The top things to do in iceland - the most beautiful sights
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Top things to do in Iceland: 35 beautiful sights to see [+ map]

There are many sights in Iceland - one of the most beautiful destinations in the world. Few places in the world captivate visitors like the rugged volcanic island in the Atlantic. What to see in Iceland?

Glaciers, mountain massifs, volcanoes, rugged coasts and beaches like in the South Seas. The starting point for most Iceland trips is Leifur Eiríksson Airport near Keflavik, close to the Icelandic capital Reykjavík. We tell you which sights and "Must See’s" you have to see in Iceland.

You should plan at least seven days to see the top attractions in Iceland. However, 14 days or more is better. During this time, you can drive around Iceland on the Ring Road. The Ring Road goes around most of the island and takes you from one highlight to the next. If you have more time, you can also explore the Westfjords with its great sights.

You can find all the highlights on our Iceland map.

Updated on 09.10.2022
Biggi & Flo from the travel blog Phototravellers

Our top sights in Iceland at a glance

Here you will find a small overview of our top 10 attractions that you must see on your trip to Iceland:

Kirkjufell mountain with the waterfall in the foreground
Iceland enchants with many beautiful sights like the Kirkjufell mountain. Here are the places you have to see on a trip to Iceland
  1. The Northern Lights
  2. Reykjavík
  3. The “Blue Lagoon
  4. The Þingvellir National Park
  5. The Geysir geothermal area in the Haukadalur valley
  6. The Gullfoss
  7. The Snæfellsjökull National Park
  8. The mountain Kirkjufell
  9. The stone arch Gatklettur
  10. The ferry ride from Brjánslækur to Stykkishólmur

Saving tips for Iceland: Here you can find cheap rental cars in Iceland* and here cheap flights to Iceland*. We also recommend the free Mastercard Gold* for your trip.

Map with all top sights in Iceland

Check out our interactive map with an overview of the top sights in Iceland. Where to visit which sightseeing you can see here:

Tip: Here you can find 40 of our most beautiful Iceland pictures for free download.

Iceland Tip: The Golden Circle

View of the waterfall faxi with colorful clouds
The waterfall Faxi (Vatnsleysufoss) is also in the catchment area of the Golden Circle, but it is not as crowded as the famous sights on the main road

If you’re only spending a few days in Iceland, you should at least drive the Golden Circle. In Icelandic, the route is called Gullni hringurinn, which translates as the golden ring or the golden round trip.

The idea of the golden round trip probably originated in an advertising agency. The Golden Circle is not a rigidly fixed route, so variations are quite possible. The Golden Circle is located in the southeast of the island and is, depending on the variation, a round trip of about 300 kilometers. The tour can be done with a rental car (check prices here*) in one (long) day.

With some stops and small hikes, you can also take two or three days for the Golden Circle. The most famous places to see on the Golden Circle route are the National Park Þingvellir, the geothermal area Haukadalur and the “Golden” waterfall Gullfoss. Here you will find all the important information about the Golden Circle in Iceland.

1. The Aurora Borealis in Iceland

Photographing Northern Lights in Iceland
Northern lights appear in many different forms. When composing your image, make sure to include a foreground or main subject
Northern lights over the Hvítserkur on Iceland
Auroras light up the sky above the bird cliff Hvítserkur – one of the top things to do in Iceland

The auroras are the main reason to travel to Iceland, besides the impressive landscape. You never forget your first aurora borealis. We always like to remember the cold polar nights when the colorful lights shine in the sky. When the auroras dance in the night sky, it’s an unforgettable experience that captivates even the Icelanders.

When can you see auroras in Iceland? Unfortunately, you can’t schedule the auroras (unlike other sights on the volcanic island). The best chance to see the Northern Lights in Iceland is from mid-September to early April. In the summer months it doesn’t get really dark on Iceland. Unfortunately, the northern lights are not visible then.

Tip: Here we tell you 15 simple tips to photograph auroras. In addition, you will find the ultimate guide for breathtaking landscape photos.

2. Reykjavík – Iceland’s capital city

View from Perlan to Reykjavík
The view from the Perlan to Reykjavík with the imposing church Hallgrímskirkja is really incredible!
The concert house Harpa inside
What’s in Reykjavík to do? The Harpa is one of the most awesome things to do there!

Iceland’s capital Reykjavík is, of course, one of the iceland’s top things to do and favorite travel destinations. You should plan at least half a day to explore the city.

Especially worth seeing are for example the church Hallgrímskirkja (Website), the main shopping street Laugavegur, the concert hall Harpa and the famous sculpture Sun Voyager. It is simply fun to stroll through Reykjavik. Here you can find all interesting places and top sights in Reykjavík.

