This Iceland bucket list will prove to be nothing short of awe-inspiring natural beauty and unique experiences. Iceland, often called the Land of Fire and Ice, is a land where contrasts and contradictions come to life in vivid, breathtaking ways.
What sets Iceland apart is its unparalleled diversity of landscapes, where roaring waterfalls, simmering geysers, vast glaciers, and steaming volcanoes coexist harmoniously. It’s a place where you can stand on the edge of two tectonic plates, soak in geothermal hot springs, and witness the dance of the Northern Lights in a single day.
But what truly makes Iceland special is its capacity to make you feel like an explorer of uncharted territories. Every destination, from the iconic Golden Circle to the remote Westfjords, has a story to tell and a unique facet of Iceland’s natural wonders to unveil.
As you embark on this virtual journey through 30 bucket list destinations in Iceland, you’ll discover not only the extraordinary beauty of this land but also the adventures and memories waiting to be etched into your travel narrative. Iceland invites you to explore its enchanting landscapes and uncover the secrets that have captured the hearts of adventurers for centuries.
So, pack your sense of wonder, and let’s dive into the famous and hidden gems of Iceland, a land where nature’s grandeur knows no bounds!
Incredible towns to discover Iceland’s spirit
1. Reykjavik – The Capital of Cool – Iceland Bucket List
Reykjavik, Iceland’s vibrant capital city, is an intriguing blend of cosmopolitan charm and breathtaking natural beauty. Nestled between the mighty Atlantic Ocean and a backdrop of rugged volcanic landscapes, Reykjavik stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of modern urban life and the untamed wilderness that defines this country.
One of the city’s most captivating qualities is the knowledge that wild adventures are just a short drive away. Within an hour, you can find yourself soaking in the soothing waters of the Blue Lagoon or embarking on a journey to witness the awe-inspiring natural wonders of the Golden Circle. This last one is the famous scenic route in Iceland, which combines stunning landmarks and historically significant places in a circular sightseeing tour. Reykjavik is one of the best bucket list destinations to add to your Iceland adventure, especially during the Winter Lights Festival, one of the best winter festivals around the world.
2. Akureyri – The Capital of the North
Akureyri, often called the Capital of the North, is Iceland’s second-largest city, but it exudes a charm that’s all its own. What makes it special is its vibrant cultural scene, colorful houses, and stunning botanical gardens. You can explore the charming streets, visit the iconic Akureyri Church, and enjoy local cuisine at cozy restaurants.
The city’s location near Eyjafjordur Fjord, Iceland’s longest fjord only adds to its appeal, making it an excellent base for exploring the northern wonders of Iceland.
3. Vik – The Southernmost Village – Iceland Bucket List
Vik, the southernmost village in Iceland, is known for its dramatic black pebble beaches and iconic basalt sea stacks. It’s a place of stark beauty, with waves crashing against the black sands, creating a mesmerizing contrast. Vik makes you appreciate how special silence feels and what raw nature has to offer. You can hike to the top of Reynisfjall Mountain for panoramic views or visit the nearby Reynisdrangar sea stacks, steeped in folklore and mystique.
4. Seydisfjordur – The Picturesque Fjord Town
Seydisfjordur is a picturesque fjord town in East Iceland. With its colorful wooden houses, artistic community, and the stunning landscape that surrounds it, it is the perfect place to immerse yourself in Icelandic culture and natural beauty.
These incredible cities and towns are just the beginning of your Icelandic adventure. In the following sections, we’ll uncover more hidden gems and must-visit destinations that will make your Iceland bucket list complete. Whether you’re seeking adventure, relaxation, or a deep connection with nature, Iceland has something extraordinary in store for you.
Iceland’s bucket list experiences – Iceland Bucket List
5. Gaze at the Northern Lights
If the summer months are the best time for most sights in Iceland, there is an experience that requires you to take courage in the cold. From September to April, Iceland becomes a canvas for one of nature’s most mesmerizing displays, the Northern Lights. These ethereal lights paint the dark canvas of the Icelandic sky with vibrant hues, creating a spectacle that’s nothing short of magical.
While it’s possible to catch a glimpse of the Northern Lights from Reykjavík, the city’s urban lights can dim the full brilliance of this celestial show. For an awe-inspiring experience, get your camera and escape the city’s glow and venture to some of Iceland’s most captivating locations, like the legendary Golden Circle, the mystical Snaefellsnes Peninsula, or the enchanting Ring Road.
6. Snorkeling Where Continents Drift Apart – Thingvellir National Park – Iceland Bucket List
Thingvellir National Park is a geological wonder where you can witness the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates. There you get to discover and explore the Silfra Fissure, a crystal-clear underwater canyon formed by the drifting plates. Snorkeling or diving here provides a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to glide between two continents in waters so pure that visibility reaches up to 100 meters.
7. Witness the geysers erupt in Geysir Geothermal Area
Home to the original geyser, Geysir Geothermal Area showcases the raw power of the Earth. Take a moment or more to witness the extraordinary power that is the Strokkur Geyser, which erupts with scalding water and steam every few minutes, reaching heights of up to 30 meters. The geothermal pools and bubbling mud pots add to the surreal experience.
8. Whale Watching in Husavik – Iceland Bucket List
Husavik, located in North Iceland, is often called the Whale Watching Capital of Europe. During the summer months and even from May to November you get to go on this one-of-a-kind experience. What makes it unique is the opportunity to encounter majestic whales in their natural habitat. The best way to fully experience it is to join a whale-watching tour and witness humpback whales, minke whales, orcas, and even the elusive blue whale.
9. Drive around the Ring Road
While it may have various destinations, the Ring Road is a must-visit route featuring three incredible sites: Thingvellir National Park, Geysir Geothermal Area, Skógafoss, and Gullfoss Waterfall. What makes it worthy of your bucket list is the diversity of natural wonders you’ll encounter in one journey, from historical significance to geothermal marvels and powerful waterfalls.
A lot of the incredible natural wonders are located around this scenic drive so prepare for detours and just give yourself time to admire the stunning Iceland. Usually, it takes up to 5 -7 days to finish without feeling rushed.
10. Exploring the Vatnshellir Cave – A Subterranean Adventure
Descend into the depths of Vatnshellir Cave to explore a hidden world of lava formations. What makes this 8000-year-old cave even more adventurous and extraordinary is the chance to venture into the heart of a volcanic wonderland and witness the eerie beauty of underground lava formations.
11. Bath at Myvatn Nature Baths – Iceland Bucket List
Nestled in the North of Iceland, the Myvatn Nature Baths offer a serene and geothermally heated escape. The striking contrast between the milky-blue waters and the surrounding volcanic landscapes makes the experience surreal. It’s like bathing in a natural oasis, with steam rising from the warm waters. Relaxing here is an otherworldly experience, especially during the Northern Lights season, when you can enjoy the celestial dance from the comfort of the baths.
12. Take a boat tour to admire icebergs at Jokulsarlon – The Glacial Lagoon
Jokulsarlon, also known as the Glacial Lagoon, is a place of extraordinary beauty, where massive icebergs drift serenely on the deep blue waters. These icebergs have calved from the nearby Vatnajokull Glacier, creating a surreal and ever-changing landscape. Take a boat tour to get up close to the ice giants or simply stroll along Diamond Beach, where icebergs wash ashore, glistening like diamonds in the sun.
13. Watch the Puffin Colony on the Westman Islands
The Westman Islands are home to one of the largest puffin colonies in the world. Traveling to Iceland from April to September is the best time to seek a peek at these incredible creatures. And it is an experience you will not regret, either going on a puffin tour or simply going on your own, to where they nest on the cliffs of the islands.
14. Admire the Fjadrargljufur Canyon – Iceland Bucket List
Often compared to a fairytale landscape, Fjadrargljufur Canyon is a hidden gem that deserves its spot on your bucket list. Carved by a winding river, this canyon features towering cliffs and lush greenery. What makes it unique is the sense of serenity and wonder it evokes as you hike along its trails. Every bend reveals a new perspective, making it a photographer’s dream. It’s also off the beaten path, ensuring a quieter and more intimate experience with Iceland’s natural beauty.
15. Hike in Landmannalaugar – The Highlands Oasis
Landmannalaugar is a highland oasis known for its colorful rhyolite mountains, natural hot springs, and exceptional hiking trails. And after all that hiking, how does it sound to end the tour with the opportunity to soak in warm geothermal pools surrounded by otherworldly landscapes? Bonus points: it’s a starting point for the Laugavegur Trek, one of the most famous long-distance hikes in Iceland.
16. Volcano watching at Hekla Volcano – Iceland Bucket List
Hekla is one of Iceland’s most active volcanoes, and what makes it extraordinary is its history of powerful eruptions. While it’s closely monitored for safety, the volcano’s mystique and dramatic landscapes are captivating. And Hekla nicknamed the Gateway to hell, is responsible for creating a great part of Iceland’s landmass in the last millennium. And with an eruption estimated to take place soon, you are advised to book an experienced guide to take you there.
17. Treat yourself to a natural spa at The Blue Lagoon
The Blue Lagoon is a world-renowned geothermal spa, and what makes it special is the surreal experience of bathing in its milky-blue, mineral-rich waters. Surrounded by volcanic landscapes, it’s the perfect place to unwind and rejuvenate. And to be fair, the Blue Lagoon makes a perfect romantic choice for those seeking the best honeymoon locations for both adventure and special occasions.
18. Discover Grjotagja Cave – A Natural Hot Spring
Grjotagja Cave is a hidden gem where you can soak in a natural hot spring amid lava rock walls. But keep in mind that the subject of bathing or not bathing in the cave is still open. Not that it is forbidden but due to volcano activity in the area the water temperature rises so much that it makes it unsafe. What makes it even more special is the unique experience of entering the cave that was once a filming location for Game of Thrones.
