In recent years, Iceland has become a hotspot for thrill-seeking tourists and nature lovers. Its capital, Reykjavik, is home to most of the country’s population, and is brimming with nightlife and trendy places to eat. However, whilst the city offers a range of metropolitan activities, it is the country’s natural landmarks that attract the most crowds.
Situated in northern Europe, Iceland is best known for its dramatic landscape of volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, and lava fields. With so many attractions to choose from, it can be difficult to decide what to add to your itinerary. That’s why we’ve picked 5 must-see tourist attractions in Iceland to help you make the most of your stay.
The Northern Lights
When most people think of Iceland, the northern lights (or Aurora Borealis) are high on their list of must-see attractions. The multi-coloured light show, described as a nocturnal rainbow, is best seen in Iceland between September and April; this is when the nights are darkest.
However, it’s worth bearing in mind that the northern lights are unpredictable and elusive; catching a glimpse of the world-famous attraction relies on a number of factors, from weather conditions to pure luck. You can keep an eye on the aurora forecast to see when the skies will be clearest, but it’s also a good idea to fill your itinerary with more of Iceland’s popular sights.
The Blue Lagoon
Like the northern lights, the Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s most visited attractions. It’s located in a lava field in Grindavik, transforming what would be a simple lake into a geothermal spa, so you can experience the extremes of Iceland’s landscape first-hand. What’s more, the warm waters are rich in minerals, which are rumoured to have great health benefits.
The Blue Lagoon is open all year round. For a less crowded experience, we recommend visiting in the early evening when most tourist groups will be leaving; this is one of the main benefits of having your own car rental, which allows you to avoid peak times for a more relaxing experience.
Located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands of Iceland, Landmannalaugar is a popular destination for hikers. You can tackle a range of routes, from the 1 hour hike up Blue Peak to the 3-4 day trail at the base of Hekla volcano. Landmannalaugar is a great example of Iceland’s dramatic landscape, featuring lush meadows, snowy peaks and hot streams – it’s a must-see for anyone wanting to fully experience nature at its best.
Due to its location, Landmannalaugar is only accessible in the summer months, from June to September. We recommend hiring a 4x4 for the journey, as the mountainous roads can be treacherous. Alternatively, you could opt for a camper rental and spend the night in the stunning location.
If you’re looking for an inner-city attraction, Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik’s striking white-concrete church, offers an ideal option. It is one of the tallest structures in Iceland, dominating the city’s skyline, and takes its inspiration from Iceland’s natural environment. Visitors can take a lift to the top of the tower for spectacular views and photo opportunities. More cultural locations in the area include the National Museum of Iceland, the National Gallery of Iceland, and Harpa, the glass honeycomb concert hall.
Husavik is a small fishing town on the north coast of Iceland, now known as the country’s whale-watching capital. Its colourful houses are steeped in Icelandic charm, and the view of the snowy peaks across the bay makes a picture-perfect postcard to send to friends. The town also has a vibrant musical scene, often hosting local concerts and cultural events. Husavik is a great place to visit when looking for an authentic experience of Iceland.
This is by no means an exhaustive list; you might also enjoy visiting Skaftafell Ice Cave or Reynisfjara Beach, which is famed for its black sands and salt pillars. Nature lovers also flock towards the Gullfoss, an iconic waterfall just outside of Reykjavik.
Above all, when venturing outside of Reykjavik, it’s important to bear in mind that Icelandic public transport is near non-existent. We recommend hiring a car if you want to make the most of your visit, as this will allow you to visit all the attractions in your own time, without having to coordinate with tour groups. You can contact our expert team to find out more about our affordable car rentals by calling our office on +354 511 3111 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.