11 Amazing things to do in Iceland…that will make you never want to leave.

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Northern Lights

After 10 days in a campervan exploring the Iceland Ring Road, there are a few things I have learnt.

One is that you will have never experienced a country like Iceland. Two, 10 days is nowhere near enough time to explore all the things to do in Iceland and three, there is no hope of trying to pronounce half the names of all the beautiful places there is to see in Iceland.

Want our 7 Tips for Your Family Trip to Iceland in a Campervan? Click here to find more

With all that in mind here are 11 Amazing things to do in Iceland...that will make you never want to leave.

 

1.Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - fjaðrárgljúfur canyon

 

Yes, this place is real and no, this photo has not been edited to the max!

The river Fjaðrá winds it’s way along this two-kilometre canyon and what a shade of blue it is. It is only a short walk from the car park to stand on the upper parts of the canyon and glimpse down the 100 metre deep walls to views like this.

There are various paths to explore both the upper canyon and down into the canyon itself. With waterfalls and stunning views to discover. Unfortunately due to a small hiccup ( see Getting There section) I only had a 15-minute view of this magic place while my husband sat in the stranded campervan with three overtired children. Worth. Every. Minute.

Getting There: Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon is located near the village of Kirkjubæjarklaustur just off the Ring Road. The road leading to the canyon is gravel, although in good condition and suitable for most cars. The car park is quite small and when we arrived in a 6 berth Campervan it was full, which lead to a 12 point turn and some fun times.

 

2. Seljalandsfoss

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Seljalandsfoss

 

Ever had the experience of walking behind a waterfall? In the summer months a visit to Seljalandsfoss it is possible to do just that!

With water originating from the melting glacier which covers Eyjafjallajokull volcano cascading over a drop of over 60 metres this place wows as soon as it is visible on the drive along Iceland’s Ring Road, Route 1.

There is a small cave behind the falls that can be reached by those willing to get thoroughly wet and chance the slippery walk.

Find a great deal on wet weather gear here

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Seljalandsfoss

 

Getting There: Seljalandsfoss is included in the Golden Circle and is about a 2-hour drive from the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik. It is impossible to miss as it is easy to see from the main road on approach. To chase more waterfalls, head another 30km up Route 1 to Skógafoss…  just be prepared to tackle the 500+ steps to see the falls from above.

 

3. Þingvellir

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Thingvellir

 

This National Park is famous for being the site of the Althing, the national parliament of Iceland. The Althing was established in 930AD, making it the oldest parliament in the world. As well as being important historically this area is where it is possible to see the continental drift between the Eurasian and North American Tectonic Plates.

There is plenty to explore in the UNESCO World Heritage Site, from diving the Silfra fissure to discovering the darker side of the area. With place names that translate to “ Drowning Pool” and “Gallows Rock”, Þingvellir’s role as a place of public execution from the 17th century until 1800 has left lasting impression on the area.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Thingvellir

 

Getting There: Þingvellir is about 45km from Reykjavik and is part of Iceland's Golden Circle. Heading north from Reykjavik turn onto road 36 which will take you to the National Park.

 

4. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

 

Jökulsárlón is the deepest lake in Iceland and due to the effects of global warming is getting bigger each year. As ice from Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull melts into the lagoon, Jökulsárlón’s landscape constantly changes.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

 

There are various tours and activities available on the lake from boat tours to kayaks and Stand Up Paddle Boarding… as well as the opportunity to just take in the views on the lagoons edge or nearby Diamond Beach.

 

Discover Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon Tours Here

 

Our kids favourite part was getting to eat 1000-year-old ice, while we were in awe watching an iceberg flip ( Did you know that if an iceberg is bright blue it has only just turned over? ).

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

 

Getting There: You will find Jökulsárlón along Route 1. From Reykjavik, it is around a 6-hour drive..although this will be longer as there is so much to stop and see on the way.

Need more inspo? Discover all our Iceland Posts here.

 

5. Black Sand Beach, Reynisfjara

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Black Sand Beach - Vik

 

National Geographic has ranked Reynisfjara as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world which isn't too shabby considering there isn’t a palm tree or white sandy shore in sight.

