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Iceland Destination Guide

Iceland is a jewelry box of natural and cultural treasures, offering travelers a dizzying array of potential destinations and experiences that can be overwhelming. From viewing the Northern Lights to hiking across landscapes where glaciers and volcanic landscapes coexist, there’s something to enchant every traveler type in Iceland.

This guide aims to answer some of the main questions we get from new arrivals in Iceland and those planning a future trip. We hope this guide gives you plenty of inspiration for your own adventures. While you are with us, please be sure to check out our Private Tours in Iceland and Small Group Tours of Iceland.

What's So Great About Iceland?

Let’s start with an obvious question: What’s so great about Iceland? Why should it be on your bucket list of travel destinations? The allure of Iceland lies in its stunning natural beauty. From cascading waterfalls and geothermal hot springs to vast glaciers and rugged fjords, Iceland’s landscapes are as diverse as they are majestic. Check out the itinerary of our 8-Day Summer Tour of Iceland for a taste of what you could do upon arriving in Iceland.

But it’s not just the scenery that makes Iceland stand out – there’s also its rich Viking history, storytelling traditions, and many fascinating contemporary cultural sites to explore!

The Best Months to Visit Iceland

Iceland’s climate can vary wildly from season to season. Summer (June to August) brings the Midnight Sun, allowing for extended exploration, while winter (November to March) is prime time for Northern Lights seekers. Meanwhile, spring and autumn can offer smaller crowds.

Our Private Iceland Tours feature dedicated summer and winter options. Check out our Iceland Luxe Summer Tour or Iceland Luxe Winter Tour and discover an Iceland experience to fit your travel schedule.

Those interested in group travel options will also discover itineraries inspired by the seasons. View our Stories of Iceland Tours to learn more.

How to See the Northern Lights in Iceland

The Northern Lights, or Aurora Borealis, are one of Iceland’s most sought-after spectacles. For the best experience, venture away from city lights between September and April. Patience is key, as clear, dark skies are essential for viewing.

What Are the Odds of Seeing the Northern Lights in Iceland?

While forecasting the Northern Lights involves some uncertainty, your chances increase if you visit during the colder months when nights are the longest.

Is Norway or Iceland Better for the Northern Lights?

Both countries offer spectacular views, but Iceland’s unique landscapes add an extraordinary backdrop to the celestial show, making it a preferred choice for many. That being said, we love Norway, too! If Norway is a country you’re hoping to visit, explore our Private Tours in Norway.

What Is the Best Time of the Year to See the Northern Lights?

The peak season is from December to February when the nights are longest, and the skies are darkest, offering the best canvas for the lights.

Our Stories of Iceland Winter Tour offers many opportunities for visitors to experience the magic of the Northern Lights firsthand.

Seasonal Highlights in Iceland

In Summer

Summer in Iceland is a time of endless daylight, ideal for hiking in the Highlands or exploring the Westfjords. Don’t miss whale watching and experiencing the vibrant culture of Reykjavik’s festivals.

Spending a summer vacation in Iceland is the perfect opportunity for capturing breathtaking pictures. On our Iceland Luxe Summer Tour, highlights include walks on otherworldly black sand beaches, the Blue Lagoon, Iceland’s iconic thermal spa, and a visit to the Dyrhólaey Rock Formation to see puffins in their natural habitat.

In Winter

Winter transforms Iceland into a snowy wonderland, ideal for adventures like ice cave explorations and snowmobiling on glaciers. The Christmas season adds a magical touch with festive lights and markets.

Our Iceland Luxe Winter Tour has a 7-day itinerary that is guaranteed to leave you with wintertime memories to last a lifetime.

You will have the opportunity to soak in the healing waters of the Krauma and Husafell Canyon Baths. We’ll enjoy a variety of opportunities to witness the Northern Lights – one of Earth’s greatest natural phenomena. And, we head to Iceland’s breathtakingly beautiful south coast to discover gorgeous waterfalls, black-sand beaches, amazing rock formations, and many other wild natural spectacles.

The Best Hot Springs in Iceland

The Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon is unquestionably one of Iceland’s most iconic attractions, drawing crowds of visitors into its warm, milky-blue waters throughout the year. Despite being man-made, the lagoon offers a uniquely soothing experience that epitomizes the surreal Icelandic landscape (the glowing blue baths set against a backdrop of stark black lava fields). A dip in its steamy waters is a must-do, on any Icelandic journey. Our Small Group Winter Tour in Iceland includes a visit to the Blue Lagoon.


Krauma Baths

At Krauma Baths, visitors can unwind in waters sourced directly from Europe’s most powerful hot spring, Deildartunguhver. The water, reaching temperatures of 100°C, flows so swiftly that no chemicals are needed to maintain the pools. Krauma not only offers a rejuvenating blend of five geothermal baths and a steam room but also features a relaxation area complete with a fireplace and soothing music.

Husafell Canyon Baths

Experience Iceland’s natural charms at Husafell Canyon Baths, where visitors can hike the gorgeous highland landscapes before a soothing soak. Built with locally sourced materials to preserve its heritage, the baths offer stunning views from geothermal pools set between 30-41°C. This serene retreat is designed to blend seamlessly into the surrounding environment, embodying — a sustainable, authentic touch of Icelandic heritage.

Both the Krauma Baths and Husafell Canyon Baths are included on the itinerary of our Private Winter Tour of Iceland.

Top 5 Travel Tips for Iceland

  • Prepare for the Weather: Iceland’s weather can change swiftly, with conditions ranging from sunny skies to sudden snow. Dressing in layers allows you to adapt easily and stay comfortable. Waterproof and windproof outerwear is essential, as well as good hiking boots for traversing rugged terrains.

