Updated: Oct 20, 2022
Iceland’s reputation for being packed full of a variety of natural wonders is well-established. Since there is so much to see and experience here, it’s difficult to choose where to go on a holiday. That’s why we’ve made this helpful guide to Iceland’s natural wonders, to help you decide what you want to include on your itinerary.
While some of Iceland's nature sites are easy to reach, others may take a little planning to visit. Many of them are remotely located and require a rental vehicle to travel to. So, without further ado, here are our top 30 Icelandic wonders in no particular order.
Best Iceland's Natural Wonders
1. Gullfoss Waterfall
Possibly the most famous of Iceland’s natural attractions, Gullfoss is a massive waterfall located on the famous Golden Circle route. It is sure to dazzle you at all times of the year.
2. Strokkur Geyser
Moving onto Strokkur, Iceland’s most famous geyser and a must-visit place in Iceland. Another wonder, located in the Golden Circle, erupts about every 6-10 minutes and shoots boiling water up to 40 meters (131 feet) into the air. You can find it at the Geysir Geothermal Area, where there are also boiling mud pools.
3. The Tectonic Split at Þingvellir
You may be surprised to find out that Iceland is gradually splitting in two at a rate of around 2 cm (0.8 inches) per year. The fissure passes through Þingvellir National Park, and you can actually walk through the gap. Besides being one of Iceland's natural wonders, Þingvellir was also the location of Iceland’s parliament for many centuries.
4. Silfra Fissure
This fissure in Þingvellir contains meltwater from the nearby Langjökull glacier. This is some of the clearest water in the world, with a visibility of up to 100 meters (328 feet). You can snorkel or dive in Silfra, if you’re dressed appropriately; the water is around 2-4°C all year round. An incredibly unique travel experience, it just had to be on our Iceland's natural wonder list!
5. Reykjadalur Hot River
A short drive from Reykjavík lies a valley where you can bathe in a river filled with geothermal water. You have to hike to reach Reykjadalur, and the further up the river you go, the hotter the water is. Here, you can enjoy Iceland's natural beauty while relaxing your body and mind.
6. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
A gem of Iceland’s natural wonders, Seljalandsfoss is one of the only waterfalls in the country you can actually walk behind. It’s found along the south coast, just off Route 1, and is a popular stop for tourists.
7. Skógafoss Waterfall
Skógafoss is another famous waterfall along the south coast, and its unique appearance has caught the eye of many. The waterfall has been featured in both Game of Thrones and the Vikings series.
8. Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
A long, wide black sand beach close to the small town of Vík, on the South Coast. Reynisfjara is among the top list of Iceland's natural wonders, but the sea is very rough at the site and sneaker waves are common, so keep your distance. Black sand is a wonderful sight if you’ve never experienced it before, definitely a highlight of Iceland's nature, especially as there are also natural hexagonal basalt columns on the cliffs at the beach’s edge.
9. Reynisdrangar Rock Formation
Reynisdrangar is a series of basalt stacks in the ocean slightly off the south coast, and are visible from Reynisfjara. Legends including trolls surround this natural feature, but they were formed by erosion.
10. Jökulsarlon Lagoon
Jökulsarlon is a glacial lagoon on the south coast and is the deepest lake in Iceland. The water is a light blue color since it was formed by glacial meltwater. Huge chunks of glacial ice also float slowly through the lagoon. You may even see some seals if you take a boat tour over the water. Get to know more in our Jökulsarlon Glacier Lagoon guide.
11. Diamond Beach
Close to Jökulsarlon is a black sand beach where some of the glacial ice washes ashore. This came to be known as Diamond beach, as you can see the smooth, blue ice up close. Not only is this one of Iceland's natural wonders but also a natural gem!
12. Vatnajökull Glacier
Thanks to Vatnajökull, Iceland holds the title of containing the largest glacier in Europe. The glacier covers about 8% of the nation’s landmass, boasting a surface area of 8,100km2 (3127 miles2). Vatnajökull is protected by the country’s largest national park, which includes it and a large area around it.
13. Svartifoss Waterfall
Svartifoss is a waterfall in Vatnajökull National Park, and is framed on both sides by black lava columns. The area is full of vegetation which makes for a great, mildly-challenging hike. So dare to discover Svartifoss!
