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14 Life-Changing Experiences You Can Only Have in Iceland

14 Life-Changing Experiences You Can Only Have in Iceland

Picture of Camille Buckley
Updated: 5 February 2018

Many people find themselves interested in coming to Iceland because of some sense of wonder and awe induced by the sight of such a mysterious landscape. With this landscape being the main draw people have to this place, it wouldn’t be surprising to find that the longing to experience that wonder and awe in real life could coincide with a life-changing experience. If it is a deep encounter with natural elements, like you’re a character in a Caspar David Friedrich painting (since nature is culture too, especially in Iceland), or an amazing night of dancing followed by an aurora sighting, Iceland could whip up a life-changing experience or these fourteen of them all at once.


Icelandic pony | © Erin Honeycutt

Landscape paintings

Check out Kjarvalstaðir in Reykjavik, an art museum devoted to the beloved Icelandic landscape painter, Johannes Kjarval, whose works may invite you to see the real landscape in a totally new perspective.

Drive the Ring Road

Road trips can be pretty life-changing depending on a number of factors, including the people you´re sharing the journey with, the music you’re listening to, and the weird hitchhikers you pick up on the way.

Dip in an outdoor hot spring

In many hidden places in Iceland, you can find pools of natural rock formations in which a geothermal pool has formed. Immersed in the earth in such a way could make you feel alive in a whole new way.

Watch the aurora

The sight of the aurora shimmering in white and an array of neon colors can be completely mesmerising and awe-inspiring since it really is like nothing you can imagine and is very hard to describe to someone who has never experienced it first hand.

See a geysir erupt

The Geysir Hot Spring area has a dozen boiling pits; the most active of which, Strokkur, spouts to heights of 30 metres — a remarkable sight!

Dyrhólaey rock formation

This sculptural formation on the south coast is quite indescribable. Viewing this window shaped from the coast has an extremely transporting, timeless effect.

Jökulsárlón glacial lake

This glacial lake in Southeast Iceland contains luminous blue icebergs, calving from the largest glacier by volume in Europe, Vatnajökull. The sight of these huge masses of ice eddying themselves ever so slowly in the lagoon as they make their way from being part of a glacier to melting in the sea is quite a sight! Keeping in mind why they are calving from the glaciers is equally potent for a life-changing experience.

View the waterfalls

Iceland is covered in amazing waterfalls. Svartifoss, for example, is 12 metres high and framed by black columnar basalt. Located inside Vatnajökull National Park, it is only one of the many among Iceland’s numerous waterfalls.

Swim in Lake Víti

This crater, formed during a prehistoric eruption, was itself formed during an 1875 eruption. Víti’s colour ranges from milky green to pearly blue and can be bathed in after traversing the steep descent to its shores. Getting to it is quite the journey as it is in the remote highlands in central Iceland.

Walk through Þingvellir National Park

This wonder is the site of the world’s first democracy in 930 AD. Fittingly, it is also where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet. This historically significant place can bring many insights as you walk through the moss coloured canyon.

Gaze at Herðubreið

Considered the Icelandic National Mountain, and sometimes ‘the Queen’, this flat-topped mountain in the Central Highlands is the sole figure rising from the surrounding desert. A truly incredibly sight from a long distance or from the view on top.


Within Snæfellsjökull National Park lies this 1200 metre high glacier, used by Jules Verne in his 1864 novel A Journey To the Center of the Earth. Like the science fiction classic that uses the location for its mythical entryway, the place itself holds a similarly mythical quality.

Tvísöngur Sound Sculpture

This site-specific sound sculpture designed by German artist Lukas Kühne is located near the artistic haven Seyðisfjörður in East Iceland. Built out of concrete, the five domes of varying sizes are interconnected and correspond to the Icelandic musical tradition of five-tone harmony. The sculpture, built in 2012, is always open and can be reached by a short walk from the village. If you want a life-changing experience in how you witness sound, this is the place.

Samúel Jónsson Art Museum

In the remote valley of Sélardalur in the Westfjörds, this unusual collection of sculptures and paintings by outsider artist Samúel Jónsson can be found. The reclusive farmer turned artist passed away in 1969. Scattered around a museum and a chapel the artist built himself, the collection is now maintained by independent and government organisations and represents the artist’s rich imaginative life.