27 Best Things to Do in Iceland


Due to its remote loca­tion and harsh cli­mate, Ice­land has pre­served its pris­tine nature and orig­i­nal cul­ture. Harsh polar land­scapes and orig­i­nal archi­tec­ture attract many tourists here.


Who and why should come to Iceland

Reserves, gey­sers, vol­ca­noes, ther­mal springs and glac­i­ers are the main attrac­tions of Ice­land. They will appeal to fans of out­door activ­i­ties, hik­ing and idle con­tem­pla­tion.

Bizarrely shaped hous­es locat­ed at the inter­sec­tion of Goth­ic and Futur­ism will impress lovers of ancient archi­tec­ture and every­thing unusu­al. And those who are inter­est­ed in cul­ture, his­to­ry and art should vis­it the art and ethno­graph­ic muse­ums of Ice­land.

architectural landmarks

Church of Hallgrimskirkja

cerkov hatlgrimskili

An unusu­al Luther­an church ris­es in the cen­ter of Reyk­javik. She per­son­i­fies the spir­it and beau­ty of the north­ern coun­try. The futur­is­tic tow­er, sim­i­lar to a pow­er­ful geyser, shoots up 75 meters.

Inside, the room resem­bles an ice cave, and huge organ pipes are asso­ci­at­ed with a mighty water­fall. Its project was devel­oped in 1937, but con­struc­tion work began only in 1945 and con­tin­ued for more than 40 years.

Church of Landakotskirkja


Known as the Cathe­dral of Christ the King, Lan­dakot­skirk­ja is a Catholic church. In a coun­try dom­i­nat­ed by Luther­ans, this is a rar­i­ty. The Neo-Goth­ic build­ing was erect­ed in the first half of the 20th cen­tu­ry.

The dom­i­nant archi­tec­tur­al ensem­ble is a square tow­er with a flat roof and lancet win­dows that let in max­i­mum light. Inside, the tem­ple impress­es with dis­creet lux­u­ry. Its floor is dec­o­rat­ed with skill­ful mosaics, and numer­ous arch­es rush into the sky, as if bring­ing believ­ers clos­er to God.

Harpa Concert Hall

Concertni Sal Harla

It is the largest build­ing in Reyk­javik and is con­sid­ered a mas­ter­piece of mod­ern archi­tec­ture. Built in 2011, the con­cert hall can accom­mo­date almost 2,000 peo­ple at the same time. Fes­ti­vals, the­atri­cal per­for­mances, musi­cal shows are held here.

The facade of the build­ing is com­plete­ly made of glass. In the day­time, it looks like a bizarre ice crys­tal, and in the evening, when the lights are turned on inside, it looks like an iri­des­cent gem.

Reykjavik Cathedral

cathedral cathedral

Built in 1787 in the Dan­ish colo­nial style, this cathe­dral is con­sid­ered the main attrac­tion of Ice­land. But it was not always so. Pre­vi­ous­ly, the spir­i­tu­al cen­ter of the coun­try was locat­ed in the city of Skalholt. The dev­as­tat­ing earth­quake that accom­pa­nied the erup­tion of the Laki vol­cano prac­ti­cal­ly destroyed it.

The bish­op and the cler­gy had to look for a new home. The choice fell on a small church in Reyk­javik. It was rebuilt, expand­ed and turned into a cathe­dral. The inte­ri­or dec­o­ra­tion was com­ple­ment­ed by a white mar­ble font by local sculp­tor Bertel Thor­vald­sen.

Museums and galleries

Gallery “House in the Harbor”


Gvud­mundur Gvy­d­munds­son, known under the pseu­do­nym Erro, is con­sid­ered one of the most promi­nent artists in Ice­land. Almost all of his works, writ­ten in the genre of sur­re­al­ism and pop art, he donat­ed to the Reyk­javik Art Muse­um.

They grate­ful­ly accept­ed the gift and placed it in a sep­a­rate build­ing, which was pre­vi­ous­ly used as a ware­house. Works of art look great on an impres­sive square.

