5 places Everybody wants to visit in Iceland
An island of striking landscapes, where rivers run through deserts and molten lava erupts from ice. Iceland is a realm of stark contrasts.
It is a country where the natural elements dance between the poles of fire and frost, during winters with endless nights, and summers where the sun never sets.
It can be a little overwhelming, therefore, to decide what to do and where to go to Iceland. Before you book your trip, there is a lot to take into account.
There are so many unique attractions and differing landscapes that fitting them all into a holiday may seem like an impossible task. Some sites and activities, however, are must-see destinations. Below is a summary of our top ten things to do and places to go in Iceland, in no particular order.
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 which, when the water meets superheated magma far below our feet, it forces the water to bubble and gush 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.’
Where to go? The ancient Great Geysir is located in Haukadalur Valley, a 90-minutes drive from the capital, Reykjavik. 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.
2. Wonders of Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
If you want to see the diverse landscapes and features of Iceland, all you need to do is plan a day trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Snaefellsnes has been nicknamed ‘Iceland in Miniature’ due to the sheer variety of landscapes you can see on the peninsula. While all are unique and beautiful, none compare to its crowning glory, Snæfellsjökull glacier.
Snæfellsjökull is a twin-peaked glacier that sits over a volcano on the peninsula’s tip, surrounded by jagged lava fields and a dramatic coastline on three sides. You can see it from some of the area’s other top attractions, such as the all-but-abandoned hamlet of Búðir and the Lóndrangar sea stacks.
The glacier has such an essential place in the heart of Icelanders that it was declared a National Park in 2001. It shares this status with only two other places in this country (both of which feature in this list).
Many pieces of art, particularly literature, have been inspired by Snæfellsjökull. Most famously, Jules Verne’s science fiction novel; ‘A Journey to the Centre of the Earth’. The glacier bestows the same sense of inspiration upon every guest who looks upon it.
Snæfellsjökull can be seen in clear weather from Reykjavík by gazing across Faxaflói Bay, but there is no comparison to visiting the site itself.
If you have rented a car, it is possible to drive to the glacier and back within a day. Many self-drive tours, such as a six-day winter self-drive, include time on the peninsula.
There are plenty of Snæfellsness tours and packages to choose from. As one of the best places to visit in Iceland you’ll get to experience an otherworldly peninsula like no other.
Many guided tours will introduce you to Snæfellsjökull and its surrounding features, including providing you with options to glacier hike and snowmobile on top of the glacier.
If you want to do more than just sightseeing, someday tours include a snowmobiling trip on the glacier’s icy surface. It is also possible to go caving in the Vatnshellir lava tube within the National Park.
A visit to Snaefellsnes is truly magical. Visit Kirkjufell, widely considered one of the most photographed mountains in Iceland due to its iconic feature in the Game of Thrones TV series.
There is so much to see and do there that if you plan to incorporate it into your Iceland travel plan, you may wish to read our ultimate guide to the Snaefellsnes peninsula.
It’s easy enough to rent a car from Reykjavik and travel there yourself. This gives you the freedom to choose your own route. Meanwhile, if you prefer organized trips where you don’t have to drive, you’re sure to find something for you in our wide range of package vacations.
3. Visit Reykjavík
This hip capital is awash in thriving cafes, high-energy clubs, friendly pubs, and a brightly colored old town with rows of wooden houses clustered together. It’s more like a giant small town than a city. 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. And if you’re a night owl, you’ll love the party life (Icelanders know how to drink). I love this city and never find myself bored here. From reading in cafés to wandering the coastline to enjoying drinks with my friends, Reykjavik sucks me in during every visit.
4. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
With so much press being given to the glaciers falling into the sea due to global warming, wouldn’t it be interesting to see an area where glaciers have been breaking apart for longer than men have walked the earth? Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is where you can see hundreds of little icebergs dotting the lake, formed by breaking off the Breidamerkurjokull glacier as the ice melted away. This is one of the most highly photographed areas of Iceland simply because it illustrates what icebergs look like after they’ve separated from a major glacier.
5. Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is one of the top Iceland attractions, thanks to its luminescent hue and healing waters. Located about 45 minutes from the capital Reykjavik which makes it possible to do as a quick day trip, the lagoon is full of geothermal seawater that stays piping hot all year round. Not only is it perfect for a scenic soak, but it’s also said to have healing properties for those who suffer from skin conditions such as psoriasis and eczema.