Think Iceland is just a tiny rock covered in ice? Think again! Turns out there are tons of fun things to do and see in this amazing little country.
If you’re planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Iceland and want to experience everything this volcanic viking wonderland has to offer, make sure you include some of these must-see spots in your itinerary!
1. Go Fishing, Iceland-Style
Even if fishing isn’t really your thing, don’t rule it out completely just yet; Iceland actually has some of the best fly-fishing rivers in the entire world, guaranteed to provide an experience like no other.
With the opportunity to fish in one of the most popular locations on Earth, you have the option of proceeding entirely at your own pace.
Either take a few days to immerse yourself in the zen of the hunt, or enjoy one of Iceland’s original sea fishing tours if you only have a couple of hours to spare. Whatever you catch ends up on your plate for dinner at the end of the trip!
2. See The Spectacular Northern Lights
Hands-down one of the most popular things tourists flock to Iceland to see, the Northern Lights are famous all over the world – and for good reason.
While city lights and pollution obstruct our view of this phenomenon in North America, Iceland’s vantage point is uniquely crystal clear. The thrill of seeing this spectral vision is simply too good to miss out on, and is certain to make your Icelandic vacation one to remember!
The Northern Lights are most commonly seen from November to March, as these are Iceland’s darkest months. You get a better view from some locations than others, so for an optimal experience, plan an excursion to a remote area away from the city.
Luckily, that’s pretty easy to manage. Multiple Northern Lights tours are offered throughout Iceland, giving you the opportunity to see this wonder with the benefit of knowledgable guides.
However, while seeing the Northern Lights isn’t impossible by any means, they can be unpredictable and there are no guarantees they will appear. So, even if you book a tour, try to prepare yourself for the chance of not seeing them. Luck plays a considerable part!
3. Visit An Ice Cave
Iceland is renowned (and named) for its magnificent glaciers, but most tourists don’t realize that some glaciers actually play host to expansive caves.
Offering a window into naturally intricate, awe-inspiring ice arrangements, often large enough to walk through, these caves are a real wonder you should not miss if you can help it.
4. Go To The Museum Of Icelandic Sorcery And Witchcraft
Showcasing the often gruesome details of a time when magic and sorcery were de rigueur in Iceland, Strandagaldur (the Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft) provides a whole new look at ancient Icelandic culture.
Featuring a distinct focus on spells and rituals that were really used in the country’s history, this museum curates eerie displays of runes, animal skulls, and the bizarre “necropants” (pants made from the dried skin of a man from the waist down).
While certainly not for the faint-hearted, Strandagaldur is well worth a visit if you want to immerse yourself in some of the most chilling aspects of ancient Icelandic lore and legend.
5. Visit The Bridge Between Two Continents
The “Bridge Between Two Continents” is a real eye-opener, allowing you to quite literally straddle two tectonic plates at once.
Most people don’t know that Iceland is, in fact, slowly being pulled apart at a rate of about 1 inch per year. Consequently, a major fault line is now running right through the center of the island.
Directly at the midpoint of this expansive ‘bridge,’ you’ll reach the exact borderline between the North American and Eurasian plates. The sides are marked with “Welcome to America” and “Welcome to Europe” signs, and the mere act of simply standing on this bridge is guaranteed to provide a nice symbolic, moment. And also a photo opp!
6. See The Oldest Church In Iceland
Grafarkirkja, otherwise known as the oldest Christian church in Iceland, is a site you’ll want to visit if you enjoy weird old buildings.
Originally built in the 17th century, this small church surrounded by an earthen mound is one of only a few in Iceland that feature any decoration at all. (It seems the Icelanders like to worship in austere conditions – when they worship at all.) Rebuilt and restored to reflect its original state and condition, Grafarkirkja is certainly worth a look if you’re interested in Iceland’s history.
7. Visit The Whales Of Iceland Museum
The North Atlantic waters off Iceland’s coast home to many giants. While multiple whale watching tours are available, to truly get an authentic glimpse of the magnificent scale of Iceland’s whales, a visit to the Museum is essential.
Known as the largest whale-oriented museum in the entire world, this exhibition has specifically been designed to create the illusion of a real-life deep sea ocean dive.
Featuring life-size replicas of some of the largest whales in the animal kingdom (including the Blue whale, the Orca, and the Humpback), each magnificent sculpture is flooded with blue light and lullabied by nautical sounds that are sure to make you feel like you’re encountering these creatures in their natural habitat! The museum also showcases the country’s efforts to conserve and protect our submersible friends, which are considerable.
The museum is suitable for all ages, and free parking is also available at all times for visitors.
8. Experience An Authentic Viking Village Film Set
Originally created for an Icelandic movie that was never actually filmed, the Viking Village film set provides a tangible step back in time.
Situated down a small, winding gravel road between Höfn and Djúpivogur, this amazing village captures Viking civilization perfectly. Located on private land belonging to a local farmer, visitors are able to wander around the village and explore the country’s history – for a small fee.
Featuring an array of authentic buildings with magnificent period detailing, this village will remain open for exploration by the public until it’s eventually used for its intended purpose – making a movie!
9. Visit A Volcanic Island
Known as the Nordic version of Italy’s Pompeii, the island of Heimaey fell victim to a catastrophic volcano eruption on January 23, 1973.
Luckily, everyone was safely carried to the Icelandic mainland via the country’s fishing fleet, but Heimaey itself was never the same again.
While almost a million tons of Volcanic ash had to be ultimately removed from the town, the island expanded by an entire square mile once the volcanic lava had cooled down.
Now, Heimaey still offers preserved evidence of this historical event in the form of several crushed buildings anda 43-year-old mountain created by the eruption itself.
You can experience all this rich Icelandic history by taking a 35-minute ferry to Heimaey from Landeyjahöfn, the point on Iceland’s mainland closest to the island.
10. See Europe’s Most Powerful Waterfall
Flowing out of a nearby glacier, Dettifoss is hailed as Europe’s most powerful waterfall, and for good reason.
The deluge falls from a dramatic 150-foot height, causing a constant crashing spray that’s an impressive sight to behold.
The best view of Dettifoss is typically gleaned from the east, so try to approach from that direction if you can. And, if you want to get as close as possible, it’s essential to bring waterproof gear (since it’s highly likely you’ll get wet!).
11. Relax In The Hidden Drangsnes Hot Tubs
Iceland is renowned for its natural hot springs, but none are as hidden and secretive as the Drangsnes trio of hot tubs.
Situated in a small, tranquil fishing village, these hot tubs rest right along the shoreline, ensuring a truly relaxing, natural experience. Containing organically-heated water from the wellspring beneath, the Drangsnes tubs offer varying temperatures for you to choose from.
Providing a much quieter, more relaxing experience than Iceland’s typical hot spring spas, these pools are both private and in a premium location.
12. Visit The Kerid Crater Lake
In true Icelandic fashion, the Kerid Crater Lake is a stunning sight you won’t soon forget. Ideal for photo opportunities, Kerid is a must-see if you’re someone who prides themselves on collecting amazing travel pictures.
Located inside a volcanic crater, this lake is surrounded by vibrant red rock. Providing a truly magnificent contrast to its bright blue waters, the atmosphere and ambiance accompanying this lake are of tranquility and beauty. It’s especially well worth a visit if you take a tour of the Golden Circle.
Iceland offers something to cater to virtually everyone’s desires. Use this list as a guide to plan your trip with, and get ready to experience the hidden wonders Iceland has to offer to their fullest potential.