Iceland has plenty to offer all year-round, but if there’s one holiday worth planning a trip around, it's New Year’s Eve. Check out this self-drive itinerary idea that starts with Reykjavik's famous year-end festivities and continues with a week of the winter activities Iceland is known for.
Best of Iceland
With a variety of fun and unique outdoor and indoor activities, your kids will love Iceland just as much as you will. Where else can kids take a dip in a natural hot spring, explore a Viking village, and go ice-skating on the same day?
Iceland’s capital is ideally situated only a couple of hours from some of the country’s most beautiful natural sights, and there's plenty to be seen in the span of a single day. Whether you drive the popular Golden Circle route or opt for the basalt columns and lava fields of the remote Snaefellsnes Peninsula, it won't take you long to feel far from the city.
As Game of Thrones fans already know, Westeros is a fictional continent, home to the famous Seven Kingdoms and the uncharted, snow-covered territory beyond. In reality, much of the hit show was filmed in Iceland, and you can visit many of these stunning locations on your next trip to the real land of ice and fire.
Just a few hours’ drive from Akureyri, the northeast of Iceland is a mix of curving highlands, dramatic canyons and bubbling mud pits. One of the best locations is Jokulsargljufur National Park, home to three forceful and elegant waterfalls, canyons and craters.
Most people come to Iceland to explore its natural beauty away from the hustle and bustle of cities, but its capital is worth your time and attention as well. Reykjavik offers an impressive array of activities, so whether you visit in the summer or winter, spending a couple of days here is a must.
Often overlooked by visitors traveling the famed Ring Road, West Iceland is packed with photo-worthy natural features and cultural history. Get off the beaten path on your next trip to Iceland and take in the waterfalls, geothermal pools, and cultural lore that make this region special.
From cultural events featuring film and music to Reyvjavik's vibrant pride parade, the people of Iceland know how to throw a party. Read our list below of the country's top 6 annual festivals, and get ready to celebrate on your next trip to Iceland.
Home to a rugged landscape and trails for every type of hiker, the Westfjords region provides a perfect backdrop for exploring Iceland on foot. Marvel at geysers, have a picnic on the shores of a scenic bay, and take in the mountain peaks as you make your way through one of the country's most beautiful trekking areas.
Despite being Iceland’s second largest city, Akureyri is home to a mere 18,000 residents. Don’t let its size fool you though: this epicenter of Northern Iceland is home to world-class restaurants, hip cafés, and even a few hotspots for nightlife.
Whether it’s summer or winter, Akureyri proudly reigns as Iceland's second city. It may be no larger than a small town, but the capital of Northern Iceland abounds with activity. From taking in the town's history to hiking north of the Arctic Circle, Akureyri has something for every traveler.
Ísafjörður (Isafjordur) is the largest town in Iceland's beautiful Westfjords, making it a perfect jumping off point for day trips around the region. The town itself, surrounded by dramatic scenery, also has a lot to offer in the way of historical value and opportunities to get out into nature.
With 7-9 days in Iceland, we recommend you hit the road and explore the incredible wonders further afield from Reykjavik. We’ve put together these unique one week Iceland itineraries which let you explore a variety of landscapes: volcanoes and lava fields, green pastures and farmlands, scenic vistas above fjords, beaches of every color, glaciers and ice caves, and the rugged interior. Here are our recommended drives, an option for all travelers and seasons.
The Hornstrandir Nature Reserve is a remote wilderness in the northwest claw of Iceland’s West Fjords. A wild gem of green slopes, snow-capped glacier peninsulas, and slate-blue bays, Hornstrandir is largely uninhabited and accessible only in during summer by daily ferry. It’s precisely these features that make it one of the best-preserved parts of Iceland--nothing for miles except green valleys, tufts of dandelions and Angelica, and pebbled shores. If you’re lucky, you may just spot a flying goose or an Arctic fox.
In Iceland’s East Fjords, you’ll find many peaceful fjords, small fishing villages, and scenic trails tucked away in the hollow of towering mountains. Often overshadowed by more hyped, nearby attractions like the Glacier Lagoon and Myvatn Lake, make no mistake--the East Fjords are definitely worth a few days' trip. Day excursions will take you hiking past waterfalls, kayaking through the fjords, or exploring emerald ponds.
If you do one activity in Iceland, make sure it’s a hot spring. Swimming in hot springs or geothermal pools are a time-honored tradition among Icelanders, ever since the days of the sagas. Families, couples, and friends get together regularly to soak, play, and share the latest gossip or news in hot waters. Depending on where you are, hot springs range from natural hot pools carved from the rock, to man-made pools with carbonated thermic waters, to more typical swimming pools, heated with geothermal energy. While the Blue Lagoon can be a bit crowded for some people, this guide will show you the best-kept secrets awaiting you all over Iceland. So don’t forget to pack your swimsuit.
