Top 10 Must-Have Experiences in Iceland

From thundering waterfalls to Viking legends to the mesmerizing Northern Lights, Iceland is for lovers of nature and culture alike – and despite its chilly name, you won’t find friendlier people anywhere.


Photo © iStock/powerofforever

1. Stand Behind a Waterfall

Iceland features stunning waterfalls of all sizes and descriptions, but at Seljalandsfoss, in South Iceland, you can actually walk behind the curtain of water. 

Seljalandsfoss. Photo credit: iStock

2. Swim Between Two Continents 

At the Silfra Fissure in Þingvellir National Park, you can snorkel or scuba dive in the crack between the North American and Eurasian continents. Fed by Langjökull glacier, the water in the fissure is famously clear, with exceptional visibility.

Diving the Silfra fissure. Photo credit: iStock

3. Go Inside a Volcano

Take a cable car into the massive magma chamber of the volcano Þríhnúkagígur – the only place in the world where this experience is possible. Don’t worry – it’s been dormant for 4,000 years.

4. Sink Neck-Deep in a Hidden Hot Spring

Natural hot springs are everywhere in this geothermal country, and if you’d prefer to soak in solitude rather than among the throngs at the Blue Lagoon, head to the secluded Lanbrotalaug spring on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula or Hörghlíðarlaug, overlooking the sea in the Westfjords.

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5. Explore an Ice Cave

The astounding cave in Langjökull glacier is the largest man-made ice cave in Europe – but for walls and formations of a truly stunning electric blue, visit the Crystal Ice Cave within Vatnajökull glacier.

Crystal Ice Cave in Vatnajökull glacier. Photo credit: iStock

6. Walk on a Black Sand Beach

Landscapes don’t get much more impressive than Reynisfjara, on the Southern coast. Competing with the black sand for your amazement is an enormous cliff made of volcanic basalt columns. Off shore are the rock formations called Reynisdrangar, said to be trolls turned to stone by the breaking of dawn.

Reynisfjara beach. Photo credit: iStock

7. Go Paddling with Puffins

Kayakers on gorgeous Breiðafjöður Bay in West Iceland are likely to have close encounters with these adorable birds, along with seals and even whales.

8. Hike on one of Europe’s Largest Glaciers

The biggest glacier in Iceland, Vatnajökull is so vast that it covers not one, but several, active volcanoes. The views are epic as you cross this massive ice field and explore its ridges and cravasses.

Vatnajökull glacier. Photo credit: iStock

9. Gaze at the Aurora Borealis

Winter nights are long in Iceland – all the more time to view nature’s greatest light show. The Northern Lights are visible here from mid-September to early April.

10. Join the Djamm (Party) in Reykjavik

Reykjavik is world-renowned for its nightlife, and the party doesn’t even get started until after midnight. After mingling with the townsfolk and sampling Brennivin (aka “Icelandic Black Death”) at local institution Prikið, head to Paloma, the best place to dance till daybreak.

Want to know more about Iceland? Check out our podcast. We chat about where to capture the best photos in Iceland, how to speak like a Viking (almost), and how a social policy got the country to the World Cup.

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