15 Must-See Things to do in Iceland: The Ultimate Iceland Bucket List

Steve Cummings

Things to do in Iceland

Iceland, the island of fire and ice, has elevated itself to the top of travelers' lists worldwide, attracting both nature lovers seeking a unique experience and thrill-seekers. In this sparsely populated country, located at the edge of the Arctic Circle, you can find active volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, glaciers, ice fields, and fjords. This is because it is located atop one of the world's most active volcanic zones.

Let's unwind the names of the things you will love to experience in this beautiful destination. 

We are sure you can't wait to know them! Let's find out. 

Here are 15 Amazing Things to do in Iceland

There are so many must-see things to do in Iceland, and we can give you a good list to help make that itinerary. Make sure to follow some essential travel tips when traveling to Iceland as well to make your trip memorable.

1. Discover Gullfoss

Due to the water's brown color, Gullfoss, or Golden Falls, gets its name. These waterfalls are renowned for having the highest volume in all of Europe and are truly stunning. Two drops are at a good angle, which is another noteworthy feature. 

The view from the main overlook is slightly obstructed, giving the impression that the lower falls disappear into an abyss. 

2. Take a Dip at Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon
credit: depositphotos

The Blue Lagoon, Iceland's best-known thermal bath, is a stunning sight with pearly blue waters sprinkled against a landscape of black lava rock and is a continuous presence on lists of the world's natural marvels. Visit the steaming pools early in the morning or late in the evening to avoid crowds and enjoy a soothing bath and a drink from the swim-up bar. 

Spa services are offered, or you may do it yourself like the locals do and cover yourself in the purportedly anti-aging white chalky silt from the lagoon bed.

3. Explore the Caves in Iceland

Another top and unusual thing to do in Iceland is explore its caves. Iceland offers a variety of underground excursions for everyone, from old lava tubes to dynamic ice caves and enigmatic artificial caves. Twelve of these caverns are at the farm Gissa by Hella, and some of the caves are open for guided tours. 

The largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, develops natural ice caves due to geothermal heat or spring thaw. Traveling through this temporary, crystallized realm of awe with trained guides is only possible. Alternatively, go to the ice cave at Perlan in Reykjavik or the artificial ice tunnel at Langjökull.

4. Visit Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

The glacial lagoon in Jökulsárlón is spectacular. The largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, an outlet glacier, feeds the meltwater lake. It is the perfect substitute for Antarctica if you've ever wanted to travel there. 

Massive icebergs line the lake, and tourists can reserve zodiac cruises to see the lagoon from the water. The icebergs' size is much more apparent on the water, and the experience is breathtaking.

5. Go Whale-Watching

The Icelandic coast is home to a significant number of whales. Reserve a ticket on this fantastic whale-watching excursion that leaves Reykjavik to increase your chances of seeing any of these magnificent creatures in the wild.

It takes about 3 to 4 hours, and it's the best way to observe whales in their natural environment. Just remember that tours occasionally last a little longer than expected, so make a buffer for any upcoming arrangements.

6. Visit to Stokksnes Peninsula

This region, considered one of the earliest farming settlements from Norway, is tucked away on Iceland's southeast coast. 

Vestra-Horn, the dominant mountain in this magnificent scenery, now keeps watch over this quiet and peaceful setting. Even though it's easy to get to, Stokksnes is one of Iceland's few paid outdoor attractions.

7. A Trip to the Capital City, Reykjavik

Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is where you'll stay for one or two nights. Come here on weekends to enjoy the lively live music, welcoming locals, and a great environment. 

Visit the Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral or the Harpa concert hall, which hosts the national opera and symphony, throughout the day to see the city.

8. Visit Reynisfjara Beach

Reynisfjara beach
credit: depositphotos

Reynisfjara Beach's pitch-black sand, craggy basalt columns, and powerful waves can give the impression that it is located in another world. This stunning beach, close to the settlement of Vik on Iceland's south coast, is also inhabited by amusing puffin birds. 

Watch the waves pound the coal-colored pebbles, marvel at the three twisted sea stacks known as Reynisdrangar, which according to Icelandic legend, are petrified trolls, and scale the magical basalt columns that protrude from one of the beach cliffs. Tourists are advised to keep their distance from the pounding waves at this beach since they can be extremely dangerous.

