This Iceland travel guide will provide you with all the tips you need to plan your trip, including what to see and do, where to stay, and how to get around.
Iceland is a stunning country with plenty of natural wonders to explore, so whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an outdoor adventure, you’ll find what you’re looking for in Iceland.
What are Travel Restrictions to Iceland Right Now?
Unless you are already a resident of Iceland or can satisfactorily establish that you have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19 or previously recovered from COVID-19 infection.
Non-essential travel by British nationals from the UK or another non-EU/EEA country to Iceland is not authorized.
Traveling to Iceland for work? Check out the latest information on visas and permits before you book your flight.
The Ranking C-19 contact tracing app is recommended for all passengers traveling to Iceland. The Ranking C-19 website has further information, including how to obtain it, data usage, privacy, and scope.
There is a pre-registration requirement for all passengers who plan to visit Iceland.
All passengers must have a vaccination record or proof of infection in order to board the plane. An Icelandic certificate is required for this.
Upon arrival, all travelers are subjected to a medical examination. Keflavik Airport is a good place to conduct testing.
If You’re Fully Vaccinated
In order to determine whether or not you are completely vaccinated in Iceland, check out the Covid.is – list of recognized vaccines to find out whether or not you meet the requirements.
- COVID-19 PCR or Rapid antigen tests must be negative for vaccinated travelers and those who have previously been infected with COVID-19. Even though it’s a fast antigen self-test, the Icelandic authorities do not acknowledge self-tests.
- The first leg of the journey must be completed within 72 hours of test-taking. There is a 100.000 ISK fine for failing to provide a negative COVID-19 test at the border.
- There is no need to show a negative PCR or fast antigen test if a traveler has just been diagnosed with COVID-19. An older (older than 14 days, but younger than 180 days) positive PCR test must be given instead.
- Because of their ties to the country, they are exempt from having to undergo a quick antigen test or PCR test within the next 48 hours.
Proof of vaccination status
There are no issues with Iceland accepting the UK’s proof of COVID-19 vaccinations supplied in the Crown Dependencies as proof of immunization.
You must have had your final dose of vaccine at least 14 days before your trip. Your NHS vaccination appointment card is not meant to be used as proof of vaccination and should not be used to show your vaccination status.
Anyone suspected of presenting a falsified certificate will be required to undergo testing twice, with a quarantine period in between.
Residents of Iceland
- Within 48 hours of arrival in Iceland, anyone who lives there or has a network there must undergo COVID-19 testing. A negative COVID-19 test is not required at the border.
- Tests can be done either at the Icelandic border in Keflavik or at any of the country’s health care facilities.
- No quarantine is necessary, but travelers are urged to maintain personal hygiene, avoid contact with vulnerable people, and be aware of the signs of COVID-19 while waiting for the results of this test.
- It is not necessary to undertake testing within 48 hours of arrival for those who already reside or have a network in Iceland and who have a certificate of a previous infection that is older than 14 days but younger than 180 days in date.
If You’re Not Fully Vaccinated
Using the Covid.is – list of permitted vaccines – you can see if you’re completely vaccinated in Iceland
- If you do not have a vaccine against COVID-19, you must produce a certificate of negative PCR testing. A rapid antigen test is ineffective. The first leg of the journey must be completed within 72 hours of test-taking. A 100.000 ISK punishment is levied if a positive PCR test is not presented.
- For the duration of the quarantine, each person is required to undergo an additional PCR test. Every new day begins at midnight. Quarantining at home is possible if a person’s living quarters match specific criteria. See a list of places that will take quarantined visitors.
- At health centers around Iceland, the second test is carried out. The night before testing, a bar code is sent to a mobile phone. Please be aware of the varying testing hours.
- Take an airport bus, taxi, rental car, or private car directly to the quarantine area from the border entry point. If a traveler is exhausted or the weather is severe, they should consider staying at a nearby guesthouse for the night.
- When a positive result is obtained, home isolation must be carried out in accordance with the recommendations provided. As soon as an individual is diagnosed with a highly contagious and/or dangerous form of the virus, they must be placed in a quarantine facility.
The infection tracing team and the COVID Outpatient Department at Landsptali handle referrals and provide free isolation in the quarantine hotel.