View of Reykjavík from the tower of Hallgrímskirkja
View of Reykjavík from the tower of Hallgrímskirkja

Where to stay in Reykjavík – our very special hotel tips

The Sandhotel by Keahotels (check prices here*) is one of the best hotels in Reykjavík. If you want to treat yourself, this is the place to go. Also, highly recommended is the 4-star Alda Hotel Reykjavík (check prices here*). The hotel is very centrally located and some of the rooms have a sea view.

A little cheaper, but also very good are the Reykjavik4You Apartments (check prices here*). Especially the modern furnished rooms are convincing. By Icelandic standards, you can stay at the I Sleep Reykjavík Guesthouse (check prices here*) for a very reasonable price. The 101 Guesthouse (check prices here*) is also inexpensive, good and centrally located.

3. The “Blue Lagoon” – worth seeing it?

The Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous sights in Iceland
The Blue Lagoon is one of the most famous things to do in Iceland – Photo: Depositphotos by Steve_Allen

The Blue Lagoon (Website) is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Iceland. There is probably hardly a visitor who does not plan a day in the Blue Lagoon.

The Bláa Lónið, as the Icelanders say, is a huge thermal outdoor pool near Reykjavík. The Blue Lagoon is best known for its blue-colored water (diatoms are responsible for this) and rugged lava rocks. Clearly, it’s a unusual thing to do in Iceland!

A visit to the lagoon, which is open all year round, is definitely a highlight. However, admission is very expensive: the cheapest ticket starts at 38 euros per person (as of June 2020). With access to the retreat spa (four hours), you have to expect at least 309 euros.

Biggi in a hot spring in Iceland
What to do here? Clearly enjoy the bath in the Birkimelur Pool, as Biggi did in the photo- it’s a really fun thing to do!

If you’re looking for solitude, you’re better off visiting one of Iceland’s many hot pools (an unforgettable experience).

⭐ Recommended Iceland Travel Guides

Are you as fascinated by Iceland’s rugged landscape as we are? Then get your first piece of vacation home in advance. Browsing through travel guides will fuel your anticipation of your vacation and allow you to immerse yourself in the new country in advance. We can recommend the following travel guides: Have a look at 100 Tips for Visiting Iceland (get it here*) and Lonely Planet Iceland 12 (Travel Guide) (get it here*).

4. Þingvellir National Park

The Öxarárfoss pours in the impressive landscape
Öxarárfoss is one of the top things to do on the “Golden Circle” route and one of the most famous sights in Iceland

The 237 square kilometer Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park is part of the famous “Golden Circle” route. Especially worth seeing is Öxarafoss, which is only a few minutes away from the parking lot. Thanks to a ramp, even wheelchair users can marvel at this natural wonder without any problems. Of course, Öxarafoss should not be missing from our list of top sights.

The highlight, however, are the crevasses and gorges created by the drifting apart of the American and Eurasian tectonic plates. Divers can go diving* in the national park between two continents, in the famous Silvra Rift. This is a rift that is several kilometers long. The water in the rift is so clear so you can also go snorkeling in the Silvra Rift*.

The national park is also home to Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland (although this is disputed among experts).

Also, worth seeing are the Thingvellir Church and the ruins of old stone houses. From the 10th to the 18th century, the Alþing, Iceland’s parliament, met here.

5. Geyser geothermal area in Haukadalur valley

Hot spring in the Haukadalur geothermal area
A hot spring in the Haukadalur geothermal area- an impressive thing to do in Iceland!
This is what the Strokkur looks like when it erupts
The Strokkur in the hot water valley Haukadalur. The geyser shoots a huge water fountain into the sky every few minutes. In the immediate vicinity are still many hot springs and everywhere it stinks terribly of rotten eggs- yet an activity you must experience in Iceland! 

Another highlight in Iceland is the geyser geothermal area in the Haukadalur valley, also part of the Golden Circle. Everywhere it bubbles and bubbles. In front of the Strokkur geyser, people wait for it to erupt.

This happens about every ten minutes and is a real experience. You can also hike in the volcanic area – for example to a nearby hill with a great view.

6. The Gullfoss

The mighty Gullfos is worth a trip
The huge Gullfoss is a must-see on every trip to Iceland

Gullfoss (Google Maps) consists of two waterfalls, 20 and eleven meters high. The water rushes into the depths with a deafening noise. Gullfoss is part of the Golden Circle and is one of the most famous things to do in Iceland.

From the parking lot, a well-maintained path leads directly to the waterfall. Rain gear and a rain cover for the camera belong here in the backpack.

Directly at Gullfoss you can also book a small expedition. It goes with an all-terrain vehicle, which was once a rocket launcher, up a glacier. By snowmobile you will drive to an ice cave*.

7. Snæfellsjökull National Park

Rocks at Djupalonssandur in the sea
What’s to see at Djúpalónssandur? There are whimsical rocks in the sea – a really cool highlight!

