Get Even More Visitors To Your Blog, Upgrade To A Business Listing >>

The 13 Best Things to do in Iceland

Ah, Iceland, the land of fire and ice, where jaw-dropping natural beauty mingles with Nordic coolness. A country that has inspired countless photographers, adventurers, and nature enthusiasts. With its contrasting landscapes of glaciers, volcanoes, and sublime beaches, Iceland is the ultimate destination for anyone seeking out the extraordinary. Yet, with so many potential things to do in Iceland, planning your journey could feel overwhelming. That’s where this comprehensive guide comes into play.

Crafted for everyone from solo travelers to family adventurers, this guide is your golden ticket to discovering the best that Iceland has to offer. Whether you’re into soaking in geothermal pools, embarking on glacier hikes, or chasing the elusive Northern Lights, you’ll find all the essential information and insider tips right here. So buckle up, because we’re about to take a deep dive into a myriad of unforgettable experiences that await you in Iceland.

Why Iceland is a Must-Visit Destination

Iceland has surged in popularity over the years, and it’s not hard to see why. This island nation serves as the epitome of Mother Nature’s grandeur, showcasing a spectacle of natural phenomena that are hard to find elsewhere. But there’s more to this Scandinavian utopia than just its landscapes. Here’s why Iceland deserves a spot on your travel bucket list.

Natural Beauty and Landscapes

The first thing that strikes you about Iceland is its unparalleled natural beauty. From majestic waterfalls like Gullfoss to expansive glaciers like Vatnajökull, Iceland’s scenery is simply surreal. Add to that the lava fields, striking fjords, and lush green valleys, and you have a haven for outdoor enthusiasts.

Unique Experiences and Activities

Iceland offers a range of activities and experiences that you’d be hard-pressed to find in other parts of the world. Where else can you bathe in a geothermal pool while gazing at a snow-covered landscape? Or walk between two tectonic plates? The activities here are as varied as they are Unique, making it a playground for adventure seekers.

Cultural Highlights

But Iceland is not just about stunning vistas and adrenaline-pumping activities. The country also has a rich cultural tapestry that is worth exploring. From its Viking heritage to modern art installations, Iceland offers a fascinating blend of old and new. Plus, you can’t forget the local cuisine. If you’re up for it, try some hákarl (fermented shark) or skyr (Icelandic yogurt)—both are quintessential Icelandic experiences.

In essence, Iceland is a destination that satisfies a variety of travel cravings. Whether you are a nature lover, an adrenaline junkie, or a culture vulture, this country has something special in store for you. So, keep reading as we delve into the specific things to do in Iceland that you absolutely cannot miss.

Best Time to Visit Iceland

Choosing the perfect time to visit Iceland can significantly shape your experience. Believe it or not, the activities you can enjoy and the sights you can see vary dramatically with the seasons. So, when should you pack your bags for this Nordic adventure? Let’s break it down.

Summer (June to August)

  • Advantages
    • Midnight Sun: Imagine a land where the sun barely sets. Yes, that’s Iceland during the summer. This extended daylight offers you more time to explore and take part in activities.
    • Warmer Weather: With temperatures ranging between 50-60°F (10-15°C), summer is the warmest season, ideal for hiking, camping, and wildlife watching.
    • Accessible Roads: Most roads, including those leading to remote highlands, are open, giving you greater access to explore the country.
  • Disadvantages
    • Crowds: Being the peak season, expect more tourists, especially at popular sites like the Blue Lagoon and Golden Circle.
    • Higher Prices: Accommodations, flights, and activities often cost more during this season.

Winter (December to February)

  • Advantages
    • Northern Lights: Winter is the best time to catch this breathtaking natural phenomenon.
    • Winter Sports: From skiing to snowmobiling, winter sports are in full swing.
    • Unique Photography: Snow-covered landscapes offer incredible photo opportunities.
  • Disadvantages
    • Limited Daylight: You’ll get only about 4-5 hours of daylight, which can be restrictive.
    • Road Conditions: Snow and ice can make driving difficult, especially in remote areas.

