Updated: 03/16/20 | March 16th, 2020
Last month, I finally visited Iceland. It wasn’t the impossible budget destination people made it out to be.
The locals were warm and welcoming, took me around, and showed me their homes. They were incredibly hospitable, and I made a lot of Icelandic friends on my trip.
And, while locals make any destination better, what blew my mind was the magnificence of the natural landscape. It’s bewitching. You find yourself in a spellbound daze as you move from place to place, your eyes overloaded by all you’re seeing.
“How could such a tiny place have such a diverse and beautiful landscape?” you think to yourself as your jaw hurts from being open too much.
Over the course of 11 days, I wanted to scream from joy everywhere I went. The land is desolate, sparsely populated, and silent. That was the one thing I noticed — just how silent Iceland is.
There are no distractions, and I think that helps you form a deep connection with nature. You begin to feel its rhythm.
Today, I want to share 30 pictures from my trip in hopes of inspiring you to visit this country. I’m not the world’s best photographer, but it’s hard to take a bad picture in Iceland.
Sulfur pools at Hverir near Lake Myvatn in the north of Iceland. Very otherworldly. If you’re traveling around the main road (the Ring Road) this is a must-see place in the north.
The northern lights lighting the sky up green. This is my favorite picture of them. You can usually seem them from September to March (as long as it’s not cloudy).
Runoff from the geothermal plant near Myvatn.
Somewhere along the Ring Road that circles the country.
Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, and its colorful houses. It’s one of the most colorful cities in Europe.
It’s a fun city with a lively nightlife. Be sure to spend at least a couple of days here!
Jökulsárlón ice lagoon in the southeast of Iceland. This ice flow is only a couple of decades old and one of the most popular attractions in the area. I enjoyed just sitting down and listening to the ice blocks crash into each other on their way out to sea.
Best of all, it’s free to visit and there is lots of parking too. Be sure to walk along the narrow river that leads to the ocean. You can see smaller glaciers wash out to sea or end up on the beach.
Fjords on the eastern seaboard that could rival Norway.
Selfoss. Foss means waterfall in Icelandic, and you’ll find a lot of waterfalls throughout the country.
UFO cloud. The truth is out there.
A gigantic sulfur pool at Geysir. Geysir is a geyser that doesn’t erupt anymore. It was the first geyser known to Europeans and where the English word “geyser” originates from.
While Geysir is no longer active, the spot is still popular on the famous Golden Circle tourist trail outside Reykjavik thanks to another active geyser nearby called Strokkur.
Jökulsárlón ice lagoon in the southeast of Iceland. Keep your eyes peeled for seals when you visit!
Mordor… I mean, some beautiful landscape on the way to Myvatn in the north.
The color contrast in this photo blows my mind.
Gulfoss! Part of the Golden Circle, this is one of the biggest waterfalls in Iceland. Its name means “The Golden Waterfall.” It was a really crappy day when I was there.
If you can, try to visit early before the crowds. Lots of tour buses visit the Golden Circle these days!
Looking onto the fjords.
Beautiful clouds above the harsh sea on the eastern end of Iceland.
The road is long in Iceland but it always takes you where you want to go.
More northern lights. You can never get tired of these.
Dettifoss. This waterfall is located in the north near Selfoss and supposed to be the most powerful waterfall in Europe. The road to get here is super bumpy so plan extra time and drive slow or you might get a flat tire.
Icelandic horses playing around. (Look at that long, flowing hair! I wish I had hair like that!)
On a rainy day driving through southern Iceland, we came across these gigantic mountains covered in clouds. The photo doesn’t do the majesty justice but I still like it.
The backside of Seljalandsfoss. Out of all the pictures I took, this one is my favorite. I love the intermix of light, water, blue sky, and green here.
This is also one of the most popular waterfalls in the country. Try to visit before 10am to beat the crowds!
A moss-covered lava field in southern Iceland.
Iceland is the land of rainbows, and I was lucky enough to find the end of one. (No pot of gold though. It must have been on the other end!)
Front side of Seljalandsfoss (rainbow included). You can actually walk behind the waterfall here, though you’ll likely get a little wet so make sure you have a raincoat.
Little pools and lava rocks near Settifoss.
If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you might recognize this cave as where Jon and Ygritte consummate their relationship. The water in the cave is warm enough to swim in and used to be a public pool.
Another sulfur pool is Hverir. I like the contrast between the blue water and red earth.
Myvatn Nature Baths. Quieter and less expensive than the famous Blue Lagoon outside Reykjavik. I relaxed here by myself for over an hour.
Northern lights. This was from early in the night when they were just starting to come out. No less beautiful.
I only managed to see a fraction of Iceland during my 11-day trip, but my visit lived up to my high expectations.
No photo or movie I saw did it justice. It was even better in person, and I hope these photos inspire you to move Iceland up on your bucket list.
Get the In-Depth Budget Guide to Iceland!
Want to plan the perfect trip to Iceland? Check out my comprehensive guide to Iceland written for budget travelers like you! It cuts out the fluff found in other guides and gets straight to the practical information you need. You’ll find suggested itineraries, tips, budgets, ways to save money, on and off the beaten path things to see and do, and my favorite non-touristy restaurants, markets, bars, transportation tips, and much more! Click here to learn more and get your copy today.
Book Your Trip to Iceland: Logistical Tips and Tricks
Book Your Flight
Use Skyscanner or Momondo to find a cheap flight. They are my two favorite search engines because they search websites and airlines around the globe so you always know no stone is left unturned. Start with Skyscanner first though because they have the biggest reach!
Book Your Accommodation
You can book your hostel with Hostelworld as they have the biggest inventory and best deals. If you want to stay somewhere other than a hostel, use Booking.com as they consistently return the cheapest rates for guesthouses and cheap hotels. My favorite places to stay are:
- Hlemmur Square (Reykjavik)
- Kex Hostel (Reykjavik)
- Akureyri Backpackers (Akureyri)
Don’t Forget Travel Insurance
Travel insurance will protect you against illness, injury, theft, and cancellations. It’s comprehensive protection in case anything goes wrong. I never go on a trip without it as I’ve had to use it many times in the past. My favorite companies that offer the best service and value are:
- Safety Wing (for everyone below 70)
- Insure My Trip (for those over 70)
- Medjet (for additional repatriation coverage)
Looking for the Best Companies to Save Money With?
Check out my resource page for the best companies to use when you travel. I list all the ones I use to save money when I’m on the road. They will save you money when you travel too.
Want More Information on Iceland?
Be sure to visit our robust destination guide to Iceland for even more planning tips!