My Wishlist of the 10 Things to do in Iceland

posted in: Beaches, Cities, Europe, Iceland, Nature, Tips | 49

Ever since I was a kid, Iceland struck me as a winter wonderland. I suppose the name is what gave it that kind of a visual imagery as a kid. As time flew and I read more and more about this fantasy wonderland, I discovered that it was far more beautiful than what I imagined. Ice wasn’t the only thing there. It was in fact, filled with stunning and unusual pieces of nature. It was this that put Iceland high up on my bucket list of travel.

Reykjavik in Iceland
Reykjavik                                                                                                                Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

Iceland is a small European country – an island along the North Atlantic belt. My first textbook association with the country came with its capital  Reykjavík, which is considered to be the cleanest city in the World. With history lessons, I discovered about the Vikings visiting it. Then with advanced geography, I learned of its volcanoes, fjords, geothermal springs and the stunning Northern Lights. The place kept growing on me with every article I read. I have now reached a point where I have finalized my top 10 things to do in Iceland. Let me share that with you.

1) Chase the Northern Lights

Northern Lights in Iceland 
Northern Lights in Iceland                                                                                    Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

When the dark cloudless night sky is lit up in bright greens, blues or pink dancing lights, it must be nothing short of magic. Aurora Borealis was the term that I learned in school which became a fascination as I saw pictures of the Northern Lights. Iceland is one of the key places where you can spot these, and the best part is that you do not have to go too far from Reykjavík to get them. Of course, a lot is left to your luck but I am hopeful that the Norse spirits of Valkyries would be pleased to see me and shine down their glinting armor.

2) Visit Þingvellir National Park

Thingvellir National Park, as it is called in English, is a part of the UNESCO sites for its geological wonders. From waterfalls to its tectonic plate rift valleys, hot geysers, volcanoes and more – there is enough here to surprise and delight you. For me, it is about the three of my favorite activities – hiking, scuba diving and snorkeling.

Thingvellir National Park in Iceland
Thingvellir National Park                                                                                          Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

The hiking trails around this park showcase the famous tectonic plate activities that we have only read of. The rift valleys formed by the clash between the North American plates and the Eurasian ones are very visible and vibrant with their colors. A treasure best experienced as you walk the place.

Silfra Lake along these same rifts is the place for Dry Suit Scuba diving and if you are not qualified enough for it, then snorkeling is a must do. The clarity of the water is supposed to be the best in the world and the marine life delightful. Naturally, this is quite irresistible to me.

3) Experience Blue Lagoon

Blue Lagoon in Iceland
Blue Lagoon in Iceland                                                                                    Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

One of the most popular things to do in Iceland, Blue Lagoon is on my list for the same very reasons as yours. The stunning blue lake is a natural geothermal lake with healing salts in the form of dissolved minerals in sea water. A spa session here is an experience of a lifetime. Going all that way to Iceland definitely merits one visit and who am I to say no when nature itself wants to pamper me.

4) Go Whale Watching in Iceland

Whale Watching in Iceland
Whale Watching                                                                                                  Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

It would be something else to see these majestic creatures of the sea in their natural habitat. Iceland is popular for its whale watching tours – which are all day tours in Iceland. You can spot the huge Killer whales and Humpback whales. The bonus for me on this trip would be catching the seabirds like the Skuas and the cute Puffins.

5) Explore the magic of Westfjords

Puffins in Iceland
Puffins in Iceland                                                                                                 Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

When you talk of birds and whales, the one region that I definitely would want to do is Westfjords. Sparsely populated, this is not in the usual tourist circuit and which is why it is still pristine and beautiful. Rare birds nestled on high cliffs, seals along the shores, whales in the oceans and Arctic Foxes on the mainland – are some sights that you can expect here. Add to that the majestic waterfalls like Dynjandi and the rare but colorful beaches like Rauðasandur with its white, black and red sands. I also, hear there are some interesting folklores hidden within these wonders.

6) Ice Caving

Ice caves in Iceland
Ice caves in Iceland                                                                                      Photo Credits: Kyon Cheng via Flickr under Public Domain

Caving anywhere has been a thrilling activity for me and ice caves – the thought of it itself gives me an adrenaline high. Skirting around all those iced paths to discover variously shaped icicles and the stunning colors within the caves is something that I think I can experience only in Iceland. The Skaftafell Ice Cave exploration is combined with a glacier hike and can be booked easily from Reykjavik – making this an easily do-able activity.

