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Seven must-see highlights of Iceland

Iceland's long winter nights are ideal for experiencing the magical glow of the northern lights, while the extended summer days are perfect for cramming with highlights and activities. If you've not yet experienced the wonder of Iceland - what are you waiting for?
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Fire-filled mountains capped with ice, black sand beaches and thundering waterfalls... this wild, rugged country is one of exceptional natural beauty. Already planning your trip? Here are our top seven highlights not to miss!  

1. Northern lights

No Iceland list is complete without mentioning the northern lights. These incredible natural displays are mesmerising; whether it's a faint green glow on the northern horizon, or a swathe of colourful bands rippling overhead. Often found at the top of travellers' bucket lists, the aurora borealis are best seen during the longer, dark nights in winter, when the sun doesn't overpower them.

2. Jokulsarlon Glacial Lagoon

This beautiful spot on the south coast is best known for the its spectacular location on the terminal face of Breidamerkurjokull Glacier. As the glacier has retreated, it has left a lagoon surrounded by black sand beaches. From here you can watch as icebergs float out to sea or walk among the ice boulders that litter the sand, giving it the name 'Diamond Beach'.

3. Whale watching

From both Reykjavik and Akureyri there's the chance to head out to the Atlantic Ocean to search for whales, including humpback, orca and minke, and even occasionally blue whales. For those that don't have great sea legs, following the ring road of Iceland you can instead keep look-out from the shore, with some of the best sightings available from the northern coast looking towards the Arctic Circle.

4. Reynisfjara black beach and basalt columns

On the south of the island stand some mystical-looking rock formations akin to the geometric stacks of Northern Ireland's Giant's Causeway. These stacks and basalt columns rising from the Atlantic are home to an abundance of bird life, including puffins. There are many stories in Icelandic folklore relating to the columns' formation, and they have been used as filming locations in shows such as Game of Thrones.

5. Puffins

Iceland is a great place to see these beloved birds. One of the best places to see puffins is in the Eastern fjord region of the country; with its rich history in fishing, it's no surprise why these birds flock to this area. The fjords provide plenty of access to their primary food source, fish, and the cliffs provide a safe haven from predators and the weather.

6. Golden Circle

Iceland's most famous tourist route is so-called due to the jewel in its crown: Gullfoss, the 'golden waterfall', with its triple-tiered falls. Within the Golden Circle are many sights. Here you you can stand between the North American and European continents on the North-Atlantic Ridge in Thingvellir (pronounced thing-vet-leer), and visit Strokkur geyser, which erupts up to 40m every 5-10 minutes!

7. Geothermal pools

The sight of steam rising from the ground is common throughout Iceland, as many of the springs are 'hot springs', warmed by the tectonic activity bubbling beneath the land. One of the best places to take a warming dip is in the natural geothermal pools just 40km south of the Arctic Circle in the Melrakkasletta peninsula. These are great places to relax and take in the views after a day's exploring. 


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Visiting Iceland, whether in winter or summer, is a magical experience. This is definitely one for the bucket list, so don't miss out.
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