This list is not 11 things you need to do or the only things you should do in Iceland.
These are mostly the things I seen and my thoughts about them. When I am researching a place I want to visit, I always look for a straight forward list of everything I can visit then choose what I like most. The only place that offers a list like this is Tripadvisor and its never quite what I am looking for.
Here is the list:
- Blue Lagoon
- Seljalandsfoss Waterfal
- Skogafoss Waterfall
- Black Sand Beach – Reynisfjara
- Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Kirkjubæjarklaustur
- Svartifoss (Black Falls) in Vatnajökull National Park
- Vatnajökull Glacier
- Geyser Valley – Haukadalur
- Gullfoss Waterfall
- Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
- Northern Lights
- The Hill behind Klausterhof Guesthouse
1. Blue Lagoon
So I start off ironically with something I never even went to see however you cannot write about Iceland without covering Blue Lagoon. The only reason I did not go there is that we are budget backpacker and cheap ones at that, we hoped we would find some free version of this in Iceland but only managed to get this. Looks great but wasn’t very warm or a suitable run back to the car.
Although we had a great laugh out of this and it was a better bonding experience, I would most likely go to Blue Lagoon if I returned to Iceland. I really regret not doing it but just couldn’t justify the price at the time. Looking at pictures on their website makes me feel like I missed out.
Talk with your travel buddies, consider it and don’t dare ask where the picture above was taken because I don’t know, we followed the smoke in the background and it turned out to be a factory.
2. Seljalandsfoss Waterfall
This is the first waterfall we visited and the only thing I remember about getting there is that all you need to do is followed Road Number 1 and our driver, Aga managed to get us lost temporarily. We did see some cows though so I guess it’s cool.
This waterfall was pretty awesome simply because it was beautiful to look at, just a nice place to be and you could walk round behind it and witness the power of it crashing into the rocks below. It is one of the closest attractions to Reykjavik and close to number 2 on the list Skogafoss Waterfall. When someone so lovely is free of charge, why skip it. This was actually my favourite waterfall of the many we visited.
3. Skogafoss Waterfall
Skogafoss is located not far from Seljalandsfoss so is definitely worth the visit. If I remeber correctly, it is extremely closeby and you could even walk the distance if you were really eager. Dont quote me on that though.
This waterfall was pretty cool just the way the landscape was and the beauty of this is like you can climb up the right hand side of it and see it from above. There is no reason I can think of that you should not go to see this. If you have spare time, and your itinerary allows it then goes ahead.
4. Black Beach
Next stop, Black Sand Beach. I have no idea what its proper name but this is what it’s new name is. The first thing I need to do is warn you, the waves here look innocent but you need to be careful of “Sneaker Waves”. Tourists have been killed because the ocean seems calm but there are unexpectedly large waves that appear from nowhere and surprise you.
My tip is to not turn away from the water when you are close to the shoreline and to keep an eye on the waves the whole time. If you do want to take a picture, get the person taking the picture to keep an eye out. Don’t be silly for the sake of a picture.
Apart from the sneaker waves, this is a really awesome place to visit. It is not the kind of beach you would expect to be relaxing on and is windy and cold but wrap up warm and you will have fun. Just look how happy my friend Marek is in the picture.
5. Fjaðrárgljúfur Canyon, Kirkjubæjarklaustur
If you can pronounce this then you deserve some sort of award, unless you are Icelandic ofcourse. This canyon is a pretty cool short hike up a mountain and is just beautiful to look at. It wasn’t really my favourite place to be fair but bonding with friends is the best part of any of these attractions. I think I was tired and grumpy by this stage as looking at the pictures makes me want to go back but bear in mind, it was extremely cold.
6. Svartifoss (Black Falls) in Vatnajökull National Park
This is a pretty cool place. Yes its another waterfall hower you take a lovely 15-30 minute hike through Vatnajökull National Park passing some beautiful scenery on the way. There is something really rewarding about this and I really enjoyed it personally. I truthfully enjoyed the hike more than the waterfall.
I would recommend this if you are anywhere nearby as its definitely a nice walk even for those who don’t like walking. Reminds me of the Scottish Highlands a little.
