10 Iceland Tourist Attractions for Nature Lovers and Adventure Seekers
Are you looking for an adventure to remember? Iceland boasts some of the most breathtaking natural wonders in the world. From majestic waterfalls to geothermal hot springs and glaciers, there is something for everyone on this Nordic island.
If you're planning a trip to Iceland but don't know where to start, TourDesk has got your back! With its user-friendly platform and extensive list of attractions, you can easily create your own itinerary or join one of the guided tours. In this article, we'll explore some of the top tourist attractions on TourDesk so you can make the most out of your Icelandic adventure.
Whether you're a nature lover or a history buff, Iceland's diverse landscape and rich culture will leave you spellbound. So grab your camera and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through Iceland's stunning scenery with TourDesk as your guide!
Reykjavik is the capital city of Iceland and one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. It offers a unique blend of cosmopolitan culture and stunning natural landscapes, making it an ideal destination for those who want to experience both worlds.
The city has several museums, art galleries, restaurants, and cafes that cater to all tastes and preferences. The iconic Hallgrimskirkja church dominates the skyline and provides breathtaking views of Reykjavik from its tower. Additionally, there are many picturesque parks where visitors can relax or take a stroll while enjoying Iceland's scenic beauty. One of them is Hljómskálagarður downtown Reykjavik around Tjörnin (Reykjavík pond). Another one is called Miklatún (a.k.a. Klambratún) located midway between downtown Reykjavík and the shopping mall Kringlan. On the edge of Miklatún, you can find Kjarvalsstaðir art museum, with paintings and sculptures from well known Icelandic painters. 1.3 km or around 20 minutes walk from Miklatún, you can find Öskjuhlíð hilltop pine & birch forest with walking paths and panoramic views of the city. On top of the hill is Perlan Museum, which offers ongoing exhibitions, including Wonders of Iceland with an indoor ice cave, Northern lights and glaciers.
Reykjavik also serves as a gateway to other Iceland tourist attractions such as the Golden Circle which includes Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. Visitors can easily book tours from Reykjavik to explore these must-see destinations.
Overall, Reykjavik is undoubtedly one of the top Icelandic attractions that should not be missed by travelers visiting the country.
2. The Golden Circle
If you're planning to visit Iceland, the Golden Circle is the most popular day tour destination. The route covers around 300 kilometers and includes three primary stops: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. It's an excellent way to experience the natural beauty of Iceland in one day.
Did you know that more than 600,000 people visited the Golden Circle in 2019? That's almost double the population of Iceland! This statistic speaks volumes about how popular this destination has become over the years. The sheer number of visitors may seem overwhelming at first glance, but it also shows just how breathtaking this route is.
In Thingvellir National Park, you can walk between two tectonic plates and see some stunning landscapes. In the Geysir geothermal area, you will see bubbling mud pots and spouting hot springs that will leave you speechless. Finally, Gullfoss waterfall offers a dramatic view of water cascading down into a canyon.
It's no wonder why so many tourists flock to the Golden Circle every year. With its mix of geological wonders and picturesque views, it's truly an unforgettable experience. And while there are plenty of other attractions to explore in Iceland, visiting the Golden Circle is near the top of the list for many travelers.
3. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
If you're looking for something truly breathtaking, then the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon is definitely worth a visit. Located in South East Iceland, this stunning glacier lagoon is a favorite for many travelers on their trips to Iceland.
As you explore the area, keep your eyes peeled for seals bobbing around amongst the icebergs, they're a common sight here! You can take a boat tour out onto the lagoon itself or simply admire its beauty from one of the nearby beaches. Either way, you won't be disappointed by what you see!
In addition to being incredibly beautiful, Jökulsárlón also plays an important role in climate research. The glacier lagoon is constantly changing due to melting caused by climate change, making it an important site for scientists studying environmental shifts.
There's so much more to discover about Iceland beyond its famous Golden Circle route. So why not venture off-the-beaten-track and experience some of the country's lesser-known gems? With places like Jökulsárlón waiting to be discovered, you won't regret it!
4. Lake Mývatn and Surroundings
Located in the north of Iceland, Mývatn is a volcanic lake surrounded by incredible geological formations. The area is known for its unique landscape of bubbling mud pots, steam vents, and lava fields. Mývatn is also a popular spot for birdwatching, with over 115 species of birds living in the area.
But the lake itself is not the only attraction there. Dimmuborgir is a lava field in the area, characterized by towing rock formations, twisted lava pillars and eerie caves. There is even a church there, entirely made by nature. The name Dimmuborgir translates to something like “Dark Castles” and it is easy to let your imagination carry you away inspired by the strange shapes and formations all around. Hikers and nature lovers should not miss Dimmuborgir when traveling in North Iceland, it is a landscape that looks like it’s made in a fantasy novel.
