The Best Spots in Iceland—Iceland Trip Planning

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The Best Spots in Iceland—Iceland Trip Planning

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Iceland is one of my favorite countries to travel to so I’m excited to share the best spots in Iceland so you can plan the best trip possible.

I have been to Iceland four times now and what I love about it is how diverse the country is.

It’s a place you can visit a glacier, black sand beach, waterfall, crater, lagoon, mountain, fjord, hot spring, in one day. Heck… you could probably see it all in a few hours!

It’s a place you can experience the Midnight Sun in the summer and Northern Lights in the winter.

One of my favorite things about Iceland is that the adventure is not only the spots you go to but also the journey along the way. So don’t rush from spot to spot.

Pull over, go down back roads and enjoy exploring one of the coolest countries in the world.

How long should you stay in Iceland?

My trips to Iceland have been a total of 16 days, 10 days and 5 days. So here’s a breakdown of what I think you can generally fit into different trips.

14+ days: Drive the entire Ring Road (Route 1) and visit the West Fjords (which is an area of Iceland not a lot of people get to explore since it’s the opposite way then the south section of the Ring Road).

7 days: Drive the entire Ring Road (Route 1). This is the best option in my opinion.

5 days: Drive the entire south stretch of the Ring Road and potentially add a few stops outside of this.

2 days: Drive the Ring Road up until Vik but if you want to really cram things in you could potentially drive all the way to Höfn and visit Stokksnes—but you might be running off proper sleep.

How to get around

Having a rental car or campervan rental means that you’ll be able to travel Iceland at your leisure and do a bit more of exploring.

If you want to go to the highlands, or go on any “F-roads”, you’ll need a 4×4. F-roads are unpaved, rough roads that lead to the inner part of Iceland, or the highlands.

On these roads, you’ll likely encounter river crossings so I wouldn’t mess around!

If you only have 2-5 days or don’t want to rent a car or drive, there are a bunch of really great tours you can hop onto. You can find tours here.

Things to know before you go to Iceland

If you’re traveling during the Midnight Sun, you could flip your sleep schedule so you are awake during the night and sleep during the day.

This way, you’ll be adventuring when most people are sleeping and you’ll have places, that are normally insanely busy, all to yourself. A lot of photographers do this and I have done this many times when visiting northern countries.

Only thing you need to ensure is that you have enough food and gas before you go to sleep because shops are obviously closed during the night.

Another thing to do is check the ‘SafeTravel’ app to be aware of road conditions. Things can change very quickly.

Take note of grocery stores/restaurants as they get few and far between the further you drive away from Reykjavík.

Don’t speed and drive safe. Iceland has loads of speed cameras. Don’t be like me and get a $400 ticket in the mail for going over the speed limit by 11km/hour.

Drink the tap water! Iceland has some of the most clean drinking water in the world.

Iceland is very expensive so save money by cooking your own food, limiting your alcohol, and camping/sleeping in a campervan.

Don’t mess with the ocean. Sneaker waves have killed.

The following spots will be easily searchable in Google Maps and if not I have included a link with more information.

Without further ado, here are the best spots in Iceland.

Stokksnes

Stokksnes is in the southeast of Iceland and is one the best spots in Iceland.

I’ve visited twice in June and was there around 3am (during the Midnight Sun). You can either park in the parking lot and walk to the water (takes about 15-20 minutes depending on the tide and your speed) or you can pay a small fee to open a gate and drive down the road that gets you closer to the water.

To open the gate, you can purchase tickets at the café counter or use a machine outside of the cafe (great for when the cafe is closed). When I was there last, the machine didn’t work so we just walked to the water.

Viti Crater

Iceland is home to many craters, and Viti Crater is one of them.

It’s located in Northern Iceland far away from the crowds of the south coast.

From the parking lot, we walked around for 5-10 minutes to be able to see it from this spot pictured below. I believe it would take about an hour to walk all the way around.

Bláhylur

If you’re not going to the north on your trip to Iceland, you can put this beautiful azure blue crater lake on you trip plan instead.

It’s in the highlands of Iceland, near Landmannalaugar. You’ll need to drive on an F-road to get there so make sure you have a vehicle that is cleared to do so.

Hengifoss

Hengifoss is one of the most beautiful and unique waterfalls I’ve ever since, which makes it one of the best spots in Iceland in my eyes.

It’s a little bit of a hike to get closer to Hengifoss—you can find the trail here. About half way on the hike, you’ll see the Litlanesfoss and enjoy the beautiful basalt columns around the falls.

I hiked a smaller trail to the left of the falls to get to a different vantage point. Be sure to keep far away from the edge of the canyon as you hike up as falling is a real risk.


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Stuðlagil Canyon

This spot in Iceland has exploded in popularity, and for good reason.

The endpoint is absolutely incredible! The basalt columns paired with turquoise water makes for a stunning spot.

The color of the water changes by the weather so try to avoid going after rain if you’re set on seeing the turquoise water.

You can find details on the hike here. It really is one of the best spots in Iceland!

Kirkjufjara Beach

You’ll find a stunning black beacha tall sea stack and Atlantic Ocean at this viewpoint.

My favorite thing about this spot is the puffins that hang out on the sea cliffs.

I was there in late June and there were hundreds of puffins.

Credit: Flottmynd

Reykjadalur Hot Spring Thermal River

This is one of the best spots in Iceland, hands down.

I’ve been in the summer and winter and loved both experiences.

After a short hike you’ll get to hot spring heaven. The higher you soak on the river, the hotter it is.

Laugavallalaug Hot Spring

Another spot in East Iceland is this beautiful hot spring that is known for it’s waterfall of hot water.

You may not see many people here as it is a bit of a trek to get to and you need a 4×4 vehicle. The drive felt like forever getting to this hot spring but it was well worth it.

