Are you contemplating a trip to Iceland this year? Here are some of the most beautiful places to explore in Iceland. These breathtaking sights and destinations will enchant you.
I’ve been to Iceland five times, and I can’t seem to shake off the travel bug that draws me ever closer. From experiencing the Northern Lights to exploring majestic geysers, there’s a special energy about this country that you truly won’t find anywhere else. Boasting incredibly diverse landscapes, the best places to visit in Iceland guarantee an extraordinary experience for adventure enthusiasts.
A realm of contrasts where fire meets ice, where lunar landscapes mesh with lush green valleys, the most scenic places in Iceland invoke a sense of wanderlust that is hard to quell. From the vibrant and artistic capital Reykjavik to the tranquil fjords and quaint villages, the most beautiful cities in Iceland are as compelling as the country’s stunning natural vistas.
If you’ve ever wondered, “where to go in Iceland,” you’re about to embark on a journey unveiling the best places in Iceland. With each turn, the visiting Iceland will unravel themselves, presenting an incredible spectacle of nature’s grandeur.
Whether it’s your first time visiting Iceland or you’re a returning wanderer, there are always new gems to discover. So sit back, and let’s journey together through Iceland’s beautiful places. Here are the prettiest places in Iceland, where each location is a testament to nature’s raw power and sublime beauty.
Eager to delve into all the most picturesque spots in Iceland? As mentioned before, there’s something for everyone in this Nordic jewel. So continue reading to unearth the incredible scenery in Iceland.
Are you in search of scenic city and cultural attractions? Or perhaps you’re leaning towards a tranquil retreat in nature? Whatever your plans may be, Iceland can fulfill your desires. Here are all the top spots in Iceland you should be aware of:
Reykjavik, the cosmopolitan heart of Iceland, is a colorful blend of history, culture, and captivating modernity. As one of the most beautiful cities in Iceland, Reykjavik serves as the perfect starting point for any Icelandic adventure. Renowned for its strikingly vibrant houses, impressive murals, and the iconic Hallgrímskirkja Church, it’s hard not to fall in love with this city’s quaint charm.
From its bustling harbor, you can embark on unforgettable whale-watching trips or even go puffin spotting, a truly unique place to visit in Iceland. The capital is also a hub for Icelandic culinary exploration, offering delectable seafood and the legendary Icelandic hot dogs.
When you’re in the mood for culture, don’t miss the chance to visit the Harpa Concert Hall or the National Museum. Thus, Reykjavik undoubtedly stands as a testament to the pretty places in Iceland, marrying the old with the new in a seamless dance of culture, beauty, and charm.
The northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik is a vibrant city full of character and history. It offers a mix of modern architecture, vibrant nightlife, and cultural landmarks, such as the iconic Hallgrímskirkja church and Harpa Concert Hall. This city is also home to some of the country’s best restaurants, where you can sample Icelandic cuisine.
2. Golden Circle
Next on the list of the most beautiful places in Iceland is the Golden Circle. This is a popular tourist route that covers about 300 kilometers looping from Reykjavik into the southern uplands and back. It is one of the best places in Iceland to witness the country’s geological wonders.
The Golden Circle’s highlights include Thingvellir National Park, where the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet, creating a unique and stunning landscape. It’s also home to the largest natural lake in Iceland, Þingvallavatn.
Geysir geothermal area is another must-see. Its bubbling mud pools and spouting geysers, including Strokkur, erupt every few minutes.
Finally, the tour wouldn’t be complete without the powerful and breathtaking Gullfoss waterfall. This beautiful place in Iceland is truly a spectacle to behold as the Hvítá river dramatically plunges into a deep crevice.
This popular tourist route includes the Geysir Geothermal Area, Gullfoss waterfall, and Þingvellir National Park. The Geysir area is famous for its spouting geysers and hot springs, while Gullfoss is known for its dramatic and powerful cascade. Þingvellir National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the birthplace of the oldest existing parliament in the world.
3. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon, a large glacial lake in southeast Iceland, is undeniably one of the most beautiful places of Iceland. Sitting at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, it developed into a lake after the glacier started receding from the edge of the Atlantic Ocean.
The lagoon is a surreal spectacle with its blue waters dotted with floating icebergs that have broken off from the glacier. It’s a must-see in Iceland, especially for wildlife lovers, as it’s common to spot seals swimming in the icy waters or lounging on the icebergs. In summer, a variety of birds, including the Arctic tern, also make an appearance.
For an up-close experience with the lagoon’s icebergs, consider taking a boat tour. This will give you a unique perspective on this majestic landscape. With its otherworldly beauty, Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon unquestionably deserves a spot in your Iceland itinerary.
Situated at the head of the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier, Jökulsárlón is a large glacial lake filled with icebergs. Here you can witness the awe-inspiring sight of icebergs calving from the glacier and drifting out to sea. This site is also a great place for spotting wildlife, including seals and a variety of bird species.
4. Vatnajökull National Park
Sprawling across an impressive 14% of the country, Vatnajökull National Park houses some of the most scenic places in Iceland. Home to the largest glacier in Europe, Vatnajökull, the park is a paradise for adventurers and nature lovers alike.
Marvel at the might of Dettifoss, reputed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. You’ll be captivated by the thunderous water plunging into the rugged canyon below. Then, explore the enchanting ice caves beneath the glacier — a truly unique place to visit in Iceland.
Don’t miss the Svartifoss waterfall, surrounded by dark lava columns that resemble an organ and give the waterfall its name, Black Fall. And of course, the breathtaking views of the glacier and the surrounding landscape are worth the trip alone. A visit to Vatnajökull National Park is sure to be one of the highlights of your Icelandic adventure.
This park is home to Europe’s largest glacier, Vatnajökull, and includes an incredible range of landscapes from vast ice fields to active volcanoes. It’s also home to Dettifoss, considered the most powerful waterfall in Europe. This national park offers countless hiking opportunities and awe-inspiring views.
Known as the “Capital of North Iceland,” Akureyri is the perfect blend of urban life and untouched nature. It’s undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Iceland, lying in the country’s longest fjord and surrounded by snow-capped mountains.
Despite its small size, Akureyri packs a punch with its vibrant art scene, unique museums, and outdoor activities. Visit the Akureyri Art Museum and Nonni’s House for cultural enrichment, or take a dip in one of the city’s geothermal pools.
Nature lovers can bask in the beauty of the Botanical Garden, home to every plant found in Iceland. During winter, Akureyri transforms into a winter wonderland, making it a popular destination for skiing and snowboarding.
The town also serves as a gateway to other beautiful places of Iceland. This includes Lake Mývatn, Goðafoss waterfall, and Dettifoss waterfall. With its enchanting mix of urban sophistication and natural grandeur, Akureyri is a must-visit when in Iceland.
Known as the “Capital of the North,” Akureyri is a charming town situated at the head of Iceland’s longest fjord. With its beautiful botanical gardens, interesting museums, and vibrant arts scene, Akureyri offers a more relaxed pace than Reykjavik but still has plenty of attractions to enjoy.
6. Blue Lagoon
Few places in Iceland have gained as much worldwide fame as the Blue Lagoon, and rightly so. Located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, this geothermal spa is one of the best places in Iceland for relaxation and rejuvenation.
The milky-blue seawater is rich in minerals like silica and sulfur, known for their healing effects on the skin. Relaxing in the warm waters while surrounded by the stark black lava field landscape is an experience like no other. This truly makes it a must see in Iceland.
The lagoon’s facilities offer various services such as massages, saunas, steam rooms, and a restaurant. And for a truly indulgent experience, try one of the silica mud masks.
Whether it’s your first stop after landing or the final treat before departure, the Blue Lagoon is a unique and unforgettable Icelandic experience.
