Visit Iceland: on the borders of Europe, breathtaking landscapes! Here is our top 12 of the most beautiful sites to see in Iceland!
- 1. The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- 2. The Golden Circle
- 3. Silfra Rift
- 4. Lake Myvatn
- 5. Thríhnjúkagígur Volcano
- 6. Geysers at Geysir
- 7. Dettifoss Falls
- 8. Skogafoss Waterfall
- 9. Pass behind Seljalandsfoss
- 10. Husavik and Akureyri
- 11. The Westfjords
- 12. Bolafjall Mountain
A rock lost in the Atlantic Ocean a few kilometers from the Arctic Ocean, Iceland – literally land of ice – is an island state perched on the northern borders of Europe. The country is located between Greenland and Norway , geographically closer to the American continent but historically and culturally attached to Europe. 365,620 inhabitants live in Iceland, on a total area of 102,775 km², a density of only 3 inhabitants per km². The capital, Reykjavikconcentrates the majority of the Icelandic population. A major tourist destination for several years – Iceland’s tourist numbers are constantly growing – the country attracted 1.8 million visitors in 2016 and 2.3 million in 2017. It must be said that the country has everything to seduce : the nightlife of Reykjavik, the fjords and the icebergs, the waterfalls, the hot springs, the whale watching, the mosaics of colors making the landscapes so surreal that you would think they were photoshopped , a nature incredibly vast where to hike while being alone in the world, the aurora borealis and active volcanoes.
Between all these natural landscapes offering unique panoramas in the world, it seems very difficult to know where to go, what to see and what to do in Iceland! Here is an estimated guide to the most beautiful sites to see when visiting Iceland!
1. The Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón literally means “glacier lagoon”, and is the largest of the country’s proglacial lakes. The lagoon is on the south coast, between Höfn and Vatnajökull Park .
Many blocks of ice break off from the glacier – from the tongue of Breiðamerkurjökull – during the thaw, and flow onto the black sand beaches. The contrast, between the turquoise blue, the dark blue of these mini-icebergs, the yellow color from the volcanic sulphide, the white from the ice and snow and finally the dark color of the sand, is then singular. This is called the diamond beach, as the blocks of ice washed up on the beach and illuminated by the sun are reminiscent of jewels. You might even be able to spot seals moving between the icebergs!
2. The Golden Circle
Almost every traveler who comes to Iceland wants to see the Golden Circle . Admittedly, it is a very touristy area but worth the detour. Visit Gullfoss Waterfall and Thingvellir National Park, a historic UNESCO heritage site, where the Icelandic Parliament stood from the 10th to 15th centuries.
3. Silfra Rift
Diving in Iceland? Yes yes, you read that right: visiting Iceland also allows you to go diving. In particular at the Silfra fault : this is the name of the fault separating the North American plates from the Eurasian plate. The fault, flooded with clear water, reaches a depth of 63 meters, making it a paradise for divers. It is one of the most translucent waters on the planet, offering more than 100 meters of visibility, all between two continents!
4. Lake Myvatn
Here is a must do when visiting Iceland: Lake Myvatn , located in the northeast of the country. It is the second largest lake in Iceland, and many hot springs are nearby: or how to bathe in a whirlpool bath when it is 5°C outside! What to do in Myvatn? Geothermal energy and seismic activity are so intense in the region that you can observe craters, lava formations, bathe in hot springs or even enjoy a snowmobile ride!
5. Thríhnjúkagígur Volcano
Hiking in a lava field, anyone? This dormant volcano for more than 4,000 years allows you to descend to the bottom of the magma chamber! Thríhnjúkagígur – already try to pronounce the name… -, is to be done in summer when visiting Iceland, a truly extraordinary activity. If you can climb Mount Etna in Sicily or the Piton de la Fournaise in Reunion , it is the only place in the world where you can descend into the crater 120 meters deep.
6. Geysers at Geysir
It is one of the most famous natural sites in the country. If you come to visit Geysir , you will see the Strokkur geyser, which spurts its sprays of water up to 20 meters above the ground every 5 to 8 minutes. The great geyser only gushes two or three times a day, although it is the most famous in the world.
7. Dettifoss Falls
Visiting Iceland also gives you the opportunity to see splendid and majestic waterfalls. That of Dettifoss is one of the best known in the country: it is the most powerful in Europe. Located to the northeast, after Reykjahlíð, the waterfalls propel water 44 meters high, 100 meters wide. Access by road is easy, which adds to the tourist appeal of the site.
8. Skogafoss Waterfall
Go visit Skogafoss Falls if you’re obviously going around in circles for what else to do in Iceland. Surrounded by greenery that would remind us of the vast expanses of Ireland, the Skogafoss waterfall – which means “forest falls” – offers an impenetrable curtain of water 60 meters high. Easy to access, you can nevertheless approach it very closely to enjoy this deafening natural spectacle.
9. Pass behind Seljalandsfoss
28 kilometers from Skogafoss you will find the Seljalandsfoss waterfalls . It seems that a Viking warrior would have passed behind it: the imposing Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a wall of water projecting its sheaves into the void 65 meters high. It is one of the most visited waterfalls in Iceland because you can walk behind the curtain of water without risking being injured or drowned. The ground, due to the permanent humidity, remains very slippery.
Watch out for the falls (not of water, but of yourself, this time)! As the waterfall faces due west, the best time to visit Seljalandsfoss is at dusk, when the sun’s rays sinking into darkness pierce the waterfall and offer its guests a magical spectacle.
10. Husavik and Akureyri
Did you know that the bottoms of Iceland are home to some of the biggest sea monsters on the planet? You who come to visit Iceland, do not miss whale watching. Icelandic cetaceans have impressive dimensions: 25 to 33 meters long and 110 to 190 tonnes for the blue whale (the largest in the world), 25 meters long and 50-80 tonnes for the fin whale, 25 to 40 tonnes and 13 to 17 meters long for the humpback whale… The regions where whale watching is mainly in the north of the country and in the west, in the fjords. There would be more than 90% chance of seeing a cetacean jump out of the ocean! To do this, visit Husavik , Akureyri – the capital of northern Iceland -, Hauganes, Dalvík and Reykjavik (cruise departures).
11. The Westfjords
Precisely, visiting the west fjords will allow you to observe the spectacle of whales coming out of the water to breathe, but not only. The fjords are carved out by ancient glaciers, which have become long, deep and narrow canyons or valleys submerged by the sea. Just north of Reykjavik, two fjords can be visited: Hvalfjördur and Borgarfjördur . The West Fjords of Iceland are one of the most remote regions of the country but it is a festival of colors and very rich nature, even surreal at every glance.
12. Bolafjall Mountain
What to do in Iceland: how about perching far to the northwest on one of the country’s northernmost peaks? The top of Bolafjall mountain is simply awe-inspiring. Accessible from the small fishing village Bolungarvik, this hike will once again offer you absolutely magnificent landscapes.