Children and young people
The second round of testing is required for children born in 2004 or earlier who have not had a full course of vaccinations. They must be tested at the border, quarantined for five days, and then tested again. In order to cross the border, children born in 2005 or after are free from the regulations.
The child will need quarantine with you if you are traveling with them and you are required to be. If your second test results in a negative result on days 5-6, the child will be discharged from quarantine. There is no reason to isolate children who are traveling on their own.
Travel from high-risk countries
There are countries in Iceland that are considered dangerous to visit. If you’ve recently been to or from these countries and don’t have an approved certificate of vaccination or past infection, you won’t be permitted to enter Iceland.
Quarantine facilities may be required if you are a permanent resident of Iceland, have permission from the Icelandic authorities to travel from, or have stayed in these regions within the last 14 days, and do not have a suitable site to self-isolate in Iceland.
These restrictions will substantially impact your ability to accomplish certain things after you arrive. Your travel insurance company should be contacted if you’ve already booked a trip to Iceland and are concerned about what this means.
What is the Best Time to Visit Iceland?
Travelers are increasingly drawn to Iceland because of its mystical — and highly Instagrammable — vistas, including ancient glaciers and rough fjords.
The time of year you travel to this attractive island nation might have a significant impact on the attractions and activities you’ll be able to enjoy.
All year round hot springs in Iceland are a popular tourist attraction, although the northern lights and the midnight sun can only be seen in select months.
Visit Iceland during these seasons if you want to see whales and the northern lights, among many other things.
Best Time to Visit Iceland
The hottest months in Iceland, July, and August, are the most popular time to visit Iceland. Tourist numbers in June are comparable to those at the height of the summer season, thanks to the month’s long days and abundant sunshine.
However, poor weather (such as rain and strong gusts) is not uncommon during this time of year. Because of the island’s ever-changing weather, you may see all four seasons in one day.
Planning a trip to Iceland in September can be a good option because the weather can remain relatively pleasant into the first week of October (most of the crowds have thinned as children return to school).
May, too, is a great month for touring thanks to its long hours of daylight and pleasant weather. Some of the more remote mountains and fjords are still covered in snow, making it difficult to travel to them, so now is not the time to go if you want to do some exploring.
The greatest time to visit Iceland for serious hikers is during the summer when all the mountain roads are open and all the most popular routes are open.
Best Time to See Whales in Iceland
The best months to go whale watching in Iceland are June and July, according to marine researcher Dr. Edda Elsabet Magnsdóttir of Iceland.
From May to August, you can see humpbacks, minkes, and dolphins in the Atlantic off the coast of northern Iceland; some humpbacks hang around until the end of the year. In the summer, blue whales also come by.
During the first half of the year, orcas gather in West Iceland around the Snaefellsnes peninsula in the Snaefellsnes archipelago to mate and give birth to calves.
Best Time to Visit the Hot Springs
For both social and health reasons, Iceland’s hot water baths are an essential part of the local culture.
Even while the city’s public pools are available year-round (and especially welcome in the dead of winter), Reykjavk also boasts hundreds of “hot pots” that draw heat straight from the island’s lava-scarred subsurface geothermal activity.
Expert Icelandic mountaineer Sigurdur Bjarni Sveinsson, the co-founder of Midgard Adventure, recommends visiting hot springs in September or even better.
In the first half of October, when throngs of visitors have diminished dramatically but they are still easily accessible by mountain road.
The best time to visit the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is in the off- and shoulder seasons when there are fewer tourists (hundreds of thousands of people flock here every year).
Best Time to Visit Iceland for Northern Lights
We need darkness, clear weather, and a burst of solar activity in order to witness the aurora borealis. Even if forecasts predict screaming flares, fleeting clouds can make it difficult to see them, like seeing curtains of neon wind.
Because Iceland’s weather is so unpredictable, visitors should never plan a vacation simply to see the Northern Lights (statistically, there are more clear nights in Yellowknife, Canada, for example.)
The greatest time to visit Iceland to see the northern lights is from mid-October through March when the nights are longer and there is less light pollution in the countryside.