Snæfellsjökull National Park is an absolute highlight in Iceland. There is an incredible amount to see here and the landscape is indescribably beautiful. One of the top things to do in Snæfellsjökull National Park is the black sand beach Djúpalónssandur. Scattered along the beach are ancient, rusty parts of a fishing trawler that capsized in 1948, the British “Epine“.

From the edge of the 109-meter-high crater Saxholl you have a great view of the surroundings. The hike only takes about 10 to 15 minutes and is doable for everyone.

Snaefellsjokull National Park is absolutely worth seeing
The landscape in Snaefellsjokull National Park is a breathtakingly beautiful thing to do in Iceland!

Skarðsvík Beach enchants with white sandy bays almost like in the Caribbean. If you don’t have glacier ambitions, Snæfellsjökull National Park is easy to explore by car.

8. The mountain Kirkjufell – the most famous photo spot

Kirkjufell with waterfall at sunset
Kirkjufell mountain with the waterfall in the foreground is one of the most beautiful and famous sights in Iceland- one of the best places on the island!

Kirkjufell mountain (Google Maps) with Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall in the north of Snæfellsnes peninsula is one of the most impressive sights on Iceland.

The mountain rises 463 meters into the sky and is a popular photo motif for photographers. Kirkjufell is particularly impressive in the morning or in the evening, when the low sun makes the sky glow in colorful shades. A visit is also worthwhile at night, when auroras dance in the sky.

Northern lights over Kirkjufell
An unforgettable experience: auroras over Kirkjufell – One of the most stunning things to do in Iceland!

Every morning and every evening hundreds of photographers gather here to capture this spectacle. You should be there early to get a good spot. But with the sight of this breathtaking nature, it’s no wonder.

The top of Kirkjufell can even be reached on foot (with climbing passages). However, the paths are often hardly recognizable, steep, narrow and also very exposed. There have already been some fatal falls of careless tourists here. The mountain tour is therefore reserved for extremely experienced mountain hikers with the right equipment.

9. The stone arch Gatklettur

The stone arch Gatklettur
The stone arch Gatklettur is another top thing to do in Iceland, which is also easy to reach

The rugged basalt coast between the towns of Arnarstapi and Hellnar in the south of the Snæfellsnes peninsula is guaranteed to be a destination worth seeing. A top highlight here is the stone arch Gatklettur (Hellnar Arch).

Take the time to explore the coast on the wide hiking trails – you will be thrilled.

10. Ferry ride from Brjánslækur to Stykkishólmur

A Ferry in Iceland
The ferry docks in Brjánslækur

The car ferry ride from Brjánslækur on the Westfjords to Stykkishólmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula (or vice versa) on the impressive coast of Iceland is an unforgettable experience and should not be missed on any vacation in Iceland.

Halfway the ship docks in the port of Flatey. Flatey is the largest island in the fjord Breiðafjörður (and still very small). You can disembark on Flatey and continue with the evening ferry. In the summer months from June to August this is possible every day. The rest of the year it is only possible on certain days (see ferry schedule).

The island Flatey on Iceland
The view from the ferry to the small island Flatey- a beautiful thing to do in Iceland!

The car is taken care of by the ferry staff. Flatey is completely free of cars. If you want to explore Flatey, be sure to let them know before you check in. Flatey is one of the cultural highlights of Iceland. The Flateyjarbók is one of the most famous medieval Icelandic manuscripts and was kept on the island for a time. This is where the compilation manuscript of many sagas got its name. In addition, some movies were filmed on Flatey.

11. The glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón & the Diamond Beach

Glacial lake Jokulsarlon in the morning light
The glacier lake Jökulsárlón is one of the top attractions on Iceland. You simply must have seen this place

The glacier lagoon Jökulsárlón (Google Maps) in the south of Iceland is located directly on the ring road and is one of the absolute “Must See’s” on your sightseeing tour through Iceland.

Huge icebergs float in the glacial lake, which changes its face from day to day, indeed from hour to hour. Due to the direct connection to the icy Atlantic Ocean, gigantic chunks of ice are torn into the rough sea again and again.

Very worth seeing is therefore also the Diamond Beach at the mouth of the glacier lake into the Atlantic. The best photos are taken in the morning, when the sun is low above the horizon.

Depending on the season, weather and tides, it can happen that there is no ice at all on the beach – we have experienced that as well. Other days you’ll find truck-sized chunks of ice here.

Glacial lake Jökulsárlón in blue light
The glacier lake is especially beautiful during the blue hour- an incredible thing to do in Iceland!

At the point where the glacier lake Jökulsárlón is connected to the Atlantic Ocean, there are huge chunks of ice, depending on the tides

Icechucks as diamonds on the glacier lake Jökulsárlón
Icechucks as diamonds on the glacier lake Jökulsárlón

Good to know: Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon and beach are part of Vatnajökull National Park – drone flights are prohibited here.

