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Iceland’s Attractions & Popular Sights: This is what you should expect

Iceland’s Attractions & Popular Sights: This is what you should expect

Amazing landscapes with lava fields, waterfalls, glaciers, and more invite millions of visitors every year to Iceland´s natural attractions. But sometimes the pictures you see on social media don’t exactly keep up with the experience.

Please note: During the COVID pandemic, Iceland receives fewer visitors, which allows you to explore the country more intimately.

We listed the most popular places for you, and show you what you should be aware of before you visit them.

1. Strokkur, Geysir (Golden Circle)

Geysir Iceland's attractions

Geysir is one of the best-known attractions in Iceland. The Icelandic word Geysir also found its way into other languages where it describes this natural phenomenon. Many visitors don’t know that Geysir stopped erupting many years ago. Strokkur, it’s neighbor, is the star now, erupting continuously every few minutes.

When you visit the area, you will most likely be accompanied by other visitors exploring the geothermal hot springs. If you want to take pictures without any other people on it, we recommend visiting early in the morning hours. In the summer, you can use the 24 hours daylight to catch a good shot around 3 – 4 am or 11 pm.

Also, read Golden Circle Magic in Iceland for more info.

2. Gullfoss Waterfall 

Gullfoss Waterfall Iceland

Gullfoss – the Golden Fall – is one of Iceland’s most visited landmarks. The water falls down the 11 m (36 ft) step and further down the second step of 22 m (72 ft) until it gathers in the 2,5 km (2 miles) long canyon below.

The amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s average in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime.

Gullfoss, one of Iceland’s most visited attractions, is usually busy with visitors all year round. As with Geysir, if you want to take a picture with little or no people, use the early morning hours in the summer, or even the midnight sun.

3. Kirkjufell (Snæfellsnes)

Kirkjufell Mountain Iceland's Attraction

Probably the most photographed mountain in Iceland. You’ll find it on every postcard, flyer, magnet, coaster, you name it. Ironically, these pictures, taking from the same angle with the small waterfall on it, always look dreamy and remote.

But the area around Kirkjufell (Church mountain) gets very busy with visitors both in summer and wintertime. If you are eager to take one Waterfall front, Kirkjufell in the back pictures as well, please be sure to not step on beyond the footbath. It’s important to protect the sensitive flora around the waterfall.

As we mentioned a few times already, if you want to take a picture with little or no people, use the early morning hours in the summer or even the midnight sun.

Not only one of Iceland’s popular attractions, but Kirkjufell mountain also makes an appearance in Game of Thrones. In season 7, Sandor Glegane (the hound) looks into the flames and sees a mountain shaped like an arrowhead. Later in the season, Jon Snow and the night watch find the mountain behind the wall.

If you are looking where exactly it was shot, don’t worry. It was put into the scene in post-production. However, the mountain was filmed by the crew while there were in Iceland.

4. Black Sand Beach (Reynisfjara) 

Black Sand Beach Iceland

Closeby Vík in South Iceland lies one of the most popular beaches, no one will miss when doing the South Tour. Black sand, basalt rock, and enormous waves crashing into the cliffs.

In one of our podcast episodes, we explain to you why you have to be extra careful when approaching Reynisfjara.

We’ve never seen the beach empty but you can surely find times early in the morning or evening to take an amazing empty beach picture.

5. Blue Lagoon (Grindavík)

blue lagoon iceland

Crystal Blue Water surrounded by Black Lava and moss-covered rocks: The Blue Lagoon is one of Iceland’s attractions most tourists wouldn’t miss. When you arrive at the airport, a huge picture of the blue water welcomes you.

Perfect for the time after arrival, or just before you leave Iceland, the Blue Lagoon lies on the Reykjanes Peninsula, close to Keflavík airport. The amount of visitors depends on the time of your visit, but usually, you will share your experience with hundreds of other guests.

While the Blue Lagoon area is far stretched so that you have enough private space, long lines at the in-water bar and mask station are common.

For a full review, listen to our podcast episode about our Blue Lagoon visit.

6. Seljalandsfoss (South Iceland)

Seljalandsfoss Iceland's attractions

One of the must-visit attractions of the South Coast Tour. Seljalandsfoss is famous for the unique opportunity to walk behind the waterfall. While very slippery and a 100% chance to get wet, you can stand behind the waterfall most times of the year.

Only in the wintertime, officials sometimes close the walking path behind the waterfall when it is too icy. On a sunny day, a rainbow forms in front of Seljalandsfoss, giving you a perfect photo opportunity.

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In the summertime, you will most likely share the area with other visitors since Seljalandsfoss is a stop for many tour companies and coaches.

7. Skógafoss (South Iceland)

Skogafoss Iceland Waterfall

The second must-visit waterfall on the South Coast Tour. Around 30 minutes’ drive from Seljalandsfoss, Skógafoss falls majestically from the 60m cliff. You can see birds nesting in the summer, and if you are fit enough, climb the 370 steps to see the top of the waterfall.

Take about 30 minutes to take in the area, climb up the stairs, and walk to the base of the waterfall – Raincoat highly recommended. This spot is a popular photo location as you often see on social media, one person in front of the waterfall. It’s pretty, we did it too!

As with other South Coast attractions, Skógafoss is a popular stop for tour companies, so you the early morning hours to snap a picture without other visitors on it.

8. Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck 

Solheimasandur plane wreck iceland's attractions

In the year 1973 a US Navy place landed on the beach after running out of fuel. All passengers survided the landing, but the plane wreck remains.

Now the place became one of Iceland’s popular attractions among tourists. Sólheimasandur is a desert and it is forbidden to drive to the plane wreck. However, it is possible to walk from a nearby parking lot which takes about an hour.

Make sure you check the weather and road conditions before you start your adventure. Weather can change quickly, and last year a severe storm ended in a fatal accident for two travelers.

9. Diamond Beach

Diamond Beach Iceland

Very close to Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon lies the so-called Diamond Beach, where you can see the icebergs up close as they drift ashore at this point. It’s a great place for taking stunning pictures. But it is also a very unreal scenery standing in the middle of all these icebergs.

Not all travelers make it this far since the drive to the Diamond Beach takes 5 hours from Reykjavík. We would say the area is less busy than the South Coast but you will still encounter visitors, and people with tripods catching the best picture on the beach.

Remember, if you choose to do a day trip to the Glacier Lagoon in the winter, you have very limited daylight and need to starts driving very early in the morning. To cover all of Iceland’s South Coast attractions, you will need at least two days.

Further Reads

Steffi & Aðalbjörn

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