14 Unmissable Places To Visit in Iceland For Nature Lovers

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It won’t take you long to discover there are many beautiful places to visit in Iceland if you love nature. Known as the land of Fire and Ice, Iceland is a land that offers some of the most phenomenal scenes in nature.

From gorgeous glacial lagoons, mountainous canyons, thunderous waterfalls, volcanic craters, ice caves, black sand beaches and, of course, the dancing spectacle of The Northern Lights – there is so much to see and uncover in this rugged land.

If you’re looking to explore some of the most iconic scenes in nature, then make sure you add some of these unmissable places to visit in Iceland to your itinerary so you don’t miss out.

Best Places to Visit in Iceland

Fagradalsfjall volcanic eruption
Fagradalsfjall volcanic eruption at night | Credit Yay Images

These destinations in Iceland listed below are not as famous as other natural wonders around the world, but their raw nature and intensity do make you feel a higher connection with Mother Earth.

A rental car is necessary to explore Iceland. The earlier you book your rental car, the cheaper the prices. This is because car hires are in such high demand in Iceland, that if you wait until last minute, only the expensive cars will be left.

You may even want to consider booking a camper van, to save on accommodation.

We recommend using DiscoverCars.com to find your car rental company. They browse all the rental companies in Iceland and find you the best price. Check Prices & Availability For Discover Cars in Iceland Here!

1. Haukadalur, South West Iceland

Geysir in Iceland

Part of the Golden Circle in South West Iceland, is Haukadalur.

Known as a geothermal area, it’s here that the famous geysir shoots its thermal waters high into the sky every 4-10 minutes.

Its little brother, Strokkur, is also very active. Its powerful jet of water shoots out of the geysers every few minutes, so you have plenty of time to really experience this wonder.

It’s estimated the column of water can reach heights of 15 to 20 meters high, sometimes to 40 meters.

Haukadalalur is a thrilling place to visit in Iceland.

2. Jokulsarlon Beach, South Coast Iceland

chunk of ice on Jokulsarlon Beach, Iceland

One of the most popular tourist attractions on Iceland’s south coast is the beautiful Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon where the glacier releases huge icebergs.

However most visitors do not cross the road to the black sand beach, known as Jokulsarlon Beach, or Diamond Beach, and miss one of the country’s highlights and best places to visit in Iceland.

The icebergs actually float through a channel into the sea and are pushed back towards the beach by the tide. You can approach these giant blocks of ice and touch them.

Some are white, others black and a few are blue, but all look stunning against the waves and the black sand. Truly a privilege to see this work of nature.

Check out this ultimate full day tour highlighting the dramatic landscapes of the south of Iceland.

3. Hverir, North Iceland


Iceland has many geothermal areas, but my favorite is Hverir in North Iceland.

You can feel the Earth boiling just under the crust with the powerful gas released from the fumaroles and the mud pools.

All this activity is intensified by the bare surrounding landscape and the ground colors and the red of Namafjall, the hill behind. Don’t miss this place on your Iceland road trip.

4. Sigoldugljufur, Central Highlands

river and waterfalls running through gorge Sigoldugljufur
one of the lesser known places in Iceland

Hidden in the Central Highlands, the canyon of Sigoldugljufur is one of the lesser known places to visit in Iceland.

We ended up there by accident and it was one of those moments where you feel you have reached paradise: nothing around, just you and nature.

As the others kept photographing, I sat there in silence enjoying every curve of the canyon and every small ‘tear’ waterfall. Mother Nature is an artist!

5. Hverfjall, North Iceland

sand dunes at Hverfjall

I had seen small volcanic craters before Hverfjall in North Iceland, but its size and bare landscape makes it one of a kind and a unique Iceland destination.

As I walked the 1km long rim of the 140 meter deep volcano, my mind started traveling back in time 2,800 years ago and imagining the power of the volcanic eruption.

I felt privileged to see the evidence of such an intense event.

6. Blue Lagoon

people swimming in The Blue Lagoon - Iceland

I must admit, contrary to most visitors of Iceland, I am not a big fan of the Blue Lagoon. Located on the Reykjanes Peninsula, this is perhaps one of the biggest reasons people visit Iceland.

By that I mean not the geothermal spa, but the huge flow of tourists. I guess it is one of one of the must-see attractions in Iceland!

The lagoon itself is man-made but the fascinating part is that the geothermal seawater comes from 2,000 meters beneath the surface.

It has traveled through porous lava, reaches us at 50°C and ends up at 38°C in the lagoon. Can you imagine it coming from so deep under us?