“Vatn” meaning water is Icelandic and “jökull” meaning glacier. This water glacier is the largest icecap in Iceland in size and volume and one of the largest in area in the whole of Europe. You can easily go and visit this glacier and be mesmerised by its sheer size and beauty for free but this is one of the few things you may also consider booking an ice climbing tour to get up close and personal. This looks absolutely incredible but as a budget backpacker, its out my price range.
You feel very small compared to this glacier and sad that it is slowly disappearing. Even looking at the picture, you can tell what it once. I would recommend visiting this as it is one of earths natural beauties and future generations may not get the chance. If you can fit this in your itinerary, do it. It is something you do not want to miss.
8. Geyser Valley – Haukadalur
Geyser Valley is definitely a must. I have travelled to a number of countries now and it’s something I have never seen before or anything like it. The weird relationship between the cold weather and the geothermal waters is just mind boggling. You wander around in what looks like more of a sauna/spa but with gloves and a scarf on. The most impressive thing being that Stokkur Geysir which is impossible to miss explodes every 3-5 minutes spouting hot water into the air.
Even if it wasn’t for this one exploding, it is a very interesting place to be and is one of the few things on the list I say you definitely have to see. The rest are beautiful but this is a must. You cannot go to Iceland and not go to Geyser valley.
9. Gullfoss Waterfall
Gullfoss waterfall is the largest waterfall we seen and it is f*****g impressive. Pardon my French but sometimes swearing is the only way to emphasise something’s beauty. This waterfall is an amazing sight and you could spend hours looking at it. I have never seen the Niagara Falls but it has a lot to live up to now I have witnessed Gullfoss waterfall.
It looks like the earth has just split in two and the water is falling through the middle. I do not thin you are supposed to be as close to the edge as Marek but I am glad we took this picture as it really conveys its beauty. It is really windy and cold up here so wrap up, and I mean that seriously. You will spoil it for yourself if you don’t. I did not go down the pathway you can see on the right hand of this picture because it was so cold but I regret it a lot.
10. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
Okay, so truth is I didn’t really know much about this. I guessed it was just some remnants of a glacier and evidence of what once was. Although this is pretty much what it is in layman’s terms, I don’t want to discredit it so I would suggest you read more about it on Wikipedia.
This place is pretty cool, at one side of the bridge you have a lake with ice caps in it which are quite impressive just to look at. On the other side you have a normal Icelandic beach with ice caps of all sizes that you can go right up to.
This place, especially the beach where there are some ice blocks you can hold in your hand, really conveys the message that the glaciers are melting. Personally, I don’t call it global warming but however you refer to it, the environment is changing. Travel whilst you can, see the world before it disappears.
11. Northern Lights
This is probably one of the main reasons you came to Iceland. We didn’t have the best of luck with the Northern Lights but that was not because of a lack of trying. We researched and followed the correct steps but there was either not much activity or not the right weather conditions i.e. too much cloud cover.
We did however catch a bit of the lights on the plane from Iceland to Krakow which were pretty cool. Yes, it may be on your bucket list but do not judge your trip to Iceland on whether you see them or not. Iceland is filled with amazing attraction and the natural beauty of the landscape is incredible. Here you will find tips to find the Northern Lights but make it a bonus of your trip, not your complete trip.
12. The Hill behind Klausterhof Guesthouse
It maybe last on the list but its certainly not my least favourite. We arrived at Klausterhof Guesthouse and noticed a nice waterfall and hill behind it you could hike up. It was lovely but I was tired and did not fancy it. It was only the next morning when I climbed it for the sunrise that I realised how beautiful it really was. There was a feeling of accomplishment and relaxation from just a small climb. It may have been the lack of tourists, the break of the morning or the beautiful peaceful sunrise but it was perfect.
I will not promise it was as good as the pictures suggest as nothing can live up to the beauty of this picture but it was certainly amazing. The colour from the sun hitting the water bordered by nothing but snow and flat land. I have seen many sunrises and sunsets in my travels but for some reason I really enjoyed this. I would recommend Klausterhof Guesthouse anyway for a mid point in your travels as it is the ideal guesthouse and one of the cheapest but even if you do not stay there, go and climb the hill behind it.
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Those are some of