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
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
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.