5 Once-in-a-Lifetime Places to Visit in Iceland

There are few places on earth as captivating as Iceland, and as it has long been considered Europe’s “best kept secret,” but with the rise of Instagram this has quickly changed. This land of closely-knit people is a destination that everyone should have on their personal bucket list. Iceland is truly a once-in-a-lifetime holiday that is more than just a cliche Instagram adventure.

In fact, when first-timers set foot on Iceland’s rocky shoreline they are simply amazed by the fact that the sights here are better than they every imagined. Plus, the wilderness is nothing like the countries name suggests. Yes, Iceland is a cold northern land, and there is a great deal of ice to be seen every month of the year, but there are hot springs, ancient lava fields, geysers and so much more.

If this is your first trip to Iceland, here are five places you really must visit.

First, A Few Words About Traveling in Iceland

Although Iceland is not a very large country in comparison to Australia or the United States, for example, it is big enough to suggest you need to rent a car to see it. Because there are so many breathtaking places to visit and rare experiences to delight the entire family, you’ll certainly want to look into car rentals in Iceland from the airport (Reykjavik) when booking your flight.

If you plan on a lengthy road trip, I do suggest you pay a little extra and rent a car that is Iceland specific with 4x4 and all the bells and whistles. Much of your trip will probably be pulling off on to side roads that may contain some rough terrain. Reserve a car on the www.reykjavikcars.com site when booking your flight. With that out of the way, let’s look at those five amazing places you really must visit!

Read on: Tips for renting a car or camper van in Iceland

Be sure to stop and eat lunch at Husavik Fishing Village. It will be the freshest fish you have ever tasted!

Be sure to stop and eat lunch at Husavik Fishing Village. It will be the freshest fish you have ever tasted!

Husavik Fishing Village

In a land where fishing is one of the main industries, historically, who could visit without staying at least a night or two in Husavik Fishing Village? Here is where you’ll see many fishermen plying their craft as they have been for centuries. When you dine in the village, the ‘catch of the day’ will truly be the catch of the day brought in by the town’s own fishermen!

You can also dive between tectonic plates in Thingvellier National Park!

You can also dive between tectonic plates in Thingvellier National Park!

Thingvellir National Park

Now a national park, Thingvellir is most notable as the place where Iceland’s parliament was born way, way back in the 10th century. Yes, I wrote that right. The 10th century. But your not here for the politics, you’re here for the nature. Located in what is called a rift valley, the park lies between tectonic plates with mountains on three sides and fissures, lakes and evidence of volcanoes having been active. This is where you might want that car you’ve rented at the Reykjavik airport, because it is quite popular as a day-trip from the capital. Although Thingvellier is close enough to visit within a single day I suggest spending a bit more time there.

Sunset at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is spectacular.

Sunset at Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is spectacular.

Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon

With so much press being given to the glaciers falling into the sea due to global warming, wouldn’t it be interesting to see an area where glaciers have been breaking apart for longer than men have walked the earth? Jokulsarlon Glacier Lagoon is where you can see hundreds of little icebergs dotting the lake, formed by breaking off the Breidamerkurjokull glacier as the ice melted away. This is one of the most highly photographed areas of Iceland simply because it illustrates what icebergs look like after they’ve separated from a major glacier.

Read on: Everything you need to know to visit Jokulsarlon

Part of the Golden Circle route.

Part of the Golden Circle route.

Golden Circle Route

Ok, so this isn’t one specific place. But there is so much packed in this small route I wanted to include it all. Again, you’ll need that rental car when taking this trip and beginning your drive just east of the capital. Not only will there be an amazing number of historic sites to visit and photograph, but there’s a geyser, hot springs to enjoy, and several saunas to relax in and release all that 21st century stress. Perhaps the most diverse of all locations in Iceland, the Golden Circle Route is truly a must-see attraction you’ll want to visit several times during your stay in this tiny nation with huge attractions.

Read on: Iceland Ring Road Travel Guide (short version)

Reykjavik is quaint and beautiful, don’t miss it. Photo:   Evelyn Paris

Reykjavik is quaint and beautiful, don’t miss it.
Photo: Evelyn Paris

Reykjavik

Located in the southwestern part of Iceland, Reykjavik is the capital of this small northern European country. Reykjavik may be considered small by other countries’ standards, the population is just about 120,000. But, there are few cities on earth as quaintly laid out as Iceland’s capital.

It is truly worth seeing Reykjavik only for how clean and well-kept it is. In fact, you’ll get a first-hand glimpse of what is important to Icelanders when visiting the nation’s capital because they pride themselves on anything and everything natural and safe for the environment. This is highly visible by the remarkable absence of litter.

Read on: Everything you need to know to visit the Blue Lagoon

Final Thoughts

There you have it, five must-see places in Iceland that ensures you will have a once-in-a-lifetime trip while still being anything but cliche. Once-in-a-lifetime is a phrase that is thrown around so much these days many find a destination lives up. But, once you’ve set foot in Iceland, you’ll know that there truly are places on earth that have earned that title well.

One last thing... even though researching ahead of time is great, I definitely recommend bringing an Iceland travel guide along with you. Here are some of the travel guides I used during my trip...

Also, a super common question I get is: What camera do I use for my travels. The body is a Nikon D5600 and I use the kit lens and a Sigma wide-angle lens which I am genuinely obsessed with.

My full list of travel gear, that I take on every trip can be found here.

And of course, if you have any questions DO NOT hesitate to reach out to me via Instagram, Twitter, or just shoot me an email (tessajuliette at gmail dot com). 

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