Mývatn Nature Baths are man made by using the abundant geothermal energy in the area and has sometimes been called "the Blue Lagoon of North Iceland". Some people find it much nicer though, being smaller and with less people.
If you drive a little further north from Mývatn Nature Baths, over a small mountain, you will see another symbol of the geothermally active region, Námaskarð. Boiling mud pots, steaming vents and fumaroles are there to greet visitors, but please don’t get too close! The landscape is barren and otherworldly, with yellow and orange mineral deposits covering the ground and adding to the surreal atmosphere. The sulfuric smell can be overwhelming, reminding you of a terrible smell of fart. Maybe that’s nature’s way to tell us not to get too close.
Known as the whale-watching capital of Iceland, Húsavík is a charming fishing town located on the north coast. Visitors can take a boat tour to spot humpback whales, minke whales, dolphins, and more. Húsavík is also home to a beautiful wooden church that dates back to 1907.
Húsavík is where the first house in Iceland was built, in the year 860 by the Swedish viking Garðar Svavarsson. It is well suited as a base if you want to take day trips to some of the major attractions of the North, including Lake Mývatn, Dettifoss and Ásbyrgi canyon.
If you need a place to relax and enjoy the ocean view over the ocean and the Arctic Circle, visit Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths located at the outskirts of Húsavík.
Located in Vatnajökull National Park, Dettifoss is one of the most powerful waterfalls in Europe. The waterfall is 100 meters wide and drops 45 meters into a narrow canyon. The sheer force of the water creates a mist that can be seen from miles away.
If you like hiking, you can enjoy a scenic 34 km trail from Dettifoss to the next destination on our list, Ásbyrgi canyon.
This horseshoe-shaped canyon is located in Vatnajökull National Park and is believed to have been created by a catastrophic flood thousands of years ago. The canyon is filled with lush vegetation and is home to a variety of wildlife, including reindeer and Arctic foxes.
There are many nice hiking trails through the vegetation in Ásbyrgi and at its deep end is a beautiful pond called Botnstjörn. If you hike a bit further up into the cliff, you can see a magnificent view of the area.
This stunning canyon Stuðlagil is located in the east of Iceland, 52 km or around a one hour drive from Egilsstaðir and is famous for its unique basalt columns that line its walls of the. Visitors can hike along the river that flows through the canyon or take a boat tour to explore the area.
As Jökla is a glacial river, the color of the water flow changes depending on the season. In spring, when the snow starts thawing, the river turns gray-brown. In summer, the color is green to gray. The canyon is 500 m long and the basalt columns on both sides are 20 to 30 m high. The nature around Stuðlagil is stunning.
Located on the western coast of Iceland, around two hours drive from Reykjavík, Snæfellsnes is a peninsula that is often called "Iceland in miniature" due to its diverse landscapes. Visitors can see everything from black sand beaches and rugged coastline to glaciers and volcanic craters.
Snæfellsjökull is a mysterious glacier that appears in Jules Verne’s novel, Journey to the Center of the Earth. In 1993, a news report stated that aliens had announced their arrival to Snæfellsjökull on a certain day, as there were some people claiming this at the time. A significant group of people believed in the story and went there to represent earthlings and greet the aliens, wanting to show them Icelandic hospitality. Unfortunately, the aliens never showed up, but who knows what the future has in store for Snæfellsjökull.
Kirkjufell mountain has become famous on Instagram, which is more than most Icelandic mountains can say, even though many of them are no less impressive. The town of Stykkishólmur is cute and under heavy Danish influence with its colorful style of houses.
10. Látrabjarg Bird Cliffs
This dramatic cliff Látrabjarg is located on the westernmost point of Iceland and is home to a huge population of seabirds, including puffins. Visitors can hike along the cliff and watch the birds nesting in the cliffs.
It is a 14 km long line of cliffs that reaches up to 441 meters up in the air. Shockingly steep as well, meaning walking along the edges is not for the faint of heart or anyone with fear of heights. The edges are fragile and the fall is high, do not get too close. The birds are fearless since there are no foxes there to scare them, providing great photo opportunities.
Iceland is a country that is filled with natural wonders and breathtaking landscapes. From waterfalls and canyons to whale watching and bird watching, there are plenty of tourist attractions to explore during your visit. So make sure to add these top destinations to your itinerary and experience the beauty of Iceland for yourself.