Whenever people ask me what my favorite country is Iceland is often the first that comes to mind. That’s in large part to the incredible natural attractions you can find there. Waterfalls, volcanoes, geysers, hot springs, glaciers, and beaches. That’s just to name a few of the incredible natural attractions Iceland has to offer.
I asked the travel blogging community what they thought the best natural Iceland attractions were and now I have even more wanderlust to go there then I did before, if that’s even possible! Read on for some inspiration on the best natural attractions to visit on your trip to Iceland, including tips on how to get to each one.
The most beautiful all natural Iceland Attractions as told by travel bloggers
Best Waterfalls in Iceland
Recommended by Brooke & Buddy Baum of Trailing Away
With so much to see, many visitors to Iceland don’t get more than a few hours from Reykjavik – probably because they end up stopping to take in the views every five minutes. But for those who do venture further along on the country’s well-maintained Ring Road (Route 1), a side trip to visit what is known as Europe’s most powerful waterfall is a must.
After inevitably seeing dozens of falls en route to this epic gem, you may doubt if it will be worth it to drive more than an hour out of your way to see yet another waterfall. But, sitting next to Dettifoss and watching the massive amounts of water pour into the canyon will be sure to still make you gasp in awe at the power of nature.
The catch is, you will have to work to get there by leaving the comfort of Route 1 and going down a gravel road. Both 864 and 862 will get you there. The viewing point off 864 will take longer to get to, but will allow you to get right next to the falls, and 862 will lead you down a path to look at the wonder straight on. The roads are seasonal, and the conditions will vary depending on weather, so be cautious and prepared for a bumpy drive.
Luckily, this must-see is a little more than an hour from Mývatn Nature Baths – a lesser known, but similar spa to the famous Blue Lagoon and a great place to rest your tired muscles after a long day of exploring. Read more of our tips for visiting Iceland from our two-week camper van road trip here.
Recommended by Greta of Greta’s Travels
If you’re looking for the best natural attractions in Iceland, Dynjandi Falls has to feature on your list. It’s considered one of the best waterfalls in Iceland, and it’s easy to see why. Dynjandi Falls is in the Westfjords of Iceland, also known as Iceland’s “best-kept secret” since they are so rural (only 7,000 people live in a 22,000km squared area)! Being so off the beaten track, Dynjandi is still a relatively untouched beauty, where you can admire the power of nature away from the tourist crowds.
Dynjandi is actually the big waterfall that flows from the top of the fjords and then forms six smaller waterfalls before reaching the sea. Each waterfall has its own name but they are known collectively as Dynjandi Falls. There is a well-marked trail that will take you all the way to the top and just under the biggest waterfall, with a couple viewing platforms along the way. Just be careful as you walk up since the spray from the waterfalls can make the trail very muddy and slippery!
Recommended by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan
There are many beautiful waterfalls in Iceland, but some of them are a bit overrun with tourists these days, at least during the high season. Fagrifoss, on the other hand, is a real hidden gem that’s quite off the beaten track, and you just might have it to yourself. It’s not the easiest waterfall to reach, which is why it’s undiscovered, but it’s definitely worth the trip.
While Fagrifoss is not as powerful or as big as world-famous waterfalls like Victoria Falls in southern Africa or Iguazu Falls in South America, it has a striking beauty that sets it apart. And in fact, the meaning of the name “Fagrifoss” in Icelandic is “The Beautiful Waterfall”.
The falls can only be reached by a rough dirt road. Getting here involves crossing a river and requires a four-wheel drive vehicle. Fagrifoss is on the way to the Laki Craters, so if you’re heading that way then you should definitely allow time for a stop here. You’ll be mesmerized by the Geirlandsá glacial river as it plunges 80 meters into a moss-covered gorge to create these breathtaking falls.
Since the falls are hidden down inside the gorge, you probably won’t catch your first glimpse of them until you are almost on top of them. Part of what makes this place so magical is the surprise of seeing the ground open up in front of you as you get closer.
Recommended by Sherrie of Epiphany to Travel
There are several little Iceland hidden gems to explore when visiting this amazing country. One of them being Bruarfoss Falls. This one, in particular, is pretty hidden. It takes a good hike to actually find it! If you are not careful you may even miss it.
