There are so many amazing places to visit in Iceland it’s hard to know where to start. With unique geology, dramatic volcanic landscapes and charming towns, these are our favourite things to do in Iceland.

Iceland packs a punch.

With a fragile crust, stretched across two tectonic plates and a soul-satisfying personality, there are places to visit in Iceland that are unlike anywhere else in the world. Standing in a 45-kilometre caldera; wandering through steaming lava fields, and witnessing the northern lights, Iceland invokes the senses and baffles the mind.

In a country that’s no bigger than the state of Kentucky, Iceland has a greedy stash of iconic things to do, mesmerising landmarks, geological wonders and breath-taking wild vistas. There are adventurous excursions to isolated locations, and easy road trips along tourist-tempting sights.

This guide was decades in the making. Our first trip was over 20 years ago, and 4 visits later we’re still discovering exactly what this country has to offer.

We’ve organised the top places to visit in Iceland by region. Find the places that interest you the most, then use our other guides to help plan and book your Iceland experience.

01 – Planning your Iceland trip

02 – Recommended Iceland Itineraries

03 – Where to stay in Iceland

Booking your trip via the links on this page (or on our book page) will earn us a small commission, at no extra cost to you. Thanks for your support – Paul & Mark.

Places to visit in Iceland











You can find all our favourite places to visit in Iceland on the map below. They are colour-coded for each of the different regions of Iceland: southwest, south central, southeast, eastfjords, north, the highlands and west Iceland.

All of these destinations are accessible by a 2WD car, except the locations in the highlands marked in red. To access these places, you’ll need a 4×4 rental car, to join a tour or take the highland bus.

How to use this map / Click on the top left of the map to display the list of locations, then click on the locations to display further information. Click on the top right corner of the map to open a larger version in a new tab or the star to save to your Google Maps.  

Iceland waterfalls, Hrafnabjargafoss



The Golden Circle is an iconic loop of three of the best places to visit in Iceland and is easily accessible from Reykjavík. The main stops on the Golden Circle are Þingvellir National Park, Gullfoss and Geysir.

Þingvellir was the site of the Icelandic parliament from the year 930 until 1798. It’s set on a dramatic location between the north American and Eurasian tectonic plates with a clearly visible fault line. Þingvellir is a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Gullfoss – Golden Falls – is a dramatic Iceland Waterfall, wedged into a crevice of the Hvítá canyon. It falls down a curved staircase in two stages creating a magnificent plume of spray.

Geysir is the famous spouting hot spring that can reach up to 70 metres. It erupts around 3 times a day, but the nearby Strokkur is much more frequent throwing plumes of water into the air every ten to fifteen minutes.


There are plenty of hot springs in Iceland, but none are more famous than the Blue Lagoon. Located 50 kilometres (31 miles) south of Reykjavík, the Blue Lagoon is just 20 minutes’ drive from Keflalvík airport, so it’s the perfect thing to do in Iceland at the start or end of your trip.

Although artificially pooled, the water in the Blue Lagoon is naturally heated from the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station. The milky blue appearance is due to the high content of silica which you can rub on your face to rejuvenate the skin. Soaking in the pools as steam drifts into the air gives it a magical, ethereal feel and it’s a highlight of any visit to Iceland.

The Blue Lagoon has facilities including restaurants, a 5-star hotel, treatment spa and gift shop. Entrance including the silica mud mask, towel and 1 drink is ISK 8,490 ($58 / £50 / €59). Advanced bookings are required –


Dormant for over 800 years, Fagradalsfjall Volcano came to life in 2021. Spewing molten lava into the air it became Iceland’s latest eruption. After 5 months the lava flows died down, but in August 20222 the fissure reopened, and lava flowed again for 2 weeks.

Today there is no more vivid illustration of Iceland’s continually changing landscape.

The steep-sided volcano is in the Reykjanes peninsula in the southwest of Iceland, just 1 hour’s drive from Reykjavík. From the car park, there are several hikes around Fagradalsfjall. Each head to a different viewpoint where you can see the eruption site and the long winding trail of black steaming lava.