9. Explore Lystigardur Botanical Gardens

Here comes another thing you will love enjoying in Iceland. With little over 18,000 residents, Akureyri, the biggest town outside Reykjavik, is relatively small. It makes up for its small size with charm, beautifully colored wooden cottages, a scenic harbor, and traffic lights in the shape of hearts. One of only two botanical gardens in the country, Lystigardur is a must-see. 

Despite having an average annual temperature of just 3.4C, it contains gorgeous subtropical and Icelandic plants. Visit in the summer when the area is covered in vibrant blooms and heady flowery scents.

10. Love the Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach has a history as a popular tourist destination. Some people have compared the fragments of glacial ice that have washed up on the black sand beach to diamonds because of their sparkling appearance. 

Diamond Beach is surrounded by outlet glaciers, which causes fresh ice to wash up on its shores frequently. Even in the height of summer, the temperatures remain moderate enough to permit a lengthy melting cycle, causing new ice chunks to wash up as old ones melt away. Love the view and shoot Instagram-worthy pictures!

11. Look for the Northern Lights

Northern Lights Over Iceland
credit: depositphotos

Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, is one of the most gorgeous attractions in Iceland. The solar wind, or flow of ions emanating from the sun, is associated with auroras. This magnificent natural light display is best enjoyed in isolated locations and is especially beautiful during periods of enhanced sun activity.

Since the Northern Lights' arrival is unexpected, most hotels and accommodation providers can provide daily forecasts before you sleep and put your name on an overnight call list. Take one of the most excellent chances to see the Northern Lights by going on a tour like the Northern Lights Night Tour from Reykjavik, which drives you to the remote countryside.

12. Hiking at Mount Esja

Mount Esja in Kjalarnes is accessible from Reykjavik after a 30-minute drive to the east. Hikers love the 914-meter-high mountain. It's a reasonably simple hike, even for inexperienced climbers. Fantastic views of Reykjavik, the surroundings, and the ocean are inescapable. 

Depending on your energy level and the amount of time you have, there are many ways to reach the summit. Public transport departs from the main station in Hlemmur in the direction of Artun, and it takes 10 minutes to get to the major starting point at Mount Esja. Before your visit, check the transit timings and schedules.

13. Discover the Largest Glacier in Europe

The Vatnajokull glacier, the biggest glacier in Europe, is one of the top sites to see in Iceland. It occupies 8% of Iceland's total land area and is home to innumerable magnificent ice caves, each of which is a miracle of nature. 

The largest mountain in Iceland and three more active volcanoes are beneath the ice. The Vatnajokull glacier also feeds innumerable rivers and outlet glaciers. It appears in two James Bond films as well as Games of Thrones.

14. Explore Fontana Geothermal Baths

A mid-afternoon plunge at the Fontana Geothermal Baths is a terrific idea. Get your sweat in the steam rooms before heading to scorching outdoor baths. Run into the icy lake surrounding the baths once you've had enough heat. It gives you a zing in your stride and is not for the weak-hearted. 

After a swim, refuel at the baths café, where a variety of rye bread is cooked in the geothermal ground. It's undoubtedly one of Iceland's more strange but most unique activities.

15. Check out the Nightlife in Reykjavík

Reykjavik's nightlife is unrivaled in a country with relatively expensive alcohol. Reykjavk's happy hours typically start around 4; quaint Port 9 and Veur are good places to start. Visit Apótek and Slippbarinn for inventive drinks, and reserve a space on the rooftop bar at Petersen Svitan, which is fantastic on sunny days.

 If bars are more your style, try out KEX Hostel and Röntgen, which frequently features live music. Fans of jazz have a special place at Skugga Baldur. You should consider Kaffibarinn and Priki if you want to dance the night away. 

Wrap Up

Iceland will never fail to astonish you. It's one of the most lovely destinations in the world and a must-visit at least once in a lifetime. Check out a list of exciting and daring things to do in Iceland that you will love. Last but not least, Iceland's nightlife is something you must never miss. 

Leave a Comment