20 Best Things to Do in Iceland
Iceland is an incredible country where you can have unparalleled adventures. In Iceland you can do sensational things like hike on a glacier and kayak in a glacier lagoon. Here is a list of the 20 best things to do in Iceland to inspire your next adventure.
1. Kayak in a Glacier Lagoon
One of the best things to do in Iceland is kayak in Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon surrounded by large icebergs. You can often see seals in the glacier lagoon while kayaking. The best way to kayak in the glacier lagoon is to book a tour in advance with Ice Guide which includes gear and a guide that will lead you through the Glacier Lagoon and provide you with information about the lagoon. Ice Guide provides a tandem kayak, paddles, waterproof suit, boots, and life vest. Document this experience with your iPhone using this waterproof case that you can wear as a necklace while kayaking.
2. Admire Gullfoss Falls
Gullfoss Falls is one of the biggest falls in Iceland, made up of a 11 meter high part and a 21 meter high part. Gullfoss translates into Golden Falls, as it looks golden when the sun hits the water on a sunny day. There are a couple of paths that you can follow to viewpoints. Note that there are parts of these paths where you may get a little wet by the spray of the falls.
3. Hike Down to Studlagil Canyon
One of the best things to do in Iceland is hike down to Studlagil Canyon where you will be surrounded by bright blue water and basalt columns. The basalt columns at Studlagil Canyon were formed when magma cooled slowly and cracked into columns. To hike down into the canyon you need to cross the bridge to the east side of the river and drive down a dirt road to a parking lot. The hike to the canyon takes about 30 minutes.
4. Walk to Godafoss
Godafoss is called the waterfall of the gods. You can see the waterfall from multiple viewing platforms, or walk down the path to the river to get a closer view of the waterfall. If you get lucky you may even see a rainbow in the falls. Seeing Godafoss is one of the best things to do in Iceland that you cannot miss!
5. Snorkel Between Two Tectonic Plates
At Thingvellir National Park you can snorkel between the North American and European tectonic plates in the Silfra Fissure. This Silfra snorkeling tour includes a guide, snorkeling gear, and a thermal wet suit so you can stay warm while swimming in the clear glacial water. If you are interested in exploring this top snorkeling spot where the continental plates are shifting apart, make sure to book a tour in advance on GetYourGuide so you don’t miss out.
6. Hike On a Glacier
Experience Iceland by taking a walk on an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, the largest glacier in Europe. To ensure you don’t miss this incredible experience, book the glacier walk ahead of time. The tour includes a guide as well as gear needed for the glacier walk such as crampons, a harness, and a helmet. The tour starts with a 30 minute van ride to the trail where you will hike for a couple of miles before reaching the glacier since the glacier has been retrieving over the years. Tours vary by season, so make sure to check Viator for the latest available tours of this glacier. The glacier walk will be a highlight of your Iceland trip.
7. Explore a Beach with Icebergs (Diamond Beach)
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An experience you won’t forget in Iceland is taking a walk on Diamond Beach where you can find icebergs scattered across a long stretch of black sand beach. These icebergs are carried over from the glacier lagoon to the sea at Diamond Beach.
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8. Hike to Litlanesfoss and Hengifoss
One of the best hikes in Iceland takes you to Hengifoss where you can see red clay stripes around the falls. On the way check out Litlanesfoss, a waterfall surrounded by basalt columns. You can hike up to Hengifoss on the left path and down on the right side to create a loop that is about 3 miles long. The beginning of the hike is steep so be prepared.
9. Carefully Explore Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach is a scenic beach surrounded by basalt columns that were formed when magma cooled slowly and cracked into columns. As you walk along the beach make sure to stay away from the water and face the ocean as it is known to have sneaker waves that can be very dangerous. On the beach you will also find Reynisdrangar Cliffs, a popular photo spot with large basalt columns.
10. Enjoy the Views at Fjadrargljufur Canyon
Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is often missed but is definitely worth a quick stop. The canyon has a path to three incredible viewpoints. From the viewpoints you can see Mögárfoss Waterfall flowing into the river that carved the canyon.
