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Top Things to Do in Iceland

Take our word for it — Iceland should be on your bucket list! It’s a backpacker’s paradise, and best of all, it’s also family-friendly and safe for young adventurers. Reykjavik is the capital city with most of the country’s residents, and there are some amazing activities to do in the capital, but there are also great activities outside the city as well. Here are just a few of the top things to do in Iceland!



As the capital city, which hosts a population of just over 122,000 residents, Reykjavik is the place to be in Iceland. It’s a plethora of culture, nature, nightlife, and Viking history, all within an adorably charming city. Over the years, it has slowly incorporated some modern architecture into its midst, such as the Hallgrimskirkja Cathedral.

Just like any city, one of the greatest activities to do is to explore Reykjavik on foot! You’ll walk past some adorable houses, meet some friendly locals, and maybe even find a great restaurant that’ll become one of your new favorites. Some other great locations to stop at include Nordic House at the University of Iceland, the Neighborhood of the Gods, the Kolaportið flea market, and the Pearl viewing point to see the city from above. In Reykjavik, a favorite pastime among locals is to visit one of the many swimming pools. So if you want to get in-touch with “Reykjavik life,” this is the way to do it! 

For all you nature lovers out there, we haven’t forgotten about you! From the city itself, you can embark on a whale watching or puffin tour. While whale tours can happen year-round, if you want to see a puffin or other migrating birds, you’ll need to book your trip for the summer months. And for the adults travelers who like to go out after dark, there is something to be said about the nightlife in Reykjavik! Most cafes and bars stay open until 1 a.m. on weekdays, and can be open until 5 a.m. on the weekends. There are also plenty of different types of live entertainment, such as comedy shows, theatrical productions, drag shows, and poetry brothels (an immersive type of poetic cabaret). You’ll never run out of things to do in Reykjavik, and you’ll make great memories the whole way through!



Off the beaten path, in the southwest of Iceland, there’s a hidden paradise: the Blue Lagoon. This geothermal outdoor spa is in a lava field near Grindavík, and it’s the perfect spot for a mystical getaway. Even though it’s one of the most popular hot springs in Iceland, the Blue Lagoon still manages to be quiet and peaceful. It’s a pretty short drive if you’re staying in Reykjavik (about 45 minutes). The water is supplied by the nearby Svartsengi geothermal power station. It’s perfectly safe for children, and it’s lifeguard protected! If you’re planning to go here, you’ll at least two or three hours to really enjoy the most of it. It’s recommended to purchase a ticket ahead of time. You can even purchase packages that can include a relaxing mud facial mask and a drink. It is also a good idea to tie up your hair if it’s long, which will prevent heat damage. You won’t want to miss out on visiting the Blue Lagoon!



About a two-hour drive from Reykjavik lies a majestic 197-foot waterfall that can hold its own against some of the world’s most well-known waterfalls. Skógafoss Falls is located in the Skógá River in the south of Iceland. The falls are beautifully surrounded by cliffs of a former coastline. Skógafoss is 82 feet wide as well, and is astounding when you first lay your eyes on it. There is a free parking lot just a short walk from the falls. You should wear a rain jacket and pants, as you will get wet as you reach the base of the falls. You can also view Skógafoss from the top, but it is a steep climb, and some parts can get very slippery from the mist. If you have trouble walking or are traveling with young children, it’s probably not a good idea to go to the top. In the afternoon, it can get crowded during the peak travel seasons, so if you want to avoid the crowds, take an early morning walk and explore the falls before everyone begins arriving!



If you’re brave enough to face the cold, and if you have a thirst for adventure, you won’t want to miss out on visiting Jökulsárlón. This is a fairly long drive, almost five hours from Reykjavik, so it might not be fitting for those traveling with children or for those who are prone to motion sickness. This glacial lagoon lies on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. It has stunning, crystal-blue waters and floating icebergs that flow from the Breiðamerkurjökull Glacier into the Atlantic Ocean. There are plenty of fish in the lagoon, and during the winter months, hundreds of seals come here to eat! If you follow the water towards the ocean, you’ll also see some black-sand beaches covered in ice. You can book tours or wander around the area yourself, but no matter how you choose to explore, you should be careful walking on the ice.

During peak seasons, it can get quite busy, but don’t let the crowds stop you from going; Jökulsárlón will be a highlight of your Icelandic adventure!

Iceland is unlike any other place in the world. With mystical landscapes, friendly people, and activities for all types of travelers, it’s easy to why everyone who travels here wants to come back.

Acanela Expeditions offers incredible trips to Iceland, which include stops in Reykjavik, the Golden Circle, the East Fjords, Dalvik (for whale watching), with an optional extension to the Blue Lagoon! There’s truly something wonderful about Iceland that brings joy to every traveler who steps foot in this beautiful country, so don’t hold back — book a trip today!

Post by Demitria Rounis