Worst Times to Visit Iceland
There’s never a terrible time to visit Iceland, thanks to the country’s breathtaking landscapes and year-round natural phenomena.
In the winter, tourists rush to the country in search of dazzling displays of the Aurora Borealis, while those who like long, uninterrupted stretches of sunlight choose to visit in the summer.
Spring and fall seasons are the most popular times to visit Iceland because of the milder weather and more hours of sunshine, the best time to visit depends on what you want to accomplish during your trip.
If you want to avoid the hordes of tourists, it’s best to skip the hottest months of the year. Major tourist destinations including the Blue Lagoon, Golden Circle, South Coast, and Jökulsárlón are particularly congested during the months of July and August.
Traveling to Iceland around this time of year, be sure to check out the Westfjords or East Iceland, which boast fjords, waterfalls, and views to rival or even surpass those found around Reykjavik’s natural attractions.
Cheapest Times to Visit Iceland
In comparison to other European destinations, getting to Iceland can be quite economical. If you’re coming from the United States or Europe, Icelandair often has promotions where you may save even more money on your flight.
Visiting during the off-season, which is normally late autumn through early spring, excluding December, may allow you to save money on things like lodging, tours, sights, and food (the summer months are usually the most crowded and most expensive time to visit).
What Should You Avoid in Iceland?
If you want to save money, avoid embarrassment, or stay safe, there are some things you should try not to do while in Iceland. According to a person who has lived there their whole life, here is a list of things not to do while you’re in Iceland.
1. Don’t Leave Your Coat at Home
A single day in Iceland could see very different weather than the last time you were in the country. A lot of things that happen during the summer aren’t predictable.
You can get sunshine in the morning, rain in the afternoon, and snow in the evening, with changing winds on top of that.
During the winter, this kind of weather is even more common and extreme, with a few snowstorms thrown in for good measure.
It doesn’t matter what the weather looks like outside your hotel room window. You should bring your warm coat for the trip to Gullfoss and Geysir (or any trip for that matter). Because there’s always a chance that you might need it, you’ll be glad to have it!
2. Don’t Underestimate the Weather
You can go from +20°C to -15°C in the summer and from +20°C to -15°C in the winter. In the summer, the average temperature is about 10°C and in the winter, it’s about -1°C, so it’s not too hot or too cold. On average, there is very little snow in Iceland, even though it is called that.
The wind is what makes it hard here. The wind will always be strong near the sea, from light breezes to strong storms. We sometimes make fun of the fact that there aren’t any waves in Iceland.
Winds aren’t as strong as they are further inland unless you go to the highlands, where it can be very windy at times. Days, when the air isn’t moving, are very few.
3. Don’t Get Caught in the Dark (or Light)
If you go to Iceland, the amount of daylight you see might be very different from what you’re used to seeing. During June and July, it never gets dark. In December and January, it gets dark from about 15:30 to about 11:30 the next day.
So from mid-May to mid-August, the sun only goes down for a few hours. This means that it is almost always light.
Visitors often bring masks help them to sleep because they want to get a good night’s sleep. During the winter, there are only about five hours of daylight.
4. Avoid Buying Bottled Water in Stores
Iceland has some of the best water in the world that comes from the faucet at home. Is not chlorinated or fluorinated because there’s no need to do so because it doesn’t make sense to do so.
Because there is so little else in Icelandic water, most tourists don’t like that it doesn’t taste very good.
To save money when you go to Iceland, get a flask that you can use again and drink the water that comes from your faucet instead of buying bottled water.
Not only this will save you money, but you’ll also help the environment by not buying products that come in plastic.
We all know how long that takes to break down. However, if you want sparkling water, there are a lot of options at most grocery stores.
5. Avoid Shopping at 10-11
If you have a late flight 10-11 may be your only option. You should try to avoid shopping at this supermarket chain because it’s the most expensive in the country. The prices at these stores can be three times more than at the cheapest store.
To save money, try to do your shopping at Bonus, Kronan, or Netto instead of at the big stores. Many of these chains can be found all over the capital area and in most big cities in the country.
6. Don’t Be Fooled by the Light “Beer” in the Supermarkets
People in Iceland drink Pilsner, which is a type of beer that isn’t very alcohol-heavy. It’s sold in the supermarkets.