Shoulder Seasons (Spring and Autumn)

  • Advantages
    • Fewer Crowds: These months offer a respite from the summer rush, yet provide many of the same outdoor experiences.
    • Moderate Weather: While not as warm as summer, temperatures are generally mild, making outdoor activities still enjoyable.
    • Cost: Prices for flights and accommodations can be more reasonable than during the peak seasons.
  • Disadvantages
    • Unpredictable Weather: Be prepared for a mix of rain, snow, and occasional sunny days.
    • Limited Access: Some highland roads may still be closed, particularly in early spring or late autumn.

The best time to visit Iceland depends on what you want to see and do. Each season has its own set of advantages and disadvantages, but one thing’s for sure: the list of things to do in Iceland is bountiful, regardless of when you decide to go.

Top 13 Unmissable Things to Do in Iceland

You’ve landed in Iceland, settled into your accommodation, and you’re itching to get out and explore. The question is, where do you start? Iceland is chock-full of mesmerizing spots and thrilling activities, but some experiences are just too good to miss. Here’s the ultimate list of the top 13 unmissable things to do in Iceland.

1. The Blue Lagoon

What It Is

The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa located in a lava field near Reykjavik. The milky-blue water is rich in minerals like silica and sulfur, known for their skin-healing properties.

Why It’s Unique

This is not just another hot spring. The Blue Lagoon offers a world-class spa experience, complete with saunas, steam rooms, and a range of luxurious treatments.

Tips for Visiting

  • Book your ticket in advance, especially during peak seasons.
  • Try the silica mud mask for a unique skincare experience.

2. Golden Circle Route

What It Is

The Golden Circle is a 230-kilometer driving route that includes some of Iceland’s most famous landmarks, such as Thingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall.

Why It’s Unique

It’s a condensed showcase of Iceland’s diverse landscapes—think geysers, waterfalls, and tectonic rifts—all easily accessible in a day trip from Reykjavik.

Tips for Visiting

  • Start early to avoid the crowds.
  • Consider guided tours if you’re not comfortable driving in Iceland’s conditions.

3. Northern Lights

What It Is

Also known as Aurora Borealis, the Northern Lights are a natural light display predominantly seen in high-latitude regions during winter months.

Why It’s Unique

The spectacle of green, pink, and violet lights dancing across the night sky is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for many.

Tips for Visiting

  • Best seen between September and April.
  • Head away from city lights for the best viewing conditions.

4. Glacier Hiking

What It Is

Glacier hiking allows you to venture across some of Iceland’s most magnificent ice formations. Usually accompanied by a guide, you’ll get to explore unique ice caves, crevices, and seracs.

Why It’s Unique

No two glaciers are the same, and the ever-changing ice formations make each hike a unique adventure. Plus, how often do you get to walk on a giant, moving ice block?

Tips for Visiting

  • Choose a reputable tour operator that provides all the necessary safety gear.
  • Best experienced from May to September, although some glaciers are accessible year-round.

5. Whale Watching

What It Is

Set sail from ports like Reykjavik, Akureyri, or Husavik to catch a glimpse of the majestic marine mammals that inhabit Iceland’s waters, including Minke whales, Humpback whales, and even Orcas.

Why It’s Unique

Iceland’s rich marine life offers one of the best whale-watching experiences in the world. Besides whales, you’ll also likely spot dolphins, seals, and a variety of sea birds.

Tips for Visiting

  • Opt for a tour operator committed to responsible whale-watching practices.
  • Dress warmly, even in summer—the open sea can be chilly.

6. Snorkeling in Silfra

What It Is

Silfra is a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, located in Thingvellir National Park. Snorkeling here allows you to float between two continents.

Why It’s Unique

The glacial meltwater in Silfra is so clear that you can see up to 100 meters ahead, making it one of the clearest bodies of water on Earth. Plus, it’s the only place where you can snorkel between two tectonic plates.

