Iceland is without a doubt my favourite country. It has a raw beauty to it, and such welcoming people. If I were ever to leave the UK and move to a different country, it would be Iceland. I honeymooned there one Summer and re-visited one Winter and it really is a country where any time of the year is going to offer you breath-taking views.
Most people opt to stay in Reykjavik, as it’s easy to reach from the airport and is a brilliant cultural hub. From Reykjavik one can explore the surrounding areas either via tours or by hiring a vehicle and self-driving to explore. Tours can be booked in advance online or often via any city centre hotel (though online generally gives you the best choice and prices).
Driving in Iceland is really easy, all of the attractions listed below can be reached via the main Route 1 or the Ring Road. Route 1 is a national road in Iceland that runs around the island and connects most of the inhabited parts of the country.
Here’s some of my favourite places to visit…
Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland
Skógafoss waterfall in Iceland – Photo by Brian Botos via Unsplash
A stunning waterfall, there steps you can climb to the top of the waterfall give you outstanding views, both looking down on the waterfall and also across to the two glaciers in the surrounding area. Skogafoss is just drive 5 minutes to the Sólheimasandur Plane Crash site & 10 minutes drive to Seljalandsfoss waterfall.
Whale watching and puffin tours in Iceland
Whale watching and puffin tours in Iceland – Photo by Lydia Harper via Unsplash
Whale watching and puffin tours give you a chance to see a side to Iceland that you might not otherwise see. With knowledgable guides, most tours offer a pick up service from city centre hotels in Reykjavik.
Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland
Seljalandsfoss waterfall in Iceland – Photo by Jeremy Bishop via Unsplash
A popular spot for tours, there’s ample parking here along with toilets and a small cafe. It’s the weather isn’t too cold you can walk behind this huge waterfall. In colder weather the surrounding area tends to get rather icy so sensible footwear is a must.
Solheimasandur Plane Crash site, Iceland
Solheimasandur Plane Crash site, Iceland – Photo by Thomas Tucker via Unsplash
The Sólheimasandur Plane Crash site is a location popular with photographers in Iceland, not far from Vik. This isn’t a site that coaches tours can visit because of the access to it. It’s perfect if you are doing a self-drive tour of Iceland, or hiring a car.
The Sólheimasandur Plane Crash site is situated on a black sand beach 1 mile from the main Route 1 road. The site is not signposted and you can’t see it as you drive along. To get there you need the very specific photo directions which you can find here. (I’ve personally followed these directions with no problems – and I’m not the best navigator!)
The sign as you approach recommends 4×4 vehicles only but the sand is pretty compacted, in fact it’s more like gravel and it can be accessed with caution and slow speed with a normal car – but I wouldn’t try that in darkness as there some big potholes.
Reynisdrangar and the Black Sand Beach at Vik, Iceland
Reynisdrangar and the Black Sand Beach at Vik, Iceland – Photo by Sorasak via Unsplash
This black sand beach is just the most awe-inspiring stretch of coastline that I’ve ever seen. The stacks you can see rising out of the sea are basalt stacks called Reynisdrangar. This beach is around a 3 hour drive from Reykjavik and is located close to Vik, which is a great place to stop and grab some lunch.
Thingvellir National Park in Iceland
Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir National Park)
Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir National Park) is a, as you can see from the name, national park, the status which protects it’s unique geology and natural features. It’s also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, designated so for being the site of the oldest existing parliament in the world, with the first assembly there in 930 AD.
Thingvellir looks beautiful at any time of the year. I’ve visited it in Summer and Winter and it almost transforms into a different world with the change of seasons.
The church at Thingvellir is called Þingvallakirkja. It’s open dailyfrom 9am – 5pm, from the middle of May to the beginning of September.
Geysir Geothermal Field in Iceland
Geysir Geothermic Field in Iceland
Geysir is a popular stop on many tourist tours in Iceland. We hired a car during our visit and paid a visit during our stay in November. The area has been active for over 1000 years and contains hot springs, geysers and boiling mud pits. Strokkur is the main attraction here, meaning ‘Churn’ in Icelandic, it erupts every 5-mintues anywhere between 15 and 40 metres high. It’s quite a sight and tends to draw in a crowd – even on a snowy day in November.
Do you have any other recommendations of places to visit in Iceland? Please feel free to share them in the comments below!