After you visit the Geyser, head back down the main road towards the Golden Circle. There is a road on your right to drive down where cottages are located. However, parking is either limited or there will be none. Pay attention to signs, it is private property to get to the falls and if it says no trespassing- then find another way to get to the falls, it will probably be more of a hike.
If your hike is successful, you will arrive at some of the most beautiful turquoise water! We went during the winter, yes lots of snow to hike through, but it was very much worth it! The snow-covered ground seemed to make the water even more of a vibrant color. There are some rocks to climb up on to get amazing photographs. Make your way up to the bridge to be able to stand over the falls and take in this creation from nature.
Recommended by Constance of The Adventures of Panda Bear
Kirkjufell, also known as the “arrowhead mountain” in the HBO hit TV series, “Game of Thrones,” is one of the most uniquely shaped mountains in the world (alongside one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Even though it is “arrowhead-shaped,” its name means “church mountain” in Icelandic because it’s peak resembles a church. The mountain is 1,519 feet tall and is located in western Iceland on the Snaefellsnes peninsula near Grundarfjordur.
The beautifully symmetrical mountain was formed by glacial erosion over the course of millions of years. Its unique layers of rock were created in two ways, by volcanic eruptions and exposure. Kirkjufell was once a glacial island, its rocks were once exposed from surrounding ice, allowing layers of rock to form from glacial erosion.
It is a scenic spot that has become the most photographed mountain in Iceland. Its unique isolated location with Kirkjufellfoss waterfall seemingly sitting at its base makes for a beautiful shot. Be sure to walk over the bridge towards the left side of the waterfall for the iconic shot with the falls in the foreground and Kirkjufell in the background.
Kirkjufell (and it’s accompanying waterfall) is easily accessed along the Ring Road, a 2.5 hour drive northwest of Reykjavik. There is a small roadside parking lot off to the side of the highway nearer to Kirkjufellfoss. This spot makes for a perfect stop if you’re headed over to Snaefellsjokull National Park, located further west at the very end of the peninsula right by the Atlantic Ocean.
Recommended by Alex of Swedish Nomad
Svartifoss is a waterfall located near the Skaftafell national park, and that’s where the hike starts as well, just a few meters away from the visitor center. The hike to Svartifoss is fairly easy as it has a pathway all the way to the viewing point. With that said, it’s not as conveniently located as Skogafoss or Seljalandsfoss which are just next to the road, but that’s a good thing because fewer people make their way to Svartifoss.
The hike takes about 30-40 minutes depending on how fast you walk and if you stop along the way to take in the scenery. The stone wall where the water plummets down from is very cool, and it’s similar to the stone wall you can see at Reynisfjara. I went here during the last period of winter, and while it wasn’t frozen it can be at times, which is quite spectacular as well.
Make sure to bring a cup or something to drink from because the water at Svartifoss is pure and one of the most delicious cups of water I’ve ever had, and I’m from Sweden where we have very high-quality water. The water in Svartifoss is ice cold and very fresh.
If you’re a serious hiker, there is an alternative way you can go if you’re looking to challenge yourself. But beware, there is no pathway on that road, and it’s not something inexperienced hikers should try.
Recommended by me, Lora!
Iceland is a dream destination for anyone who loves to chase waterfalls. There are waterfalls all throughout the country, but one of the biggest and most impressive falls to visit is Godafoss waterfall or the waterfall of the gods. Fed by the river Skjálfandafljót, the waterfalls from a height of 12-meters and flows over a 30-meter wide horseshoe-shaped rock that rises in the center separating the waterfall in two. It’s a photographers dream as there are multiple viewpoints to view the falls from.
Godafoss Waterfall is located right off the Ring Road (the main highway in Iceland), so it’s easy to access. To reach Godafoss, just drive half hour drive West (50km) from Akureyri, the capital of the North of Iceland. There is a car park near the waterfall, and no entrance fee to get in. Visiting Godafoss Waterfall is the perfect addition to any road trip through Iceland.
