Breathtaking Beauty: Top 17 Places to Visit in Iceland!

When one thinks of Places to visit in Iceland, the images that often come to mind are those of icy landscapes, active volcanoes, and dramatic coastal cliffs. Indeed, to visit in Iceland means to explore a land that seems almost otherworldly in its beauty and raw power. From the famous geysers to the Northern Lights, Iceland offers experiences that are unique and unforgettable. As you embark on this journey with us, prepare to unveil the magic and wonder that Iceland holds.

See the List Below of the Top 17 Places to visit in Iceland:

1. The Golden Circle

places to visit in iceland

One of the most renowned routes to visit in Iceland is the Golden Circle, a path that promises to showcase the diverse and stunning Icelandic landscapes. Geysir Geothermal Area is an active hot spring zone where the Strokkur geyser shoots a column of water up to 30 meters into the air every few minutes. As you watch this natural spectacle, you are reminded of the immense geothermal energy that bubbles just beneath Iceland’s surface.

Not far from the geysers, the Gullfoss Waterfall awaits. Its name, meaning ‘Golden Falls’, does justice to its magnificence. The Hvítá river dramatically plunges in two stages into a deep canyon, creating an awe-inspiring view. The story behind this fall involves a young girl who, in the early 20th century, threatened to throw herself into the falls if a hydroelectric plant was built there. Her love and passion for nature are evident in every droplet of the preserved waterfall today.

Thingvellir National Park, the third gem in the Golden Circle, holds both geological and historical significance. It’s where you can witness the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates slowly drifting apart. But more than its geological wonder, it’s also a site where the Althingi, one of the world’s oldest parliaments, was established in 930 AD. Here, you can walk among the very footsteps of Icelandic sagas and legends, making it a must visit in Iceland.

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2. Reykjavik

places to visit in iceland

Reykjavik, the capital and the heartbeat of Iceland, is more than just a city; it’s a reflection of Icelandic culture, history, and modernism combined. One cannot truly visit in Iceland without soaking in the aura of Reykjavik. Towering over the city’s skyline, Hallgrímskirkja Church stands as a symbol of Iceland’s unique architectural style. This Lutheran church, inspired by the basalt lava columns found across Iceland, is not just a place of worship but an observatory offering panoramic views of the city.

Adjacent to the harbor, the Harpa Concert Hall is not just a place for music but an architectural marvel with its geometric shaped glass panels reflecting the vibrant life of the city and the natural beauty of its surroundings. Whether you are attending a musical performance or just admiring its design, Harpa guarantees an enchanting experience during your visit in Iceland.

Sun Voyager Sculpture – or Sólfar – is another iconic spot in Reykjavik. Representing a dreamboat and an ode to the sun, this sculpture captures the essence of Icelandic culture, representing hope, freedom, and a promising future. As you stand beside it, looking at the horizon, you can’t help but feel the deep connection between the Icelandic people and their land.

3. Blue Lagoon

places to visit in iceland

The Blue Lagoon is perhaps the epitome of what it means to visit in Iceland. This geothermal spa, located amidst a lava field, promises relaxation like no other. The mineral-rich waters, known for their healing properties, provide relief and rejuvenation for both the body and the soul.

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The turquoise blue waters contrasted with the black volcanic rocks create a landscape that seems out of a dream. But the Blue Lagoon is not just about its stunning vistas. The silica mud mask, available for all bathers, is known for its skin rejuvenation properties. As you float in the warm waters, with steam rising around you and the Icelandic cold air on your face, the experience is nothing short of magical. For many, a dip in the Blue Lagoon is more than just relaxation; it’s a rite of passage when you visit in Iceland.

4. Akureyri

places to visit in iceland

Often dubbed as the ‘Capital of North Iceland’, Akureyri is the gateway to some of the most stunning landscapes you’ll visit in Iceland. This town, despite its small size, buzzes with life, arts, and some incredible gourmet Icelandic cuisine. Located by the Eyjafjörður Fjord, the views are nothing short of spectacular.

But what truly draws visitors to Akureyri is its proximity to some of the most magnificent natural attractions. Whether it’s the chance to go on whale-watching tours, where humpbacks and minke whales breach the waters, or visiting the nearby lava formations, waterfalls, and hot springs, Akureyri is a hub for nature lovers. During winters, the town turns into a skiing paradise with the Hlíðarfjall ski resort offering snowy adventures.

5. Vatnajökull National Park

places to visit in iceland

To truly experience the wilderness and majesty that one expects to visit in Iceland, heading to Vatnajökull National Park is an absolute must. Covering 14% of Iceland, it’s home to the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull. The park is a symphony of active geothermal areas, ice caves, volcanic landscapes, and vast ice caps.

Underneath the glacier rests some of the country’s most active volcanoes, including Grímsvötn, which periodically erupts, reminding visitors of the powerful forces at work beneath the ice. Each eruption, while a display of nature’s might, also carves out new ice caves – a phenomenon unique to glaciers like Vatnajökull. These caves, with their stunning blue ice, are a popular attraction and offer a surreal experience as you traverse their crystalline chambers.