19. Adventure in the Hornstrandir Nature Reserve
For a truly remote and untouched wilderness experience, head to Hornstrandir Nature Reserve in the Westfjords. With impressive sights of rugged cliffs and fjords, it is a haven for hikers and nature enthusiasts seeking solitude and unspoiled landscapes. And if hiking trails are what you are looking for, then you are at the right location. As for other incredible hiking destination ideas, make sure to check Framey’s collection: Best hikes in Europe that will take your breath away.
Out-of-this-world sights to discover in Iceland – Iceland Bucket List
20. Snaefellsjokull National Park
This national park, dominated by the glacier-capped Snaefellsjokull volcano, is famous for its mystical energy and association with Jules Verne’s Journey to the Center of the Earth. This National Park gives a unique sense that adventures lie all around. Hike to the summit for panoramic views or explore the lava caves below, believed to have healing properties.
21. Skaftafell National Park – Iceland Bucket List
Skaftafell, now part of Vatnajokull National Park, offers various outdoor adventures. It’s wilderness with trails that lead to glaciers, to Kristínartindar Mountain, or the Svartifoss waterfall. And factoring in the fact that it is accessible to some of Iceland’s most famous hiking trails, including the challenging ascent of Hvannadalshnjukur, the country’s highest peak.
22. Grettislaug Hot Springs
Grettislaug Hot Springs, located in North Iceland, offers a unique seaside soak. Although the pool is on private property and you have to pay a small fee to enter, it is so worth it for the combination of natural hot springs and incredible ocean views, that make it a truly enchanting experience.
23. Snaefellsnes Peninsula – Iceland Bucket List
The Snaefellsnes Peninsula is often called Iceland in Miniature because it encapsulates the country’s diverse landscapes in one area. It looks so dramatic, special, and incredible! But what makes it truly special is the chance to witness volcanic craters, charming fishing villages, and the imposing Snæfellsjokull volcano, all in a single day.
24. Dynjandi Waterfall
Dynjandi is the largest waterfall in the Westfjords and is often described as a cascading bridal veil. With its more than 100m and its remote location, it makes worthwhile any effort to journey through the rugged beauty of the Westfjords to reach it. The reward is a stunning natural spectacle surrounded by tranquility.
25. Myrdalsjokull Glacier – Iceland Bucket List
Myrdalsjokull is an ice cap situated to the north of Vik i Myrdal and to the east of the relatively smaller Eyjafjallajökull Glacier. A haven for any adventurers, the glacier offers the opportunity to explore the glacier’s ice caves, ice hiking, or mountaineering, or to put it simply it is just one of the most thrilling experiences you can have.
26. Vatnajokull Glacier National Park
Vatnajokull Glacier National Park is one of the largest national parks in Europe, covering almost 14% of Iceland’s landmass. What makes it worthy of your bucket list is the chance to explore an ever-changing landscape of glaciers, volcanoes, and ice caves.
The Vestmannaeyjar archipelago is a volcanic wonderland off Iceland’s southern coast. And if you are wondering what makes it unique, it is the chance to look at the famous Elephant Rock and the myths surrounding it. Today, the Vestmannaeyjar shows its 15 gems of islands, and only one is inhabited.
28. Askja Caldera – Iceland Bucket List
Located in the remote highlands, the Askja Caldera offers a lunar-like landscape with a serene crater lake called Viti. What makes it extraordinary is the sensation of walking on another planet and the chance to take a dip in the geothermal waters of Viti. And keep in mind that it is also an active volcano.
29. Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon
While Jokulsarlon is well-known, Fjallsarlon Glacier Lagoon is its quieter, more serene neighbor. If you are into the self-drive exploration of Iceland, the tranquility and the chance to see massive icebergs floating in a serene glacial lagoon is an experience you must not skip.
30. Reykjanes Peninsula – Iceland Bucket List
Reykjanes Peninsula is a geothermal wonderland where you can witness the powerful forces of nature. The dramatic landscape of steaming vents, bubbling mud pots, and the famous Blue Bridge between continents make it a destination truly worthy of any bucket list!
Iceland Bucket List: A First Trip to the Place Where Dreams Become Reality
As we draw the curtains on this whirlwind tour of Iceland’s bucket list destinations, it’s clear that this remarkable island nation isn’t just a place you visit but an experience to cherish. Iceland’s magnetic allure lies in its ability to redefine your understanding of nature’s grandeur, pushing the boundaries of what you thought possible.
So, whether you’re yearning for a soothing soak in geothermal waters, an encounter with majestic waterfalls, or a journey into the heart of glaciers, Iceland has it all, and more. It’s a place where dreams become reality, where the ordinary transforms into the extraordinary.
As you contemplate your next adventure, consider this: Iceland’s bucket list is an ever-evolving tapestry of wonder, inviting you to explore, discover, and be awed. Add it to your travel aspirations, and let Framey’s collection of enchanting destinations guide your next adventures. Your journey awaits!
Cover photo: luisapix