This is not beer, even though it looks like it. It has very little alcohol in it. There is a government-run alcohol store called Vinbudin that is not in bars or restaurants.
To buy alcohol outside of these places, you must go to Vinbudin. The capital area has a lot of them. A lot of things are sold at these stores. They usually open from Monday to Saturday.
You can buy a light beer from the brand shown in the picture below. It’s tasty and refreshing, and it’s a good price.
7. Don’t Assume You Can Buy Alcohol Anywhere, Anytime
If you go to Iceland, you won’t be able to go into a corner store on any day and buy booze. During certain times and on certain days, there are Vnbain shops that only open for a short time.
Not only that, but you can also expect to pay a lot of taxes and duty on alcohol. They often buy alcohol at the airport, where it isn’t taxed.
People who want to buy a lot of alcohol often do this. Make sure you follow the rules on how much alcohol you can bring into the country duty-free.
In Iceland, there is no tolerance for people who drink and drive. You could be hit with a $750 fine and lose your driving license for having one beer, even if you only had one.
8. Don’t Drive Too Fast
The speed limit in Iceland is between 30 and 90 km/hour, but you can drive as fast as you want. Getting a speeding ticket can cost a lot of money, so you’ll always want to keep an eye on the speed limit. As an example,
- Going 60 km/h when the speed limit is 50 will get you a $80 fine.
- If you drive 110 km/h in a 90 km zone, the fine is $400.
- You will be asked to drive very slowly in areas where people live, schools, and hospitals are. Fines for going 61 km/h in a 30 km/h zone will cost you $550. You will also lose your driving permit for three months.
Also, fines usually start at 6 km/h above the speed limit, and they usually go up from there. So even if you drive a few kilometers over the speed limit, you can still be pulled over and checked out by the police.
9. Do Not Drive Off-Road
We have seen some travel ads where people are having a lot of fun driving around in their Jeep at high speeds over sand or grassy hills at high speeds. They say that it’s fine to drive wherever you want while in Iceland. This isn’t true at all.
Off-road driving is very important in Iceland. If you get caught, you could be fined up to $2,000, and you’ll also have to pay for the damage you caused. So, no matter what you saw on TV or how safe it looked, don’t drive off the road or trail in your car.
10. Please Don’t Go Hiking Alone and Don’t Ignore Warning Signs
While the scenery in Iceland is beautiful, it can also be dangerous. Every year, tourists get lost or have accidents while hiking in remote areas.
Most are found by the local rescue teams, but some die from exposure or are never found again, which is sad. So if you want to go hiking in remote parts of Iceland.
You should go with a group (preferably a guided tour) and make sure that someone at your hotel knows your plans and can keep an eye out for you when you come back.
Also, keep in mind that warning signs are there for a reason. They aren’t just there in case someone sues (as many travelers might think). Places, where there is a real risk of harm, are where warning signs are usually put up.
The warning sign is there for a reason. Even if you think you know what you are doing, you should know that someone before you thought the same thing about what they were doing.
Things to Do in Iceland
There are so many things to do in Iceland that it’s hard to keep track of them all. In this world, everything is very different. Incredibly, it is an island that has some very unique and beautiful places. Rivers run through deserts and hot rocks come up from the ice.
When the sun doesn’t set in summer, it’s a country where the natural world moves between fire and frost. There are long nights in the middle of winter and summers where the sun never sets.
You might find it hard to figure out what to do and where to go while you’re there. To book your trip, there are many things to think about.
10. Go Whale Watching in Husavik
There are more than twenty types of whales, dolphins, and porpoises in the waters of Iceland. Many cities offer boat tours, and many of them offer trips.
People who want to go whale-watching can go to ports like Reykjavik and Akureyri. Whales can be seen from the shore in places like the Westfjords. But one of the best places in Iceland to whale watch is the small northern town of Husavik.
The city of Husavik, which is known as the “whale watching capital of Europe,” is near Skjalfandi Bay. In the summer, the area is full of sea life. Almost every day, you can see harbor porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, and humpback whales in the water near the harbor.
If you’re lucky, you might see orcas, blue whales, fin whales, and even narwhals, which are very rare.
