Iceland is one of the most distinctive and beautiful countries to visit when it comes to the most amazing sights to see.
Iceland is renowned for its stunning landscapes, pristine environment, and amazing views. There are no bears, mosquitoes, or other threatening creatures to be found. Everywhere you turn, there are chances for trekking and hiking trails, so choosing one is really the toughest obstacle.
Adults and kids will enjoy the natural playground that is in Iceland. It can be challenging to decide what to include on your bucket list because so many exciting things are available, from adrenaline-pumping adventures like snowmobiling to therapeutic hot springs tucked away in quiet views and everything in between.
We have created a list of 12 Most Amazing Things To Do In Iceland!
1) Northern Lights
The Northern Lights also referred to as the Aurora Borealis, are notoriously elusive. To see the northern lights, a precise balance of strong solar activity is needed, which produces electrically charged particles that collide with gases like oxygen and nitrogen.
There are days, sometimes even weeks, when these ethereal swirls and streaks of bright green, fuchsia, violet, and blue simply don’t emerge, despite Iceland being one of the most mesmerizing spots on the planet to view them.
The northern lights are most visible in March and September. However, if you’re fortunate, you might have a glimpse of them at any point throughout the night.
How does Northern Light form?
The northern lights, which are geographically also known as the Aurora Borealis, are some sort of visible light waves that result from the solar particles entering the Earth’s magnetic field that gets ionized at a high atmosphere.
Due to the ionization process, they get their colours, mostly green, but sometimes it is purple, red, pink, orange, and blue. But solar activity cannot be calculated and thus it is sporadic. Therefore, Iceland may not experience the northern lights even on a pitch-black, clear night.
Iceland is one of the few places left in Europe where it can still be plainly observed due to growing levels of light pollution.
Interesting Facts about Northern Lights
On occasion, while in space, astronauts on the International Space Station may fly over the aurora borealis. At the same time, most northern light displays can be seen between 55 and 80 miles above the surface of the Earth.
They are capable of travelling 370 miles in space. The International Space Station serves as its host and orbits at a distance of 253 miles.
A fantastic northern lights trip is now available, which is perfect if you don’t drive. The excursion departs from Reykavik and lasts for around four hours. By preventing the solar wind from directly reaching the globe, the magnetic field—an unseen shield formed by magnetic forces travelling from the South to the North Pole—protects the world. It’s amazing.
The field redirects the solar wind, but as the magnetic fields of the two objects collide, some of the energetic particles are sent back toward the poles when they encounter the upper atmosphere. Northern lights are among the beautiful things to do in Iceland.
This funnelling toward the South and north poles, respectively, causes the northern lights and the southern lights to appear. Even with the small quantities of lighting from the towns, you can watch them frolic overhead when the lights are exceptionally bright. Always keep an eye out for those whirling, twirling swirls!
It is said that a poet and businessman from Iceland attempted to sell the Northern Lights to a group of Swiss businesspeople in the late 1800s. City officials planned the blackout in order to reduce light pollution and improve residents’ views of the Aurora Borealis.
2) Whale Watching
The Icelandic coast is home to a large number of whales. Reserve a ticket on this excellent whale-watching excursion that leaves Reykjavik to increase your chances of seeing any of these magnificent creatures in the wild.
The most acceptable approach to watching whales in their natural habitat takes about 3 to 4 hours. Just be advised that sometimes tours go a little beyond schedule. However, Whale watching is among the most beautiful things to do in Iceland.
Whale watching is one of the most common elements on the bucket list of people travelling to Iceland. Iceland is home to more than twenty species of whales, dolphins, and porpoises that reside in the coastal waters. Here you can witness the species like the small harbour porpoises as well as the earth’s largest animals, blue whales.
The most common species of whale that are popularly seen here are minke whales and humpback whales. Besides whales, there is also a chance of the sight of other rare rarer animals, like killer whales and fin whales.
Whale-watching tours are centred around three major locations:
Husavik is generally known as the ‘whale-watching capital of Europe’ as a result of the abundant animal traffic that lives by through its fjords. The fertile feeding grounds found on Iceland’s northern coasts are a major reason that helps to attract such a wide range of this animal traffic.
Husavik- Whale Watching Capital
The most acceptable place to see whales in Iceland is Husavik. The humpback whale is the most prevalent species in this region, as it is in other northern areas.
The flourishing environment in the bay is responsible for Hsavk’s fame worldwide. The primary source of nutrition for whales is plankton, produced in large quantities by melting snow and rivers carrying nutrients from mineral-rich regions. Don’t forget to visit the whale exhibit in the heart of Hsavk while you’re there.
