What is Iceland most famous for ?

Northern Lights seen in Iceland.

From striking landscapes full of volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, and lava tunnels to breathtaking phenomena such as the Northern Lights, there are several things that Iceland is known for. In addition to natural phenomena, Iceland is also famous for taking leading strides in social issues such as gender equality and literacy. Keep reading to discover the top things that Iceland is known for.

1. The Northern Lights 

The Northern Lights are by far the most sought-after phenomenon in Iceland. Every year, thousands of visitors travel to this Nordic country to witness the colourful Aurora Borealis shining across the Arctic sky.  The long nights in winter combined with dark, clear skies are ideal for hunting the Northern Lights in Iceland. Moreover, the solar activity needed for this phenomenon occurs throughout the year in Iceland making it a highly popular travel destination. 

2. The World’s First-Known Geyser - Geysir

The earliest known geyser in the world, Geysir, was discovered in Iceland. All geysers discovered from then on got their name from this great geyser. Geysir has been active for 10,000 years now, although it rarely erupts anymore. The same, however, cannot be said of its neighbour, Strokkur, which erupts every few minutes.

3. The Golden Circle 

When it comes to sightseeing in Iceland, the Golden Circle is hands down the most popular route. Covering some of the most iconic locations in Iceland such as the roaring Gullfoss Waterfall and the Silfra tectonic fissure, this route is among the best for a self-drive in Iceland. Golden Circle tours are also highly customisable, meaning they can be easily fit into an Icelandic itinerary. 

Gullfoss Waterfall in southwest Iceland.

4. Gender Equality 

Iceland is a leading nation when it comes to gender equality. In 2023, it topped the global gender gap rankings of the World Economic Forum for the 14th year in a row. From increased participation of women in politics to providing access to quality healthcare and education, the Icelandic government is committed to the pursuit of gender equality in Iceland. The ICEIDA, in particular, focuses on income-generating activities to empower women. 

5. Hot Springs

If it’s one thing Iceland is known for, it’s hot springs. While the phenomenon of steam circling blue bodies of water is visually fascinating, that’s not the only reason for their appeal. These natural pools are brimming with minerals thanks to their geothermal properties. From the infamous Blue Lagoon near Reykjavík to the Mývatn Nature Baths, options are aplenty. Just slather on a clay mask and soak in a hot spring in Iceland.

6. The Bridge Between Continents - Þingvellir 

The Þingvellir National Park in Iceland is famous for a number of reasons. From being one of the key shooting locations in Game of Thrones to hosting the world’s oldest parliament when they convened in 930 AD, this protected wilderness is one of the most eminent locations in Iceland. As you hike through the rifts and valleys of the Þingvellir National Park, you’ll be able to see the rift between the Eurasian and the North Atlantic tectonic plates that rise above sea level.

Aerial view of the rift between tectonic plates at Þingvellir National Park.

7. A Land of Fire & Ice

There is a reason why Iceland is called the land of fire and ice. Here, volcanoes and lava tunnels exist in harmony with glaciers and ice caps. One minute you could be witnessing crystal formations inside an ice cave and the next minute, hiking up the infamous Eyjafjallajökull Volcano. The diversity of landscapes and natural phenomena is one of the top reasons why Iceland is so famous.


8. Jólabókaflóð 

Once the snow starts falling and the feeling of Christmas is in the air, Icelanders like to engage in a holiday tradition called Jólabókaflóð. Translating to the “Christmas book flood,” Jólabókaflóð is a force of Nature. It is a time when publishing houses print new titles encouraging people to give and receive books. This tradition symbolises Icelanders’ love of literature and is also one of the reasons why Iceland is one of the most literate countries in the world.

9. Black Sand beaches 

The volcanic landscape of Iceland is best symbolised by its beaches covered in black sand. A combination of volcanic rocks, black sand, and blue water, Iceland’s black sand beaches look straight out of a dystopian novel. Reynisfjara may be the most famous, but it is not the only black sand beach in Iceland. If you’re exploring the extra-terrestrial landscape of Reynisfjara, keep an eye out for the monstrous waves that sneak up on you!

10. Harðfiskur 

Translating to “butter over dry fish,” Harðfiskur is the most famous food in Iceland. This Icelandic snack is chewy, salty, and delicious. It originates in the Viking era when cod fish were hung along coastlines to be dried by the salty sea breeze. Harðfiskur is a testament to Icelanders’ love of simplicity.

 Reynisfjara black sand beach seen from Kirkjufjara in Vik, Iceland.

Iceland is a traveller’s paradise. Whilst attractions such as the Golden Circle and Northern Lights draw most visitors, each trip offers the opportunity to discover something new. If you’re interested in learning more about the country, there’s no better way to experience it than with a trip to Iceland. You can enjoy a comfortable stay at the country’s top hotels for budget prices. Start your journey today!