Traveling to Iceland is becoming more and more popular, the number of visits has doubled in the past few years. Everyone who has been there knows why. A land of gorgeous nature, waterfalls, volcanoes, caves, glaciers, hot water springs, geysers and much more will blow your mind. Rent a car, get on the road and don’t miss these 17 things when you travel across this majestic country.
1. Waterfalls, waterfalls everywhere
- Waterfalls in Iceland are just out of this world! Some are very accessible, you can get really close to them, others you’ll see when driving on the main road around Iceland. There are so many of them, so here are the ones you don’t want to forget:
- Gullfoss – this waterfall plunges in two stages into the deep, you can get really close to it.
- Seljalandsfoss – walking around the waterfall and getting behind it is a unique experience like no other.
- Skógafoss – with 25 meters in width, you can get very close to it or follow stairs to a viewpoint on top.
- Dettifoss – the most powerful waterfall in Europe, you can hear it from a distance, it’s 100 meters wide!
- Godafoss – amazing view and clear blue water, with a well-deserved name after the Gods.
- Hraunfossar – a series of waterfalls, spread around 900 meters.
2. Thingvellir national park
Probably the first stop on your way across the golden circle. A border like no other between two tectonic plates, Europe and America. In Thingvellir national park has a beautiful scenery where you can walk between the two tectonic plates, look around the breathtaking landscape and of course find a waterfall – Oxifoss.
3. Geysers and hot springs – oh the smell… 🙂
Iceland is full of geometrical areas, one of the most interesting hot springs is the Great Geysir which erupts every 4 -10 minutes, reaching an average height around 20 meters. Watching it erupt up close is very cool. Where there are geometrical areas there is Sulfur, which smells kind of like rotten eggs, but you get used to it after a few days.
4. Reykjadalur valley
Ever bathed in a river after a hike? Reykjadalur valley has a hot river and is only 45 kilometers from Reykjavik. The hike is 3 kilometers long, with plenty of stops near the boiling ponds. Traveling in winter may not be the best time to bathe but the views are still worth it.
5. Raufarholshellir – Lava Tube Cave
Go and explore this cave, you will find amazing tunnels with the sun peeking from above in the first few chambers. After that, the “real” cave starts with no rooftop openings. You don’t need a guide to enter it, but beware you are entering at your own risk.
The capital city offers something for everyone’s taste. From fine wine and dine restaurants, to beautiful views and a great night life you shouldn’t miss. The city center is explorable by foot, just park next to the Hallgrímskirkja, the largest church in Iceland and go on your way. Noteworthy points are the parliament, swimming pools, Laugavegur the main shopping street, Nauthólsvík geothermal beach, the National museum, the Concert Hall etc…
7. Seljavallalaug – swim in the middle of the Mountains
Seljavallalaug is a geothermal pool surrounded by Mountains. It’s located near the main road. After a short gravel road and hike, you are ready to soak your tushie in water with 38 degrees, even in cold weather. It’s really worth the trip!
8. Solheimasandur – abandoned plane
Want to see the abandoned plane in Solheimasandur beach? The remains of the crash in 1973, are left in the nature to explore but beware, it takes approximately an hour to get to the site from the parking lot and an hour back. You park your car right next to the main road and then have to go on foot to the airplane.
9. Volcanic craters
Iceland has 130 active and extinct volcanos. Because of them, there are a lot of craters, hike on at list one of them.
- Hverfjall – a massive turf ring volcano that erupted 2500 BC, it is approximately 140 meters deep and 1 kilometer in diameter.
- Kerid – this one is 55 meters deep and 270 meters wide, it’s approximately 3000 years old and there’s a lake with a bench next to it. We have to say, the scenery is very relaxing until you remember you’re sitting on the roof of an extinct volcano.
10. Jökulsárlón – glacier lake
Take a seat and listen to the ice crack. There is constant ice melting and breaking from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier into the Jökulsárlón lagoon. This exquisite scenery offers fascinating views rarely seen anywhere else. For all animal lovers, there are seals there, and they gather in large numbers. Guided boat tours of the lagoon are available as well.
11. Reynisfjara beach
High cliffs rise 66 meters above the Reynisfjara black sandy beach and slightly resembles a rocky step pyramid. Despite the beauty Reynisfjara beach brings, it can be extremely dangerous, so be careful around big waves and cold water. Don’t forget to spot the astonishing Dyrhólaey cliff. Also, some scenes from the Netflix series Sense8 were filed here!
12. Whale watching – Husavik or Akureyri
The sea around Iceland has approximately 23 species of whales. From all the available Whale watching tours you can go on, we recommend the ones in Husavik or Akureyri. The high season is in the summer when they feed. Dress warmly as some tours last for about 3 hours and go to the toilet beforehand.
Travel back in time and see how the Icelanders lived in the 18th century. The turf houses are fun to explore and definitely worth stopping by.
14. Mývatn lake
A shallow lake near the Krafla volcano created by a lava eruption. Take a hike or soak in Mývatn Natural baths. The natural baths are less expensive option than the Blue lagoon.
Hverarond is one of the larger geothermal areas in the country. In short, very interesting colors and smells.
16. Glacier tours
A broad range of all kinds of glacier tours. Just google and find those to your taste and desires, like hiking, climbing or even explore the ice caves.
17. Blue lagoon
Before departing, stop by the Blue lagoon and relax after your adventure. Though it’s the most popular and crowded geothermal pool in Iceland, it’s worth the visit. Book ahead online and depending on the package you buy, it’ll include bathing in the lagoon, saunas, face/body masks and even massages. The water is, obviously, blue and generally between 37-40 degrees.
The list of things to see or do in Iceland could go on and on.
More of Iceland
Wanaka, a city docket in-between high peak mountains, offers great views, nice hikes, and kind people. Here’s how you can spend 48 hours in Wanaka.
Tenerife, the largest of Canary Islands west off the coast on northwestern Africa, is a volcanic island known for its amazing black and white beaches.
We visited two beautiful German cities, Munich and Berlin and fell in love with the vibrant culture, kind people and delicious beer.