Iceland. The Land of Fire and Ice. Dark winters and the summer’s midnight sun. Unpredictable weather that can change in the the blink of an eye. Iceland is a country full of contrasts.
Its dramatic landscapes and untouched nature has landed it at the top of many people’s travel list. From formidable waterfalls to vast lava fields, active volcanoes to imposing glaciers, huge geysers to majestic mountains, this beautiful Nordic country has it all.
Looking for the ultimate nature lover’s paradise? That perfect road trip destination? A place to take your first solo trip? Iceland is the perfect destination for it all.
My two week jaunt around Iceland this past winter was surreal, to say the least, and Iceland is now easily one of my favourite destinations. The diverse and otherworldly natural wonders left me in a constant spellbound daze.
While the pristine nature is obviously the major draw of the country, it’s not the only thing Iceland is good for. It’s got Viking history, fascinating folklore, and towns and villages straight out of a fairytale. The capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, is also one of the safest and liveliest cities in Europe with rich culture, vibrant nightlife, and delicious cuisine.
Here are 30 photos to inspire you to visit Iceland — they’ll have you booking that trip in no time!
The view of Reykjavik at the top of Hallgrímskirkja, Iceland’s largest church. For less than 10 dollars USD, you can take the elevator up the tower for a stunning bird’s eye view of the city. The buildings look like colourful little Lego pieces from up there!
The impressive lava formations along the Nautastígur path leading to the beach of Djúpalónssandur. Because of Iceland’s location between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates, it’s a hotspot for geologic activity, including earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and geysers. The island has over 30 active volcanic systems, 13 of which have erupted since the settlement of Iceland in the 9th century. This is located on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula on the west coast of Iceland.
Dancing on Langjökull Glacier after snowmobiling up at nearly 50 km/h. It was one of the most fun and exhilarating experiences of my life and I highly recommend this activity when you’re in Iceland! (That orange suit was also pretty cool.)
Roadtripping around Iceland is incredible. My sister and I found this stellar spot somewhere along the Golden Circle.
A tiny church in the ancient fishing village of Hellnar. After many hours of exploration in the cold, my sister and I decided to head into a small café just a few steps beyond this church. What I remember most about the place was a tiny sign with the words, “We don’t have Wi-Fi. We just have each other.” While I don’t remember exactly what we talked about that afternoon, I do remember all the laughter and joy in that moment. Give yourself an opportunity to disconnect, so that you can reconnect with your environment, those around you, and yourself.
Dance (or do cartwheels!) like there’s nobody watching! This photo was taken on Djúpalónssandur, also known as the Black Lava Pearl Beach.
When the long winter sunrises and sunsets blend into one — it’s absolutely magical.
Iron remains of a British trawler on the beach of Djúpalónssandur. This ship was wrecked on a cold winter’s night nearly 70 years ago and the pieces have washed up on this beach. These remains are left here in memory of the brave fishermen and should not be touched by visitors.
Iceland has some of the best coffee in the world! We enjoyed these delicious mugs at the charming Stefan Café located right in the city center of Reykjavik.
Somewhere off Ring Road chasing our Icelandic dreams.
Stepping into a lava wonderland on the way to the beach of Djúpalónssandur.
A different view of Reykjavik from the small lake of Tjörnin.
The Icelandic Horse is renowned for its five natural gaits; other horses only have three or four gaits. In addition to the walk, trot and canter/gallop, this fifth gait, the Tölt, is an extremely smooth gait that allows for a super comfortable, nearly bounce-free ride. Also, make sure you don’t confuse the Icelandic horses for ponies — they don’t like that!
Seljalandsfoss. Located on the south coast of Iceland, this is one of the best-known waterfalls in Iceland.
Seaside cliffs on Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Gatklettur (Arch Rock) on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Here, you can see how wave action has eroded the rocks into arches and distinct swirl patterns.
Reynisjara beach near the village of Vik on Iceland’s south coast. Look at the size of those waves! Caution: this black sand beach has one of the strongest undertows in the world and people have been swept out to sea and drowned. Make sure you keep your wit’s about you when here!
Snowy, near-whiteout conditions driving through the Icelandic mountains.
This is Sólfar (The Sun Voyager) located in Reykjavik. I thought this was a Viking ship when I first saw it but it turns out the artist had envisioned this sculpture to be more of a dreamboat, or an ode to the sun. Within itself, it contains the promise of undiscovered territory, and a dream of hope, progress, and freedom.
The magical sunsets in Iceland will take your breath away!
With a population of 120,000 people, Reykjavik is hardly a raging capital. This small city is perfect for a relaxing getaway and leisurely strolls.
During the short winter days, when the sun is always low in the sky and there can be as little as four hours of daylight, the light during this elongated golden hour makes everything look special.
The cliffs along Reynisjara beach. Do I blend in?
View of the mountains beyond Reykjavik.
Iceland is full of surprises — look at this house built right into the mountain! We found this somewhere along the Golden Circle.
I spy with my little eye Icelandic Elves in the far off distance. Just kidding — but fun fact: many Icelanders still believe in the elves! Construction sites have been moved to respect the elves’ space; fishermen have refused to go out to sea to heed the elves’ warnings; my sister and I even had a tour guide who said he’s had encounters with the elves.
Nothing better than breathing in some mountain air, am I right?
Reynisfjara Beach. My first time seeing a black sand beach and my initial reaction was, “It’s Oreo crumbs!”. You see the two stone pillars jutting out from the waters? There’s a local legend that says they were originally two trolls trying to hoist a ship up from the sea but were caught in daylight and turned to stone.
An ancient fishing village at the foot of Mt. Stapafell. It’s located on the westernmost part of the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. Have you ever since a full rainbow as amazing as this?
Prepare to be mesmerized by the natural landscapes of Iceland. This is one of the geysers along the Golden Circle.
The iconic Kirkjufell mountain situated a short distance from the town of Grundarfjörður on the Snæfellsnes Peninsula. You can take a pictureques walking trail around the mountain as well as a more challenging climb up to the summit. If you look closely, you can see sheep on the beach. Can you spot them?
Iceland is most possibly the closest you’ll get to being on another planet without leaving the Earth. There is honestly nothing that compares with the magic of this Nordic country.
You HAVE to visit Iceland!
Have you been to Iceland? Share your favourite places below!
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