This article summons up all of the top things to see and do in Iceland that every visitor should try!
Iceland has gradually earned its position as a highly demanded touristic destiny. Many travelers from around the world want to come and explore Iceland, and It is not hard to see why. The land of fire and ice has impressive black sand beaches, hiking trails, geothermal baths, and striking landscapes. Oh, and do not forget the cute Icelandic horse! Who doesn’t love those? As you can see, Iceland offers many things for visitors to enjoy. Today, we will mention the top things to do in Iceland, so it is easier for you to plan an itinerary.
The first thing you need to be aware of is the time of the year when you will visit Iceland. This Nordic country is different depending on the season. Some activities are available for you to enjoy all year long. Some others, are only possible to enjoy on certain seasons. Many people wonder when it’s the best time of the year to visit Iceland, well, just choose your favorite activities. Then find out when it’s possible to enjoy them, that would be the best period to visit Iceland for you.
You have probably seen this place many times. I dare to say it is one of the most famous places in Iceland. On a search of the most-liked Instagram photos of Iceland, you will surely find the Blue Lagoon. But, what is the blue lagoon?
Well, it is nothing but a beautiful geothermal bathing area in Grindavik, south Iceland. It is just 20 minutes away from Keflavík Airport and 50 minutes from Reykjavik. It is then the perfect spot to have a taste of the Icelandic bathing culture. Its white turquoise waters have many benefits for your skin and mind. It is a place to relax, enjoy a drink or a massage while wearing a mud mask on your face. Radiant skin on the way!
The Blue Lagoon is humanmade, but the waters do have a geothermal origin. There is a power plant close by that uses geothermal water to produce energy. The water that already went through the pipes is then expulsed to the lava grounds, creating the Blue Lagoon. The reason why the water has such a beautiful color is because of the silica. This mineral, along with sulfur, is fantastic to relieve skin conditions, but not so great for your hair. The silica will make your hair stiff and very dry, hard to comb afterward. There is plenty of conditioner at your disposal in the changing rooms. Coat your hair with it and make sure you don’t put your head underwater.
The Blue Lagoon offers different packages starting from 50€, it opens all year long, and accommodation and restaurant are also at your disposal in the same building.
This one is not a place in Iceland but a show that mother nature offers in this latitude. Aurora Borealis season is from September to March. So for those planning to come to Iceland in summer, I am afraid you won’t be able to see them. The Northern lights require pitch-black nights and clear skies. With the midnight sun creating never-ending days in the summertime, it is impossible to spot them.
To hunt the northern lights, we recommend you to avoid big cities with light pollution. It is not hard to do in Iceland as there are many rural and inhabited areas. Just get your rental car, check the aurora and weather forecast, and get on the way! You also need to be patient. Auroras are not a light bulb; they don’t turn on just by looking at the skies.
There are several factors you need to count on: sun activity, darkness, weather, and clouds. This light show is created when atoms from solar flares hit the earth's atmosphere producing a chemical reaction. Depending on the chemical element the light collisions with, the aurora can be green, purple, blue or red. The show is mesmerizing, so even though it may take a bit longer to appear, it is absolutely worth it. A once in a lifetime experience for sure!
Any Icelandic travel plan must have waterfalls in it. They are always present in the landscapes of Iceland. You just can’t get away from them. You would not want to anyway as they are magnificent and striking. I’m not exaggerating when I say there is a waterfall almost everywhere. But of course, there is a ranking top. Not every waterfall is as famous as Gullfoss waterfall or as powerful as Dettifoss.
The most famous waterfalls in Iceland are located mainly in the South Coast region. Be sure to add Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss and Svartifoss to your list. Seljalandsfoss is commonly known as the waterfall “you can walk behind.” And that’s true; there is a cave right behind the waterfall so you can have a 360º view of the area. Be careful when doing so as the close area is very wet and you might slip.
If you are a Game of Thrones lover, then Svartifoss is a must for you. This waterfall is located in the Skaftafell National Park, which was a filming location for the HBO’s series. Skógafoss is all about magic. Besides its striking beauty, there are tales that narrate the story of a troll, so mesmerized by the waterfall, he lost track of time and did not realize the sun was rising. One the sunbeams touch his skin, he turned into rock. He’s now destined to watch the waterfall for eternity.
Raw and wild nature is part of Iceland and its habitant’s daily life. The country is the result of the forces of nature. Everything you see in Iceland, the soil, mountains, hills…etc. Come from violent volcanic and geothermal activity. Lava fields in this Nordic island are the result of devastating volcanic eruptions. The lava expulsed after an explosion runs through the surface and ends up solidifying. It creates some oddly shaped areas, some of them covered by Iceland moss and others are just dark charcoal-like rocks.
Icelandic moss has a vibrant green color. It takes decades to grow so be sure not to step on it. It is beautiful but very fragile at the same time. If you come in the wintertime, you would not be able to see the moss covering the fields. Instead, you will have a winter wonderland and plenty of snow, which is also charming. One of the most famous lava fields is Eldraun, South Iceland. A day trip to the area is highly recommended! Hiking trails are starting at Kirkjubæjarklaustur that would take you to Eldraun if you feel like exercising a bit.
Nature can be violent, but it creates beauty too. And sometimes, it also creates impressive spas for you to relax and enjoy. Iceland has plenty of them, so many; it has become a trait of our culture. We already mentioned the Blue Lagoon, but it is humanmade. In this case, we are referring to natural geothermal baths and hot pots.
My favorite one is Mývatn Nature Baths in north Iceland. It is often called the Blue Lagoon of the north. It is beautiful and not as many people visit it, so it is not so busy, which is great when you feel like relaxing! I also recommend Landmannalaugar, in the highlands of Iceland. The mountains surrounding the geothermal waters create outstanding scenery. After hours of hiking, there is nothing better than relaxing at these warm waters. Do not forget your swimsuit! there are many hot springs along the ring road for you to enjoy.
Although Iceland is not the only place on earth where one can see whales, it is indeed one of the most famous ones. The whales swim all the way from the Gulf of Mexico to Iceland just to have an all you can eat seafood banquet. And Iceland has plenty of food to offer. If you happen to visit the North of Iceland, then come to Husavík.
That is considered the capital of whale watching in Iceland, and there are several tours that depart daily from the harbor. They provide the needed equipment and clothing, so you don’t have to worry about wearing proper attire. Some companies even provide hot coffee and donuts! And who doesn’t love that on a cold day? Whale season ranges from April until mid-October. You can also go whale watching in Akureyri or even in Reykjavik. So if you can’t visit the north, you still have chances of watching these magnificent mammals.
As you can see, Iceland offers many different activities for any type of visitor and taste. We highlighted these as we consider they are unique and enjoyable, sometimes hard to find anywhere else in the globe. There are of course many more related to food, culture, festivals, and traditions. Do not forget about the capital city either, Reykjavik offers possibilities and unique things to do! check them our here.
Discovering and exploring Iceland in a once in a lifetime experience. Don’t try to cover all of them in a short period. Being in Iceland is an adventure itself and getting too tired or bored is not an option at all. We hope you enjoyed this article, but we hope you enjoy Iceland even more!