Best Things to Do in Iceland

Couple watching Iceland Northern Lights is one of the best things to do

If you’re wondering what to do in Iceland, we’ve got you covered with some of the best things to do in Iceland during your visit. When looking at Iceland attractions on a map, you will see a concentration of natural wonders along the South Coast, in the Northeast, and the West. Exploring the Golden Circle, visiting Vik’s volcanic black sand beaches, hiking Skaftafell glacier in Vatnajökull National Park, and making your way around the Diamond Circle are just some of the top things to do in Iceland. Whether your Iceland Ring Road itinerary is 10 days or for a shorter period, there are certain things that are must-dos. I wouldn’t advise traveling around Iceland’s Ring Road in 5 days. It’s much too short a time period to visit and see everything. If you’ve only got 5 days in Iceland, I’d stick to the South Coast and explore that part of the country in-depth. Many of the best things to do in Iceland are located there, which makes it the most frequented region of our small island.

Regardless of the length of your trip, the best way to visit Iceland is definitely by renting a car and driving to the top sights and natural attractions. Once you arrive at Keflavik International Airport (KEF), rental cars are available for pick up. Of course, you’ll need to reserve several months in advance as Iceland’s popularity as a tourism hotspot has grown exponentially over the last decade. Once you’ve got your rental car, you’re ready to hit the road! Let’s look at some highlights of the top things to do in Iceland during your road trip.

Best Things to Do in Iceland: The Blue Lagoon

Iceland’s Blue Lagoon is one of the coolest things you’ll experience during your visit to Iceland. It’s a massive outdoor geothermal spa with milky, turquoise-hued, silica-rich waters. Known for its healing properties, the Blue Lagoon is a fantastic place to go for a dip at any time of year. Bathing culture is quite popular here as there are thousands of natural hot spring that dot the country. One of the best things to do in Iceland is to make like the locals and partake. Remember to follow good bathing etiquette and shower before entering the Blue Lagoon. Although fresh, geothermally-heated water is pumped in and out continuously, they don’t add chlorine to purify the water or kill germs. So please shower! Bring lots of hair conditioner and avoid getting your locks wet. Otherwise, you’ll end up with crunchy tresses that have the slightest scent of sulfur from the Lagoon.

Bathers in Iceland's Blue Lagoon - One of the best things to do in Iceland

Top Things to Do in Iceland: The Northern Lights

The Aurora Borealis or Iceland’s Northern Lights are another one of the top things to do in northern Iceland. Picture undulating waves of magenta, emerald, and violet playfully making their way across the night sky. And here’s a bonus: if you’re traveling in Iceland on a budget, viewing the Northern Lights is absolutely free! It’s a jaw-dropping, phenomenal outdoor activity and you will be saving money! Talk about having the best of both worlds during your trip.

In order to have the best chance of spotting Iceland’s Northern Lights, you’ll want to get away from the light pollution of cities like Reykjavik or Akureyri. The Aurora Borealis is most visible on cold, clear nights from late September to mid-March (sorry summer travelers). I’d also recommend checking the aurora forecast on the Icelandic Meteorological Office website to see if aurora activity will be high on the night of your planned Northern Lights hunt. There are also tour operators that will specialize in Iceland Northern Lights trip excursions.

Other Top Natural Attractions in Iceland: Waterfalls, Volcanoes, and Glaciers

Our country is known as The Land of Fire and Ice, so it’s no wonder that many of the top things to do in Iceland revolve around outdoor activities. Iceland boasts over 10,000 waterfalls, with the most popular ones being Skógafoss, Haifoss, Dettifoss, Kirkjufellsfoss, Gullfoss, Godafoss, and Svartifoss. Seljalandsfoss is considered Iceland’s best and most beautiful waterfall.

Of course, let’s not forget about Iceland’s volcanoes, volcanic craters, and lava fields. The Hverir geothermal area features a Mars-like, alien landscape with colorful, bubbling mud and hissing fumaroles. A hike around the edge of Askja crater lake should also be on your list of the best things to do in Iceland.

Iceland Things to Do During the Winter

If you’re wondering what to do in Iceland on a budget or are looking to travel to Iceland for cheap, you may want to consider coming during the colder months of the shoulder season or the off-season. There are plenty of things to do in Iceland in winter, such as glacier hikes, glacier caves, ice caves, snowmobiling, skiing, snowboarding, and more. Places like Langjökull, Vatnajökull, Snafellsjökull, Skaftafell, and Akureyri offer plenty of winter activities and places to visit in Iceland. Not to mention the frozen waterfalls which are particularly spellbinding.

Beautiful frozen Godafoss is one of the best things to do in Iceland in winter

Best Things to Do in Iceland: Reykjavik and Environs

Reykjavik is the port of entry for all international travelers coming to Iceland for vacation. The country’s capital is a vibrant, cosmopolitan city and there are plenty of things to do and places to visit in Reykjavik. From learning about Iceland’s Viking past to shopping on Laugavegur street to dining at some of the city’s best and finest restaurants, be sure to include a stop in Reykjavik at either the beginning on the end of your trip. There are also some great Reykjavik day trips like Snaefellsnes peninsula or the Golden Circle. The Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir National Park and Haukadalur geothermal valley with Strokkur and Geysir geysers are particularly notable in the country.

Best Things to Do in Iceland

This is just a brief taste of all the wonders that await you. I’ve touched on some of the top things to do in Iceland but of course, it’s impossible to list all of them here. Check out the rest of the articles on our blog to learn more about Iceland travel and the best things to do in Iceland.