My Favourite Places In Iceland

Iceland has so far been my absolute favourite country so it was really difficult to narrow down my favourite places. Each part of the country is so unique and amazing! The Snaefellsnes Peninsula with its lava fields and endless puffin cliffs. The West Fjords almost entirely isolated with mother nature running things (although you could probably say that about most of Iceland, let’s be honest!). Northern Iceland and the chilly Arctic Ocean. The East Fjords have their small town feels that make you feel like you are at home and of course Southern Iceland filled with tourist attractions and hustle and bustle of Reykjavik. No matter where you are in Iceland you will always be able to find something to do that will leave you wanting more! 

I’ve managed to narrow down all my favourites to a top 10! They aren’t in any specific order, but if I could only do 10 things next time I was in Iceland it would definitely be these 10!  As always, make sure to check the weather before you head out and have the proper gear for your adventures! 

Latrabjarg

This is probably one of the most famous locations to view puffins. Once you park, you walk up a hill and are presented with a massive cliff that drops down into the ocean below. Puffins travel from their southern winter homes up to Iceland in the spring to nest. The cold arctic waters are filled with nutrients and plenty of food. The best time to see puffins in Iceland is going to be from April to September, with your best changes being more in the middle of that span. Early mornings and evenings are when they will be most active, hunting for food and creating nests, so I recommend going during those times if you want to see them in action! 

The puffins love to nest near cliffs. They offer protection from predators and easy accessibility to fish. These cliffs are extremely steep, especially at Latrabjarg. The drop is straight down making these cliffs very dangerous. Believe me when I say I understand wanting to get closer to get the perfect photograph, but make sure you are a safe distance from the edge. Strong wind gusts can come at any time and push you off your balance. When I was there we must have seen about 100 puffins! There certainly was no shortage! 

Dynjandi

his is my favourite waterfall in Iceland! I’m not really sure why, maybe it’s because it was the first really big one we saw, or maybe because we were on the road for so long before that it was just really nice to get out of the car and look at something else! Either way, Dynjandi is bound to leave an impressive memory! It was really cloudy the day we went which I think helped with the lack of other tourists, but that’s not to say that it wasn’t still busy! As with anything in Iceland, if you want to avoid the crowds make sure you get there really early! 

A word of caution: WE GOT ATTACKED BY BIRDS!! There was a ton a arctic terns flying around the base of the waterfall. We didn’t know what they were at the time, they just looked like seagulls so we didn’t think anything of it. We wanted to fill up our water bottles so we walked down on the road to the base of the falls to get running water. We didn’t make it 15 meters before they started to swoop down at us.  At first I thought maybe they were just really used to people and didn’t care we were there. BOY WAS I WRONG! The closer we got the closer they got to us. One brushed my friends head with their claws and that’s when we knew something was wrong. We ran back up the hill screaming (like the tourists we were) and I can promise you for the rest of the trip as soon as we saw birds, we did not even go close! The point of my story here is that arctic terns are extremely protective over their nests and they will attack you if you get too close!

 

Akureyri

Akureyri has a special place in my heart now! We had a whale watching tour booked early in the morning and it did not disappoint! Humpback whales were surfacing like crazy that day and apart from it being a little chilly, the weather was perfect! This was the first time I had ever seen a whale in the wild as well so I was completely in awe!

Akureyri is one of Iceland’s largest cities.  For dinner that night we went to a restaurant called Bryggjan. Its right along a harbour and our window table had a great view of the boats coming in and out. The food was nothing short of fantastic and the staff were all amazing! 

I do wish we had more time in Akureyri. We only spent 2 days here and then we were off to the next adventure! 

 

Camping in Dragsnes 

We decided to head a bit off our original route to find this campground. I had heard there was a roadside hotpot (free too!) and really wanted to check it out! I am so glad we did because this night turned into one of the funnest nights of my life. The campground was fairly empty, I’m guessing because the town is not close to any main highways, which was nice because some Icelandic campgrounds can get very busy and tight. It was extremely windy that night so we were not able to start our stove to cook. We had barely any food left (that didn’t need to be cooked first) so we made the executive decision to have liquid bread for dinner! AKA, beer! Once our bellies were somewhat full, we threw our suits on and headed down to the hotpots (with more beer in our bags of course)! We didn’t get there until about 10 pm, and the sun “set” around midnight. The views from sitting in the hotpot was breath taking. Looking over the ocean while the colours of the sky dance in front of you, soaking in natural spring water and drinking beer! It honestly doesn’t get any better than this! To top the night off, when it clock stuck midnight, I turned 24! I couldn’t have asked for a better way to ring in my birthday! 

Myvatn Nature Baths

Some say that the Myvatn nature baths are a tourist trap. and in some way I guess they are, but they are WAY less expensive than the Blue Lagoon (which isn’t worth going to btw) and the views over the lake were awesome! They have a hot pool and a cool pool which we didn’t realize for like half the time we were there. We ended up being rather cold for a lot of our stay but the views were worth it! And once we got back into the hot pool things were good again! If you are a university student make sure to bring your student card with you for student pricing! You have to book your spot in advance, so a little bit of planning is necessary, but I think we only booked one day before. Unlike the Blue Lagoon where you have to book days in advance to get the day and time you want. The whole Myvatn area looks like a totally different planet! The smell of sulfur fills the air and you feel like you are on Mars! It was a great way to sit back and relax after a day of hiking and adventuring!   

