15 amazing things to do for the first time in Iceland
Iceland has a lot to offer for those who enjoy new experiences. The land of ice and fire captivates everyone who visits and will surprise you more than you could have ever expected.
Keep reading to get to know 15 things you can do in Iceland for the first time!
The most photogenic road trip
There’s no other road trip as photogenic as Iceland.
You will be hypnotized by its other-worldly landscapes, it doesn’t matter if it’s summer or winter: what you see exceeds all expectations.
The colors of the landscapes change according to each season, so you will probably end up visiting Iceland more than once: it will be worth it!
It’s not easy to get to certain places like Thórsmörk, especially during winter. In these cases the best option is to join a day tour to reach the most remote places.
Visit a Glacier
My first time ever on a glacier was Gígjökull, in Thórsmörk. Such a good place for a first-timer! We got there after wading through rivers, walking on the snow, and an ice cave appeared out of not the blue in front of us. The high mountains surrounding the place, all covered in snow, made me feel tiny and overwhelmed by nature.
We also visited Svínafelljökull, this time on our own. We walked until we could without crampons to enjoy the incredible views… which are awesome.
Hunting Northern Lights is on everybody’s bucket list and they are worth the trip.
I was fortunate to see them for 3 nights in a row, non stopping saying “ooooh” and “aaaah” every few seconds while the dance of pink, green, yellow and violet colors was in the sky.
Northern Lights can only be seen from October to March. You can try to go hunting for yourself or hire a tour with a guide.
And if you travel to Iceland in summer… instead of Northern Lights you will enjoy the midnight sun.
I really wanted to spot Arctic foxes! These guys are tiny and shy, so I wasn’t really optimistic about it.
We finally managed to encounter them when in Thórsmörk: their footprints can be seen in the area of Volcano Huts.
If you rent a 4WD car you can drive not only the Ring Road but also the F roads. If you dare and know how to do it, you can also wade rivers! Truth is I didn’t dare to do that with the rental car but I’ve got to experience it on our day tour to Thórsmörk.
There’s no shortage of hot springs in Iceland!
Another place that’s always present in everyone’s bucketlists is the Blue Lagoon. It’s a luxury experience that I can totally recommend: we ended up staying around 3 hours in there, just dipping and putting silica masks on our faces.
If you want to visit the Blue Lagoon book it weeks in advance as it’s often sold out. It’s really close to Keflavik International Airport so it’s recommended to go before you leave the country – or as soon as you arrive.
Budget alternatives to Blue Lagoon:
- Reykjadalur: a thermal bath in the heart of nature in Hveragerdi. You don’t have to pay entry as it’s outdoors.
- Secret Lagoon: In Fludir, not far from the Golden circle, you will find this hot springs swimming pool. Entrance fee is €18.
- Mytvan Nature Baths: This lagoon is smaller but as pretty as the Blue Lagoon. It’s located close to Akureyri and it costs between 20-30 € depending on the time of year you go.
You cannot leave Iceland without having a skyr, the Icelandic version of yogurt.
I had it at Smaratún, the organic farm I spent one night in.
Dive between tectonic plates
Diving the Silfra fissure is one of the most unique experiences you can have in Iceland. Imagine being immersed between the tectonic plates of America and Europe! The visibility is perfect.
This time I decided not to dare for the low temperatures in Thingvellir (our car marked -14 º C!).
Would you dare?
Sit on an iceberg – at the beach!
Where in the world can you find a lake and beach full of icebergs?
This surreal landscape is located in Eastern Iceland, in Jökulsarlón and Diamond Beach. Two places you shouldn’t miss while in Iceland.
Meet the cutest horses on Earth
Even if you have previously met beautiful horses, the Icelandic ones are another level: they have bangs! Like Icelandic humans, horses are extremely sociable. And they love to be petted!
You will find horses by the road quite often but remember not to stop your car in the middle of the road to get close to them: you will annoy other drivers and you can even cause an accident! Instead, look for a place to park and go get your cuddles!
Visit a building worth 164 million €
Harpa Concert Hall is a huge building that houses an auditorium and congress center at the port of Reykjavik.
Visiting it at night is an spectacular kaleidoscopic: it is not only architecture, it’s art in movement with the colors of the northern lights!
Visit a plane wreck on a beach
In other parts of the world you can find beaches with boat wrecks but where on Earth can you find a plane wreck on the beach? Of course, Iceland is the answer!
You have an insta-meeting with this plane wreck in Solhéimasandur .
Walk inside a waterfall
The impressive Seljalandfoss is not the highest nor the most abundant waterfall in Iceland but it has a peculiarity: you can walk behind the water!
If you decide to do this, be extra careful and wear the right shoes!
Visit a lake in the crater of a volcano
Visit Kérid volcano crater and get surprised by its colors: turquoise blue waters surrounded by reddish and green tones. You’re the only one missing in this postcard place.
Go to the beach – without bathing suit
You’ll go to the beach in Iceland but it will be chilly, so forget your bathing suit. It’s a winter kind of beach!
Please do not go into the water as it’s very dangerous – there have been fatal accidents in the past so it’s serious!
There are two beaches you can not miss during your first time in Iceland:
- Diamond Beach: The beach of Glacier Lake Jökulsárlón, where the white icebergs contrast with the black sand of the beach.
- Reynisfjara Black Sand Beach: The amazing beach of Vík í Myrdal, famous for its basalt columns, trolls and Dyrhólaey.
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