Are you looking for the best places to visit in Iceland for your upcoming trip to the land of fire and ice? We’ve got you covered with 20 of the most awe-inspiring, unique locations all around the country.
Iceland’s appeal lies in its remarkable natural landscape making it an outdoor playground for adventure enthusiasts. From thundering waterfalls and imposing mountains to relaxing hot springs and unusual beaches, there’s more than enough to capture your attention for the duration of your visit.
The landscapes throughout the country vary greatly. One moment you’ll find yourself traveling through a lava rock-filled volcanic landscape, and the next you’re watching icebergs float to shore. Though this list we’ve put together of places to visit in Iceland covers only a fraction of the beauty this country has to offer, it’s a great place to start.
20 Best Places To Visit In Iceland (+ Unique Attractions)
Relax In The Mineral-Rich Waters Of The Blue Lagoon
As one of the most iconic tourist locations in the country, the Blue Lagoon should certainly be on your list of the top places to visit in Iceland. Relax in luxury as you soak in the mineral-rich, healing, milky-blue waters and enjoy the unique lava rock-filled scenery surrounding you.
What once was an accidental collection of discarded water from a nearby geothermal power plant has now become a breathtaking lagoon complete with a swim-up bar along with options to pay more to enjoy the spa, restaurants, and hotels on property. Though even the base price to enjoy the lagoon is expensive, it’s worth it to have the experience at least once.
Located nearby the Keflavik International Airport, the Blue Lagoon is a common first stop upon arriving in Iceland or last stop on the way out. Whenever you choose to visit, be sure to book well in advance as its ever-growing popularity makes it nearly impossible to book last minute.
Where To Stay: The Retreat at Blue Lagoon Iceland
Hike Through The Vast, Impressive Landscape At Thorsmork
In the summer months when the weather is favorable and road conditions are decent, Thorsmork is one of the best places to visit in Iceland. This beautiful nature preserve is a valley located in the highlands making it tricky to reach, but serene and peaceful once you’re there.
Because the valley is hard to reach, especially for the average tourist, you must be driving a high clearance 4×4 car that is suitable for tackling the numerous river crossings and rocky terrain. Another option is to hire a local guide who will drive you in their super Jeep to make the process easier.
Thorsmork is one of the best Iceland vacation spots for experienced hikers eager to explore the vast and rugged landscape. Consider trekking to the top of Valahnukur for particularly impressive views.
Where To Stay: Volcano Huts Þórsmörk
Snorkel the Silfra fissure
Thingvellir National Park, along Iceland’s iconic Golden Circle route, is one of the best places to visit in Iceland for a number of reasons including the fact that you’ll have the opportunity to snorkel between two continents.
In the national park you’ll find the Silfra fissure, the space between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates. Naturally filtered glacier water from Thingvallavatn Lake fills the fissure making it some of the cleanest and clearest water you’ll ever have the opportunity to experience.
These pristine conditions make the fissure ideal for snorkeling as you can see practically everything and anything around you within 100 meters.
If you decide you’d like to take part in this remarkably unique experience, go ahead and book a tour where you’ll be given a dry suit and other proper snorkel gear and be led through the fissure by a guide. As one of the top attractions in Iceland, you’ll want to book your tour well in advance particularly if you plan on visiting during the high season summer months.
Where To Stay: ION Adventure Hotel
Learn About Icelandic Culture And Enjoy Great Food In Reykjavik
Much of Iceland’s appeal lies in its unique, diverse natural landscape. It’s a hot spot for adventure enthusiasts who love the great outdoors. That being said, its charming capital city should not be overlooked. If you’re wondering where to visit in Iceland, Reykjavik is a great place to start.
Reykjavik offers a wonderful glimpse into Icelandic culture, provides excellent dining options, and is the perfect spot to shop for a souvenir to take home.
The city is full of great museums including Perlan’s “Wonders of Iceland,” the Settlement Exhibition with an excavated Viking longhouse at its center, and the Arbær Open Air Museum which provides a home for preserved old sod roof Icelandic buildings. Each museum is unique, fascinating, and highly educational.
However you choose to spend your time in the city, a trip downtown is not complete without a visit to the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Church with the statue of Leif Erikson standing guard out front. An admission fee will get you to the tower at the top of the church where you are graced with a 360-degree view of Reykjavik and beyond.
Where To Stay: Fosshotel Reykjavík
Climb To The Top Of The Cascading Dynjandi Waterfall
The Westfjords is one of the best places to visit in Iceland, and Dynjandi is arguably its crowning glory. Dynjandi is a series of seven cascading waterfalls with the largest, thundering waterfall being at the top.