Instead boots crunch on black lava and the basalt stacks, Reynisdrangar tower out of the turbulent Atlantic ocean just like the imposing trolls, local folklore states they are.

The beauty of Reynisfjara isn’t just the volcanic black beach. Here at the base of Reynisfjall there is Hálsanefshellir cave and hexagonal-shaped basalt columns to explore too. It is hard to comprehend that nature is capable of creating something so exact in shape.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Black Sand Beach - Vik

 

An important thing to note at Reynisfjara is to be aware of the dangers of sneaker waves and strong currents. Here beauty can be deadly. It is wise to read warning signs and not get too close to the shoreline.

Getting There: Located on Iceland’s South Coast, Reynisfjara is around a 2.5-hour drive from the capital. It is well signposted from the Ring Road. Our advice would be to get there early. Not only will you miss the crowds but if you are lucky enough you will catch an amazing sunrise.

 

6. Námaskarð

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Námaskarð - Geothermal

 

Námaskarð is probably as far as you or I could get to being on another planet. A barren landscape full of bubbling sulphuric mud, steam pouring out of otherworldly terrain and a smell that will put you off dinner.

Once you get past the rotten egg smell ( try not to breathe it in too much as sulphur is harmful to us mere mortals ), you start to notice all the rich and various colours of the minerals in the ever-changing landscape. An area where you can get lost in the beauty and wonder that our world is capable of.

This place is HOT…as in above 200 degrees Celsius…you can feel the heat coming off the steam springs ( fumaroles ) even from a distance. And the mud springs ( solfataras ) are hypnotisingly gurgling and boiling from their high temperatures.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Námaskarð - Geothermal

 

Getting There: Chances are you will smell this place before you see it. Located to the North of Iceland’s Lake Myvatn.

 

7. Svartifoss

 

There are so many waterfalls in Iceland to explore and it is hard work to pick a few standouts. Svartifoss is one of the most unique though. Only 12 metres high, it isn't anywhere near one of the biggest waterfalls but with its black, hexagonal, lava walls it is one of the most stunning.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Svartifoss

 

The walk to the falls is where some of the magic happens too. It is around a 3.5km round walk to Svartifoss through Skaftafell in Vatnajökull National Park. You walk over bridges, past three other waterfalls and through lush growth before you get to see the falls from a distance.

Getting There: Head from the Ring Road onto Route 998. Park inside the National Park near the information centre then follow the marked path to Svartifoss. Be prepared for some hills and steps.

 

8. Hot Springs

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Hot Springs

 

The Blue Lagoon may be one of the most famous geothermal pools in the world…and in case you are wondering it is well worth the visit, just make it early. We headed there for open time and dodged all the bus tours heading in for mid-morning. Makes for a much more enjoyable experience.

There are, however, plenty of other areas around the country that offer a subliminal dip in warm, mineral-rich waters. From Mývatn Nature Baths to the Secret Lagoon near Flúðir and special spots off the beaten track like this one the hot springs in Iceland are worth discovering.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Hot Springs

 

Getting There: The Blue Lagoon is located in Grindavík which is about 20km from Keflavík International Airport or around 40km from Reykjavík. As to the other hot springs, it’s much more fun to go adventuring and discover them yourself.

 

9. Solheimasandur

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Solheimasandur - Black Sand Beach - Plane Crash

 

The famous Sólheimasandur plane wreck sits eerily on the black sand of Sólheimasandur beach. Over four decades ago in November 1973 this United States Navy DC plane was forced to land after running out of fuel. All of the crew survived and it was later discovered the pilot had intact accidentally switched to the wrong fuel tank. I imagine he was a popular fellow.

From this mistake though has come a great treasure and it is a lot of fun to clamber over the plane and explore inside the wreckage. Like many of the popular sites, it is much more fun to head here earlier or later in the day and miss the crowds. Just allow for the long walk and weather changes.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Solheimasandur - Black Sand Beach - Plane Crash

 

Getting There: Located on the South Coast about 20 minutes from Vik, this place isn't too well sign-posted. You will see a car park at the side of the road and that’s your only clue. Expect a 45-minute walk to the plane…and hope for good weather as you can have sand blasting you the whole way there.

