20 Unmissable Attractions in Iceland

The stunning Gullfoss waterfall is just one of many must-see sights in Iceland
The stunning Gullfoss waterfall is just one of many must-see sights in Iceland | © Michele Orallo / Unsplash
Photo of Camille Buckley
1 September 2021

With waterfalls and glaciers, geothermal landscapes and awe-inspiring rock formations, Iceland is bursting with unmissable natural attractions. Mainly found by road trip, hike or tour guide, these extraordinary sights are sure to leave a lasting impression.

You can now book your adventure to Iceland with us, and check out the most stunning places in the country on Cuture Trip’s five-day, small-group Iceland tour.


Natural Feature
Strokkur Geyser, Geysir, Iceland
See geysers in action at the Geysir hot spring area | © Robert Wyatt / Alamy Stock Photo

The Geysir hot spring area, part of the Golden Circle tour, comprises a dozen boiling pits. The most active of these, Strokkur, spouts every few minutes to heights of up to 30m (98ft).


Natural Feature
You'll find these rock formations at Dyrhólaey in the south of Iceland | © Sung Shin / Unsplash

Located close to Vík, the southernmost village in Iceland, these rock formations offer spectacular views.

Ásbyrgi canyon

Natural Feature
Asbyrgi Canyon, Vatnajokull National Park, Iceland
There are many interesting basalt formations within Ásbyrgi canyon | © ARCTIC IMAGES / Alamy Stock Photo

This horseshoe-shaped canyon in the north is said to be the hoof print of Odin’s horse in Norse mythology. Within the canyon are numerous hiking trails and interesting basalt formations.


Natural Feature
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Full-Day Tour
Jökulsárlón is filled with striking blue icebergs | © GetYourGuide

This glacial lake in southeast Iceland contains luminous blue icebergs, calved from the largest glacier by volume in Europe, Vatnajökull.


Natural Feature
Svartifoss is framed by columns of black basalt to stunning effect | © Lucas Marcomini / Unsplash

This 12m (39ft) waterfall, inside Vatnajökull National Park, is framed by black columnar basalt. You can take a short hike from the visitor centre to get remarkably close to this unique sight, one of the smaller examples to be found among Iceland’s numerous waterfalls.

Lake Víti

Natural Feature
magnificent icelandic landscape with scenic volcanic lake viti, krafla
The crater in which Lake Víti lies was formed by a volcanic eruption | © LightField Studios Inc / Alamy Stock Photo

This crater was formed during a prehistoric eruption, yet Víti itself was formed during another eruption in 1875. Víti’s colour ranges from milky green to pearly blue and can be bathed in after making the steep descent down into the crater to its shores.


Natural Feature
Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
© Daniel Viñé Garcia / Getty Images

This black-pebble beach on the south coast features the majestic Reynisdrangar basalt sea stacks and a pyramid-shaped basalt column.


Natural Feature
Gullfoss is a multi-tiered waterfall in southwest Iceland | © Sarah Thz / Unsplash

The river Hvitá forms this multi-tiered waterfall in southwest Iceland. It is part of the popular Golden Circle tour and is equally stunning in all seasons.


Natural Feature
Lava outcrops at Dimmuborgir, near Lake Myvatn in northern Iceland.
Dimmuborgir is a labyrinth of black lava | © travellinglight / Alamy Stock Photo

Located next to Lake Mývatn in the north, Dimmuborgir (“dark castles” in Icelandic) is a labyrinth of black lava formed into towering caves and formations created over 2,300 years ago.


Natural Feature
Rauoasandur, Westfjords, Iceland
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

This stunning golden-red beach on Látrabjarg Peninsula in the Westfjörds is a serene setting, where the sand appears to be glowing on a sunny day.


Natural Feature
Dettifoss is one of Europe's most powerful waterfalls | © Richard Dorran / Unsplash

Dettifoss is one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls, and is located in northeast Iceland. The huge force of water forming the fall comes from Vatnajökull glacier. The waterfall was used in the opening scene of the 2012 science fiction film Prometheus.


Natural Feature
Columnar basalt outrcop, Dverghamrar (Dwarf Cliffs), near Foss, Iceland
These basalt formations are a protected national monument | © Efrain Padro / Alamy Stock Photo

With a name meaning “dwarf rocks” in Icelandic, these peculiar columnar basalt formations are a protected national monument. The extensive fracture network creates a multifaceted display.


Natural Feature
Frozen lavas field in the geothermal valley Leirhnjukur, near Krafla volcano, Iceland, Europe. Landscape photography
The Krafla area features a fascinating array of colourful sediment deposits | © Ivan Kmit / Alamy Stock Photo

This Martian landscape created by geothermal activity in the north of Iceland has a fascinating array of colourful sediment deposits, and intriguing accompanying smells.

Mývatn Nature Baths

Natural Feature
Jaroboeoin thermal bath, Myvatn Nature Baths, the Blue Lagoon of the North, Norourland eystra region, or north-east region
© imageBROKER / Alamy Stock Photo

A smaller version of the popular geothermal Blue Lagoon spa in the south, Mývatn Nature baths offer a similar experience in a serene atmosphere.


Natural Feature
Mt Herdubreid in winter, snowcovered, seen from farm Moedrudalur located between lake Myvatn and Egilsstadir,  northeast Iceland.
Herðubreið is a flat-topped mountain in the Central Highlands | © Andreas Werth / Alamy Stock Photo

Considered the Icelandic national mountain, and sometimes called “the queen”, this flat-topped mountain in the Central Highlands is the sole figure rising from the surrounding desert.


Natural Feature
Take a hike up Mount Esja
Take a hike up Esja | © Theo Moye / Alamy Stock Photo
This is the mountain that dominates the skyline north of Reykjavík. The hike to the top is a relatively easy one and offers great views of the surrounding area.

The Arctic Henge

Natural Feature
Skaftafell glacier and mountains, Vatnajokull National Park in Iceland. Nice day over the Iceland's largest glacier.Amazing Iceland nature seascape p
The Arctic Henge towers over the village of Raufarhöfn | © Michal Balada / Alamy Stock Photo

Towering over the village of Raufarhöfn in eastern Iceland is the sundial known as the Arctic Henge, a long-term work still under construction. The structures have been placed in accordance with allusions found in Icelandic folklore and mythology.


Natural Feature, Park
© Meng Ji / Unsplash

Within Snæfellsjökull National Park lies this glacier-capped volcano, used by Jules Verne in his 1864 novel A Journey to the Center of the Earth. It can sometimes be seen all the way from Reykjavík.

Kjarvalstaðir Art Museum

Kjarvalstaðir Art Museum exhibits work by renowned Icelandic artists
Kjarvalstaðir Art Museum exhibits work by renowned Icelandic artists | Courtesy of Reykjavik Art Museum

Opened in 1973, this building is a fine example of Nordic modernism and displays a permanent collection of one of Iceland’s most celebrated landscape painters, Johannes S Kjarval (1885–1972).

These recommendations were updated on September 1, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

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