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Must See Iceland Attractions
1. Blue Lagoon
Many tour companies offer transportation between the airport and the Blue Lagoon. This is a very popular destination for just before your departing flight.
The geothermal spa is a great way relax and pamper yourself after a trip outdoors, exploring Iceland’s many incredible natural phenomena. Be sure to book ahead of time - this attraction gets very crowded.
Staff comes around with the various spa masks for you to try on and the in-lagoon bar offers both alcoholic and non-alcoholic drink options. You can easily spend the day between wading in the lagoon, having lunch at their restaurant Lava, and getting an in-water massage treatment. If you are looking for a more local experience, there are also public thermal swimming pools in the area.
2. Dettifoss Waterfall
Enormous Dettifoss Waterfall is the largest in Iceland, and reputed to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the world. It plummets 330 ft. There are a few hiking trails you can use to take in the massive and thundering falls.
3. Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss (meaning “Golden Waterfall) is one of Iceland’s most impressive waterfalls. At 105 feet and going over two major drops, the thundering tons of water are a sight to behold.
Stunning in every season, there are several ways to view the falls. Including from out the window of the official Gullfoss restaurant. Serving up traditional Icelandic fare, the restaurant is more than a bit touristy, given its location, but still has a local feel. It’s the perfect place to stop and have lunch before you continue on your way.
Paths at the Gullfoss waterfalls allow you to get right down to the falls, as well as up high for a different vantage point. Rainbows are consistent, especially in summer, with the combination of so much water and intermittent sunlight.
4. Þingvellir National Park
Don’t try to rush when you visit Þingvellir National Park. This beautiful area is historical as well as naturally fascinating. Activities include the normal hikes and nature walks to take in Iceland’s famous natural beauty and wildlife. But this park also holds the distinction of being one of only two places in the world where you can swim between two tectonic plates.
Snorkeling is an adequate way to have this incredible experience, though more advanced diving options are available as well. Most tours will provide equipment for snorkeling or diving, so don’t forget to bring a swimsuit - (the water will be chilly, so you’ll want a wetsuit as well). If you’re not traveling on a tour, these items can easily be rented in Reykjavik.
Definitely rent or purchase an underwater camera! The water is intensely clear, with visibility up to 100 yards, with intense colors. The one major downside to these incredible conditions is that it will be crowded with multiple tour groups and travelers anxious to experience one of Iceland’s more accessible and stunning tourist activities.
Þingvellir is also is the site of the establishment of the first Icelandic parliament (also the oldest still existing official parliament in world - established in 930 AD). This coincides with the founding of Iceland for most historians.
5. Northern Lights
Tours to see the Northern Lights in Iceland are one of the biggest draws for tourists visiting the Land of Fire and Ice. Guided tours from Reykjavik generally leave around 8/9pm returning around midnight. Between September and March is the best time, with the optimal months being December and January. Also called Aurora Borealis, the lights resemble green clouds in the sky to the naked eye, and can really come to life through the camera.
Though it doesn’t seem so, Iceland is actually one of the southernmost countries for viewing Aurora Borealis. Other popular viewing spots in Russia, Canada, and Greenland are further north. This means that on prime viewing nights, it could get crowded, but this also creates a sense of comradery as you stand or sit shoulder to shoulder, gazing into the heavens waiting for this most incredible light show.
It is always hit or miss whether the elusive lights will show. But going on a tour will help increase your chances. Your guide will know the best viewing areas, and whether or not they are likely to show.
Iceland is just a few degrees south of the Arctic Circle, making the lights occasionally less vibrant, but the further north you venture, the clearer they’ll be. Check out our Iceland Northern Lights guide for more information on the best viewing areas.
6. Skaftafell Ice Cave
One of the most beautiful caves in the world, this remarkable ice cave is also called the “Crystal Cave” and is best experienced in wintertime (between October and May). Located on top of the Vatnajökull glacier, the cave is best enjoyed by those who enjoy a bit of an outdoor challenge as the opportunities for ice climbing and rock climbing are many. It’s also not recommended for those with claustrophobia!
“The Great Geysir” as it’s also known by, is situated in south west Iceland, and rounds out the three most classic stops along the Golden Circle route.
