TRAVEL TIPS: My top 10 places to visit first trip to Iceland
Alright! So you are dreaming of or planning a trip to Iceland. Let me tell you about my top 10 favorite places that you shouldn’t miss!
I’ll start by posting from all around the country and in the future I’ll make more posts that will narrow it down to smaller areas. Here are my favorite locations:
#10 Skógafoss waterfall
Let’s start off with this great majestic waterfall just a few minutes off the ring road. Located just underneath Eyjafjallajökull this waterfall became a muddy mess back in April of 2010 during the eruption. There is two recommended ways of seeing this waterfall: #1 From your car by the parking lot – #2 You can climb the stairs built next to it and be impressed by it’s size from the side and above.
Side note: Skógar is also where the infamous Laugavegur hiking trail starts and decent camping facilities is just by the waterfall.
#9 Svínafellsjökull glacier
Svínafellsjökull glacier is located on the south east coast, close to Skaftafell national park. It’s one of the most accessible glaciers in Iceland and you can actually drive almost all the way up to it. From your car it’s a 50-100 meter walk to enjoy it’s beauty. It’s not recommended to walk onto the glacier without a guide. From the Skaftafell visitor center close by you can join a guided tour onto the glacier with people who knows it’s every movement. In the winter this glacier becomes a prime spot for the popular blue ice cave tours.
#8 DC-3 airplane wreck in Sólheimasandur
This airplane wreck in Sólheimasandur underneath Eyjafjallajökull has gone from a hidden gem to a popular attraction. It’s still quite tricky to find and requires some hiking to get to, but it’s worth the effort. I recommend that you study a map before going there and make sure to walk on the right side of the nearby river. Firs time I went there I parked on the wrong side and was faced with either walking all the way back or wading over the ice cold glacial river. I waded…. burrrrr….
Goðafoss, translated “waterfall of the gods” got it’s name from when a law speaker on his way from Alþingi threw his old statues of the norse gods in the river around year 1000. Some time earlier it had been decided that Iceland would pick up christianity as the official religion.
This definitely is one of the most beautiful waterfalls I’ve seen and is perfect subject for photographers.
Skaftafell is located in the south east of Iceland in an area called Öræfi (translated desert). It’s literally located between a black sand desert and the Vatnajökull glacier. Since 2008 Skaftafell is a part of the Vatnajökull national park which is Europe’s largest glacier outside of the arctic.
One of the main attractions in Skaftafell is Svartifoss waterfall, a beautiful waterfall surrounded by basalt rock formations. You can read more about Skaftafell and enjoy a bunch of photos from the time when I used to live in the area in the blog post below:
You’re probably thinking “Really!? Another waterfall!”. But let’s face it, if there is one thing there is no shortage of in Iceland it’s waterfalls! (and lamb). Also, who doesn’t love a nice looking waterfall!?
Seljalandsfoss is, just as Skógafoss, conveniently located very close to the ring road in the south of Iceland. It’s just a great waterfall for taking photos during sunset. But that’s not the best thing! You can actually walk in behind the waterfall as a small cave has been carved in to the mountainside. However, if it’s windy, bring an umbrella.
#4 Gullfoss & Geysir
This one is a classic and part of the most visited attractions in Iceland. Once again, there is a reason for that! Gullfoss & Geysir together with Þingvellir national park makes up the so called Golden Circle. There is plenty of bus day tours from Reykjavík to these attractions. I however recommend to rent a car for the day which will give you the freedom to explore without stress of timetables.
#3 Icelandic Phalological Museum (a.k.a. The penis museum)
The Penis museum in Reykjavík is truly one of a kind. The only penis museum in the world!
Sounds strange? Well you’ll be surprised that it’s actually quite interesting. There is penises of all sizes in this museum, from mouse penises to whale penises, they even have a human penis that was donated a few years ago.
More info: www.phallus.is
#2 Blue Lagoon
Few people visit Iceland without visiting the famous Blue Lagoon. It got it’s name from the magically blue water which makes a beautiful contrast to the black lava rocks in the surrounding. Located in between Reykjavík and Keflavik airport it’s a great stop either when you arrive in Iceland or when you’re leaving. If you take the right flybus company they even stop by the Blue Lagoon on the way and pick you up 2 hours later. Isn’t that convenient?
Be aware that you have to book in advance since they recently put restriction on how many guests can visit the lagoon at a time.
More info: www.bluelagoon.com
#1 Jökulsárlón [ˈjœːkʏlsˌaurˌloun̥] (Glacier Lagoon)
Number one on my list is Jökulsárlón (translated Glacier Lagoon) which is a lagoon on the south coast of Iceland filled with floating icebergs. During the summer the when the glacier gets warmer and more ice breaks of it it’s the prime time to visit. Some of my favorite moments has been during sunrise and sunset when the skies over the lagoon are burning. Great for taking photos.
You can stand along the shores of the lagoon and watch the icebergs float around and occasionally turn over, bringing crystal blue ice to the surface. Also keep your eyes open for the seals playing in the stream.
If you want to see all this action a bit closer there is two types of boat tours on offer. Amphibious boats that take larger groups of people in to the lagoon with a guide or zodiac boats with fewer people which takes you real close to the icebergs.