Iceland is the place of the moment, and it’s also one of the most Instagrammable places in the world with waterfalls, glaciers and beaches. I’m obsessed with Instagram (but isn’t everyone?!) and try to publish photos to my Instagram account @sophiessuitcasetravel every single day. When going on trips, I usually research the most beautiful, impressive and photogenic places and try to visit them all, so I can bask in the moment and grab a load of photos for Instagram. Here are my favourite places to visit in Iceland right now….
- The Blue Lagoon
- Crystal Ice Caves
- Northern Lights
- Hallgrimskirkja Church
- The Sun Voyager
The Blue Lagoon
I go in to this further in another blog post, but I couldn’t leave it out of this must-see list either. When me and Katie headed to Iceland last month, we couldn’t not stop at the famous Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, one of the most visited attractions in Iceland, and it’s not hard to see why. The beautiful milky-blue opaque water makes a stark contrast to the surrounding black lava field covered with dark green moss, and it’s also a welcome retreat from the cold wind and wintery weather that descends on the country for nearly 9 months every year. The lagoon’s warm geothermal water and natural active ingredients; mineral salts, silica and blue green algae help you relax and unwind while the lagoon’s distinctive white silica mud gently cleanses and exfoliates the skin. The mineral salts balance and relax body and soul. The modern facilities have been developed into a wellness complex including saunas, a warm flowing waterfall, restaurant and in-water treatments and massages using the all-natural Blue Lagoon skin care products. Read my full post on The Blue Lagoon here.
A lesser known waterfall close to our hotel was Urriðafoss. As our hotel was super close we arrived around 9am and there was no one else around. It was stunning to watch the water fall from the river down to the south. We wandered here for a while, despite it being super windy and about 5 degrees that morning at 9am. The sheer power of this waterfall was felt some 1km away when we could still feel the water droplets landing on our faces. A must-visit place to add to your road trip adventure.
Seljalandsfoss is the next most famous waterfall after Skogafoss. A unique waterfall in the river Seljalandsá, about 30 km west from Skógar which is 60 meters high with a footpath behind it at the bottom of the cliff. It is the only known waterfall of its kind, where it is possible to walk behind it, but be aware the path may be shut due to ice. Even in April when the weather was warming up, the footpath was closed. The waterfall is very picturesque and offers an opportunity for some amazing photos. Plus it’s right by the road so no detours taking you on a wild goose chase…
You must have been living under a rock for the last decade if you didn’t know about Skógafoss waterfall. The pictures are everywhere! Situated on the Skógá River in the south of Iceland at the cliffs of the former coastline, Skógafoss is my all time favourite waterfall from the trip, simply because you could really see it’s poweras it fell from the 60 metre drop. Skógafoss is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland, with a drop of 60 meters and a width of 25 meters, and you can walk right up to, but be prepared to be drenched, like we did. And if you can try head there early in the day so you miss the buses arriving! We got there about 40 mins before everyone else arrived so managed to get some incredible photos! It is just overwhelming standing next to it – take your time to watch this immense natural wonder.
Now, I am biased here because we didn’t do a tour at Solheimajokull Glacier, but I’ve heard they’re great, despite being expensive. Instead we stopped off on our road trip of the south of the island and parked up. We chucked on our hiking boots and went for a 15-minute walk up to the edge of the glacier, where you can see it in all its glory falling from the mountains, as it falls in to the glacial lagoon. Don’t attempt to climb onto the glacier unguided as it is very dangerous.
Sólheimajökull is a glacier in southern Iceland, between the volcanoes Katla and Eijafjallajökkull. Solheimajokull glacier is an approximately 11-km-long outlet glacier, which advances from Myrdalsjokull glacier, down a one to two km wide valley. The glacier falls from a height of about 1,300 m down to 100 m and, because of the location and shape of the glacier, it is sensitive to climate change. If the climate continues to warm, there is a possibility that the glaciers will have virtually disappeared in 100 to 200 years.
