top of page

Iceland Regions Unveiled: A Traveler's Handbook to the Land of Fire and Ice

Updated: Sep 1, 2023

Prepare to embark on an epic journey as we unveil the enchanting world of Iceland's regions. The land of fire and ice is a paradise of diverse landscapes, from the tranquil east fjords to the wild west fjords.

In this guide, we will provide an overview of each region and a list of things to do in each area. Additionally, we will highlight some of the unique attractions that Iceland has to offer, such as its hot springs and world-class bird watching.

Read on to discover all the wonders that await you in each region!

Iceland regions

East Iceland: Fjords and Tranquil Scenery

The East Iceland region is beautiful, stretching from Djúpivogur in the north to Borgarfjordur Eystriin in the south. It is characterized by its jagged coastline of fjords, lush farmlands, and forests. Visitors can enjoy activities such as hiking, horseback riding, sea angling, and boat rides, among the stunning natural scenery.

Things To Do in the Eastern Regions in Iceland

One of the most important aspects of exploring Eastfjords is experiencing its vast array of activities. The weather in Iceland in June, July, and August makes it perfect for outdoor activities.

If you're looking for something to do, here are some of the best activities available in this region:

  • Explore Seydisfjordur: Immerse yourself in the picturesque fjord town of Seydisfjordur. It is known for its colorful wooden houses and vibrant artistic culture. Wander through its charming streets, visit local galleries, and indulge in delicious local cuisine.

  • Wonder around Stuðlagil Canyon: Admire the dramatic views of Stuðlagil Canyon, with its majestic basalt columns and roaring waterfalls. This is one of the best places to go hiking, as well as an excellent spot for bird-watching.

  • Discover Dettifoss Waterfall: Prepare to be amazed by the sheer power and beauty of Dettifoss, Europe's second most powerful waterfall. Feel the ground tremble as the colossal cascade plunges into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon. The awe-inspiring sight and thundering sound of the waterfall will leave you in awe.

Dettifoss in North East Iceland

  • Explore Vatnajokull National Park (Eastern Side): Lace up your hiking boots and venture into the stunning landscapes of Vatnajokull National Park. Discover Skaftafell, a nature reserve nestled between glaciers. There you can embark on hikes through glacial tongues and witness the mesmerizing beauty of Svartifoss Waterfall and its unique basalt column formations.

  • Relax at Vök Baths: Take a moment to unwind and rejuvenate in one of Iceland's best hot springs. The Vök Baths is a geothermal floating pool located on Lake Urriðavatn. Enjoy the soothing warmth of the mineral-rich waters while surrounded by breathtaking views of the lake and the surrounding volcanic landscapes.

  • Marvel at Petra's Stone Collection: A collection of odd rocks and stones found around farms in East Iceland. Enjoy learning about the stories behind each rock and uncovering the secrets of Iceland's geological history.

  • Encounter Puffins in Borgarfjörður Eystri: Visit Borgarfjörður Eystri, a haven for puffin colonies. Witness these charming seabirds up close as they nest and thrive in the stunning cliffs and coastal landscapes. It is regarded as one of the best quiet places in Iceland to observe puffins.

  • Visit Hengifoss Waterfall: Marvel at Hengifoss, one of Iceland's highest waterfalls. Admire the striking contrast of the red layers of rock and the cascading white water as it plunges into a serene gorge.

Hengifoss Waterfall

North Iceland: Arctic Charms and Cultural Gems

North Iceland, one of the most captivating regions in Iceland, offers a blend of breathtaking landscapes and vibrant culture. From the charming city of Akureyri to the geothermal wonders of Lake Mývatn, it's a paradise for nature enthusiasts.

Explore the ‘Whale Watching Capital’ of Husavik, witness the power of Goðafoss waterfall, and immerse yourself in the historical and cultural treasures found throughout the region.

Things To Do in the North Iceland Region

No visit to North Iceland is complete without experiencing its myriad of activities. A 10-day Icelandic itinerary is recommended to truly explore all of the region's attractions, but if you're pressed for time, here are some must-see activities:

  • Explore Akureyri: Discover the charming city of Akureyri, known as the ‘Capital of the North.’ Stroll along its colorful streets, visit the iconic Akureyri Church, explore museums, and indulge in local cuisine. Experience the lively atmosphere and vibrant cultural scene of this vibrant town.

  • Visit Lake Mývatn: Immerse yourself in the unique landscapes of Lake Mývatn. Marvel at the volcanic formations of Dimmuborgir, soak in the geothermal nature baths and witness the incredible birdlife that inhabits the area.

