The incredible landscapes of southern Iceland and the south coast are simply mind-blowing, and an unmissable part of an Iceland holiday. See thundering waterfalls such as Skogafoss and Seljalandsfoss, take in basalt-lava rock formations and sea-made caves, walk along distinctive black sand beaches, and pass through fields that are lush and green in summer and blanketed in snow in winter. Visit Vik, Iceland’s southernmost village, which is home to 450 people and has a spectacular setting looking out over the Atlantic, and explore Vatnajökull National Park, home to the majestic Vatnajökull glacier and a beautiful landscape formed of rivers, glacial ice and volcanic and geothermal activity. See the luminous blue icebergs of Jökulsarlon, a glacial lagoon on the edge of the park, a landmark that has appeared on Iceland’s stamps and several Hollywood movies.
Keen hikers should tackle the scenic Laugavegur trail, a 55km trek from the hot springs and volcanic landscapes of Landmannalaugar to the highland valley of Thorsmork and its mighty volcano. Alternatively, go horse riding, snowmobiling or dog-sledding, and take a scenic flight to get a memorable bird’s eye view of these natural wonders.
East Iceland is a medley of lush farmlands, rugged highlands, picture-perfect fishing hamlets and the country’s largest forest. The green thumb of Iceland’s fjord-covered coast, the east and particularly Seydisfjordur (with its weekly ferry from Denmark), is flooded by artists and musicians in the summer months as festivals and celebrations take hold of the creative communities. Full of character with brightly painted houses, Seydisfjordur is a quirky yet charming town. It has sweeping sea views and quiet spots for pleasant strolls, and if the weather is fine, walks and hikes through the surrounding forgotten farmlands are fantastic, but for some local wildlife, bird-spotting comes into its own in the reindeer-roamed highlands and puffin-rich village of Djupivogur.
The lakeside town of Egilsstadir makes a great base for traipsing up and down the steep-sloped hills and blue waters of the beautiful east inlets. An 18km-long and 2km-wide fjord edged by sheer-sided mountains, Mjoirjordur is a real treat with its rusted herring vessels dotted along its beaches, farmed fish leaping out of the water, and at the end of the gravel road, an old schoolhouse-turned-café which serves delicious waffles.