12 top places to visit in Iceland in 2024

Iceland appears on the must-do lists of many travelers – its charming cities and towns, other-worldly landscapes and astronomical phenomena keep the crowds coming back for more every year.

But how do you choose the highlights of your trip in a country packed with so many of them? Don’t worry, we’ve picked twelve incredible places, some of which are on the beaten path and some of which are not, but all of which might surprise you. Here are our favorite places to visit in Iceland in 2024.

1. Mosfellsbær

Best for a quiet escape near Reykjavík

Reykjavík’s friendly rural neighbor is Mosfellsbær. Its biggest attractions are the small mountains that surround the town, including Úlfarsfell, Mosfell, Helgafell and Reykjafell – all great for short hikes. Lake Hafravatn is a gem that locals flock to for swimming and kayaking fun. Time your visit to coincide with the popular vegetable market that carries the produce of local farmers, open every Saturday in late summer in the valley.

The valley is also host to Gljúfrasteinn, a museum dedicated to Nobel Prize laureate Halldór Laxness, and Laxnes farm, which offers horseback riding tours. Álafosskvos is a tiny art and design village with a long-standing yarn store and local craft stores full of beautifully made items you’ll want to bring home.

Planning tip: You can visit Mosfellsbær year-round. Þingvellir National Park is a short drive away – avoid the crowds by visiting between September and May.

2. Flúðir

Best base on the Golden Circle

In rural South Iceland lies Flúðir, best known for its mushroom greenhouse. If mushrooms are your thing, the greenhouse’s bistro offers all things funghi-related. Continue your gastronomic adventure and try authentic Ethiopian food at Minilik. Nearby is the Secret Lagoon, known locally as Gamla Laugin, and Hrunalaug, a small natural pool with stacked stone walls in the peaceful countryside. Flúðir is on the Golden Circle with some of the country’s best-known attractions within reach – it’s the perfect base for exploring the region.

Planning tip: It’s best not to visit Flúðir in the summer. It’s the height of the tourist season, and spring and autumn are more enjoyable.

Take to the fjords and see Iceland from a different perspective © Getty Images / Image Source

3. Stokkseyri

Best kayaking tours near Reykjavík

This charming South Coast village attracts foodies from far and wide to its seafood restaurant Fjöruborðið – the lobster is especially popular. Kayaking in its narrow channels is a calm and fun activity, and the neighboring village of Eyrarbakki has beautifully restored timber houses and a heritage museum in a home that seems frozen in time. Nearby is Raufarhólshellir, one of the longest lava tubes in Iceland.

Planning tip: You can visit Stokkseyri and engage in most of the activities year-round, but service hours may change in winter, and kayaking depends on the weather.

4. Höfn

Best base for glacial tours

In the kingdom of Vatnajökull, harbor town Höfn welcomes you with its lobster restaurants and stunning glacial views. This is a great base for exploring Europe’s largest glacier, from Jökulsárlón and other glacial lagoons with their floating icebergs to glacial hikes, snowmobile tours and ever-changing ice caves. Among local tour operators is the family-run company Glacier Journey.

Planning tip: You can visit year-round, but the ice-caving season is roughly from November through March. Glacial hikes are usually not possible at the height of summer. Always go with a guide and in good weather.

5. Borgarfjörður eystri

Best place for puffin-watching

The tiny village of Bakkagerði is surrounded by colorful mountains in Borgarfjörður eystri, one of the more remote Eastfjords. Getting there is an adventure in its own right as the road winds its way up and down a mountain pass. As you enter the village, time seems to slow down. Here you can relax and enjoy nature, go on hikes, explore on two wheels or treat yourself to a boat tour and watch puffins up close from the bird-watching house on Hafnarhólmi.

Planning tips: To see puffins, visit from mid-May to early August. Christmas-related events take place during Advent, and snow sports are possible during winter.

Aerial view of a high waterfall falling down into a crater with red layers of clay between the basaltic layers of rock
Hengifoss waterfall drops into a dramatic gorge lined with red clay © miroslav_1 / Getty Images

6. Hallormsstaðaskógur

Best for camping in the woods

Visit Iceland’s largest forest and be amazed by its size. The campsite in Atlavík, on the banks of Lake Lagarfljót, is one of the country’s best and most popular among local tourists. There are 40 km (25 miles) of walking paths around the forest, so you can lose yourself among the trees and then climb up and enjoy the view of the lake – perhaps even catch a glimpse of the vicious wyrm that is said to inhabit it. Egilsstaðir, East Iceland’s largest town, is only 30 minutes away, and some of the region’s biggest attractions, like Hengifoss waterfall, are also close by.