This geothermal spa located in a lava field is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The milky-blue waters, rich in minerals like silica and sulfur, are known for their skin-healing properties. A soak in the Blue Lagoon is not only beneficial for your health, but it also offers an otherworldly experience amidst the stark contrast of blue waters and black lava rocks.
7. Skaftafell Nature Reserve
Nestled within the larger Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell Nature Reserve is a true hiker’s paradise. It’s one of the most scenic places in Iceland, showcasing a stunning array of landscapes from glaciers, mountains, and waterfalls to black sand plains and birch woodlands.
The highlight of the reserve is the Svartifoss waterfall, which is framed by dark hexagonal basalt columns, giving it a unique, artistic appearance. Additionally, the views of the surrounding glaciers, particularly the tongue of the Vatnajökull glacier, are truly breathtaking.
If you’re up for a more challenging hike, take the trail to Kristínartindar Peaks for an awe-inspiring view of the surrounding landscapes. Skaftafell Nature Reserve, with its diverse range of trails and unique natural beauty, is a beautiful place in Iceland for outdoor enthusiasts.
A part of Vatnajökull National Park, Skaftafell is a paradise for nature lovers and hikers. Its varied landscapes, ranging from glaciers to volcanic remnants and lush vegetation, are a sight to behold. One of its prime attractions is the beautiful Svartifoss waterfall, surrounded by dark lava columns. Is this one of Iceland’s most beautiful places? You bet!
Venture off the beaten path to discover one of Iceland’s least visited but most beautiful regions – the Westfjords. Characterized by deep fjords, rugged cliffs, hot springs, and charming villages, it’s one of the prettiest places in Iceland.
Be sure to visit Dynjandi, the largest waterfall in the Westfjords, where water cascades down in a series of smaller waterfalls, creating a stunning “wedding veil” effect. Another must-visit spot is Látrabjarg, the westernmost point of Iceland, which houses Europe’s largest bird cliff. During the nesting season, it’s teeming with puffins, making it a bird-watcher’s paradise.
For a relaxing soak amidst nature, head to the geothermal pool in Reykjafjörður, with its naturally warm waters offering fantastic views over the fjord.
Whether it’s bird watching, hiking, or merely soaking up the breathtaking landscapes, the Westfjords provide a unique and authentic Icelandic experience that’s truly unforgettable.
This remote region is known for its rugged beauty, including steep cliffs dropping into deep fjords, geothermal hot springs, and abundant wildlife. Attractions here include the Látrabjarg bird cliffs, home to millions of birds, and Dynjandi, the most impressive waterfall in the area.
For those seeking extraordinary landscapes, Landmannalaugar is a must-visit. Located in the Fjallabak Nature Reserve in the Highlands of Iceland, it’s renowned for its rhyolite mountains, lending the area a colourful and surreal look, unlike any other beautiful places of Iceland.
An outdoor enthusiast’s dream, Landmannalaugar offers hiking trails that range from easy to challenging. The most popular is the Laugavegur trail, a 55 km route that connects Landmannalaugar to Þórsmörk. This trek takes you through a breathtaking variety of landscapes including geothermal hot springs, vibrant rhyolite mountains, black sand deserts, and verdant valleys.
For relaxation, take a dip in the natural geothermal hot springs, a perfect way to unwind after a day of hiking. Visiting Landmannalaugar, with its kaleidoscope of colours and incredible natural beauty, truly feels like stepping into another world.
Located in the Icelandic Highlands, Landmannalaugar is renowned for its colorful rhyolite mountains and vast lava fields. It’s a hiker’s paradise, offering numerous trails that take you past geothermal hot springs, vibrant moss-covered hills, and crystal-clear glacial rivers.
Known as the whale-watching capital of Iceland, Húsavík is a charming town located on the north coast. With its colourful houses, beautiful bay, and the backdrop of snow-capped mountains, it’s one of the most beautiful cities in Iceland.