Sólheimasandur Plane Crash
Then literally across the road you’ve got Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck. I’m sure you’ve seen photos before… every Instagrammer and their family has visited this wreck on the south coast. It’s a twisted wreckage from an old airplane crash on Sólheimasandur black sand beach. If you don’t know where to look, it can be a difficult place to discover on your own, as it can’t be seen from the road and is actually around 45-60 minutes walk from the car park on the right hand side of the road.
On Saturday Nov 24, 1973, a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach in the south of Iceland after experiencing some severe icing. Luckily all crew members survived the crash, but the airplane’s fuselage was abandoned. The wings & tail are missing, it’s full of holes, and the crumbling fuselage is covered with wind-blown black sand. Now it’s become a photography dream location! Even Bieber filmed part of his latest music video skateboarding on top of the plane. I have mixed opinions on whether this stop is worth it as its a super long walk, and it nearly killed me, but it is cool. So you decide, if you want a lengthy walk, do it. If you’d rather do something else, give it a miss!
Black Sand Beach (Reynisfjara)
Ranked one of the 10 most beautiful non-tropical beaches in the world in 1991, Black Sand Beach is beautiful. The lava beach of Reynisfjara is stunning and possibly one of the coolest beaches in the world with its black sand, insane basalt columns, lava formations, towering cliffs, gaping rock faces and caves galore. Reynisfjara is found around 180 km from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik, and is a popular stop-off for those taking a sightseeing tour along South Coast. It was super busy when we arrived at around 2pm as the buses were there too, so pick a spot and grab a view of this amazing sight.
Visit Hveragerði Hot Springs
We actually stayed here so we didn’t go too far away from the hotel as we had our own hot springs in the hotel grounds, but we did go for a wander up to the top of the hills near Frost & Fire. The Hveragerdi hot spring river trail is one of the most visited hiking trails in Iceland. The trail leads from the town of Hveragerdi to a geothermal river where you can bathe in warm water while admiring the astonishing Icelandic landscape. The name of the valley, Reykjadalur, means Steam Valley and is filled with hot springs and mud pools, and there is even a hot river in which one can bathe! One to add to the list…
Gullfoss, another famous waterfall, is located in the canyon of Hvítá river in southwest Iceland. Gullfoss is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Iceland with millions visiting this expansive waterfall each year. The wide Hvítá river rushes southward, and about a kilometre above the falls it turns sharply to the right and flows down into a wide curved three-step “staircase” and then abruptly plunges in two stages (11 metres or 36 feet, and 21 metres or 69 feet) into a crevice 32 metres (105 ft) deep. Together with Þingvellir and the geysers of Haukadalur, Gullfoss forms part of the Golden Circle, a popular day excursion for tourists in Iceland.
Geysir Hot Spring Area
Don’t be fooled by the Instagram photos, the great Geysir is not the only geyser in the Geysir hot spring area. The most active geyser in the area is called Strokkur as it sprouts hot water as high as 30 meters into the air every few minutes or so, but the area as a whole is pretty cool, with small spring rivers running down the valley, smaller pools with bubbling brooks and an array of natural phenomena for you to see. I would try and miss the crowds by visiting early morning or late afternoon as it gets busy.
Kerið is a volcanic crater lake in Grímsnes, South Iceland, and makes for a fantastic, if not alternative stop along Iceland’s world-famous Golden Circle sightseeing route. Kerið is normally visited as an extra, alongside the major stops, Thingvellir National Park, Haukadalur Geothermal Valley and Gullfoss waterfall. Kerið is a striking volcanic crater lake filled with milky blue-green water amid stark black and deep red slopes. Once believed to be an explosion crater formed 3,000 years ago, geologists now believe it to be a collapsed magma chamber at the end of a volcanic eruption that occurred more than 6,000 years ago. Kerid is 55 meters (180 ft.) deep including the still water on the bottom. There is a path lining the rim for visitors to walk around and view the red and black slopes contrasting with the striking aquamarine water contributing to the otherworldly landscape. We visited here early morning around 9am and it was super quiet, only us and another couple here walking.