The waterfall is unlike any of Iceland’s other major waterfalls in appearance. We realize Iceland has many other spectacular waterfalls, most of which are closer to Reykjavik but the unique sight of Dynjandi is one you won’t want to miss. Reaching widths of 30-60m and a height of 100m, the waterfall streams down the mountainside like a brilliant, sparkling bridal veil.
If you’re not in the mood for hiking, a striking view of the seven waterfalls can be seen right from the parking lot. If however you’d like to make your way to the largest waterfall and pass the other six along the way, a short but steep hike of around 15 minutes will allow you to get an up-close view of this natural beauty.
Where To Stay: Hotel Isafjordur – Horn
Visit Iceland’s Only Stave Church On Heimaey
Vestmannaeyjar is a series of islands off the south coast of Iceland, the largest of which is called Heimaey. Its abundance of adorable puffins, fascinating volcanic landscape, and breathtaking views make it one of the best places to visit in Iceland.
That’s not all that makes the island unique and worth visiting however. Down by the harbor you’ll find the Heimaey Stave Church, a gift from Norway to commemorate the 1000 year anniversary of Iceland adopting Christianity.
This pitch-black church also happens to be the only stave church in Iceland. With lava rock and the ocean nearby, the whole area with the church as the centerpiece makes for a spectacular scene.
Where To Stay: Hotel Vestmannaeyjar
Marvel At The Icebergs At The Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon And Diamond Beach
In the southeast lies the Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon and Diamond Beach, two of the most beautiful places in Iceland. At the Glacier Lagoon, deep blue and white icebergs with streaks of black float in the lagoon with a majestic glacier in the background.
If you’re visiting in the summer you can choose to take a boat tour and explore the icebergs up close getting a more accurate picture of their size and imposing nature. This icy beauty is one of the top places to visit in Iceland for tourists.
Across the street you’ll find Diamond Beach where the smaller iceberg chunks float up to the shore. Enjoy walking along the beach, winding your way through the sparkling icebergs.
The black sand of the beach provides a stark contrast to the icebergs creating a dramatic and picturesque landscape. It’s particularly magical at sunset when the sky lights up and casts a beautiful yellow hue over the surroundings.
Where To Stay: Skyrhúsid Guest House
Admire The Power And Beauty Of Skogafoss Waterfall
One of the best places to go in Iceland when driving the south coast is the thundering waterfall, Skogafoss. Iceland’s south coast is full of impressive waterfalls, and this is no exception.
To get a taste of the size and scope of the waterfall, follow the pebble path and take a stroll up to its base. Bring a raincoat and brace for the spray that inevitably comes with viewing a powerful waterfall that close.
Another option is to climb roughly 500 steps to the top of the waterfall. Your quads might feel the burn but the views from above are worth it. Watching Skogá river transform into a waterfall as it plunges over the edge of the cliff while birds soar by is a breathtaking experience.
Take a moment to turn around and look back towards the parking lot and admire the sprawling landscape of the south coast while you’re at it.
Where To Stay: The Garage
Hike To The Brilliant Blue Bruarfoss Waterfall
The size of Bruarfoss pales in comparison to many of Iceland’s other waterfalls, however its brilliant blue water cascading down the rocks makes it one of the best places to visit in Iceland. The color is so remarkable it almost looks as though it’s been painted.
Reaching Bruarfoss required 4 miles of round trip hiking which can be a deterrent to some, but makes for a much more peaceful experience for those willing to make the trek. Your hike will take you by a couple of smaller waterfalls as well making the journey all the more worth it.
Typing “Bruarfoss Waterfall Official Parking” into Google Maps will get you to the right spot. From there the hiking path is easy to find.
Where To Stay: Farmhotel Efstidalur
Photograph The Postcard-Worthy Kirkjufell Mountain
Kirkjufell (Church Mountain) is one of the most iconic places to visit in Iceland. It was featured in the Game of Thrones TV show and is found on a postcard or two in every souvenir shop in the country. This cone-shaped mountain is found on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.
Though it’s possible to hike to the top of the mountain with a guide and some serious energy exertion, the best view of Kirkjufell is from the three-tiered Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall where you can capture the postcard image of the waterfall in the foreground and the mountain in the background.
The landscape is beautiful at any time of year and is worth visiting multiple times to experience it in different seasons. In winter, brilliant white snow drapes itself over the mountain while portions of the waterfall freeze into icicles. In the summer, a coat of mossy green covers the landscape and wildflowers dot the scene.
Where To Stay: Hotel Búdir
Drive The Iconic Golden Circle Route To Gullfoss, Geyser, And Thingvellir
The iconic Golden Circle route features Thingvellir National Park, Geyser, and Gullfoss, three major Iceland tourist attractions you won’t want to miss. Spanning 190 miles of Iceland’s dramatic landscape, the Golden Circle offers the perfect introduction to the natural wonders this remarkable country has to offer.