Frozen Attractions in Iceland
Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon
Recommended by Michael of The World Was Here first
During our time in Iceland, one of the best natural attractions we visited was undoubtedly the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon. In fact, we would go as far as saying that it’s one of the most beautiful attractions we’ve seen anywhere in the world!
Located in the Southeastern corner of Iceland, the Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is formed as icebergs break off from the nearby glaciers and slowly melt causing the lagoon to fill up. Its beauty is undeniable, as you have variously sized icebergs floating in the lagoon that is ever changing due to the impact of climate change. You can also see wildlife such as birds and seals in the area during certain parts of the year.
Jokulsarlon is one of the most popular attractions in Iceland, so it’s advisable to get here early to beat the crowds. One tip is to find a place to stay near Jokulsarlon so you are able to get here first thing in the morning rather than having to drive for a few hours to reach it.
It is also worth taking the time to explore various viewpoints of Jokulsarlon. There are a number of places you can pull off from the Ring Road before reaching the official entrance that gives you spectacular views and a unique vantage point of the Glacier Lagoon!
Recommended by Michelle of The Wandering Queen
One of the best things to do in Iceland is to visit the brilliant blue ice caves in Vatnajökull National Park! It is one of the best experiences in Iceland. The beautiful caves are only open during the winter months due to safety reasons. For preservation and safety reasons, the only way to see an Iceland Ice Cave is to hire an experienced tour guide. Since the caves are always changing by melting and reforming, it can easily become a dangerous area, so you want someone guiding you through the caves.
During the summer, the tour guides usually scout the area for the best caves for the winter months. So even if you see an Instagram picture of a beautiful Ice Cave, the same cave might not be available by the time you get to Iceland. The ice caves are always changing.
The ice cave is quite an experience, but the trek to the ice caves is a life long memory. Your tour guide will take you on a drive over the glacier which is an adventure in itself. The ride is super bumpy and a little unnerving, especially when you see all the crevices in the glacier. But, the drive is one of the many reasons why you hired a professional so your safety can be at ease. Iceland Ice Caves should be on everyone’s bucket list. The experience is one of a kind, and the beautiful formations are quite like nothing you have ever seen before.
Hot Springs in Iceland
Recommended by Bella of Passport & Pixels
As you travel around Iceland you’ll soon realize that thanks to all that underground geothermal activity, the country is littered with hot springs. What makes Deildartunguhver different is that this is the daddy of them all: Europe’s most powerful hot spring.
The water from Deildartunguhver gushes out at 180 liters per second. And it’s not gently warm, as some of the hot springs that you can bathe in. This stuff is almost at boiling point: 97°C. The heat and steam coming off the place are extraordinary – even in the middle of winter standing close to it will warm you right up. Even so, as you can see from the photo they’ve had to put up a fence AND some warning cones to keep people from getting too close. Apparently, some people are stupid enough to want to put their hand in to test the temperature!
Interestingly, Deildartunguhver was the first hot spring used to heat homes in Iceland. It now supplies all the heat and hot water to the two nearest towns, as well as heating some nearby greenhouses. If you stay in the area the water for your morning shower will come directly from this spring. There isn’t much to see here apart from the spring itself, so most people combine a visit to Deildartunguhver with the Krauma thermal baths next door, where you can warm up in slightly more comfortable waters or enjoy the sauna and relaxation rooms.
Deildartunguhver is about an hour and a half’s drive north of Reykjavik, so easily doable in a day, and sits nicely alongside a visit to the nearby waterfalls Barnafoss and Hraunfossar. Alternatively, stop in en route to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Hverir Geothermal Area
Recommended by Laurence of Finding the Universe
If you’re driving Iceland‘s ring road, you’re going to come to the spectacular Lake Myvatn area. Found in northern Iceland, this is home to a stunning blue hot spring thermal bathing area, a giant cinder cone volcano, a lake filled with wildlife and a variety of surreal lava strewn landscapes.
It’s no wonder that this area is a part of the so-called “Diamond Circle”, a 162-mile driving route which includes massive waterfalls and other geothermal attractions.
