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Best things to do in Iceland

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Where in the world: Europe  /  Iceland
Visitors to the nation's rocky shores will have a hard time running out of things to do in Iceland. Geysers, volcanoes, waterfalls, lava fields, and a chance to spot icebergs draw tourists to the trendy capital city, giving outdoor enthusiasts a chance to see a lot without having to compromise on urban comforts. For a quick taste of Iceland's natural wonders, take a day trek around Golden Circle Route, an 8-hour tour from Reykjavik and back again. For those looking to relax, Blue Lagoon is the place for spa treatments in a stunning natural setting.

Iceland is best known for its Waterfalls, Spas, and Churches.

Top 15 things to do in Iceland

1. Blue Lagoon, Grindavik

Melt away in the warm pools of Blue Lagoon, a manmade lagoon filled with water that's heated naturally by a nearby lava flow. True to its name, the lagoon's water reflects a nearly opaque shade of brilliant blue due to the high mineral content. Try the different pools of varying temperatures, and pamper yourself with spa treatments, such as mud masks, a sauna, or steam baths. Climb up to the viewing platform to see a view of the lagoon below and the rolling green hills set behind. Rich in minerals, such as silica and sulphur, the blue waters are said to be healing for skin conditions, such as psoriasis. A research center at the lagoon is working on developing cures for other skin diseases. Book your tickets in advance via the attraction's website and be aware that slots fill up days and even weeks beforehand during the busy season.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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2. Gullfoss Falls, Blaskogabyggd

Feel the mist from Gullfoss Falls, a stunning waterfall in southwest Iceland, as you walk right up close to the natural wonder. One of the most visited attractions in the country, the powerful falls plunge in two stages into a narrow crevice of the Hvita river. From afar, the 32 m (105 ft) deep crevice is hidden from sight, so when walking to the falls, you get the impression that the Hvita River just disappears into the ground. Hike along the crevice, which is 2.5 km (1.5 mi) long, and admire the incredible volume of water constantly rushing over the edge. The waterfall, along with Thingvellir and the geysers of Haukadalur, is part of the Golden Circle, which can make a great day tour.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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3. Glacier Lagoon, Jokulsarlon

At Glacier Lagoon chunks of blue icebergs float along the shore so close that you can almost reach out and touch them. This glacial lake at the head of Breidamerkurjokull glacier developed as the glacier began to drift away from the Atlantic Ocean. Visit the tongue of the lake, where icebergs break away from the glacier and drift from the lake into the ocean. Keep your eyes peeled for seals, fish, and sea birds, such as arctic tern, who make their home in the lagoon. Walk the length of the lagoon's shore to the black beach, where you'll find icebergs washed ashore. Several tour companies operate boat tours on the lagoon.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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4. Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik

An unusual-looking church, the design of Hallgrimskirkja was inspired by the forms created when lava cools into basalt rock. The church was designed by Gudjon Samuel in 1937 and constructed between 1945 and 1986. The tower, at 73 m (239.5 ft) tall, dominates Reykjavik's skyline. The view from the top looks out over the entire city, plus the rocky, volcanic landscape and the sea beside the capital. Inside the church, listen to the melodies wafting from the enormous, 25-ton pipe organ. A statue of Leifur Ericsson, the first European to reach America, stands directly outside the strange edifice.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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5. Food Tours, Reykjavik

Suggested duration: 3 hours
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6. Strokkur, Geysir

Many tourists visit Strokkur because of the frequency and reliability of its eruptions. The geyser shoots water 15-40 m (49-131 ft) every 4-8 minutes. Many tours stop at this geyser, one of Iceland's largest and most famous. A pleasant alternative is renting a car and driving to this geothermal region, which is on the Golden Circle route. Free parking is available on site.
Suggested duration: 1h 30 min
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7. Thingvellir National Park, Thingvellir

