The Blue Lagoon, the Golden Circle Route, the Westman Islands, and the Dettifoss Waterfall are a few of the most popular places to visit in Iceland. Populated areas that draw international visitors each year include Reykjavik, Husavik, the town of Isafjörður, and Siglufjordur.
Popular Iceland Natural Sites
Iceland’s land and sea are teeming with natural highlights that shine a light on the stunning arctic glaciers, majestic waterfalls, and fascinating wildlife
that makes the region worth the trek. For more information about cruises and treks that show you the natural wonders of the country, reach out to one of our Iceland travel experts.
Iceland’s Blue Lagoon
is one of the most visited places in the country. Over a million people come each year to soak in the hot springs, dine at the resort’s restaurant, and unwind at the luxury spa each year. The lagoon is actually created by runoff from the Svartsengi geothermal power plant. A year after the plant opened the pools formed in the volcanic landscape from both sea and freshwater, the milky waters giving the springs their name.
Grimsey Island is 25 miles off of the coast of Iceland and the only place on land that the Arctic Circle crosses in the country. Grimsey is home to around 100 people who make their living fishing. Its other claim to fame is its sea birds; large population of Arctic terns and puffins live along the island’s shores. Often a stop on Iceland cruises that start from Reykjavík, the island is one of the best vantage points to see the midnight sun
in the area.
The Golden Circle Route
Iceland’s Golden Circle
in Southern Iceland is a 150-mile journey that takes you through Thingvellir National Park to Geysir Geothermic Area and on to the Gullfoss Waterfall.
Thingvellir National Park
was the site of Iceland’s first parliament in 930 AD, and today is visited for its natural beauty and because it is on the Mid-Atlantic Rift. The rift divides North America from Eurasia and inside the park’s borders you can walk between the two continents. Earthquakes and volcanic eruptions have created deep ravines that fill with crystal clear glacier runoff, making snorkeling and diving popular activities during the summer months.
The Geysir Geothermal Area
is home to two active geysers, Geysir and Strokkur. The pair started erupting in the 13th century after an earthquake. Strokkur erupts the most frequently, every 10 minutes. Geysir holds the record for highest plume, recorded at over 400 feet (122 m) in 2000.
The Gullfoss Waterfall
is one of Iceland’s most iconic natural wonders. The Gullfoss is fed by the Langjökull glacier; rushing water falls over 100 feet in two stages against the backdrop of towering cliffs of the Hvítá river canyon.
Also on the southern coast of Iceland, the Seljalandsfoss waterfall
cascades from a cliff that used to mark the coastline and is fed from the Eyjafjallajökull glacier and volcano. The falls have a path around them that leads to a cavern in the cliffs behind the curtain of water, making for great pictures and stunning views into the valley below.
Another natural attraction that is often on Iceland cruise itineraries is the Snaefellsjokull Glacier,
located on the Snaefellsjokull peninsula
. Snow cat tours take guests to the glacier’s summit, where views of the peninsula and the surrounding countryside inspired Jules Verne to put the terrain into his book, “A Journey to the Center of the Earth.”
The Dettifoss Waterfall
in Northern Iceland has a reputation as the most powerful waterfall in Europe for the sheer volume of water that cascades down the 144-foot (48 m) drop each second. The falls are over 300 feet (91 m) wide, creating an impression that earned the nickname "the beast," from locals.
Popular Cities, Villages, and Islands
Iceland’s cities, villages, and islands give way to a culture that spans centuries. Traditional fishing villages serve as remote capitals for far off regions, and port cities serve as excellent points from which to begin journeys to see dozens of species of whales. Reykjavik, the country’s capital, has captivating streets that echo with history and are lined with international restaurants, a thriving arts scene, and a vibrant modern culture.
Husavik in northern Iceland is the country’s oldest town; it is said that it was formed before the rest of the country’s establishment in 874 AD. Today it is known as the whale watching
capital of Europe, dozens of species of whales including humpback, orcas, and blue whales call the waters off the city’s shores home during the summer months.
While nothing in the natural world acts on cue or abides by a set schedule, there is more than a certainty that you will see whales, most often humpbacks, when touring the region by zodiac from a cruise or on a tour from land.
is a small village in the Dyrafjordur fjord and part of the Westfjords. The narrow fjord is flanked by two mountains, Sandfell and Myrarfell. The town is a stop on many Iceland cruises-it’s a place to wander the streets, take in the view, and grab a bite to eat in the incredible confines of the natural surroundings.
is the capital of the Westfjords and located in the Ísafjarðardjúp fjord. It is the largest of all the settlements there, and has The oldest building still standing in Iceland within its borders. The town is a jumping off point to explore the nearby natural attractions including the Dynjandi waterfalls and the Rauðasandur red and gold sand beach. The capital of the region also hosts a series of festivals during the summer months.
A starting point for Iceland cruises and tours and the northernmost capital in the world, Reykjavik
’s activities have something for all walks of life. Thermal pools, art museums, music festivals, and walking tours of historic buildings make exploring the city before or after a tour a cultural immersion into modern Iceland.
The Westman Islands off the southern coast are popular for their wildlife and natural attractions. The largest colony of Atlantic puffins in the world gathers here between June and late August. In 1973, the Eldfell volcano on the populated island of Heimaey erupted, creating new bluffs and increasing the size of the island. Today you can hike the now-dormant volcano, or play a round of golf on the nearby course.