The park is also home to Hvannadalshnjúkur, the tallest peak in Iceland, which beckons mountaineers and trekkers alike. With its varied landscape, the park offers a multitude of hiking trails for all levels of expertise. From trails that wind through valleys with rivers braiding their way across black sand plains to those that challenge the daring with steep ascents, Vatnajökull is a hiker’s paradise.

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6. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

places to visit in iceland

No visit in Iceland is complete without witnessing the ethereal beauty of Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. Located at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, the lagoon is filled with icebergs that have broken off and now float, creating a dynamic and ever-changing scenery.

The lagoon’s blue waters, dotted with icebergs in hues of white, blue, and black, and occasionally visited by seals, is a sight that seems straight out of a fairy tale. An exciting way to experience the lagoon is by taking one of the boat tours which navigate between the drifting icebergs, getting you up close with these frozen giants.

Adjacent to the lagoon is Diamond Beach, named for the ice chunks that wash ashore and glisten like diamonds in the sun. Watching the waves play with these ice chunks on the black sand beach, one is reminded of the contrasts and spectacles that await when you visit in Iceland.

7. The Northern Lights

places to visit in iceland

Arguably one of the most sought-after experiences for anyone planning to visit in Iceland is witnessing the Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis. These lights are not just a natural phenomenon; they are a dance of particles, a play of colors, and a testament to nature’s ability to awe and inspire.

Iceland’s position close to the Arctic Circle makes it one of the prime locations in the world to view this spectacle. Between September and April, when the nights are longest, the skies come alive with greens, pinks, purples, and reds swirling and dancing. The unpredictable nature of the lights adds to the excitement – no two displays are ever the same.

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To experience the Northern Lights in their full glory, it’s recommended to move away from city lights. Whether you choose to camp out or book one of the many lodges dedicated to Northern Lights viewing, the experience is bound to be a highlight of your visit in Iceland.

8. Húsavík

places to visit in iceland

Húsavík, often hailed as the ‘Whale Capital’ of Iceland, offers a unique maritime experience for those who visit in Iceland. This charming town, with its picturesque harbor and vibrant wooden houses, is the premier location for whale watching in Iceland.

The Skjálfandi Bay, upon which Húsavík is situated, teems with marine life. Throughout the year, it’s common to spot minke whales, humpbacks, and even the majestic blue whale, which often frequents these waters. Combined with the frequent sightings of dolphins and porpoises playfully breaking the water’s surface, and the rare chance to spot orcas, the bay is a marine enthusiast’s dream come true.

Húsavík is not just about whales. The Whale Museum in town offers a deep dive into the life of these magnificent creatures, with life-size models and interactive exhibits. The town is also a gateway to the breathtaking Ásbyrgi canyon and Dettifoss waterfall, making it a vital stop for anyone looking to deeply immerse themselves in all the wonders one can visit in Iceland.

The Skjálfandi Bay, upon which Húsavík is situated, teems with marine life. Throughout the year, it’s common to spot minke whales, humpbacks, and even the majestic blue whale, which often frequents these waters. Combined with the frequent sightings of dolphins and porpoises playfully breaking the water’s surface, and the rare chance to spot orcas, the bay is a marine enthusiast’s dream come true.

9. Snaefellsnes Peninsula

places to visit in iceland

The Snaefellsnes Peninsula, often referred to as ‘Iceland in Miniature’, encapsulates everything that you’d want to visit in Iceland within a relatively small region. Dominating the landscape is the Snæfellsjökull glacier, an impressive ice cap set atop a dormant volcano that was immortalized in Jules Verne’s “Journey to the Center of the Earth.”

Driving through the peninsula offers a mesmerizing mix of rugged coastlines, black sand beaches, and quaint fishing villages. One of the most iconic landmarks is Kirkjufell mountain, often deemed the most photographed mountain in Iceland. With its distinctive shape, especially when viewed with the nearby Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, it’s a photographer’s dream.

Historically significant sites like the Búðir black church, a stark black wooden structure set against the backdrop of the glacier and the beach, offers a quiet place of reflection. The tales of elves and hidden people are woven into the fabric of the peninsula, and visiting the Berserkjahraun lava field can feel like stepping into a mystical realm.

10. Mývatn Region

a large body of water sitting next to a lush green field
Photo by Bernd 📷 Dittrich on Unsplash

The Mývatn region stands out for its incredibly diverse landscapes, a testament to the geothermal activity that one expects to visit in Iceland. The Mývatn lake, from which the region gets its name, is surrounded by wetlands that are a haven for birdwatchers, especially during the breeding season of ducks.

A striking feature of the region is the Dimmuborgir lava formations, often referred to as the ‘Dark Castles’. These towering lava pillars, arches, and caves, formed over 2,000 years ago, have an eerie, otherworldly feel. Icelandic folklore suggests they’re the homes of trolls and elves.

The Námaskarð Geothermal Area, with its bubbling mud pools, steaming fumaroles, and vibrant mineral deposits, showcases the raw power of the Earth. A relaxing end to a day of exploration can be found in the Mývatn Nature Baths, a geothermal spa offering mineral-rich waters, similar to the Blue Lagoon but without the crowd.

