Top 10 things to do in Iceland [2024] (perfect for first-time visitors!)

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Top 10 things to do in Iceland [2024] (perfect for first-time visitors!)

Iceland is one of my favourite countries of all time! There’s just something about Iceland that is truly special and like nowhere I’ve ever been before! I had a jam-packed itinerary over my five day trip but I’ve managed to narrow it down to my top 10 things to do in Iceland in 2024 that first-time visitors will love!

Other Iceland posts you might like…

1) See the Northern Lights

First up, adorning many a bucket list (and certainly the case for me!)…the Northern Lights!

Caused by collisions between electrically charged particles from the sun that enter the Earth’s atmosphere, the Northern Lights are one the biggest draws to Iceland because of just how epic this natural phenomenon is!

It’s a bizarre feeling watching the Northern Lights. They look almost CGI as they dance across the dark Icelandic sky as they seem too beautiful to be true.

I could hear a pin drop as people were so awe-stricken into silence on my tour!

The great thing about most tour companies offering Northern Lights tours is that they allow you to rebook free of charge if you don’t see the Northern Lights.

Luckily this didn’t happen to me whilst I was visiting Iceland but it’s always nice to have the reassurance of knowing you can try again another night.

Just imagine booking the trip of a lifetime to Iceland with the main goal of crossing the Northern Lights off your bucket list and not seeing them the ONE night you book the tour!

Be sure to book your trip between September and mid-April as you’re more likely to catch them. Also, pack some coffee, it’s a late one!

Get your tickets for the Northern Lights Tour.

The Northern lights over a waterfall in Iceland

2) Relax at the Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon was second only to the Northern Lights on my top things to do in Iceland and was a welcome day of relaxation on an otherwise action-packed trip!

The Blue Lagoon became quite the well-being wonder as locals started swimming in the warm excess geothermal seawater that flowed from the nearby geothermal power plant.

When minerals in the water such silica and sulphur were found to have healing properties the Blue Lagoon quickly became a curious retreat for travellers!

It’s now one of the 25 wonders of the world and a remarkable place that represents everything that Iceland prides itself on (plus, super relaxing!).

There are three types of tickets available: the comfort, the premium and the luxury package.

  • The comfort package – includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, a silica mud mask, towel and a drink of your choice.
  • Premium package – includes entrance to the Blue Lagoon, a silica mud mask, towel, a drink of your choice, two additional masks, use of a bathrobe and a glass of sparkling wine if you’re dining at the Lava Restaurant.
  • Luxury spa package – includes five luxurious hours with access to a private changing suite, Blue Lagoon skin care amenities, access to the spa restaurant and unlimited access to the Retreat Lagoon and Blue Lagoon.

Ticket prices vary depending on the package and time of year you go. But if you’re not looking for all the trimmings, the basic comfort package is your best option which is £85.

For more on the Blue Lagoon, check out my complete guide to the Blue Lagoon post to get all the deets!

Get your tickets for the Blue Lagoon.

People swimming in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland with white steam coming off the water

3) Explore Reykjavik

Iceland’s capital city is an awesome place to hang out, grab some food and enjoy the stunning views from all angles!

From anywhere in the city centre you are within walking distance from the main street which features lots of cute boutiques and family-run restaurants.

I highly recommend starting with a walking tour to get a feel for the city then move onto the Northern Lights Museum, the Icelandic Phallological Museum (i.e. the famous ‘penis’ museum hehe!), the Viking Museum and Reykjavik Harbour.

Get your tickets for the Reykjavik Walking Tour (with a Viking!).

Reykjavik city centre with whale statute and mountains and water in the background

4) Check out the view from the church of Hallgrímskirkja 

I actually stumbled upon this church by accident whilst exploring Reykjavik. But it turned out to be one of the best photo opportunities of the trip!

At 244 feet, Hallgrímskirkja is the tallest church in Iceland and designed beautifully to resemble the basalt lava flows of Iceland’s landscape.

But this church is not just beautiful on the outside, the view from its observation tower is also spectacular. It boasts a 360 view across Reykjavik and the gorgeous surrounding mountains.

There’s nothing like getting a bird’s eye view of the city you’re visiting and there’s nothing like seeing the snow topped houses with their candy-coloured roofs in Reykjavik!

You’ll see the church on the Reykjavik Walking Tour but you’ll need to buy separate tickets to get up to the viewing deck.

Get your tickets for the Reykjavik Walking Tour (with a Viking!).

Rows of little white houses with colourful rooftops with the Icelandic sea and snow top mountains in the background

5) Visit Þingvellir National Park

Þingvellir, or as we would pronounce it in English, ‘Thingvellir’ is a spectacular national park located in the South West of Iceland.

If you’re not self-driving during your trip to Iceland you can visit Þingvellir National Park as part of a Golden Circle Tour.

