The most beautiful places in Iceland (+ PHOTO)
Iceland is often called the “Land of Fire and Ice” because of the wide variety of local landscapes, which include ancient volcanoes, rumbling waterfalls, creeping glaciers, and amazing black sand beaches. High mountains stretch to the clouds here, surrounded by rolling valleys. The sky, burning with a magical northern glow, is reflected in the clear water of glacial lakes.
Each year, thousands of tourists flock to this unique North Atlantic country to see its rugged landscapes and take pictures against the backdrop of breathtaking northern beauty. In this article, we’ll tell you about the country’s most curious places to visit.
The Hvytau River is famous for its many small waterfalls, two of which are literally a couple of steps apart, near the place Borgarfjordur in the western part of Iceland. The most famous of the pair is Hröinfossar. This, in turn, is a series of waterfalls, stretching down the river, for 900 meters, and making their way through the rocky deposits of ancient lava. Upstream is the more powerful Barnafoss, which rushes noisily through narrow rocks, carrying tons of crystal-clear water.
Legend has it that two boys drowned here after trying to cross the natural bridge that sits above the river. Hreinfossar, is less powerful than Barnafoss, but much more beautiful. It is beautiful at any time of year: in the fall the gold and copper of the surrounding trees harmonize with the milky blue water, while in spring and summer the bright green color of the foliage creates a strong contrast with the dark cliffs around.
Sunsets in Westfjords
Although the country best known for its fjords is Norway, the picturesque Westfjords peninsula of Iceland is certainly no worse. Located in the Danish Straits opposite the east coast of Greenland, the peninsula is connected to the Icelandic mainland by a narrow isthmus. The mountainous terrain is covered with fairly steep hills and dozens of beautiful fjords.
The cliffs of Lautrabjarg, at Iceland’s westernmost point, are the largest rock bird nesting area in the North Atlantic. Whole populations of birds live here, such as tupiks, the national bird of Iceland.
Westfjords also has dozens of natural harbors, where in the evenings the last rays of sunlight, highlight the silhouettes of the sheer cliffs, and the red sunset is reflected in the clear blue water surrounded by lush vegetation.
Skogafoss is perhaps the most fabulous waterfall in Iceland: water cascades over steep cliffs covered in moss and lichen, tumbling down into the green valley far below. White clouds of water spray rise from the rumbling water, and if you’re lucky, on sunny days you might see a huge rainbow in the air, right at the base of the waterfall. Although Skogafoss is not the tallest or largest waterfall in the world, or even in Iceland, there is something magical about it.
The magnificent scenery is a magnet for the eye. The misty waterfall creates a mysterious atmosphere, enveloping the nearby lush hills of green moss and the clear, bright sky overhead. Everything around seems to be impregnated with magic, and magical creatures from ancient legends have gathered somewhere nearby to admire the beauty of this place with you.
Volcanic Lakes of Askia
Askja is a volcanic caldera located in the Dyngjufoll Mountains in central Iceland. There are two lakes in the calderas: the large Eskewatn and the small, geothermal Viti. The milky blue color of Viti is characteristic of the volcanic waters of Iceland, the color of the water is due to the increased content of silicone in the water. Both lakes are popular tourist destinations, although they are accessible to tourists only about four months a year, from June to October.
During the winter, ice and snow prevent access to Askia, and the road is closed until the following summer. Volcano in the place Askia last erupted in 1961 and recently, according to seismologists, is in a state close to the active phase. Tourists can visit the legendary Dragon Canyon, as well as volcanoes Herdubraid and Kverkfjödl.
At most-beauty.ru you can also admire other equally beautiful volcanic lakes of the Earth.
The indestructible Reynisdragnar
Drive about 180 km south of Reykjavik and you’ll find yourself in a small Icelandic village called Vik. Vik is famous for several unique natural phenomena, including black sandy beaches, the Mirdalsjökull glacier and a series of basalt sea cliffs below Mount Reynisfjall.
Local legend has it that they are two trolls who tried to pull a 3-masted ship from the sea to land, but were caught in the sun’s rays at dawn and turned to stone. Surrounded by black sandy beaches and the powerful surf of the North Atlantic seas, Reynisdagnar rises majestically above the waves, ignoring the raging elements around it.
