- Askja: This staggering whorl of volcanic mountains, circling an 8km-wide (5-mile) bowl formed by collapsed magma chambers, is one of Earth’s grandest pockmarks and the most sought-out destination in Iceland’s desolate interior. Visitors can swim in a warm, opaque blue-green pond at the bottom of a steep crater—a real “if my friends could see me now” moment.
- Fjaðrárgljúfur: Iceland has several dramatic gorges, but this one’s spiky crags and vertiginous ledges virtually summon the mystics and landscape painters. Fjaðrárgljúfur is close to the Ring Road in South Iceland, and the trail along the rim is a breeze.
- Hverfell: Of all the monuments to Iceland’s volcanism, this tephra explosion crater near Mývatn is the most monolithic. A jet-black bowl of humbling proportions, it has a stark, elemental authority.
- Laki Craters: This monstrous row of more than a hundred craters, lined up along a 25km (16-mile) fissure, is scar tissue from the most catastrophic volcanic eruption in Iceland’s history. Velvety coatings of gray-green moss soften Laki’s terrible, bleak beauty.
- Langjökull Glacier: Take a modified glacier vehicle with giant tires into the ice caves of Langjökull, Iceland’s second largest glacier. Strap on crampons and hike through the manmade caves and admire the different shades of ice and formations. There’s even a small chapel built within the ice if marriage is on the table!
- Látrabjarg: These colossal sea cliffs mark the dizzying, dramatic outer limit of Europe’s westernmost reach. Fourteen kilometers (8.7 miles) long and up to 441m (1,447 ft.) high, this is one of the world’s most densely populated bird colonies. The sheer volume of birds is unbelievable, and the puffins are particularly willing to have their picture taken.
- Leirhnjúkur: In a country with no shortage of primordial, surreal landscapes, this lava field in the Krafla caldera of northeast Iceland out-weirds them all. An easy trail wends its way among steaming clefts, each revealing a prismatic netherworld of mosses and minerals.
- Dettifoss: Europe’s mightiest waterfall, abruptly marking the southern limit of northeast Iceland’s Jökulsárgljúfur Canyon, is a massive curtain of milky-gray glacial water thundering over a 44m (144-ft.) precipice. To stand next to it is as hypnotic as it is bone-rattling.
- Dynjandi: As you approach the six waterfalls of Dynjandi in the Westfjords, it seems as if a white blanket has been draped across steep giant steps leading up the rocky cliff. The main waterfall, Fjallfoss, tumbles almost 100m (328 ft.), but its majesty also lies in its breadth: 60m (197 ft.) at the bottom, 30m (98 ft.) at the top. It’s an easy walk up to the base of the main falls, and worth it for the view of the fjord and the boom of the water.
- Glymur: Iceland’s tallest waterfall is nimble and graceful: Streamlets descend like ribbons of a maypole into a fathomless canyon mantled in bird nests and lush mosses. The hike there is somewhat treacherous, but those who brave it are rewarded with enchanting scenery—and possibly total solitude—all within easy range of Reykjavík.
- Gullfoss: Here, the Hvitá River hurtles over a low tier, turns 90 degrees, plunges into a cloud of spray, and shimmies offstage through a picturesque gorge. This astounding waterfall is the climax to the “Golden Circle,” Iceland’s most popular day tour from the capital.
- Svartifoss: In southeast Iceland’s Skaftafell area, these falls provide a dramatic white contrast to the surrounding dark columnar basalt gorge. The water begins its descent at a rocky overhang, making it easy to walk behind the falling water below, though raincoats are still recommended.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.