Meaning ‘Steam Valley’ the whole Reykjadalur area pulsates from the activity beneath the earth’s surface. There are bubbling mud pots & steaming vents surrounded by billowing reeds, succulents, and moss-covered rocks that thrive in the heated waters.

The highlight of visiting is the Reykjadalur Hot Springs, where you can soak in a series of beautiful hot pools set in a thermal river. The water is a perfect 36°C – 40°C (96°F – 104°F) and the views over the surrounding mountains are wonderful.

Reykjadalur is 45 minutes’ drive from Reykjavík, and the thermal river is a 1-hour walk from the car park.

Read MoreOur favourite thermal pools in Iceland


Reykjavík is the capital and largest settlement in Iceland. While the country is blessed with unique natural landmarks, most vacations in Iceland start or end with a visit to the capital.

It is an attractive city with charming old streets, museums, a decidedly cool Icelandic attitude and plenty of things to do. Visit the iconic church, Hallgrímskirkja, the modern concert hall, Harpa and the National Museum of Iceland

In the centre, most action takes place in the downtown area near the Laugavegur shopping street. Try a coffee from Reykjavík Roasters and lunch at Icelandic Street Food.


During the months of September through April, the Northern Lights produce a stunning night-time show. On clear dark nights green streaks of light flash across Iceland’s skies creating an other-worldly scene.

While visible all over Iceland, Reykjavík during the winter months is a popular place to see them. To get the best views, leave the light pollution of the city behind and head out to Grótta Lighthouse or up onto Perlan & Öskjuhlid Hill.

This Northern Lights bus tour includes entry to the Aurora Museum in Reykjavík on the day of the tour.

Northern Lights Iceland


The Secret Lagoon is the oldest swimming pool in the country and another of our favourite geothermal pools in Iceland.

An active nearby geyser provides resource-rich water at just the right temperature to enjoy a hot soak. Consistently between 38-40°C (100 – 104°F), soaking in the Secret Lagoon is a wonderful thing to do in Iceland in summer or winter.

Traditional Icelandic showers are available for use before using the pool and there’s a small café area to buy snacks and drinks. Otherwise, the Secret Lagoon has been kept delightfully natural. It’s the perfect place to relax in Iceland.

Pre-booking is recommended – Secret Lagoon tickets.



Iceland is blessed with a host of dramatic waterfalls. Two of them, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss are just 25 minutes’ drive from each other right by the Ring Road. For details on how to include these two icons on a road trip, read our Iceland Ring Road itinerary.

Skógafoss is one of the most recognisable waterfalls in Iceland with a 25-metre-wide cascade dropping 60 metres over a rocky moss-covered cliff face. Located just off the Ring Road, it’s an easy place to visit on any Iceland road trip.

Seljalandsfoss is also a 60-metre drop. The cascade is thinner and usually contains much less water, but a thin, rocky trail allows you to walk behind the falls. The waterfall is lit at night, creating a moody atmosphere and making it a must-see attraction in Iceland that you can experience without the crowds.


The Dyrhólaey Peninsula is the southernmost point of mainland Iceland and a picturesque stretch of coastline. It’s a popular stop on the Ring Road with excellent views along the coast and out towards the Mýrdalsjökull Glacier as it slowly creeps towards the coast.

Dyrhólaey is an important habitat for birdlife with puffins nesting here from May to September. Get up close as they rest on the rocks between fishing trips out to sea.

The peninsula also has glorious views over Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach. One of Iceland’s most picturesque locations, the stack of rocks just offshore is a wild and dramatic scene. 

We’ve included Dyrhólaey and the black sands beach on several of our Iceland itinerary ideas, alternatively read our complete guide to visiting Dyrhólaey.


Fjaðrárgljúfur is an un-pronounceable canyon in southern Iceland and one of the most scenic places to visit.

