Topping travel bucket lists, astonishing great outdoor lovers and gripping thrill-seekers – there’s something pretty special about Iceland. Boasting unspoiled landscapes as far as the eye can see and enough natural wonders to shake a stick at, visitors have been flocking to Iceland in their droves in recent years.
We take a look at some of the Land of Fire and Ice’s ‘hot spots’ and their ‘off the beaten track’ alternatives, to make sure you get the most out of your trip and show that there’s enough of Iceland to go around!
From relaxing geothermal baths to thundering waterfalls, dramatic black sand beaches to glistening glaciers, these excursions will let you follow the road less travelled and see a lesser-known side of this magnificent country. You’re welcome!
Hot spot: The Blue Lagoon
About to embark on an Icelandic adventure? No doubt you’ll be planning to include the infamous Blue Lagoon on your travel itinerary – it is listed as one of the National Geographic’s 25 wonders of the world after all!
Receiving hundreds of thousands of visitors each year, the Blue Lagoon is Iceland’s most visited tourist attraction. Tourists from across the world flock to this natural geothermal spa to take a dip (and a selfie) in the chalky waters.
Off the beaten track: Krauma Geothermal Baths
Move over Blue Lagoon and make room the Krauma Geothermal Baths. This unique bathing resort is heated with water from one of Europe’s most powerful hot springs, Deildartunguhver. Avoid the crowds and enjoy a more authentic dip, as you take in the stunning views of West Iceland’s landscapes.
Hot spot: Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach
Don’t miss out on a visit to Reynisfjara – the most famous black sand beach on the South Coast of Iceland. Its colossal basalt stacks, raging Atlantic waves and dramatic views make it one of Iceland’s most striking black sand beaches. Did you know Reynisfjara even featured in Game of Thrones? Look out for puffins, fulmars and guillemots too!
Off the beaten track: Djúpalónssandur
Why not take your adventure off the beaten track with a visit to Djúpalónssandur? This arched-shaped bay is located on Western Iceland’s Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Explore the black pebble beach with its rocky coastal lava formations. Can you spot the Snæfellsjökull glacier volcano?
Hot spot: Gullfoss
Gullfoss is one of Iceland’s most-loved waterfalls and a stop on the ‘must-do’ Golden Circle tour. This cascading beauty translates literally to ‘Golden Falls’. What makes Gullfoss so special? This two-tiered waterfall plummets 32 metres down into its gorge, with walls that reach up to 70 metres high. If that doesn’t satisfy your thirst for waterfalls, when the sun is shining, you can see a shimmering rainbow curving over the falls.
Off the beaten track: Dynjandi
Venture off the beaten track, deep into Iceland’s remote Westfjords, and you’ll discover the thundering Dynjandi waterfall. At 100 metres high, this mighty giant is the biggest waterfall in the Westfjords. Consisting of seven waterfalls, it’s the sheer volume of the crashing water that makes Dynjandi simply overawing.
Hot spot: Thingvellir – Mid Atlantic Ridge
The first stop on Iceland’s ‘Golden Circle’ is Thingvellir National Park, a site of great geological, historical and cultural importance. The dramatic UNESCO World Heritage Site is the location of Iceland’s ancient parliament, as well as one of the few places on earth where the Mid Atlantic Ridge is visible above sea level! Walk through the rifts in the earth’s crust as the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates pull apart.
Off the beaten track: Snorkelling at Thingvellir
Take your Thingvellir experience to the next level with an underwater discovery through the Silfra fissure. Don your snorkel and flippers, letting the crystal clear waters and colourful aquatic plants mesmerise you.
Hot spot: Sólheimajökull
Stunning Sólheimajökull is an outlet glacier of the mighty Mýrdalsjökull icecap. Its close proximity to Reykjavík makes it a popular glacier for hiking. Equipped with crampons and ice axes, get up close and personal to the glacier with a guided trek. Learn about the glacier’s ice, its movement and its rate of retreat, as well as discovering a range of fascinating glacial features. You won’t forget this in a hurry!
Off the beaten track: Svinafellsjökull
Svínafellsjökull in an outlet glacier of Vatnajökull, the largest ice cap in Europe. Svínafellsjökull competes with Sólheimajökull as the country’s most popular glacier for hiking. This glacier offers impressive formations and mind-blowing views out across Vatnajökull National Park and beyond.