TOP 10 THINGS TO DO IN Iceland
Here are our top 10 things to do in Iceland:
1. Reykjavík city from Hallgrímskirkja church
The view from the top of Hallgrímskirkja is the best way to see Iceland's capital city Reykjavík! For a small fee, you take a quick elevator to the top and get a 360 degree view of the city. From one particular window gets you this shot which happens to be my favorite (and the most popular).
2. Diamond Beach
Diamond Beach and neighboring Jökulsárlón Glacial Lagoon make for a great overnight trip (or day trip if you're ambitious) from Reykjavík. About 4-5 hours from the city depending on weather will take you past so many other worldly sites that the drive itself makes the trip worth it. There are a few places to stop which breaks up the trip, but you'll want to keep moving especially if you only have a day and not much sunlight depending on the time of year you're visiting. Once you get there, the diamond beach will be a quicker stop where you can check out the chunks of ice and black sand before walking across the street to the Lagoon. More on that below.
3. Dessert at braud bakery
Braud is a tiny psychedelic bakery steps from Hallgrímskirkja Church. It's a perfect place to stop on your walk back from the top of the church and they have really tasty treats. Another bakery that is delicious and a must try is Sandholt. They also have pre-made sandwiches and light lunches (you can also eat there but it gets crowded) but it's a great place to stop if you want a quick bite on the go. We also stopped here before our full day tour to the Glacier Lagoon and ice caving and bought lunch to go (there aren't many stops along that ride) so it's perfect for that too.
4. Skógafoss waterfall
Of the most popular waterfalls relatively close to Reykjavík this one is our favorite. Gulfoss may be another popular pick among travelers but Skógafoss definitely took the top spot for us. It's conveniently located on the way to the Glacier Lagoon so it makes for a good stop and being outside of the Golden Circle tourist loop it feels a little more authentic.
5. Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon
There are so few other places like the Jökulsárlón Glacier Lagoon. The Glacier Lagoon is filled with glaciers surrounded by mountains and more glaciers. In the winter, it's also the beginning point for ice caving tours on Iceland's largest glacier - Vatnajökull. What makes it so special here is the sheer natural beauty and uniqueness that you won't find anywhere else.
6. Meet an Icelandic horse
Icelandic horses are irresistible! Somewhere between a horse and a mule, there is something special about being able to pet a wild horse on the side of the road. So don't hesitate to pull over when you see one and get that picture!
7. The Blue Lagoon
Where else can you swim in silica water that's an electric blue color. The Blue Lagoon is also convenient to get to from the airport and Reykjavík and a fun half day excursion. It's popular with tourists but it really is a must do for a first time Iceland trip.
8. Reynisfjara black sand beach
Because this truly is a unique beach experience. With it's famous basalt columns, terrifying waves and black sand, it's really one of a kind. It's also on the way to the South coast so it's a good stop to stretch your legs if you have a long drive ahead.
Because you've probably been driving a lot, and if you're visiting in the winter most likely there is snow on the ground - and where else do you go dog sledding? There are a few companies who do this and they even offer packages in the summer on grass instead of snow. So no excuses for not trying it out!
10. northern lights hunting
Because who doesn't love the Northern Lights! The problem with this one is it isn't something you can guarantee while planning your trip. But there are things to do to maximize your chances of seeing the Aurora borealis. First off, you should know that even if you are visiting Iceland, this isn't an assurance that you'll definitely get lucky one night. The Northern Lights can only be seen certain times of the year, usually between September and April when the night sky gets dark enough, and then you'll need to be in a remote area with as few lights as possible, little to no cloud cover, and solar activity! So unfortunately it's not quite as easy as it seems. But you can at least control a few variables like going during the winter months and being located in a remote location for a few nights on your vacation. The other thing you may want to prepare for is how to photograph them. Chances are that if you do see them, you'll want to get a picture to remember them by. If you're using a DLR camera, there are a few settings that you'll have to change. You can find more details and a beginner's guide to photographing them here.