The canyon is 100 metres deep and over 2 kilometres long. Its sheer walls are twisted into jagged shapes with moss-covered rocks formed into mini side canyons from years of erosion. There are several lookout points a short distance from the car park along a path that follows the canyon edge.   

The beauty of the area was not lost on Justin Bieber who shot the video clip for I’ll Show You at Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon.



Skaftafell is a wilderness area within Vatnajökull National Park with a host of hiking trails that explore the mountainous edges of Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Iceland.

There are two highlights in the park well worth hiking to. The first is Sjónarnípa viewpoint, a breathtaking rocky peninsula overlooking an immense tongue of the glacier. The second is the Svartifoss waterfall, a beautiful cascade dropping between black basalt columns.

It’s a 1-hour hike each way to Sjónarnípa or 2 hours, and 30 minutes to complete a loop of both. There are plenty of facilities onsite including parking (ISK 700 payable on this app), public toilets, a café and several cool food vans. Ice Cave Tours of the glacier also depart from the visitor centre.


Crystal Cave is located in the depths of the Vatnajökull glacier. Formed each summer by the flow of a glacial river, light filters through the icy ceiling creating a mystical atmosphere.

The cave varies in size each year but it is often large and cavernous. The different depths of the crystalline ice create a range of colours from white to blue and the strange shapes shimmer in the light.

The cave is only accessible in winter months (November through March) when the ice is more stable. This ice cave tour, explores for around 1 -1.5 hours with expert guides who locate new caves each year.


Fjallsárlón is a glacial lake fed by the Vatnajökull ice cap and one of the unmissable attractions in Iceland. The slow march of the glacier ends at a lagoon pool where icebergs drift on the stillness of the surface.

Nearby, Fjallsárlón’s more famous big brother, Jökulsárlón is a larger lagoon pool, fed from the mouth of Breiðamerkurjökull, a tiny section of the much larger Vatnajökull ice cap. Dotted with icebergs that can be several stories high and stained with the volcanic activities of centuries past, Jökulsárlón flows to the nearby Black Diamond Beach where nature serves up a spectacular sight. Large blocks of ice rest on the black sand beach before being swept up by waves and carried out to sea.

Jökulsárlón is on the Ring Road and easy to visit by car. Alternatively, book a day trip from Reykjavík to Jökulsárlón which includes a boat trip on the lagoon.


Vestrahorn is a dramatic saw-tooth mountain ridge surrounded by a tidal lagoon offering picture-perfect reflections. It’s located in the southwest corner of Iceland around 1 hour from Jökulsárlsón.

The area comprises 3 mountain ranges, Vestrahorn, Eystrahorn and Brunnhorn – nicknamed “Batman Mountain” thanks to the peaks resembling the caped crusader. They were formed 8-11 million years ago by the cooling of magnesium and iron-rich magma. This mineral combination has given Vestrahorn its distinctive and foreboding green-black appearance.

Vestrahorn is just off the Ring Road but the only way to see it at sunrise or sunset is to stay at the Viking Café which owns the landmark. The entrance is ISK900.

More details are in our guide to visiting Vestrahorn.



Seyðisfjörður is a colourful town in the east of Iceland, known for its collection of early 19th-century wooden houses. Occupying a picturesque setting on the edge of a lagoon, Seyðisfjörður is located at the innermost point of the fjord of the same name and is accessed by a scenic drive over the Fjarðarheiði mountain.

The town has a vibrant, welcoming culture with a cool local art scene, some great cafes and several festivals throughout the year.

The Blue Church with its rainbow flag footpath has concerts throughout summer to showcase different styles of music including Icelandic folks, blues and jazz. To soak up the setting, hike along the Fjarðará to Fjarðarselsvirkjun through a forested area with several waterfalls.

See Seyðisfjörður on our Ring Road itinerary.


Hengifoss is one of the most striking waterfalls in Iceland due to the red clay and back basalt rings formed on the backdrop to the slender 128-metre falls. In a slightly remote part of the east of the country, it’s an adventurous but scenic place to visit in Iceland.

