Our personal travel Highlights in Iceland

Seals watching tourists in the Joekulsarlon Lagoon

After traveling through Iceland for three weeks it was difficult to pick some travel highlights in Iceland. There were just too many different categories of highlights. Great landscapes and stunning nature and too many impressive waterfalls. In fact, none of the waterfalls made it onto our top-level list eventually.

From Reykjavik we went to the Golden Circle and the Snaefellsness Peninsula. From there, we took the ferry to the Westfjords and went on clockwise more or less along the ring road. Altogether about 3000 km. And after some discussions we came up with this list!

Rainbow flags everywhere

Rainbow flags over Lake Tjoernin in Reykjavik

It was gay pride week in Reykjavik when we arrived. Due to Corona the parades had been cancelled but nevertheless rainbow flags were hissed almost everywhere in town. At official buildings as well as in restaurants and shops; the whole city had an amazingly inclusive vibe. But this was not limited to the capital of Reykjavik. The rainbow flags stayed with us for the whole three weeks of our road trip through Iceland. Even the smallest towns and villages had some flags or stairs painted in rainbow colours. It was just nice and we felt very welcome.

Modern architecture and art in Reykjavik

The modern architecture of Harpa concert hall was one of the highlights in Iceland

There are some spectacular buildings in Reykjavik, but the Harpa Concert Hall must be one of the most stunning concert halls in the world. The city built it in cooperation with the Danish-Icelandic artist Olafur Eliason, featuring more than 12 000 square meters of translucent glass panels. Unfortunately larger parts of the building were closed due to Corona and renovation.

All-white interior of the Asmundur Sveinson Museum in Reykjavik

Worth the trip for the building alone is the Asmundur Sveinson Museum which is located 3 km from the city centre. Asmundur Sveinson was one of the pioneers of Icelandic sculpture. He designed the beautiful building, now the Asmundur Sveinson Museum, himself and worked and lived there until his death. The white-domed structure is surrounded by a lovely garden, dotted with sculptures by the artist.

Fagradalsfjall Volcano Eruption

Watching the eruption of the Fagradalsfjall volcano was an absolute highlight!

Of course, this can’t be planned – but during our visit we could do a hike to an active volcano and watch the lava flow. Fagradalsfjall volcano had been dormant for 6,000 years and erupted again in March 2021. It has been more or less active since then and we could walk up to a plateau opposite the crater. From there we had good views on the lava-filled crater and the overflowing lava streams coming down the mountain.

Reykjarfjardarlaug Pool – a natural hot spring pool

Thermal pool in Reykjarfjardarlaug
Natascha in the Reykjarfjardarlaug hot pool

Another travel highlight in Iceland were the natural hot springs, set in spectacular surroundings. Leisurely soaking in the thermal water, we always got into chats with our fellow bathers. Our favourite was the Reykjarfjardarlaug pool in the Westfjords. The light-blue concrete pool set in an empty landscape is almost surreal. Oh, and the warm water was very welcome on a cold and rainy day. Definitely one of our highlights in Iceland!

Leirhnjukur geothermal area

Sulfur lakes and fresh lava at Leirhnjukur thermal field

In the popular sightseeing area around Lake Myvatn, the geothermal fields of Mt. Krafla impressed us very much. In this region, the great gap between the tectonic plates of Europe and America really shows. From 1975 to 1984, this gap widened by several metres, and a huge lava flow covered the whole area. In the Leirhnjukur geothermal area we could still walk around bubbling hot lakes and steaming fissures.

Studlagil Canyon – a top highlight in Iceland

Studlagil Canyon is one of the instagram highlights in Iceland, everybody in the same poses

In the east of Iceland, Studlagil Canyon has recently become a hotspot for the Instagram crowd. Large numbers of giant basalt rock columns frame a stunning blue glacier river. Although the Studlagil Canyon is not a hidden gem anymore it was not too crowded during our visit and we could take some spectacular (Instagram) photos.