Summer is also a good time for many migratory bird species in Iceland to lay eggs. The puffin is one of the most well-known.
It’s possible to see these birds on whale-watching tours from Reykjavik, Akureyri, and Husavik if you go. From Husavik, there are even tours that include both puffins and whales.
9. Wildlife Spotting in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
Hornstrandir is the name of the northernmost part of the Westfjords. It was home to people until the early 20th century. One might think this place isn’t on a list of things to do in Iceland because it is so far away and doesn’t have a lot of jobs.
Isn’t that what it used to be? But now, it’s a very well-preserved nature reserve!
Wildlife lovers and photographers love this area because there is so much wildlife there. It’s one of the best places to go in Iceland for those types of things. There aren’t many people in this wild land outside of the Highlands. It’s known for having a lot of animals.
There are beautiful cliffs that rise 1,752 feet (534 meters) above sea level. They are home to a lot of seabirds. You have a good chance of seeing Iceland’s only native land mammal, the Arctic fox, in the fields that have a lot of weeds.
The animals in this area don’t mind people getting close to them. While it’s against the law to feed wild animals, these fearless foxes will happily eat from your hand.
From Isafjordur, you can get to Hornstrandir by ferry. You can also get there by car. Tours of the Westfjords can also be booked. This takes the stress out of going on a trip.
8. Drive to the Eastfjords
Iceland is a great place to go if you want to see and do things that aren’t very well-known. Hornstrandir is the only town in the Eastfjords that has a lot of people. The Eastfjords are the country’s farthest from Reykjavik.
Only people who drive the full Ring Road or book a trip around the country are likely to see them. However, many people who visit say it is their favorite part of the country.
Many people who go to Iceland want to get away from the crowds, so this part of the country is ideal for them.
There are beautiful seascapes and amazing views of Vatnajokull National Park and its huge central glacier as you drive up and down high mountain passes.
Djupivogur, Seydisfjordur, and Egilsstadir are some of the settlements in the East, where you can get gas, food, and comfortable places to stay. These old-fashioned towns and villages are in some of the most beautiful places on earth.
Seydisfjordur is a beautiful place. It’s in a fjord with tall cliffs and beautiful views of the ocean. Many of the best things to do in East Iceland are in this part of the country, like Hussey and Borgafjordur Eystri.
7. Seek Out Wild Reindeer in Eastfjords
In the Eastfjords, keep a close eye out for the local wildlife as you drive through. In the sky above, there are a lot of seabirds and fish. People can also see reindeer roaming freely in the Eastfjords, which is the only place in the country where you can see them without a fence.
A possible reason reindeer aren’t on most lists of things to see in Iceland is that they don’t live there, which could make them less popular. In the 18th century, they came from Norway and Denmark, but only those in the Eastfjords stayed alive.
6. Drive the Golden Circle
In Iceland, the Golden Circle is one of the best things for tourists to do there. 186 miles long, the route takes you to the most beautiful places in Southwest Iceland: Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and the Gullfoss waterfall.
Thingvellir National Park is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in Iceland that is on the island itself. It is in an amazing valley between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. It has a beautiful landscape of lava fields and forests, interrupted by clear streams.
In the Geysir Geothermal Area, there are so many geysers that one is called “The Great Geysir,” and it’s so powerful that it’s called that.
As long as The Great Geysir isn’t erupting, its next-door neighbor Strokkur is erupting over 65 feet (20 meters) in the air every five minutes.
Gullfoss is the most well-known waterfall in Iceland. It gushes with huge power down two tiers into a valley that was made during the last ice age. It’s possible to find a rainbow or two when the sky is clear.
There are a lot of guided tours of the Golden Circle, but many people also choose to drive around Iceland on their own. This way, they can see the country at their own pace.
5. Take a Detour From The Golden Circle
If you want to spice up your self-drive Golden Circle tour, there are also some top things to do in Iceland that require a short detour from the main route.
Because these places are so popular and it only takes half a day to get around them, many tour operators add extra fun things to the Golden Circle.
Silfra rift is one of Thingvellir’s best places to snorkel or go cold water diving if you’re qualified. There are some of the world’s best underwater sights in the Silfra rift.