The falls are a 2.5-kilometre walk from the car park which should take around 1 hour each way. Don’t miss the smaller waterfall, Litlanesfoss around halfway along the walk which is framed by a parade of basalt columns.

Views of Hengifoss start appearing around 40 minutes after leaving the car park but the full curve of the ringed amphitheatre is best at the end of the viewing platform.  

There are toilets at the car park (free) and a food truck serving delicious vegan soup and homemade ice cream.

Places to visit in Iceland, Hengifoss waterfall


After the Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant was built in 2009, the water levels of the Jökulsá á Brú river dropped, revealing one of Iceland’s most incredible natural formations, the basalt columns of Stuðlagil Canyon.

Rising either side of a river that changes colour with the seasons, Stuðlagil is a steep-sided narrow canyon that has become an Instagram favourite since its unveiling 10 years ago. Perfectly vertical columns eventually twist to gnarled shapes pointing down the river.

All the details are in our guide to visiting Stuðlagil Canyon.



Mývatn is an active volcanic area in central north Iceland with a large array of geological features that make it an interesting pitstop to get a taste of the diversity this amazing country has to offer.

Some of the best things to do in Mývatn include Dimmuborgir, a unique landscape where lava drained into the lake forming bazaar pillars of lava; Grjótagjá, a small cave with a thermal pool and a large obvious fissure that extends towards the Hverfjall crater; and Hverir – a burnt orange geothermal landscape of bubbling mud pots and steaming vents.

There are so many places to visit in the Mývatn area, it is well worth spending a few days.


Húsavík is a fishing village on the north coast of Iceland with a collection of charming colourful houses centred around a small marina, but the main reason for visiting Húsavík is for the whale watching.

From May to September, whales can often be seen from the coast, but to increase your chances take a Traditional Whale Watching Boat Tour with a specialised guide. In July humpback whale sightings are almost guaranteed and from April to August puffins can be seen fishing in the waters.

The town is also at the tip of the Diamond Circle & Arctic Coast Way. These road trips will take you to Ásbyrgi, a unique horseshoe-shaped canyon, Hljóðaklettar a collection of strange, shaped basalt columns, and the mighty Dettifoss waterfall.


Dropping 44 metres into a narrow canyon, Dettifoss is the largest waterfall by volume in Iceland. It’s estimated that over 3 million US gallons per minute thunder over the falls. They are fed from the Jökulsá á Fjöllum River which flows from Vatnajökull and feeds several other waterfalls in the area.

The west side of Dettifoss is the easiest access point with a paved road from the Ring Road and a large car park which is accessible throughout the year.

There’s an upper and lower viewpoint and given the power of these mighty falls, you can expect to get wet at both. It’s a popular destination and witnessing the sheer power of the falls is one of the best things to do in Iceland.

dettifoss iceland waterfalls 2


Goðafoss is another popular waterfall in Iceland, more renowned for its beauty than sheer power.

Cascading over a wide horseshoe shape, the falls are between 9 metres and 17 metres high. The low-lying lava fields that surround the area give the water a blue-green pattern, making Goðafoss one of the most picturesque places in Iceland.

The “waterfall of the Gods” is rich in folklore with tales of Christianity, trolls and pagans adding their own brand of mystery to Goðafoss. There are plenty of opportunities to keep an eye out for mystic creatures on the viewing platforms which are on both the west and east side of the falls.

Goðafoss is on the Ring Road in the north of Iceland. It is 30 minutes’ drive from Akureyri, the capital of the north, and 40 minutes’ from Mývatn.


22 – ASKJA

Askja is a large volcano situated in the Dyngjufjöll mountain range which is part of the Vatnajökull Glacier National Park in the Iceland Highlands. Its main caldera was formed over 10,000 years ago when the roof of the large magma chamber collapsed in on itself causing a depression which resulted in a whopping 45 square kilometre caldera.