  • Go whale Watching in Husavik: Embark on a thrilling whale-watching excursion from Husavik, the ‘Whale Watching Capital of Iceland.’ Encounter majestic creatures like humpback whales, minke whales, and dolphins as you sail through the pristine waters of Skjálfandi Bay. Learn about these incredible marine animals from knowledgeable guides.

  • Explore Goðafoss Waterfall: Witness the power and beauty of Goðafoss, the ‘Waterfall of the Gods.’ Marvel at the cascading waters as they plunge into a rugged gorge. Feel the mist on your face and capture unforgettable photos of this iconic Icelandic waterfall.

North Iceland hidden Gems

  • Discover Dettifoss Waterfall: Experience the raw power of Dettifoss, Europe's most powerful waterfall. Stand in awe as the mighty cascade roars into the Jökulsárgljúfur canyon, creating a spectacle of mist and sound. Be prepared to be captivated by the sheer force of nature.

  • Visit Húsavík Whale Museum: Dive into the fascinating world of whales at the Húsavík Whale Museum. Learn about the biology, behavior, and conservation of these majestic creatures through interactive exhibits and displays. Gain a deeper appreciation for the importance of marine life and the ongoing efforts to protect it.

  • Explore Ásbyrgi Canyon: Take an Icelandic road trip and head to the breathtaking Ásbyrgi Canyon, a horseshoe-shaped gorge surrounded by towering cliffs. Take a walk along the trails and marvel at the dramatic rock formations. Feel the tranquility of this natural oasis and embrace the serenity of the surroundings.

  • Discover Hverir Geothermal Area: Explore the geothermal wonders of Hverir, a surreal landscape of bubbling mud pots, steaming fumaroles, and rich sulfur deposits. Take in the otherworldly sights and intriguing scents of this geothermal wonderland, where the Earth's raw energy is fully displayed.

Hverir Geothermal Area in North Iceland

West Iceland: Culture, Legends, and Adventure

The West Iceland region offers an unrivaled mix of stunning landscapes and vibrant culture. From stunning waterfalls and volcanic formations to Europe's most powerful hot springs, there is something for everyone.

Explore the 3,000 islands in Breiðafjörður Bay or take a horseback riding tour. Visit the iconic Gerðuberg Basalt Columns or take a walk along the Hellnar – Arnarstapi trail. There are also plenty of activities to enjoy, such as glacier hiking and bird watching. Whether you're looking for adventure or relaxation, West Iceland has it all!

Things To Do in the West Iceland Region

The best way to explore all that West Iceland has to offer is to go on a self-drive vacation. Here are some of the must-see activities during your West Iceland road trip:

  • Explore Snæfellsjökull National Park: Immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes of Snæfellsjökull National Park. Marvel at the majestic Snæfellsjökull glacier, hike through lava fields and discover the mystical energy of the area. This park is known for its diverse ecosystems, offering opportunities for outdoor adventures and breathtaking views.

  • Visit Kirkjufell: Discover Kirkjufell Mountain, often called ‘The Church Mountain.’ This iconic Icelandic mountain has a unique pyramid-like shape and picturesque surroundings. It's a favorite spot for photographers. Capture stunning images of the mountain alongside the nearby Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall for an unforgettable sight.

  • Explore Stykkishólmur: Visit the charming town of Stykkishólmur, located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Explore its colorful houses, stroll along the harbor, and visit the local museums and galleries. Take a ferry from Stykkishólmur to Flatey Island and experience the beauty of Breiðafjörður Bay.

West Iceland Region

  • Relax in the Hot Springs: Unwind in the soothing hot springs found in West Iceland. Deildartunguhver, the largest hot spring in Europe, offers a unique geothermal experience. Enjoy a relaxing soak while surrounded by the beautiful Icelandic countryside.

  • Discover Icelandic Sagas in Borgarnes: Explore the historical town of Borgarnes, where you can delve into the rich sagas of Iceland's past. Visit the Settlement Center and learn about Viking folklore and history through interactive exhibits. Take a walk along the scenic shore, enjoying stunning views of the surrounding landscapes.

  • Visit the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss Waterfalls: Witness the natural beauty of the Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls. Marvel at the unique sight of Hraunfossar, where clear springs flow out of the lava field, creating a series of cascades. Admire the power of Barnafoss as it rushes through a narrow gorge. These are some of Iceland's hidden gems and should not be missed!

  • Explore the Vatnshellir Cave: Embark on an underground adventure in the Vatnshellir Cave, located near Snæfellsjökull. Descend into the depths of this lava tube and discover its fascinating geological formations. Learn about the volcanic history and mysteries hidden within the cave.

