The regions of Iceland
North Iceland is a friendly and tranquil area. Here you will find Akureyri, the largest town outside of the capital area, several historic coastal towns, Iceland's most popular ski area and the 13 Yule Lads (Santas).
A good way to explore North Iceland is to follow the Arctic Coast Way and the Diamond Circle.
The capital area
The capital area is known for its vibrant cultural life, an exciting nightlife and a relaxed atmosphere. In the city centre, you will find a mix of colourful houses and modern buildings with a wide range of shops, museums and other interesting attractions. The main shopping streets are Laugavegur and Skólavörðustígur.
The Reykjanes peninsula is characterised by cliffs, lava fields, craters, volcanoes, and sizzling geothermal activity. It is home to the Reykjanes UNESCO Global Geopark with areas and landscapes of international geological significance.
South Iceland has a diverse and spectacular natural environment with great attraction that is easy to access and experience all year round.
- Hveragerði & Selfoss
- Hjálparfoss & Gjáin in Þjórsárdalur Valley
- Skógafoss & Seljalandsfoss
- Vík, Reynisfjara & Dyrhólaey
- Kirkjubæjarklaustur & Fjaðrárgljúfur
- Höfn & Vestrahorn
East Iceland is characterized by small villages, dramatic coastlines, narrow fjords, waterfalls and mountains. The nature is always close and visitors can participate in outdoor experiences all year around.
The Westfjords are the country's northwest corner, characterised by steep and dramatic fjord scenery. The region has been named one of Iceland's best-kept secrets where mass tourism disappears.
A good way to explore the Westfjords is to follow the Westfjords Way.
West Iceland is a region that prides itself on its striking natural landscapes. It is known as the land of the Sagas, waterfalls and glaciers.
Iceland can be divided into seven sub-regions, all of which have their own website with information on local tourist attractions and services.
- West Iceland
- North Iceland
- East Iceland
- South Iceland
- Reykjanes peninsula
- The capital area
Click on the map to get more information on each region’s popular tourist attractions.
For more information on tourist services for the whole of Iceland, check out visiticeland.com
One of Iceland’s most popular attractions in winter are the northern lights.
Northern lights can only be seen in winter (usually from early September until the middle of April). Two things must go hand in hand in order for northern lights to be visible: The sky has to be at least partially clear, and the sun has to be throwing fast moving solar wind towards Earth.
On auroraforecast.is you can check the aurora forecast and cloud cover.
During the winter months (usually from October to March), it is possible to visit ice caves, but it all depends on the weather.
Whereas in some countries you can visit the same ice caves each year, the conditions in Iceland change each winter and guides must go looking for new caves each season.
Ice caves should never be entered without a professional guide and proper safety gear.
Click here to see which tour operators offer guided ice cave tours.
In addition to natural ice caves, tourists can also visit man-made ice tunnels, which are accessible all year around.
Puffins can be seen during the summer, from approximately mid April until late August.
Among the most popular places to see puffins are:
- The Westman Islands
- Hafnarhólmi (Borgarfjörður Eystri)