Rarely do you visit a country where each attraction is prettier than the last. Iceland happens to be one of them. There are landscapes right out of a fairy tale, magnificent waterfalls you have never witnessed before, bubbling hot springs that will take your breath away, hidden caves, dramatic canyons and surreal glaciers that go for miles. Iceland is packed with beauty and diversity.
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Picking up our top favorite experience in Iceland was very hard. After a lot of struggle here we are penning down the list of top 20 places that shouldn’t be missed when visiting Iceland.
1) Thingvellir National Park
This marvelous national park is located in a mighty rift valley where the American and Eurasian continental plates are slowly tearing apart.
You will be welcomed with nice waterfalls.
If you are a die-hard fan of Game of Thrones, you should not miss it.
Apart from Game of Thrones, the other reason this place is extremely famous is Diving and Snorkeling between tectonic plates of the 2 continents. Yes, here you can dive & snorkel between North America and Europe. Silfra is a spectacular underwater wonderland.
2) Thórsmörk Valley
This valley is a paradise for hikers. You can hike between the valleys of Þórsmörk and Skógar and along the way you will witness the mesmerizing sight of Eyjafjallajökull. Trail is one of the most picturesque trails we have been to. Vast, dramatic landscapes stretch out for miles and you won’t get enough of the panoramic view.
3) Gullfoss Waterfall
This massive waterfall is located in the canyon of the Hvítá River. You will find many spectacular rainbows. An easy drive from Reykjavik along the Golden Circle makes it one of the most popular touristic spots in Iceland.
Landmannalaugar is certainly one of the jewels in Iceland’s crown – full of beautiful hiking trails, stunning untouched natural beauty, colored dramatic hills and bubbling sulphur springs. After your hike, you will be rewarded with a natural hot spring at the camp. Landmannalaugar is every hiker’s dream which offers incredible panoramic views in every direction and endless awe-inspiring sights.
5) Kirkjufell Volcano
Probably this site was one of the reasons we started planning our trip to Iceland. Located in the north of Iceland in Snæfellsnes peninsula, Kirkufell volcano has been a filming location for many movies. It really is a picturesque, inspiring and peaceful place. It’s beauty is straight out of a painting.
6) Reykjadalur Hot Spring
Reykjadalur means “Steam Valley” and this place definitely holds up to its name. If you ever wanted to soak in a natural hot spring in the middle of the mountains, then this is the place for you. And it’s not only the hot spring that is spectacular, a 3 km of hike that leads to this natural marvel is full of bright turquoise water, green valleys and geothermal hot spots.
7) Snæfellsnes Peninsula
Snaefellsnes Peninsula is also known as “Iceland in Miniature” because of the diversity of its landscape. It is a day trip from Reykjavik and is full of mesmerizing landscapes, lava fields, breathtaking waterfalls, volcanoes, hot springs and many fishing villages.
8) Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
Iceland is full of beautiful waterfalls. But what special about this waterfall is that you can walk behind it and see it from a completely different perspective. You can hike up a bit and you will be able to see the source of the waterfall too. We promise, it is a stunning view and worth the hike.
9) Jökulsárlón Lagoon
Jökulsárlón means “glacier’s river lagoon”. The landscape is breathtaking and is full of broken icebergs. This is one of the most picturesque spots in Iceland and hence, is a paradise for photographers. Contrast of the black beach and white icebergs in the backdrop is jaw-droppingly beautiful.
Located in Haukadalur, 2 famous geysers can be found in this geothermal area, Geysir and Strokkur. Apparently, Geysir was the first geyser known to modern Europeans who then decided to call all geysers after it. Geysir actually does not erupt any longer but its neighbor Strokkur explodes up to 70 meters in the air every 10-15 minutes. Make sure you witness it.
11) Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon
Fjaðrárgljúfur is a stunningly magnificent canyon, about 2 km long and 100 meters deep. Deep in the canyon you will witness beautiful waterfalls. The walking path along the canyon offers some dramatic and stunning views.
12) Reynisdrangar Cliff
This stunning cliff is located in the south of Iceland on the Reynisfjara Beach. Its stacked columns of different size and shape come out of the ocean and make this place so memorable. The Reynisfjara Beach was actually voted as one of the top ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world and you’ll know why when you see it.
13) Dettifoss and Selfoss Waterfall
The power of nature can be witnessed in all its glory at the Dettifoss waterfall, one of Iceland’s most iconic sights. It is the largest waterfall in Europe (100 mt wide and has a drop of 45 mts). This truly is nature at its most spectacular.
Selfoss is another waterfall located about 1 km from the mighty Dettifoss and is about 10 mt high. You will see many incredible rainbows here.
14) Skaftafell National Park (Svartifoss Waterfall)
Skaftafell is an incredible mountainous region in the south of Iceland. The area offers an amazing place to view diverse and stunning terrain, active volcanoes, valleys, glaciers and endless flat sandy plains. Svartifoss waterfall is the signature attraction of Skaftafell National Park.
15) Viti Crater
Viti Crater is another Icelandic surreal landscape. It is a circular crater filled with blue turquoise water, surrounded by colorful mountains and geothermal area.
16) Namafjall Hverir
Namafjall Hverir is a geothermal area that feels like some other planet altogether. Namafjall is the mountain overlooking Hverir, a geothermal area with fumaroles and boiling mud pots. The terrain boasts shades of green, red, white and yellow. Scenery of the surrounding is surreal.
If you love caves and you love hot springs, this is the place for you. Grjótagjá is a lava cave near Lake Myvatn and inside the cave you can find irresistible hot spring. During summer, water temperature could get very high, so it is not recommended to take a dip. However during winter, just jump in and enjoy the bath. Game of Thrones famous scene was shot here where Jon Snow and Ygritte got “very close” for the first time.
18) Goðafoss waterfall
Also known as Waterfall of the Gods, Goðafoss is one of the largest waterfalls in Iceland. It is 12 meters tall and 30 meters wide located one hour drive from Akureyri.
19) Kolugljúfur Gorge and Waterfall
This isn’t a very famous stop and you won’t find many tourists here. That is actually where the beauty lies. Beauty that is so untouched and unexplored. Kolugljúfur canyon is absolutely stunning, a sight that will leave no one unmoved. On the other side of the road lies breathtaking Kolugljúfur waterfalls. You will witness a surreal sight where the calm waters of the river suddenly leap over so many impressive falls.
This is a lovely historic turf house site located in Skagafjörður in North Iceland.
Again it isn’t a very famous spot but it should not be missed on your trip to Iceland. People lived in Glaumbær turf houses until 1947. If you have a look inside, you can see how life in Iceland was back in the 18th and 19th century.
If you are interested in glacier walk read full guide here
Iceland is one place where journey is as beautiful as the destination. So while driving you will be stopping a lot (like every 5 minutes, no kidding). So make sure to account for those stops when planning your trip. Here are some pictures from our journey:
This was our top 20 favorite places. Have you visited Iceland yet? If so, what was your favorite place?
Tell us if you would like to know more about planning a trip to Iceland.