Head to the harbour and jump on a boat tour for the chance to see humpback whales, blue whales, and many species of dolphin in their natural habitat. For a truly unique experience, try one of the silent, eco-friendly electric boats.
Back on land, visit the Whale Museum and learn about these magnificent creatures, or explore the Húsavíkurkirkja, a stunning wooden church that’s considered one of the most beautiful in the country.
Whether you’re a nature lover, a wildlife enthusiast, or simply a fan of picturesque locales, Húsavík has something for everyone and is certainly a must-see when visiting Iceland.
Often referred to as the whale watching capital of Europe, Húsavík is a charming seaside town in North Iceland. It’s the perfect place to take a boat tour and see these gentle giants in their natural habitat. The town also boasts a whale museum and a beautiful wooden church, regarded as one of the most attractive churches in Iceland.
11. Heimaey Island
Located off the southern coast, Heimaey Island is the largest of the Westman Islands and is one of the most beautiful places in Iceland. Known for its volcanic landscape, abundant wildlife, and a fascinating history, Heimaey provides a unique glimpse into Iceland’s natural and cultural richness.
In 1973, a volcanic eruption led to a dramatic increase in the island’s size and created the Eldfell volcano. Today, you can hike up to Eldfell’s crater and enjoy panoramic views of the island and the surrounding ocean.
The island is also home to Iceland’s largest puffin colony. During the summer, the cliffs become a bustling bird haven, making it a prime location for birdwatching. Visit the Eldheimar Museum for insights into the island’s volcanic history and the impact of the 1973 eruption.
With its impressive natural beauty and captivating history, Heimaey Island certainly deserves a spot in your Iceland itinerary.
The largest of the Westman Islands, Heimaey offers a unique combination of wildlife (especially puffins), history, and geology. A visit here wouldn’t be complete without a hike up Eldfell volcano, which erupted dramatically in 1973, resulting in a significant increase in the island’s size. With so much raw beauty and diversity of experiences, this is one of the coolest places in Iceland to visit!
12. Kirkjufell Mountain
Recognizable to many as a filming location from “Game of Thrones,” Kirkjufell Mountain is the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Situated on the north coast of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, this uniquely-shaped mountain is undeniably one of the most scenic places in Iceland.
Surrounded by beaches and punctuated by the charming Kirkjufellsfoss waterfall, the area provides stunning photo opportunities, especially during sunrise or sunset. The reflection of the mountain in the nearby river offers a breathtaking spectacle.
During the winter, the mountain becomes even more magical, particularly if you’re lucky enough to witness the Northern Lights dancing above it.
Whether you’re a professional photographer, an enthusiastic Instagrammer, or just an admirer of natural beauty, Kirkjufell Mountain is an unmissable spot on your Iceland adventure.
Located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Kirkjufell is arguably Iceland’s most iconic mountain. It’s a popular location for photographers, particularly because of the waterfall that cascades beautifully in the foreground. This mountain is especially enchanting in winter under the Northern Lights.
Looking to broaden your understanding of the most scenic spots in Iceland? Here are some frequently asked questions I receive about the finest Icelandic attractions and activities.
Is Iceland the most beautiful place in the world?
Iceland is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful places in the world. It’s known for its stunning landscapes, including glaciers, hot springs, volcanoes, waterfalls, and the Northern Lights. However, beauty is subjective. Different people might have different opinions on what is the most beautiful place in the world. Other locations might be considered equally or more beautiful depending on individual preferences and experiences.
When is the best time to visit Iceland?
The best time to visit Iceland depends on what you want to see. For milder weather and endless daylight, the summer months of June through August are best. For Northern Lights viewing, visit between September and April.
What is the most beautiful place in Iceland?
Iceland is filled with stunning landscapes and natural wonders, so it’s tough to pick just one. However, areas like Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon, Golden Circle, and Vatnajökull National Park are often praised for their exceptional beauty.