National Museum

Naz gallery

The muse­um was found­ed in 1863, but it had nei­ther premis­es nor exhibits. The first arti­facts relat­ed to the appear­ance of the Vikings in Ice­land were pro­vid­ed by the Dan­ish Muse­um. Grad­u­al­ly, the col­lec­tion grew, art objects appeared in it, so the muse­um was renamed into an antique muse­um. It became nation­al only in 1950, and moved to its own build­ing in 2004.

Maritime Museum

sea ​​museum

Ice­land is an island state, so the appear­ance of a mar­itime muse­um in it was nat­ur­al. It is locat­ed in Reyk­javik and is called Víkin, which means “bay” in Ice­landic. Leg­endary ships and boats are moored at the eter­nal joke near the build­ing. Among them are the Mag­ni, the first ship built in Ice­landic ship­yards, and the patrol boat Odinn, which saved more than 200 ships from sink­ing.

The muse­um itself stores items relat­ed to nav­i­ga­tion and fish­ing: ship’s logs, binoc­u­lars, div­ing equip­ment. There is a hall ded­i­cat­ed to fish­ing, where you can see how seafood was har­vest­ed in the past.



This is a folk­lore manor in the open air. Her goal is to pre­serve the unique but slow­ly fad­ing cul­ture of old Reyk­javik. On an impres­sive ter­ri­to­ry, old hous­es are built from the Nor­we­gian for­est and logs car­ried by the sea. Their roofs are cov­ered with turf. Tourists can go inside each house and see how a doc­tor, a postal clerk or a suc­cess­ful mer­chant used to live.

Sev­er­al exhi­bi­tions are con­stant­ly run­ning in the estate, offer­ing to get acquaint­ed with the arti­facts found dur­ing archae­o­log­i­cal exca­va­tions, as well as house­hold items and cult of past eras. There are also func­tion­ing craft work­shops and sou­venir shops.



Per­lan means “pearl” in Ice­landic. The bizarre build­ing resem­bling a camomile used to be a boil­er house. Today it is a cul­tur­al cen­ter. The petals of the flower housed: a botan­i­cal gar­den, a cafe, a con­cert venue and sev­er­al exhi­bi­tion halls with per­ma­nent and tem­po­rary exhi­bi­tions. The core of chamomile is a trans­par­ent hemi­sphere. It has an obser­va­tion deck.

Akureyri Art Museum

musei iskustv

Akureyri is the sec­ond largest city in Ice­land with a pop­u­la­tion of 20 thou­sand peo­ple. The appear­ance of the Muse­um of Art in it was the main event of 1993. The muse­um is locat­ed in the build­ing of a for­mer dairy. Con­cep­tu­al works by Ice­landic sculp­tors, artists and graph­ic artists in the avant-garde style are exhib­it­ed on its ter­ri­to­ry. The muse­um also hosts the­atri­cal per­for­mances, con­certs, sem­i­nars and con­fer­ences.

National parks



This is a val­ley and a park of the same name in the south­west of the coun­try. Here in ancient times the par­lia­ment of the Vikings of the Althin­gi met. Among the moun­tains, glac­i­ers and ther­mal springs, epoch-mak­ing deci­sions were made on which the devel­op­ment of the coun­try depend­ed.

Locat­ed on a fault in the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, Thingvel­lir is of geo­log­i­cal inter­est. Here you can observe how the plates of 2 con­ti­nents diverge: Eurasian and North Amer­i­can.



The area of ​​this nat­ur­al park is 4807 sq. km. The moun­tains that define its land­scape are reli­ably pro­tect­ed from bad weath­er. When rains and winds rage on the ter­ri­to­ry of the coun­try, it is qui­et and calm in the reserve.

Its main attrac­tions are the Black Falls, named after the col­or of the vol­canic rocks sur­round­ing it, a small birch for­est and an ice cave. The lat­ter is an unfor­get­table sight.



An amaz­ing place with an almost Mar­t­ian land­scape. The main point of attrac­tion is unusu­al moun­tains. They are made of rhy­o­lite, a vol­canic rock that has com­pressed over mil­lions of years and turned into pyra­mids with almost per­fect­ly smooth sides.