From the Gullfoss waterfall, you can go on a snowmobile tour that goes to the Langjokull glacier and ends up on its surface.
4. Photograph the Asbyrgi Canyon
In Northeast Iceland, which isn’t very well-known, there is a natural feature that looks so complicated that early Icelanders thought it was the work of God.
In Asbyrgi, they thought that the horseshoe canyon was formed when one of the hoofs of Odin’s eight-legged Icelandic horse came into contact with the ground. if you want to learn more about Norse mythology, this is the place to go.
This place is surrounded by cliffs and has a plateau that rises up from the center. These things make for some of the most dramatic photos and views in the country.
The valley is also beautiful from the inside. It is full of thickets of birch, willow, fir, larch, and pine trees. Indeed, this place is so full of vegetation that it’s hard to believe it’s in Iceland.
As it turns out, a lot of myths about Iceland’s hidden people (elves) come from this place.
3. Hike Through Skaftafell Nature Reserve
Skaftafell Nature Reserve has so many different kinds of landscapes that it was once a national park.
Now, it’s the most beautiful and accessible part of Vatnajokull National Park. It’s also one of the best places in Iceland for nature lovers to visit.
A beautiful glacial stream and haunting black deserts are just two short walks away. You can stay in a forest of birch trees near the stream.
All of the glacier tongues and lagoons in the reserve come from Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajokull. Glacier hiking tours can be booked on one of the glacial outlets, Svinafellsjokull. People who want to see the beautiful views from the top can do so.
It doesn’t matter if you don’t want to walk on the ice. You can still enjoy all of the hiking trails in the area.
You can see a lot of interesting things on the trail to Svartifoss waterfall, where the water flows over a huge cliff of black basalt columns.
On the South Coast of Iceland, Skaftfell is close to Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach. It’s about 35 miles (56 kilometers) from both of these places.
2. Explore the Lake Myvatn Geothermal Area
44 miles east of Akureyri is a geological and geothermal wonderland called the Lake Myvatn area.
There were a lot of huge eruptions that happened over two millennia ago that made these lakes. Take a tour of Myvatn to get to all of the hidden gems in the area now.
The lakes themselves are beautiful because of how they were formed and how much life there is.
People who like nature should look for moss balls, which are only found in a few places around the world. During the summer, dozens of bird species flock to the water.
But the geology that surrounds Myvatn lake maybe even more beautiful than the lake itself. Many banks are lined with perfectly formed fake volcanoes. The volcanoes in Iceland are so big that you can walk right up to and around them and learn all about how they formed.
However, Dimmuborgir is a field of volcanoes that many people call the “Black Fortress.” The Grjotagja hot spring is hidden in a cave in this lava field. It is becoming more and more popular.
1. Chase the Midnight Sun or the Northern Lights
In Iceland, you must see the charm of a never-ending sun and the beauty of the northern lights. Even though they aren’t a real place, they are undoubtedly the best things to do in Iceland. It’s very common for both to have a lot of tours about them.
When is the best time to go to Iceland so you can see the northern lights? We’ve written a whole post about it. There is a good chance you will see them in the middle of the winter. Late August to early April is a good time. Taking a northern lights tour led by experts also increases your chances of seeing the aurora borealis.
If you like warm weather, come to Iceland between May and August. You can enjoy the never-ending sun then. We’ve talked about what to look out for when you’re trying to see the Midnight sun. There are a lot of great midnight sun tours to choose from.
So, if you like both of these things, you might go back to Iceland twice to see them both.
What to See in Iceland?
Iceland, the island of fire and ice, has become one of the world’s most popular places to visit, not just for thrill-seekers but also for nature lovers who want to see something new.
If you go to Iceland, you can see volcanoes that are still active and hot springs that are hot. This country, which isn’t very populated, is on top of one of the most volcanically active places on Earth.
It’s true that volcanoes and other earthquakes have changed parts of the country on a regular basis. New island Surtsey came out of the sea off the south coast in 1963, and it is still there.
Icelanders, on the other hand, have used this geological chaos to their advantage. They use geothermal energy to heat their homes and businesses, and they also use it to have more fun.
Consequently, the air is lovely and fresh, and the rugged, unspoiled landscapes remain open for exploration and adventures that will stay with you for a long time.