As Iceland’s popularity grows, tourists have discovered what locals have always known: the sparsely populated country is a nirvana for hikers. With miles of trails dotted with geological wonders—flowing waterfalls, sawtooth mountains, massive glaciers, steaming fumaroles, and lupine-studded valleys, to name a few—its surreal landscape is best explored on foot. Here are some of the best areas for hiking in Iceland.
Iceland offers plenty of hikes of any length. Curious hikers who venture just 15 minutes from the highway are often generously rewarded with emerald-green hills, mountain streams, dramatic cliffs and--best yet--no noisy crowds or gargantuan tour buses. Here's a list of the best short hikes ranging from 1-8 miles, ideal for stops along road trips, and to leave the tour bus crowds behind even if you have limited time.
Iceland’s interior is by far its most rugged area. The terrain can be tough, and the F-roads are only accessible by jeeps with 4WD (in Winter, only by modified “super jeeps”). But the increased difficulty level means you will have the place to yourself, as few tourists reach the highlands. Here you will find some of the best hiking destinations: the red and orange volcanic landscapes at Landmannalaugar, strange canyons and other-worldly landscapes at þórsmörk (Thorsmork, “Thor’s Valley”), and some of the top geothermal areas at Hveradalir Geothermal Area where you can wander through the hills walking past steam vents and mud pools.
If you want to see incredible waterfalls you don’t need to go very far: many of the most popular giants are only a brief walk away, and many can be seen from the car. While their easy access means larger crowds, they are popular for a reason and you should take the time to enjoy them.
Iceland is home to many incredible waterfalls, with several just off the main tourist roads. While this makes for easy access, it also means lots of people crowding around all trying to take the same photo. With a little extra time, you can leave the crowds behind and hit the trail to explore some of Iceland’s hidden wonders on your own.
The North of Iceland may be the country’s best-kept secret. While crowds of tourists populate the South and Golden Circle, visitors to Akureyri and Lake Myvatn can enjoy the beautiful landscapes and wonderful volcanic areas all to themselves.
Lake Myvatn, in the northeast of Iceland, is packed with volcanic and geothermal wonders. Here are a few short hikes to explore pseudocraters, lava formations, craters, mud pools, and nature baths.
Escape the crowds of the south to experience Iceland’s most dramatic landscapes, where tiny fishing villages sit along calm fjords below towering flat mountain tops.
Take a 1-2 day trip to the Snæfellsnes Peninsula as a great alternative to the Golden Circle; avoid the big crowds and see more incredible sights along the way.
The South Shore between Vik and Selfoss is full of many popular sights and destinations, quickly becoming one of the most popular areas of Iceland. Below are many of the highlights in order as you would approach them driving west from Vik towards Reykjavik. You start with several black sand beaches--each different in their own way and deserving of a stop--and end with a few breathtaking waterfalls.
The Drive from Egilsstaðir (east) to Vik (south) offers some incredible scenery past calm fjords, thundering waterfalls, beaches with interesting formations, cool cliffs, and spectacular canyons. While it’s possible to drive this stretch in a single (long) day, you would miss some of the best places that Iceland has to offer. Slow down, enjoy the journey, and spend your time exploring the unique places below.
You can’t visit the Land of Fire and Ice without getting to know Iceland’s famous Volcanoes. Sure you could drive to them and look from afar, but where’s the fun in that? Here are 9 unique ways to experience the best Volcanoes in Iceland (plus a bonus if you keep reading!).
Glaciers, volcanoes, and geysers are the perfect playground for off-roading in Iceland—and yes, you can drive yourself. Explore Iceland by driving around the country, visiting sites such as Jökulsárlón Lagoon, Thórsmörk Glacial Valley, Vatnajökull Glacier, & Strokkur Geyser.
Iceland is a magical place for children - from horseback riding to volcanoes to whale watching, the options for families are endless. Family travel is easy and safe in Iceland where tour companies welcome children and hotels are family friendly. We've compiled a list of our top year-round activities for families with kids aged 5-16.
Dubbed the Land of Ice and Fire, Iceland is a delight for all of your senses, from the deep chill of the air to the smoky smell of the volcanoes to the sights and sounds of the country’s most famous tourist attraction, the Northern Lights. Iceland is a bucket list destination for travelers from all around the world. Here are some Icelandic experiences you won’t want to miss.