It’s a fascinating destination in Iceland which has 2 interlinking calderas from a subsequent eruption and 1 larger crater. In addition, the 2014 volcanic eruption at nearby Holuhraun which left behind an 85 square kilometre lava field, has made Askja an important location for scientific study.

Self-driving to Askja involves an adventurous but achievable journey on some of Iceland’s more challenging F-roads. All the details are in our guide to Askja.  


Kerlingarfjöll is a small but stunning mountain range wedged between two glaciers in Iceland’s highlands. Tucked into the snowy peaks around Kerlingarfjöll, Hveradalir is a valley of rust-coloured rhyolite hills wounded with steaming vents, bubbling mud pots and boiling rivers coursing through the valley devoid of vegetation.

A wonderful hike leaves from the Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort and over a high, snowy pass before dropping into the geothermal area. Here a series of wooden pathways rise and fall over the colourful mountains as steam rises all around. All the details are on our guide to Kerlingarfjöll.

To get here you’ll need to drive a 4×4 along the 35 Kjölur Road. As the well-used rail between Gullfoss and the north coast, it’s one of the easiest F-Roads in Iceland to drive.


Landmannalaugar is a wilderness area on the edge of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, situated within a massive caldera. Striking colourful mountains, huge rusty craters and steaming lava fields combine to create a wild and scenic area that’s an unmissable place to visit in Iceland.

There are several hikes in Landmannalaugar – many of which can be completed in one day. Our favourite is the Bláhnúkur Mountain (Blue Peak) hike, which is a challenging, but thoroughly rewarding climb up the top of a blue-green mountain with sweeping views of the surrounding area.

Landmannalaugar can be accessed by a 4×4 on mountain roads or on tours from Reykjavík and southwest Iceland, making it one of the easiest places to visit in the highlands. There are so many great sights on route that simply getting to Landmannalaugar is an experience in itself.


In our opinion, Haifoss is one of the most scenic waterfalls in Iceland. Here, the River Fossá drops 120-metres as a slender cascade down a sheer rockface layered in multiple colours of orange, brown and green.

A second waterfall, Granni, drops just beside it, creating a magnificent dual waterfall in a massive, deep canyon. With green fields on the top and several tributaries of the river charging towards the falls, it’s a spectacular sight.

Haifoss is close to the Golden Circle, but it requires a 4×4 vehicle for a small patch of road that is not regularly maintained. It’s 20 minutes along Route 332 (off Route 32) and it makes an excellent stop on the way to Landmannalaugar.


Three mighty rivers all converge on a thin slither of land called Thórsmörk. Located beneath huge moss-covered mountains and dwarfed by the mighty glaciers of Mýrdalsjökull, Tindfjallajökull and Eyjafjallajökull, the rivers have carved sweeping shapes through the valley floor.

The best thing to do in Thórsmörk is to hike up to a viewpoint and stare down over the scene. There’s a trail for everyone from the 40-minute hike up to the magnificent viewpoint overlooking Mount Valahnúkur, to the 6-hour Tindfjöll circuit.

This remote wilderness is one of the best places to visit in Iceland but getting here is not easy. The road crosses some fast-flowing rivers, making it inaccessible in a normal 2WD or 4×4. Fortunately, it’s only 150 kilometres from Reykjavík, and highland buses and super jeep tours run from a number of stops in southwest Iceland.

All the details are on our guide to epic things to do in Thórsmörk.


The green cone-shaped volcano of Maelifell rises out of a massive expanse of black sands called Maelifellsandur. The contrast of the huge green cone surrounded by the flat expanse is one of the most awesome spectacles of the desolate beauty of Iceland.

The best view of Maelifell is from the summit of Rauðibotn, a colourful crater with walls a deep shade of rust. From here the green cone rises above the black sands with the aqua swathe of the Hólmsá River in the foreground and the Mýrdalsjökull glacier behind you.

Fortunately, there’s a relatively easy way to self-drive to Maelifell in a 4×4 and experience one of the best things to do in Iceland.


