can also go whale watching or bird watching.
Top Destinations: Djúpalónssandur Beach, Londranger cliffs, Svortuloft and Ondverdarnes lighthouses.
3. Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
The Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is located in the northernmost part of Westfjords, which overflows with the Icelandic Sagas. A trip to this reserve is one of the most satisfying things to do in Iceland for nature lovers.
This place was quite populated until the beginning of the 20th century but was soon deserted because of its seclusion and lack of modern technologies. The place is now the least populated area of Iceland, with little to no human residents.
The reserve is beautified with a wide range of wildlife and thrilling cliffs that rise to 1752 feet from sea level. There are also thousands of bird species that reside in this place. Despite all these, the terrain is full of new life, making it one of Iceland’s most preserved nature reserves.
You might also be lucky enough to spot the only Arctic Fox lurking in the wild. Although the animal might look rare and exquisite, please do not mistake going in front of it. There are many other animals that you may spot moving around in their element. However, feeding wild creatures is highly prohibited.
4. Thingvellir National Park
The Thingvellir National Park is located in a valley tucked between North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, making the place into a beautiful scenery of lava fields, green forests, and clear streams.
The park is just an hour’s drive from the capital city of Reykjavik, and the Silfra Diving Spot here will provide you with the best diving experience.
Gushing Mighty Waterfalls in Iceland
Iceland is full of clear and powerful waterfalls. Seeing the waterfalls is one of the best things to do in Iceland. Below are the best spots-
One of Iceland’s most visited and prominent waterfalls is the Skógafoss on the Skóga river. Seeing this waterfall is one of the best things to do in Iceland. It is located in the Southern part of Iceland. It has a drop of 60 meters so you can imagine how huge it is.
You must climb up a long staircase from the waterfall’s base to reach its top. On reaching the top, the view there will swoon you. If you hike past the Skógafoss, you can see other 25 waterfalls. It is a 16 kilometres hike with Skógafoss as the final waterfall.
2. Dettifoss and Selfoss
Dettifoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. On the other hand, the Selfoss is comparatively more elegant and is just a short walk upstream. Both the waterfalls fall under the Diamond Circle of Iceland.
Another huge waterfall in Iceland is the Godafoss, also known as the ‘Waterfall of the Gods’. The waterfall is located along the Ring Road in North Iceland. A trip there will be a fun experience.
This waterfall inspired the architecture of the Hallgrimskirkja Church of Reykjavik. Located in Skaftafell, you can reach the Svartifoss by hiking your way there. The hike is a 3 kilometres trip.
The waterfall is intricate, with the water flowing over the black volcanic basalt columns, which serve as the perfect background for your snaps.
5. Glymur Waterfall
The Glymur Waterfall is the second-highest waterfall in Iceland, at 198 meters. Located in Hvalfjörður in the northeastern part of Reykjavik, seeing this waterfall is one of the most fun things to do in Iceland.
You can hike up there, and the place is scenic. The short hiking route comprises a visit through the cave, crossing two rivers, and many scenic views of the waterfall.
6. Dynjandi Waterfall
Located in Arnarfjörður in the Westfjords, the Dynjandi waterfall is another popular tourist attraction in Iceland. It is located remotely and is a collection of seven cascades with clear water. This waterfall is also known as Fjallfoss.
There are several waterways before witnessing the gushing and thunderous Dynjandi Waterfall. The waterfall is under a preserved nature reserve. There are many camping sites where you can stop by.
Iceland is one of the top places for those who love snow, nature, and many fun activities. There are many other activities to do in Iceland. Plan this vacation to the perfect destination of Iceland and spend your vacation with your loved ones relaxing by the beach, seeing a waterfall or doing all the adventures the place offers, and many more.