The Lava Fields at Landmannalejgar
Located in the mountains of Iceland, this popular tourist area sits on the edge of a lava field, and is famous for both its natural geothermal hot springs and the surrounding landscape. Narrow trails lead hikers through the nearby mountains and volcanic deserts of the Fjallabak Reserve.
The mountains are a collage of many different colors reflecting their composition: red tones indicative of iron deposits, bright patches of sulfur, and the black and gray of volcanic lava and ash. The landscape is dotted with milky blue lakes, in stark contrast to the bleak hues of the mountain peaks. These are perhaps the most colorful mountains in Iceland and certainly some of the most photographed in the country.
Sunset over the icy lagoon of Jokyulsadlon
Jokyulsadlon is a glacial lake in southeastern Iceland, also known as the “glacial lagoon.” The lake is located on top of the Breiamerkurkjokull glacier. The lake is home to many blue icebergs, pieces of ice that have broken away from the main glacier and are now slowly melting into the water.
Jokyulsadlon is the deepest lake in Iceland and is considered one of the country’s natural wonders. In the evenings, the setting sun is reflected in the calm waters and the icebergs are colored in the fiery hues of the sunset. The lake looks stunning during the aurora, when the colorful sky, constantly changing, looks at us from the water depths, striking the imagination with its indescribable beauty.
Northern Lights over Kirkufetl
Kirkjufetl is one of the highest mountain peaks located on the Snsfallsnes Peninsula in western Iceland. The area is sometimes referred to as “Iceland in miniature” because almost all of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions and natural wonders can be found here.
Kirkjufetl looks stunning in any light, in any weather and season, its majestic view perhaps carries all the essence of the rugged nature of Iceland. It’s hard not to marvel at the beauty of this mountain when the polar lights, illuminating the velvet night sky behind its peak. Most-beauty highly recommends a visit to this place to every tourist.
Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most famous waterfalls. The wide Hvytau River, striving south, abruptly turns about a kilometer above the waterfall, and descends a curved, 3-step “staircase,” breaking off into a 32-meter deep crevasse. Gullfoss is part of Iceland’s Golden Circle hiking trail, very popular with tourists, and also includes a visit to the geysers of Höykadalur.
Gullfoss rushes down despite the low temperatures and the snowy landscape around it. Fog rises from tons of cold water falling to the ground. On long winter nights, in the light of the moon, the powerful Gullfoss rushes through snow and ice like cold blue blood boiling in the icy heart of Iceland.
Vatnaekul is a complex of 30 glaciers of Iceland and a lot of small volcanoes, hidden under the ice shell. The last eruption here was very recently – in 2011. Vatnaekul ice contains many sedimentary impurities, which give it different colors, from ghostly blue to deep blue.
The ice caves beneath the Vatnaekul glacier amaze tourists with a fabulous blue glow. Light falling on the surface of the glacier, passes through a dense array of crystals of pure ice, and getting into the caves, makes their walls glow bright blue color. Depending on the weather and time of day, the color of the caves can vary from pale turquoise to a deep purple hue.
This is perhaps the most popular attraction in Iceland. So much has been written about it that it’s hard to say anything new about it. It is a geothermal lake that is 40 kilometers from Reykjavik and is open to tourists all year round. Here you can not only enjoy the beautiful views of the warm springs, but also swim in them, regardless of the time of year. The water there does not drop below +38 degrees Celsius.
Every tourist must visit at least a few of these attractions of such a beautiful and extraordinary country like Iceland. We hope that this article was of interest to you.
More pictures of beautiful places in Iceland:
Photo: Basalt rods at sunset.
In the photo: A beautiful landscape of Iceland.
In photo: A beautiful cabin in Bordafjordur.
Pictured: Beautiful girl among the Icelandic ice.
The 12 most important things to do in Iceland
What are the 12 most important things you absolutely must do during your stay in Iceland? What tours and excursions are the most popular with tourists? What are the must-sees and things to do if you don’t have much time? Read this article to learn about the 12 most important things to do in Iceland.
- Check out Iceland’s largest collection of tours and excursions
- Soak up the beauty of Iceland on one of these fascinating driving tours
- Find the right cottages in Iceland for your vacation at an affordable price
- Find out about the top 10 things to do in Reykjavik
Considering that Iceland has so many tours and activities to offer, the process of making travel arrangements and choosing exactly the attractions you’ll have enough time – and, just as importantly, budget – to visit can be quite a hassle.
