An island of stark natural beauty, Iceland is up there among the world’s greatest bucket list destinations. And you can see why it’s an eternal favourite for those looking to tick off the planet’s must-see places.
Iceland’s attractions have all been dosed in Mother Nature’s magic. Waterfalls, fjords, volcanoes, icebergs and black-sand beaches make up the landscape here. Married with ancient history and fun-loving locals, it’s a charming destination for all types of travellers.
Here’s our pick of seven things to do in Iceland if you’re after bucket list experiences.
1. The Blue Lagoon
Iceland’s no stranger to thermal baths and this is the most famous of them all. Sulphur-stench aside, the Blue Lagoon is the stuff of dreams. Snow-dusted mountains rise in the distance, steam rolls off the surface and the sky-blue water gleams in the sunlight. The al fresco geo-thermal spa is nestled within a lava field, which creates a spellbinding backdrop Relax into the rejuvenating seawater, which hovers around the 38°C mark, and enjoy a cleansing mud mask while soaking up the views.
2. The Golden Circle
This iconic road trip loops around the island’s showstopping landscapes and delivers you to some of the country’s most epic natural attractions. Hire a car and motor along this scenic circuit at your own pace to tick off Iceland’s big hitters. You can watch boiling hot water shoot from the ground at Geysir and marvel at thundering waterfalls at Gullfoss, to name but two experiences on the route.
3. Vatnajökull National Park
Iceland has national parks galore but this is one of the biggest and best. Vatnajökull’s landscapes are diverse and devastatingly beautiful, so don’t forget your camera! While you can wander to your heart’s content here, it’s best to book activities to experience its top treasures. Walk on the largest glacier in Europe or discover ancient ice caves – these jaw-dropping beauties need to be seen to be believed.
4. Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir National Park is where you can get a dollop of history. It’s here you can discover the remains of Althing, the world’s oldest parliament that dates from the 930 CE when the Vikings ruled the land.
Whereas if you’re an adrenaline junkie, head beneath the water and dive to the Silfra Fissure – the space between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. These mesmerizingly-clear waters have visibility for more than 100 metres, providing a once-in-a-lifetime glimpse into an underwater abyss.
You can’t come to Iceland without spending a bit of time in its capital, Reykjavík. A jovial spirit runs through its streets, manifesting in a buzzy food and drink scene that’s perfect for refuelling after a day exploring. Dig into freshly-netted seafood or a reindeer burger and wash it down with Icelandic craft beer that’s all the rage here. Afterwards, you can join a pub crawl or seek out a gig, whether it’s a DJ spinning the decks or live band rocking out.
6. Northern Lights
Time your trip right and you can be in with the unique opportunity to witness the Northern Lights, also known as Aurora Borealis. During winter months, this astonishing feat of nature ripples through the night sky, with streaks of green, purple and pink dancing high above your head. A clear night sky is needed, along with a spot well away from light pollution. It’s best to book onto an excursion led by a local expert who knows where and when to find the Northern Lights.
7. West Fjords
Remote and hauntingly beautiful, this is where Iceland’s unspoilt scenery hits a high note. Head to this far-flung part of the island to experience the solitude of its wilderness, where you can wander for miles without coming across another soul. The 99-metre-high Dynjandi waterfall is one of the top things to see. You can simply amble coastal paths and admire what unfolds before you or take to one of the geothermal pools that look out to sea.
Posted: 14th Apr 2020. Updated: 7th Mar 2023.