This tour also includes Gullfoss Falls and the famous exploding Icelandic geyers, so is well worth it!

Aside from the sha-mazing views of Iceland’s flawless natural landscape, it also has a very cool history. Þingvellir literally means, ‘parliament plains’. Iceland’s parliament (the oldest in the world) was established here around 930AD and continued to meet here until 1798.

Þingvellir National Park is now protected and became a World Heritage Site in 2004, thanks in part to the rift valley it lies in.

This valley is fascinating as it marks the divide between the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates (but more on that later!).

Get your tickets for the Golden Circle Tour.

View of a grassy landscape in Iceland with mountains in the background and a river and white houses in view

6) Watch the geysers explode

Watching Iceland’s famous geysers explode is so much fun! It’s another natural phenomenon that will quite literally take your breath away.

But try not to jump when they explode so you can get a useable camera shot!

Geysers are a fascinating natural phenomenon. Eruptions take place as hot water within the geyser forces its way to the surface as it gets trapped by the cooler water above it.

I visited the Strokkur Geyser as part of a Golden Circle Tour, it’s one of the few geysers in the world that erupts reliably and frequently, every four to eight minutes.

So I’d highly recommend this geyser stop for first-time visitors on a short trip to ensure you see it for yourself!

This particular geothermal field allegedly occurred after an earthquake shook the southern parts of Iceland.

But let’s face it – we’re all here to watch them explode because it’s just super cool to watch!

Get your tickets for the Golden Circle Tour.

Exploding Geyser at sunset in Iceland

7) Visit Gullfoss Falls

Gullfoss Falls is another naturally occurring beauty (seeing an Iceland theme here yet?) from the Golden Circle Tour.

It’s the most iconic and beloved waterfall in Iceland and is a must-see!

It’s located in the canyon of Hvítá river where water flows across three stages into an incredible 105 foot crevice.

Gullfoss Falls is a reminder of the power and beauty of nature and is one hell of a cra-zy experience!

The water spray from standing at the edge is so intense and makes you feel ALIVE!

Get your tickets for the Golden Circle Tour.

People walking down a path towards the top of Gullfoss Falls in Iceland

8) Snorkel between tectonic plates 

Remember the tectonic plate divide I mentioned earlier in Þingvellir National Park? Well, you can actually snorkel and scuba dive between the plates, how awesome is that?!

Silfra in Þingvellir National Park is the only place where you can dive between two continents – making it one of the top diving sites in the world.

This is something that sadly I didn’t get chance to do whilst I was in Iceland due to timing issues. However, it’s an experience that is so once-in-a-lifetime. I just had to add it to my top 10 things to do in Iceland list!

This experience will be top of my list on my return to Iceland and I can’t wait!

Get your tickets for the Silfra Snorkeling Tour with underwater photos.

View of swimming between tectonic plates in Iceland through a rock gorge
Photo credit: AntheaAtlas

9) Meet Icelandic Horses at the Fákasel Horse Park

Now, I’ve actually been a little scared of horses since childhood so I was a little reluctant meeting Icelandic Horses.

I just find them a bit too skittish and unpredictable for my liking (sorry horse-enthusiasts!). But Icelandic horses are the sweetest and most gentle creatures I have ever met.

But what makes them so special you may ask? Aside from the fact they’re like big, fluffy, friendly teddy bears they’re different from any other breed of horse due to the fact they’re not inter-bred.

No other horse breed lives in Iceland, whilst Icelandic horses exported out of the country are not allowed to return in case they bring back any new bugs that could infect the other horses.

Icelandic horses have unique features and temperaments too that make them different from any other horse breed, plus they are just so freakin’ adorable!

WARNING: You may explode with cuteness overload. 

Get your tickets to go riding with Icelandic horses (also includes the Golden Circle Tour)

Fluffy white and brown Icelandic horses in a snowy field

10) Watch the sun go down over Þjórsárdalur Valley

Þjórsárdalur (Thjórsárdalur) is a beautiful valley that was home to an original Viking settlement from 874AD.

It’s thought to have been buried under volcanic ash in 1104 following the eruption of a volcano.

Three buildings were accurately reconstructed on the site in 1974 to celebrate the 1100th anniversary of the settlement.

The Vikings were on to something because the views across the valley are stunning! I was there at golden hour to watch the sun go down over it and it was just incredible.

Discover the colourful rhyolite mountains and the lush valley of Thjórsárdalur on an awesome all-terrain jeep tour from Reykjavik.

Green rock face and mountain in Iceland with a double waterfall joining into a blue pool

Other Iceland posts you might like…

Which one of these top things to do in Iceland are you adding to your itinerary? Let me know in the comments below! 😊

Quick FYI guys – this ‘Top 10 things to do in Iceland 2024’ post contains affiliate links to various tours. I will receive a small commission for purchases made through these links at no extra cost to you. Thanks so much for your support!

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