Roaring waterfalls, dramatic black sand beaches, picturesque lagoons and an outstanding, out-of-worldly landscape everywhere you look, Iceland is a photographers paradise and a travellers dream. One of the most beautiful places in Europe and with so many places in Iceland to explore, it’s hard to believe it’s only 103,000km² in size (smaller than New York state).
Read on for the top 12 places in Iceland you HAVE to experience.
These photos were taken on our 5 day road trip across Iceland in late April 2019.
Seljalandsfoss is just under a 2 hour drive south-east from Reykjavik city centre. You can view the waterfall from the front, or walk around behind it. Be prepared to get soaked in icy water (it is so worth it).
Tip: Icelandic names can be complicated to English speakers. To make it easier, when looking at Iceland names look for ‘Foss’. ‘Foss’ in Icelandic means waterfall/falls in English.
25 minutes drive east from Seljalandsfoss, you’ll find the impressive Skógafoss. One of the most well-known waterfalls in Iceland, Skógafoss towers 60m above the ground. You can view the waterfall from below or climb the stairs to the top.
3. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Located on the south of Iceland, a 5 or so hour drive from Reykjavik lies Jokulsarlon, a glacier lagoon. This lagoon is worth the distance covered to get here. Even in late April, there were icebergs and we kept seeing seals as they popped up from below the surface. Definitely recommend, although rug up, even in Spring it was tremendously cold.
4. Reynisfjara Beach (Iceland’s Giant’s Causeway)
A dramatic black sand beach frames Iceland’s incredible answer to Ireland’s Giant Causeway. The black basalt columns rise from the ground, levelling off at different heights and provides unique photo opportunities.
5. Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck
In the middle of absolutely nowhere lies the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck. Crashed in 1973 after running out of fuel (all crew survived, it is now believed that the pilot accidentally switched to the wrong fuel tank mid flight) and now a popular tourist site. The photo above has not been edited, the landscape really is that barron and exposed. It’s incredible.
Please Note: Walking to and from this wreck was one of the hardest, if not the hardest, thing I have ever put my body through. Some of my friends who have done it just complain of the boredom (as it is a 3km walk each way); however, during our walk the weather turned rough. It was very windy and wet. When we got back to our car we were so numb it took several minutes before we even began shaking from being cold. Several months later two tourists died here. We did not expect the walk to be so brutal based on what we had researched or what the signs around the area said. There is a bus to and from, which is very expensive; however, I recommend this if you want to see the plane wreck.
Geysir is located an hour and a half drive east from Reykjavik. Here you can walk around vibrant blue pools of boiling water, often bubbling before reaching the main geysers. Every few minutes, without warning, a violent column of steam and boiling water is ejected into the air, which is an incredible sight. Iceland really is the land of fire and ice after all.
Just down the road from Geysir is the remarkable Gullfoss, one of the more popular waterfalls in Iceland. With multiple vantage points, it’s sheer power is not only beautiful but humbling.
8. Kerið Crater
Less than an hours drive east of Reykjavik you will find Kerið Crater. A 3,000 year old crater with vibrant blue water framed by dark red soil. I don’t think it needs any further explanation as to why this needs to be on your list of top places in Iceland to visit.
One of the most famous photographs in Iceland, Kirkjufell (mountain) and Kirkjufellfoss (waterfall) on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula was a real highlight of our road trip across Iceland. A combination of waterfall and mountainside, this place is worth the 2.5 hour drive north from Reykjavik.
10. Buðir Black Church
Unlike the mostly wild attractions of Iceland, Buðir Black Church is quiet and quaint, situated about 40 minutes away from Kirkjufellfoss. One of only 3 black churches in Iceland, this picturesque church is a great place to stop along the way.
11. Reykjavik City Centre
After describing almost every location above in relation to Reykjavik, it would be impossible not to include this quirky city on the list. We almost completely skipped visiting the city centre but we were SO happy we went for a wander round on our last night. As an Australian, Reykjavik was like a cooler version of Melbourne (literally and figuratively) and had a really great atmosphere. Would definitely spend more time in this city than just the evening we spent strolling through.
10. Blue Lagoon
Of course, had to save the best until last. Blue Lagoon in Iceland is a must do experience while in Iceland. And if you’re looking to take photos like this without anyone else around, I recommend arriving when they first open. Located near Iceland’s airport, we visited Blue Lagoon in-between checking out of our hostel and checking in for our flight. We spent about 2-3 hours here and it was the best place to finish our Iceland road trip.
If you are visiting on a short stopover, you can still see some of these amazing places, read: Things to do on an Iceland Stopover.
Make sure you add these places in Iceland to your itinerary and happy travelling!