A highlight for us near Lake Myvatn was the Hverir geothermal area. This is essentially a large wasteland filled with bubbling mud pools, steaming vents, and alien-like landscapes. The smell is somewhat sulfurous, but the experience is worth putting up with that.
If you visit (it’s just a short drive from Lake Myvatn, with parking on site), you can also hike to the top of Námafjall, the mountain by the geothermal field. From the top, you’ll get great views of the whole area, including the lava fields and Lake Myvatn itself.
To get to Hverir, take Road 1 from Reykjahlíð for around 4 miles, and you’ll see the turning for Hverir off the road. It’s close to the Lake Myvatn nature baths, which we can also recommend stopping at.
Recommended by Jessica of Uprooted Traveler
One of the best experiences I had in Iceland was hiking to the hot springs in the mountains of the Reykjadalur valley, near the town of Hveragerði, about forty-five minutes away from Reykjavik (and conveniently located on the way to other popular stops along the Ring Road).
To reach the hot springs of Reykjadalur (which literally means “steam valley”), you will need to embark on a two-hour round trip hike; to find the starting point, put “Dalakaffi” in your GPS, which is a small coffee shop with restrooms at the start of the trail. From there, you’ll climb through the rolling emerald mountains of Iceland, past cascading waterfalls; pools of milky blue water (from the earth’s natural silica); boiling mud pots; and weathered Icelandic sheep. At the zenith of your hike, you will find a narrow river, where a wooden boardwalk and privacy dividers have been recently constructed to help bathers enjoy the springs.
Strip down to your bathing suit (or some people dare to bare it all!); grab a beer from your backpack; and jump in the surprisingly warm river. It’s hotter the farther up the river you go, so you’ll likely need to move around to find the perfect temperature for relaxing. When you find the right spot, sit back and simply relish in the fact that you’re sitting in a natural hot spring on the top of a mountain, in the land of fire and ice.
Landbrotalaug Hot Pool
Recommended by Dani of Live in 10 Countries
These days it seems like Huge numbers are heading to Reykjavik and dipping in the fabulous Blue Lagoon. And it’s no surprise, the Icelandic capital is packed with adventures and the Blue Lagoon is a treat that really pampers you. Still, I’d always recommend trying the more natural attractions – after all, it’s what the locals do. How about the toasty warm waters at Landbrotalaug hot pool which is totally free?
It’s only a modest drive from the capital and can be reached on foot from the road. I’d recommend hiring a car though, Iceland doesn’t have a train network and buses only operate in cities, not long distance along the ring road. It’s a good idea also to have a fully charged phone with an offline satellite navigation app – because this area also doesn’t have much phone signal.
The pool is well worth the trip, with a feed of boiling volcanic water at one end that leaves the rest at a lovely bath type temperature. It’s completely wild and without facilities, so bring your own bathing supplies and have an incredible dip.
There’s space for maybe 2-3 inside at a guess, depending on how much you want to spread out. It really feels the absolute best if the weather has gone against you and you’re struggling with drizzly, chilly days.
Volcanoes in Iceland
Recommended by Vanessa of Wanderlust Crew
A few miles off the south coast of Iceland lies the beautiful Westman Islands, called Vestmannaeyjar in Icelandic. The largest and most inhabited island, Heimaey is home to the now dormant Eldfel Volcano, which famously erupted in 1973, causing all of the residents to quickly flee the tiny island and resulting in the loss of many homes and the expansion of the island, as well as a constricting of the harbor, which was the lifeblood of the fishing community.
You can drive or hike straight to the center of Eldfel Volcano for the most spectacular views of the island of Heimaey and the surrounding Westman Islands which are home to many puffin colonies. During the winter the dormant volcano is covered in snow.
Be sure to visit the Eldheimar Museum on your way down to learn more about the eruption and its lasting effects on the community. The museum is literally built around an excavated house that was buried by the eruption where you can see artifacts from everyday life preserved just as they were left in 1973. Eldfel Volcano is a little off the beaten path and it takes some planning to get there, but it’s definitely worth a trip!
