Waterfalls in Iceland seem to be the main attractions and why not? They are some of the greatest in the world. However, what else is there to see? We stopped at multiple spots that didn’t have waterfalls and some of them turned out to be some of our favorite spots.
Best Places to Visit in Iceland, that you can decide if they are worth your time. With tight schedules during your vacation, I sometimes think it’s best to have an idea of the area you want to go to and then draw a big circle and see what is in that circle. These can be starting points for you!
Gatklettur Stone Arch
Located on the western coast of the island on Snaefellsnes Peninsula, Gatklettur Stone Arch has been shaped over time by the movements of the North Atlantic Ocean. With easy walking paths, parking, camping, street vendors and restaurants close by, it seems like it would be a very popular place, but it’s not. You will probably only see a couple other around and not many get too close. Climb down to the bottom to get a little closer, but don’t climb the arch itself. We have seen multiple beautiful arches fall from too many foot steps.
Reynisfjara Black Beach
One of my FAVORITE PLACES! Located on the southern coast, near the village of Vík, it’s a must stop. There isn’t much parking but it’s still a very busy place. The black lava sand was incredible and you could walk for miles in either direction. We had fun running from the waves (how is this still fun in my 30s?), exploring the coastline and looking at the basalt columns nearby. If it was a little warmer, we would have spent the entire afternoon here. It’s the perfect place for a day at the beach and lunch.
This place was incredibly beautiful. A somewhat long gravel road with twists and turns gets you to this gem. You can no longer walk through the canyon, only the sheep are allowed. Can you guess why this is? Too many tourists, trying to do stupid things. People climbed the walls, ruining rock, falling and getting hurt and disrupting the grazing and natural landscape. You can still walk to the top on a specific trail. The best views are from a drone.
Jokulsarlon Lake Glacier Lagoon
I have never seen a place like this in my life. The glaciers are immense in the background. Making it to Jokulsarlon to see the icebergs floating down the river to the ocean made us speechless. It was fun watching seals swim around and the icebergs crash into each other. Just down the road is Diamond Beach, locals hate the name, but some icebergs manage to wash ashore and you can walk among them. We didn’t make it because of RV problems. We had to push start our RV that was pointed at the ice cold water. We made it though! I would not have been happy if we ended up in that water!
There a quite a few things in the area to see and you can’t miss it as this is the turn around point to head back to Reykjavik or to continue to the north. Have fun and I suggest you leave time to stop at as much as possible.
This is along the golden ring road. There are multiple of these beautiful geysers to see and one that erupts like Old Faithful in Wyoming. It’s a popular place with a lot of parking and a grocery store across the road. You will be overwhelmed by the smell!
This was one of our last stops and we spent quite a bit of time here, even though there wasn’t much to do but relax and take in the views. We were one of three cars, since it does say 4×4 only since it’s a rough road. We wandered around, had lunch and just sat for a bit taking in our last day. I wish we could have spent the night there, but with the no boondocking rules, no such luck. During the right season, the famous puffin birds will be here, but we were too late in September.
Stay tuned for our next post of Free Things to Do in Reykjavik. You are in town, but you can still enjoy the city by foot and on a budget!
We Missed This And Are Bummed
UNESCO World Heritage Site. Pingvellir National Park. One of only two places in the entire world where you see two of earth’s tectonic plates meeting above the surface. North American and Eurasian plates. Moving apart only 2 cm/year. You can snorkel and dive between the plates. Silfra is the most popular ravine with crystal clear water.
We had planned on Seljavallalaug Hot Springs, but it didn’t work out. We have heard hit or miss regarding this location, but the pictures look amazing. Let us know if you have made it!
Should You Visit The Blue Lagoon?
Everyone knows about it and everyone goes, but what is the Blue Lagoon really like? It’s an experience that I would not tell you to miss, but also tell you that you can. Expensive, crowded and not natural. It’s crazy from start to finish. The locker room, location to drop your towel, the Lagoon. This is for general admission. You can pay quite a bit more for a quieter spot, but it’s over $150/person. The color is beautiful, but you will be reminded that you are soaking in hot water that is filled with washed off face masks, dropped drinks, etc. The parking lot has room for about 20 tour buses. When you sign up you have to pick your time and so you think maybe it’s a bit more organized and not as crowded, but the amount of people they let in each time frame, is not in the low digits.
So again, it’s an experience that I would not tell you to miss, but also tell you that you can.
Question we get a lot?
How do you find the best places to visit in Iceland? Honestly, I look at Instagram and google first. We live in a time where you can “see” what you are going to go look at first, to decide if it is worthy of your time. Some may balk at this, but when you have a set amount of time, as most people do on vacation, it can help narrow down where you are going to go and what you are going to see. Some people say it’s part of the adventure, but if you have 5 days, you don’t want your time spent trying to figure out where to go. So then you might look at itineraries of what other people do or Frommer’s suggestions. I would rather pick and choose and create my own itinerary. That is what I find to be fun!
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