11. Landmannalaugar

places to visit in iceland

Landmannalaugar is a geothermal wonder that anyone would wish to visit in Iceland. Nestled in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands, its terrains are a testament to the raw beauty and power of nature.

The rhyolite mountains display an array of colors, from pink to green to golden brown to blue, a result of the volcanic minerals. This colorful canvas is juxtaposed with vast black lava fields, remnants of past eruptions.

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However, the primary allure of Landmannalaugar is its geothermal hot springs. Bathing in these natural pools, surrounded by such dramatic scenery, offers an unparalleled experience. For the more adventurous, the region offers the Laugavegur trail, a 55-kilometer trek that takes you through some of Iceland’s most breathtaking landscapes.

12. Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss

places to visit in iceland

Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, two of the most iconic waterfalls, are a must-visit in Iceland. Skógafoss, with its 60-meter drop, is one of the largest waterfalls in the country. On sunny days, its mist often creates vibrant rainbows, making it a picturesque sight.

Nearby, Seljalandsfoss offers a unique experience – a pathway that leads behind the waterfall, allowing you to view the cascading water from a cavernous backdrop. The sight of the setting sun, combined with the roar of the water, is an ethereal experience that embodies the spirit of all that you can visit in Iceland.

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13. Vestmannaeyjar: The Westman Islands

places to visit in iceland

An archipelago off Iceland’s south coast, Vestmannaeyjar or the Westman Islands, offer a distinctive experience for those who visit in Iceland. The islands, born from undersea volcanic eruptions, have a history rich in seafaring and sagas of pirate raids.

Eldfell volcano, which last erupted in 1973, stands as a reminder of nature’s unpredictability. You can hike its slopes and view the remains of houses buried under the lava and ash. The island’s Puffin colonies are a major draw, with the delightful birds dotting the cliffs during the breeding season.

The annual Þjóðhátíð Festival sees a sea of tents, music, and fireworks, as Icelanders from all corners converge on the island for a weekend of celebration.

14. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

places to visit in iceland

A hidden gem that you must visit in Iceland is Fjaðrárgljúfur, a serpentine canyon that stretches for about 2 kilometers and reaches depths of up to 100 meters. The sheer walls of the canyon, carpeted in green moss, are intersected by the Fjaðrá river, which has, over millennia, carved this breathtaking landscape.

Walking trails along the rim offer panoramic views, while at the base, you can trace the river’s path, with waterfalls and pools punctuating your journey. Despite its ancient origins, the canyon remains a relatively less frequented spot, allowing for a serene communion with nature.

15. Djúpivogur: The Gateway to the East

places to visit in iceland

Djúpivogur, a quaint town on the eastern fjords, represents an Iceland that’s off the typical tourist path. Those who visit in Iceland and make their way here are rewarded with pristine landscapes, a rich fishing heritage, and the artwork that dots the town.

Eggin í Gleðivík, an installation of 34 eggs representing local bird species, is a nod to the region’s avian diversity. The nearby Búlandstindur mountain, believed by some locals to have mystical powers, dominates the horizon and offers challenging treks.

A short boat ride away, Papey Island beckons with its colonies of puffins and seals, and a wooden church that’s the sole reminder of previous human habitation.

16. Rauðasandur: The Red Sand Beach

places to visit in iceland
Rauðasandur” by Mariska van de Vosse is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

In a country known for its black sand beaches, Rauðasandur or ‘Red Sand Beach’ is a delightful anomaly and a must-visit in Iceland. Stretching over 10 kilometers in the Westfjords, the beach mesmerizes with its vast expanse of reddish-gold sand, a result of crushed scallop shells.

Unlike many of Iceland’s dramatic coastlines, Rauðasandur is a serene, flat beach, offering peaceful walks and birdwatching opportunities, especially near the cliffs where kittiwakes and puffins reside. The nearby Látrabjarg cliffs are Europe’s westernmost point and a haven for seabirds.

As you traverse this golden beach, the play of light, especially during the midnight sun, paints the sands in hues of orange and red, creating an ethereal landscape that remains etched in memory.

17. Askja Caldera & Víti Crater

places to visit in iceland

Deep within the Icelandic highlands lies Askja, a massive caldera formed through volcanic activity over millennia. For those who visit in Iceland, this remote and rugged landscape offers a raw, unfiltered experience of Iceland’s geothermal might.

The Víti Crater, a sub-crater within Askja, is of particular interest. Its name translates to ‘Hell’, but contrary to its ominous name, the crater houses a warm, milky-blue geothermal lake, providing a stark contrast to the surrounding barren landscapes.

Getting to Askja is an adventure in itself. The journey requires a 4×4 vehicle and a drive through expansive lunar-like terrains, reminding one of the Apollo astronauts who trained here for their moon missions. Once there, the panoramic views of the caldera, interspersed with lakes and lava fields, stand as a testament to nature’s artistic prowess.

Sachin
Sachinhttps://www.voyageroams.com/
Traveling isn’t just about places, it’s about experiences. I’m Sachin, curating unique tales of exploration at Voyage Roams. Journey with me!

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