12. Skógafoss – one of the most beautiful waterfalls

The Skógafoss in Iceland
Skógafoss is one of the most famous and beautiful waterfalls in Iceland- a cool thing to do in Iceland!
The Skógafoss sight by night
While Skógafoss is overrun by visitors during the day, at night you are almost alone at this beautiful place – a wonderful thing to do in Iceland!

Skógafoss waterfall (Google Maps) plunges 60 meters into the depths and is one of the top highlights in Iceland. At the edge of the waterfall, a well-developed hiking trail with steps leads to the edge of Skógafoss. The power of the water can be felt everywhere.

The spray whips in your face, the roar of the water deafen your ears, and the earth shakes at the volume of water rushing down Skógafoss second by second.

But even from the foot of the waterfall, this place is something very special. Here, however, just during the day a lot of people bustle.

Tip: If you hike to the edge of the waterfall very late in the evening or very early in the morning, you have a good chance of having Skógafoss all to yourself. At these inhuman hours, there are usually only a few photographers at this easily accessible top attraction.

13. The Dettifoss

View of the Dettifoss
The Dettifoss is an absolutely impressive thing to do in Iceland!

Dettifoss (Google Maps) is not to be missed on our list of top sights. With a roar, the waterfall plunges 45 meters into the depths. Dettifoss – which means falling waterfall in German – carries more water than any other waterfall in Europe.

But you should not be afraid of water. The spray will soak anyone who comes near the waterfall. Rain gear is highly recommended for a visit.

Selfoss from the side with magical stones
Only in short distance to Detifoss lies Selfoss – another incredible waterfall

Only a stone’s throw away from Dettifoss is Selfoss. With a drop of ten meters, Selfoss is tiny compared to Dettifoss – but quite impressive. Since both waterfalls are located directly on the road, there is always a lot of activity here.

Tip: Be sure to make a stop at nearby Selfoss. With a drop of ten meters, Selfoss is tiny compared to Dettifoss – but quite impressive.

14. Whale Watching in Húsavík

Whale fin in the sea in Iceland
With a little luck you will get to see whales on Iceland. This alone makes a trip to the volcanic island worthwhile and a spectacular thing to do in Iceland!

If you travel to Iceland, you should stop in the small town of Húsavík (Google Maps) and take part in a whale watching tour. There are several whale tour providers in the harbor of this small town in northern Iceland.

The chance of seeing one of the imposing marine mammals is great. The providers advertise sighting rates of over 90 percent. However, you should not hope that the giant marine mammals will swim close to your own boat. That’s why you should pack a telephoto lens.

You can book your whale watching tour* in Húsavík in advance here. In the high season it can be difficult to get a free place on one of the boats.

15. Vatnajökull National Park

The wacky structure at Svartifoss is a highlight in Iceland
A wide hiking trail leads to Svartifoss. After about an hour through the lush vegetation, you’ll be standing at the base of the twelve-meter waterfall

The Vatnajökull National Park in the south of Iceland is with 4800 square kilometers really huge and a real Eldorado for hikers and adventurers. Even those who want to take it a little easier will have a great time in Vatnajökull National Park. Skaftafell National Park was incorporated into Vatnajökull National Park in 2008 and is, of course, still a popular destination and an interesting place for Icelandic vacationers.

An absolute highlight is a guided glacier hike* in the national park – this is an unforgettable experience.

Often there is not enough time to explore the national park extensively. An absolute “must do” is the easy family hike to Svartifoss – one of the top sights on the island.

Another highlight, also easily accessible, is the 24-meter high Hundafoss (Google Maps). Just below the waterfall, there is a small clearing from which you have a great view of the waterfall.

You should also make a stop at the Skaftafelljökull glacier lagoon (Google Maps). Skaftafellsjökull is a ten-kilometer-long and about 2.5-kilometer-wide glacier tongue of Iceland’s largest glacier Vatnajökull. Ice is working everywhere, chunks of ice are constantly breaking off into the brown glacial lake and disturbing the peace.

The glacier tongue Skaftafelljökull 
A hike above the glacier tongue Skaftafelljökull is an unforgettable experience- a fantastic thing to do in Iceland!

A hiking trail leads along the glacier and gives you impressive views. After about 15 minutes, however, the path becomes quite demanding. Under no circumstances should you try to get onto the glacier! A plaque at the entrance to the trail commemorates the sad fate of two German young men who have been lost until today.

16. Goðafoss

The Goðafoss is absolutely impressive
Goðafoss is located right on the Ring Road and is a popular destination. The waterfall is only twelve meters high, but proud 158 meters wide and thus belongs to the top sights on the island

The Goðafoss (Google Maps) is located directly on the ring road – accordingly, it is always crowded at this top sight. The waterfall is with “only” twelve meters height of fall at first glance not particularly spectacular. But this is only true until you stand at Goðafoss for the first time.

