Iceland is known for a dramatic landscape full of volcanoes, geysers and hot springs so it’s not surprising that it is also at the top of many people’s bucket lists. After visiting Iceland after many years of planning, I can confirm that it is definitely a bucket list worthy destination.
I’ve created this epic guide containing more than 25 incredible things to do in Iceland which are perfect for any Iceland Travel Bucket List.
Some of these must see places I have already visited and recommend and the rest are places that look so beautiful or sound so interesting that I have added them to my personal Iceland travel bucket list. So read on if you are looking for inspiration and ideas for your own Iceland travel bucket list.
Ultimate Iceland Bucket List
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Some visitors think of Reykjavik as simply a good base to explore the natural attractions that Iceland has to offer. However, I think it is worth spending at least 1-2 days exploring the capital itself. Reykjavik is a very walkable city so it is easy to explore by foot. Must see attractions in Reykjavik include:
• Hallgrímskirkja – the largest church in Iceland. Nake sure to go to the top for 365 views of the city!
• Harpa Reykjavík – Reykjavík Concert & Conference Center
• Perlan – a glass dome resting on six water tanks
• The Sun Voyager – a sculpture located next to the ocean
The Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa that is Iceland’s most popular visitor destination. Although it is touristy, it is so iconic I would not skip it. It is fun to just relax in the Blue Lagoon and try some of the treatments.
The Blue Lagoon is close to the airport so many tourists stop by on their way to/from Kelflavík Airport. In fact, a stop to the Blue Lagoon is included as part of some airport transfers.
Visiting the Blue Lagoon is pricey, but there are other geothermal pools throughout Iceland if you want to stick to a budget.
Sky Lagoon is a new alternative to the Blue Lagoon (opened in 2021) that is much closer to downtown Reykjavik (about a 15-20 drive). This scenic geothermal lagoon offers sweeping ocean views from inside the lagoon which looks like an infinity pool.
There are 3 different packages you can book. If your budget allows, splurge for the 7-Step Ritual which is included in the 2 most pricey packages.
I cannot resist a good waterfall and fortunately Iceland is full of waterfalls. The most bucket list worty waterfalls in Iceland include:
• Gullfoss (powerfall waterfall that is part of the the Golden Circle route)
• Dettifoss (the most powerfull waterfall in Europe)
• Seljalandsfoss (in the South Coast)
• Skógafoss (in the South Coast which you can walk up to very close
Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis)
If seeing the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) is on your bucket list, Iceland is one of the best places to view this amazing natural phenomenon.
The Northern Lights are usually spotted between mid-September to mid-April if weather conditions are right.
Although it is possible to spot the Northern Lights randomly in Iceland, if you want to increase your odds of seeing them I recommend signing up for a Northern Lights tour. Many tours allow you to join the tour again the for free if you do not see the Northern Lights on your first day. Check the aurora forecast website to pick a day with a higher probability of aurora activity.
The Golden Circle is a must when visiting Iceland. This popular tourist circular route in southern Iceland is easily done as a half day tour or full day tour from Reykjavik. The main three (3) attractions in the Golden Circle are Thingvellir National Park, Geysir hot spring area and Gullfoss (a beautiful waterfall). However, if you have extra time you can also add other attractions on the way including Faxi (also known as Vatnsleysufoss), the Secret Lagoon and Kerid Crater. If you would rather not rent a car, you can sign up for several Golden Circle tours out of Reykjavik:
Drive the South Coast of Iceland
One of the best drives in Iceland is a road trip along the South Coast from Reykjavik to Vík (or Höfn for a longer trip). Personally this was my favorite part of Iceland. Some must see destinations along the way include waterfalls (Seljalandsfoss, Kvernufoss and Skógafoss), Vatnajökull National Park, the town of Vík, Dyrholaey Rock Formation, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach, DC-3 Plane Wreck and Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon.
If you would rather not rent a car, you can sign up for a tours out of Reykjavik that cover the South Coast like this one.
Vík is a cute town on the southern coast of Iceland that is worth exploring for a day or half a day. It is a good base for any one looking for a place to stay along a Ring Road or South Coast Road trip. Vik is also a good base to explore nearby attractions including Dyrholaey Rock Formation, Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach and the DC-3 Plane Wreck.
Drive Ring Road
Route 1 (also called Ring Road) is the main highway in Iceland. It runs around the island and connects most of the country, including many major attractions. You can drive the entire length of Ring Road while leisurely stopping at various towns and attractions. The entire loop requires at least a week to see it properly and is one of the best road trips in Europe.
See Icelandic Horses
Icelandic horses are small and cute and can be spotted all around Iceland outside of Reykjavík. Bonus, they don’t mind people approaching them. You can also sign up for a horse riding tour or visit the horse park about an hour from Reykjavík as well.
Iceland is a great place to see cute Atlantic puffins. Puffins spend most of the year at sea and only come to land in the spring and summer. They can be seen in Iceland from late April/early May until ate August/early September. Dyrhólaey is South Iceland is a great spot to see puffins. You can also join a puffin watching tour from Reykjavik.
Blue Ice Caves
Another bucket list actitivity is exploring blue ice cave located inside a glacier. This is only available in the winter and can only be done with a guide, so you need to sign up for a cave tour. Most Blue ice cave tours run in the winter only.
So there you have it – the ultimate Iceland travel bucket list. If there is an experience or place I should include let me know in the comments below!
Need more travel inspiration? Check out some of my other travel bucket lists below:
- USA Travel Bucket List: 125+ Best Places to Visit in USA
- Europe Bucket List: 100+ Things to Do
- Australian Bucket List: Best Places to Visit in Australia
- Africa Bucket List: 50 Things to Do and Places to Visit
- South America Bucket List: 50+ Things to Do and Places to Visit
- Southeast Asia Bucket List: 100+ Things to Do in SE Asia
- Travel Goals: 100 Things to Do Before You Die
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