Tips for Visiting

  • Despite the cold water temperatures, dry suits are usually provided to keep you warm.
  • Book in advance as this popular activity often sells out.

7. Explore Reykjavik

What It Is

Reykjavik is Iceland’s capital and largest city, serving as the cultural and economic heart of the country. With its modernist architecture, vibrant arts scene, and bustling cafes, there’s more to see here than you might expect.

Why It’s Unique

Reykjavik combines cosmopolitan amenities with a small-town vibe. The iconic Hallgrímskirkja church, Harpa Concert Hall, and numerous art galleries provide a dose of culture amidst natural beauty.

Tips for Visiting

  • Don’t miss the view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja—it’s one of the best vantage points in the city.
  • Check out the weekend flea market, Kolaportið, for unique Icelandic souvenirs.

8. Visit Akureyri

What It Is

Often dubbed the “Capital of North Iceland,” Akureyri is the country’s second-largest urban area. Located along the country’s northern coast, it’s a gateway to some of Iceland’s most breathtaking landscapes.

Why It’s Unique

With its botanical gardens, snow-capped peaks, and the Eyjafjörður Fjord, Akureyri offers a different flavor of Icelandic culture and scenery, less touched by mass tourism.

Tips for Visiting

  • Try skiing or snowboarding in the nearby mountains if you visit in winter.
  • Don’t miss the Akureyri Art Museum and the Akureyri Church for a dose of local culture.

9. Horseback Riding

What It Is

Icelandic horses are a unique and ancient breed, known for their small stature and incredible resilience. Horseback riding tours give you the opportunity to see Iceland’s landscapes in a unique and intimate way.

Why It’s Unique

The Icelandic horse has a special gait called the tölt, which offers an unusually smooth ride. This allows you to comfortably explore everything from beaches to lava fields to rolling meadows.

Tips for Visiting

  • No experience is necessary for most tours, making it accessible for riders of all levels.
  • Tours can range from a few hours to multi-day expeditions, so choose based on your comfort and interest level.

10. Visit the Westfjords

What It Is

The Westfjords is a large peninsula in northwestern Iceland, often overlooked by tourists. It’s known for its rugged landscapes, steep cliffs, and remote fishing villages.

Why It’s Unique

This area is one of Iceland’s least visited regions, making it a perfect spot for those looking to escape the crowds. From the awe-inspiring Dynjandi waterfall to the red sandy beach of Rauðasandur, the Westfjords offer an untouched and authentic Icelandic experience.

Tips for Visiting

  • Consider renting a 4×4 vehicle as many roads are unpaved and can be challenging to navigate.
  • Visit the Látrabjarg cliffs for a chance to see puffins and other seabirds up close.

11. Gullfoss Waterfall

What It Is

Gullfoss Waterfall is one of the most iconic waterfalls in Iceland, located in the canyon of the Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. The waterfall is part of the famous Golden Circle route and is a multi-tiered spectacle that culminates in a dramatic 32-meter drop.

Why It’s Unique

Gullfoss isn’t just about the water. Its unique ‘staircase’ design, comprising two distinct cascades, makes it one of the most photographed natural wonders in Iceland. Moreover, on a sunny day, you can often see a rainbow forming over the falls, adding an ethereal touch to an already awe-inspiring landscape.

Tips for Visiting

  • Arrive early or late in the day to avoid the crowds that flock to this popular Golden Circle stop.
  • There are different viewing platforms, so make sure to explore them for various perspectives of the falls.
  • Wear sturdy, waterproof footwear as the mist from the waterfall can make the area slippery.

12. The Geysir

What It Is

The Geysir is a geothermal area located in southwestern Iceland, featuring a variety of hot springs, fumaroles, and geysers. The most famous geyser in the area is Strokkur, which erupts every 5-10 minutes, shooting water up to 30 meters into the air.