Goðafoss in the morning light
Goðafoss in the most beautiful morning light. For us this is one of the most beautiful things to do in Iceland

The waterfall is 158 meters wide. To get the whole waterfall on the photo, you should pack a wide-angle lens.

17. The Seljalandsfoss

The Seljalandsfoss in IcelandSeljalandsfoss is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland
Seljalandsfoss in the evening with view over the landscapeThe highlight is that you can walk behind the waterfall
Biggi in front of the SeljalandsfosThe waterfall is thus of course one of the top Instagram spots in Iceland

Anyone traveling in Iceland must make a detour to the 60-meter-high Seljalandsfoss (Google Maps) in the south. The waterfall is one of the most beautiful on the island.

The highlight is the short hiking trail that leads behind the waterfall. You’ve definitely never seen anything like it – not even on Iceland. Rain gear is a must-do if you don’t want to get soaked in the spray of the waterfall.

18. The beach of Reynisfjara

Coast near Vik on Iceland
The Reynisfjara Beach is incredibly beautiful – but also dangerous

Reynisfjara Beach near Vik (Google Maps) is another awesome thing to do in Iceland that no visitor should miss. The sheer endless lava beach, steep cliffs and huge lava rocks in the sea make this place so special.

The basalt rocks Reynisdrangar
HHere you can also find the basalt rocks Reynisdrangar, which are very worth seeing

Directly on the beach, however, caution is advised! Visitors have to expect unexpectedly (!) big waves at any time, even in calm weather, which crash as if from nowhere onto the beach and in the worst case drag you into the rough sea. There have already been tragic deaths here.

If you want to see the breathtaking landscape from the air, then a tandem paragliding flight over Vik i Myrdal* is a good option. A little insider tip is the Volcano Katla ice cave tour* from Vík. Katla volcano is located inside the famous glacier Mýrdalsjökull.

19. The Stokksnes Peninsula

Lava beach on the peninsula Stokksnes
The black lava beach on the Stokksnes peninsula is an absolute stunning thing to do in Iceland that you should definitely see

The Stokksnes peninsula was an insider tip in Iceland for a long time. Due to the many great pictures on Instagram, Stokksnes is now a top spot for all Iceland travelers.

This place is gorgeous and it’s just fun to walk along the black lava beaches and watch the birds in flight. Please pay special attention to nature here. Don’t step on any plants and don’t leave any garbage.

You have to pay a few euros entrance fee – but it is definitely worth it.

20. The “mosquito lake” Mývatn

Lake Mývatn is located in the north of Iceland and is also worth a visit. The landscape is beautiful and an Eldorado for photographers.

In the northeast of the “mosquito lake” lies the small village Reykjahlíð. From here numerous day trips start into the closer environment, for example to the bath cave Grjotagjá. The water temperature is about 45 degrees – but due to the danger of falling rocks, bathing in the cave is prohibited nowadays.

A highlight is also the thermal bath Mývatn Nature Baths (Website) – a worthwhile alternative to the Blue Lagoon.

Small maw in the geothermal area Hverarönð
In the geothermal area of Hverarönð you will find the wackiest shapes and colors- a beautiful thing to do in Iceland

In addition, the geothermal area Hverarönð is located in the immediate vicinity of the mosquito lake. Everywhere it bubbles and steams.

Colorful springs wherever the eye looks and the smell of sulfur creeps into the nose and immediately triggers an escape reflex. The landscape is breathtakingly beautiful.

Tip: From the top of the 482-meter-high Námafjall you have a great view over the geothermal area. The ascent from the south side is relatively steep and rough, so that many visitors turn back here. However, the climb is worth it just for the view of the Hverarönð thermal area. The ascent and descent on the north side is much easier because it is less steep.

21. The basalt rock Hvítserkur

The basalt rock Hvítserkur
Hvítserkur is one of the top attractions in Iceland
Sunrise at Hvítserkur
The sun is shining through the rock. This is exactly what I had been waiting for- a really impressive thing to do in Iceland!

The imposing basalt rock Hvítserkur (Google Maps) is nesting place of numerous bird species. According to legend, the 15-meter high Hvítserkur is a troll that was petrified by the sun. The rock is a real celebrity in Iceland and should not be missed on your sightseeing tour.

In 1990, Hvítserkur was even featured on an Icelandic postage stamp. If you hike from the parking lot to the beach, you should wear sturdy shoes and no flip-flops. The descent over fine gravel is not to be underestimated!

22. The puffins at Cape Bjargtangar

Cape Bjargtangar in the morning light
Cape Bjargtangar is not only the westernmost point of Iceland, but is also considered the second most western point of Europe after the Azores – an incredible thing to do in Iceland!

