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A Complete Guide to The Must-visit Places in Iceland

Updated: Jan 27

Whittling down all the options to create a list of must-visit places in Iceland is no easy task, so we’ve done the hard work for you and created this comprehensive guide. Ideally, you’ll need at least a couple of weeks after you’ve picked up your campervan to tour the country.


If you can't stay that long, don't worry, you can always come back. These places are definitely worth it so you're not going to want to miss a single one! Just take the opportunity to tick a few more off your list every time you visit Iceland.


Take a look at this list of must-visit places in Iceland and head over to check them out. You won't be disappointed!


Compass on a map of Iceland


Places you MUST visit in Iceland - Top picks


1. Reykjavík and the Reykjanes peninsula


Reykjavík


Iceland's capital and main city is vibrant and full of life, offering visitors plenty of interesting things to do. Take the lift to the viewing deck in Hallgrimmskirkja or visit Perlan on the top of Öskjuhlíð Hill to get your bearings.


Head into the heart of Reykjavík’s old town where you’ll find lots of shops, bars and cafés. In the harbor, check out the Saga and Maritime Museums or take a whale watching trip out on Faxaflói Bay. To access the capital's top attractions, you can purchase the Reykjavík City Card.


Leif the Lucky’s Bridge


Your introduction to Iceland’s unusual geology should begin at Leif the Lucky’s bridge. Step across this metal bridge and you’ll be walking from Europe to North America. What appears to be a dried-up river bed is actually the separation between these two gigantic tectonic plates.


The Blue Lagoon


Icelanders have always made the most of their geothermally heated water. In recent years, there has been an explosion in the number of high-end spas, but the Blue Lagoon is still one of the best. Its combination of warm water – actually the by-product of the power station next door – and skin-enhancing silica mud makes this a hit with tourists on their way to or from the airport.


Fagradalsfjall volcano


Reykjanes, a peninsula in South West Iceland, has always drawn visitors thanks to its seemingly barren lava fields. In 2021, a new attraction burst onto the scene – literally – when Fagradalsfjall volcano began a seven-month-long eruption. Though the lava has cooled, the craters and sulfur deposits that remain make this one of Iceland’s top places for nature lovers.


Fagradalsfjall volcano eruption


2. South Iceland


Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss


These two breathtaking waterfalls can be seen from Iceland’s Ring Road, on the spectacular south coast. Driving from Reykjavík, the first you’ll encounter is Seljalandsfoss, a magnificent waterfall that you'll be able to stand behind to appreciate its beauty. Less than half an hour down the road is gorgeous Skógafoss, in front of which you'll often see a rainbow; it’s worth climbing the steps beside it for the panoramic views at the top.


The Westman Islands


Turn right just before Seljalandsfoss and the road will lead you to the Westman Islands ferry. Over on Heimaey, you’ll be able to take boat trips to see a plethora of seabirds that make this island their home. On land and during the summer, check out the puffin colony up on the Stórhöfðaviti peninsula and the cooled lava that remained after the 1973 eruption of Eldfell volcano.


Skaftafell

Skaftafell is one of the prettiest parts of Vatnajökull National Park. An easy hike from the car park leads you to the dramatic basalt columns that flank Svartifoss. Loop back past a trio of smaller waterfalls: Magnúsarfoss, Hundafoss and Þjófafoss.


Don’t leave before taking a look at the traditional turf farm: Selið. Built in 1912, it's one of the few remaining turf houses that can be seen in this part of Iceland.


Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon


Justin Bieber is responsible for the increase in visitors to Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, after he filmed part of his "I'll show you" music video here. To reach it, you’ll need to take a gravel road from the Ring Road. Bear in mind that this fragile canyon is vulnerable to erosion, so caution is advised; it features narrow limbs topped with mossy grass. The river twists and turns to squeeze past vertiginous tuff walls, creating a fairy tale landscape.


Jökulsárlón

Jökulsárlón is Iceland’s most exquisite glacial lagoon. Pull into the car park and take a stroll along the shoreline to admire the icebergs that have detached from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier. You can take a boat trip in a RIB or amphibious vehicle to get a closer look; you might also see the seals that hang out here!


At nearby Diamond Beach, the chunks of ice glitter against the backdrop of a black sand beach as the waves steadily wear them away.


Icebergs floating at Jökulsárlón glaciar lake

3. East Iceland


Seyðisfjörður

Seyðisfjörður is located at the head of a delightful fjord. The town itself is as pretty as the mountains that surround it. From the Ring Road, you can climb up and over a paved pass to then drop to water level. The town is well known for its rainbow path that leads to a quaint church. It’s also worth taking a hike to Gufufoss, a nearby waterfall.