Beaches in Iceland
Djúpalónssandur – Black Pearl Beach
We loved exploring the Snaefellsnes Peninsula as part of our 5 day Iceland itinerary, especially all the beaches dotted along the coastline. But our favourite, and perhaps most interesting, is Djúpalónssandur.
Djúpalónssandur, also known at the Black Lava Pearl Beach, is a black pebble beach facing south to the roaring surf that explodes off the North Atlantic, buffering each pebble perfectly smooth (hence its alternative name). Surrounding the beach are many interesting lava rock formations, including a rather interesting lava rock with a hole in the middle which you can see on the walk down to the beach. Many of these rock formations are linked to local stories and folklore.
This stretch of oceans has been unforgiving to many fishermen and on the beach, you can see the shipwreck remains of a fishing trawler from Grimsby (Epine GY7) scattered across the beach and left to remember the fourteen men who lost their lives on that tragic day of 13th March 1948. This beach used to have up to 60 fishing boats and was one of the most prolific fishing villages. The bay is now uninhabited, but you can still see four lifting stones where fisherman would test their strength.
Recommended by Ania of Travelling Twins
Iceland is all about contrasts – fire and ice of course. But what about huge sparkling diamonds set on a black cushion? Yes, Iceland has that too. This is one beach you must visit. But don’t pack for sunbathing or sandcastles and certainly not for swimming.
Cutting through the middle of Diamond Beach is the channel of the calm Jökulsárlón Lagoon. Here, seals and seabirds use small icebergs as perches and rafts. This ice has broken off the face of the largest glacier in Europe and is on its way to the ocean. The North Atlantic is very different from the lagoon. It is grey, noisy, and violent, sculpting and polishing these icebergs in its winds and currents. Then as the freezing surf crashes back onto the black basalt shore, it delivers its precious jetsam.
Glacier ice comes in many forms. Some crushed and cracked, some dirty with volcanic ash and some with a dense clarity created by thousands of years of pressure. These purest crystals survive longest in the ocean and produce the most beautiful sculptures on the beach. Then the surf carves them into curving cantilevers as they gradually melt in the weak sunlight. Every crystal is unique, and in a few days, it will be gone – replaced by others.
The sun is always low here, and the diamonds sparkle with pinks and blues against the wet black beach. Behind this surreal tableau, the ocean roars in a dynamic backdrop.
The Diamond Beach is accessible from the main south coast road, five hours east of Reykjavik. There are a car park and coffee shop next to the Jökulsárlón Lagoon, across the road. Access is free. Signs warn against the use of drones. If you want to learn more about this fascinating country read Interesting facts about Iceland.
Recommend by Talek of Travels with Talek
Iceland is chock full of amazing natural sight throughout the country many of which have been created as a result of Iceland’s volcanic pedigree. Waterfalls, geysers, lakes, canyons, caves, lagoons; all beautiful in their pristine splendor.
One natural attraction that really stands out for me that you wouldn’t think of when thinking of Iceland is Vik Beach with its black sand and somber landscapes.
Due to volcanic residue deposited over the centuries, Iceland‘s beaches have black sand and unusual rock formations creating stunning landscapes. One example is Vik Beach where the contrast of white ice on black sand is somehow otherworldly. Massive basalt stacks encircle deep caves on the beach where the cold North Atlantic waves rush on to the black sand.
Named after the town of Vik, Iceland’s southernmost village, the beach is located on the main ring. The surrounded massive cliffs are majestic. Iceland’s famous puffins live on these cliffs.
I think that what makes this beach so interesting is that it is the opposite of what a beach should normally look like. The sight of it shocks the viewer; black sand rather than white or honey coloured, ice floes rather than seaweed and cold biting wind rather than balmy weather. It is an eerily beautiful place to visit.
Other Attractions in Iceland
Berserkjahraun Lava Fields
Recommended by Erin of Never Ending Voyage
If you are looking for an Iceland destination that’s less crowded than the Golden Circle, head to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula which is just a two-hour drive north of the airport. It’s known as Iceland in Miniature as it has everything the country offers in one place from volcanoes to glaciers and waterfalls to hot springs. You could visit as a day trip from Reykjavik, but there’s so much to see that I recommend staying at least two days.