Why It’s Unique

The Geysir area is where the word “geyser” originated, making it historically significant in the realm of natural phenomena. Strokkur’s regular eruptions offer guaranteed spectacle, unlike other geysers that might be less predictable.

Tips for Visiting

  • Keep a safe distance from the geysers, as the water is extremely hot.
  • The best time to visit is early morning or late afternoon to avoid tour bus crowds.
  • If you’re keen on photography, make sure to have your camera ready; Strokkur’s eruptions happen frequently but quickly.

13. Fagradalsfjall Volcano

What It Is

Fagradalsfjall is an active volcano situated on the Reykjanes Peninsula in southwestern Iceland. It gained worldwide attention due to its 2021 eruption, which was the area’s first in about 800 years. The site now offers an extraordinary opportunity to witness volcanic activity up close.

Why It’s Unique

What sets Fagradalsfjall apart is its accessibility. Unlike many active volcanoes that are located in remote or difficult-to-reach areas, Fagradalsfjall is relatively easy to access from Reykjavik. This makes it a prime location for those looking to experience the power and beauty of an active volcano safely.

Tips for Visiting

  • Check current conditions and advisories before planning your visit, as volcanic activity can be unpredictable.
  • Wear heat-resistant boots and bring layers; temperatures can vary drastically.
  • It’s essential to keep a safe distance from the lava and obey any barriers or signs.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Activities in Iceland

Lesser-Known Natural Attractions

  • Seydisfjordur: A picturesque town in East Iceland, ideal for serene experiences and hiking.
  • Hvitserkur: A unique basalt stack in North Iceland, great for photography and solitude.

Cultural Experiences

  • Elf School: A Reykjavik school focusing on Icelandic folklore and elf tales.
  • Traditional Cooking Class: Learn to cook Icelandic dishes from local experts.

Local Hangouts

  • Kex Hostel Bar: A trendy bar in an old biscuit factory in Reykjavik, known for local beers and live music.
  • Mikkeller & Friends: A chic craft beer bar in a former children’s theater in Reykjavik.

For travelers looking to delve deeper into Iceland’s hidden gems, these off-the-beaten-path activities offer intriguing alternatives. From quiet natural spots to enriching cultural experiences and local hangouts, they add a unique layer to the multitude of things to do in Iceland.

How to Get To Iceland

Once you’ve made the exciting decision to visit Iceland, the next step is figuring out how to actually get there. Fortunately, the process is relatively straightforward but does require some planning. From choosing the right airline to understanding visa requirements, here’s everything you need to know about arriving in Iceland.

Flight Information

Several airlines fly to Keflavík International Airport (KEF), Iceland’s primary international gateway located near Reykjavik. Among these are:

  • Icelandair: Offers direct flights from multiple North American and European cities.
  • WOW Air: A budget option that has resumed its operations, perfect for those looking to save.
  • Other International Carriers: Delta, British Airways, and Lufthansa also have routes to Iceland, often with layovers.

Tips for Booking Flights

  • Early Bird Gets the Worm: Booking flights at least 3-6 months in advance can save you a considerable sum.
  • Use Skyscanner or Kayak: These platforms aggregate multiple airline offers, allowing you to find the best deals.
  • Consider Stopovers: Some airlines offer free stopovers in cities like London or New York, which can make your trip even more exciting.

Budget Airlines vs. Traditional Airlines

  • Budget Airlines: They offer fewer amenities but are generally cheaper. Keep an eye on additional fees for checked luggage or in-flight meals.
  • Traditional Airlines: They may be more expensive, but they often include amenities like meals, in-flight entertainment, and checked baggage.

Visa Requirements

For most travelers, entering Iceland is relatively hassle-free, but the requirements do vary based on your nationality.

  • Schengen Area Countries: No visa required for stays up to 90 days.
  • USA, Canada, Australia: Visa-free entry for up to 90 days.
  • Other Countries: Check Iceland’s Directorate of Immigration website for specific visa requirements.

Important: Always Check Visa Requirements

Visa rules can change, so it’s crucial to double-check the latest information from official sources before your trip.

Getting to Iceland is generally straightforward, but it does require a bit of prep work. Whether you’re flying budget or splurging on a premium carrier, the real adventure begins once you touch down and embark on the plethora of things to do in Iceland.

Budget and Costs

Ah, the age-old question: How much is this dream trip going to set me back? Contrary to popular belief, visiting Iceland doesn’t have to break the bank, but it’s essential to budget wisely. Here’s a breakdown of the key expenses you can expect and some savvy tips to keep costs in check.


Iceland offers a variety of lodging options to suit all budgets, but let’s be real—the country is known for being pricey.


  • Luxury Hotels: Expect to pay anywhere from $300 to $600 per night for top-end accommodations.
  • Mid-Range Hotels: Rooms generally start at around $150 to $300 per night.


  • Dormitory Rooms: Prices can range from $50 to $100 per night.
  • Private Rooms: Generally cost around $100 to $150 per night.


  • Entire Homes: Average around $200 per night.
  • Private Rooms: Can be as low as $70 to $100 per night.

Accommodation Tips

  • Book in Advance: Popular locations fill up quickly, especially during peak seasons.
  • Consider Guesthouses: They often provide a cozy, more affordable alternative to hotels.

Food and Dining

Whether you’re a foodie seeking gourmet experiences or you’re content with simple local fare, dining is a significant part of the budget.


  • Fine Dining: Expect to pay around $100 per person, excluding drinks.
  • Casual Dining: Meals can range from $20 to $40 per plate.

Local Cuisine

  • Traditional dishes like lamb stew or Plokkfiskur (fish stew) generally cost between $15 to $30.

Budget-Friendly Options

  • Local supermarkets and hot dog stands offer affordable, yet tasty, alternatives.


Getting around Iceland can be both a journey and a destination, thanks to the stunning landscapes you’ll pass.

Car Rentals

  • Prices vary greatly, starting from $50 per day for a basic car to $200 per day for a 4×4 vehicle suitable for highland roads.

Public Transportation

  • Reykjavik has a decent bus system, but public transport is limited in rural areas.


  • Group tours for popular attractions like the Golden Circle can cost between $50 to $100 per person.

Transportation Tips

  • Gas Costs: Fuel in Iceland is expensive, so factor this into your budget if you’re renting a car.
  • Bus Passes: If you’re staying in Reykjavik, consider getting a bus pass for unlimited travel within the city.

By planning ahead and making smart choices, you can experience all the incredible things to do in Iceland without spending a fortune.

Food and Drink You Must Try in Iceland

Hungry for something different? Iceland offers a range of unique culinary experiences that go beyond the standard fare. Whether you’re an adventurous eater or simply curious about local flavors, here’s your concise guide to Icelandic food and drink you shouldn’t miss.

Icelandic Delicacies

  • Hákarl: Fermented shark, known for its strong flavor and unique preparation process.
  • Pylsur: Icelandic hot dogs, usually made with a blend of lamb, pork, and beef.
  • Skyr: A yogurt-like dairy product, rich in protein and often eaten with berries or as a dessert.
  • Lamb: Often served as a stew or grilled, lamb in Iceland is renowned for its quality and flavor.

Popular Beverages

  • Brennivín: Also known as “Black Death,” this schnapps is a traditional Icelandic spirit.
  • Kókómjólk: Icelandic chocolate milk, a popular non-alcoholic choice among locals.
  • Einstök Beer: A craft beer that has garnered international acclaim, comes in various flavors.

Where to Find Them

  • Saegreifinn Restaurant, Reykjavik: Known for seafood, including hákarl.
  • Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur: A famous hot dog stand in Reykjavik for pylsur.
  • Matur og Drykkur: A restaurant in Reykjavik where you can try skyr and other traditional dishes.
  • Micro Bar, Reykjavik: A good spot to sample Einstök and other Icelandic craft beers.

