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Aurora borealis flying over the Artic Henge, Iceland | © Ken Phung/Shutterstock
Aurora borealis flying over the Artic Henge, Iceland | © Ken Phung/Shutterstock
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20 Unmissable Attractions in Iceland

Picture of Camille Buckley
Updated: 20 December 2017

From waterfalls to glaciers, places of geothermal activity to awesome rock formations, these inspiring attractions are mainly to be found by road-trip, hike or tour guide, such is the nature of Iceland’s attractions. On this small island just over 100 square km in size, these monumental attractions leave a lasting impression.

Geysir

The Geysir Hot Spring area, part of the Golden Circle tour, comprises of a dozen boiling pits; the most active of which, Strokkur, spouts every few minutes to heights of 30 meters.

Dyrhólaey

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

The Cape Dirkholaey in the South of Iceland | © kavram/Shutterstock

The Cape Dirkholaey in the South of Iceland | © kavram/Shutterstock

Ásbyrgi Canyon

This horseshoe-shaped canyon in the North is said to be the hoofprint of Odin’s horse in Norse Mythology. Within the canyon are numerous hiking trails and basalt formations.

Jökulsárlón

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

Svartifoss

This 12-meter high waterfall is framed by black columnar basalt. Located inside Vatnajökull National Park, you can take a short hike from the visitor’s center to get remarkably close to this unique waterfall, one of the smaller ones to be found among Iceland’s numerous waterfalls.

Lake Víti

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

Reynisfjara

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

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.

Thingvellir valley, Iceland | © Doin/Shutterstock

Thingvellir valley, Iceland | © Doin/Shutterstock

Gullfoss

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.

Gullfoss waterfall in Winter, Iceland | © Ikuni/Shutterstock

Gullfoss waterfall in Winter, Iceland | © Ikuni/Shutterstock

Dimmuborgir

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.

Dimmuborgir, Iceland | © Napatsan Puakpong/Shutterstock

Dimmuborgir, Iceland | © Napatsan Puakpong/Shutterstock

Rauðasandur

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

Golden beach, Iceland | © dixkom/Shutterstock

Golden beach, Iceland | © dixkom/Shutterstock

Dettifoss

The force of water forming one of Europe’s most powerful waterfalls in Northeast Iceland is coming from Vatnajökull glacier. The waterfall was also used in the opening scene of the 2012 science fiction film, Prometheus. 

Dettifoss waterfall, Northeast Iceland | © Thanapol Tontinikorn/Shutterstock

Dettifoss waterfall, Northeast Iceland | © Thanapol Tontinikorn/Shutterstock

Dverghamrar

Meaning ‘Dwarf Rocks’ in Icelandic, these peculiar columnar basalt formations are a protected national monument. The extensive fracture network creates a multi-faceted display.

Dverghamrar sea eroded basaltic columns, South Iceland | © Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Dverghamrar sea eroded basaltic columns, South Iceland | © Felix Lipov/Shutterstock

Krafla

This martian landscape of geothermal activity in the North of Iceland holds a fascinating array of colorful sediment deposits and accompanying smells.

geothermal valley Leirhnjukur, Myvatn lake, Krafla, Iceland | © Creative Travel Projects/Shutterstock

geothermal valley Leirhnjukur, Myvatn lake, Krafla, Iceland | © Creative Travel Projects/Shutterstock

Mývatn Nature Baths

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

Myvatn Naturebaths, a geothermal hot lagoon in Northeast Iceland | © Ververidis Vasilis/Shutterstock

Myvatn Naturebaths, a geothermal hot lagoon in Northeast Iceland | © Ververidis Vasilis/Shutterstock

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.

Esja

This is the mountain range that dominates the skyline North of Reykjavík. The hike to the top is a relatively easy one and offers great views of the surrounding from the top.

Mount Esja, Iceland | © Baraar/Shutterstock

Mount Esja, Iceland | © Baraar/Shutterstock

The Arctic Henge

Towering over the village of Raufarhöfn in East Iceland is the sundial known as The Arctic Henge, a long-term work still in process. The structures are placed in accordance to allusions found in Icelandic folklore and mythology.

Aurora borealis flying over the Artic Henge, Iceland | © Ken Phung/Shutterstock

Aurora borealis flying over the Artic Henge, Iceland | © Ken Phung/Shutterstock

Snæfellsjökull

Within Snæfellsjökull National Park lies this 1,200-meter high glacier, used by Jules Verne in his 1864 novel A Journey To the Center of the Earth.

The base of Snaefellsjokull volcano, Iceland | © Israel Hervas Bengochea/Shutterstock

The base of Snaefellsjokull volcano, Iceland | © Israel Hervas Bengochea/Shutterstock

Kjarvalstaðir Art Museum

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