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Godafoss Waterfall, Iceland (Shutterstock)

Beyond the buzzing, artistic capital of Reykjavík, it’s Iceland’s natural wonders and sweeping empty landscapes that captivate.

Iceland’s ‘Golden Circle’ captures most visitors’ attention, and no wonder: the steaming thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon, thundering waterfall of Gullfoss and spouting geyser of, well, Geysir are pretty awe-inspiring. For the particularly intrepid, venturing up to Kerlingarfjöll in Iceland’s Highlands is highly recommended for year-round hiking, e-biking in the summer and activities draped in snow in winter, including snowshoeing, snowmobiling and hiking through fresh, white powder.

But that’s not all there is to do in Iceland: whale-watching from Reykjavík or Húsavík; exploring the volcanic landscapes of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula; discovering the puffin-speckled Westmann Islands; striking out across the vast Vatnajökull icecap; and sailing around the isolated, silent Westfjords, home to seals, seabirds and Arctic foxes.

Reykjavík itself is a colourful little town, with great bars, museums and hot springs to souse yourself in.

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We reveal the best day trips you can take from Iceland’s capital, either on your own or with a guide – including hot springs, geothermal baths, world-famous waterfalls, ice caves and wildlife wonders…
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Latest Iceland articles

Icelandic and English is almost universally spoken
Int. dial code
UK citizens can stay in Iceland for up to 90 days in any 180-day period without a visa.
Time zone
GMT (1 hour behind the UK)
Plug Type
Type C and Type F
Icelandic króna (JD). ATMs are widely available. Tipping isn’t common; service charges are usually included in rates.

When to go to Iceland

Summer (June-August) is warm and pleasant, with long days; the main tourist sites can be crowded.

May and September are still pleasant, though some accommodation may be closed.

Winter (October-February) is cold and, particularly around January, dark; many hotels and attractions are closed, though Reykjavík is still a great choice for a city break – and winter’s also the time with the highest chances of seeing the Northern Lights.

International airports

Keflavík International Airport (KEF) is 48km west of Reykjavík.

Getting around in Iceland

Internal flights are convenient ways of accessing the Westfjords, Westmann Islands, Akureyri (for the north coast and Lake Myvatn) and Egilsta∂ir for the eastern region.

Comfortable buses serve Iceland’s main towns in summer, though services are sparse September-May. Car hire, though pricey, is a good way to explore; there’s really only one major road running a circuit around Iceland.

Where to stay in Iceland

Iceland has the full range of accommodation, from campsites, farmhouses, mountain huts and hostels through family-run guesthouses to luxurious hotels. Campsites, and some other options, are usually only open in summer, when some schools and colleges offer accommodation.

What to eat in Iceland

Fresh fish and lamb are delicious, as is skyr, a yoghurt-like protein-fuelled food used in desserts and infused with butter for bread. Hotdogs (pylsur) are ubiquitous, cheap snacks. Traditional dishes such as svi∂ (singed sheep’s head) and hákarl (buried, fermented shark meat) take a strong stomach. Coffee and beer are everywhere, though the latter is expensive. The national firewater is brennivín, schnapps flavoured with caraway seeds.

Health and safety in Iceland

Iceland is extremely safe – you can drink water from the tap, serious diseases are rare and there are no poisonous animals. However, you should take account of highly changeable weather – always be prepared when out in the wilds, with weatherproof and warm clothing, and be extremely careful when walking on glaciers.