7) Enter a Volcano in Iceland

Volcano exploration
Volcano exploration                                                                                          Photo Credits: Mr.Hicks46 via Flickr under CC by SA 2.0

I have to live up to my Indiana Jones Avatar and exploring a volcano from the insides is just what I have on my mind. The Thrihnukagigur Volcano is just what I need. I can picture myself being lowered down to those elusive ledges that take me to the colorful interiors of the mountains. Who knows, I might just find some treasure in one of those Magma chambers. 😉

8) Boat tours & trekking at Jokulsarlon Glacier

Jokulsarlon Glacier in Iceland
Jokulsarlon Glacier in Iceland                                                                                Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

When in Iceland, you got to see the Icebergs. Jokulsarlon Glacier Lake is just the place that I need to visit for it. A boat tour takes me as close as possible to these frozen wonders while allowing me to spot the friendly seals. Adding to the charm of the place are its various glacier trails – all of which lead to some more ice caves. Who knows, maybe this might be the place to see the Northern lights too.

9) Photograph the Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss Waterfalls in Iceland
Gullfoss Waterfalls                                                                  Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

I grew up with this picture of stunning waterfall staring at me from a wall. I always dreamt of visiting this three-tiered waterfall, only to realize later that it was the famous Gullfloss Waterfall of Iceland. Among the top 10 waterfalls of the world, they say the way the way the same drops off the cliff to the canyon, gives an appearance of the water disappearing into the center of the earth The gushing waters of this Gullfoss Waterfalls, are something I want to capture with my own camera.

10) Try Snowmobiles in Iceland

Snowmobiles in Iceland
Snowmobiles in Iceland                                                                                    Photo Credits: Media pictures from Iceland Tourism

I have tried all the thrill that water has to offer – jetskiing, seakarting etc. Time to check out how it feels on the snow. It would be amazing to rush along those iced paths and glaciers. The experience will definitely heighten the joy of the unique landscape. Maybe a stopover at one of those hot geysers that spout every now and then. Snowmobiles is a definite yes from me as one of the things to do in Iceland.

So, while you pin this one up as your bucketlist for travel, tell me which one of these would be your favorite thing to do in Iceland?



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49 Responses

  1. Tiffany

    I will be there in July!! I would love to see the ice caves but those aren’t open! Seriously the magic of his place is stunning!!

  2. Nicole Anderson

    The Blue Lagoon is a place I have heard about for years. I would love to let the “healing minerals in nature heal my bodies aches and pains. I hear it has anti aging properties. I would never say no to visit to see the “northern lights”

  3. Anuradha Goyal

    Those Puffins are so cute – I have always seem on the Penguin’s children’s imprint – never in person, not even in a Zoo – big reason to go to Iceland. Ice caves are another attraction – I always wonder how much of them are natural and how much man made – any which way they seem interesting.

    • Ami

      Thanks Anuradha for the comment. I would not know much about the Ice caves but I guess I will find out when I visit them. Fingers crossed that I do.

  4. Kavita Favelle

    It’s a great list. Of your choices, I have several of them but not yet tried 5 (Westfjords), 6 (Ice caving) and 7 (Entering inside a volcano) or 10 (Snowmobiling). All these sound great to do on my next visit!

  5. Kavita Favelle

    It’s a great list. Of your choices, I have enjoyed several of them but not yet tried 5 (Westfjords), 6 (Ice caving) and 7 (Entering inside a volcano) or 10 (Snowmobiling). All these sound great to do on my next visit!

  6. Danila Caputo

    Iceland has also been on our bucket list forever. And we’d especially love to see (and photograph!) the Northern lights. Unfortunately as you said you’ve got to be lucky to see them 🙁

  7. Rachelle Gordon

    Iceland has also been on my bucket list for years. I live pretty close to an airport, but it is very expensive to fly in and out of, which has prevented me from being able to get to Iceland. I would love to drive around the island and go chase waterfalls, for sure!

    • Ami

      Iceland being expensive is one of the key hurdles we are all facing. Hope we have some luck favoring us soon

  8. Denny George

    Northern lights has been on my wish list for a long time now. I was planning to see them from Finland, but now after reading your post, i think Iceland could be an option as well, given all the other possibilities. I’m especially enticed by the chance to visit the Blue Lagoon, and the inside of a volcano.

    • Ami

      I think I am baffled with the volcano myself. I definitely want to get in there to see it. Thanks for stopping by Denny.

