The Best Things to Do in Iceland
Collected by AFAR Editors , AFAR Staff
From the steam rising off the Blue Lagoon to the black basalt cliffs looming above the roiling Atlantic, Iceland's dramatic vistas are second to none. Waterfalls tumble, geysers shoot for the sky, whales breach, and, during the long winter months, the Northern Lights put on a free show high above. Whether you're up for an active vacation, something more relaxing, or the perfect tourist combo, Iceland enchants. There's plenty of culture and history to take in too as the island nation's museums—fine art, folk life, and fascinating oddities—are ready and waiting.
4, 110, Kistuhylur, Reykjavík, Iceland
This impressive open-air museum was once a functioning farm as well as a popular resting place for people on their way to and from Reykjavík. It was transformed into a museum in the 1950s in an attempt to preserve something of an old...
Hallgrímstorg 101, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
You can’t miss Hallgrímskirkja, Reykjavík’s 240-foot-tall, rocket-shaped church, which soars above the city skyline and is illuminated at night. Designed by famed national architect Guðjón Samúelsson in 1937, and inspired less by outer space than...
Laugavegur 116, 105 Reykjavík, Iceland
Surely the world’s only museum to showcase the phalluses of an entire nation's mammalian wildlife, Iceland’s Phallological Museum is somewhat unique. Despite its obvious quirk factor, the museum is actually an interesting...
Aðalstræti 16, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavík’s Settlement Museum was established in 2001 after archaeological remains were discovered during an excavation. Said remains turned out to be the oldest relics of human habitation in the city, with some fragments dating to...
Rekagrandi 14, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
Reykjavík’s old harbor, built between 1913 and 1917, has seen quite the transformation in recent years, morphing from a mainly functional area dominated by ships and their fishermen to a lively, modern tourism area that’s almost...
Reykjadalur means "Steam Valley"—a perfectly apt description of this pleasant geothermal area close to the town of Hveragerði, a 40-minute drive south from Reykjavík. Formed from a now extinct volcano (Mount Hengill), the valley is best...
Nordurljosavegur 9, 240 Grindavík, Iceland
Iceland’s largest and most famous geothermal spa lies around an hour outside Reykjavik, quite close to Keflavik Airport. With a dramatic setting amidst large black lava boulders, the steam-filled, creamy-blue pool area is a striking and surreal...
Established in 2001, Snæfellsjökull National Park—the first ever national park created in Iceland—covers an impressive 65 square miles around the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, which itself extends some 44 miles into the sea from Iceland’s west coast. The...
Eyrardalur, 420 Súðavík, Iceland
The Arctic Fox Center, tucked away in the tiny Westfjords village of Súðavík, is dedicated to the only landmammal native toIceland. The nonprofit research institution and exhibition center was set up in 2007 by a group of enthusiasts and...
Þjóðvegur, Reykjahlidh, Iceland
Lake Mývatn is an unusually scenic body of water that covers some 14 square miles of the landeast of Akureyri. This is one of the most striking regionsin Iceland:The lake’s surrounded by a jaw-dropping landscape of extinct volcanic cinder cones,...
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