Bron: Earth in Colors
Dear readers and fellow friends, since most of you after discovering my article about the aurora have asked me what places i recommend to visit in Iceland, i have decided to prepare this short guide, so that from now on you will have an entire article to better plan your trip.
Keep in mind that this list doesn’t want to be necessarely complete. Rather, it’s only a list of my personal favourite places which i have both visited or not. In the first part i will talk about those which i have personally visited, while following, i’ll talk about my wonder list
Here we go!
As most of you already know, Iceland is a place with difficult road conditions. For this reason, i invite you to check the actual situation before going by visiting the official website www.vegagerdin.is before taking any decision
I take no responsibility for what you do. Wherever you go, act responsibly and be careful
Furthermore, i suggest to have a look at my Iceland guide for other suggestions, by clicking here 6 THINGS TO KNOW BEFORE VISITING ICELAND
PART 1: FAVOURITE PLACES I HAVE VISITED
What is Gullfoss: Gullfoss is a huge waterfall situated north east of Reykjavik not second in terms of size to the Niagara falls. You can get very close to it and depending by the period of the year, the edge walking area could be closed due to ice. However, the place itself I believe it’s always opened throughout the entire year, although during winter, the amount of water falling down is reduced, while in summer it’s in the middle of its maximum power
How to go to Gullfoss: From Reykjavik it is very easy with a gps by following road 35. No unpaved or f-roads present. Once there you will easily find the indication and the visitor centre with a great car park available
Recommendations for Gullfoss: it’s better to visit it around summer, more accessible and with more water flowing, making it very powerful and awesome to see. As always bring with you a raincoat and a towel to protect and dry your camera
What is Geyser: Geyser is the name of the place where the most famous geysers of Iceland are situated. The entrance is along the road 35 (same of Gullfoss), and on the opposite side there’s a comfortable restaurant/fast food to have a rest. I have been able to see the geysers on both March and September. It seems in fact that since the water is very hot, the geyser can resist to the snow of the winter. Anyway, i can’t say for sure if geyers are still active before march because i didn’t get there in the middle of winter.
How to go to Geyser: same as Gullfoss. They are on the same road. Very easy from Reykjavik with a gps
Recommendations for Geyser: nothing special. Quite comfortable place. We stayed close to the geyser but we didn’t get wet like it happens with a waterfall. The active geyser for now is called Strokkur. It erupts around every 10 minutes all the time every day.
What is Haifoss: Haifoss is a special twin and less known waterfall situated in a scenario which recalls so much a miniaturized version of the Grand Canyon of Arizona. When you arrive you can enjoy the view from the top of the canyon. As said they are two twin waterfalls
How to go to Haifoss: Follow the road 32 and then turn left when you see the sign which should indicate both the waterfall and a place called Holaskogur which is also a refuge (official website here www.holaskogur.is“). It is an f-road, so a 4×4 vehicle is required. After a while you will find a further sign indicating to turn left again. You will arrive then. If while you were on the road 32 you reach a huge powerplant on the left, it means that you have missed the turn. Come back and look again for the sign, this time on the right
Recommendations for Haifoss: pay attention. Go there only in summer. In other season you can find strong ice, snow and mud and it is quite complicated and recommended only if you are expert and accompanied by a second jeep. In all cases, we decided to left the jeep 1 km before and proceeded on foot for further safety. Be careful with your mobile too. If you don’t get the signal, ensure to proceed in separated groups so that in case of injures, someone can still go back and call a rescue and assistance team. Furthermore, the place is not protected, you can fall down inside the canyon if you stick out too much with your body from the edge of it.
What is Seljalandsfoss: it is a beautiful waterfall which falls down from the edge of the glacier Eyjafjallajokull, which is the cap of the popular volcano which erupted in 2010, called Eyjafjoll. The particularity of this waterfall is that you can get on the back of it through a ladder
How to go to Seljalandsfoss: very easy, just follow the ring road from Reykjavik toward south east, and you will easily find it. You will need to turn left toward f-road 249, but you will see it in advance from the ring road while you are approaching. Although f-249 is allowed only to 4×4 vehicle, the first part to Seljalandsfoss is considered paved, thus allowed to all vehicles ( i have checked the official website for this. It reports the first part as a paved road www.vegagerdin.is)
Recommendations for Seljalandsfoss: go there at sunset when the sunshine enlightens it. Bring a raincoat and protect your camera. Don’t forget to take a look to the cave. Very easy to access, there is a comfortable ladder on both sides of the waterfall. The panorama from the back is wonderful. The ground in the cave is a little bit slippery. Be careful then!
