Top 44 Fun Things to do in Iceland

When planning a visit to Iceland, you may wonder what there is to do here so today we are sharing 44 of our top suggestions. There’s something for everyone from family to solo, traditional to modern. We hope you have a wonderful trip.

1. Go for a Swim in the North Atlantic Ocean.

It might seem like a big no no but it’s surprisingly getting more popular for visitors to take a dive on the cold North Atlantic Sea. Icelanders have done this for hundred of years and still do. Over the summertime, the temperature of the Sea is about 12 – 15°C but in winter it can go below zero.

Swimming in the sea isn’t just invigorating and adventurous, some say it strengthens the immune system. One of the main spots to go for a swim is Nautholsvik geothermal beach. They have great facilities here and after a quick dip in the North Atlantic Ocean you can reward yourself by relaxing in the hot tub (check opening hours).

2. Enjoy New Years in Iceland.

If you are looking for a true party over New Years, Iceland is the place to be. Icelanders simply love fireworks around New Years and there aren’t many places in the world that allow fireworks as freely as Iceland does.

Every New Year, Icelanders shoot around 1300 tons of fireworks into the sky to welcome in the New Year. Most of the profit from firework sales goes to the national rescue squad and plays a big part in why Icelanders spend so much money on buying fireworks.

If you are going to get in on the fun then wear safety glasses, avoid wearing flammable clothing and possibly a set of earplugs. The best views across the city are from Perlan and Hallgrimskirkja.

3. Stay Awake for 24 Hours.

In summer, day and night merge into one and it literally doesn’t get dark. The Icelandic summer nights are truly amazing and give you endless opportunities to explore and enjoy being outdoors. All sorts of activities are popular over summer like hiking, hot pools, golfing and more.

4. Walk Between Continents.

The earths crust is composed of 6 large, and several smaller, tectonic plates that drift and cause sea-floor spreading. Two of those plates meet under Iceland; the Eurasian plate and the North American plate. It is very unusual to be able to see rift above sea level but here in Iceland you can walk between them and literally touch both continents.

In Reykjanes, an 18 meter bridge has been built of the rift and you can cross it for free. It’s a great experience to cross the bridge and walk between two continents. If you are interested, you can buy a certificate of proof that you have crossed the bridge at a nearby information centre.

5. Go Horseback Riding

The Icelandic horse is the size of a pony but as strong as a horse. You can find a tour that suits you perfectly from a few hours of horse back riding to a multi day tour. These horses are very well secured by the Icelanders and they prohibit importation of horses. It’s a must for all animal lovers to get to know the Icelandic horse.

6. Watch the Whales

The whales around Iceland surface and shows off their tricks, often coming very close to the boats and you can sometimes spot dolphins jumping too. In summer you can go whale watching both on the north and south coasts of Iceland. Both locations are great for whale watching. In winter, tours only run from the Old harbour of Reykjavik. It’s truly amazing to see these gigantic animals in their natural environment so up close.

7. Visit The Pearl

Perlan is a famous landmark in Reykjavik, you’ll see it’s massive glass dome on the hill. You can go visit the viewing deck at a small charge, visit the shop and enjoy the magnificent view at the restaurant. Perlan now has an Ice Cave exhibition where you can walk through an ice tunnel and you can get the history of Icelands glaciers.

8. Go Fishing!

The fishing industry has been Icelands main industry for centuries and is still a big part of the culture. You can either go on a tour to catch your own fish or go down to the harbour in the morning and offer your help to the fishermen. A freshly caught fish is simply the best, even better if you caught it yourself.

9. Try Diving and Snorkeling

Diving and snorkeling are some of the best things to do in Iceland. Needless to say that there are plenty of spots where you can enjoy such activity. Surprisingly, you can also go surfing in Iceland. The most popular place to go snorkeling is the Silfra at Thingvellir National Park.

10. Check out the View from the Bell Tower

Hallgrimskirkja is the tallest church in Iceland at 244 feet. There is a lift that takes you to the top of the bell tower where you get a magnificent view across the city. The church itself is beautiful and we recommend you pay a visit.

11. Enjoy a Geothermal Bath

You can find many different places in Iceland to bathe in a natural hot water. We recommend Landmannalaugar, the Blue lagoon, Lake Myvatn and the Secret lagoon. To relax in the natural warm water out in nature is definitely a must and should be on your bucket list.

