Today I was contacted by someone who is planning a trip to Iceland and is looking for suggestions as to what are the nicest places to visit. So here is my top-10 of what to see in Iceland.
Many locations in Iceland are only accessible in summer and since we had winter weather during both of our trips (June 2006 and November 2015), we never reached some of them (like Detifoss or Papey island) . There are also many other places that might be worth a detour if you are in the neighbourhood or passing by. I am thinking about the coast and the fjords of the Eastern Iceland, the turf churches of Hof or Nupskadur, Thingvellir National Park, doing a glacier walk, etc, etc.
These are my TOP-10 places to see in Iceland based on our experience and our interests. Feel free to use this list as an inspiration. It can help you if you don’t know where to start so that you can create your travel itinerary based on your own interests and depending on the time of the year you are planning to go and how much time you have. Keep in mind that the days are endless from June to August and you can obviously do much more sightseeing on any given day than in winter. You may need just 4 days in order to see the same places in summer that would take you 6-7 days in winter.
Places you should definitely see in Iceland
Top 3 is actually my top 3. The rest is random, I really like them all.
1. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is not coincidentally the first one I mention. If there is one place in Iceland you don’t want to miss, then it’s this one. The lagoon itself is just amazing, the scenery changes all the time. If you are lucky as we were in November, you can see extraordinary ice formations on the beach at the coast just across the road from the parking of the lagoon. For me, this beach was even more special than the lagoon itself.
You may want to check out the nearby Fjalljökull glacial lagoon as well – it’s smaller and less touristic than Jökulsárlón, and it’s very nice too.
2. Tractor excursion to Ingólfshöfði puffins
Ingólfshöfði is a small headland and private nature reserve on the south coast of Iceland, and it’s one of the best places to see puffins in Iceland (only in summer). The coastal landscape and black sand landscape are just amazing as well. Driving a tractor- drawn hay car in order to get there certainly adds to the experience. We did the excursion 10 years ago and loved every second of it. Apparently the owners still do it the same way today, and I can highly recommend it!
3. Skaftafell National Park
You shouldn’t miss the Svartifoss – a waterfall surrounded by black basalt columns, but make sure you do some other hikes in the park as well. The first time we did the Svartifoss – Sjónarsker – Sel walk and the walk to the glacier Skaftafellsjökull. The second time – the Svartifoss and Sjónarnípa walk. There are many hiking trails in the park and they are all really nice.
4. Gullfoss waterfall
Gullfoss, or The Golden Waterfalls, is probably the most beautiful waterfall in Iceland. A must see!
5. Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls
Seljalandsfoss is the only waterfall I know where you can walk behind it. It was frozen and therefore closed in November, but we did it on our first trip to Iceland, and it was a very special experience. Prepare to get soaking wet!
Skogafoss is really majestic. You can also climb the stairs all the way to the top of the waterfall for some great views of the area.
6. Myvatn area, Northern Iceland
Myvatn area in the North of Iceland is well worth exploring and you should plan at least two days here.
- A walk to the caldera of Krafla volcano and the lava fields
- Short walk to the pseudocraters at Myvatn lake
- Leirhnjukur hiking trail
- Dimmuborgir area of remarkable lava formations and the 45-minute walk to Kirkjan (‘the Curch’) lava tube structure
- Myvatn Nature Baths. If I were to choose between Myvatn Nature Baths and the Blue Lagoon, I would definitely vote for Myvatn. It’s less crowded, has beautiful views, and it’s cheaper. We went there every evening we were in the area. The best way to end your day!
7. Námaskarð geothermal area, Northern Iceland
It’s an easily reachable compact area that can be visited in just a few minutes, but it’s a fascinating place and is really worth it. You have to love the smell though.
8. Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon
Fjaðrárgljúfur canyon near Kirkjubaejarklaustur is also one of my favourite places in Iceland. A bit difficult to find, but don’t let that discourage you!
9. Geysir area
You just cannot go to Iceland and not see a geyser erupt. Although the old Geysir (the mother of all geysers – English word geyser derives from Geysir) is ‘sleeping’, the nearby Strokkur geyser erupts every 5-10 minutes. Not to be missed!
10. Coastine near Vik, Southern Iceland
Vik and Reynisdrangar beaches and impressive coastline is certainly worth a short visit. Reynisdrangar black sand beach was once ranked as one of the ten most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world.
These are obviously not all the best places to see in Iceland. Just some of my absolute favourites I think you shouldn’t miss. Hope this helps to get you started with your itinerary for Iceland.
- If you are looking for itinerary ideas, make sure to check our post with the best Iceland itinerary suggestions. Here you can also find our 7-day Iceland trip itinerary in winter.
- Planning a trip to Iceland? Don’t miss our complete Iceland accommodation guide to help plan your trip.
- Looking for more information about traveling to Iceland? Make sure to check our Iceland travel guide!
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