Iceland is one of the most picturesque countries on earth. There are so many amazing experiences to be had. It’s essential to plan your trip around the sites that are most important to you. Here are some of the essential ones that can’t be missed!

Drink from a glacier in Jokulsarlon

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is a popular stop for most visitors. There aren’t too many places on earth where you can take a boat between glaciers, give them a lick and have a sip of their pure water. After the boat ride take a walk on Diamond beach, a black beach littered with pieces of glaciers that glint like discarded diamonds.

Top Tip: In high season pre-book the boat trip, it’s very popular.

Whale watching in Husavik or Hauganes

I have done many whale watching trips but none compare to the one in Iceland. We went with the oldest company – Whale Watching Hauganes, on an old fishing boat. We saw three humpbacks and it looked like we were literally on top of them at one point. We also fished off the boat and enjoyed the gorgeous scenery in the Eyjafjordur Fjord. 

Whale Watching Hauganes: https://whales.is/

Top Tip: Rug up – it’s cold on the water! And bring a good camera.

Visit a geothermal spa

Geothermal spas feature water heated from the fires beneath the earth. It is a rejuvenating and relaxing experience to sit in their healing waters. The Blue Lagoon is the largest geothermal spa in Iceland, it’s also the busiest and the most expensive. The Retreat Spa is the most exclusive, the Secret Lagoon is the oldest, and the Fontana features Finnish Saunas. All three aren’t far from Reykjavik. Myvatn Nature Baths in North Iceland offers a comparable alternative to the Blue Lagoon that’s not as busy or costly. It’s large and picturesque with saunas and steam rooms.

Top Tip: The Blue Lagoon is between the airport and Reyjavik. It’s a great way to kill time before your departing flight, or on arrival before checking in.

Chase waterfalls – Godafoss, Gullfoss, Skogafoss & Seljalandsfoss

Iceland is a land of stunning waterfalls. It can be hard to determine which ones to visit, there are so many and you can’t see them all! By the end of our trip, we ALMOST had waterfall fatigue. Gullfoss is widely considered to be the most famous and is conveniently located on the Golden Circle within 2 hours of Reyjavik. Gullfoss offers panoramic views from its many walkways.  Seljalandsfoss on the south coast is special for being able to walk behind it, which creates great photo opportunities. Skogafoss is also on the south coast, it’s tall and dramatic! Godafoss takes the cake in North Iceland and is revered for its beauty and power.

Seljalandsfoss with dad

Scuba or snorkel in the continental divide

Silfra is the only place on earth where you can dive or snorkel between two tectonic plates. Silfra is in Thingvellir National Park, under an hour from Reykjavik. It might not sound appealing to get into icy cold waters, but it’s warmer in the water than it is on land and you wear a full-body wetsuit. The freshwater is crystal clear and clean enough to drink, with visibility over 100m in distance.

Top Tip: Combine Silfra with a golden circle tour or visit to Thingvellir National Park.

Meet Icelandic horses

Icelandic horses are cute and small but whatever you do, don’t call them ponies. Icelanders love their horses for good reason, they are known to be long-lived, hardy and friendly. With signature bangs dangling across their foreheads, I just couldn’t get enough of them. You can get up close and personal with horses at farms across Iceland. The Solvungur Icelandic Horse Centre is close to Selfoss, 40 minutes from Reyjavik. Here you can do a stable tour and pet the horses, or go for a ride. There are numerous other options for horse riding around the country, and you will see horses dotting the countryside as you explore Iceland.

Top Tip: Icelandic horses are friendly, but approach carefully from the front if you wish to pet them.

Go to the Bjorbodin beer spa

The Bjorbodin beer spa in Northern Iceland was one of the most unique experiences of the trip. As a non-beer drinker, I was skeptical to visit but it’s not just for beer fans. Start with a beer in the outdoor hot tub overlooking the fjords. Then move inside to a private room for the beer spa. The bath is full of hops, beer, water, and yeast, which is good for the skin and hair. Pour yourself a beer straight from the taps. Next, enjoy the relaxation room and perhaps a meal at the restaurant or a visit to their brewery Kaldi, the oldest in Iceland.  I found it to be both relaxing and decadent. I can’t recommend it enough.

Top Tip: Bjorbodin is perfectly located to combine with a whale watching trip in Hauganes.

Hike up an active volcano

It sounds daunting to walk up a volcano but there are a few that can be hiked up in under an hour. Hverfjall, or Myvatn volcano, is one of the most well-preserved craters on earth. The views are incredible and the hike up is under 20 minutes. To walk its circumference takes another 90 minutes. The Krafla Viti Crater, also in Myvatn in Northern Iceland, is stunning in a different way. The crater has become a lake filled with shockingly blue water. This can be walked up and around in an hour. You will feel as though you’re on Mars.

Top Tip: Make sure you have a good windbreaker as it can be incredibly windy. Lake Myvatn area is a must-visit, there’s so much to see.

Walking back down Hverfjall, otherwise known as Myvatn volcano

Stay in the beautiful town of Seydisfjordur

Seydisfjordur is one of the most scenic towns in Iceland. Located on the east coast, you drive through what looks like the surface of the moon, before descending into the town, surrounded by waterfalls. The town is artsy and cute, with a scenic location within fjords. I loved the dramatic drive into Seydisfjordur and thought the town was beautiful. This was also where we did our favourite hike in Vestdalsvatn and Vestdalseyri area. 

Top Tip: Spend a few days here to enjoy the hiking trails and town. There are a number of good restaurants and a lively pub – Kaffi Lara.

Hiking just outside Seydisfjordur, in Vestdalsvatn and Vestdalseyri area

Experience the beauty of Aurora Borealis

Northern lights season extends from September to March. There are no guarantees when it comes to nature but witnessing the luminous colours dancing through the sky is something worth gambling on!

Top tip: September and March are the best months to see the lights. Book a glass-domed hotel for the best experience.

In Conclusion…

There’s no shortage of memorable experiences to have in Iceland. My best advice is to plan your trip around your essential experiences to ensure that you accomplish the things you really want to.

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