12. Snowmobiling on a Glacier

Get your adrenaline pumping, jump on a snowmobile and tell all your friends you’ve been on a glacier. Most snowmobile rides take place on Langjokull glacier and Myvatnsjokull glacier. There are various tours to choose from and many people like to combine a snowmobiling adventure with the Golden Circle.

13. Get Married in the Blue Lagoon

The Blue lagoon is one of the most popular destinations in Iceland. Its not just beautiful but it’s also a very relaxing and peaceful place with unique surroundings. The warm turquoise blue water is truly beautiful and you’re surrounded with lava fields, it’s very unique.

The lagoon is known for its healing powers for the skin but you can do many other things there, one of which is to get married. Couples who are interested in tying the knot in this unusual location can get assistance from the personnel at the Blue Lagoon.

14. Be a Chef in Natures Kitchen.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to Icelands geothermal energy. Hot springs are used not only for heating homes but are very handy when traveling. You can use them for almost everything from washing laundry to boiling eggs.

Icelanders also use the geothermal heat to bake bread in the hot ground. The dough is placed in a container, such as a milk carton, and buried in the hot ground. This can take a few hours to bake so you can buy a loaf of geothermal bread in places such as Hveragerdi and Myvatnssveit.

15. Get Hot.

Unlike other countries, in Iceland you can stand in the shower as long as you like without worrying too much about the water bill. Due to the islands volcanic activity, the hot water is both plentiful and inexpensive making it perfect for heating homes, greenhouses, melting snow and filling swimming pools and hot tubs. So enjoy it whilst you’re here, take a long hot shower without feeling too guilty.

16. Eat Fermented Shark.

Some of the traditional Icelandic food might seem a bit odd to foreigners. For example, sheeps head, dried fish and fermented shark are some of the specialities. When you visit Iceland it’s almost a must to try fermented shark. It has a strong smell and taste but if you want to make a good impression for the locals, try a bite.

17. Go Lava Caving.

If you are the adventurous type, go lava caving. There are various tours offered and you often don’t need to go far from Reykjavik to find a lava tube. Leidarendi is within 30 minutes drive from the Reykjavik.

18. See the Northern Lights.

The northern lights are a magical phenomenon that everyone should see at least once in a lifetime. Whether you decide to do a tour or a self-drive, the experience seeing the lights dancing above your head will stay with you forever. All sorts of tours are available for aurora hunting: Evening tours, combo tours, bus tours, super jeep tours, multi day tours, floating tours, boat tours…. the list is long so you should find at least one that suits your needs.

19. Go Floating.

Floating is one of the best ways possible to relax. The floating kit enables you to float in the warm Secret Lagoon and let every muscle in your body rest. There are many extra treats on the tours as well, such as hunting for the northern lights in winter.

20. Go Swimming and Relax in the Hot Tubs.

Swimming is a big part of Icelandic culture. It is obligatory for all Icelanders to learn how to swim so you can say we are raised in the pools to a great extent. Most pools are outdoors but the water is always nicely warm so people go for a swim without freezing in winter. The hot tubs are a must after a refreshing swim and an ideal way to blend with the locals.

21. Have a Hot Dog.

It is almost obligatory to have a hot dog when you visit Iceland. The most popular hot dog booth in Reykjavik is opposite Kolaportið flea market, not far from the Old Harbor. As for “ein með öllu” (one with everything) and blend in with the locals by the booth while you enjoy your delicious hot dog. When you are travelling around Iceland you can buy a hot dog almost everywhere so there is no excuse not to have one!

22. Go Inside a Volcano.

Thrihnukagigur Volcano has retired by being an erupting prowess 4,000 years ago, so exploring the magma chamber from the inside is as safe as exploring a museum. But unlike a museum with just parts or relics of a volcano closed in a casket, a tour inside the volanco will take you to the actual inside of a volcano. Something you shouldn´t miss and do at least once in a lifetime!

23. Try Glacier Hiking.

For an adventurous day, try glacier hiking. At Sólheimajökull glacier you can explore the crevasse riddle outlet glacier with amazing ice formations, sinkholes and indented ridges. Some tours even offer you ice climbing as well. Never go glacier hiking on your own though as it simply is too dangerous but with guides and the right equipment you are off to an adventure.