There were a lot of sheep around, which meant their poop was around too, so I’d be cautious when putting your head under the water here.

Sky Lagoon

If you’re debating between visiting the Blue Lagoon or Sky Lagoon, my vote is for Sky Lagoon.

They are both great, but I prefer the vibe at the Sky Lagoon. It feels more relaxing and a bit less busy than the Blue Lagoon.

Blue Lagoon will be the choice for families with littles under the age of 12 as they are not permitted at Sky Lagoon. You can book your ticket to Sky Lagoon here.

Dyrahólaey

Dyrhólaey is at the southernmost part of Iceland and is massive rock arch right on the coast.

From this viewpoint, you’ll also be able to see views of the Black Sand Beach below. The road up to the parking lot is steep and gravel, but doable. Just go slow and watch out for potholes!

Along with epic views, if you’re lucky, you’ll spot a puffin.

Reynisdrangar View (from Vik)

I visited this spot in the winter (in January) and it was absolutely stunning at sunset.

This is the eastern side of Reynisdrangar Beach—so to find this place simply head to Vik and put ‘Reynisdrangar View’ in Google Maps.

It’s a great walk on a black sand beach and for photography.

Be careful of the waves, they can sneak up on you (they’re actually called ‘Sneaker Waves’) and can suck you into the ocean.

It’s not something to take lightly while visiting.

Lupines

Other than the Midnight Sun, another great reason to visit Iceland during the summer months is to be able to see lupines!

While most people think they are a flower, they actually are an invasive species and are categorizied as weeds.

They are incredibly beautiful and I loved incorporating them into my photos. If you are in Iceland from early June to mid-July you will likely see them.

I took photos in them along the side of the road, around Vik and near Skógafoss.

Klifbrekku Waterfall

This is a more off-the-beaten-path spot but if you’re going to travel to/around the Eastfjords you can’t miss this spot!

There are seven waterfalls cascading down that make for a stunning spot.

It makes for a really cool drone shot!

Skógafoss

You’ve probably see photos Skógafoss before—it’s one of Iceland’s biggest waterfalls and top tourist attractions.

It’s located on the South Coast and is incredibly accessible to anyone and everyone.

I recommend checking it out later in the night when most people are sleeping under the Midnight sun. It’s lives up to the hype and way better mid-day when the bus fulls of people are visiting.


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Gljúfrabúi Waterfall

This waterfall is a short walk from Seljalandsfoss and shouldn’t be missed!

I have only visited on my most-recent winter because I didn’t know about it on my summer trips. Be careful, patient and kind with everyone visiting as you go inside as it’s a small space.

Photo by @celinelinarte

Múlagljúfur Canyon

To get to this canyon on the South Coast of Iceland, you’ll need to drive down a gravel road and then hike for about an hour.

There are two waterfalls, Hangandifoss and Múlafoss, that fall into the canyon so be sure to look for both!

This is the trail I used when hiking.

Seljalandsfoss

Even though this spot is very busy, like its close neighbour, Skógafoss, it was another spot on the road trip that I absolutely loved and cannot be missed.

I was there at sunset, which was around 10:30-11:30pm and golden light illuminated the water as it was falling—it was incredible.

This is one of the best spots in Iceland, but also once of the busiest.

Kvernufoss

Kvernufoss feels like it’s hidden away from the rest of the popular waterfalls on the South Coast. It is beautiful from any angle, but my favourite is from behind.

Make sure to walk all the way around the waterfall (but be careful because it’s slippery).

Walk here after visiting Skógafoss so you don’t need to fuss about parking.

The hike starts behind the Skógar museum and takes about 20-30 minutes. I found the trail here.

Hvammsvik Hot Springs

I visited this spa/hot spring in the winter and I was absolutely in love.

It’s not too far from Reykjavik so you could squeeze this in if you were in Iceland for more than a few days.

There are a bunch of naturally heated pools—from 95 to 104 F (35 to 40 C). Don’t forget to cold dip in the ocean

Buy your entrance ticket here.

Kirkjufell

Kirkjufell waterfall is a really popular spot in Iceland.

It’s in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula which is north of Reykakvik. It’s said to be one of the most photographed mountain in Iceland.

I’ve been twice, once on my very first trip in 2019 and again in my most-recent winter trip (where the mountain was clouded in). You can walk all the way around the waterfall easily.

Geosea Geothermal Sea Baths

Another geothermal experience you can have is Geosea, which is in Northern Iceland.

You’ll have an exotic experience of bathing in geothermal seawater while soaking up views of coastal mountains and the sea. It was a great experience under the Midnight Sun.

You can book your tickets here.

Photos in collaboration with Julia Thompson, Chris Locke, Brendin Logan, and Mike Suginato.

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6 Comments

  1. Maddi Mulla on May 29, 2024 at 9:06 pm

    Amazing blog Ang!! These sports are beautiful!! I definitely need to visit Iceland again

    • Angela Liguori on May 29, 2024 at 10:09 pm

      Thank you, Maddi. I appreciate you sm 🙂

  2. Sasha on May 31, 2024 at 11:57 pm

    Hi Angela! Thanks for the post and sharing such beautiful photos! What time frame were you there in June? I ask as you said golden light was on Seljalandfoss around 11pm-12am. I’m traveling there the week of solstice so am curious if you have experience with it.

    Thanks for any help!

    • Angela Liguori on June 1, 2024 at 12:22 am

      Hey Sasha! I just looked at my photos/videos and I was there on July 1st between 10:45-11:30pm. ENJOY.

      • Sasha on June 1, 2024 at 12:40 am

        Thank you SO much!

        • Angela Liguori on June 3, 2024 at 4:07 am

          No problem 🙂

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