In Hsavk, various businesses provide whale-watching cruises on multiple vessels. Hsavk’s ticket booths and offices may be found there, and tours leave from the harbour, which is a short distance away.
North Sailing, which has been in business since 1995, is the oldest whale-watching operation in Hsavk. All of their vessels are charming traditional schooners that are environmentally sustainable. During one of their whale-watching excursions, you will also stop at a puffin island where hundreds of species breed in the summer.
3) Golden Circle
The Golden Circle, the country’s most incredible tourist destination, is a no-brainer when considering things to do in Iceland. The circle encompasses the Thingvellir National Park, the Gullfoss Waterfall, and the Geysir Geothermal Area.
The distance from Reykjavik to the closest stop is about 300 kilometres round-way, and the trip takes less than two hours.
How to explore the Golden Circle?
The popularity of the trail along the Golden Circle can be found in various guided tours, for example, the comprehensive 6-Day Winter Tour Package, self-drive tours and others like the 10-Day Road Trip.
Adventures and Activities
You can also opt for an easy route to do the same by hooking on with a rental car in which the place can be toured within half a day. All the excursions have additional adventures, activities like snorkelling or snowmobiling are conducted in extravagant mediums, such as by helicopter, or under the midnight sun.
The three mentioned locations of the Golden Circle are home to the clearest sights of Iceland’s fascinating geological features, enchanting landscapes, and dynamic lifestyle.
The Golden Circle features several distinctive locations you won’t want to miss. The Golden Circle may be driven in about four hours but allow more time in the winter when the road conditions call for cautious, slower driving.
The Golden Circle may be completed in 4-5 hours, but travellers should always allow a little extra time to unwind and appreciate this beautiful route. One of the best parts to do on the first visit to Iceland is undoubtedly this.
4) Reykjavik, the Capital, is worth a visit
Reykjavik is focused on its people’s culture, history, and future, whereas much of Iceland is around untamed landscapes and unusual natural phenomena. The coastal capital city of Iceland, which is home to around one-third of the country’s 366,000 residents, is a vibrant and mysterious location on an otherwise quiet island.
Locations Reykjavik is all about
Despite being initially inhabited by Vikings, much of Reykjavik alone has recently been established. Street murals, galleries, and post-modern structures show the city’s youth and forward-thinking spirit. However, the cherished origins and customs of the Icelandic people have persisted in every aspect of their culture, from crafts to gastronomy.
The best activities in Reykjavik result from the city’s history as a typical Icelandic neighbourhood and one of the hottest northern towns in Europe.
However, the following are several attractions in Reykjavik that you should consider.
- Rainbow street
- Art museum
- Sun voyager
- Sky lagoon
- Perlan exhibits
- The church of Iceland
Night Life of Reykjavik
When you are in the heart of Iceland, Reykjavik, hanging out at night is for sure a favourite amongst locals as well as tourists, who will jump at the chance to enjoy the city vibe before the night’s end.
The downtown streets are spotted with places where you can chill with your friends or explore new company to spend the night with at various social events that are conducted regularly here.
What to expect from Reykjavik?
As already mentioned, downtown Reykjavik is filled with bars, coffee houses, restaurants, and social events. The mob present here is unique in itself as they are a perfect blend of local Icelanders and outside visitors from across different directions of the globe, thus it leads to a night of interesting conversation.
Blue Lagoon – A Must Visit
Enjoy warm, geothermal waters at Blue Lagoon in Reykjavik while admiring some of Iceland’s finest natural beauties. Blue Lagoon Iceland, which was established in 1992 to capitalize on the advantages of geothermal seawater, has developed into a business that offers transformative spa experiences, research and development, sustainability, culinary delights, a renowned line of skincare, and the fusion of hospitality and wellness. In Iceland, you must see the Blue Lagoon. It was a wonderful, soothing experience. Despite the large number of visitors enjoying the hot spring, one cannot feel cramped because of its size. One relaxed for a few hours in the hot spring while admiring the scenery.
Skógafoss is one of Iceland’s most massive and beautiful waterfalls with a bewildering width of 25 meters (82 feet) and a fall of 60 meters (197 feet).
How to Reach Skógafoss?
The waterfall is a part of many self-drive tours and vacation tours designed around the country, among these the most popular and ideal tours are the 10-Day Road Trip and the 6-Day Winter Guided Tour. The maximum of the South Coast tours never misses visiting Skogafoss.
There is another way around the Skógafoss, a steep staircase that runs to a sightseeing platform up the cascade is another way to enjoy the view. Many beautiful seabirds are also seen on the way up. The river flowing down Skógafoss is home to a multiplying char and salmon herd and is thus an accurate spot for fishing during the summer.
If you are planning on a rental car, you will get this waterfall right by the Ring Road, located on the Skógá river, this huge, enchanting waterfall is clearly visible from Route 1. It is an excellent place to take a break and breathe the beauty while travelling Iceland’s South Coast.
Enjoy her at Skógafoss!
The mighty water spray that springs out around the fall results in at least one rainbow that is present any time the sun shines from behind the clouds.
The surface underneath the waterfall is very even, so the visitors can easily go near the wall of water. However, it would surely get you drenched, but on a warm sunny day, this is nothing less than a tempting activity.
What makes Skógafoss such an exceptional waterfall?
Skógafoss is exceptional because Eyjafjallajokull and Myrdalsjokull, two glaciers, are where the waterfall originates. Awe-inspiring views of the south coast of Iceland can be had by ascending the 370 steps to the peak of Skogafoss waterfall.
Additionally, this is where the well-travelled Fimmvorduhals pass begins. Skógafoss, one of Iceland’s most visited waterfalls, is about two hours east of the airport.
Those who desire to observe Skógafoss from a dry range will still find it to be a breathtaking sight. Skógafoss cascades down a massive, moss-covered cliffside. Many photographers may attempt to keep their gear dry while photographing the contrast between the black basalt rocks and the green moss. Skogafoss is among the most beautiful things to do in Iceland.
You’ll notice the crowds thin out and leave the waterfall if you visit early or late in the day.
6) Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
The deepest lake in Iceland is Jokulsarlon, which has a maximum altitude of 814 feet. The surface area of Jokulsarlon is 11.2 square miles. Driving to Jokulsarlon from Iceland’s capital, Reykjavik, takes about five hours. Ice from nearly a thousand years ago makes up the icebergs at Jokulsarlon.
History of Jokulsarlon at a glance
Breidamerkurjokull glacier began to recede in 1934, leaving the lagoon in its wake, and the Jokulsarlon glacier initially began to form. Since the early 1970s, this glacial lagoon in Iceland has grown by four. The lagoon, which connects to the ocean, has fresh and saltwater. This produces a distinctive colour. In all seasons of the year, seals can be observed in Jokulsarlon, but in the winter, they congregate around the opening of the lagoon to catch fish.
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon’s Wildlife
Seals can be spotted lounging on top of icebergs and swimming in the lagoon. In the summer, when you may observe the arctic tern and numerous other species, the lagoon is also packed with birdlife.
For puffins, this is not a favourite location. However, if you’re travelling by car from Reykjavik, you can stop at Reynisfjara Beach and Dyrholaey Lighthouse to observe some puffins. Watching wildlife is one of the amazing things to do in Iceland.
The drive to Jokulsarlon along South Coast is stunningly gorgeous.
7) Ice Caves
Ice caves are exceptionally rare phenomena that need quite strict specific conditions to form and are only found accessible during the winter months of Iceland.
About Ice Caves in Ireland
It is a natural formation that is self-built in independent shapes and sizes and to mention this is so blue in colour that it overrules the laws of dreams too. The light inside the cave reflects the ice surface in diverse shades and this magical interaction of light with the ice results in an atmosphere of fantasy, as well as gives an aura of life at rest in its depths.
The Beauty of these Ice Caves
This tranquillity of this place is ensured way more when the numbers of travellers are relatively lower, and the site is less crowded, especially in winter. The delight of witnessing the fantasy lands in the Ice Caves is a treat to your personal experience.
It is one of a kind in terms of worldly adventures you will ever come across. Another way to treasure this place for a lifetime is to capture the charm of the icy heaven in form of spectacular photos and videos taken here if possible then secluded for the other travellers.
Where to Find Ice Caves in Ireland?
A journey there wouldn’t be complete without visiting Iceland’s ice caves. Iceland boasts ice caverns of diverse sizes and shapes, carefully sculpted by nature or moulded by man, as well as a variety of excellent Ice Cave tours.
Visit Vatnajokull National Park for an ice cave experience that will transport you into the blue interior of the Vatnajokull glacier to see what mother nature can conjure up amid winter. Visit the Langjokull glacier to discover how a man can shape a glacier; you’ll arrive in a monster truck before descending into the artificial ice tunnel with a chapel inside.
8) Diving in Silfra
The Golden Circle, a circle mostly with thermal springs to waterfalls, is where we went snorkelling in Silfra. Silfra is a part of the Golden Circle, which is one of the top items to do in Iceland, according to many travellers.
The undersea rift known as Silfra is located in Thingvellir National Park. You have incredible visibility of the undersea world thanks to Thingvallavatn’s astonishingly clear water. Diving in Silfra is one of the exciting things to do in Iceland.
One may dive into the most unusual body of water in the world with our Diving Silfra Day Tour and experience unmatched visibility.
‘The North American and Eurasian tectonic plates’ movement caused Silfra, a rift in the Earth, to open up. Over 100 metres of underwater sight are possible because of the glacier water’s immaculate clarity, which has been filtered for many years through subterranean lava rocks.
Scenes of Silfra Diving Tour
There is nowhere else on Earth where you can experience the underwater scenery that you do on your diving tour. The Silfra Diving Tour starts with a pick-up from your Reykjavk lodging. The drive to Thingvellir National Park takes about an hour.
On the way, your guide will tell you about the distinctive geology and cultural heritage of Silfra and the rest of the region. You can also meet directly at the Silfra meeting location in Thingvellir National Park if you are travelling to Silfra on your own.
A 30- to 40-minute long dive with a maximum depth of 18 meters is included on the Silfra Diving Tour.
The guide will give you a thorough overview of the dive site at the Silfra Meeting Point and then help you set up your dive gear. They employ top-notch regulators made by APEX or Aqualung and SCUBA gear from the BARE and Aqualung brands.
The Beauty of Silfra
Silfra’s location on the plate tectonics being driven apart makes it so attractive. You may touch either side of the tectonic plates at Silfra by diving or snorkelling through this rift. The North American plate is on one side, and the European scale is on the other.
Just maintain as much stillness as you can to stay warm. The gentle stream will do most of the work, so the less you move your face and hands, the warmer you’ll be. This is so that the water trapped in your neoprene gloves and hood can warm up due to your body heat. That water will flow out if you move, while cold water will flood.
9) Reynisfjara Black Beach
One of Iceland’s most unusual natural phenomena is its black sand beaches. If Iceland has been on your trip wish list for some time, you’ve probably already seen the stunning black sand beaches and the artistic photos posted on social media.
Why Black Sand?
Black sand’s explanation is simple, even though it may look strange and peculiar. Iceland’s volcanoes have created a vast range of volcanic rocks and minerals over the past tens of thousands of years.
This volcanic material has decomposed and turned into black sand in various parts of Iceland. Travelling to black beach is among the unique things to do in Iceland.
In recent years, Reynisfjara Beach has become one of Iceland’s busiest tourist destinations. It is a meeting spot for powerful natural forces and displays majestic and expansive natural beauties. It is no surprise to Icelanders that the beach and its surroundings have a lot to provide in terms of breathtaking experiences and natural beauty.
Caution at Reynisfjara Beach
Making visitors to Reynisfjara aware of potential risks at the beach is essential. First, Reynisfjara’s raging waves are hazardous since they frequently push further up the coast than everyone would anticipate.
Sneaker waves are characterized by their unpredictable appearance, especially on tranquil days. Since there are no substantial land masses between Antarctica and the Reynisfjara coast, waves have thousands of kilometres to pile up between them.
Visitors must keep an appropriate distance of at least 30 meters from the waves and never turn their backs on them.
The rip currents offshore are especially notorious for their intensity and capacity to take defenceless people out into the icy cold open ocean, in addition to these abrupt and dramatic tidal changes. There are fatal accidents at Reynisfjara.
10) Mount Kirkjufellfoss
One of Iceland’s waterfalls that receives the most photography is Kirkjufellsfoss. It is situated close to Grundarfjörur on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula’s northern side in West Iceland. Three waterfalls, collectively known as Kirkjufellsfoss, may be found in the river Kirkjufellsá, which originates from the volcano Helgrindur.
About Mt. Kirkjufell
The most notable peak in Grundarfjörur and a feature of the fishing town is Mt. Kirkjufell (463 m). The peak and Kirkjufellfoss are close to Route 54, after Grundarfjörur town.
Kirkjufell sometimes referred to as “Church Mountain,” is renowned for its distinctive form. Unfortunately, it has emerged as Iceland’s most perilous mountain, and several international tourists have perished while attempting to climb this spectacular mountain. It is the most significant feature in the nearby fishing community of Grundarfjörur.
