Ten top things to do in Iceland

Iceland has a reputation for being an expensive travel destination - but when you see just how stunning the island is, you might decide it's money well spent! Our newest contributor Camha Pham checks in with ten top things to see and do on a visit to this shimmering jewel...

Ten top things to do in Iceland

Ten top things to do in Iceland. Image: Photodune

Ten top things to do in Iceland

For most of us Iceland is synonymous with the 2010 Eyjafjallajökull volcanic eruption that disrupted global flight paths, national bankruptcy and – perhaps most famously – being the home of Björk.

However, it’s the sheer, incomparable beauty of Iceland’s vast landscape that will leave you spellbound long after your visit comes to an end.

Here are ten top things to do in Iceland.

Ten top things to do in Iceland

Reykjavik

Explore Reykjavik

Iceland has just 320,000 (approximately) inhabitants and 120,000 of them reside in the capital Reykjavik. But the comparatively small population doesn’t prevent Reykjavik from being a dynamic and cultured city.

Boasting a sublime arts, literary, music and bar scene, Reykjavik offers something for everyone. The legendary ‘runtur’, the round tour of the town’s pubs and bars, runs on weekends, so be sure to put on your Icelandic sweater and prepare yourself for an unforgettable night out.

Bathe in the Blue Lagoon

It is ironic that one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland is actually a man-made creation, generated from the run-off of the geothermal plant located next door. As beautiful as any natural wonder, the Blue Lagoon is heated to 38-degrees and contains a combination of silica, algae and minerals – all of which are said to have beneficial effects on your skin.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself whittling away several hours here, lathered in white silica mud with an obligatory cocktail in hand. This is one of the most relaxing of our ten top things to do in Iceland!

Ten top things to do in Iceland

Ten top things to do in Iceland: Blue Lagoon. Image: Photodune

Complete the Golden Circle

The Golden Circle is a circuit comprised of three natural attractions: Þingvellir, Geysir and Gullfoss. It’s highly popular with tourists given its close proximity to Reykjavik.

Hike through the dramatic canyon formed between two tectonic plates in Þingvellir National Park; wait in anticipation for the next jet spray of water to spout from the active Strokkur geyser; and be amazed by the mighty power of the Gullfoss waterfall – all in a few short hours.

Go chasing waterfalls

Iceland has more waterfalls than you can poke a selfie stick at. Put on your waterproof jacket and walk behind the impressive Seljalandsfoss waterfall, search for rainbows under the heavy mist at the base of Skógafoss and admire the moody Svartifoss waterfall that is surrounded by striking dark lava columns.

Chasing waterfalls has never been so much fun. This is a must for your list of things to see and do in Iceland.

Ten top things to do in Iceland

Ten top things to do in Iceland: Go in search of waterfalls.

Circumnavigate the island

If you have the time, make sure you hire a car and go exploring beyond the capital of Reykjavik. It is impossible to get lost as there is only one major highway in Iceland, the Ring Road, which loops its way around the island.

But there may be times when you feel as if you’re on another planet, passing lava-covered moss plains and rocky, crater-filled terrain that stretch on for as far as the eye can see.

However, the best thing about driving is having the freedom to pull over to pat the Icelandic horses clustered by the side of the road or to snap pictures of the charming pastel-coloured houses tucked away in the crevices of the formidable mountains and rolling hills. There’s no other road trip quite like it!

Ten top things to do in Iceland

Icelandic horses

Cruise Jökulsárlón glacial lagoon

Jökulsárlón in the south east of Iceland is a spectacular lagoon made up of icebergs that are continually breaking off from the Vatnajökull glacier. Take an amphibious or zodiac boat tour out on the lagoon to appreciate these magnificent blocks of milky blue ice up close, where you can be assured of a surreal experience like no other.

If you’re lucky, you might spot seals frolicking amongst the pieces of floating ice.

Ten top things to do in Iceland

Jökulsárlón. Image: Camha Pham

Explore the black beaches of Vik

Head to Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland (and the wettest) where you will find the famous black beaches. Like something out of a 19th century gothic novel, the black sand stretches for miles with jagged basalt rocks jutting out into the wild sea, making for a truly atmospheric experience.

Don’t forget to keep an eye out for those elusive puffins.

Go snowmobiling on a glacier

Pick a glacier (any glacier), then book a snowmobiling tour for an exhilarating ride across a winter wonderland of magical proportions.

Ten top things to do in Iceland

Ten top things to do in Iceland: Go snowmobiling. Image: Camha Pham

Book a jeep tour to Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar – which lies in the highlands of Iceland – is a spectacular region that will leave you hypnotised by its colourful mountain range and never-ending lava fields. To get there you’ll have to navigate hazardously bumpy gravel roads and traverse rivers, but making the journey is half the fun.

Tuck in to an Icelandic hotdog

Ask any Icelandic person what local dish you should try and they might very well point you to Bæjarins Beztu Pylsur – a hot dog stand with a name that literally translates to ‘best hotdogs in town’. The sausage – , a combination of lamb, pork and beef – is encased in a bun topped with both raw and crispy fried onion, ketchup and remoulade.

Bill Clinton famously had one when he was in town – which is quite a recommendation!

Do you have anything to add to our list of ten top things to do in Iceland? We would love to hear from you. Please leave us a comment.

Additional images: Bigstock/Photodune

 

About the writer

Camha Pham is a freelance writer and editor who has recently swapped the cosmopolitan laneways of Melbourne for the sunny beaches of Perth. Struck with the wanderlust bug from an early age, she has travelled extensively through Asia, Europe and parts of North America. When she isn’t travelling, Camha is planning her next adventure and loves nothing more than the thrill of exploring new destinations and learning about other cultures. Travel highlights to date include chasing waterfalls in enchanting Iceland, hot-air ballooning over the lunar-like landscape of Cappadocia and accepting a surprise marriage proposal from her now fiancé at the Fushimi Inari Shrine in Kyoto!

  1. Peter Walker says:

    I am really curious to go Iceland with my family this upcoming winter. After reading your blog I got to know about the new side of Iceland. Thanks a lot for this blog!

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