Iceland — Attractions
Iceland is the perfect destination for active eco-tourists and outdoor activity enthusiasts as the vast majority of its attractions are of the natural wonder variety and are unique to the country. For visitors staying in the main tourist hubs of Reykjavik and Akureyri, there’s plenty of fun at night, with bars and clubs just getting going around midnight, and a great choice of eateries. International-standard musical events take place regularly and art and handicraft galleries make shopping a fun experience.
Thingvellir National Park
Iceland’s first national park, Thingvellir, is a must-see for its cultural and historic significance as well as its geological significance, now recognized by UNESCO. Its rift valley is the crest of the volcanic Mid-Atlantic Ridge and home to a huge natural lake as well as the ruins of the world’s first parliament building, established over 1,000 years ago.
Address: Southwestern Iceland
Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool
Swimming year-round in an outdoor, thermally-heated public swimming pool is an Icelandic cultural tradition, with municipal pools found in every urban area in the country. It’s a meet and greet occupation unique to Iceland, and visitors are more than welcome to join in this friendly, fun experience. Reykjavik’s Laugardalslaug Geothermal Pool is the largest and best-equipped, and offers three huge pools.
Address: Sundlaugarveg 104, Reykjavik
Blue Lagoon Spa and Thermal Pool
A favorite visitor destination for its spa facilities, the Blue Lagoon is a manmade azure-blue lake known for its mineral-rich, healing waters. Located in a young lava field on the Reykjanes Peninsula, it’s the perfect place to relax, bathe in the steamy waters, and pamper yourself in dramatic surroundings.
Address: 240 Grindavik, Iceland
Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon
One of Iceland’s most iconic sights, this river lagoon lies below the Breidamerkurjokull Glacier and is fed by its melt. Massive icebergs break from the glacier and float on the lagoon, with seals often seen resting on the ice slabs after swimming in from the ocean. The lake itself, only formed in 1935, is the lowest point in Iceland and is growing year by year.
Address: Southern Iceland
The towering Latrabjarg Cliffs loom over the westernmost point of Iceland’s landmass and are truly the ‘ends of the earth.’ Inhabited by an unbelievable number of bird colonies, the cliffs resound with noise at nesting times as literally millions of birds create their own symphony. Razorbills, puffins, gannets, and guillemots nest here, and the cliffs are vital for the survival of the rarer species.
Address: Western Iceland
Vidoe Island and the John Lennon Peace Memorial
Set offshore from Reykjavik in Kollafjordur Bay, Vidoy Island is a short ferry trip from the Old Harbour. The uninhabited island is a former Reykjavik settlement and boasts Iceland’s second-oldest church and nature trails around its coastline, as well as horse-riding tours. It’s also the home of the John Lennon Peace Memorial, commissioned by his wife Yoko Ono.
Address: offshore from Reykjavik
National Museum of Iceland
Affording visitors a fascinating journey from the first settlements in Iceland by Christian monks through Viking history to the present day, the National Museum of Iceland is a must-visit for those interested in the culture and development of the land of this hardy nation. The displays of Viking artifacts, including weapons, ornaments, and household items, are its highlight, and early Christian finds are also featured.
Address: Sudurgata 41, 101 Reykjavik
For the ultimate desolate-interior moonscape moment, Askja’s staggering ring of volcanoes surrounding a five-mile wide saucer of collapsed magma chambers is as good as it gets. The bonus is the warm, blue-green lake in the depths of the caldera, giving unrivalled photo opportunities and great for a swim.
Address: Dyngjufjoll Massif, Central Iceland
Surrounded by wetlands and volcanic lava formations, and fed by the River Laxa, this spectacular spot is a worldwide favorite with birders for its incredibly rich diversity of water fowl. The entire region is a volcanically-active nature reserve and the Dimmuborgir (‘dark forts’ in Icelandic) black lava arches, pillars, and caves lie along the lake’s eastern shore.
Address: near Akurayri, Iceland
Active for a reputed 10,000 years, Geysir, named in Old Norse, gave the English language the word ‘geyser’. Set in the Haukadalur Valley below Laugarfjall Mountain, it hurls boiling water over 200ft into the air. The valley is one of the few forested areas in Iceland, and the Great Geysir, as it’s locally known, has been a visitor attraction for over 200 years.
Address: Southwestern Iceland