Iceland is an absolute paradise on earth, a treat for nature and adventure lovers. Full of rivers, lakes, caves, glaciers, fjords, volcanoes, mountains and waterfalls, this heavenly destination is simply waiting to be explored. In this article we’ll be exploring what to see and visit in Iceland.
Make sure you get the best of Iceland by adding these other-worldly experiences into your itinerary, for many are activities that simply cannot be found anywhere else on the planet.
Strokkur (above image)
Located in southwest Iceland besides the Hvita River, Strokkur is a beautiful fountain geyser that attracts thousands of visitors each year. Iceland experiences a lot of under-surface volcanic activity and this means that it is full of all kinds of underground springs, thermal pool and geysers. Watching a powerful stream shoot from the ground is surely going to be an exciting experience. Other geysers can also be found in Haukadalur.
Another attraction to see and visit in Iceland is Landmannalaugar, one of the most awe-inspiring destinations in the country. This rhyolite mountain bursts into a plethora of color right in front of your eyes, its volcanoes, lava fields and geothermal baths making it an incredibly seductive attraction, one that simply cannot be ignored while in Iceland. The summer months are the best time to visit Landmannalaugar, but you can go there any time of the year. Horse riding and hiking are the most popular activities here.
Iceland’s unique position makes it one of the most active volcanic regions on earth. This also leads to the formation of some of the most beautiful rock formations, beneath the surface, and above. Numerous tube caves that were once used by the flowing lava have solidified and can now be explored by visitors for an experience of a lifetime. The country is also one of those few destinations which actually lets you enter a real magma chamber. The volcano that hosts this chamber is the Þríhnúkagígur Crater. Another unique experience in Iceland is to explore an ice cave. The Skaftafell Ice Cave is a real-life land of ice (remember the movie Frozen?) and there are a number of expeditions that let you explore these caves, especially during the winter time.
The Northern Lights, also known as the Aurora Borealis, is a stunning natural phenomenon that can be seen in the Northern Hemisphere. This phenomenon is formed because of the particles emitted by the sun during solar explosions which interact with the planet’s magnetic field to create a dramatic display of lights across the night sky. Iceland is one of the key destinations to watch this mesmerizing phenomenon, and there are several hotels and tour operators that even offer unique Northern Lights expeditions and experiences. Be sure though that you visit Iceland at the best time for a great Northern Lights experience.
Located on a tectonic plate boundary, the Þingvellir plain a tectonic plate that is created as the result of Europe and North America pushing away from each other year after year. This led to the development of dramatic fissures, great rifts and rivers and ponds in the plain. The most impressive feature is Öxarárfoss, but there are other smaller fissures such as Flosagjá, Brennugjá and Nikulásargjá as well.
Originating from the Hvita River, the Gullfoss Waterfall is a tiered wonder that rises to heights of 105 meters. There’s a local legend about a girl who walked barefoot from Reykjavik to Gullfoss to protect the falls from falling victim to hydroelectric power, and she is believed to be the sole reason that protected this natural wonder from falling victim to man’s need for energy. This is perhaps the most stunning of all experiences in Iceland. No railings, nothing in between you and the falls. Just the best of nature right in front of your eyes. The falls always look more beautiful during the summer months.
Geothermal energy and geothermal baths have been at the center of Icelandic culture for centuries. This naturally heated water has been used to power homes and lives, and also as public and private baths. Iceland has been enjoying the concept of a spa long before it was invented in the modern day. In fact, the earliest traces of the Icelandic ‘spa’ go back to the 12th century when author and historian Snorri Sturluson built his own thermal pool. Today, there are four standing thermal baths in the country and the most famous of these is the stunning Blue Lagoon, an exotic wonder that is as awe-inspiring as it is romantic.
This beautiful church is located right in the midst of Reykjavík, and is known as the most recognizable and tallest building of Iceland. Its unique architecture has actually been inspired by the Black Falls, one of the many natural wonders of Iceland. The church is most famously known for its 15 m high gargantuan pipe organ that was constructed by Johannes Klais. Weighing 25 tons, this mechanical organ has 102 ranks, 5275 pipes and 72 stops. The church can be seen from most parts of the city.
Iceland’s rich Viking heritage can be seen all over the country. The National Museum of Iceland and the Culture House is where you get to see a number of relics and artifacts that better narrate this ancient culture and describe it for all its beauty. Entry to both museums is free, provided you have the Reykjavik City Card, which comes in cool 24-hour, 48-hour and 72-hour options.
More than 50% of the world’s population of Atlantic puffins can be found in Iceland, and there is no better place to see these seabirds than Heimaey island, the puffin capital of the country for centuries. Dyrhólaey, the southernmost point of the mainland, is another exciting place to watch these pelagic seabirds. Better yet, it is located at a distance of just two and a half hours from Reykjavik.
What’s your favorite attraction in Iceland? What would you like to see and visit while in the country? Let us know using the comments below. We love to hear from you!