Fortunately, we know how to make your life easier. We’ve tested each of the tours or attractions we offer you, whether it’s cultural, historical, active or adventure tourism. We at Guide to Iceland are the experts to help you choose the best way to have a great time in this country.
So, for your convenience, we offer you a list of the 12 most important things you must do in Iceland.
We understand that this list can’t suit everyone. Whether it’s simply because these places and attractions are popular with all tourists, or because it helps you understand what Iceland is all about, or because we’ve heard from visitors from all over the world and know their preferences, we’re sure that you’ll find at least one, if not all 12, helpful things to do on this list.
12: Go on a whale safari, a whale-watching excursion
More than twenty species of cetaceans call Iceland’s coastal waters home, from the rather small-sized porpoises to the largest animals on our planet, whales. And how many people in the world can say they’ve seen a blue whale in the wild?
- Here you’ll find a variety of whale safaris
Small minke whales and humpback whales are the most common sightings at sea, although there is always a chance to see rarer animals such as the killer whale and the true minke whale, or fin whale. As with many other whale-watching excursions in Iceland, you can also see a variety of seabirds, including skuas, Arctic terns, guillemots and even the famous puffins with their bright red beaks.
Whale-watching trips start from three main locations: Reykjavik, Akureyri, and Husavik. The latter is called the “whale capital” of Iceland. The reason is the movement of large numbers of animals through the fjords of Husavik, which are attracted to the rich feeding grounds near the northern shores of Iceland.
- See also: Whale Watching in Iceland
Whale-watching excursions can be taken by larger vessels or by small motorboats. The larger boats are designed for large groups of tourists and are equipped with reliable whale-tracking instruments, virtually guaranteeing a whale encounter. Small boats are designed for smaller groups and the environment is more chamber-like. Also, the helmsman of a motorboat is able to get closer to the whales because the motor of such a boat makes much less noise.
11. Riding Icelandic horses
Perhaps the Icelandic horse is the most famous four-legged inhabitant of Iceland. It is easily recognized for its short stature, short strong legs, and muscular croup. This native breed of horse is known for its reliability and safety for the rider, its ability to survive in harsh natural conditions, and for its five types of allure (stride, trot, gallop, stride and flying pacing).
- Book your horseback ride here
The Icelandic horse is essentially a unique breed of horse, as unique as any breed can be. External crossbreeding of this breed is prohibited in order to preserve its unique genotype; any animal that has left Icelandic territory cannot return to the country.
If visitors to Iceland decide to take part in a horseback ride, they are guaranteed a tried-and-true method of communicating with Icelandic nature. The said applies not only to our time: it has been so for centuries, as the original Norwegian breed has gradually evolved into the breed we know today.
- See also: Icelandic horse | A comprehensive guide
Icelandic horseback riding rides are available to beginners and experienced riders alike. These rides are led by experienced certified instructors. Most horse rides last 90 minutes (although it is possible to extend the duration of the ride). Those who are confident in the saddle will get a chance to trot.
10. Stop by the party in Reykjavik
This is definitely a favorite pastime of the locals, who won’t hesitate for a minute to jump at the chance for a few cold beers. And a few pints at least. Maybe it’s because beer was only legalized here in 1989, or maybe it’s because there comes an inevitable moment when Iceland is enveloped in “eternal darkness” – it’s impossible to say for sure.
- See also : Happy hour | Reykjavik’s cheapest drinks
Downtown Reykjavík is full of bars, coffee shops and restaurants, and there are frequent parties, most of which are attended by Icelanders and visitors alike, which promises an evening full of interesting conversation.
To alleviate the stress associated with serious damage to the wallet (and a night out in Iceland, sadly, is very conducive to this stress), most establishments offer a Happy Hour, which lasts at least three hours, during which there are discounts and other incentives that will make you continue drinking alcoholic beverages with a sense of deep satisfaction.
So take advantage of it to the fullest! As in many places around the world, the more you get up in the morning, the wilder the atmosphere gets in downtown Reykjavík.
Luckily, most hotels and mini-hotels are within walking distance of restaurants and bars, meaning even stumbling after your last drink shouldn’t be a problem.
