If you really want to explore the island properly, you need to rent a car in Iceland. Most of the amazing nature sights can only be reached by car, but luckily, there are two main routes taking you to them: the Golden Circle and the Ring Road.
The Golden Circle
1. Þingvellir National Park
Þingvellir means “Parliament Plains”. It is a protected national shrine because of its political and historical significance, as well as a Unesco World Heritage Site. The Alþing general assembly used to convene in the area from 930 to 1978. Major historical events that shaped the country also happened here.
2. Haukadalur Geothermal Area
The Haukadalur Geothermal Area is approximately 60 km away from Þingvellir National Park. The highlights here are two famous geysers called Geysir (where the English word “geyser” came from) and Strokkur.
The Great Geysir used to be very active until an earthquake hit. At present, it “only” erupts every 8 to 10 hours. On the other hand, Strokkur is very active: it erupts every 10 minutes and shoots up hot water ranging from 60 to 100 feet.
3. Gullfoss Waterfall
The Hvítá (White) river flows from Iceland´s second biggest glacier, the Langjökull. The wide river falls into 100-foot ravine, producing thick fog and mist, and rainbows on sunny days. Then, the water falls into a rugged canyon on two levels. This waterfall is called Gullfoss or Golden Waterfall because of its majestic beauty.
4. Kerið Crater Lake
The Kerið Crater Lake offers a picturesque view because of its deep blue color within the surrounding crater in red and green shades. If you’re up to it, it takes 5 minutes to hike down the bottom of the crater.
THE RING ROAD
5. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
The 200-foot Seljalandsfoss Waterfall is one of the most famous waterfalls in Iceland. It is best to go at sunrise and take photos behind the waterfall. It can also be viewed from a hill next to it.
6. Skógafoss Waterfall
Just several minutes away from Seljalandsfoss is another beautiful waterfall of about the same height, Skógafoss. It is 25 meters wide and very powerful. Colorful rainbows are usually spotted here.
7. Sólheimajökull Glacier
Sólheimajökull is an 11-kilometer long outlet glacier that came from another glacier, Myrdalsjokull. Sólheimajökull is susceptible to climate change due to its shape and location.
8. Jökulsárlón Iceberg Lagoon
The Jökulsárlón Iceberg lagoon, considered one of the “greatest wonders of nature in Iceland” was formed from the Breiðamerkurjökull glacier that is slowly melting, again due to climate change. Blocks of icebergs that break off from the glacier are usually seen floating in the lagoon.
9. Crystal Ice Caves
Another spectacular natural wonder in Iceland are the crystal ice caves under the Vatnajökull glacier. These ice tunnels were formed by rivers of melt water and the sun’s rays through the ice gives it its translucent blue color.
This can only be visited with a guide during winter when the ice is intact; otherwise, it is unsafe. Exploring this breathtaking natural beauty can seem like a setting from a Superman movie.
10. Mývatn Lake Region
The Mývatn Lake region, one the most geothermal and volcanic active geothermal regions in Iceland, is also home to several natural attractions. One is Mount Krafla with a caldera diameter of 10 kilometers and a surrounding fissure zone of 90 kilometers. Another is the 4-mile long Fáskrúðsfjarðargöng tunnel.
Also located here is the Dettifoss Waterfall, the largest waterfall in Iceland, and in Europe by water volume.
Other natural wonders that can be found here are: Laxá River, one of Iceland’s most famous and beautiful rivers; Námafjall Hverir and Námaskarð geothermal areas with bubbling mud pools; Dimmuborgir Lava Formations; and Mývatn Nature Baths, where you can take a dip or totally immerse in warm geothermal water.
The Mývatn Lake Region is also known for its good bird spotting options. It’s where the most duck species in the world can be found!.
And that’s it! Wait, what? You want to know even more about Iceland? Then check out this list of cool and interesting facts about the island!
Where to stay in Iceland
On their road trip to Iceland, this is where my mom and dad stayed:
What to pack for a trip to Iceland in summer
- Hiking boots that are comfortable on any kind of terrain.
- Icebreaker hiking socks to keep your feet dry when you’re sweating and warm when you’re cold.
- A beanie, because summer’s in Iceland are still chilly.
- A bathing suit to enjoy the many hot springs and spas.