 

10. Vatnshellir Cave

 

Take your own Journey to the Centre of the Earth in the location Jules Verne based his famous novel.

As you disappear down 35 metres below the ground into this 8000-year-old lava tube it is easy to imagine you could end up in a whole new world.  Equipped with helmets and flashlights you descend down spiral staircases to see lava formations and a stunning variety of colours. This is one of the most fun things to do in Iceland.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Vatnshellir Cave- Volcano

 

Our favourite part was when our guide asked everyone to turn their flashlights off. Enveloped in cold darkness, with eyes straining to see any light and the dripping of water it can send goosebumps down your spine.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Vatnshellir Cave- Volcano

 

Getting There: Vatnshellir cave is located in Snæfellsjökull National Park. It is pretty much right on  Road 574 and the ticket office is clear to see as you drive along west of Arnarstapi.

 

11. Northern Lights

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Northern Lights

 

I saved my favourite till last. I’m not sure if it’s the fact that you have no control over getting to experience this magical phenomenon, or that it usually involves being awake in those secret hours of the night but seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland is truly a moment to treasure forever.

The best chance of seeing the lights is from September till around Mid April. It also helps to be away from light pollution in the larger cities and towns. Add this to the fact that there needs to be little cloud cover and a dark night without a bright moon, and it is easy to see why it is so special when the lights put on a show.

 

Travel With Meraki - Iceland - Northern Lights

 

On our trip, we saw the lights twice. These images were from the second time. We watched them dance in green and purple across the sky for over an hour.

Getting There: There are Northen Light tours from Reykjavik available. If you are exploring the Ring Road in Iceland you may just be lucky enough to step outside of your campervan like we did one night and capture moments like these pictured.  Follow this website to keep track of the lights. It is good to note though that this can change quickly. The night these photo’s were taken was one of the lowest ratings during our stay and we almost decided not to keep watch!

 

Find Northern Lights Tours

 

This list is the tip of the iceberg when it comes to cool things to do in Iceland ( pun intended ). It is more of a taste of what things to see in Iceland, the country of Fire and Ice than an itinerary to follow. Do your own research before you visit. Social media is a fantastic tool for this. Be sure to follow us for inspo.

Click here to discover how you can use social media to plan your next adventure. And here to find out what resources we use for all our trips.

Travel With Meraki. Make sure you leave plenty of time to take roads you're not sure where they lead to, to wander along a path not on your itinerary and to put the camera down and soak it all up.

 

 

Plan Your Trip

Iceland is Europe's most Western Country and located in the North-Atlantic Ocean. 

 Keflavik International Airport is the main airport in Iceland which is just under 50km from the capital city, Reykavik. 

Find great flight deals to Iceland  here.  

Want to rent a car to explore the Golden Circle? Click here to find out more

Discover campsites in Iceland by clicking here

For accommodation in Reykjavik and beyond click here.  

Iceland is fast becoming a top tourist destination. Make sure you book ahead for accommodation and rental vehicles. 

You will find credit card accepted nearly everywhere and ATM's in the rare instance you need local currency. 

Expect to get wet and cold at some stage and pack for it. We took waterproof jackets, trousers and footwear...and used them all, often. Click to find some great deals on wet weather clothing you will need for Iceland and for great hiking boots ...and yes you will need them. 

Amazing Iceland tours You Will Want To Do.

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4 thoughts on “11 Amazing things to do in Iceland…that will make you never want to leave.

  1. I must admit Iceland was never high on our list to visit, but I realise now that we just didn’t know enough about it. Your story and pictures bring it to life and it is now well and truly on our list of places to see!

    1. Don’t worry I was exactly the same. It was my husband’s number one bucket list item so we thought we would go for his 40th!. So very glad we did. I hope you get to go one day 🙂

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