What is Skogafoss: it is a vertical style, full of rainbows waterfall situated along the ring road 1. It offers a great sensation since you can get at the very edge of it. Moreover, it offers you the chance to enjoy a trek by going upstair on its right. Once on top, you can enjoy the landscape and proceed further by following the its river. After a while you will find a further and smaller waterfall
How to go to Skogafoss: very easy to access, you will see it along the ring road 1 on your left (if you come from Reykjavik). Just turn left when you will see the sign and you will reach a fastfood and little shopping centre with the waterfall on the back and a car park on the left side
Recommendations for Skogafoss: go there in the morning when the sun shines and the sky is clear from clouds. Since it faces south, you can see huge rainbows all the time while you approach it. Furthermore, bring a raincoat and protect your camera, you absolutely need it to visit Skogafoss
What is Glufrafoss: It is the less known but still wonderful little sister of Seljalandsfoss. It is situated less than 1 km on its left, inside a mysterious slot canyon which really looks like a scenario of the videogame Tomb Raider. I love it, definitely
How to go to Glufrafoss: just proceed a little bit more (less than 1 km) on the road of Sejlalandsfoss (f-road 249). It is situated on the right of the road and you will find it almost immediately. Leave the car in the little car park and go on foot. From the road is not so much visible because it is protected by the slot canyon itself which is very narrow
Recommendations for Glufrafoss: those who have a fisheye lens will really enjoy it. Again, bring a raincoat. Ground is slippery, and taking a picture is tremendously complicated, since it’s full of humidity in the air. Ensure to protect your camera as much as possible
What is Bruarfoss: it is a small but still wonderful waterfall, very particular for presenting a vibrant blue water similar to that of the Blue Lagoon, and a huge whirlpool along the river which forms it, visible beneath the bridge from which you can admire the waterfall itself
How to go to Bruarfoss: keep in mind that for reasons that i’m not aware of, it seems that this waterfall has been at least “apparently” closed to public, since it belongs to an area which is a private house ville district. I mean, when we got there, we found that the entire area was closed with a fence, except for 2 points where the fence was broken. We suspected that someone did that to access the waterfall, and at the same time we saw 2 groups of people coming back from it (trekkers and tourists). For this reason, in the end we decided to risk and get there. I still don’t have exact informations. I can only say, if you decide to get there, be careful and try to ask to the people living there inside the villes of the district to understand what’s going on. For info about how to access this place, refer to my dedicated article by clicking HERE
Recommendations: once again, close to Bruarfoss there’s a ville district. Try to ask to people if you can effectively access the waterfall, and how. Despite that, no problem, after walking a little bit inside a very short wood you will reach the bridge from which you can admire the waterfall
What is Krisuvik: it is a fumarole area, very colorful, where you can see the mud boiling, and hot bubble coming from the ground. The air is full of vapour and the landscape is surreal
How to go to Krisuvik: From the area of Keflavik airport we went first to Grindavik through road 43 and then to Krisuvik through the f-road 42. A 4×4 vehicle is required. By passing through Grindavik, the road to Krisuvik will be very panoramic and lovely.
Recommendations for Krisuvik: nothing special, except, if you can, pass through Grindavik, since the landscape after it is beautiful. Ensure to have a 4×4 vehicle, and don’t get outside the predefined path. It’s both prohibited and dangerous at the same time. The place is very easy to be visited anyway
What is Blue Lagoon: outstanding, although a little bit too much popular, fumarole bath situated south of Keflavik airport. It is so particular for its water which presents such a vibrant color. Inside there is a huge fumarole coming out from the middle of the main pool. It’s a little bit expensive, but i really enjoyed the experience. Furtherly, it can be visited even in winter with rain or snow. The scenario in this case, becomes even better
How to go to Blue Lagoon: Very easy, just check your gps and follow road 43. No 4×4 vehicle required
Recommendations for Blue Lagoon: if you need to rent a towel and a cupboard it will be more expensive. Be advised. Check my dedicated guide to take some great pictures with your camera HERE
What is Vik beach: Vik is a small town situated in the middle of the south coast. It is famous for its long and beautiful black sand beach. It really worths to visit it
How to go to Vik beach: Vik is on the ring road 1, south coast. Just follow indications in the town and reaching the beach will be easy. Consider however that the area of the beach (not the beach itself) has multiple entry points some of which are outside the town, including a road which takes you on top of a promontory to enjoy the panorama from above
Recommendations for Vik beach: If you get on top of the promontory watch out for strong wind. Since the beach faces south, I furtherly suggest to get there at sunset or at sunrise. The panorama with flaming colors is even better.
What is Jokulsarlon: It is a particular lagoon connected to the sea that, since it is situated at the base of a glacier from which huge ice fragments continuously detach, is full of icebergs. It’s a very special place to take a picture of aurora (although a little bit rainy). It also present a beach on the other side in front of the sea still full of icebergs.