Even though this kind of attraction may raise an eyebrow as to how exciting it could possibly be, trust us - this is a natural phenomenon worth checking out. Those with sensitive noses, beware - the entire surrounding area will smell like sulpher - not unlike rotten eggs, but if you can bear it, don’t miss seeing Geysir.
The main geysir was previously dormant and today does not spout by clockwork as many geysirs do. The very patient may be treated with a spectacular show, but there are several other geysers in the area as well. These include Strokkur, Blesi, and Fata.
The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik has grown rapidly in popularity among travelers. Many Iceland tours stop or start here on their way to explore Iceland's wild and beautiful lands. However a growing foodie scene of modern and traditional Nordic cuisine, shopping, nightlife, and the nearby Blue Lagoon make Reykjavik somewhere you don't just want to "pass through".
Roughly one third of Iceland’s total population lives in Reykjavik, and this is also the main tourist hub for visitors right off the plane, or getting ready to return home. Centrally located there is easy access to multiple popular day trips, several of which can be arranged through hostels in town.
Venturing around the city is something that can be done with or without a tour. There are walking tours offered to take you through the streets of the city. Located right on the water, the city offers harbor views, great shopping and personality. The Hallgrímskirkja church is the city’s main landmark and offers an outstanding view of the entire landscape from its bell tower.
If you want something more substantial, most multi day tours of Iceland spend at least a day or two In Reykjavik before heading out to explore the natural sights of this incredible country.
This lagoon in Southeastern Iceland is one of the more surreal landscapes to be found in Iceland. It features a field of small icebergs that have broken off the nearby glacier is a sight to behold. This is also one of the most popular places to see the Northern Lights, especially for the dramatic photographs created by the shapes and frozen formations silhouetted against the glowing sky.
10. Vik Black Sand beaches
The black sand beaches of Vik are a very popular attraction on the shores of Reynisfjara at the southern tip of Iceland. People have been known to get injured by the especially strong waves and currents of these ocean waters, so be extremely cautious as you marvel at the alluring black sands and stunning views!
311 Iceland Tour Reviews - Summary
Structured tours are not everyone's bag, but September 20155.0
Operator Intrepid Travel
Iceland was amazing. The trip leader was September 20155.0
Operator Intrepid Travel
I enjoyed every aspect of this trip September 20155.0
Operator Intrepid Travel
Outstanding leader, Harpa's. September 20155.0
Operator Intrepid Travel
Informative caring guide whose obvious love for September 20155.0
Operator Intrepid Travel
Iceland top tour operators have a strong focus on outdoor travel and adventure. Expect to learn a lot about the landscape and natural phenomena, as well as do a lot of walking and mild hiking.
Before you go
When packing for Iceland, layers are key. It never gets incredibly warm, even during 24 hours of sunlight in the summer. Temperatures will be comfortable but not hot. In winter, you’ll get snow and rain, and it will be chilly.
Iceland is expensive. No if, ands, or buts about it. Prepare to pay higher prices when eating and drinking out.
You do not need a visa to travel to Iceland if you are planning to stay less than 90 days. Your passport must be valid for up to 3 months after your intended travel date.
Iceland is a part of the Schengen cooperation, so if you have a Schengen visa, this is valid for Iceland as well, and you don’t need additional documentation.
Iceland is one of the safest countries to visit. People are generally friendly, and although tourism has rapidly increased over recent years, they are welcoming to people keen to explore their country.
The increase in tourism has led to busier roads, especially the famous Ring Road that circles the country. With more travelers renting cars these days, be sure to practice caution when crossing streets and when walking around the popular natural attractions. Be very careful driving in icy conditions, and avoid it if possible. Ice is difficult to see and can cause spinouts without warning.
Also be mindful of Iceland’s lack of safety signage. Hiking up around waterfalls, and in windy conditions, or around ocean shores with riptides, Iceland can be dangerous. Especially if you’re distracted with your camera out and not looking at your footing.
- Iceland's Weather Overview: Live Weather, Forecasts, and Averages
- There are currently no travel advisory warnings about Iceland (updated July 31, 2017)
- Additional Information About Iceland
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