Icelandic cuisine offers an array of intriguing flavors and traditional dishes that provide a deeper understanding of the country’s culture. From fermented shark to high-quality lamb and unique beverages, the food and drink landscape in Iceland is as diverse as its scenery. So when you’re looking for things to do in Iceland, make sure to add “feasting on local delicacies” to your list.

Essential Tips for First-Time Visitors to Iceland

Are you gearing up for your first Icelandic adventure? There’s no denying that Iceland is a dream destination for many, but like any foreign country, it has its own set of rules, risks, and cultural nuances. This section is your quick guide to navigating Iceland like a pro, covering safety tips, cultural norms, and the always-important topic of travel insurance.

Safety Tips

  • Weather Conditions: Iceland’s weather can be extremely unpredictable. Always check the weather forecast and be prepared for sudden changes.
  • Road Safety: If you plan to drive, be aware that conditions can be challenging, especially in winter. Consider renting a 4×4 vehicle for better safety.
  • Hiking Precautions: Never hike alone and always inform someone about your hiking plans. Make sure to have a charged phone and a map.

Cultural Norms

  • Tipping: Tipping is not a common practice in Iceland; service charges are usually included in your bill.
  • Public Pools: It’s mandatory to shower without a swimsuit before entering any of Iceland’s public pools.
  • Greetings: A simple handshake will suffice for most greetings; Icelanders are generally reserved but friendly.

Travel Insurance

  • Medical Coverage: While Iceland has excellent healthcare, it’s not free for visitors. Make sure your insurance covers medical emergencies.
  • Cancellation Policy: Given Iceland’s volatile weather, your plans may change. Opt for insurance that covers cancellations.
  • Adventure Activities: If you’re planning on activities like glacier hiking or snorkeling, ensure that your insurance covers these specific activities.

Being well-prepared can make the difference between a good trip and an extraordinary one. So, equip yourself with these essential tips to ensure a smoother, safer, and more enjoyable Icelandic adventure. These tips are not just practicalities; they’re integral to making the most of all the incredible things to do in Iceland.

Frequently Asked Questions About Visiting Iceland

So, you’ve got questions? Perfect, because we’ve got answers! These are some of the most frequently asked questions that first-time travelers to Iceland often have. Let’s dive in and clear up some common misconceptions and uncertainties.

  • Short Answer: No, the Northern Lights are generally visible from late September to mid-April.
  • Pro Tip: The darker and clearer the night, the better your chances of seeing this natural phenomenon. Consider a guided tour for the best experience.
  • Short Answer: Yes, Iceland is known for its high cost of living, affecting everything from accommodations to food.
  • Pro Tip: Budget carefully and consider options like grocery shopping and hostels to keep expenses manageable.
  • Short Answer: Yes, most Icelanders speak English, especially in urban and touristy areas.
  • Pro Tip: Learning a few basic phrases in Icelandic can be appreciated, although not necessary for getting by.
  • Short Answer: Iceland consistently ranks as one of the safest countries in the world.
  • Pro Tip: Exercise common-sense precautions like you would in any other travel destination.
  • Short Answer: Renting a car is often the most convenient way to see the country, especially for visiting remote areas.
  • Pro Tip: Public transport is available but may not connect you to all the fascinating things to do in Iceland. Look into guided tours for a more structured experience.
  • Short Answer: Citizens from the Schengen Area do not need a visa for short visits. Many other nationalities can also enter Iceland for up to 90 days without a visa.
  • Pro Tip: Always check the most current visa requirements for your nationality before planning your trip.

Helpful Resources

  • Top 15 Travel and Tourism Websites to Download in 2023
  • 7 Proven Strategies to Discover Cheap Travel Deals

The post The 13 Best Things to do in Iceland appeared first on Living Through Us.

This post first appeared on Living Through Us, please read the originial post: here

Share the post

The 13 Best Things to do in Iceland


Subscribe to Living Through Us

Get updates delivered right to your inbox!

Thank you for your subscription