14. The Westman Islands (Vestmannaeyjar)
Vestmannaeyjar is a small island chain off Iceland’s southern coast that can be visited via ferry. Only one of the islands, Heimaey, is inhabited. With recently-formed volcanoes and a huge puffin population in summer, it’s well worth a visit.
15. Vestrahorn Mountains
A mountain range in southeast Iceland, Vestrahorn is one of the best examples of how picturesque Iceland’s natural wonders really are. The range is 454 meters (1490 feet) high and will take your breath away, especially on a clear weather day. Here's how to get there.
16. Hengifoss Waterfall
Hengifoss is a waterfall in the east with an intriguing background. The rock behind the waterfall consists of red and black stripes, or basaltic rock interspersed with layers of clay.
17. The Rhyolite Mountains
Iceland’s multicolored mountains are the result of mineral deposits of various types. Travel to the Highlands of Iceland, to Landmannalaugar, one of the main camping grounds of the highlands, to see these Iceland's natural wonders up close.
18. Landmannalaugar Hot Springs
There are naturally-heated bodies of water throughout Iceland, but at Landmannalaugar you can soak in them while taking in extraordinary views. Bring your swimming costume and a towel and relax in the geothermal water springs.
19. Laki Craters (Lakagígar)
Lakagígar is a 25 km long volcanic fissure in the highlands, formed as a result of the country’s worst eruption since its colonization. The 1783-84 eruption killed a huge part of Iceland’s animal and human population. Today, it can be reached via hike and is a major spectacle to observe up close.
20. Dimmuborgir Lava Field
Dimmuborgir contains the most fascinating lava rock formations, including caves, arches and columns. It’s found in the northeast and is one of the stops along the Diamond Circle route. Trolls are said to live within caves. Come and find out for yourself if the myth reigns true!
21. Góðafoss Waterfall
When it comes to waterfalls, Góðafoss is one of Iceland's major wonders in the north. Its widespread and surrounding scenery make it one of the most visually stunning falls in the country. It’s another easy stop along the Diamond Circle.
22. Dettifoss Waterfall
Dettifoss is another waterfall on the Diamond Circle route but is very different from Góðafoss because it is defined by its power. In fact, it is one of the most powerful in Europe.
23. Lake Mývatn
Mývatn, although a shallow lake, is one of the widest in the country, covering 37 km2 (14 miles2). It’s a home for many water birds and is a great place from which to view the northern lights.
24. The Northern Lights
This Iceland's natural wonders list would not be complete without mention of the northern lights. For many, the northern lights are the reason for traveling to Iceland in the winter. This natural phenomenon can be viewed from anywhere in the country, although rural areas are best suited for aurora spotting. One thing’s for certain, seeing them in full swing is a life-changing experience.
Whales hunt for fish on every coast of Iceland, and over 20 different species have been spotted in surrounding waters. Tours operate from many towns, but Húsavík Whale watching is particularly popular.
26. Puffin Colonies
In the summer months, Iceland is home to the largest Atlantic puffin colony in the world. Up to 10 million Atlantic puffins come to the Land of Fire and Ice to breed and give birth, so you’ll see them on most cliffs.
27. Dynjandi Waterfall
Dynjandi is one of the most famous sites of the Westfjords, the northwest region of Iceland. The waterfall resembles flowing hair, as it is thin at the top and widens out towards the bottom.
28. Rauðasandur Beach
Rauðasandur is a red-sand beach in a remote area of the Westfjords. Since red-sand beaches are rare around the world, this 10 km-long beach is a natural wonder well worth visiting.
29. Kirkjufell Mountain
Kirkjufell is a uniquely-shaped mountain and a highlight of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, in west Iceland. It stands at 463 meters (1519 feet) and is featured in Game of Thrones, in which it was called ‘Arrowhead Mountain’.
30. Fagradalsfjall Volcano
Fagradalsfjall is Iceland’s newest volcano, erupting on and off between March and September 2021. The resulting lava field covers the entire valley, and is only accessible via a hike. It lies close to the town of Grindavík in southwest Iceland.
Add these Iceland nature attractions to your Itinerary!
This list is only a small number of the hundreds of Iceland’s natural wonders. Grab your rental camper in Iceland, plan your itinerary, and start your journey to see how many you can find. Share with us which wonders were your favorites and why. Don’t wait any longer- it is now time to discover Iceland!