  9. Jen

    I love reading your list! It brings back happy memories. 🙂 I’ve visited Iceland for the past 2 years and it still amazes me! We have not been as lucky as other when it came to the Northern Lights but we did chase the Northern Lights! Still have to cross off the volcano and snorkeling from my list. Hope you get to complete this list soon. 🙂

    • Ami

      I hope so too Jen. Hope I can do all this soon. Thanks for sharing your experiences

  10. Heidi Medina

    My bucket list for Iceland looks very similar to yours, except that I have added to drive the ring road as well. Iceland looks like such a beautiful and amazing place, that I can’t wait to get there. It is an expensive place though which part of the reason we haven’t been yet. But, it will happen!

  11. shwetadave

    I have been to iceland and the experience is nothing short of magical. I have experienced few from the lists and I can’t wait to go back to tick off the bucket lists 🙂

  12. Hannah

    I LOVE puffins, so wherever I could see them is a must for me! I’ve been wondering where the best place to see Aurora Borealis would be, so perhaps I should do it in Iceland? I’ve had 3 or 4 stops in Iceland on my way to North America, but never had a proper stopover there – how silly of me, when there are so many wonderful things to do there!

    • Ami

      3 – 4 stops!!! Wow! Now that is something I would envy. Hope you make the most of your next one.

  13. Hendrik

    From my own visits in Iceland I can tell you that this is an excellent “To Do” – list. This island will put a spell on you, its beauty is overwhelming. It is not only the amazing hospitality of the native people but also this incredible landscape, which sometimes changes so drastically while being on a road trip there. I recommend you to make a trip around the whole island, what you see there, you will never forget. And each part is completely different from the one before.

    • Ami

      Ah Hendrik. You have no idea how this is adding to my itch . I really hope that I can get there soon.

  14. Cathy Salvador Mendoza

    My main goal in Iceland is to see the northern lights, or I first known as Aurora. But didn’t actually know that there are other fun and awesome things to do here such as whale watching. I’ve always been fascinated by these beautiful creatures and I’d also love to watch them in their own nature.

    • Ami

      As I discovered more and more about the island, I realised that it was truly a complete destination in itself. Now that you know, am sure you are buiding your own favorites list.

  15. Indrani

    I want to do all. None can be ignored. Each activity has its charm.
    I guess this would require a good length of stay in Iceland.

  16. Anda

    Hahaha, I hear you, Ami! I always wanted to visit Ireland too, but somehow I never made it there. I think making a list like that makes your dream seem closer, doesn’t it? Great places to see there, for sure.

  17. Meg Jerrard

    I hope you do have the opportuity to visit Iceland soon – it’s SUCH a spectacular country! One of the big things we had to consider though was weather to travel in summer or in winter – the Aurora Borealis is a big dream of mine too, though obviously only appears in winter months. Where-as in summer you have 24 hours of daylight, so can get a lot more into each day, enjoy beautiful nature, go wild camping, and the roads are all open for road trips (many close in the winter). So that’s something to keep in mind when you do plan your first trip, whether you want the midnight sun or the northern lights

    • Ami

      Sigh – now that means I have to do two trips – midnight sun one and the northern lights one. Iceland just fascinates.

  18. Ha

    Oh no! I miss so many things on this list in my Iceland trip 🙁 I went there in May so I could not see the Northern light, and whale watching is a bit expensive to my budget. The Gullfoss Waterfall is extremely beautiful. I was impressed when I was there.

  19. Sam Sparrow

    I still haven’t made it to Iceland, and I really hope to one day. Like you I’m desperate to see the Northern Lights (but I might got to Finland for that) and I’ve always wanted to see the Gullfoss Waterfall for myself. It’s breathtaking!

  20. Anita Hendrieka

    Seeing the northern lights and exploring a volcano are at the top of my Iceland bucket list too! Iceland looks like such a beautiful place to explore. I am so keen to get myself to Iceland one day soon!

  21. Ryan Biddulph

    See the Northern Lights in person is one of my dreams too Ami. I observe these dazzling shots online; wonder how it feels in person, right? So much color, shimmying, like something from outer space. Yet folks in Iceland and the Far North enjoy such views regularly. Amazing. Iceland is close to NYC too; 6 hour trip. Although I am in Thailand now 😉


    • Ami

      Ah well, am sure you will get to it sooner than I will. Seems to be on the way. Thanks for stopping by Ryan.

  22. FS Page

    Iceland is so magical. I have wanted to visit it for the longest time i know but it is just so costly. It provides such unique landscapes and opportunities to have so many amazing experiences. Your list is the perfect explanation why I have been wanting to visit it.

    • Ami

      It is quite a magical destination and let’s hope that our wishes of visiting it are fulfilled. Cheers

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