Iceland, the ice and fire island, has become one of the world’s most popular destinations, not only with adventurers looking for a thrill, but also nature lovers looking for something else. In this region, you will find active volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, glaciers, fjords, and ice fields, and this small populated country is situated atop one of the most volcanic areas in the world, on the edge of the Arctic Circle.
One way to explore Iceland on your own is by renting a car from several days to one week, including an all-around trip along the Ring Road. Another way to plan your adventure is with tours that can lead you into some of Iceland’s most beautiful natural sights, such as the Blue Lagoon, and waterways, with North Lights, ATV Trekking over lava fields, and day trips from Reykjavik.
See our list of the main sights in Iceland for more details on the best places to visit in Iceland’s.
1. Whale Watching, Reykjavik
While whale-watching takes place all year, the summer is the best time for these mild giants, no matter when you are planning to travel. In warmer months, day and night trips including midnight sun watching whales take place. Tour operators say that, depending on the time of year, there is an 80 – 95 percent chance of seeing these great creatures. The best thing is, you often enjoy surfing right by the boats, so you can enjoy a ring seat for one of the most amazing nature shows.
Other sea tours, like bird watching and island visits, are also available. There are several types of tours that depart from Reykjavik’s Old Harbor, which are convenient.
2. Blue Lagoon, Grindavík
This most emblematic geothermal spa is a must-see tourist attraction only 40 minutes drive from Reykjavík. In pale blue water in the shadow of a power plant, you’ll find natural bathing here. Since it first hit the locals in 1976, an entire blue lagoon industry has grown in this area. The underground water in the hot springs ranges from 37-39 degrees C and is said to be extremely healthy and beneficial for the skin.
Don’t knock the theory if the diehard Icelanders are going by anything. In addition to swimming in a special environment, there is a shop that sells skincare products, a range of spa treatments, and food and drink areas.
3. Spectacular Geysers
Strokkur Geysir (with all of the geysers named for him) is a 50-minute drive from Reykjavik, the country’s most popular and famous fountain geyser. Situated on the southwest side of Iceland along the Hvítá River, this highly-active thermal spring is a preferred destination along the Golden Circle. Boiling mud pits and about 100 other minors are awaiting exploration in this place. Strokkur shoots water in the air every few minutes 30 meters away.
Exhibits and informative presentations visit the Geysir Center all year round. Geysir or “hot spring” bread, rye bread which is baked underground for 24 hours, is a memorable experience.
4. The Northern Lights, Aurora Borealis
Aurora Borealis, or Northern Lights, is one of Iceland’s most popular tourist attractions. Auroras, an ion stream that radiates from the sun, are linked to the solar wind. These particles snag themselves in the magnetic field of the Earth and clash with atmospheric molecules that cause energy explosions, appearing around the poles in large circles. This spectacular natural light show is best seen in remote locations and at times of increased solar activity, it is especially impressive.
Because Northern Lights’ appearance is unpredictable, the majority of hotels and lodging operators can predict the night before going to bed and add you to the calling list for the night.
5. Landmannalaugar Nature Reserve
The Landmannalaugar National Park is situated 180 kilometers south of Iceland from Reykjavik, one of Iceland’s most popular tourist destinations. The principal characteristics of this mystical countryside are the rhyolite mountains, the Hecla volcano, and vast lava fields. Walking and riding are very popular, with walks ranging from a few hours to a few days. From June to the end of September, the road is closed afterward. 75 people can accommodate a mountain lodge (Landmannalaugar Hut) with basic equipment. Expect crude nature, spectacular views, and rough landscape.
6. Maelifell Volcano & Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park
Myrdalsjökull Glacier Park lies South of Landmannalaugar, which can be visited only in summer for safety reasons. The area is soaked by large amounts of rain, especially in the winter, when roads can be badly damaged. This wild and rougher glacial landscape, the Maelifell Volcano, is an unquestioned jewel in the crown. Maelifell has the look of a classic volcano, but a lush green covering of a mouse gives it a surreal, different-world appearance during the warm season.
7. Skaftafell Ice Cave, Vatnajökull National Park
The Vatnajökull National Park is a land of glaciers and splendid ice groves in the Southern part of Vatnajökull. The extensive national park (one of three in Iceland) comprises the glacier Vatnajökull and its environs and is divided into four sections. A number of visitor centers are open all year round in Skaftafell Ice Cave and Höfn and in winter in Skriśuklaustur and Jökulsárgljúfur.
8. Askja Caldera
Askja caldera and geothermal pool in mountain Dyngjufjöll are not one for the poor of the northern area of the Vatnajökull National Park. However, it is for you if you want to claim that you have dipped in a live volcano.
Askja is 50 square kilometers tall and impressive. The mountainous region around Askja was partly created by a burning ash eruption that collapsed in the roof of the magma chamber of the central volcano. In general, water is around 30 degrees Celsius in Viti, the geothermal pool, and volcanic crater. A word of caution, particularly in wet weather, the banks can be very slippery.