EXPLORE: Iceland – What to See and Do
Iceland is such a beautiful place with so much to see and do. Like a lot of people, I went to Iceland in search of the Northern Lights. I started researching things to do after booking my trip and was thrilled to learn of all the things to see. I booked a northern Lights Expedition, went to the Blue Lagoon, explored the Golden Circle, and had a delightful time in the city of Reykjavik shopping, eating, and sight seeing with my BFF.
Below is an overview of the things I did in Iceland and a few recommendations. If you are headed to Iceland I hope you have an amazing time and if you haven’t booked your trip yet I have to ask… What are you waiting for?!
The Northern Lights
Seeing the Northern Lights was a bucket list dream of mine. When we arrived in Reykjavik we heard rumors that no one had seen them in a few days. When the tour left the hotel that night I was excited, nervous, and on the brink of tears. What if I came all this way and nothing?! We chased around for hours seeing only stars. As midnight approached, all of the tour buses started heading back to the city. Our guide and driver both refused to give up and continued looking. At about 12:30AM our driver pulled over and the guide proclaimed, “Everyone off the bus!” I was the first one off the bus… and there it was, a thin green wisp in the sky! For about 30 minutes I saw the lights grow, dance, and change. It was magic! …and then just like that they faded away. The next few days I heard similar stories of no one seeing them. My group was truly lucky that night! Be warned that the trek to Iceland to see the Northern Lights is exciting and fun but there is a possibility of not seeing them at all. …but if it was a guarantee would it really be that exciting?
The Blue Lagoon is an experience of a lifetime. The facility is modern and beautiful. Once you change in the locker room (get naked or use a changing stall) and shower, you can enjoy the pool with its absolutely beautiful water and breathtaking view. Be sure to get a silica mud mask treatment and enjoy a drink from the swim up bar. One of the best experiences I have had in my life is relaxing in the Blue Lagoon with my best friend while we wore mud masks and enjoyed a glass of Prosecco.
Hellisheidarvirkjun Geothermal Power Plant
Hellisheidarvirkjun Heat and Power Plant is the largest power station in Iceland and the second largest geothermal power station in the world. The Power Plant´s Visitors Center displays a geothermal energy exhibition and explains how geothermal energy is used in a sustainable manner in Iceland. This stop is both educational and highly interesting.
Kerið Volcano Crater
Kerid, once a cone volcano, is a volcanic crater lake in Grimsnes in South Iceland. Once the magma was depleted, the weight of the cone collapsed into an empty magma chamber and was later filled with water. The lake itself is fairly shallow and is opaque but aquamarine in color and visible in the warmer months. Kerid offers highly impressive scenery. Watch your step! There are no safety rails.
Gullfoss is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Iceland. Gullfoss cascades into the river gorge and is gorgeous year round. The waterfall can be viewed from up high as well as from a lower point of view after descending a staircase. Watch your step! Again, there are no safety rails.
Geysir and Strokkur
Geysir and Strokkur are located in the southwest part of the country, east of Reykjavik. Strokkur errupts every 5 – 10 minutes but Geysir is hardly active anymore. The landscape surrounding this area is unlike anything I have ever seen before! The steam coming off the ground was mesmerizing and made for gorgeous landscape photography. Take a moment to enjoy the landscape as well!
Thingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history, and cultural value. The Icelandic parliament was founded in Thingvellir in 930AD and remained there for centuries. Thingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. The dramatic gorge, Almannagja, marks the eastern boundary of the north American plate.
Actually, they’re horses! Icelandic horses are absolutely adorable. Their shaggy coats and sweet demeanor are just precious! You can see these horses along the way to and through the Golden Circle. Photo ops are available but be cautious when pulling off the road.
Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral Church
Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavík, Iceland. The church houses an impressive pipe organ and is also used as an observation tower. An observer can take a lift up to the viewing deck and view Reykjavík and the surrounding mountains. The statue of explorer Leif Eriksson (c. 970 – c. 1020) by Alexander Stirling Calder in front of the church. There was a small but beautiful art show in the main foyer as well.
City of Reykjavik
There are a ton of things to see and do in Reykjavik! There are statues, historical buildings, bars, nightlife, music events, art galleries, shopping, and more.
Dining in Reykjavik
Don’s Donuts – I found this food truck by the taxi stand. I love donuts so I kind of had to!
Hotdogs – Have a hotdog “Bill Clinton Style,” that’s mustard only, for a cheap lunch!
Kinder Egg – NOT Icelandic but we can’t get these in Texas (the States?) and I always wanted to have one… so I had 3!
Sægreifinn (The Sea Barron) – Tryggvagata, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland – Order the Lobster Soup
3 Frakkar – Baldursgata, 14, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland – Fine dining with beers and wine, smoked puffin, soups, whale, desserts and more.
Icelandic Fish & Chips – Tryggvagata 11, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland – The name says it all!
So much more…
There is so much more to see and do in Reykjavik and Iceland than what I did on my first trip. I hope to go back soon and see the Puffins, Vik, and more of the beautiful country. Have you been to Iceland? What was your favorite part? Please share in the comments section!
What to Pack for Iceland: