Iceland. The Ultimate Guide to the Most Popular Destinations

Atlantic puffin

Iceland is known for several things, including sheep, natural hot springs, black sand beaches, volcanoes with hard-to-pronounce names, and rugged scenic landscapes. It’s hard to cover all the tourist attractions in one trip, which is why you need a solid planned itinerary for you and your family. And the trip to Iceland can be expensive as well. 

However, for budget travelers, all the nature excursions are free, including the national parks and waterfalls. Therefore, you can save money by planning a backpacking tour to visit the most famous scenic locations in Iceland. 

Attention: Game of Thrones fans! The series was extensively filmed in parts of Iceland to demonstrate the harsh climate of the North. Tourists can book guided tours to take a behind-the-scenes time of the location. 

Iceland is almost safer than any other country for women, with crime rates being super low. I believe the beauty of Iceland lies in its welcoming people and nature. So let’s dive right into the most touristy attractions to visit in Iceland without further ado. 

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon is considered the most iconic and no. 1 destination to visit in Iceland. Here, you’ll find open-air bathing in the sublime milky-blue waters of the famous geothermal hot spring pool. The water is said to contain skin-healing powers and minerals that give it the shimmering hue. Blue Lagoon is a luxurious place to lounge and rejuvenate that you must visit before you depart the country. This volcanic region is set in the middle of a lava field and, personally speaking, a bit overhyped. But, thanks to social media, blue lagoon gets thousands of visitors every year!   

Blue Lagoon Iceland

Photo by Benjamin Rascoe on Unsplash

Chase the Waterfalls

The magnificent two-tier Gulfoss waterfalls are situated around a 90-minute drive from Reykjavik. The waterfall cascades in stages down a rocky slope, with the lower one cascading about 21 meters. You can admire this beauty from afar. And, beware! There are no railings or fencing to keep you protected, so always exercise caution and enjoy the spectacular scenery arched over by rainbows amidst natural surroundings.

Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfalls are the must-see landmarks after Gulfoss. Skogafoss is remarkably majestic, and visitors can climb up the stairs to witness the incredible views of the area. 

Seljalandsfoss waterfall is the only Icelandic fall where you can walk behind the falling water. Prepare to get wet, as this experience will leave you amused and drenched for sure. The Seljalandsfoss waterfall is a magical place, so don’t forget to miss out on walking behind the waterfall.

Gulfoss Iceland

Photo by Mark Male on Unsplash

Golden Circle

By far, the most sought-after and famous destination for tourists in Iceland is the so-called Golden Circle. Formerly referred to as the Golden Triangle, it consists of Thingvellir National Park, Gulfoss waterfall, and Geysir area with a highly active Strokkur geyser. 

You can observe the continental divide, the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, when you visit Thingvellir National Park. Tourists can witness the opening between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America. The national park is a splendid location best for hiking and camping. Make sure to stock up on snacks as the hike can get tiresome. 

Then comes the Golden Water, Gulfoss that we discussed in the previous section. It’s a must-visit landmark in Iceland. 

Geysir area is a geothermal area where you can see Geysir – the mother of all geysers. Although Geysir is not active for a long time, make sure to visit the small geyser known as Strokkur that erupts every 5-10 minutes. You cannot miss a geyser erupt while in Iceland, and this one will not make you wait for long!

geysir Iceland

Photo by Mauro-Fabio Cilurzo on Unsplash

Whale Watching

Iceland is the home to approximately 20 different whale species and also dolphins. In addition, whaling is an Icelandic culture for centuries. Whenever you plan to visit Iceland, whale watching occurs all year long. Summer is the best time to see these majestic gentle giants. And, Husavik deserves mention for being the best place to go for whale spotting. Numerous famous whale watching tours running from Husavik, where there is an 80-95% chance of seeing the massive creatures right near your boats. 

The town is cozy and picturesque, plus there’s a must-visit whale museum that features a blue whale skeleton. Relish the fresh seafood for dinner in the local rustic restaurants on the harbor. 

whale watching Iceland

Photo by Chris Yang on Unsplash

Aurora Borealis

While visiting Iceland in the summer months is in your best interest, choose to go during the latter months of October to March to see the awe-inspiring natural phenomenon – Northern lights or Aurora Borealis. Scientifically speaking, this natural light show is associated with solar winds and the flow of ions entangled in the earth’s magnetic field, colliding with the atmospheric molecules to produce bursts of energy. Witnessing the Northern lights is a wildly popular activity on avid traveler’s bucket lists. 

Seemingly hard to capture, the northern lights are only visible during the dark winter days in remote places with clear sky and little light pollution. As a result, the colors are not always intense and if you’re a nature photographer, invest in a camera capable of getting 2 minute long exposures. 

The Kirkjuffel mountain is a strikingly popular location to see the northern lights in winter. You must have seen the image of Mt. Kirkjuffel on Instagram at least once. 


Photo by Joshua Earle on Unsplash

Black Sand Beaches at Reykjavik

Black sand beaches are easily the most irresistible thing to see in Iceland, and rightfully so! The stunning Vik beaches are the most visited areas in the country on the southern coastline. The beach was once ranked in the top ten most spectacular non-tropical beaches in the world. A tip for you guys, do not miss the Dyrholaey lighthouse along the rocky coast. A word of warning: the waves are unpredictable here, and it’s dangerous to walk closely to the water. 

black sand beaches Iceland

Photo by Chris Ried on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

Iceland is the ideal destination for your next trip, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time traveler. There is so much to do; you will never run out of thrill-seeking activities and adventures. A friendly reminder – Icelanders tend to use credit or debit cards more than cash, eliminating the need to carry too much money with yourself. The plugs are Type F; thus, it’s best to bring a universal adapter at all times. 

The country of Iceland is beautiful, the air is clean, and the landscapes remain unspoiled for endless adventures to come. Hence, book your trip in advance to get affordable deals!

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