Zodiac tour on the Jokulsarlon Lagoon

A freshly-flipped iceberg in the Joekulsarlon lagoon

Jokulsarlon Lagoon means glacier river lagoon and that is exactly what we got to see. Big chunks of glacier ice break away. Melting, they form a deep blue glacier lake with an outflow into the open sea. To get close to the icebergs we went on a zodiac tour. We could watch a massive iceberg flipping over and got a close look at some seals relaxing on ice floes. We booked our tour via Guide to Iceland.

In addition to the travel highlights above, we tremendously enjoyed the scenic nature and landscapes. However, we also had some “issues” with the country and the way tourism works in Iceland. More about this soon on the blog.

Have you been to Iceland? What were your personal highlights in Iceland? Let us know in the comments.

NB: Our trip to Iceland was not sponsored in any way. All expenses were paid by us. This post does not contain affiliate links.

16 Comments

    1. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful post on Iceland.The geothermal spas, canyons and hot springs makes it so exotic! I love Iceland!

  1. Three weeks sounds like an amazing amount of time to visit Iceland at a reasonable pace. We too were in Reykjavik when the Pride colours were everywhere. I am sure the volcano eruption caused some disruption but very cool to be able to see the lava flow. On our next visit we will have to make sure to visit the Studlagil Canyon and the Jokulsarlon Lagoon. And plan our trip to see the northern lights!

    1. Even with three weeks we feel we had to rush it. And there are places we wanted to see but had to skip this time. You will love the Studlagil Canyon for sure! And yes, Iceland is said to be one of the best places to see the Northern Lights!

  2. Wow Iceland is love. I was there for just for over a week and I had such amazing time exploring the places. Even though I did not get to see the wildlife, I visited a lot of waterfalls and volcanoes. I would have loved to have seen some seals, birds and whales but my tours were cancelled all the time because of the weather. Hope to go back there again someday.

    1. Bad weather is something that can change your travel plans in Iceland all the time. Unfortunately. Hopefully you will have a chance soon to go back and see more of Iceland.

  3. This is high on my list to travel too! I wouldn’t be able to spend 3 weeks, but would love to try some of the experiences you’ve recommended. The hike, canyon, natural springs pool and maybe see active volcano. Great inspiration for future travels.

    1. If you have less than two weeks I would recommend choosing a few areas, like the south and the east. We met people who did the ring road in 10 days. Possible, but it means a lot of driving and not having much time to hike or soak in the hot pots.

  4. Wow, most people I know that have visited Iceland have only done a long weekend so this sounds amazing. How lucky you are to have seen actual lava flow! That’s crazy. Also good to see art museums as not something you automatically think of with Iceland.

    1. We could easily have spent four weeks and done more and longer hikes! Iceland really deserves at least ten days, as distances are quite long and you really want to spent some time out in the nature.

  5. Three awesome weeks in Iceland! Being able to hike to an active volcano and watch the lava flow is simply a wonderful experience. Love your images especially the Pride flags image and the active volcano image. Iceland is very much in my bucket list and I am bookmarking your blog post. 🙂

    1. Yes, we were really lucky with the active volcano! But there is so much spectacular nature in Iceland. If you go, try to go at least 10 days or two weeks. You will love it!

  6. The Pride Flags look amazing and Iceland a dream destination for me and my wife. Three weeks looks quite good for a great relaxed holiday. Studlagil Canyon and Reykjarfjardarlaug Pool look such great spots to be in.

    1. Iceland is quite big and the roads are pretty bad in some places. No matter what your GPS says – it usually takes longer. But in three weeks you can see a lot of the country. Studlagil Canyon really was an absolute highlight of the trip.

  7. I’m not sure if it’s fortunate or unfortunate, but being there and witnessing the lava flows in the crater of the volcano was an experience of a lifetime. I don’t normally associate structures with Iceland, but these museums look futuristic. The Studlagil Canyon is stunning!

    1. The volcanoe is far away from the cities and settlements. So there is no danger for people. Scientists monitor the lava flow as well as the toxic gases and if there is any concern they will close the area immidiately.

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