Planning tips: Visit between June and August for camping. A forest festival is held around Midsummer’s Day, and mid-August to mid-September is the berry-picking season. Enjoy autumn colors from late August through October.

7. Húsavík

Best place for whale watching

Visit Iceland’s whale-watching capital and enjoy the friendly atmosphere as you stroll around the harbor. Joining a whale-watching tour of Skjálfandi Bay with one of the local tour operators is a must, perhaps combined with a bird-watching tour or a visit to Flatey Island, which was inhabited until the 1960s.

Learn more about whales at the fascinating Whale Museum, enjoy a beer at Gamli Baukur and try the salted cod at Salka Restaurant. Afterward, soak in the geothermal waters at Geosea and take in the gorgeous view of Skjálfandi. Húsavík is on the Diamond Circle and Arctic Coast Way.

Planning tips: Whale watching is available from March to November but is most enjoyable during the summer months.

8. Hauganes

Best place for a special bathing experience

There’s more than meets the eye at this hamlet on the shore of Eyjafjörður in North Iceland. The hot tubs on the beach have become quite the attraction, and it’s also tempting to brave the frigid waves. Try the salted cod at Baccalá restaurant and bar – it’s prepared by local company Ektafiskur. You can also catch your own fish on sea angling tours and go whale watching from Hauganes. In the nearby village of Árskógssandur, Kaldi beer is brewed, and the brewery also offers beer baths. The ferry to the idyllic island Hrísey goes from Árskógssandur.

Planning tips: Visit for the midnight sun in the summer and northern lights in winter. Sea tours are best enjoyed in the summer.

Woman walking on snow shoes in Skidadalur, Dalvik, Iceland
Take to the snowy slopes in Iceland for a host of fun activities © Henn Photography / Getty Images

9. Siglufjörður

Best for snow sports

Although it’s best known as the location for the crime series Trapped, Siglufjörður is not scary at all. It’s a peaceful fishing community that used to be isolated – trapped, if you will – between tall mountains but has now been connected to the neighboring town of Ólafsfjörður by a tunnel. It was one of Iceland’s bustling herring processing centers during the boom that reached its height in the mid-20th century.

This remarkable history is documented in the Herring Era Museum. Today, Siglufjörður is one of North Iceland’s centers for snow sports – don’t miss the popular Moroccan restaurant in town after a day on the slopes. Siglufjörður also has a beloved ski resort, and off-piste skiing is possible in the mountains of the Tröllaskagi peninsula.

Planning tips: Visit between January and March for cross-country and Alpine skiing at resorts. Off-piste skiing is usually possible through May. 

10. Hólmavík

Best base for exploring Strandir

On the northern coast of the Westfjords lies the fishing village Hólmavík, which has made a name for itself with its Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft. Diving into Iceland’s darker past, it tells tales of sorcerers and magic spells, witch burnings and other heinous acts. In a charming old house, Café Riis serves delicious pizzas and other treats.

The nearby town of Drangsnes has several beachside hot tubs that could easily tempt you to spend the rest of the day gazing at the incredible scenery. A bumpy – and slightly scary – gravel road continues onwards along the Strandir region to some of Iceland’s remotest communities in Árneshreppur. At the edge of the world, you can book a night at Hótel Djúpavík.

Planning tips: It’s best to visit in summer as the road to the remoter communities is often hazardous or closed in winter.

11. Flatey

Best place for quiet contemplation

In the middle of Breiðafjörður Bay, between the Westfjords and Snæfellsnes Peninsula, is an island which seems to have been lost in time. Only a handful of people live there year-round, but in summer the village comes to life when part-time residents come and stay in the beautifully restored houses. Walk around Flatey among grazing sheep and busy seabirds (watch out for the Arctic terns), look out at the ocean and find inner calm. The ferry goes between Stykkishólmur and Brjánslækur.

Planning tips: It’s best to visit in summer when the weather is more stable for sailing and more services are open.

12. Húsafell

Best resort for diverse experiences

In the innermost part of Borgarfjörður in the West, almost at the foot of Langjökull glacier, is the forested paradise of Húsafell – its hotel, campground and cottages have made it very popular among local tourists. There are both easy and challenging walking paths, including to the spectacular waterfalls of Hraunfossar and Barnafoss. Glacial tours are available from Húsafell, and Víðgelmir, a massive lava cave, is just a few minutes away. You can soak in the on-site swimming pools or go on a hike to the more exclusive Canyon Baths.

Planning tips: Visit year-round. Summer is best for camping and hiking, and winter is best for viewing the northern lights.

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