On your own with a rental car, you can drive around the country for a few days to a week. You can also drive around the country on the Ring Road, which runs in a circle around Iceland.
Getting a tour can also help you plan your trip to Iceland. These tours can show you where to see the Northern Lights, where to ride an ATV over lava fields, and where to go on day trips from Reykjavik to see some of Iceland’s best natural beauty, like the Blue Lagoon and waterfalls.
Find more about the best places to visit with our list of the top attractions in Iceland.
1. Whale Watching, Reykjavik
It doesn’t matter when you plan to go on vacation. Whale watching happens all year long, but summer is the best time to see these gentle giants. Take a trip at night to see whales. During the warmer months, trips run all day and all night.
You have a good chance of seeing these beautiful animals, depending on the time of year. The best part is that surfacing often happens right in front of the boats.
So you might get to see one of nature’s most amazing shows right from the comfort of your own boat.
Bird-watching and island trips are two other types of ocean-going tours that can be done. There are a lot of different types of tours, and they leave Reykjavik’s Old Harbor.
After you get back home, stop by one of the many small, rustic restaurants in the harbor area for a meal of fresh cod.
Address: Ægisgardur 5, Reykjavik’s Old Harbor
2. Soak in the Blue Lagoon, Grindavík
At just 40 minutes by car, this is one of the most famous geothermal spas in Iceland and a must-see for tourists. Here, you can take a natural bath in pale blue water in the shadow of a power plant.
Blue Lagoon has become a big business since it first became popular with people in 1976. The water from the underground hot springs has a temperature of 37 to 39 degrees Celsius. It is said to be good for both your health and your skin.
If the Icelanders are right, don’t dismiss the idea. There are also places to eat and drink, as well as places to bathe in a unique setting. Keep away from Iceland if you don’t come to this place first!
One of the tubs on the edge of the lagoon has a mask made of natural mud that is rich in minerals. Rub it on and let it dry. As an extra treat, you can spend a day relaxing at the Retreat Spa at one of the two Blue Lagoon hotels and stay at one of them.
From Reykjavik, you can take a bus to the Blue Lagoon. If you want to add a little more adventure to your trip, you can book a day trip on an ATV that will take you over lava rock paths and back to your hotel.
Address: Norurljósavegur 9, 240 Grindavk
3. Watch Spectacular Geysers
Strokkur Geysir, which is where all geysers are named, is just a 50-minute drive from Reykjavik. It’s the most popular fountain geyser in Iceland and is known around the world. Visitors to Iceland love to stop at this hot spring area in southwest Iceland near the Hvtá River. It’s part of the Golden Circle tour.
This place has boiling mud pits and about 100 smaller geysers that burst into flames. Every few minutes, Strokkur shoots water 30 meters into the air, and it does it again and again. Visit the Geysir Center all year long to see exhibits and learn new things.
Geysir bread, also known as “hot spring bread,” is rye bread that has been baking underground for 24 hours. Digging it up is a fun and unique experience.
Guests can also help a chef cook eggs in a hot spring to go with the bread. Golden Circle Classic Day Trip from Reykjavik is one of the most popular tours for a day trip to the area. It has a lot of stops and can make sure you get a picture of a geyser from your trip.
4. The Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis
One of the most popular things for tourists to do in Iceland is to see the northern lights, also known as Aurora Borealis.
The solar wind is a flow of ions that comes from the sun. Auroras are caused by this flow of ions, and they are linked to the solar wind
These particles get stuck in the earth’s magnetic field and crash into air molecules, causing bursts of energy that look like big circles around the poles of the earth. This natural light show is best seen in places that aren’t very well-known. It’s even more impressive when the sun is more active.
Most hotels and lodging operators can give you nightly predictions before you go to bed and put you on their overnight call list. Because the Northern Lights are unpredictable, this is a good way to make sure you don’t miss them.
As soon as the lights show up, they will call your room. They may only be visible for a short time. For one of the best chances to see the Northern Lights.
You can go on a tour like the Northern Lights Night Tour from Reykjavik. This tour takes you to the countryside, where you have the best chance to see this natural wonder.
