Iceland is a Nordic island about 2,500 miles away from Boston and 2,700 miles from NYC. Recently, I went on a trip with my sister to Iceland and it was stunning! With geysers, lava fields, volcanoes, and hot springs, Iceland is going to continue to be a popular destination for years to come.
We took a red eye from the States and landed in Iceland about 7 am their time. We then took a 45 minute cab ride to our hotel in Reykjavik, checked our luggage at the front desk, and immediately started exploring. We walked down to the water, then downtown, stopped in any open stores, and then got coffee and tea at a local cafe. Well, I won’t bore you with every little detail…instead I will list my recommendations regarding what to do and see.
This list is far from comprehensive. We spent six days in Iceland and packed in a lot of stuff. However, I’d love to go back and check out other parts of the island. Hopefully soon! Check out our recommendations below.
What to do in Iceland
- Walk around downtown Reykjavik. With cute shops, cafes, restaurants, and bars, there is plenty to do.
- Stop at Hallgrímskirkja. It is the largest church and tallest structure in Iceland, standing at 244 feet. Whether you are religious or not, the architecture is amazing and impressive.
- Take a tour of Ölgerðin Brewery. During the tour you learn about the history of Iceland’s Prohibition and taste numerous beers. Unlike other breweries I have been to, you don’t just get a few sips, you get a full glass of beer.
- Stop at Kerið, a volcanic crater lake located in the Grímsnes area in south Iceland, along the Golden Circle.
- Visit Faxifoss Waterfall. It has a salmon ladder and stretches 262 feet wide and 22 feet high. It is very peaceful and even though the overlook seems far away, you can still hear the thunder of the falls.
- Gullfoss Waterfall. Located in South Iceland, this waterfall falls more than 100 feet into a canyon with walls more than 220 feet high. While it was raining when we went, the mist from the falls also sprayed us as we got closer. Pack something waterproof!
- Þingvellir National Park. This park is literally translated to Parliament Plains. Why? Well, Iceland’s Alþing general assembly which was established around 930 would assemble here until 1798. While you are here you can also stand on two tectonic plates – one is part of the continent of the United States while the other is part of Europe’s plate. You are literally standing in two continents at once!
- Skógafoss Waterfall. As one of the biggest waterfalls in the country, Skógafoss sits at 49 feet wide and 200 feet tall. You can walk right up to it or follow a staircase up and stand above it.
Mýrdalsjökull Glacier. Once you park, you walk twenty minutes on a hiking path until it opens up to this pictured above. If you have time, you can take a glacier walking tour too.
- Geysir. Located in the Golden Circle, this geysir is located in a highly active hot spring with boiling mud pits. Every few minutes there is a spout of water forced into the air from underground, reaching 100 feet high.
- Vik and the black sand beach. This was one of my favorite stops. The beach and basalt columns were stunning.
- Blue Lagoon. While this is a huge tourist attraction, it is still worth going. Things to note: it is about 40 minutes outside of Reykjavik; you have to shower before going into the lagoon; don’t wear jewelry or it may tarnish; try to keep your hair out of the water as it will make it very dry.
- Walk behind Seljalandsfoss Waterfall. This was another highlight of the trip! You will get wet from the mist but very worth it.
- Go to the top of the Perlan Museum (or Pearl) for stunning views of the city.
- Check out the President’s House. It is beautiful and you can walk right up to it.
Check out my other pictures!
Other things to know:
- During the summer, the sun barely sets. It will look like twilight even past midnight. However, in the winter months, it is the opposite and there is only about 3 hours of sunlight a day.
- It is an expensive place to visit. Almost every dinner was around $50 per person with just an entree and drink.
- Cash is very rarely used here. You will be fine with your credit card.