9. A trip to Lake Miwatn in northern Iceland
There is a perception that there are no insects in Iceland. In most cases this is true, but a summer trip to Lake Miwatn, which translates to “Lake of Flies,” makes you quickly change your mind on this matter.
After all, there are literally clouds of winged creepers buzzing through the air flying over the shoreline, so you can’t do without mosquito nets and long-sleeved clothing.
Winter quickly and radically solves this problem, but even in summer flies can not spoil the pleasure of the magnificent beauty of the lake and its surroundings. Tourists can admire the quasicraters of Skútustaðagígar, see the geothermal activity at Námaskarð Pass and even visit Dimmuborgir, which means “The Black Fortress” – a strange but also surprisingly beautiful lava formation that is said to be a gateway to the underworld.
8. Relax at the Blue Lagoon Spa
“The Blue Lagoon has a reputation as the most famous spa complex in Iceland – perhaps because of its proximity to the airport or because of the healing silica clay in the water, but also because of the warm, skin-softening thermal water, the beautiful surroundings and the steam that swirls over the water.
If a visit to the Blue Lagoon does not fit your budget, you can go to other similar spas with similar services and features such as the Mystery Lagoon near the Golden Ring and the natural baths at Lake Miwatn in northern Iceland.
- See also : Blue Lagoon – detailed guide
7. See Dettifoss Falls in Northern Iceland
Dettifoss, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, is located in Vatnajökull National Park in the north-east of the island.
From a height of 44 meters, from where the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum (Jökulsá á Fjöllum) ends, the powerful waters of Dettifoss in a dense mist of splash fall with a deafening rumble into the canyon Jökulsárgljúfur, creating one of the most grandiose natural attractions in Iceland.
Dettifoss can be reached by road number 862, the waterfall is part of the tourist route called “Diamond Ring” – the northern counterpart of the more famous “Golden Ring” route. In addition to Dettifoss, tourists traveling along the Diamond Ring visit places like Húsavík, Ásbyrgi Canyon and Lake Mývatn.
6. Visit the Western Fjords
Similar to the eastern part of Iceland, the Westfjords is an area less often visited by tourists from abroad than the southwest and north. Known for their rich history and steeped in folklore, mysticism and magic, the Westfjords enchant not only with their beauty but also with the legacy of ancient Icelandic culture. From the high cliffs of Hornstrandir with their bird markets to the high falls of the Dynjandi waterfalls, the Western Fjords have something to offer everyone.
- Book your West Fjords tour here
The Western Fjords are famous for their Drangajökull, Iceland’s northernmost glacier, the picturesque Arnarfjörður Bay, the enormous Bolafjall Mountain and Flatey Island, home to numerous tukkars.
And for those who want to study the history and culture of the region, we suggest visiting the Polar Fox Center, the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic, the Museum of Cultural Heritage of Western Fjords or the Museum of Icelandic Sea Monsters.
5. Visit the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
In a country that is a collection of countless natural attractions, at first glance it’s hard to pick just one place that surpasses all the others in beauty, which can be felt even on a subcortical level. And yet the glacial lagoon of Jökulsárlón (Jökulsárlón) always ranks first among other travelers’ highlights.
- See also: Northern Lights over the Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon
Actually, it is a quiet lake decorated with a procession of slowly drifting and glistening icebergs colliding with each other with a noise resembling a moan or a heavy sigh on their way from Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier to the Atlantic Ocean.
Some tourists go on a boat tour around the lake, others are ready to just sit on the shore, watching the games of a colony of seals swimming among the heavy blocks of ice.
The size of the glacial lagoon Jokulsarlon increases every year under the influence of climate change. It is believed that in a hundred years the lagoon will merge into an entirely new fjord. It seems unlikely now, but consider that Iceland’s glaciers are melting at an incredible rate.
- Find tours of Jokulsarlon Lagoon here
A 5-minute walk from the lagoon, tourists can see Diamond Beach, whose name very accurately conveys the picture before their eyes: chunks of icebergs tossed onto a pitch black sandy shore, glistening in the sun. The picture is surreal and incredibly beautiful. Probably one of the most beautiful places in Iceland.
4. bathe in a natural hot spring
Iceland is a young country geologically. In other words, most of its territory is in a zone of ongoing geothermal activity. Foreign tourists enjoy natural pools, smoking volcanic tubes and hot springs such as Strokkur, which they can visit as part of a tour of the Golden Ring.
