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Republic of Iceland Europe Reykjavik 317,351 inhabitants 103,000 sq km 3.08 inhabitants/sq km Icelandic kronur (ISK) population evolution

Top tourist attractions in Iceland

Here is a list of top tourist attractions in Iceland. Only the topmost tourist destinations are presented here. To see other destinations, please check the images from Iceland section.

Curious if any of these place from Iceland made it our best tourist attractions in the world list? Read the aformentioned article in order to find out.

You can also view all tourist attractions in Iceland and other countries on our tourist attractions map.

Blue Lagoon

Tourist attraction

The Blue Lagoon geothermal spa is one of the most visited attractions in Iceland. The spa is located in a lava field in Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, southwestern Iceland. Bláa lónið is situated approximately 13 km from the Keflavík International Airport and 39 km from the capital city of Reykjavík. That is roughly a 20 minute drive from the airport and a 40 minute drive from Reykjavík. The Blue Lagoon spa and geothermal complex is clearly visible from any of the usual satellite imagery sources at coordinates.

Gullfoss

Waterfall

Gullfoss is a waterfall located in the canyon of Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the country. The wide Hvítá rushes southward. About a kilometer above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved three-step "staircase" and then abruptly plunges in two stages into a crevice 32 m deep. The crevice, about 20 m wide, and 2.5 km in length, extends perpendicular to the flow of the river. The average amount of water running over this waterfall is 140 m³/s in the summertime and 80 m³/s in the wintertime. The highest flood measured was 2000 m³/s. As one first approaches the falls, the crevice is obscured from view, so that it appears that a mighty river simply vanishes into the earth. During the first half of the 20th century and some years into the late 20th century, there was much speculation about using Gullfoss to generate electricity. During this period, the waterfall was rented indirectly by its owners, Tómas Tómasson and Halldór Halldórsson, to foreign investors. However, the investors' attempts were unsuccessful, partly due to lack of money. The waterfall was later sold to the state of Iceland. Even after it was sold, there were plans to utilize Hvítá, which would have changed the waterfall forever. This was not done, and now the waterfall is protected.

Askja

Volcano

Askja is a stratovolcano situated in a remote part of the central highlands of Iceland. The name Askja refers to a complex of nested calderas within the surrounding Dyngjufjöll mountains, which rise to 1,510 m, askja meaning box or caldera in Icelandic

Hallgrímskirkja

Expressionist Structure

Hallgrímskirkja is a Lutheran parish church in Reykjavík, Iceland. At 73 metres, it is the largest church in Iceland and the sixth tallest architectural structure in Iceland after Longwave radio mast Hellissandur, the radio masts of US Navy at Grindavík, Eiðar longwave transmitter and Smáratorg tower. The church is named after the Icelandic poet and clergyman Hallgrímur Pétursson, author of the Passion Hymns. State Architect Guðjón Samúelsson's design of the church was commissioned in 1937. He is said to have designed it to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland's landscape. It took 38 years to build the church. Construction work began in 1945 and ended in 1986, the landmark tower being completed long before the church's actual completion. The crypt beneath the choir was consecrated in 1948, the steeple and wings were completed in 1974, and the nave was consecrated in 1986. Situated in the centre of Reykjavík, it is one of the city's best-known landmarks and is visible throughout the city. It is similar in style to the expressionist architecture of Grundtvig's Church of Copenhagen, Denmark, completed in 1940.

Golden Circle

Tourist attraction

The Golden Circle is a popular tourist route in South Iceland, covering about 300 km looping from Reykjavík into central Iceland and back. The three primary stops on the route are the national park Þingvellir, the waterfall Gullfoss, and the geothermally active valley of Haukadalur, which contains the geysers Geysir and Strokkur. Though Geysir has been inactive for a long time, Strokkur, on the other hand, continues to erupt at every 5-10 minutes interval. Other stops include Kerið volcano crater, Hveragerði greenhouse village, Skálholt church, and the Nesjavellir geothermal power plant.

Perlan

Tourist attraction

Perlan is a landmark building in Reykjavík, the capital of Iceland. It is 25.7 metres high. It was originally designed by Ingimundur Sveinsson. Perlan is situated on the hill Öskjuhlíð where there had been hot water storage tanks for decades. In 1991 the tanks were updated and a hemispherical structure placed on top. This project was largely done at the behest of Davíð Oddsson, during his time as mayor of Reykjavík.

Vatnajökull National Park

Protected Site

Vatnajökull National Park is one of three national parks in Iceland. It encompasses all of Vatnajökull glacier and extensive surrounding areas. These include the national parks previously existing at Skaftafell in the southwest and Jökulsárgljúfur in the north. In general, national parks are protected areas which are considered unique because of their nature or cultural heritage. The unique qualities of Vatnajökull National Park are primarily its great variety of landscape features, created by the combined forces of rivers, glacial ice, and volcanic and geothermal activity.

