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The Best Things to Do in Iceland

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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. 
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Tryggvagata 17, 101 Reykjavík, Iceland
The Reykjavík Art Museum comprises a trio of buildings that have been constructed around the collections of three of the city’s most famous artists: the painters Erró and Jóhannes Kjarval and the sculptor...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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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...
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Iceland
One of the most popular day trips from Reykjavík, this dramatic and scenic rift valley is both the historical site of Iceland’s Viking parliament and a geological wonder in its own right. Among the highlights are the...
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Reykjadalur, Iceland
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...
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Rauðasandur means "red sand," an apt name for this unusual rust-colored beach located on the southwesterly peninsula of the Westfjords, around seven miles from the Látrabjarg bird cliffs. The road leading to Rauðasandur is a...
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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...
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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...
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Jökulsárlón, Iceland
This lake filled with giant, translucent chunks of iceberg is one of Iceland’s most distinctive and photogenic sights. Featured in high-profile movies, including two of the James Bond series and Batman Begins (as well as many local TV...
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This dramatic two-tier waterfall, whose name translates as "Golden Falls," a reference to the shimmering mist that sometimes appears around the falls, is one of Iceland’s most famous—which is saying something in a country...
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Eyrardalur, 420 Súðavík, Iceland
The Arctic Fox Center, tucked away in the tiny Westfjords village of Súðavík, is dedicated to the only land mammal native to Iceland. The nonprofit research institution and exhibition center was set up in 2007 by a...
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Þjóðvegur, Reykjahlidh, Iceland
Lake Mývatn is an unusually scenic body of water that covers some 14 square miles of the land east of Akureyri. This is one of the most striking regions in Iceland: The lake’s surrounded by a jaw-dropping landscape of...
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Around 100 miles from Reykjavik, and easily accessible due to its location on the main ring road, the tiny and cute village of Vík í Mýrdal has only under 300 inhabitants but is nonetheless one of the south coast’s key...
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Iceland
Located about an hour northeast from Reykjavík and part of the famed Golden Circle tour (along with Gullfoss), the Geysir hot springs area consists of around a dozen hot water blowholes, including the eponymous Geysir. The...