What to Do, See, Taste and Experience in Iceland

Reykjavik the capital city of Iceland

Iceland has long been known for being one of the best places in the world to view the Northern Lights due to sparse populations and a lack of light pollution. Though the Northern Lights are gorgeous and beautiful wonders to behold between August and April, there’s a lot more to do, see, and eat in Iceland, and that’s why it’s currently one of the top places to visit in the world.

What To Do

From striking architecture to stunning landscapes, there’s a lot of wondrous places to visit in Iceland. Nature lovers should head to southwest Iceland to see Gulfoss, a lovely waterfall in the canyon of the Olfusa River. Skaftafell Park holds another must-see waterfall, Svartifoss, which flows from a cliff of basalt geometric columns, giving the waterfall its name “Black Falls.” Don’t forget to make a stop at Geysir, where the water sprays about 100 feet in the air from the boiling ground.

Though Iceland is inevitably colder than many parts of the world, there’s a lot of volcanic activity which leads to plenty of hot springs throughout the country. The Blue Lagoon is one such place that’s been turned into a geothermal spa that people visit for a good hot soak and a mud mask. The Blue Lagoon can get a little crowded, so it could be fun to try an alternative trip to south Iceland to find the hidden Seljavallalaug Pool, the oldest pool in the country with spectacular views.

A day at the beach may seem odd for Iceland, but don’t miss Reynisfjara Beach. This beach, just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Reykjavik, features beautiful black sand beaches, a pyramid-shaped cliff called Gardar, and a shallow cave perfect for exploring.

Though the natural wonders of Iceland are breathtaking, some might feel comfortable sticking closer to the cosmopolitan city of Reykjavik. It’s home to plenty of museums, cute neighborhoods, and great food. If you’re staying close to the city, check out some of the country’s most interesting architecture in buildings like the Harpa, a concert hall, and at Hallgrimskirkja, a Lutheran church.


Reykjavik is home to some of the best shopping in Iceland, especially Laugavegur Road, also known as “Wash Road.” It’s home to local boutique shops with high-end chic clothes, homewares, and furniture. If looking to buy something special in Iceland to bring home, consider buying a lopapeysa, or an Icelandic wool sweater. The sweater are made from the wool of Icelandic sheep which allows wearers to stay both dry and warm, and are generally black, white, gray, or brown in color. The best quality lopapeysa’s can be found at Thorvaldsen’s Bazaar and Kolaportio, the biggest flea market in Iceland.

What to Eat

Icelandic cuisine isn’t often found in many places other than Iceland, so when visiting the country, don’t miss out on an opportunity to try their local delicacies. Stay warm with lamb soup, a broth-based soup with hearty ingredients like lamb, potatoes, and vegetables. Pair the soup with dark rye bread – but be sure it’s made the Icelandic way. “Rugbraud” or Icelandic rye bread is made by burying the bread near a hot spring to allow it to be cooked from the heat.

If you’re feeling especially brave, try the national dish of Hakarl or fermented shark. It’s a Greenland shark or sleeper shark that’s been fermented by burying it underground and hung to dry for four or five months. It’s not particularly tasty or eaten by many Icelanders these days, but it’s a must-do experience to check off your Icelandic travel bucket list.

 IcelandAir will begin offering services from DFW Airport in 2018!

Alex Temblador is a travel writer based in Dallas, Texas. Her work has appeared on Oyster, Tripadvisor, LA Travel Magazine, Matador Network, among many others. Follow her travel adventures on Instagram @alextemblador or through her blog at alextemblador.com.

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