Iceland //


Iceland’s difficult terrain takes time to negotiate, and you can’t cover the whole country in a single trip. Our Grand Tour concentrates on Iceland’s main sights, while our other suggested routes focus on two fascinating regions, the island’s west and north, and the south and east.

Grand tour of Iceland

The best of the west and north

The south and east

Two weeks in Iceland and no idea where to start? Our Grand Tour puts you on the right track.

1 Reykjavík

Though one of Europe’s smaller capitals, the vibrant heart of Iceland offers everything from style-conscious bars and restaurants to great museums and galleries.

2 Blue Lagoon

Take a dip in the sublime waters of this famous open-air swimming pool, fed by geothermal water and set in the middle of a lavafield.

3 Geysir

See the original geyser (which gave its name to all the others) spew water from deep underground high into the air.

4 Þingvellir

The chasm between the European and North American tectonic plates marks the site of Iceland’s original open-air parliament.

5 Akureyri

Chill on the north coast in Iceland’s second-largest town, renowned for its sunny summer days and great bar and restaurant scene.

6 Húsavík

Whale watching is on everybody’s list of must-dos in Iceland, and the expertly run tours from Húsavík offer virtually guaranteed sightings.

7 Lake Mývatn

A proliferation of geological oddities, from bubbling mud pools to steam vents, clustered around a beautiful lake teeming with birdlife.

8 The Interior

Venture into Iceland’s uninhabited Interior to witness some truly awe-inspiring scenery: from glaciers to lava deserts, the views are jaw-dropping.

9 Heimaey

A steaming volcano cone, grassy clifftop walks and abundant wildlife make this small, self-contained island community an essential overnight stopover.

This one-week tour guides you through the best destinations between Reykjavík and Akureyri, including a detour into the West Fjords.

1 Borgarnes

Step into Iceland’s stirring past at the Settlement Centre and learn more about the country’s Saga heroes.

2 Stykkishólmur

Skim across the waters of Breiðafjörður in a rigid inflatable, checking out the myriad islands and rich birdlife in this part of the west.

3 Flatey

A night on this idyllic island provides a taste of rural Iceland: stroll through flower meadows down to the shore to watch the thousands of birds that call Flatey home.

4 Ísafjörður

Explore the West Fjords ‘most agreeable town, and try a spot of sea kayaking too.

5 Ósar

The place to get up close to entire colonies of seals, lolling on the black volcanic sands.

6 Hofsós

Take a restorative swim in the new oceanside pool and drink in the extraordinary coastal vistas.

7 Akureyri

Iceland’s second town offers a profusion of bars and restaurants, and the beautiful surroundings in Eyjafjörður are perfect for exploring on horseback.

A one-week tour from Reykjavík to Mývatn via the south and east coasts, with an excursion into the fringes of the Interior.

1 Borgarfjörður Eystri

This tiny, isolated community has plenty of puffins, hiking trails and spiky mountains to investigate – you might even spot a Greenland shark being landed at the harbour.

2 Landmannalaugar

Iceland’s most celebrated batheable hot spring, which emerges from underneath a lava wall amidst a stark gravel wilderness.

3 Gullfoss

The “Golden Falls” are at their most spectacular in late spring, when melted snow and ice tears through the gorge of this two-tier cataract.

4 Mývatn

Placid lake featuring abundant wildfowl, volcano cones, boiling mud pits and an underground bakery as just part of the surrounding scenery.

5 Jökulsárgljúfur National Park

Hike over the moors to Europe’s largest waterfall alongside a terrific 30km canyon created in prehistoric times by a single massive flood.

6 Vík

Pleasant village near Iceland’s southern-most point, with bracing sea breezes, black sand beaches and some easy scenic walking trails.

20% off ebooks

Subscribe to the Rough Guides newsletter and get 20% off any ebook.

Join over 50,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month.