Studlagil Canyon


Jaw-droppingly beautiful Studlagil Canyon was once almost completely hidden. The landscape changed dramatically after a dam was constructed to facilitate the building of a power station upstream. After that, a glorious gorge lined with iron oxide-stained basalt was revealed. These columns frame the Jökulsá á Dal River, which in summer turns a vivid turquoise thanks to the glacial meltwater it carries.


Turquoise river running through Studlagil Canyon

4. North Iceland


Mývatn

Mývatn means midge lake and you'll see why if you visit during the summer. Fortunately, these pesky insects steer well clear of the area’s wonderful nature baths, so take a dip while taking in the gorgeous view.


You’ll find the Námafjall Geothermal Area on the east side of Lake Mývatn. Also known as Hverir, it’s characterized by tiny fumaroles and boiling mud, but prepare yourself for the underlying aroma of stink bombs. You've been warned!


Húsavík and the Diamond Circle


If you’re a fan of the Eurovision Song Contest, you’ll have heard of the pretty town of Húsavík, where much of the 2020 Will Ferrell movie was shot. It’s also Iceland’s whale watching capital; there are regular boat tours you can go on to try to see humpbacks and minke whales.


Take a dip in the GeoSea geothermal baths before getting back behind the wheel of your campervan to loop the Diamond Circle. The Goðafoss and Dettifoss waterfalls, plus Ásbyrgi canyon, are the highlights of this scenic drive.

Siglufjörður


Siglufjörður made its money from the herring industry. Only a few decades ago, its waterfront was a hive of activity, with busy docks and noisy processing factories. Today, it’s a sleepy place: the herring left abruptly and never returned. The redundant industrial landscape has been reborn as the Herring Era Museum, where you can get an insight into Iceland’s social history.


Port area of Siglufjordur town in Iceland

5. The Westfjords


Holmavik and Flateyri


If you can spare the time, the remote Westfjords region is also one of Iceland’s top places to visit. Expect to drive for miles, seeing barely a soul – the roads that hug the shores of the fjords here are among the emptiest in the country! Make a pit stop in Holmavik to duck into the Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft and in Flateyri to shop in Iceland’s oldest bookstore.


Hornstrandir, Dynjandi and Rauðasandur


Nature also gets top points here. Plan a stop at Ísafjörður, the jumping off point for the wildlife-rich Hornstrandir Nature Reserve. The bridal veil appearance of Dynjandi waterfall makes this landmark a popular stop, as does the unusual red sand beach of the aptly named Rauðasandur.


A tourist at the foot of Dynjandi waterfall

6. The Golden Circle


Gullfoss


No guide to the must-visit places in Iceland could leave out Gullfoss, where the Hvítá river cascades over a rock precipice. The volume of water that tumbles over the edge is a powerful reminder of how Mother Nature sculpts the landscape, in this case resulting in a whirlpool of white water and a splendid steep-sided gorge.


Geysir


Geysir is a short drive from Gullfoss. Park up and cross over the road to enter a magical geyser field where wisps of steam constantly explode from the ground. The place is dominated by a magnificent active geyser called Strokkur. Have your camera ready as it erupts majestically every few minutes, causing gasps from the waiting crowd.


Thingvellir National Park


Thingvellir is Iceland’s most visited national park and you won’t need long to work out why. Enter a narrow gorge flanked by rocky cliffs and imagine what it must have been like over a thousand years ago when Iceland’s parliament, the Althing, met here.


For your next stop, how about heading to a cleft in the rock with naturally filled clear water that you can snorkel or scuba dive through? Silfra fissure awaits!


Rocky cliffs of the tectonic plates at Thingvellir National Park

7. West Iceland and the Snæfellsnes peninsula


In West Iceland, you’ll want to drive the scenic loop, stopping regularly to admire the dramatic coastline of the Snæfellsnes peninsula.


There is an abundance of wave-cut arches and stacks, as well as wild beaches where you might spot seals and unspoiled waterfalls, such as Kirkjufell, or Church Mountain, as well as Snæfellsjökull National Park.


Check out the historic homes of Stykkishólmur on the north coast before calling in to the Shark Museum at Bjarnarhöfn to try a cube or two of hákarl – that’s if you can stomach fermented shark. On your way back to Reykjavík, don’t rush past Akranes without popping into its little folk museum.


What's on your Iceland travel itinerary?


We hope that our guide to the must-visit places in Iceland has given you plenty of ideas. The next step is to create a customized itinerary adapted to your needs. Now, all you need to do is secure your campervan rental with us and begin your Icelandic adventure!

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