24. See the Puffins.

Puffins are unique and beautiful birds. Over half of the world´s population of the Atlantic puffin roost in Iceland. These birds are unique in many ways, like how they can paddle along the surface of the sea and dive underwater on spotting prey. Half of Icelandic puffins are in the Westmann Island where they both harvested and conserved. Other sites are for instance Hornbjarg and Hornstrandir and on many whale watching tours you see puffins. It is to be noted that puffins aren´t in Iceland during winter. This is one of our favorite things to do in Iceland because the puffins are just great

25. Check out the Imagine Peace Tower

The Imagine Peace Tower stands for joy, wisdom, hope and healing. It is a memorial tower of John Lennon by his wife Yoko Ono. The tower is lighted up from 9th October, which is John Lennon´s birthday, up to 8th December. There are also some additional dates for the tower to be lit up and that includes for instance 31st December. The tower is located in Viðey but you can see the light from a far.

26. Go for a Bike Ride in the Nature

If you want to get the adrenaline pumping and get a real exercise then go biking! There are various tours offered, like in Heiðmörk and Skaftafell, where you can enjoy a great bike ride away from the city lights and noise.

27. Visit the Westman Islands

The Westman islands (Vestmannaeyjar) are located just off the south coast of Iceland. One of the most famous volcanic eruptions in Iceland took place there in 1973. There is a museum about the eruption that you must visit. The largest island is Heimaey but the other islands are uninhabitable. More than 30 bird species nest in their millions in the cliffs, including puffins. Sail around the islands and enjoy the peacefulness and nature the islands have to offer.

28. Try the Icelandic Skyr

Skyr is a dairy product that is very popular in Iceland. You can buy skyr with various flavours, like blueberry and strawberry, but also just plain skyr. It is healthy and something Icelanders have eaten for decades. It is similar to thick yogurt but the taste is unique and delicious. Be like an Icelander and eat skyr!

29. Visit the Arctic Circle on Grímsey Island

Grímsey is a small island about 40 km (25 mi) off the north coast of Iceland and straddling the Arctic Circle. Grímsey is the northernmost inhabited Icelandic territory. The Arctic Circle runs through the island and it is an optimal photo opportunity to take a photo there. You can either fly or take a ferry to the island and spend a day or two.

30. Mount Esja

When you are in Reykjavik you see a beautiful mountain not too far away. This is Esjan, an outdoor paradise. If you want to go for a hike it is an ideal place to so do, either on your own or with a tour. You don´t need to go to the top unless you want to but the view from the hills, and of course the top, is magnificent. Here you can enjoy nature to the fullest and within an hour drive from the capital.

31. The Pond

In Reykjavík´s city center you will see a pond. In summer you can see there different kinds of birds swimming with their newborns. All around the pond you can see various sculptures and artwork and also city hall where you can sit down and have a nice cup of coffee while enjoying the view of the pond. In winter the pond often freezes and then you people either walking across the ice or skating. Try it too, just make sure the ice is really frozen!

32. Enjoy Christmas

Icelanders love Christmas. They decorate their houses, trees and the city center is always very festive. There is a Christmas market in Hafnarfjordur, Christmas shop on the main shopping street in Reykjavik (Laugavegur) and there is always something going on. Don´t forget the Icelandic Santas – they are 13!

33. Attend a Sports Event

Icelanders love sports. In summer football is very popular and in winter it is handball and basketball. If you are a sports fan then you should definitely go to a game and blend in with the locals!

34. Get a City Pass

The City Pass opens doors to many great activities. You can buy one for 1,2 or 3 days. With the City Pass you can visit all the museums in Reykjavik, go swimming, visit the domestic zoo, take the ferry over to Videy island (where the Imagine Peace Tower is located) and much more. Spend time and money wisely and grab a City Pass.

35. Hvalfjörður

The Hvalfjörður Tunnel (Hvalfjarðargöng) is a road tunel under Hvalfjördur fjord and is a part of the ring road. It is 5770 meter longs and reaches a depth of 165 meters below sea level. It shortens the distance from Reykjavík to the western and northern parts of Iceland by 45 km as it takes around an hour to drive the Hvalfjörður fjord itself. The fjord is around 30 km long and 5 km wide. The fjord has a history. During World War II a naval base of the British and American navies could be found there. The name of the fjord is derived from the large number of whales that could be found and caught there. In summer, if you have plenty of extra time, it is a lovely route to drive the fjord itself. Lovely scenery, waterfalls, interesting mixture of volcanic mountains and green vegetation, rivers and unspoiled nature. In winter we recommend the tunnel!