Depend­ing on the light­ing, time of day and weath­er, the rhy­o­lite slopes change col­or. They seem to be either bur­gundy, or pink with a pur­ple tint, pierc­ing blue or yel­low.



In the north of the coun­try, about 8 thou­sand years ago, a pow­er­ful earth­quake occurred in the delta of the Jokul­sau-au-Fiotlum Riv­er, as a result of which a large canyon was formed. Today it is the Jokul­sar­glu­vur nature reserve, famous for its count­less water­falls, among which Det­ti­foss. This is the largest water­fall not only in Ice­land, but also in Europe. Its height exceeds 44 m, and its width is 100 m.

Anoth­er attrac­tion of the reserve is the Khloudark­le­htar rock. She responds to any sounds with an unusu­al echo thanks to bizarre lava ledges.

Mountains and volcanoes



Esya vol­cano last erupt­ed about 3 mil­lion years ago. Today it has become an adorn­ment of the nat­ur­al land­scape of Reyk­javik. About a dozen hik­ing trails of vary­ing degrees of dif­fi­cul­ty and length have been laid along the slope of the moun­tain range. Regard­less of the cho­sen route, tourists can expect stun­ning views of north­ern nature.



An active vol­cano in the east­ern part of the coun­try. The last time it was active was in 1965. As a result of the erup­tion in 1875, 2 lakes were formed in the caldera: Esku­vatn and Viti.

Escu­vat­na Square 11 sq. km, and a depth of 220 m, which makes it the deep­est lake in Ice­land. Over time, it was cov­ered with ice. Viti is much infe­ri­or to it in size: with a diam­e­ter of 100 m, its depth does not exceed 7 m. But this lake, on the con­trary, is warm. The water tem­per­a­ture in it all year round is kept at +27 °C. Dis­solved salts and min­er­als give Viti a milky blue hue.



The most famous active vol­cano in Ice­land is locat­ed 110 km from Reyk­javik. Its height is only 1491 m, but high activ­i­ty com­pen­sates for its small size. The first doc­u­ment­ed evi­dence of Hekla’s erup­tion dates back to 1104. Since then, he has wok­en up more than 20 times.

One of the most pow­er­ful erup­tions hap­pened in 1159. A lay­er of ash flew to the upper atmos­phere, caus­ing a severe cool­ing in Europe. In parts of Scot­land and the Nether­lands, rivers were ice-bound all year round.

The mini-ice age end­ed only after 6 years. The last sig­nif­i­cant erup­tion of Hekla began in March 1947 and end­ed only in April 1948. Rock frag­ments scat­tered 35 m from the epi­cen­ter.

Ausbirgi Canyon

kanion ausbirgi

The length of the canyon is about 4 km, and the height of the rocks in it is about 1 km. It was formed back in the ice age, when, as a result of a severe flood, the Jokul­sau-au-Fjöd­lum riv­er changed its course.

Today it is a beau­ti­ful place in the form of a horse­shoe, inside which a spe­cial micro­cli­mate reigns. It turned out to be ide­al for the growth of trees and flow­er­ing plants — a rar­i­ty for the polar coun­try.



Heingidl is one of the high­est vol­ca­noes in Ice­land (803 m). The name trans­lates as “sheer rock”, which is ful­ly con­sis­tent with its appear­ance. The slopes of the vol­cano are almost impreg­nable rocks with many pas­sages and caves, in which, accord­ing to local leg­ends, trolls live.

The last time the vol­cano woke up about 2,000 years ago, how­ev­er, it is con­sid­ered active. Its foothills are rich in gey­sers and ther­mal lakes.



It is offi­cial­ly the youngest vol­cano on Earth. He was born on Jan­u­ary 23, 1973 near the fish­ing town of Heimaey and almost caused his death. Vol­un­teers from all over the coun­try pumped sea water for six months to cool the lava and pre­vent it from spread­ing.

Now the vol­cano has reduced activ­i­ty, so tourists can climb almost to the very mouth.