11. Take a Picture Behind Kvernufoss
One of the best hikes in Iceland is this short 10-minute hiking trail to a hidden waterfall called Kvernufoss. The trail starts from the Skógar Museum and guides you through a beautiful canyon. You can walk behind the waterfall here and get great photos.
Are you looking for another destination with incredible waterfalls? Check out the 8 best waterfalls on Oahu, Hawaii
12. Go On a Whale Watching Cruise in Husavik
Husavik is a town in north Iceland known to be the whale watching capital of Iceland. Make sure to book this 3-hour eco-friendly whale watching tour on a traditional oak boat in advance on GetYourGuide so that you don’t miss out! If your plans change you can cancel up to 24 hours in advance for a full refund. Depending on the weather, the tour company may give you waterproof gear to wear over your clothes. They also provide complementary cinnamon buns and hot chocolate.
Keep in mind that it is not guaranteed that you will see any whales, although it is advertised that whales are spotted on 98% of whale watching trips. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see any whales, but we still enjoyed the boat ride experience. This tour company will allow you to do another whale watching tour for free if you didn’t get to see whales on your first tour.
13. See the Most Powerful Waterfall in Iceland (Dettifoss)
A one mile hike leads you to Dettifoss, which is known as the most powerful waterfall in Iceland. There is a viewing deck where you can enjoy views of the falls, but note that you may get wet from the mist. Upstream from Dettifoss you can find Selfoss, another beautiful waterfall.
14. Explore Reykjavik
The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, is a unique city that is worth exploring. Visit Hallgrimskirkja, a church where you can take an elevator to the top to see views of the city. Explore the popular street called Skólavörðustígur, where you can find restaurants and shops along with rainbow street. Enjoy shops and restaurants along Laugavegur street, see the Sun Voyager, and visit Harpa Concert Hall to see the unique glass building. Complete your loop around the city with walking by Tjörnin, a small lake located by City Hall.
15. Hike to Bruarfoss, The Blue Waterfall
Hike 40 minutes along a creek to a bright blue waterfall called Bruarfoss. Along the way, you will pass by another smaller waterfall called Miðfoss.
16. Walk Around a Geothermal Area
There is a geothermal area along the golden circle with boiling mud pots and geysers. Here you can also see a Geysir called Strokkur erupt every 8-10 minutes, reaching a height of up to 20 meters.
17. Watch the Powerful Flow at Skogafoss
Skogafoss is a large and powerful waterfall in Iceland, at 50 meters tall and 25 meters wide. On sunny days you may be able to see a rainbow in the falls. This waterfall is one of the most popular waterfalls in Iceland.
18. Road Trip Around Snaefellsness Peninsula
The drive around the Snaefellsness Peninsula is beautiful and has several places to stop for short hikes and great views. Top stops along the Snaefellsness Peninsula include Kirkjufellsfoss, where you can capture the famous photograph of the waterfall and mountain together. Another popular stop is Djúpalónssandur Beach which is a beautiful black sand beach. See natural towers made up of basalt materials at a viewpoint called Lóndrangar. Don’t miss Ytri Tunga, a beach where you are likely to see seals and can also enjoy great views of Snæfellsjökull Volcano in the distance.
19. Drive Around Lake Myvatn
Drive around Lake Myvatn where you can find Skutustadagigar, pseudocraters formed by lava flow. You can follow a short path to see views of the lake and the pseudocraters located on the south part of the lake. Make sure to stop at the panoramic point at Lake Myvatn and then take a nice walk in Hofdi, a small forest on the lake.
20. Find A Hidden Waterfall (Reykjafoss)
One of the best things to do in Iceland is find hidden gems. Reykjafoss is an off-the-beaten-path waterfall about 1 hour west of Akureyri. The detour to this hidden gem in Iceland is about 8 minutes each way on a dirt road and the walk to the waterfall from the car park is about 5 minutes. Near the falls you can also find hidden hot springs so make sure to bring a bathing suit.
If You Are Visiting Iceland in the Winter
For those visiting Iceland in the winter the best way to explore is with an organized tour as driving can be difficult in the snow. This tour allows you to see the Golden Circle, Blue Lagoon, and Kerid Volcanic Crater all in one day. You can find and book more experiences in Iceland on Viator. Most activities can be canceled 24 hours in advance for a full refund.
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