You can choose to drive the route yourself in a rental car or book a Golden Circle tour to have it all planned out for you.
Thingvellir National Park is a historic gem that provided a home for Iceland’s first parliament back in 930 AD. It also gives you the rare opportunity to cross over or snorkel through the great rift valley where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates meet.
At Strokkur geyser in the heart of the geothermally active Haukadalur Valley, you’ll have the opportunity to watch an impressive eruption roughly every 5-7 minutes. The area is also home to Geysir, though this geyser has been inactive for many years now making its active neighbor Strokkkur the star of the show. If you walk the area you’ll also find an abundance of rising steam and holes of boiling water.
The Gullfoss waterfall completes this remarkable trio and is truly a sight to behold. You’ll see the Hvita River thundering down in two sections as it goes crashing into a deep crevice. As you get closer to the waterfall you’ll feel its spray. On a sunny day, you might be fortunate enough to see a rainbow span the width of the waterfall.
Where To Stay: Frost and Fire Hotel
Walk On Water On The Stokksness Peninsula
Vestrahorn Mountain (nicknamed “Batman Mountain”), with its jagged peaks, sits along the edge of the ocean surrounded by black sand, tufts of seagrass, and beautiful purple arctic lupines in the summer. This imposing mountain is located on the Stokksness Peninsula and is one of the most beautiful places in Iceland.
An 800 ISK entrance fee paid at the Viking Café gives you access to the beach and the Viking village film set beside Vestrahorn. Though this area is stunning regardless of the circumstances, it becomes even more spectacular when a thin layer of water coats the beach right up to the mountain, and as you make your way over the sand staring at the reflection of the mountain, it looks as though you’re walking on water.
If you have the opportunity, you might consider visiting this landscape at sunrise or sunset to see the vibrant colors frame the mountain and reflect in the water. On high aurora activity nights, you might be lucky enough to catch the Northern Lights dancing over the mountain as well.
Where To Stay: Glacier World-Hoffell Guesthouse
Soak In The Warm Waters Of The Hrunalaug Hot Springs
Between the public pools, hot springs, and hot rivers, it’s important you pack a swimsuit for your trip. One of the best places to visit in Iceland if you’re looking for a relaxing soak in the middle of nature is the Hrunalaug Hot Springs.
A large hot pot and a smaller, bathtub sized hot pot await you surrounded by a landscape that bursts with green grasses, moss, and yellow flowers in the summer. These hot springs are becoming increasingly popular so we suggest heading there in the early morning or late evening to avoid the larger crowds.
Though the hot pots were built up and fortified for human use, they struggle to accommodate the increasing tourist crowds and often destructive or careless behavior of visitors. Please pick up after yourself and leave the area around the hot pots (including the small changing hut) clean so others can enjoy the beauty of this unique experience as well.
Where To Stay: Guesthouse Fludir – Grund
Hike Through A Steam Filled Valley To The Reykjadalur Hot Springs
A hike in Reykjadalur Valley has everything. It gives you a chance to explore the beautiful Icelandic landscape, stretch your legs and get your heart pumping, see a waterfall, walk through steam, befriend some sheep, and soak in a hot river.
The Reykjadalur Hot Springs is one of the best places to visit in Iceland in the summer when the hills are lush and green and the midnight sun allows for late-night hiking in the soft glow of a sun that seemingly refuses to set.
A 45-minute hike of moderate difficulty will take you to the bathing section of the river where cold and hot water mix to create the perfect temperature. Lining the river are wood partitions where you can change and leave your belongings, and where sheep occasionally sunbathe.
The river is sectioned off by small rock walls with the deepest pockets and best bathing sections being right by each wall. When you’ve had your fill of the river and feel rejuvenated, you’ll make the mostly downhill hike back to the parking lot.
Where To Stay: Hotel Örk
Take Pictures At The Sight Of The Eerie Solheimasandur Plane Wreck
There is an abundance of stunning black sand beaches all over the country, but the 1973 DC-3 Navy plane crash makes Solheimasandur Beach particularly unique. Much about this wreck remains a mystery, but we do know that everyone survived the crash and the hollow fuselage was left behind.
The remains of the white plane lie in stark contrast to the black sand and you’re left with a rather eerie and dramatic scene. Tourists flock to the site of the wreck which remains one of the most popular attractions in Iceland. This is truly one of the best things to do in Vik!