  • Sample Icelandic Cuisine: Indulge in traditional Icelandic cuisine in West Iceland. Try local delicacies like fresh seafood, lamb dishes, and Icelandic-style skyr. Visit local restaurants and cafés to savor the flavors of the region.

Icelandic skyr

Highlands: Iceland's Rugged and Wild Interior

The Highlands, a vast and untamed region in Iceland, offer a unique and rugged experience for adventurous travelers. With its pristine wilderness, majestic Icelandic glaciers, and volcanic landscapes, the Highlands beckon explorers to embark on unforgettable journeys.

Driving on F-roads allows access to this remote region, where you can witness the raw beauty of Iceland's interior. It's a land of solitude and enchantment, where nature reigns supreme, and the essence of Iceland's untouched wilderness can be discovered.

Things To Do in the Highlands Region

Explore some of Iceland's most spectacular sights when exploring the Highlands. To make the most of your trip, here are some things you should not miss out on:

  • Explore Landmannalaugar: Discover the otherworldly landscapes of Landmannalaugar, a geothermal wonderland nestled among colorful rhyolite mountains. Hike through breathtaking trails, bathe in natural hot springs, and capture stunning photographs of this mesmerizing area.

  • Visit Þórsmörk: Journey into the magnificent Þórsmörk Valley, a haven of lush greenery surrounded by rugged glaciers and volcanic peaks. Hike along scenic trails, cross roaring glacial rivers, and immerse yourself in the pristine beauty of this remote wilderness.

  • Discover the Fjallabak Nature Reserve: Venture into the Fjallabak Nature Reserve, renowned for its rugged and untouched landscapes. Encounter vast lava fields, geothermal hot springs, and the iconic Eldgjá volcanic canyon. Experience the raw power and beauty of Iceland's volcanic forces.

Highlands of Iceland regions

  • Witness the Highlands Waterfalls: Explore the enchanting waterfalls of the Highlands, such as Háifoss and Hafragilsfoss. Marvel at the cascading torrents plunging into deep gorges, surrounded by dramatic cliffs and stunning panoramas.

  • Go Glacier Hiking: Strap on your crampons and embark on an exhilarating glacier hiking adventure. Traverse the icy terrain of Vatnajökull, Europe's largest glacier, and witness its captivating ice formations, deep crevasses, and otherworldly blue ice caves.

  • Discover Askja Caldera: Journey to Askja Caldera on F88, one of Iceland's most remote and isolated roads. Askja Caldera is a massive volcanic crater with a stunning lake in its center. Hike through the desolate landscape and bathe in the geothermal waters of Víti, a volcanic crater lake known for its warm temperatures.

  • Experience the Kjölur Route: Drive along the Kjölur Route, a highland road connecting North and South Iceland. Witness vast stretches of untouched wilderness, geothermal areas, and panoramic mountain views. Immerse yourself in the rugged beauty of the Icelandic Highlands.

  • Capture the Northern Lights: Experience the breathtaking phenomenon of the Northern Lights in the remote darkness of the Highlands. Away from city lights, the Highlands offer optimal conditions for witnessing the dancing colors of the Aurora Borealis.

Northern Lights in Iceland

Westfjords: Wild Nature and World-Class Fishing

The Westfjords, one of the most breathtaking Iceland regions, is a remote and untouched paradise for nature enthusiasts. Located in the northwest of the country, it offers dramatic fjords, towering cliffs, and an abundance of Icelandic wildlife.

Explore picturesque fishing villages, hike scenic trails, and soak in natural hot springs. Experience the rugged beauty of the Westfjords along the Ring Road, a popular route that encircles the island, offering breathtaking views of this extraordinary region.

Westfjords of Iceland

Things To Do in the Westfjords Region

The Westfjords in Iceland offer a unique landscape and experience for travelers. So, if you're looking for things to do, here are some activities you should not miss out on:

  • Visit Ísafjörður: Explore the charming town of Ísafjörður, the capital of the Westfjords. Wander through its colorful streets, visit the Maritime Museum, and sample delicious local seafood. Enjoy the lively atmosphere and stunning coastal views.

  • Discover Dynjandi Waterfall: Witness the grandeur of Dynjandi, a majestic waterfall cascading down a series of steps. Marvel at its powerful flow and capture breathtaking photos of this natural wonder. Take the time to explore the surrounding hiking trails and enjoy panoramic vistas.

  • Explore Hornstrandir Nature Reserve: Venture into the remote and uninhabited Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Immerse yourself in untouched wilderness, hike along rugged coastlines, and spot wildlife like Arctic foxes and seabirds. Experience true solitude and tranquility.