Hafrahvammagljúfur is an 8-kilometre canyon in a remote part of the highlands. It drops 200 metres below the barren landscape that surrounds it creating an awe-inspiring scene and a rewarding place to visit in Iceland.   

The gorge starts from the Kárahnjúkavirkjun Dam, one of the largest hydroelectric power plants in Iceland. The best viewing point is from a recently constructed viewing platform which is a short walk from the Hafrahvammagljúfur car park.

Just nearby, Laugavallalaug (sometimes referred to as Laugavellir)‏ is a hot spring and a beautiful oasis, quite literally in the middle of nowhere. Sitting under this naturally heated waterfall as it drops into a small pool overlooking a wide valley, with temperatures that settle at around 40°C (104°F), is a rejuvenating secret experience in Iceland.  


Langjökull is the second largest ice cap in Iceland, after Vatnajökull, stretching about 50 kilometres long and 20 kilometres wide. In some places, the ice is up to 580 metres thick.

The glacier is in a very active geothermal area with two volcanic systems stretching out in opposite directions underneath the massive expansive of ice, one of which feeds the hot springs at Geysir.

A man-made tunnel has been carved into the ice where you can take a tour to learn more about the unique geology of Langjökull. To see the best of the glacier you’ll need to join a snowmobile tour, but it is possible to drive to one of the tongues of the glacier in a 4×4 using the 551 and 550 Kaldidalur roads.

Langjokull iceland highlands 2



The Látrabjarg Cliffs is one of the most important bird habitats in the world, vital for the survival of many species including razorbill, puffins, and guillemots. Stretching for 14 kilometres and rising to a height of 400 metres, this westernmost point of Iceland is also an exciting place to visit.

Dramatic, precipitous edges overlook the ocean with puffins nesting and feeding beside the path, completely unbothered by tourists walking behind them. In other places, thousands of noisy birds cling to sheer-sided rocky cliffs that zig-zag along the coast.

The Látrabjarg Cliffs are 1 hour’s drive from Patreksfjördur in the Westfjords. There are no facilities at the car park.


The Westfjords is a rugged peninsula of mountains cut by massive fjords stretching out to the Atlantic Ocean in the northwest corner of Iceland. It’s a wild landscape, isolated from the rest of the country by large inlets. A remoteness that gives it a local charm and a slower pace.

There are several interesting places to visit in the Westfjords that make the long trip worth it. Rauðisandur is a 10-kilometre sweeping beach of red and golden sand. Dynjandi is a spectacular waterfall that cascades down a series of tiered staircases. Flateyri is a small community nestled under massive mountains with a thriving local bar scene.

Only 10% of tourists come to the Westfjords, so it’s an ideal place to visit in Iceland to get off the beaten track and escape the busy Ring Road.

More details are in our guide to the best things to do in the Westfjords.


The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is often described as a mini-Iceland. A large glacier, red craters, basalt columns, dramatic coast roads, beautifully shaped mountains and one of the most photographed waterfalls in Iceland, Kirkjufellsfoss, act like a compact version of everything you’ll find on an Iceland trip.

Kirkjufell which featured in Game of Thrones, is a pint-sized mountain by Iceland standards at 463 metres, but it’s triangle shape and location as the backdrop to the Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall enrich its popularity. The Búðir Black Church is worth a visit and the Lóndrangar Rock pinnacles is a dramatic stretch of coastline with views across the Snæfellsjökull glacier.

Located just 2-hours from Reykjavík, Snaefellsnes is a great destination in Iceland if you are short on time and want to see a snapshot of what Iceland has to offer.

kirkjufellsfoss iceland waterfall 2


Iceland is an excellent destination for semi-adventurous travellers who like to get off the beaten track and immerse themselves in stunning scenery. Here’s some more reading from us to help plan your journey to the land of fire and ice.

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32 Amazing things to do in Iceland and incredible places to visit including the Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik and plenty of out of the way places.