How to go to: it’s on the ring road 1. You are forced to pass over the bridge of the lagoon with the car, so you can’t miss it. After the bridge, you have 2 choices. Turn left for the iceberg lagoon itself, or turn right for the icebergs sea beach
Recommendations: the lagoon sometimes present some seals. Try to spot them to take a nice shot, although you need a nice zoom to do it. Furtherly, don’t forget to take a look at the beach right of the bridge, which is the place where many photographers usually make the shots of the huge ice fragments surrounded by the sea waves. It is also great to see the aurora, although you must consider that this place is a little bit rainy. Check my article for a complete overlook of Jokulsarlon TIPS TO VISIT JOKULSARLON
SOLHEIMAJOKULL AND SKAFTAFELL GLACIERS
What are these glaciers: they are 2 glaciers tongues which originate from the 2 respective glaciers called Myrdalsjokull and Vatnajokull and arrive at ground level, thus allowing people with the right equipment to have a walk over them, through an activity which is generally called “ice walk” or “glacier walk”
Recommendations: as said, don’t go alone, quite dangerous, end of story
SOLHEIMAJOKULL AND SKAFTAFELL GLACIER ICE CAVES
What are Ice Caves: they are caves completely made by ice which lie at the basement of glacier tongues like Skaftafell, Solheimajokull and not only. They present an intense blue color thanks to the strong compression of the ice itself, due to the reduced presence of air bubbles
How to visit Ice Caves: check my dedicated article HERE. More or less, the core of the question is, don’t go alone, too dangerous, period. Contact a tour operator and do it right in advance, since most booking dates get full very early. In my opinion, you can check these tour operators which i personally consider reliable www.localguideofvatnajokull.com and www.extremeiceland.is
Recommendations: just one statement….don’t go alone….period
HORSE RIDING TOUR
What is Horse Riding Tour: more than a place, horse riding tour is a special activity recommended to both expert and novice people, for which you are taken with one of the beautiful icelandic pony horses for a short or long trip along the meadows of iceland. It’s a lovely experience, and one for which you don’t need to be afraid. Even if it’s your first time, you can still do it, since the horses will follow the leader most of the times
How to go for a horse riding tour: just check on the web companies which organize it. Personally, i can only recommend Kari from the Steinsholt Guesthouse, since she owns beautiful and clean horses, and is very competent in what she does. You can find all the informations on the official website www.steinsholt.is and also on the facebook page www.facebook.com/steinsholt.ridingtours
Recommendations: Steinsholt guesthouse, despite offering a very nice horse riding tour, it also offers a beautiful and cheap accomodation from which seeing aurora is a piece of cake, since it is very perfect for it (a dark place, in an area far from south coast, more rainy). You can take advantage of it, by spending a couple of nights in this place in the hope of seeing the aurora, and enjoy a horse riding too. Keep in mind anyway an important thing. The last part to reach this place is an unpaved road. A 4×4 vehicle in my opinion is recommended!
AURORA BOREALIS (NORTHERN LIGHTS)
What is aurora borealis: useless to talk about it, there’s too much to say……check my very long and complete article! FULL GUIDE TO SEE AURORA IN ICELAND
How to go to see aurora: check my article above!
Recommendations to see aurora: check my article above!
PART 2: MY FURTHER FAVED PLACES WHICH I HAVEN’T SEEN YET
Ok, i’m planning a third trip in Iceland since i missed some other places. Below is a list of my faved one which i hope to visit in the near future with a very short description….
Here we go!
DETTIFOSS: the hugest waterfall of Europe, background of the first scene of the movie Prometheus. Situated near Akureyri.
GODAFOSS: quite near to Dettifoss, another nice waterfall which seems the big sister of Bruarfoss, since it shares almost the same structure
DYNJANDI: a very majestic “wall and ladder style” waterfall, situated in the fjords area of Iceland, north of Reykjavik.
THORSMORK: Thorsmork is a huge trekking canyon valley situated north of the Eyjafjoll volcano, accessible by passing through many different river fords. A guided tour or at least a bus trip is recommended to get there (it’s not a common bus, it passes through river crossing to take you there)
LAKAGIGAR: a spectacular area situated between Landmannalaugar and Vatnajokull which houses one of the most deadly volcano fissure in history. It looks like a huge scar on the ground, and it’s a good area to make some trekking. River crossing present, be careful and follow all the necessary recommendations
LANDMANNALAUGAR: maybe the most beloved area by trekkers. It’s a sort of “Nevada Death Valley” of Iceland, since the rocks which compose the mountains here are full of many different colors shades exactely like those of the Artist Palette area of Death Valley. The base camp also presents a hot river where you can have a bath. You can make from short to very long treks, depending by your ability.
AIRPLANE CRASH SITE: situated just west of Vik, this site houses an old crashed airplane. Very scenic and particular, although sometimes the road to get there can be muddy and dangerous. Be careful and possibly get there with 2 jeeps. The airplane is even visible from the satellite. To reach it, from Skogafoss waterfall proceed east toward Vik. Go over the left turn of the Solheimajokull glacier tongue, and after 1,6 km you will find a right turn. That’s the road to the crash site. 4×4 vehicle required. If you have reached a river along the ring road, you have missed the right turn.
LAUGAVEGUR: Laugavegur is a very pleasant and quite easy trekking path which takes you to a hot stream where you can have a wonderful bath under the sky. Sometimes can be a little bit crowded, but it’s still enjoyable and very typical of Iceland
WHALE WATCHING IN AKUREYRI: I have read that whale watching is also available in Reykjavik, anyway, Akureyri is considered the european capital of this activity. Personally speaking, i am not that much interested to it, anyway, for completeness of the article i have decided to include it. Just search of google, you will find many tours doing it.
Thanks for reading! if you like share the article with your friends and if you need further info leave me a message or a comment!
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