Cape Bjargtangar (Google Maps) is the most western point of Iceland and is considered the second most western point of Europe. Cape Bjargtangar is a true Eldorado for bird watching. Hundreds of thousands of puffins, gulls, guillemots and razorbills breed in the cliffs, which drop steeply several hundred meters, during the summer.

The highlight is the puffins. Puffins are excellent swimmers and dive up to 60 meters deep. If you are seriously interested in wildlife photography, leave the hustle and bustle at the parking lot, follow the trail for 15 to 20 minutes and go “puffin hunting” with your telephoto lens.

Puffins in Iceland
Puffins are best seen at Cape Bjargtangar and are one of the best things to see in Iceland. Wildlife photographers have a great time here

The best time to see puffins in Iceland is during the summer months. The water birds are in Iceland from about mid-April to the end of August. Puffins spend the rest of the year on the open sea.

A young Arctic foxes in the remoteness of the Westfjords
A young Arctic foxes in the remoteness of the Westfjords

If you are lucky, you may even see young Arctic foxes in the remoteness of the Westfjords. We had this luck in September

There is also a beautiful lighthouse waiting for photographers at Cape Bjargtangar.

23. The highland road Kaldadalsvegur

In former times the 40 kilometers long Kaldadalsvegur was declared as F-highland road. Today, the road (road number 550) can be driven in good conditions by a normal car without four-wheel drive.

Stream in the Kaldidalur valley from the top
This stream flows through a field of solidified lava

The highland road Kaldadalsvegur is a real tip for those who want to experience the highlands without an expensive four-wheel drive vehicle.

The Kaldadalsvegur stretches through this breathtaking landscape
The Kaldadalsvegur runs through this breathtaking landscape- a stunning thing to do in Iceland!

The gravel road leads through a breathtaking landscape. In the distance you can see huge glaciers. Then you drive again through areas where there is nothing far and wide. For us, the highland road is one of the top attractions in Iceland.

24. The Dynjandi Foss

The Dynjandi Foss is a popular photo motif
The Dynjandi Foss is one of the top things to do in Iceland

Dynjandi Foss (Google Maps), which means “the rushing one,” is located on the West Fjords and plunges 100 meters into the depths. At its base, the waterfall is 60 meters wide. A well-maintained hiking trail leads right up to the waterfall.

Dynjandi Foss with person in front of it
A person is just tiny compared to the huge waterfall

For photographing it is a good idea to take one of the numerous smaller waterfalls as foreground. But even without a small waterfall in the foreground, Dynjandi Foss is a great photo motif that should not be missing on any trip to Iceland. To visit the Westfjords, however, you need to bring a little time with you.

25. The Brúarfoss

The Bruarfoss is the most amazing waterfall in Iceland.
The Brúarfoss is not the biggest, but one of the most beautiful waterfalls on Iceland and was an insider tip for a long time. In the meantime, the impressive waterfall is quite well known and the destination of numerous vacationers- a really cool thing to do in Iceland!

To get to Brúarfoss, you have to hike for about an hour. The often very muddy hiking trail leads partly along the river, but to a large extent also through bushes and over a road. This hike is not a pleasure.

But Brúarfoss is one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. A bridge leads over the river – the view of the crevice through which the clear water rushes is indescribably beautiful. Also, worth a detour is the nearby Midfoss, which is also fed by the river Brúará.

26. The volcanic area of Hveradalir

Hiker in the volcanic area Hveradalir
The size comparison with the hiker shows impressively how big the area is- an absolutely impressive thing to do in Iceland!

While the top attractions on the Golden Circle are often hopelessly overcrowded during peak season, you’ll still find real solitude in the highlands. This is also due to the fact that there are almost no overnight accommodations here and you need – by law – a four-wheel drive vehicle to drive the F-tracks in the highlands. Unfortunately (or fortunately, given the crowds that flock to Iceland), this is very expensive in Iceland.

The volcanic area Hveradalir is an absolute sight to see
The volcanic area Hveradalir belongs for us to the top sightseeings on Iceland

One of the most beautiful areas in Iceland is the Hveradalir volcanic area. You can follow the highland road F347 (a branch of the F35) by car and park nearby. You can also hike from Kerlingarfjöll Mountain Resort for about an hour. The trail leads through a lunar landscape. An unforgettable experience.

It is important to check the weather here! Even at relatively accessible sights, tourists die again and again when they are surprised by a sudden change in the weather and do not have the appropriate hiking equipment for the harsh conditions in Iceland.

27. The Glymur

The Glymur is Iceland's highest waterfall
The Glymur plunges 196 meters into the depths and is one of the top things to do in Iceland

Glymur (Google Maps) was considered Iceland’s highest waterfall until 2007 and is another top sight you should see on your Iceland trip.

