Whether you have two weeks in Iceland or just five days (like us), read this ultimate Iceland bucket list to make sure you get it all in!
Planning is key to having the best possible trip to Iceland. Some of the most beautiful places are easy to miss so know what you’re looking for! We just had five days in Iceland, but we went around the entire island and hit all of the most amazing sites. Read our full itinerary here.
The Ultimate Iceland Bucket List
The Blue Lagoon. The Blue Lagoon makes it onto the list of the 25 natural wonders of the world for good reason. We were exhausted from flying through the night and extremely cold. I don’t think anything has ever felt better. You go from a fancy indoor spa and locker room area, through the icy air, and into the most relaxing water you’ll ever feel. For more information read this.
The Golden Circle. This mini road trip is a total must and perfect if you just have a few days. The entire drive can be done in 4 hours or stretched into a full day. You’ll see waterfalls, wildlife, the national park, and the geysir.
Gullfoss – Waterfall. This one is located in the Golden Circle. As you drive up you wonder whether you’ve taken a wrong turn because you can’t see anything but flat country and mountains in the distance. Finally a visitor’s center appears. A little farther and you see dozens of cars. After a short walk you start the 100+ stair decent into the side of the earth. As you climb lower and lower the dull roar grows mightier and mightier. Bring waterproof everything! You can view from a safe (warm) distance. Or, you can live life (you’re in Iceland for crying out loud!) and go to the waterfall head.
The Geysir. Also in the Golden Circle. There are a few odd bubbling things. Keep walking. You’ll know when you’re there. This bad boy erupts at random, but about every 10 minutes or less. You know it’s coming, but it’s surprising and exhilarating each time. Again, waterproof everything if you want to get close. I never got a good photo because the darn thing would erupt and I’d freak out. Ha.
Seljalandsfoss – Waterfall. It looked like a tiny drip coming out of the mountain and I wasn’t sure we were in the right place (again). Up close this waterfall is breathtaking. I think my favorite part of Icelandic waterfalls is how fully you can experience them. With literally no guardrails in most places you are free to walk right into them. You can hear them and feel the mist. It’s intoxicating.
Wildlife. Iceland is known for whale watching, but don’t miss the other amazing animal viewing opportunities. We saw whales, seals, birds, horses, and sheep. You can also find puffins and other unique birds.
Skógafoss – Waterfall. Out of all the waterfalls we saw I had two favorites and this was one of them. After parking and walking a 1/4 mile you can either take a million stairs to the top or view from the bottom. Since we were crunched for time and I was sick and pregnant, we opted for no stairs. No regrets. Everyone else stood a hundred yards back for photos, but there was this one rock I thought would be the perfect photo op. As I got closer I could feel waves of icy mist rolling off and spraying me in the face. It felt like needles. I was getting wetter and wetter, but feeling more and more alive with each step. I told Nate, that moment under the waterfall was an all time high. Every fiber of my adventure loving soul was awake.
Lava Fields. Don’t just drive by. Stop and take a closer look and maybe some pictures. They everywhere in the south.
The Black Sands Beach. A local laughed out loud when I called the beaches at Vik “The Black Sands Beach”. Iceland only has beaches with black sand. My bad y’all. But this beach on South tip of the island was the most impressive we saw, and probably the most popular due to the extraordinary rock formations.
The Western Coastline. Every twist and turn is most unbelievable than the last. The road rides along the mountains and the black beach is always down on the right. Unfortunately, there’s few places to stop for pictures if you don’t want to die.
Glacier Lakes. Oh yeah. This is a thing. In the winter months you can also tour ice caves. We missed the most well known lake due to lack of lighting, but the one we did see still had our jaws on the floor. It was a place that you just wanted to soak in. The one picture I took is just too dark to do it justice so I linked a few here (not mine).
Detifoss – Waterfall. After seeing the entire island, Nate and I both agreed that this would have to be our favorite spot. Yet again, as we drove up I was convinced we were lost. Nothing. In fact, it was the one ugly place in Iceland. Two of the Earth’s plates meet here and as a result it looks like you’re on the moon. Sure enough, another tiny building and cars. We parked and stared the 1/2 mile hike still unable to see anything. Finally, a rushing waterfall comes into view. We went right to the edge and enjoyed every moment.
Husavik – Town. The cutest tiny town and perfect for whale watching.
The Northern Lights. Sadly, this is the one thing we missed. The one night they mights have been visible I was sick as a dog.
Peninsula Near Blonduos. This was something we added in last minute thanks to a local. You can find a shipwrecked boat here, the most incredible rock formation, a viking fortress, lighthouses, sprawling farms, and the biggest three seal colonies.
Rock Formations Near Arnarstapi. These we found on accident, but the belong on the ultimate Iceland bucket list for sure.
Black Church Near Budir. Tricky to find, but worth it.
Hobbit Houses. Not their real name. This one is broader. There are amazing caves, caverns, tiny houses carved into mountain sides, and grass covered houses scattered all throughout Iceland.
And that’s a wrap!! Hopefully you were inspired to add Iceland to your bucket list. What spot would be your #1?
Interested in reading more about Iceland?
Read here about what to eat in Iceland.
Read here about where to stay in Iceland.
Read here about how to save buckets of money in Iceland.
Read here how to pack like a pro for Iceland.
Read here about how NOT to get a passport for Iceland.