Which part of Iceland is the most beautiful?
All regions of Iceland have their unique beauty, but many visitors are particularly drawn to the South Coast for its waterfalls, glaciers, and black sand beaches. The Snæfellsnes Peninsula, often called “Iceland in miniature,” also offers a bit of everything.
Which side of Iceland is best?
Iceland is a country of diverse landscapes and attractions, and the “best” side largely depends on individual preferences and what you’re hoping to experience. Here’s a breakdown of what each region of Iceland offers:
- South Iceland:
- Attractions: Golden Circle (Þingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, Gullfoss waterfall), Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, Reynisfjara black sand beach, Vatnajökull National Park, and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
- Accessibility: Easily accessible from Reykjavik, making it one of the most visited regions.
- West Iceland (including the Snæfellsnes Peninsula):
- Attractions: Snæfellsjökull National Park, Kirkjufell mountain, Deildartunguhver hot spring, Hraunfossar and Barnafoss waterfalls, and historic sites like Reykholt.
- Diversity: Offers a bit of everything – glaciers, volcanoes, beaches, and historical sites.
- Reykjavik and Southwest Iceland:
- Attractions: The capital city of Reykjavik with its cultural and historical sites, the Blue Lagoon, and the geothermal area of Krýsuvík.
- Convenience: A starting point for most travelers, with international airport, accommodations, and services.
- North Iceland:
- Attractions: Akureyri (Iceland’s second-largest city), Mývatn geothermal area, Húsavík (whale watching capital), Dettifoss (Europe’s most powerful waterfall), and Ásbyrgi canyon.
- Activities: Whale watching, bird watching, and bathing in geothermal pools.
- East Iceland:
- Attractions: Seyðisfjörður (a picturesque fjord town), Petra’s Stone Collection, and the East Fjords’ rugged coastline.
- Wildlife: A good region for reindeer spotting.
- Attractions: Látrabjarg bird cliffs, Rauðasandur red sand beach, Dynjandi waterfall, and the Westfjords’ remote fjords.
- Remoteness: Less visited than other regions, offering a more off-the-beaten-path experience.
Each region of Iceland has its unique charm and attractions. The best side or region would depend on your interests, whether it’s chasing waterfalls, hiking in remote areas, experiencing geothermal wonders, or exploring fjords and coastlines. If time allows, a full circle around the Ring Road will provide a comprehensive Icelandic experience.
What is Iceland’s most popular destination?
The most popular destination in Iceland is the Golden Circle route. This tourist trail includes several of Iceland’s most famous sites, including Þingvellir National Park, the Geysir Geothermal Area, and Gullfoss waterfall.
How many days do I need to visit Iceland?
A week is a good starting point for a trip to Iceland. This allows you to explore the main attractions along the Ring Road while still having some flexibility. However, more time will allow for a more relaxed pace or for venturing off the beaten path.
Do I need a car to travel in Iceland?
Having a car is beneficial because it provides the flexibility to explore at your own pace. That being said, there are also bus tours and guided tours available to many of the top sites.
What should I wear in Iceland?
The weather in Iceland can be unpredictable, so it’s best to dress in layers. Waterproof and windproof outer layers are essential. Don’t forget warm socks, sturdy shoes, and a hat and gloves, even in summer.
Final Thoughts on Visiting Beautiful Places in Iceland
As you can see, the most beautiful places in Iceland range from enchanting waterfalls and dramatic landscapes to quaint coastal towns and vast national parks. Each location offers a unique charm, making any visit to this breathtaking country an unforgettable experience.
Whether you’re seeking adventure or tranquillity, planning a first-time visit or a return trip, Iceland’s stunning scenery and diverse attractions will undoubtedly leave you captivated. So, pack your bags, get your camera ready, and embark on an extraordinary journey to explore the best places in Iceland. Remember, every corner of this island nation holds something beautiful — just waiting to be discovered by you.