There are a number of options for reaching the site. The first is to walk 2 miles through a flat, black rock/sand-filled landscape. Though there’s not a lot to see along the way and the wind can prove difficult at times, it’s a great way to stretch your legs and used to be the only way to reach the plane. If you’re short on time or just don’t feel like walking you can pay to take a shuttle bus to and from the site for a quick and easy trip.
Where To Stay: Volcano Hotel
Take In The Breathtaking Site Of The Tall And Powerful Haifoss
Haifoss along with its slightly smaller (but still mighty) neighbor Granni are two of Iceland’s most beautiful and impressive waterfalls. However, because they are located at the edge of the highlands and require some skillful navigating to reach, they’re far less frequented than Iceland’s other south coast waterfalls.
Haifoss should definitely be on your list of places to go in Iceland in the summer. The roads are typically inaccessible in the winter meaning summertime might be your only opportunity to visit. Besides that, the vibrant green moss of summer gives a splash of life to the scene.
Once you make it to Haifoss, you can take a small stroll from the parking lot to view the waterfall from a distance allowing you to capture the full image of the waterfall thundering down the cliffside. If you have plenty of time to spend at this location, you can also choose to hike down closer to the waterfall.
Where To Stay: Rjúpnavellir
Walk Around And Behind The Towering Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
South Iceland is full of stunning waterfalls and Seljalandsfoss will be your first stop on your south coast waterfalls adventure. Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular places to visit in Iceland because of its beauty and its proximity to Iceland’s Ring Road.
This 200-foot stunner is easily visible from the road. A path will lead you from the parking lot to the waterfall where you can continue around the backside of the waterfall. Come prepared with rain gear because the spray from this powerful waterfall will hit you particularly on windy days.
Surrounded by wildflowers and greenery in the summer, and sparking ice/snow in the winter, this narrow but formidable waterfall is the perfect way to kickstart your south coast adventures.
Where To Stay: Paradise Cave Hostel & Guesthouse
Watch Crashing Sleeper Waves At The Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
It can be argued that the Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is not only one of the best places to visit in Iceland, it’s also the country’s most popular black sand beach. As you look out towards the raging Atlantic Ocean with basalt columns behind you, you’ll understand why.
The area is also home to many unusual rock formations including two that rise out of the sea as well as the natural bridge, Dyrholaey, in the distance. The black sand, dark rock formations, and turbulent seas make for a stormy and somewhat ominous, but impressive scene.
As you enjoy the spectacular scenery, be sure to stay on the lookout for sleeper waves. These large, dramatic waves are mesmerizing to watch, but they pose a threat to the unaware tourist who ventures too close.
Where To Stay: Hotel Kría
Admire The Sheer Power And Force Of Dettifoss
If you’re looking for powerful waterfalls that will leave you picking your jaw up off of the floor, then Dettifoss is one of the best places to visit in Iceland. By the time you reach northern Iceland you’ve no doubt seen a whole collection of impressive waterfalls along the way, but you haven’t experienced true power until you’ve watched the glacier water of Dettifoss plunge over the cliff’s edge.
Dettifoss has been labeled the most powerful waterfall in Europe. You have the privilege of observing this beast from either side, though you’ll need to decide on a side (or choose both) ahead of time as they require different driving routes and parking lots that are an hour apart.
If you’re looking to get right up close to the waterfall then the east side is the way to go. Either option however will allow you to experience the beauty and sheer power of Dettifoss. On both sides, just a quick walk from the parking lot will put you face to face with this impressive force of nature.
Where To Stay: Nordic Natura
Sit And Soak In The Cascading Beauty Of Godafoss
As you travel through the north of Iceland you’ll want to take time to stop at Godafoss, the Waterfall of the Gods. This beauty is drastically different from Dettifoss, the other of North Iceland’s most famous waterfalls.
Godafoss presents itself in a half-circle of elegantly streaming water that collects in a brilliantly blue pool at its base. It’s not a particularly tall waterfall but its unusual shape and width is where its beauty lies. As a result of its unique nature, it remains one of the most popular things to see in Iceland.
Some of the best views can be found from the west side where you can stand or sit level with the top of the waterfall. If you’d prefer to walk down to the pool, make your way to the east side where you’ll find a path down.
Where To Stay: Hotel Laxá
We’re thrilled you’ve chosen to explore and immerse yourself in the remarkable landscapes of Iceland. You’re in for a real treat as this country has nothing but unique, memorable experiences to offer.
With so many spectacular sites, it’s hard to go wrong when choosing which thrilling Iceland vacation spots to visit. If you’d like some help picking the best of the best, we hope this list will provide you with the guidance you need.
If you have any questions or comments as you go about deciding which of these locations you must see in Iceland while visiting, please feel free to send us a message below.