The hike to Glymur, which plunges 196 meters, is gorgeous but relatively challenging. On the six-kilometer-long hike, you have to climb 500 meters in altitude.

In parts it goes relatively steeply upwards, many places are secured with a rope. But don’t worry, the rope has really only been installed because many completely inexperienced hikers apparently set out on the tour – there is no real danger here.

Good to know: Today, Morsárfoss is considered Iceland’s highest waterfall, with a drop of 227 meters. Morsárfoss is located in Vatnajökull National Park and was actually only discovered in 2007. The waterfall itself can only be reached via a glacier – so it’s not for the “normal” Iceland tourist.

28. The Hraunfossar

The Hraunfossar waterfalls are very popular
The Hraunfossar is one of the most popular destinations in the west of Iceland- an extremely beautiful thing to do in Iceland!

The Hraunfossar waterfalls are virtually right on the road and are one of the top day-trip destinations in Iceland. A well-maintained path leads along the waterfalls.

A little further away is also Barnafoss – a beautiful waterfall, but not as spectacular as the really big waterfalls in Iceland.

29. The plane wreck at the beach of Sólheimasandur

Plane wreck on Iceland
A popular photo motif is this airplane wreck. A rather rugged gravel road leads to the crashed Douglas C-47 Skytrain, but it is not allowed to drive on it by car anymore- yet a really cool thing to do in Iceland!

At the beach of Sólheimasandur there is an old airplane wreck (GPS: N 63 27.546, W 19 21.889 – Google Maps), one of the most photographed photo motifs in Iceland. The place with the wreck is not visible from the main road.

A rather rugged and really desolate gravel road (now closed to private cars) takes you in about an hour (four kilometers) to the wreck, a crashed Douglas C-47 Skytrain. For about 15 euros, you can also take a shuttle bus that will take you to the wreckage and back in 15 minutes.

The United States Navy plane went down on November 24, 1973, and the crew survived. The scenery with the broken plane in this inhospitable area is reminiscent of a doomsday movie, where a whole horde of rampaging zombies can descend on you at any second.

30. Insider Tip: The Háifoss

With a drop height of 122 meters, the imposing waterfall Háifoss should not be missed on any trip to Iceland. It is the third highest waterfall in Iceland after Morsárfoss and Glymur. Nevertheless, the waterfall is more of an insider tip than one of the most popular destinations on the island. But for us it is an absolute highlight and a stunning thing to do in Iceland.

The Háifoss and Granni waterfall in Iceland
Háifoss (on the left side) is Iceland’s third highest waterfall, but it is relatively little visited compared to the other well-known waterfalls and is therefore almost considered a secret place – a really cool place to visit!

The easiest way to get to Háifoss is via road 332, which leaves road 32. Above the waterfall there is a parking lot (Google Maps), from which you can quickly stand above this impressive natural wonder.

Right next to Háifoss, by the way, is the hardly less imposing Granni waterfall.

31. The mud springs of Gunnuhver

The mud springs of Gunnuhver
The mud springs of Gunnuhver are definitely worth seeing and a cool thing to do in Iceland!

The hot springs of Gunnuhver volcano (Google Maps) are another amazing thing to do in Iceland. The mud springs are the largest in Iceland. Steaming and bubbling everywhere, sickeningly fragrant sulfur smells reminiscent of rotten eggs rise to your nostrils.

The steaming and bubbling springs are a great experience not to be missed.

32. The coast of Dyrhólaey

Rock arch in the sea on the coast of Dyrhólaey
From the cliff you have a great view of this rock arch in the sea – a beautiful thing to do in Iceland!

The coast of Dyrhólaey (Google Maps) is another beautiful place you should see. There are huge stone bridges in the sea, and the mile-long beach is jet black. From the Dyrhólaey lighthouse, which you can also reach by car, you can enjoy a magnificent distant view over the south coast of Iceland.

Tourists look from a cliff over the coast of Dyrhólaey
Isn’t this view breathtaking? Clearly one of the best things to see in Iceland!

33. The Aldeyjarfoss

The Aldeyjarfoss has probably hardly an Iceland traveler on the to-do list. Yet the waterfall in the Icelandic highlands is well worth seeing. There is a parking lot directly at the waterfall. However, the access road, the F26, is reserved for vehicles with four-wheel drive.

The Aldeyjarfoss on Iceland
The Aldeyjarfoss is located on a highland road and is therefore not accessible by a normal car- yet an incredible thing to do in Iceland!

Without a four-wheel drive vehicle, a short hike (about an hour each way) to the impressive waterfall is recommended. If you take road 842 from the north to the end, you will inevitably come across the F26. On foot, it is another four (unfortunately very desolate) kilometers. During our visit, the road was so good that the route would have been easily doable with a normal car – it is still forbidden.