Containing the site of the former parliament of Iceland, Thingvellir National Park serves as a historical landmark set in a beautiful landscape. Part of the Golden Circle, the park is one of the most visited attractions in the country. The national park was founded in 1930 to protect the former parliament, which dates to 930 CE, as well as the natural land surrounding it. Explore the park's highlights, including the Mid-Atlantic ridge, where the Eurasian and North American plates meet, and the largest natural lake in the country. The park has facilities for hiking, camping, and even scuba diving in Silfra Lake.
Suggested duration: 2h 30 min
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8. Skogafoss, Skogar

One of the largest waterfalls in Iceland, Skogafoss sits along the cliffs of the country's former southern coastline. The coast has receded about 5 km (3.1 mi) toward the sea, so these falls now mark the boundary between the lowlands and the highlands. On sunny days, you can often see a single or double rainbow above the falls due to the huge volume of mist. If you don't mind getting wet, you can walk pretty close to the waterfall and even follow a rocky path behind the wall of water. Climb up to the top for a different view of the falls and the surrounding landscape.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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9. Sun Voyager, Reykjavik

Wander down to the harbor to see Sun Voyager, a massive sculpture of a dreamboat. Designed by Jon Gunnar Arnason in 1990, the stainless steel artwork resembles a Viking ship and is dedicated to the sun. The sculpture is close to shore and offers a view of Mount Esja across the harbor. More art installations dot the shore if you continue to walk along the water, but this sculpture is the highlight.
Suggested duration: 1 hour
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10. Horseback Riding Tours, Reykjavik

Tread the paths of old Norse explorers on a Reykjavik horseback riding tour. You'll uncover the dramatic and seemingly prehistoric landscapes of Iceland while riding an ancient breed of horse under the experienced gaze of a local guide. With a wealth of picturesque scenery to choose from, you can select the countryside location you most want to visit, then head out on horseback toward the horizon. All experience levels are welcome, with minimum age stipulated on some tours. Most trips take at least five hours.
Suggested duration: 3 hours
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12. Seljalandsfoss - Waterfall, Hella

Seljalandsfoss - Waterfall waterfall represents a dramatic single river that drops 60 m (200 ft) over a cave cliff. Situated between Selfoss and Skógafoss, this picturesque spot features a cave entrance that allows you to go behind the waterfall into the cave for a 360-degree view of the fall. Be prepared to get damp, as spray from the water often shoots into the cave. Treat yourself to a drink or pastry at the snack truck that is often nearby. Smaller waterfalls exist just a bit farther down the path, so if you're up for exploring, look for those as well.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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13. Nature & Wildlife Tours, Reykjavik

See the pristine and often outrageous beauty of Iceland on a guided nature-and-wildlife tour from Reykjavik. You'll have a chance to absorb awe-inspiring vistas of towering glaciers, black-sand beaches, wild moorlands, lava fields, and other dramatic natural creations while learning folk legends from your knowledgeable and friendly guide. These exciting tours allow you to sail along the coastal waters to see puffins and whales, observe seals and seabirds in their natural habitat, ride an ATV over rugged terrain, paddle a kayak through a fjord, and experience the magic of Aurora Borealis. The duration of these excursions is variable, from 1 to 10 hours.
Suggested duration: 8 hours
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14. Black Sand Beach, Vik

Perhaps one of Europe's most untraditional beaches, Black Sand Beach is covered completely in black stones and sand. This beach it is one of the wettest places in Iceland; and its beauty ranks with exotic beaches around the world. Islands magazine has listed it as one of the top ten beautiful beaches. Large columns of black basalt line the coast, sculpted over the years. Those who are brave can be seen climbing up for a photo opportunity. You won't want to swim here, though; the absence of landmass from here to Antarctica means these waters are strong and cold. The winds from the coast are quite powerful as well, so be sure to wear extra layers.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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15. National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik

Iceladic history comes to life at National Museum of Iceland, founded in 1863. Though its collections used to be held in various Danish institutions, the museum now houses objects returned to their country of origin in the 19th century. The permanent exhibit includes a celebrated carved door depicting a lion slaying a dragon.
Suggested duration: 2 hours
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