One of the most extraordinary places we visited in Snæfellsnes, and in all of Iceland, was also the quietest. Most people don’t release that just off highway 54 between Grundarfjörður and Stykkishólmur is an otherworldly lava field. Weirdly shaped lava towers and black volcanic rocks are covered in green moss and red blueberry bushes beneath snowy mountains and red volcanic craters. We felt like we were alone on another planet as we drove through this incredible scene.
You can access Berserkjahraun by driving down the narrow dirt road 558. It’s bumpy so take it slow, but we managed without a 4WD. You can drive the loop in about 30 minutes or take much longer if you stop for all the photo opportunities. The start of the road is off highway 54, just past the junction with 56, and you’ll emerge further along the 54.
Recommended by Sara of Our Kind of Crazy
One of the most awesome attractions to visit in Iceland is the Silfa Fissure in Thingvellir National Park. Silfra is a fissure with fresh spring water, creating a lake type body of water. In it, you can see the tectonic plates come together between the North American and Eurasian plates. You can snorkel through the water, or scuba dive to get down deep to touch both plates at the same time. The water is crystal clear, and you can see up to 100 meters deep!
The water is very cold, so you will be dressed in extra warm wet suits and given gloves and headgear to keep you warm as well. It is a very peaceful swim (although it is more floating along the top than actually swimming), and the waters are so clear you can see everything around you. It is definitely an awesome activity to add to your list, but also a great natural wonder to go see, even if you don’t want to brave the frigid waters. It’s a great day trip from Reykjavik, as it only takes about an hour to get there from the city. Definitely worth the stop, and if you’re brave enough, hop in!
Spot Puffins at Dyrhólaey
Recommended by Katie Diederichs of Two Wandering Soles
Dyrhólaey is a spot to add to your Iceland itinerary no matter what time of year you’re visiting. This unique arched rock formation just off the coast is near the village of Vik, and is a great photo op. However, in the summer months (specifically from May-August), you’ll have even more reason to make a stop here with your camera: puffins!
These adorable birds can be spotted at a few places around the country, but Dyrhólaey is one of the best and most easily accessible places to view them going about their business. This area is a popular nesting site for puffins, so it’s likely you’ll see some of these black and white birds flying to and from the sea, maybe even with a mouthful of small fish!
How to watch the puffins responsibly: Bird watching should be done from a distance. Please don’t get too close or try to disturb the puffins. There are some roped off areas to protect the nesting sites. Please respect this by staying on the designated paths and simply observing the birds. Also, it’s important to remember never to feed them. They are wild animals, and feeding them is harmful and will alter their natural habits.
Recommended by Priya from Outside Suburbia
When we were in Iceland, we did a daytrip to visit North Iceland. While most people visiting Iceland stick to the classic Golden circle, a trip up North is worth a visit. Here you can see the beautiful Godafoss, the unique Lake Myvatn, Europe’s most powerful waterfall Dettifoss, visit the town of Akureyri and other vistas in North Iceland.
The lake Myvatn is a large body of water, in fact the fourth largest in Iceland. What makes it special is the flora and fauna in this nutrient-rich spring water fed shallow lake. It has a high abundance of aquatic insects that form an attractive food supply for ducks. Thirteen species of ducks nest here and depend on these aquatic insects (also called midges) for nutrients. The lake gets it name from these midges and is called ‘Midges Lake’ due to the large swarms of midge found near the lake Myvatn during summer. Although they don’t cause any harm, we had a busy time trying to swat them off!
Right near the lake you can regular-shaped pseudo craters formed in a volcanic eruption approximately 2300 years ago. Unlike regular craters, which are formed when lava builds up around a fissure, these pseudo craters were formed by gas explosions when melting lava flowed over pockets of water in the wetlands. Pretty flowers and fluffy green moss balls can be found around the lake adding to the unique look of the lake.
Renting a car in Iceland is the easiest way to get around and see all these amazing sights! Check out Europcar for the best deals.
- Why June is the best time to visit Iceland
- Tips on renting and driving a car in Iceland
- Planning the perfect roadtrip on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula