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My Top 10 Places to Visit in Iceland – for Short & Long Trips

There are so many places to visit in Iceland - one of them is this glacier lagoon in the south

With this article I want to show you the best places to visit in Iceland with tips for short term visitors as well as ring road adventurers based on my own travels along the Ring Road, the Golden Circle and a bit of the Highlands.

sri-lanka_strände_karteIceland is a true dream destination for outdoor lovers & landscape photographers due its impressive, dramatic landscape. With its volcanoes, geysers, geothermal hot springs and its many waterfalls as well as glaciers it truly is the often claimed land of fire and ice.

Traveling Icelands Ring Road is the perfect way to get to know the country on and off the tourist paths. But also if you have less time you are able to see some of the coolest spots on the island with day tours e.g. the Golden Circle route.

1) Skógafoss

Of course we need to start this list with a “foss” as there is no shortage of waterfalls in this country.

The Skógafoss makes this list due to it's powerful white water curtain you can get up really close to; which makes up for some impressive photos. On top of that you can also walk up to a platform to see it from above. Located close to Vik you can easily visit Skógafoss as part of a day trip from Reykjavik. Don't forget your rain jacket!

Where to stay?
As stated you can do it as a day trip and stay e.g. at the Oddsson in Reykjavik – other cool options can be found on the overview page of Reykjavik at Booking. If you want to explore more of the area (e.g. tips 3, 5 and 7) I recommend staying in Vik: options can be found on the overview page of Vik at Booking.

Yes, it would be foolish not to bring your rain jacket…
 

2) Geysir

Located along the Golden Circle route this attraction is one of the most popular ones, just 1,5 h out of Reykjavik.

Here you get to see some splashing geysirs as well as the original geysir – the one where the word ‘geysir' is coming from (which is unfortunately dormant most of the time). The Strokkur on the other hand is very active and shoots water into the air every 6-10 minutes.

Where to stay?
This is easily doable as part of the Golden Circle on a day trip so you can stay e.g. at the Oddsson in Reykjavik – other cool options can be found on the overview page of Reykjavik at Booking.

The Strokkur is the star of the show at the Geysir hot springs along the ring road – definitely one of the places to visit in Iceland you shouldn't miss!
 

3) Vatnajökull Glacier

After cold & hot water you also need to see…of course: frozen water.

The Vatnajökull, also known as the Water Glacier in English, is the largest and most voluminous ice cap in Iceland and one of the largest in area in Europe. Seeing the glacier lagoons in the south is truly impressive. But if you want to take it a step further I recommend going on an ice cave tour where you also learn more about the glacier itself.

Where to stay?
Though you can do this as a day trip from Reykjavik I recommend staying in the south and connecting it to the many other cool sights – Vik as well as Höfn are good bases.

The Ice caves inside the Vatnajökull glacier are something else!
 

4) Highlands

An area which i wished I would have had more time for were the highlands just a bit off the Golden Circle route.

For this you should come in summer and you would need a 4×4 in order to explore the many canyons, waterfalls and mountains up here..or you go on a proper hiking trip.

Where to stay?
The Highland Center Hrauneyar is a good base to explore this region of Iceland. Make sure to book ahead of time as spots fill up quickly!

The central highlands really surprised me – I need to come back for some hikes in this area for sure!
 

5) Fjaðrárgljúfur

Because of the difficult pronounciation of the name and due to the fact that Justin Bieber made this place popular by filming a music video here..this canyon is mostly referred to as the “Bieber canyon”.

Located just 1h east of Vik this canyon quickly became on of my favorite places to visit in Iceland. Once there you should walk all the way up to a plattform which is shaped like a whale tale…there you can enjoy the best view into the canyon!

Where to stay?
Though you can do this as a day trip from Reykjavik I recommend staying in the south and connecting it to the many other cool sights. Therefore I recommend staying in Vik: options can be found on the overview page of Vik at Booking.

Fjaðrárgljúfur – try to say it 3 times!
 

6) Arnarstapi

Next is Arnarstapi located on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula, another possible day trip from Reykjavik.

Here you can see what happens when hot lava meets the cold ocean. Take your time and walk the trail along the impressive coastline where you get to see steep cliffs and columnar basalt similar to the famous Giants Causeways in Ireland.

Where to stay?
Here you stay at some cool pods a short walk away from the cliffs in a stunning surrounding. The food at the restaurant is also recommendable!

Arnarstapi was one of our first stops along the ring road, but actually it is off the ring road on the Snaefellsness Peninsula
 

7) Coastal drive in the South-East

Even though we spent 2 weeks driving around the island I totally loved the part in the south east as it is incredibly picturesque.

One of my favorite spots was Stokksnes, a headland near Hofn with wide black beaches in front of a dramatic mountain named Vestrahorn. As a photographer you can easily spend hours here.

Where to stay?
Best is to stay at the Bragdavellir cottages, we used those also as a base for our tours in the east. Another option would be the beautiful town of Höfn.

I loved to wander along the black beach of Stokksnes
 

8) Asbyrgi Canyon

Located in the north of Iceland, the Asbyrgi canyon is a bit more off the beaten path and way quieter than most of the sights as it takes some time to get here. The hike along the edge of the canyon to the waterfall makes up for the efforts, especially when you come in autumn..then the inside of the canyon is dotted with colorful trees.

Where to stay?
This place is located far up north along the so called „Diamond Circle“, here Akureyri is the town where you’ll find the biggest variety of places to stay – cool options can be found on the overview page of Akureyri at Booking.

One of the places to visit in Iceland which is more off the beaten path is the Asbyrgi canyon
 

9) Hengifoss

It's about time for antoher waterfall, don't you think?

The Hengifoss is also located remotely…but in the east of the country and it takes a little hike to get up to the third highest waterfall in Iceland. The surrounding basaltic strata with thin red layers of clay between the basaltic layers makes up for a beautiful composition.

Where to stay?
Best is to stay at the Bragdavellir cottages, we used those also as a base for our tours in the east.

The Hengifoss with its surrounding is a truly impressive waterfall
 

10) Reykjadalur

What's missing in this list of places to visit in Iceland? Right, hot springs!

For me the blue lagoon was a bit too crowded…my tip is to drive a bit out of Reykjavik to Reykjadalur, and hike up a valley filled with hot springs and mud pools. A bath in a hot river surrounded by beautiful landscape is the best reward I ever had on a steep hike and a great way to finish a trip in this beautiful country!

Where to stay?
Located very close to Reykjavik it is best to stay there – great options can be found on the overview page of Reykjavik at Booking.

Fancy a bath in a hot river? Here you can!
 

Videos of my favorite places to visit in Iceland

If you need more information about Iceland and want to know all my other recommendations of things to do in Iceland make sure to watch my video series where I take you around the island. Make sure to subscribe if you like the content – I have new videos coming for you every Thursday:

More places to visit in Iceland?

Have you been traveling in Iceland as well and have more to add to this list? Feel free to let me and others know in the comments. If you found this guide to be useful it would be awesome if you could share it or if you would link to it from your website!

 
Disclaimer: All opinions, recommendations and views are my own. This post contains Affiliate Links for services and products I’m using on my travels – therefore I can highly recommend using them. By using these links you won’t pay any additional fees!

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