Iceland’s difficult terrain takes time to negotiate, and you can’t cover the whole country in a single trip. Our Grand Tour concentrates on Iceland’s main sights, while our other suggested routes focus on two fascinating regions, the island’s west and north, and the south and east.
Though one of Europe’s smaller capitals, the vibrant heart of Iceland offers everything from style-conscious bars and restaurants to great museums and galleries.
2 Blue Lagoon
Take a dip in the sublime waters of this famous open-air swimming pool, fed by geothermal water and set in the middle of a lavafield.
3 Golden Circle
See Þingvellir, site of Iceland’s original open-air parliament, hot waterspouts at Geysir, and a stunning two-tier waterfall at Gullfoss.
Chill on the north coast in Iceland’s second-largest town, renowned for its sunny summer days and thriving bar and restaurant scene.
Whale watching is on everybody’s list of must-dos in Iceland, and the expertly run tours from Húsavík offer virtually guaranteed sightings.
6 Lake Mývatn
A proliferation of geological oddities, from bubbling mud pools to steam vents, clustered around a beautiful lake teeming with birdlife.
Europe’s largest waterfall plunges over bare granite into a deep, sunless chasm on the edge of the Interior.
8 The Interior
Venture into Iceland’s uninhabited Interior to witness some truly awe-inspiring scenery: from glaciers to lava deserts, the views are jaw-dropping.
A steaming volcano cone, grassy clifftop walks and abundant wildlife make this small, self-contained island community an essential overnight stopover.
Step into Iceland’s stirring past at the Settlement Centre and learn more about the country’s Saga heroes.
Skim across the waters of Breiðafjörður in a rigid inflatable, checking out the myriad islands and rich birdlife in this part of the west.
A night on this idyllic island provides a taste of rural Iceland: stroll through flower meadows down to the shore to watch the thousands of birds that call Flatey home.
Explore the West Fjords ‘most agreeable town, and try a spot of sea kayaking too.
The place to get up close to entire colonies of seals, lolling on the black volcanic sands.
Take a restorative swim in the new oceanside pool and drink in the extraordinary coastal vistas.
Iceland’s second town offers a profusion of bars and restaurants, and the beautiful surroundings in Eyjafjörður are perfect for exploring on horseback.
1 Borgarfjöður Eystri
This tiny, isolated community has plenty of puffins, hiking trails and spiky mountains to investigate – you might even spot a Greenland shark being landed at the harbour.
Spot seals, razorbills and puffins on this half-day outing to a tiny islet, once home to reclusive monks.
Glacial lagoon just above a black-sand beach, where you can cruise between powder-blue icebergs as they shear off the front of the ice sheet.
Waterfalls, glaciers, peaks, moorland and almost unlimited hiking potential at this popular national park.
Pleasant village near Iceland’s southernmost point, with bracing sea breezes, black-sand beaches and some easy scenic walking trails.
Camp and hike at this isolated highland valley, thick with summer wildflowers and hemmed in by spectacular peaks and glaciers.
Book through Rough Guides’ trusted travel partners
Planning your trip to Iceland
Everything you need to plan where to go and what to do.
The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.
Hot tub happiness: the dos and don'ts of Icelandic spas
Going to a spa in Iceland can feel wonderfully alien. Against a backdrop of barren moonscapes and denuded hills, the waters are so preternaturally blue, so exag…
Iceland: top 10 hot pools to take a dip
An outdoor soak is an essential part of the Icelandic experience – a surreal way to spend a dark winter's day, or to unkink those muscles after a long day's h…
Tackling overtourism: where next for Iceland?
Last year, there were six tourists in Iceland for every local. As overtourism becomes an increasingly hot topic, Keith Drew looks at the effects of Iceland’s …