Iceland Travel Guide

Iceland Travel Guide

 Iceland Travel Guide

Iceland’s main attraction lies in its dramatic landscapes, which vary from glacial to volcanic. Numerous sections of its coast and fjords are spectacular and its snow capped mountains are glorious. During winter, the Northern Lights are worth a trip just for a view on a cold, clear night.

Iceland Hotspot

Iceland is a difficult destination to categorize. From a travelers perspective it is one main city and a few villages separated by glaciers, volcanoes, waterfalls, geysers and enchanting natural landscapes that can be, surprisingly, quite green in the summers.

If Iceland were more conveniently located, it would be a tourist hotspot.  As it is, it is both out-of-the-way and time-consuming to tour, since its settlements hug the shoreline and are connected by a single, main road that circumnavigates the country.

It is hard to categorize Iceland as an add-on destination due to the time it takes to travel there and the determined effort required to explore its unique and varied landscapes.  Even so, if you get the opportunity to visit, take it without hesitation as  Iceland is a treasure, especially to those who love the great outdoors.

Note that in summer, the sun will dip below the horizon late in the day but never really set.  What this means is that you can explore almost to the moment you drop from exhaustion.

  • Reykjavik

    • Besides being the center of Icelandic culture,  Reykjavik is considered the gateway to the country’s beautiful and pristine landscapes. It is, also, the northernmost of the world’s capital cities.
      • The capital offers all the amenities that are nice to get back to when you have been out in the country for a few days.  The city has a number of thermal pools and spas and they are a popular attraction with locals and residents.  If you have the chance, take a soak and meet the locals, it’s sort of like the pubs in Ireland.
      • Golf is also a noted attraction in Reykjavik and around the Capital Area. How about a round at midnight next June?
      • Cruises for whale and bird watching are popular in Iceland and many can be arranged in or near the capital.
      • Many European travelers go to Reykjavik for the nightlife, which, we understand can be  quite exhausting due to the length of the nights in winter at this latitude.
      • Finally, Reykjavik can be a good place to arrange a viewing of the Northern Lights, depending on the season of your visit.
    • Check the official tourism website of Reykjavik  for details on visiting,
  • The Countryside

    • Iceland’s regions provide some of the most beautiful landscape scenery anywhere in the world.
    • We recommend hiring a seasoned, reputable guide if your intend to explore Iceland’s interior, or almost any area outside of Reykjavik.
    • The country’s regions in order of popularity with visitors are as follows:
  • West Iceland

    • Volcanoes, Lava, lakes, and geothermal activity abound in a beautiful, pristine landscape
Volcanoes in Iceland
Volcanoes in Iceland
  • Westfjords

    • This is an area for wildlife lovers.  The variety of sea birds will astound you, as will the  beautiful landscapes.


  • The Highlands

The most remote section of Iceland, the Highlands provide a look at the world before humankind. You will need a guide.

  • South Iceland

    • This is Volcanically active area with  numerous geysers and other geothermal attractions, as well as interesting landscapes.

South Iceland

  • North Iceland

    • Good fishing almost everywhere. The far northeast is wild, rugged and uninhabited for the real explorers among you.
North Iceland
North Iceland
  • East  and Southeast Iceland

    • Fiords, fishing (along rivers and coasts) and forests combine to form a tranquil landscape that attracts many hikers in summer.
  • The Ring Road (Highway 1)

    • Iceland’s villages and other populated  areas are located on or near the ocean.  The Ring Road is an approximately 800 mile long highway that loops around the country and connects to all of the country’s major population centers.
    •  The Ring Road hugs the coast in the south of the country, but is positioned to catch the southern tips of the fjords and bays in the north coast of the country.
    • Many consider a drive on the Ring Road a drive of a lifetime.  If you are considering this, you might want to read this excellent review from the Travel Section of the  New York Times.

Additional Resources

Visit these official Iceland tourism websites and for a review of the country’s regions. The sites provide additional details on our recommended best places to visit, as well as information on locations that did not make our list.

For country facts on the Iceland, as well as travel information related to visas, driving rules, safety, medical conditions, visas and other travel-related information, see this page on Iceland Travel from the Bureau of Consular Affairs of the U.S. State Department.  Regardless of your home country, we think you will find the information provided to be useful when planning a trip to Iceland.


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