- See also: The best hot springs in Iceland – a complete guide
Fortunately, not all of this kind of geological activity is dramatic. In fact, one of the byproducts of living in a country with high geothermal activity is the plethora of natural hot springs scattered throughout the country.
Hot spring tours are a fantastic short vacation and the number one way to get rid of a hangover or jet lag. At the same time, hot springs are a great place to catch a buzz with a can of beer in hand (assuming you clean up after yourself when you get out of the pool) while making friendly conversation with other bathers. And if you’re lucky, such a spring can also be a great spot to watch the aurora borealis dance in the sky.
3. Drive the Golden Ring in winter, with snowmobiling or snorkeling
The Golden Ring is the most popular tourist route in Iceland. It includes three main attractions: Tingvellir National Park (Þingvellir), Haukadalur Geothermal Valley (Haukadalur) and the fantastically beautiful Gullfoss Waterfall (Gullfoss).
- See also: Golden Ring of Iceland | A Complete Guide
Many tourists enjoy an early morning trip to the Golden Ring, while others opt for a day tour, which even includes exotics like snorkeling and snowmobiling for extra fun.
Tingvellir is an important place for Icelanders for a number of reasons. And the least important of them is its natural beauty. In addition to being the birthplace of the nation (the world’s first democratically elected parliament was convened here in 930 AD), the park is home to the Silfra Fault, one of the 10 most popular snorkeling spots in the world, and the place where the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates converge and come to the surface.
- See also: National Parks in Iceland.
Haukadalur is home to Geysir (or Big Geyser, Geysir) and Strokkur geysers. Strokkur erupts about every five minutes, throwing jets of hot water more than 20 meters high. In addition, there are many fumaroles (hot springs of volcanic origin with an intense release of steam or high-sulfur gases) and gurgling mud pots.
Ten kilometers to the north is the third and last point on the Golden Ring, the Gullfoss waterfall. This thirty-two-meter giant demonstrates the power of Iceland’s water systems as it descends into the valley below in two rows of cascades. From here, many tourists take a snowmobile trip to Iceland’s second largest glacier, Langjökull.
2. See the Northern Lights
One of the most attractive features of Iceland is its location on the Earth’s axis and the advantages it gives. We are talking about the northern lights, known as the “aurora” (Aurora Borealis). It can be observed only in winter and only at high latitudes. It is an incredibly beautiful phenomenon representing waves of purple and mauve, green and golden colors dancing gently high in the sky and is worth seeing.
The Northern Lights are elusive and frustrate thousands of observers with their short duration and periodic disappearance. Conditions for northern lights should be ideal: cloudless sky, high solar activity and its interaction with magnetosphere, absence of light pollution – aurora borealis is possible only in these conditions.
When the Aurora Borealis occurs it is impossible to predict when and where it can be observed and how long it will last, but you can take certain actions to increase your chances of seeing it.
- Find aurora borealis viewing tours here
First, taking a tour with a tour guide who is an expert on the northern lights is one way to see Aurora in all its brilliance. Not only will these guides be able to suggest the best observation position in the darkest location, but they will also provide tour participants with scientific information that will add color to the observation experience. In addition, these guides will be able to give good technical advice when photographing this spectacular space show.
1. hike on a glacier and visit an ice cave
As the name of the island itself makes clear, Iceland, by definition, must be covered in ice. And if many believe that Iceland is not “frozen” enough to justify the name “ice land,” let us remind you that it is after all a land of floating icebergs, huge glaciers and dazzling ice caves of blue ice.
- Book excursions to Iceland’s ice caves here
That being said, most people are surprised that the climate here turns out to be quite mild and temperate, at least on warm summer days. However, it is in winter that Iceland fully earns its name. In winter nature finds itself in a perpetual trap – between darkness and shining white snow.
Fortunately, Iceland’s biggest attraction – its glaciers – are available all year round. And that’s good news for tourists who want to see these giants up close, but it’s even more satisfying for those who plan to wear spiked shoes and conquer the ice cap itself.
- Find glacier tours here
Did you like our selection of the 12 most important things to do in Iceland? Which of our list did you get to check out for yourself, or maybe we overlooked something important? Please share your thoughts with us and ask us any questions in the Comments section below.