7. Leihrnjukur, North Iceland

lava field Leihrnjukur -

Imagine walking in a field of fuming lava. Crazy? Well, not that much.

You can actually do it in North Iceland on a walking track around Leirhnjukur, which is still steaming 30 years after the last volcanic event.

Of course, you have to stay on the trail if you do not want your shoes’ soles to melt.

But what an adventurerous place to visit in Iceland!

8. Pseudo-Craters, Lake Myvatn

water next to a dry grass field

I know that much of these places allow you to connect with Mother Earth, but now it is time to connect with Father Mars. Let me explain.

The pseudo-craters of Lake Myvatn are the result of a rare phenomenon (almost entirely found in Iceland) where water is trapped under lava.

Scientists believe the same is happening on planet Mars! Crazy, right?

9. Aldeyjarfoss

Aldeyjarfoss waterfall running over cliff

An off the beaten track waterfall to visit is Aldeyjarfoss, which offers the evidence of both volcanic activity and erosion by the glacial river: the land of fire and ice.

This place in Iceland is where you go to appreciate how the powerful flow of water created a passage allowing us to see various shapes of basalt columns from the successive volcanic events.

10. Dimmuborgir, North Iceland

towering lava formations at Dimmuborgir -

If you want to sing the jingle ‘Denver, the last dinosaur’ and feel like one could appear any time, I recommend visiting Dimmuborgir in North Iceland.

Most lava fields are spread out, but low to the ground. This unique one has huge, towering lava formations surrounding you that make you feel like you have traveled in time – or to another reality.

11. Snaefellsnes Peninsula

waterfall streaming over rock face with cone mountain in the background

If you want to do some whale watching in Iceland, there are several places you can do this.

While most tours run from Reykjavik, you can also find whales in Akureyri, Husavik, the Westfjords, and our favorite spot, Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Here you can see many types of whales, porpoises, and orcas swimming in the Atlantic Ocean, including humpback whales.

The Snæfellsnes Peninsula, located in Snæfellsjökull National Park, is also known for its stunning landscape.

It has a stunning black-pebble beach, Djúpalónssandur Beach, which you can often see whales from the shore when the waters are calm. Make sure you plan your visit for April to late September if you want to see whales.

12. Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir National Park)

ditch in ground where two tetonic plates meet Thingvellir National Park

Perhaps one of the most famous national parks in Iceland is Thingvellir National Park.

It’s the only UNESCO World Heritage Site on mainland and is the point between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. You can actually see the spot where the plates connect (see the photo).

What makes this national park famous is the landscape of lava fields and geysers. It’s home to Haukadalur and Strokkur, which I mentioned earlier, as well as the Gullfoss Waterfall.

Go angling in Lake Þingvallavatn or horseback riding from Gjábakki to Skógarkot. There’s no shortage of things to see and do here, so it’s worth spending a few days in the park and checking out all the attractions.

13. Gullfoss Waterfall

Icelandic summer landscape of the Gullfoss waterfall in Iceland

One of the best attractions in Thingvellir National Park in Gullfoss Waterfall, which are possibly the most famous falls in the country.

The massive, double tiered waterfall plunges for 31 metres and can be heard before it’s seen. It’s thunderous waters showcase the true power of nature with crashing sounds that echo through the canyons.

What’s more is that the falls are on the Golden Circle route, and are easily accessible without needing to hike. There is a viewing platform perched on top of the cliffs, with some stairs leading down to the falls.

14. Vatnajökull National Park

glacier in Vatnajökull National Park

Vatnajökull is the largest glacier in Europe, and is therefore a nature spot not to miss when visiting Iceland.

The Vatnajökull Glacier National Park is made up of massive ice caps, thundering waterfalls, and volcanic landscapes, making it a fantastic playground for outdoor lovers.

Below the glacier is the Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, which is a great vantage point to witness its breathtaking landscapes.

It’s also where you will find the largest natural ice cave in Iceland, which is one heck of a sight!

Final Thoughts

From hot springs to active volcanoes to black sand beaches and thunderous waterfalls, there is no shortage of beautiful nature spots to visit in Iceland.

We hope this guide helped you plan your adventure to Iceland and gave you some inspiration for places to visit.

For more ideas about things to do on that road trip, planning information, beautiful photos, and practical maps to help you plan your travels, check out ZigZag On Earth’s eBook:

More Iceland Travel Tips

Need more inspiration for your trip to Iceland? Here are some other guides!

What places in Iceland would you love to visit? Or where have you felt the most connected to earth during your own travels? Share in the comments below.

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