Westfjords Region

  • Bathe in the Reykjafjörður Hot Springs: Relax in the geothermal hot springs of Reykjafjörður. Soak in the warm waters while enjoying panoramic views of the fjord and surrounding mountains. This hidden gem offers a rejuvenating experience amidst stunning natural surroundings.

  • Visit Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs: Discover the dramatic Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs, known as one of the largest seabird colonies in the world. Observe puffins, guillemots, and other fascinating bird species up close. Take in the breathtaking views from the towering cliffs overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean.

  • Explore the Red Sand Beach of Rauðasandur: Take a scenic drive to Rauðasandur, a remote and mesmerizing red sand beach. Walk along its vast shoreline, admire the contrasting colors, and soak in the peaceful atmosphere. It's a hidden gem that offers a unique coastal experience.

  • Hike in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve: Explore the hiking trails of Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. Trek through pristine landscapes, encounter diverse flora and fauna and witness breathtaking views of fjords, mountains, and glaciers. It's a paradise for outdoor enthusiasts.

  • Experience the Westfjords from the Ferry: Take a ferry ride along the coastline of the Westfjords. Enjoy panoramic views of rugged cliffs, fjords, and remote villages. This scenic journey provides a unique perspective of the region's coastal beauty and is a memorable way to explore the Westfjords.

regions in iceland

Reykjanes Peninsula: Hot Springs and Unique Wildlife

This region in Iceland is located southwest. The Reykjanes Peninsula is known for its unique geological features and proximity to the capital city, Reykjavík. Explore the rugged lava fields, geothermal areas like the Blue Lagoon, and the dramatic coastal cliffs.

Don't miss the iconic Golden Circle route, which includes the historic Þingvellir National Park, the stunning Gullfoss waterfall, and the powerful geysers of Geysir. The Reykjanes Peninsula offers a diverse blend of natural wonders and cultural attractions for an unforgettable Icelandic experience.

Things To Do in the Reykjanes Peninsula Region

If you're searching for things to do, the Reykjanes Peninsula in Iceland is a must-visit destination. It boasts an exceptional mix of scenic beauty and cultural attractions. Here are some activities you shouldn't miss out on:

  • Visit the Blue Lagoon: Relax at the world-famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa. Enjoy the warm, mineral-rich waters and rejuvenate your body and mind amidst the stunning volcanic surroundings.

  • Explore Reykjanesviti: Discover the Reykjanesviti lighthouse, perched on the rugged coastline of the peninsula. Climb to the top for panoramic views of the surrounding ocean and lava fields. Explore the nearby dramatic cliffs and witness the power of the crashing waves.

  • Discover the Bridge Between Continents: Stand between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates at the Bridge Between Continents. This symbolic bridge marks the Mid-Atlantic Ridge and offers a unique opportunity to witness the geological forces shaping Iceland.

  • Explore Gunnuhver Geothermal Area: Witness the powerful hot springs and mud pools of Gunnuhver. Marvel at the steam rising from the ground and learn about the area's folklore, including the ghostly tale of Gunna, which inspired the name of this geothermal wonder.

Reykjanes Peninsula Region

  • Visit the Reykjanesvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant: Learn about the geothermal energy of Iceland at the Reykjanesvirkjun power plant. This facility uses hot springs and steam from the ground to generate electricity.

  • Marvel at the Reykjanesvötn Lakes: Explore the volcanic craters and stunning lakes of Reykjanesvötn. Admire the contrasting colors and the serene beauty of these unique natural formations. Hike around the lakes and take in the peaceful atmosphere.

  • Discover the Kleifarvatn Lake: Witness the mystical beauty of Kleifarvatn, a volcanic lake known for its dark and mysterious waters. Take a scenic hike along the lake's shoreline and enjoy the tranquility of the surrounding lava fields.

  • Visit the Reykjanes Geopark: Explore the Reykjanes Geopark, a UNESCO Global Geopark encompassing the peninsula's diverse geological wonders. Discover volcanic craters, lava formations, and geothermal sites that showcase the unique geological heritage of Iceland.

Map of Iceland's Regions

Each of Iceland's regions offers an array of unique attractions and activities perfect for taking day tours. This Iceland region map provides an overview of the country's diverse areas. From the bustling capital city of Reykjavík to the wild and rugged Westfjords, this map will help you plan your next adventure in Iceland.

Map of Iceland's Regions

From East to West - Embracing the Diversity of Iceland's Regions

For the best experience exploring the diverse regions in Iceland, renting a campervan is the ultimate choice. It provides the freedom to explore at your own pace, wake up to breathtaking views, and venture off the beaten path. With a campervan, you can create your itinerary, maximize your time, and fully immerse yourself in the wonders of Iceland's regions. Embrace the adventure and unleash your inner Viking spirit!



bottom of page