National Museum of Iceland

Museum

The National Museum of Iceland was established on 24 February 1863, with Jón Árnason the first curator of the Icelandic collection, previously kept in Danish museums. The second curator, Sigurður Guðmundsson, advocated the creation of an antiquarian collection, and the museum was called the Antiquarian Collection until 1911. Before settling at its present location, at Suðurgata 41, 101 Reykjavík, in 1950, it was housed in various Reykjavík attics, finally the attic of the National Library building on Hverfisgata for forty years. A key object in the permanent exhibition is the Valþjófsstaður door, a celebrated carving of a knight that slaying a dragon and of a lion that becomes the knight's faithful companion.

Ásbyrgi

Tourist attraction

Ásbyrgi canyon lies in the north of Iceland, about 50 minute drive to the east from Húsavík on the Diamond Circle road. The horseshoe-shaped depression is part of the Vatnajökull National Park and measures approximately 3.5 km in length and 1.1 km across. For more than half of its length, the canyon is divided through the middle by a distinctive rock formation 25 meters high called Eyjan, from which hikers may enjoy spectacular views. The canyon's steep sides are formed by cliffs up to 100 metres in height. Down in the canyon, visitors walk through a woodland of birch and willow. Between 1947 and 1977, a number of foreign tree species were introduced, including fir, larch and pine. The small lake Botnstjörn is home to a variety of waterfowl species. Ásbyrgi was most likely formed by catastrophic glacial flooding of the river Jökulsá á Fjöllum after the last Ice Age, first 8-10,000 years ago, and then again some 3,000 years ago. The river has since changed its course and now runs about 2 km to the east. The legend explains the unusual shape of the canyon differently. Nicknamed Sleipnir's footprint, it is said that the canyon was formed when Odin's eight-legged horse, Sleipnir, touched one of its feet to the ground here. Legend also relates that the canyon is the capital city of the "hidden people", who live in cracks within the surrounding cliffs.

Herðubreið

Volcano

Herðubreið is a tuya in north-east Iceland. It is situated in the Highlands of Iceland in the midst of the Ódáðahraun desert and close to Askja volcano. The desert is a large lava field originating from eruptions of Trölladyngja. Herðubreið was formed beneath the icesheet that covered Iceland during the last glacial period.

Dynjandi

Body Of Water

Dynjandi is a set of waterfalls located in Westfjords, Iceland. The waterfalls have a cumulative height of 100 metres.

Aldeyjarfoss

Waterfall

The Aldeyjarfoss waterfall is situated in the north of Iceland at the northern part of the Sprengisandur Highland Road which means it is to be found within the Highlands of Iceland. One of the most interesting features of the waterfall is the contrast between the black basalt columns and the white waters of the fall. In this, it is similar to the much smaller Icelandic waterfall Svartifoss in Skaftafell. The river Skjálfandafljót drops here from a height of 20 m. The basalt belongs to a lava field called Frambruni or Suðurárhraun, hraun being the Icelandic designation for lava.

Árbæjarsafn

Museum

Árbæjarsafn is the historical museum of the city of Reykjavík as well as an open air museum and a regional museum. Its purpose is to give the public an insight into the living conditions, work and recreational activities of the people of Reykjavík in earlier times.

Gljúfrasteinn

Museum

Gljúfrasteinn was the home of Halldór Kiljan Laxness, a 1955 Nobel Prize for Literature winner. It is located in Mosfellsdalur, east of Reykjavík, Iceland. The house was built in 1945 by Halldór and his wife Auður Sveinsdóttir. The architect was Ágúst Pálsson and the interior designer was Birta Fróðadóttir. Gljúfrasteinn is built on the banks of the river Kaldakvísl and is situated close to Laxness’s childhood home, Laxnes. Halldór Laxness was a prominent figure in Icelandic society and his status only increased after he won the Nobel Prize in 1955. Laxness's home became a cultural hub in Iceland where important foreign guests were brought for official as well as unofficial visits. International musicians would frequently give concerts in his living room. Paintings by some of the most celebrated 20th century Icelandic artists adorn the walls of Gljúfrasteinn. Visitors can view works by artists such as Svavar Guðnason, Nína Tryggvadóttir, Louisa Matthíasdóttir, Jóhannes Kjarval, Karl Kvaran, Ásmundur Sveinsson, as well as works by the Danish painter Asger Jorn and the Norwegian painter Jakob Weidemann. In 2002 Laxness's widow, Auður, sold the house to the Icelandic state. In September 2004 it was opened for the public as a museum. Visitors can take a guided tour through the house, and the museum hosts concerts during the summer.

Askja

Structure

Askja is a building on the campus of the University of Iceland, and named after the volcano Askja. It houses primarily the departments of biology and geosciences. It was designed by architect Maggi Jónsson. The building's long glass side has had an impact on the look of downtown Reykjavík as it faces the city hall on the other side of Tjörnin. It took a very long time to build due to funding problems, and has been the subject of severe criticism for what is seen as practical shortcomings and susceptibility to the Icelandic climate. Address: Sturlugata 7, 101 Reykjavík