Reykjavik from Hallgrimskirkja, Iceland

Top 10 of the most beautiful places to visit in Iceland

The isolated, remote country located near the Arctic Circle is home to some of the most unique landscapes in the world, which is probably why it’s fast becoming Europe’s hottest travel destination. With its huge glaciers, temperamental volcanoes, powerful waterfalls, bubbling hot springs and acres of wild untamed scenery, Iceland’s lonely lands are a nature lover’s paradise. From our time spent in Iceland and feedback gathered from our travel network here is our Top 10 of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Iceland…

Gullfoss Waterfall – one of the most famously stunning places to visit in Iceland

Gulfoss Waterfall Iceland

The rainy weather in Iceland makes the country unusually suited for waterfalls and Iceland is home to many. Gullfoss has made the list because of its beauty and accessibility – it’s located on the Golden Circle (the most popular tourist route in Iceland). Literally meaning Golden Falls, Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. It’s actually two separate waterfalls, the higher one has a drop of 11 metres and the falls below have a drop of 21 metres. Also check our blogger friend’s guide to the 60 Best Stops On Your Iceland Ring Road Itinerary.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Gullfoss Waterfall

Thingvellir National Park – another famous beauty spot in Iceland which is part of the Golden Circle

Thingvellir National Park

Another attraction on the Golden Circle is the UNESCO World Heritage site Thingvellir National Park. It’s undeniably beautiful with miles of untamed Icelandic countryside and a huge crystal clear lake filled with species of fish found nowhere else, but arguably its more famous for its location. It’s based at site of a rift valley marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. Divers and snorkellers take advantage of the lake’s amazing visibility to see the Eurasian and American continental plates slowly tearing apart below.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Thingvellir National Park

Geysir 

Strokkur-Erupting in Iceland

The third attraction on the Golden Circle is the hot spring area which is home to the original Geysir (which gave its name to all the others). The Great Geysir is now sadly inactive but thankfully the next biggest, ‘Strokkur’ still obligingly spews hot water as high up as 30 metres every 10 minutes. During the winter month’s you’ll probably freeze standing around waiting for it to erupt but luckily the geothermally active area – with its unusual colours and bubbling sulfurous mud pots – is pretty enough to keep you distracted.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Geysir

Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon Iceland

Yes it’s a tourist trap, yes it’s man-made (it’s been dug out and filled with the outflow from the nearby Svartsengi thermal power station) but there really is nowhere else like it on earth. It also deserves a place on the list because the geothermal spa with its thick mist which swirls over milky-blue water set against a background of black lava landscapes has a surreal beauty, and is definitely a place everyone has to visit at least once in their life.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Blue Lagoon

Askja

Askja Iceland

Iceland is so famous for its volcanos so you’ll have to include at least one on your itinerary. Head for Askja, a sunken crater located in a central volcano in the Dyngjufjöll Mountains. The landscapes here are so remote and lunar-like its actually where US-astronauts trained before landing on the moon in 1969. Once there make sure you scramble down the crater’s stark sides to take a quick dip in the milky turquoise geothermal lake (Víti) below.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Askja

Westfjords

Westfjords Iceland

Not many visitors reach as far as Iceland’s Westfjords – it’s one of the most remote corners of Europe – but the ones that do won’t be disappointed. The clear blue fjords, wild untouched landscapes, dark craggy mountains, gorgeous coastal roads and large puffin colony make for some very beautiful scenery. Don’t expect to see too many people hanging around, this area is very sparsely populated and only connected to rest of the country by mere 7 kilometre wide strip of land. If you’re thinking of heading out this way make sure you plan your trip well, Casamundo.co.uk  offer holiday rentals in this remote area (starting from €276 a week).

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Westfjords

The Jokulsarlon Lagoon

Jokulsarlon Lagoon

Although it’s a fairly lengthy five-hour drive from Reykjavik this place rates consistently high as a beautiful natural attraction in Iceland. It’s a huge glacial lake located in Southeast Iceland near Vatnajökull National Park and a uniquely beautiful sight. The lake was formed after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean and its recently grown so much it’s now the deepest lake in the country. Charter a boat tour to float among glacial icebergs before they break off and get swept off down the channel into the sea.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in The Jokulsarlon Lagoon

Landmannalaugar

Landmannalaugar

This is another popular destination and like most of Iceland’s natural attractions, it has an unearthly beauty. Located near the volcano Hekla (in the southern part of Iceland’s highlands) expect rugged hiking trails, bubbling hot springs, wildly-coloured hills and expansive lava fields. Although don’t plan your trip during the winter months, this site is only accessible in summer but in this season it’s a good idea to plan a few walking trips as it’s easily one of the most amazing hikes to take in Iceland.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Landmannalaugar