Waterfalls, geysers and thermal springs

Blue Lagoon

golubaya laguna

The water tem­per­a­ture in the lagoon does not depend on the sea­son and always stays between +37°C +40°C. Fluc­tu­a­tions can only be caused by the direc­tion of the wind and pre­cip­i­ta­tion. Due to the high con­tent of min­er­als, the water in the lagoon has a pierc­ing blue col­or.

Bathing in it will bring not only aes­thet­ic plea­sure, but also will have a heal­ing effect. The width of the reser­voir reach­es 210 m, the length exceeds 2 km, and the depth varies from 1.5 to 2 m.



In the north­ern part of the coun­try, near Akureyri, the Skjaulfandafljot Riv­er rush­es down, form­ing the famous Godafoss water­fall, also known as the “Water­fall of God”. A long time ago, fig­ures of pagan gods stood around it. When the deci­sion was made to con­vert to Chris­tian­i­ty, unnec­es­sary idols were thrown into the seething abyss.

The height of Godafoss is 12 m, the width is about 30. It has the shape of a cres­cent, and its waters fill the nat­ur­al basalt pool with crys­tal clear water.

Valley of Geysers Haukadalur

dolina geiserov

The val­ley is locat­ed just 500 meters from the Hekla vol­cano, its pride is 40 hot springs, shroud­ed in eter­nal fog due to the tem­per­a­ture dif­fer­ence between the inte­ri­or and air. Here is the old­est geyser on our plan­et — the Great Geysir. He broke out in 1294 and gave the name to all the hot springs on Earth. The diam­e­ter of its bowl reach­es 3 m, the foun­tain itself ris­es to a height of 70 m, bring­ing 230 tons of water to the sur­face.

In 2000, after anoth­er earth­quake, the geyser reduced its activ­i­ty, and the Ice­landic gov­ern­ment ordered a chan­nel to be dug to rean­i­mate the nat­ur­al pearl. As a result, a large hydro­gen sul­fide lake also appeared in the val­ley.



This is one of the most beau­ti­ful and largest lagoons in Ice­land. Its area is approx­i­mate­ly 20 sq. km. The nat­ur­al attrac­tion was formed as a result of the melt­ing of glac­i­ers. But here’s the para­dox — if the warm­ing process does not slow down, then Jokul­sar­lon may dis­ap­pear from the face of the Earth by the end of our cen­tu­ry.

Ride on the mir­ror-like sur­face of the lagoon on a boat or motor­boat past ice blocks that are sev­er­al mil­lion years old is a rare oppor­tu­ni­ty that should not be missed.



Also known as the “Gold­en Falls”, Gull­foss is locat­ed on the Hvi­tau Riv­er — one of the longest and most pow­er­ful rivers in the coun­try. The water­fall con­sists of 2 con­sec­u­tive cas­cades, 11 and 21 m high, respec­tive­ly.

Between them is a nat­ur­al obser­va­tion deck, which offers an amaz­ing panoram­ic view. The name “gold­en” water­fall was due to the rain­bow that always appears here in sun­ny weath­er.



One of the most vis­it­ed water­falls is locat­ed on the Sel­ja­land­sau riv­er. It is rel­a­tive­ly small — only 60 m, and at its foot there is a small lake. The main fea­ture of the water­fall is that it can be viewed from all sides — lit­er­al­ly go around in a cir­cle.

The view of the sur­round­ings through the water col­umn is impres­sive. Also near Sel­ja­land­foss there are many trails of vary­ing dif­fi­cul­ty for hik­ing.



Lake Kerid, locat­ed in the mouth of an extinct vol­cano, attracts tourists with its almost per­fect­ly round shape and the mys­te­ri­ous black col­or of the water. The phe­nom­e­non is explained by a large amount of vol­canic ash set­tled on the bot­tom. Because of this, the lake seems opaque, despite its rel­a­tive­ly shal­low depth of 14 m.

The slopes of the crater lead­ing to the reser­voir are cov­ered with traces of vol­canic activ­i­ty. There are sev­er­al hik­ing trails around Kerid.


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