How was Mt. Kirkjufell Formed?
Although Kirkjufell Mountain isn’t a volcano, the layers you can see there is the product of numerous volcanic eruptions. The mountain was surrounded by two glaciers, which over millions of years sculpted the mountain’s present shape. Kirkjufell Mountain may be climbed, and the view from the top is rather magnificent.
If you’d rather, you can spend a day or two exploring the breathtaking landscapes of this region of Iceland by visiting Kirkjufell with a guided-on tour of Snaefellsnes. However, watching this waterfall is one of the most beautiful things to do in Iceland.
11) Kerid Crater
Kerid is an impressive volcanic crater lake with clear milky waters set against a harsh black and deep red mountain range. Both tourists and residents frequent Kerid as a halt along the Golden Circle route.
About Kerid, the volcanic crater
The depth of Kerid, including the motionless water at the bottom, is 55 meters (180 feet). Fissures and cavities in the stone hold groundwater below a specific level. The water table is this level’s surface. The existing body of water at the crater’s base is at the same elevation as the water table and is not the consequence of recent precipitation.
Easy access to the location
You may easily travel from the parking area to the higher viewing platform to have a look at the crater from above. Given that it is directly across from the parking lot, no effort is required. Additionally, there is a route that you can use to go around the crater’s exterior from above.
Alternatively, if you’re feeling more daring, you can descend the inclining pathway to the water’s edge and explore there. At ground level, there is a flat, rocky trail that takes you around the crater. And a couple of fantastic locations to pause, rest and take in the scenery.
12) Iceland’s Grimsvotn Volcanoes
In the heart of Iceland’s enormous Vatnajökull ice cap, the Grmsvötn volcano can be found. Among all of the volcanoes in Iceland, it erupts the most frequently. About 6 by 8 kilometres in size, the Grmsvötn volcano’s complex of calderas includes a subglacial caldera lake heated by geothermal energy. An ice top 200 meters thick has been placed over the caldera lake. The magma core of the Grmsvötn volcano is located underneath the lake.
Scenes of the Grmsvötn volcano
After reaching Grímsvötn the first thing you would notice and what would make you awe in amazement is its supernatural craters.
With the heat of the earth coming from beneath the surface of the earth, very often this place gets filled with a gush of surprisingly blue water pooling amid the white snow which appears to be powder in texture. The shock does not end here.
You would also come across hot steam coming out from the hot springs present here. This whole scenic beauty is a sort of stunner when seen from above.
Major Incident of Grímsvötn Volcano
At Grimsvötn, an eruption lasting a week began on December 28, 1998, however, there was no glacial burst. But an eruption that took place in November 2004, lasted for a week.
Likewise, very little glacial burst followed the eruption, although volcanic ash from it fell as far as mainland Europe and briefly disrupted aircraft traffic into Iceland.
For the first time ever, bacteria were discovered in a subglacial lake in 2004, when they were identified in the water of the Grimsvötn lake. Due to the heat from the volcanoes, the lakes never freeze. Low oxygen concentrations are also sufficient for the bacteria to live. Due to the fact that Mars also has signs of volcanism and glaciers, the site may be an analogue for life there, and the discoveries may provide guidance on where to hunt for signs of life there.
A must visit location in Ireland
The main structure on a lengthy series of NE-SW trending fissures is called Grmsvötn. Bárarbunga is a portion of a fissure system that runs down Vatnajökull’s western face and is not far from where the Mid-Atlantic ridge enters Iceland. However, watching one of the active volcanoes is a thrilling experience and an amazing thing to do in Iceland.
What are Iceland’s Top Natural Landmarks?
Although it’s a five-hour trip from Reykjavik, this location frequently ranks well among Iceland’s most stunning natural attractions. It is a massive glacial lake with a breathtaking view close to Vatnajökull National Park in Southeast Iceland.
Is a Trip to Iceland worthwhile?
According to several seasoned photographers, Iceland is worth a visit at least once, particularly at different periods of the year. The Highlands Are Just Desolate Wastelands. The Highlands are made up of glaciers, lakes, craters, volcanoes, and deserts. The highlands are largely undeveloped. Neither roads nor signs are in abundance.
Iceland offers far too many activities for one person to keep track of. It is a world of sharp differences. It’s a stunning island with lava erupting from ice and rivers flowing through deserts. There are never-ending nights in the dead of winter and perpetually sunny summers in this land where the natural features dance between the poles of fire and cold. However, the following are several unique places you should visit in Iceland.