36. Visit Churches

It doesn´t matter whether you are religious or not, visiting the many lovely churches is a wonderful experience. It doesn´t matter whether it is the great Hallgrimskirkja church or a small country church, all of them have their own unique style and history. If you visit the Hallgrimskirkja church, try to be there when they play the massive organ. The sound and the experience is amazing! The small country churches are worth visiting but you can find them all over the country.

37. Check out the Bars and Cafés

If you long for a nice cup of coffee there are various cafés in the city center in Reykjavík. Try also some local delicacies like kleina or vaffla. If you want to have a beer the pub Kaldi is ideal and try out the local beers. If you want something special, the Kex hostel has an extra ordinary bar/restaurant. The possibilities are endless and do not hesitate to try as many as you can find. You will have a nice experience wherever you go and blend with the locals!

38. Botanical Garden

If you are a fan of trees and flowers, you need to check out the Botanical Garden in Laugardalur. In summer it is gorgeous but it is also charming in winter. Small pond, fountain and peaceful with birdlife. You also find Café Flora there, an ideal place to sit down, relax and enjoy a meal.

39. Mývatn Nature Baths

The Blue lagoon is always very popular but not too many know that there is another lagoon on the northern coast by lake Mývatn. The Mývatn nature baths are natural, peaceful and worth visiting if you are traveling in the area.

40. Cultural Night

Every year in August Cultural night is celebrated in Reykjavik. It starts in the morning and eds around midnight with fireworks. Stroll around town and participate in various events – such as the marathon – and enjoy the shows, concerts and all the other sites offering something exciting. In the evening, enjoy the concert in the city center and then the wonderful fireworks just before midnight. This is one of our favorite things to do in Iceland because the fireworks are just great:)

41. Visit the Black Sand Beach in Vík

On the south coast of Iceland you will find many nature gems. One of them is the black sand beach close to Vík, called Reynisfjara. The black sand is crushed lava rock and it also features an amazing cliff of regular basalt columns, called Garðar. Out in the sea you will see the beautifully shaped basalt sea stacks Reynisdrangar. The ocean there is very powerful so don´t go too close!! Half way down the beach is a large vaulted cavern, a beautiful site but again, don´t go too close. Otherwise you might end up in the Atlantic Ocean! The area is rich in birdlife and in summer you can spot puffins for instance.

42. Visit the Abandoned Plane.

On Sólheimasandur beach in the south of Iceland you will find something unusual. An epic plane wreck! In 1973 a United States Navy airplane ran out of fuel and was forced to land on the black beach at Sólheimasandur. Thankfully everyone on board survived. Later it turned out that the pilot had simply switched over to the wrong fuel tank. The remains are still at the crash site, on the sand very close to the sea. The scenery is quite amazing and unreal, it is actually like from a science fiction move. A site worth visiting!

43. Visit the Glacial Lagoon

The Glacial lagoon is one of many wonders of nature that you will find in Iceland. The lagoon first appeared in 1934-1935 and has been growing ever since. It is the deepest lake in Iceland, located on the edge of Vatnajökull National Park. During summer you can take a boat tour on the lake and sail among the magnificent icebergs. In winter it is a popular location to hunt for the northern lights. The lagoon has been a setting for several Hollywood films, such as James Bond.

44. Drive Through the National Park, Thingvellir

Thingvellir National Park is a wonderful place worth visiting. It is very historical and special in so many ways. It is where you can see the Mid-Atlantic Ridge that splits Iceland further apart each year. The scenery is one of a kind and it doesn´t matter whether it is in summer, spring, fall or winter. Thingvallavatn lake is breathtaking, the trees, the lava, the waterfalls…. the list is endless. Thingvellir is a site of historical and cultural importance. It is where the Icelandic Parliament was established in 930 and in 2004 Thingvellir became a World Heritage Site. All off road driving is of course prohibited and please show the park and its surroundings full respect.