5. Hike in Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve
Landmannalaugar National Park is in the south of Iceland, about 180 kilometers from Reykjavik. It is one of the most popular places for tourists to visit in Iceland.
The multi-colored rhyolite mountains, the Hekla volcano, and the huge lava fields are the main things that make this landscape look like it’s from another world.
In this place, people like to go hiking and horseback riding. Hikes can last from a few hours to several days. During the summer and fall, you can go.
After that, the road is closed. The Landmannalaugar Hut is a mountain lodge with basic facilities that can hold 75 people. Expect to see raw nature, rough terrain, and breathtaking views when you go to this place.
6. Maelifell Volcano & Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park
People can only go to Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park in the summer because it’s dangerous. Large amounts of rainfall on the area, especially in the winter, when roads can get very wet.
In this wild, rough glacial landscape, Maelifell volcano is the only thing that stands out.
In the summer, Maelifell looks like a volcano because it has the perfect cone shape. The lush green covering of moss makes it look like something from another world.
They’re all over the park. There are volcanoes, hot springs, and other interesting places. You’ll find a smaller glacier to the west of Myrdalsjökull.
It’s called Eyjafjallajökull and it’s a lot smaller (Island Mountain Glacier). By snowmobile, it’s a fun and exciting way to see the world.
7. Explore the Skaftafell Ice Cave, Vatnajökull National Park
This national park, Vatnajökull, is in the south of Iceland, and it’s full of glaciers and ice caves that draw adventurers from all over the world.
One of three national parks in Iceland, the Vatnajökull glacier and its surroundings make up a large part of the park. It is divided into four parts.
You’ll find a lot of visitor centers. The ones in Skaftafell Ice Cave and Höfn are open all year, but Skriuklaustur and Jökulsárgljfur are closed in the winter, so you can’t visit them. After a lot of rain, the best time to visit Skaftafell Ice Cave is in winter.
To see the cave at the right time, it is bathed in a beautiful blue light. All areas can be visited by groups during the off-season.
If you are in good shape, you might want to go on a glacial trek with a guide who knows the area well.
During the treks, you get to go on the ice and see the glacial cracks and caves. You can even drink fresh water from small pools on the surface.
8. Askja Caldera
You don’t want to visit the Askja caldera and geothermal pool in the Dyngjufjöll Mountains if you’re afraid. However, if you want to say that you’ve swum in a live volcano, then this is for you.
At 50 square kilometers, Askja is one of the largest places in the world. The surrounding mountains were formed by volcanoes, and Askja was made in part by an eruption of ash that caused the roof of the volcano’s magma chamber to fall down.
A geothermal pool and a volcano are called Viti. The water in the pool is usually around 30 degrees Fahrenheit. One thing to keep in mind is that the banks can be very slippery, especially when it’s wet outside.
9. Dettifoss Waterfall
One of the best places to see this is Dettifoss, a waterfall that comes from the north of Vatnajökull National Park. In Europe, it’s said to be the most powerful waterfall. It plunges 45 meters and has a width of about 100 meters.
Most of the time, it’s best to come from the east side of the River Jökulsa, where the road is better. People can take easy paths from the Dettifoss waterfall to Selfoss, a smaller waterfall that is one kilometer upstream.
It has a drop of about 10 meters there. In a steep canyon, the Hafragilsfoss waterfall drops 27 meters into a valley below Dettifoss. To get to Hafragilsfoss, you should drive there rather than walk there.
10. Kirkjufell Mountain, Grundarfjördur
The small town of Grundarfjördur is about 2.5 hours northwest of Reykjavik. It is a charming fishing village on the north coast of the Snaefellsnes peninsula, and it is a great place to stay.
A beautiful fjord surrounds the town, and Mt. Kirkjufell stands out as a striking landmark.
You’ll find small streams and waterfalls all over the place. You can see the Northern Lights from Kirkjufell all year.
Eyrbyggja Heritage Center has exhibits about Grundarfjördur’s history as a seafaring town, and it’s the place to go for information about the whole peninsula.
Iceland is a unique and beautiful country that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing vacation or an adventure, Iceland is the perfect destination. I hope this Iceland travel guide has inspired you to consider visiting Iceland and I wish you a wonderful trip!