  • Respect Nature: Iceland’s landscapes are both fragile and formidable. It’s crucial to minimize your impact by sticking to marked trails and avoiding areas closed for restoration. Do not disturb wildlife or take natural souvenirs such as stones or plants. Remember to leave no trace to preserve Iceland’s beauty for future visitors.

Try Local Cuisine: Icelandic cuisine is a reflection of its environment, featuring ingredients like Arctic char, lamb, and an array of dairy products. Apart from fermented shark, try skyr—a thick yogurt-like cheese, or enjoy a bowl of hearty kjötsúpa, the traditional lamb soup. Each dish tells a story of Iceland’s culinary traditions and resourceful use of local ingredients.

  • Learn a Few Icelandic Phrases: Mastering a few phrases in Icelandic can enrich your travel experience. Start with basics like “Hello” (Halló), “Thank you” (Takk), and “Goodbye” (Bless). Icelanders appreciate the effort, as it shows respect and interest in their language.


  • Plan Your Travel Routes: Due to Iceland’s diverse geography, traveling between locations might take longer than expected, especially if you’re venturing into rural areas or tackling roads less traveled. Use reliable GPS and check the weather forecast regularly to avoid any hazardous conditions. Planning ahead ensures that you maximize your time enjoying the sights rather than navigating them.


Of course, the single best way to travel with maximum comfort and convenience is to take a carefully curated trip led by expert local guides. Browse our Private Tours of Iceland and Small Group Tours of Iceland for a taste of the many wonders that await on a guided tour in Iceland.

Exploring Iceland

Interesting Tourist Activities and Attractions in Iceland

From glacier hiking and lava tube caving to hot spring soaking and Northern Lights hunting, Iceland offers activities for every type of adventurer! The Golden Circle, with its geysers and waterfalls, is a must-visit. Meanwhile, the East Fjords or the lava fields of Landmannalaugar are just as mesmerizing without attracting so many tourists.

Iceland’s Underrated Places

For those who love traveling to underrated destinations, venture off the beaten path to the Westman Islands for stunning wildlife and volcanic landscapes, or discover the serene beauty of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

Discover Scandinavia Tours’ Iceland Trips and Private Iceland Trips pay visits to everything mentioned above and much more. Read our tour itineraries for detailed outlines of our travel routes and for inspiration.

One thing you can be certain of, the Land of Ice and Fire offers guests an array of natural attractions unlike those found anywhere else in the world.

Black Sand Beaches in Iceland

The black sand beaches in Iceland, like Reynisfjara near Vik, are renowned for their hauntingly beautiful contrast against the stark white surf of the Atlantic. This beach, along with others such as Djúpalónssandur in the Snæfellsnes Peninsula, offers a unique landscape shaped by volcanic activity. The basalt columns and cave formations add to the dramatic scenery, making these beaches a photographer’s dream and a must-visit for any nature lover.

Whale Watching in Iceland

The cold, nutrient-rich waters around Iceland make it an ideal spot for whale watching, with species like the humpback whale, minke whale, and occasionally the elusive blue whale visible in these waters.

Tours departing from Reykjavik or the northern town of Húsavík, known as the whale-watching capital of Iceland, provide opportunities to see these majestic creatures in their natural habitat. In Húsavík, especially, the Húsavík Whale Museum complements the experience, offering insights into the lives of whales before or after your sea excursion.

Best Time for Whale Watching

For whale watching in Iceland, the peak months are from April to September when the marine ecosystem is thriving, and migratory patterns bring a variety of whale species close to the coast. During these months, the chances of spotting whales are high, and the sea conditions are generally calm, making for a more enjoyable and safer boat trip.

Early morning or late afternoon tours are recommended for the calmest sea conditions and the best light for photography.

If you’d like to experience a whale-watching tour off Iceland’s northern coast, consider booking your place on our 8-Day Private Summer Tour of Iceland.

Day Trips from Reykjavik

Reykjavik is an excellent hub for exploring the varied landscapes of Iceland through day trips. The Golden Circle route is a popular choice, featuring Þingvellir National Park, the explosive Geysir geothermal area, and the majestic Gullfoss waterfall. For a change of scene, the Blue Lagoon provides a relaxing geothermal spa experience just a short drive from the city.

Another compelling day trip is to the South Coast where you can visit the spectacular Seljalandsfoss and Skógafoss waterfalls, as well as the aforementioned black sand beaches. Each destination is reachable within a few hours, making them perfect for a day’s escape from the city.

Helicopter Tours Over Iceland

For a truly unique view of Iceland’s dramatic natural scenery, take a helicopter tour. This thrilling activity allows you to soar above Iceland’s diverse terrain, from its vast glaciers and rugged coastlines to volcanic landscapes and gushing geysers.

Our 8-Day Summer Tour in Iceland includes a beautiful helicopter ride.

Iceland’s Glaciers

Iceland’s glaciers are among its most awe-inspiring natural features. Vatnajökull, Europe’s largest glacier, offers guided hikes that allow you to explore ice caves and crevasses safely with an experienced guide. Similarly, the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon presents a different aspect of glacial beauty, where you can take a boat tour among floating icebergs, spotting seals that frequently visit the lagoon.

Less visited but equally fascinating, the Sólheimajökull glacier on the South Coast provides opportunities for ice climbing and walking, with panoramic views of ice formations and the surrounding landscapes. Glacier tours not only provide a direct encounter with Iceland’s dynamic environment but also a deeper understanding of its epic geological processes.

Our Summer Group Tour of Iceland features a “monster truck” journey across a glacier as part of your itinerary.

Whether you’re basking in the midnight sun or watching the Northern Lights dance across the inky blue-black night skies, Iceland promises an enchanting experience like no other.

So, what are you waiting for? Begin planning your Iceland adventure!

If you have any questions, please get in touch.