Snorkeling in Silfra 

When you think of Iceland you usually think of snow, cold weather, and mountains. Most don’t think of going snorkeling in the near zero degree waters! So of course we had to do it!! Snorkeling in Silfra was extremely cold, you have to wear these body suit sleeping bag things under your dry suit in order to stay warm! They feel kinda awkward as you walk down to the water but once your in and swimming you don’t even notice it! The views below you of the rock formations and sand are beautiful! The water is so clear you can see all the way to the bottom perfectly! We were only in the water for about 40 minutes, but trust me it is definitely worth the price!

Camping in Vogar

We came across this campground on our way to the Myvatn nature baths and it had a bar right beside it so of course we knew that was where we were going to be staying that night. Once we were settled in we headed to the bar. Iceland’s soccer team was playing on this tiny TV and you can bet your bottom dollar that the place was packed! All tables and chairs were taken and every space around them was filled with people standing and watching the game. I don’t know the name of the bar unfortunately, but it had such a welcoming vibe to it. We sat on the patio and were joined by some locals. Conversations were flowing as fast as the beer and the night just took off! If you have a chance to stop in on this little bar i highly recommend it! You will be greeted with smiles and kindness, the food is delicious (who doesn’t love pizza!) and of course the beer was great! At least the beer was great until it ran out. We did end up drinking the place out of beer! 

The hot pot cave where John Snow and Ygritte went is really close to here as well so make sure to check that out! You can’t swim in it anymore, but its still a great sight to see!

 

Hverir

Remember how I said the beer was flowing as fast as the conversations at the campground bar? Well I HIGHLY suggest against visiting Hverir if you are hungover! It has an extremely strong sulfur smell that definitely did not sit well with me after a night of drinking. That being said, you definitely have to check this place out because it feels like you are on a different planet! The ground is clearly marked where you can and can’t walk because of how hot the water gets around you. You can see water boiling (yes boiling!) in the pools, everything is coloured red and orange and it truly feels like you are on Mars here! 

When we were there the parking lots was fairly empty, but it was huge! During peak tourist season I can only imagine how busy this place gets! If you want some incredible photos without a bunch of people in the background I definitely recommend going early in the morning or later in the evening! And if you are sensitive to smell… hold your breath! 

 

Iceberg Lagoon

I heard a lot of things about the Iceberg Lagoon and read about it before we left. Nothing prepared me for how beautiful it was! It sounds cliche to say, but the photos just don’t do it justice (again, you could say that about all of Iceland!). 

We chose to not to the boat tour that drove you through the lagoon and around icebergs. It was a very cold and windy day, and we could see everything really well just from the shores! Icebergs fall off the glacier into the ocean, making a dotted map of floating ice in the lagoon. The black marks you see on the ice bergs are from periods of volcanic activity. The ash from volcanoes settled onto the glaciers, and as the glaciers grew the ash layers froze, becoming part of the ice! 

Some of the icebergs make their way to the shore. If it is safe to do so (watch for those massive waves, they WILL grab you and pull you out into the freezing cold water) grab on and check it out! 

 

Glymur Falls

Last but not least is the Glymur Falls hike. This is my all time favourite memory I have of the entire trip because it was the first stop on our road trip after we arrived in Iceland. We arrived around 6 am local time, coming from Western Canada. Once we arrived we did some grocery shopping and found a campground to stay in overnight. By 4 am the next day we were up and ready to go thanks to the jet lag! Since we did this hike SO early in the morning we had the trail to ourselves which was totally awesome, but there were a ton of hard shadows on the falls which made them difficult to see by the time we got to the top (it was only like 7:30 am!). 

The trail itself up to the falls was amazing! There were so many different aspects to it which had me wondering what was around every corner! I’m glad we had our hiking boots because we had to cross rivers, climb through caves and a lot of the slopes we were climbing were very slippery (thank god for the ropes to hold onto!). If there is only one hike you can do while in Iceland I HIGHLY recommend Glymur Falls! You will not be disapointed! 

Iceland Map

Not sure where all the waterfalls are? How do you know where to find hot pots?! We changed our route and want to see more! No problem! Use the Iceland Map to easily locate all the destinations you want to explore! Also includes hiking trails, accommodations, waterfalls, and dining recommendations! Add a driving layer and easily follow the directions right to your destination!

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11 Comments

  1. Rachel

    Iceland is beautiful! Iceland has always been on my bucketlist and I can’t wait to go eventually. Those pictures are beautiful!

    Reply
    • Backpacker Jess

      Thanks!

      Reply
  2. Alexandra B

    I visited Iceland in 2018 but I only got to visit the South. There are so many spots you mentioned that I still need to see for myself!

    Reply
    • Backpacker Jess

      The south is great but I found it was very touristy! I definitely recommend anyone going to Iceland to adventure north and west!

      Reply
  3. Lynne Nieman

    I need to get to Iceland. Every article I read and photo I look at I just think, “Wow! Iceland is so beautiful!” So thanks for your favorite spots. And, by the way, great pics!

    Reply
    • Backpacker Jess

      Thanks! You’re totally right, Iceland is a really beautiful country!

      Reply
  4. Sarah Camp

    What a beautiful country – I’m dying to go! It looks amazing and lots of unique things to see. Thanks for sharing your tips. Love the pics!

    Reply
  5. Emma

    I went through this post thinking I wanted to see puffins the most, then, no I want to see the waterfalls the most, then no, the lagoons. It just seems I need to visit Iceland the most

    Reply
    • Backpacker Jess

      It was really hard to choose my favourite places! There is just so many amazing things in Iceland!

      Reply
  6. Lo

    Iceland has been on my bucketlist for some time now! Gorgeous photos

    Reply
    • Backpacker Jess

      Thank you!

      Reply

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