The Regions of Iceland

Blue iceberg floating on Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Iceland
Lingxiao Xie / Getty Images

Iceland is known for its beautiful landscapes shaped by ice and fire. First-time visitors will quickly notice that all regions of Iceland deserve their reputation. With geysers, lava fields, and lakes where icebergs float, several parts of the country give travelers many changes of scenery. If you can, try visiting each of the below regions of Iceland—the time spent exploring is worth it.

  • 01 of 03

    Westfjords

    Wooden church framed against the Westfjord hills
    Gavin Quirke / Getty Images

    The Westfjords region in Iceland is a great getaway close to nature. Its isolated nature seduces lovers of hiking and solitude. It is also a prime area for bird watching. The cliffs and fjords are impressive. Látrabjarg, a long cliff, is one of the most western points of Europe. It hosts a multitude of birds (for example, puffins, gulls, fulmars, and guillemots), and a great show is guaranteed. Continue to Breiðafjörður to visit Flatey Island (from Stykkishólmur). One night in the island's only village will be a quiet stop on your trip. You will enjoy a sense of the end of the world, and from the island's shores, you might see a few gray seals.

    Ísafjörður, a town nestled at the bottom of the fjord between towering mountains, is the largest city in this region of Iceland. It serves as a starting point for various excursions. This charming small town (about 2,600 inhabitants) gets its livelihood from fishing. Its harbor is filled with trawlers and smaller boats. On Road 60, you will find the Dynjandi falls. At 100 meters high, many people consider the Dynjandi the most beautiful waterfall of all regions of Iceland or at least the most beautiful fjords in the northwest.

    Hornbjarg, a large sea cliff, was deserted by the last inhabitants because of the harsh climate. Since then, it has become a great hiking area and a large nature reserve. Large cliffs are the refuge of seabird colonies. If coming by car, beware of roaming sheep on the road. Road 60 runs along the fjords, but a few miles down the winding road can take a long time. Buses also serve the Westfjords, especially Ísafjörður.

  • 02 of 03

    North Iceland

    A small bridge at Lake Myvatn, Iceland
    www.tonnaja.com / Getty Images

    Iceland's North region also has its charms. Up north, natural curiosities annually attract thousands of tourists, particularly the Lake Myvatn. The Vatnajökull National Park's Jökulsárgljúfur section, crossed by a long and winding canyon, is a superb hiking area. While hiking, you will pass through green valleys dotted with strange rock formations before reaching the impressive Dettifoss waterfall. Akureyri, which has many accommodation options, will allow you to radiate throughout the region. 

    Keep in mind that the Central and North regions of Iceland are only generally available in July and August by trails that are reserved for all-wheel-drive vehicles. A paradise for trekkers, there are trail systems and shelter-to-shelter hikes for experienced hikers. Many guided packages are available.

  • 03 of 03

    South Iceland

    Blue iceberg floating on Jokulsarlon glacier lagoon, Iceland
    Lingxiao Xie / Getty Images

    South Iceland is full of unusual natural sites: Visit a geyser, a waterfall, or mountains covered with cooled lava. From Geysir to Egilsstadir, some towns offer good supplies if needed.

    In the southwest region of Iceland, Park Thingvellir is one of the country's treasures. This park is located at the point where the tectonic plates of the European and American continents meet. The park is crossed by faults, which are visible scars of tectonic plates. This region of high volcanic activity is also important from a historical perspective—it was the seat of the Viking Parliament from 930 A.D. to 1798.

    Skaftafell, a section of Vatnajökull National Park, is close to the large Vatnajökull glacier. It features rushing rivers, waterfalls, and basalt organs. The whiteness of the glaciers opposes the black rock volcanoes before gradually giving way to the lush green forests of birches.