34. Landmannalaugar

Colorful mountains in Landmannalaugar area in Iceland
The landscape in the valley Landmannalaugar is breathtaking – a really stunning thing to do in Iceland!

The highland valley of Landmannalaugar is another great sight you shouldn’t miss. This magical place is considered one of the most beautiful in all of Iceland. You can expect colorful mountains and a huge spring where you can swim (for free). The area is also a paradise for hikers. There is a large campground right next to the spring.

You can reach the Landmannalaugar region from Reykjavík via ring road 1 and gravel road 26, which leads past the imposing volcano Hekla. From road 26 the F225 (Landmannaleið) leaves, which leads to the F208. Finally, you follow the F224 – among other things through a river – to the camp.

A four-wheel drive vehicle is required. Moreover, you can reach Landmannalaugar with your own car only in the summer months. In the harsh Icelandic winter, you must join a guided tour for safety reasons.

35. The Hengifoss

The Hengifoss in Iceland
Hengifoss is a popular photo spot in Iceland, but not as crowded as other sights on the island – it’s a really cool thing to do in Iceland

At 118 meters, Hengifoss is Iceland’s fourth highest waterfall and one of the top attractions in the east of the island. From the parking lot on road 931, a path leads quite steeply up to Lake Lagarfljót. From here you not only have a great view of the impressive waterfall, but also enjoy a breathtaking Icelandic panorama.

Travel tips for Iceland

Iceland is always worth a trip! In summer it is light throughout and the winter months are characterized by darkness. On the other hand, with a bit of luck, the landscape will shine with the aurora borealis.

If you are on Iceland for the first time, you should first tackle the Ring Road. 14 days are the minimum to enjoy the journey on the ring road. If you are traveling with a tent, you should do the round trip counterclockwise. The background: In the south of the island it is usually drier than in the north. If you travel counterclockwise, you’ll save the wet rainy days for the end of the trip and your clothes might stay dry a little longer.

If you already know the top sights on the Ring Road and the coast, you’ll always find new highlights in the island’s highlands. To get to the highlands, however, a (very expensive) four-wheel drive vehicle is mandatory. In addition, you should make sure that your rental company explicitly allows trips into the highlands. Violations are very expensive.

Getting to Iceland

A trip to Iceland usually starts at Leifur Eiríksson Airport near Keflavik (Google Maps), close to the capital Reykjavík. By the way, the Icelandic airline Icelandair has a very special offer: On the flight from Europe to Canada or the USA – or vice versa – you can make a free stopover of up to seven days on Iceland. We also flew with Business Class with Icelandair.

If you want to explore Iceland with your own car, the only option for you is the car ferry. The Smyril Line ferry leaves from Hirtshals in Denmark. On the journey you can even make a stopover on the Faroe Islands.

You should be seaworthy, though. The ship is at least two days on the way. And also, the price is not that cheap. In the high season you pay as a single traveler with a normal car in the cheapest 6-person cabin significantly more than 1000 euros, for two you have to expect at least another 500 euros surcharge.

Where to stay in Iceland

The cheapest way to stay overnight on Iceland is in a tent. There are campsites all over the island that don’t cost much. At the hotspots, campsites are often well equipped with showers and hot water. Off the beaten path, there are many simple campsites that usually have little or no amenities, but some are even free to use.

Wild camping is allowed in Iceland if you follow a few simple rules. First, you should always look for signs that may prohibit camping. Otherwise, you may pitch a small tent for one night in inhabited areas on undeveloped land if there is no campsite nearby.

In uninhabited areas, you may pitch your tent for one night on government or private undeveloped land. Wild camping is prohibited in national parks and some other specially designated areas. Exactly which areas those are can be found here.

As always, don’t leave anything but footprints (and don’t leave them on sensitive plants!!!). Please take your garbage back with you and leave absolutely nothing (no butts, no paper and not even a banana peel!!!) in nature.

Hotels of course offer more comfort, but are very expensive in Iceland.

Tent under northern lights on Iceland
Tent under northern lights on Iceland

We have been traveling with a tent for years – also on Iceland. By the way, a real purchase tip is the MSR Hubba Hubba NX 2*.

Cheap rental cars on Iceland

Iceland is a very expensive travel destination. This also applies to rental cars. Who takes the risk and chooses an insurance cover with excess, pays for a small car in the main season per week around 300 euros. If you want to cover all risks, you have to reckon with at least 600 euros per week.

Always make sure you don’t have a mileage limit. If you drive around the island on the ring road, you will cover some kilometers. If you have greater expectations and want to travel with a mid-range car, you will quickly put 800 euros for a week on the table. Very good offers can be found on the comparison portal*, which we often use for our trips.

By the way, here we tell you what a trip to Iceland costs. In addition, you will find some great savings tips in the article.

Facts and figures about Iceland

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