9 things to do in Iceland outside of Reykjavik

Photo by Jon Flobrant on Unsplash

Iceland, a country full of mystery and wonder and shrouded in folklore featuring stories of vikings and trolls is a country whose allure is evident in every which way you turn.

Below you will find 9 things to do in Iceland outside of Reykjavik that will leave you marvelling at its untouched beauty.

Blue Lagoon

Photo by Frank Denney on Unsplash

Synonymous to Iceland, the Blue Lagoon can be found around 40 minutes outside of Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik. 

Located inside an 800 year old lava field, this geothermal spa whose temperatures range between 37-40 degrees was recently named as one of National Geographic’s “25 Wonders of the World.”

The lagoon is extensive and as such, it’s easy to wander its waters and find a tranquil spot in which to relax and soak in its peaceful ambiance.    

The views inside the lagoon are breathtaking, with a mountainous backdrop adding to its calming and tranquil character.   

In the centre of the lagoon stands a face mask bar where visitors can receive a face mask of their choosing.  The spa also hosts a swim-up bar offering an array of smoothies, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

Make sure to book your tickets to the lagoon in advance of your trip as the spa is incredibly popular and as such sells out quickly! 

Northern Lights

Photo by Jonatan Pie on Unsplash

The Northern Lights are a spectacular natural phenomenon that can be seen frequently across the Icelandic sky.  

This wonderful light effect ranges in colour from white to green and pink to purple and is caused by the interaction of particles from the sun with the North Pole’s upper atmosphere. 

There are several factors that have to be optimal in order to see the lights including complete darkness and clear skies and as such, it is best to head out of Reykjavik in order to increase viewing chances. 

Due to this it is highly recommended that visitors to Iceland undertake a guided tour in order to see the Northern lights.  Icelandic guides are well versed in the conditions required to see the lights and monitor the aurora borealis forecast frequently so as to know exactly what locations will lead to viewing success.

Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon

Photo by Rostyslav Savchyn on Unsplash

The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon offers visitors the chance to see a natural wonder in all of its untouched glory.  

With Jökulsárlón glacier as its backdrop, vast amounts of icebergs ranging in colour from luminous blue to sapphire green drift around the lagoon, all of which have cracked and melted away from Jökulsárlón over time.   

The size and shape of the icebergs vary substantially and a visit to Jökulsárlón allows for a wonderful snippet of nature at its most pure.  The sights within the lagoon are truly breathtaking.  

The lagoon is also a great place to watch native seals who play jovially in the water, unfazed as large icebergs drift close by.

Crystal Ice Cave

Photo by Adam Jang on Unsplash

The Crystal Ice cave is another spectacular wonder that can be found in the south of Iceland.  

The textures and colours within the cave are stunning and the sun’s rays projecting into the cave make these colours sparkle and come alive.  

The cave is in a somewhat secluded location and as such requires a hike from Vatnajökull National Park to its entrance. This hike, although not strenuous, does require navigation over icy Icelandic hills and due to this it is highly recommended visitors take a guided tour to the cave so as to traverse its surrounding terrain with native caving experts.  

A guided tour will also equip visitors with hard hats, walking sticks and ice axes whilst educating on the safe areas to cross within the cave and the areas to avoid due to thinning ice.

Make sure to dress accordingly with hiking boots, warm clothes and thick winter gloves as the temperatures within the cave drop well into the minuses!

Skeiðarársandur Beach

Photo by Seth kane on Unsplash

Skeiðarársandur beach is a black sand beach on which many of the melting icebergs from Jökulsárlón glacier come to rest before being washed away into the sea. 

The beach is stunning and is littered with glistening, diamond like icebergs of varying shapes and sizes, many of which look like magnificent, hand carved ice sculptures.  

The contrast between the icebergs and the black sand is beautiful and adds to the impact of the view with the ‘diamond’ icebergs taking centre stage at every turn.

The backdrop to the beach sees huge waves crash onto its shores and adds to the breathtaking and wondrous scenery. 

It is recommended that visitors navigate the whole beach in order to take in all of its perimeters as each offers a completely different, but magical view.

Skógafoss Waterfalls

Photo by Stephen Berling on Unsplash

The Skógafoss waterfall is situated on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland and is an impressive site to behold.

The magnitude of the waterfall is breathtaking and visitors have the opportunity to get very close to its base in order to hear the water crashing down into the river below.  

To the right of the waterfall, stairs lead to its top where a viewing deck allows for spectacular scenic views over the falls itself and their surrounding area.  

Visitors will also get a chance to see seagulls nesting at the top of the falls, a really beautiful sight to witness.   

In summer, visitors have the opportunity to walk behind the falls in order to get as close to the cascading water as possible.

Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

Photo by Giuseppe Mondì on Unsplash

The Solheimasandur Plane Wreck can be found in Solheimasandur and is the resting place of a 1973 American Navy DC plane that ran out of fuel and crashed at this site.  Thankfully, everyone on the flight survived.    

With its fuselage stripped down to the frame, the sight is hauntingly beautiful against the black sands of the Solheimasandur beach.  

Visitors are able to drive to a parking lot around 4km away from the site itself from where they are required to undertake a 90 minute roundtrip hike in order to reach the wreck.  

This walk navigates flat terrain and as such is not a strenuous walk to undertake, plus with the crashing waves and imposing mountains as a backdrop, the walk is enjoyable and picturesque with yellow poles marking the route that must be taken.

Geyser Hot Springs

Photo by Indigo Wolfsbane on Flickr

The Geyser Hot Springs are located within southwest Iceland. 

Upon arrival to the springs, visitors are greeted by a number of small bubbling pools that are calming and peaceful to sit back and observe, another glimpse of the beauty of nature in its most natural of surroundings.

Sulphurous steam pours from the ground around the springs which adds a mystical ambiance to the area and the smell of sulphur can be witnessed at every point within the area.  

Strokkur, the main ‘great geyser’ in the area, erupts around every 5-10 minutes and visitors will be left in awe at the display of Earth’s power as it catapults hot water between 20-40 meters into the air.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Photo by Joey Clover on Unsplash

The Gullfoss Falls is comprised of numerous extensive waterfalls that cascade from different levels within the area and come to meet as one in the river below. 

The area of Gullfoss is steeped in history and information boards throughout will educate visitors on both the history of the area and how the falls came to be as they are today.  

The paths to the waterfalls are well marked with well maintained wooden steps and fences, meaning that visitors can get close to the falls within the safety of their surroundings.  

The sights that can be witnessed from the main viewpoint at the falls are truly incredible and at points are almost hypnotic.

Top Tips

  • Book guided tours well in advance.  Iceland is a popular destination and as such, may of the tours book out well in advance.

  • Educate yourself on Icelandic roads.  If navigating Iceland independently, be aware that the roads in winter can be extremely icy so drivers must be experienced and comfortable in all weather conditions.

  • Bring layers! Iceland can get very cold due to its position by the North Atlantic Ocean.  Bring layers so as to ensure warmth throughout your trip!

  • Bring appropriate shoes for hiking!  Many of the sites within Iceland are reached via a short hike so proper hiking shoes are a must! In winter the ground can be icy and slippy so crampons are recommended.

  • Bring snacks! A lot of the sites in Iceland are remote so ensure to stock up on water and snacks to keep energy levels high throughout the day! 

Have you been to Iceland?  

What were your favourite destinations when you visited? 

Check out my guide to 1 night in Reykjavik for more tips on what to do in the beautiful country of Iceland!

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Happy exploring!👣

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