Skaftafell National Park

Skaftafell National Park

Skaftafell with its ice-blue glaciers, lush green meadows, attractive waterfall and tall mountains is definitely no slouch in the epic landscape department. Located in the South of Iceland, the area now forms part of the larger Vatnajökull National Park but still has its own visitor centre to represent it. A peaceful unspoilt area, the park mostly draws hikers, climbers and wildlife watchers looking to catch a glimpse of many species of birds and native arctic foxes.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Skaftafell National Park

Jökulsárgljúfur National Park

Jokulsargljufur national park

This is another national park that now forms part of the larger Vatnajökull National Park. It lies to the north of Iceland and is based around the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum. Definitely one of the most beautiful places to visit in Iceland, it’s known for its volcanic mountains, several exceptional waterfalls including Dettifoss, (Europe’s most powerful waterfall), endless rock formations and Jokulsargljufur Canyon – one of the largest and most impressive river canyons in the country.

Hotels and Self-Catered Vacation Rentals in Jökulsárgljúfur National Park

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Born in England, with a few family roots from Bavaria, and a heart in Scandinavia I've always been a bit of a restless soul. My first true adventure began as a six month voyage around South East Asia as a fresh faced backpacker and ever since I've lived a semi nomadic existence, clocking up over 40 countries on trips and living in Dublin, South East Asia and Australia. I'm a lover of US Road Trips, deserted beaches bathed in warm glow of a sunset, Cuban mojitos, easy-on-the-eye travel destinations far away from the tourist crowds and all things Scandinavian - from cloudberry liquors to Scandi Noirs. When not wandering the world, you'll find me walking my rescue dog in leafy South West London, strolling around the Brighton Laines on random day trips, hunting for photogenic landscapes or daydreaming about returning to my all time favourite places in the world; Havana, Copenhagen, Italy, Thailand and the frozen landscapes of a wintry Iceland. Follow Becky on Twitter and Google+.

33 Comments

  • Avatar

    Adam @ Round the World we go

    3 November, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Absolutely stunning photos! I am heading to Iceland next Feb/March and seriously cannot wait. There’s so much natural beauty that hasn’t been ruined waiting to be explored

    Reply
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    Maria Bain

    3 February, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    Get post and amazing photos! Iceland is just fantastic and so undiscovered! The Blue Lagoon is a must, did you get a chance to see the Northern LIghts? If you ever get a change to Discover The World do some great deals on trips.

    Reply
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    Shannon Colman

    15 January, 2014 at 6:53 pm

    Unbelievable photos! I’ve shared many stories about my time in Iceland on my blog and one of the things I highlight is how it’s not always easy to immediately notice the country’s beauty, because the landscape can seem so barren and archaic (especially on a rainy day!)However, these photos prove its scenic worth 🙂

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    Ross

    5 January, 2014 at 5:53 pm

    Super photos. From doing the ring road trip myself I thought Iceland was a fantastic country. I am glad that you hightlighted the Blue Lagoon is a tourist trap and it comes from a power station. That was one of my (my only) major gripes

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    Sverrir Steinn

    13 November, 2013 at 2:55 pm

    There is so much about Iceland. I recommend a village in South Iceland, Laugarvatn, which is located in the heart of the Golden Circle. Gullfoss, Geysir and the national park are all with in 20 minutes drive away from the village. There you can as well experience beautiful hostels, restaurants and geothermal bathing.

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    Wendy DeChambeau

    12 November, 2013 at 3:34 pm

    I’ve never wanted to visit Iceland so badly. Thanks for the awesome photos and info. Now if I can just get my husband on board….

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    Hafdís

    9 November, 2013 at 9:09 pm

    Did you know this about Iceland? 52 tidbits about Iceland and Icelanders, in both English and Icelandic. Tidbits about the highest mountain, the longest river, national flower, tallest Icelander, types of moss etc.. look at our webside sysla.is

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    Ed Graham

    8 November, 2013 at 5:23 pm

    Nice photos and good list. Everyone loves to mention the Blue Lagoon but my fav. was the hot springs Akureyri, Iceland. The pool felt more natural and it was far less crowded. Love Iceland.

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    Steve Steakley

    8 November, 2013 at 3:00 am

    Spent two years in Iceland and got to see these places…the best photo opportunities ever, and it looks better now..global warming plus here

    Reply

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