Iceland is absolutely amazing. If you love nature, hiking and awe inspiring landscapes you simply must visit this incredible place.
Iceland is a popular stopover destination when traveling between Europe and North America. Travelers might stay one day or a week. Luckily even on a short trip it is possible to see many of Iceland’s amazing sights within just one day if you plan carefully.
However if you can spend at least a few days or a weekend in Iceland that is better than just one day. There is a lot to see and discover, read on for 10 tips!
Iceland can be quite a pricey and busy destination, especially in summer. Rental cars and accommodations can book up in advance. But don’t worry if you did not plan far ahead. Iceland is blessed with many guided tours to all parts of the island, and there is usually availability even just a few days in advance. I’ve provided links to some of the tours here. These guided tours mean you can relax while someone else navigates and drives for you.
You can of course also rent your own car, or even use public transit buses to get around to many areas, although that requires a fair bit of planning, flexibility and scheduling. If you only have a short time, I’d recommend joining a small group tour.
10 Best Things to See in Iceland
Here are 10 awesome things to see in Iceland:
Þingvellir National Park is not only a historic monument for Icelandic history it is also home to the place that two tectonic plates meet creating the Silfra lava fissure. This fascinating area has crystal clear glacial water where you can snorkel or SCUBA with guided tour. I found these fissures with glowing turquoise water absolutely mesmerizing. If you don’t want to dive in, you can walk around the area and stay dry. You can visit Þingvellir on a Golden Circle Tour like this one.
You’ve heard of geysers, maybe even seen one at Yellowstone National Park. Did you know the word geyser comes from the Icelandic Geysir area? Here you can see the famous Strokkur geyser shoot water high in the air every few minutes. The area also has lots of bubbling mud pools and other evidence of geothermal activity. The area is not too large and can be seen in less than an hour or so. Be sure to take your time to marvel at the geyser and imagine what people must have felt before they knew the science behind how these phenomenon work. It truly is awe inspiring to see the hot water forcefully shoot from a hole in the ground. Stop by Geysir in your own vehicle or visit on a Golden Circle Tour like this one.
Nearly every visitor to Iceland plans to visit the Blue Lagoon thermal pools for a therapeutic soak in the milky blue waters. Be sure to make your reservation in advance as it books up in high season. You can also check out some other thermal baths like the Secret Lagoon. Get your tickets in advance here.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall is located on Iceland’s southern coast and is fed by the glacial ice cap on Eyjafjallajökull volcano. You can walk on the path behind the waterfall and get soaked by the water droplets. Take a guided tour of the southern coast and visit Skógafoss waterfall too.
Explore one of Iceland’s underground lava tubes like Raufarhólshellir or Leiðarendi. You can also go inside a volcanic magma chamber at Þríhnjúkagígur. These lava tunnels were formed when the outer shell of molten lava cooled while the magma inside kept moving. This creates a hollow tube that can be explored. Visit with guided tour.
Gullfoss waterfall is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland, and with good reasons. This waterfall is stunningly pretty. You can view it from above as it plunges into a deep ravine. The story behind the protection of this beautiful area is also interesting. Visit Gullfoss on Golden Circle tour from Reykjavik like this one.
Many travelers visit Iceland hoping to see the Northern Lights. You might get lucky and spot them, it depends on weather, solar activity and meteorological conditions. The best time to see the aurora borealis is in the winter months, mostly because the nights are longer. They can really only be seen on clear, dark nights from September to April. It is best to head as far away from city lights as possible. Tours leave from Reykjavik to search for the Northern Lights, or you can try nighttime boat cruise.
If you are used to large cities, Reykjavik might seem like a small village. However, by Iceland standards it is a bustling metropolis. Explore this nice city on foot or by bicycle, or take guided walking tour. Visit some of the museums like the Saga Museum or the National Museum of Iceland. Stop for a coffee and cake at C is for Cookie.