Iceland, the country of the volcanoes and glaciers. An island with landscapes so beautiful and
iconic they could be right out of fairy tales! And as it is becoming more easy to travel to this
iconic place, more and more tourists, backpackers and globetrotters are going to visit this
stunning island! But what makes this place so iconic and what can you see on an island with
more sheep per square mile than actual citizens? Here are my 11 iconic must see attractions
you can visit while traveling and backpacking around Iceland!
1.The Golden Circle
The Golden Circle is one of the most famous tourist attraction in Iceland! And this for a reason. It has several special locations you can visit. The most stunning one’s will be the Gullfoss - Europe’s biggest waterfall! And the biggest must see attraction ever! The big Geyser, located in the Geyser park.
The whole area of the park is cooking and smells like rotten egg! It feels like walking on a pot of boiling water! Also, as one of the first sights, you can see a lake inside of a volcanic crater named Kerið, thousands of years old! And if you always wanted to walk between Europe and America, there is your chance! As the tectonic plates of both are meeting there and built a huge canyon that goes all the way down to the south of the island. You can read more about my travel experience at the Golden Circle here.
2.The South-West End of Iceland
Ever asked yourself what the end of the world looks like? Now is your chance to see it! In the very south-west of the island, the southern peninsula area, far behind the Gunnuhver Hot Springs, is a place called Reykjanesviti. Why is it a must see destination? Simply because this is where black, cold lava meets the Atlantic Ocean. The whole area is just black and the waves are smashing over the rock with power, I have never encountered before! This is a truly amazing spot that lets you feel the power of nature itself! You can read more about my humbling experience at this spot here.
3.The Diamond Beach and Glacier Lagoon
One of the prettiest must see places I have been in Iceland was the Glacier Lagoon. A place where huge icebergs, split from the glacier, swimming inside a huge lake. Some of them are dyed in an incredible deep blue, you have never seen before! Also the icebergs are swimming out into the ocean to melt there into little pieces that are so clear, that it looks like as if the whole beach - which is made of black sand - is covered with millions of diamonds! This is truly one of the prettiest must see spots in Iceland! Unfortunately though, you can’t keep and sell those diamonds…
4.The Lagoon in Myvatn
For sure you heard already about the most popular must see attraction of Iceland - the Blue Lagoon. It is truly one of the most famous tourist attractions in Iceland and as the description says, it is already overrun and overpriced. But did you know that this is not the only spot in Iceland with a Lagoon? Far in the north, there is a Lagoon called Myvatn Nature Baths. Less tourists, far more cheaper and also a great experience! I can really recommend it! It is located right outside of Reykhalið, beside the beautiful Myvatn lake.
5.The Black Beach
Iceland is famous and iconic for its volcanic landscape. Because of it, many of the beaches in the south are covered with pure, black sand! One of the most famous ones is even called the Black Beach. What makes it so special and to a must see location? The wild Atlantic ocean! Its water swirls up so much, that it appears white. White water on black sand? Don’t tell me it doesn’t look great! Also, there you can see one of the most amazing shapes nature can form - basalt pillars! Shaped like a perfect hexagon - this is something you simply don’t want to miss out on!
This area of islands is only reachable by ferry. What makes it to a must see location? Many things! For example, it is famous for its Puffin colony. Every year, Puffins are going to breed there and raise their little ones. The citizens of the island called Heimaey are also helping them, as the little puffins are often getting lost while trying to learn to fly. There is also much more to see there.
Have you ever wanted to climb up a volcano? Now is your chance! The island Heimaey has even 2 of them - Eldfell and Helgafell! Eldfell is the smaller and younger one of them, which makes it very easy to climb it up! But that is still not all the island has to offer! From the iconic Elephant Rock up to the beautiful high cliffs, there is a lot to discover! Read more about my experience with the island here.
Iceland is also the country of glaciers. The whole south part is covered in them! You don’t need to see all of them, as it can get boring after a while. But at least plan to visit one. There are also tours for walking on or inside of them. You won’t regret booking one of them! There are ice caves existing - so pure and blue, you can’t believe that nature created it! And please, don’t go there without a guide, as it can get pretty dangerous! But if it is planned right, it is one of the most iconic must see locations ever! Read more about my experience with one of the glaciers here.
Of course, the capital of Iceland has to be on the list of the 11 Must see locations. What would be a visit on Iceland without its capital? It may occur very small, but it is still the largest city on Iceland. And it also has much to offer! It is well known by its street art, just walk a bit around the city center and you will encounter it everywhere. And it is not just ugly painted words on a wall. Many of them really look like art and very well known between the locals!
Also the Hallgrimskirkja is one of the most stunning modern churches I have seen so far (Please don’t go inside, as it could ruin your view of the church. More about it here.).
What I can also recommend to see there is the Harpa concert hall. This building is an architectonic masterpiece! The glass facade of the building remind me a bit of honeycombs. And also the inner part is very well made. What makes it so beautiful you are asking? Check it out yourself. 😉
Other than that, the city has much to offer on food and pubs. It can even happen that some locals will offer you a job, as the tourist branch is booming and many workers are needed to serve the storm of tourist that overruns the countryevery summer. Iceland has only 330,000 people and around 800,000 sheep. But every year a good million of tourists are coming to visit the country and it must see places. This is why they are in need of people who help them out.
Wanna read more about my experience in Reykjavik? Check it out here!
9.Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss waterfalls
I know, Iceland is covered in waterfalls. Wherever you go, you will see at least 3 of them. And still, there are waterfalls and there are Seljalandsfoss and Skogafoss! Let us go to Seljalandsfoss first. The interesting part on this must see waterfall is, that you can walk underneath it, as long as you are wearing waterproof clothes otherwise you won’t need a shower anymore. And if you always wanted to see the perfect waterfall - go to Skogafoss! The size, the high, the scenery, simply everything is perfect, making it the most beautiful waterfall and in all Iceland! Also, go up the stairs beside the waterfall and walk stream upwards. There you can also discover a beautiful scenery with many smaller waterfalls, something most tourists don’t know about as they are too lazy to walk all the way up. Read more about them here.
One of the strangest places on earth I have seen so far are the hot springs of Iceland. And you don’t even have just one of them, no, there are several! Gunnuhver, Krysuvik, Hverir Hverarön, just to name a few. What makes them so special and to a must see attraction? First of all, the ground is cooking! It can reach temperatures that let melt your shoes! Also the air smells like rotten egg, because of the sulfur. And you can see steam coming out everywhere!
Some of them also have cooking mud pots, looking like places where witches would live. And the most impressive thing of them all is the color of the area! Pink, purple, green, yellow, orange, red, white, etc. The whole palette of the rainbow is covered there! Those places look like from another earth!
11. The Northern Lights
I know, it is not really a spot, as it can be seen from anywhere on the island. But still I think it has to be on the list of the must see attractions. From around September up to April you will have the chance to see one of the most stunning natural phenomena of the world - the Aurora Borealis! Also know as the Northern Lights, flying around like green glowing dragons on the night sky. They are absolutely spectacular and a must see when traveling to Iceland!
Best time to see them is between 11 pm and 2 am. So get some coffee to stay awake and get ready for it! Read about my first experience with them here. Also try to find a good spot and night to watch them. You won’t see them on a cloudy night. And if you are in the middle of a town, it won’t be easy either, as there are simply too many lights around you. Instead, try to go out to the field, or to a very dark place. The darker - the better! There is also a website existing showing you when you have the best chance to see the Aurora Borealis. Check it out here.
I really hope you enjoyed my little list. If so, please don’t forget to like and share!