Best Cities and Towns to Visit in Iceland

Best Cities and Towns to Visit in Iceland

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Reykjavik, the capital of Iceland, is a beautiful coastal city with colorful houses and streets.Learn about the top cities and towns to visit in Iceland. Explore their most beautiful attractions on your trip to the land of fire and ice. Plan your itinerary with us and choose from our selection of the most popular tours in Iceland

Iceland is most known for its spectacular diverse landscapes, from volcanoes to waterfalls and glaciers. There are as many as 10,000 waterfalls and 130 volcanoes scattered throughout the vast territory of the Nordic island nation.

Apart from the abundance of natural attractions, Iceland has some of the most scenic cities and towns in the world. The country offers contrasting beauty every visitor will enjoy, from its busiest city in the Capital Region to the most remote village in the Icelandic Westfjords.

For new travelers, these locations might be hard to pronounce at first. Fortunately, it's easy to remember them when you get to try out everything they offer. You can enjoy hunting the northern lights from one town and taste the best cuisine in another.

Towns and Cities Worth Visiting in Iceland

Over a hundred human settlements are in Iceland's 36,000 square miles (103,000 square kilometers) land area. These settlements are divided into one city, several municipalities, dozens of towns, and many villages that vary in population, amenities, and services.

For this list, we are including settlements from all the regions of Iceland, particularly the Capital Region, South Iceland, West Iceland, North Iceland, and the Eastfjords and the Westfjords.

Most of these locations nestle in charming coastal areas because of the fertile waters provided by the Atlantic Ocean. 

Whether you want to explore the rich culture of Iceland in Reykjavik or see the gentle giants of the sea in Husavik, the whale-watching capital of Europe, there's an exciting adventure for you waiting in the land of fire and ice.

Here are the 20 best cities and towns to visit in Iceland on your next holiday vacation.

20. Akranes

Akranes is a beautiful coastal town in West Iceland.

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Helgarun. No edits made

If you want an introduction to the beautiful coast of West Iceland, the port town of Akranes is one of your best options. 

Akranes is perfect for explorers who don't want to travel far from the Icelandic capital and the airport. The coastal town is just 30.5 kilometers (49 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

When in Akranes, don't miss the chance to see the exhibitions of the Akranes Folk Museum and the breathtaking Akrafjall mountain. The museum features old houses and boats that tell of the rich history of Iceland. Meanwhile, the basalt mountain of Akrafjall is a fantastic place to hike while overlooking the bay of Akranes.

If you plan on visiting Akranes for a few days, you can book your stay in Akranes HI Hostel.

19. Hafnarfjordur

The magnificent Hvaleyri beach in Hafnarfjordur is a sight to behold.Another coastal locale that travelers to Iceland shouldn't miss is Hafnarfjordur. This time, you don't have to leave the comforts of the city because it lies in the Capital Region. 

The most fantastic thing about the Icelandic city is its rich culture. Hafnarfjordur is locally known as Iceland's Rock and Roll capital with homegrown bands such as HAM, Ulpa, Jakobinarina, and Jet Black Joe.

In addition, local folklore is a convincing reason to travel to this beautiful city near Reykjavik. According to stories, the Huldufolk or the Hidden Folk exists in the area. These mythical creatures are said to live in a parallel world from ours, but they can reveal themselves at will.

To learn more about this third most populous city in Iceland and its attractions, you can book your stay from our selection of the best accommodations and hotels in Hafnarfjordur.

18. Grindavik

An aerial view of the Fagradalsfjall eruption near Grindavik.Visitors to Iceland who are not afraid to dip their toes on the volcanic side of the land of fire and ice will have an unforgettable experience in Grindavik.

The fishing town of 3,000 people in the Reykjanes Peninsula is the starting point of most hiking tours to the Fagradalsfjall volcano. This Icelandic volcano gained worldwide popularity after its back-to-back eruptions in 2021 and 2022. Fortunately, these events resulted in no significant injury or damage to infrastructure.

Thrill-seekers who want to see the fresh eruption of Fagradalsfjall in the Meradalir valley can join this guided hike to the Fagradalsfjall volcano or this Meradalir volcano hike with northern lights tour from Reykjavik. These tours will let you see the new lava formations, the fishing town of Grindavik, and the fantastic Reykjanes Peninsula.

Grindavik is 32.5 miles (52.5 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

17. Holmavik

The Icelandic Museum of Sorcery and Witchcraft is a unique cultural attraction in Holmavik.

Photo by Regina Hronn Ragnarsdottir

Like most of the towns and villages in Iceland, Holmavik is primarily a fishing area. This charming location in the Strandir shoreline of the Westfjords rests by the beautiful Steingrimsfjordur fjord.

However, Holmavik's allure to tourists is not for its stunning nature but for its deep history in witchcraft. The town was deep in magic, sorcery, and witch-hunt practices as early as the 17th century.

Those who want to explore Iceland's magic and witchcraft history should visit Holmavik's Museum of Icelandic Sorcery and Witchcraft. The museum exhibits artifacts such as Icelandic runes and the infamous necropants.

You can visit it all year round for a minimal fee.

Visit Holmavik and its fascinating museum by renting a car in Iceland and driving through the remote Westfjords. The town is 144 miles (232 kilometers) from Reykjavik and 138.5 miles (233 kilometers) from Isafjordur, the largest town in the region.

16. Borgarnes

Borgarnes offers stunning views of mountains and coastlines for travelers in West Iceland.

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Chensiyuan. No edits made.

One of the towns along the Ring Road of Iceland is Borgarnes. The settlement's proximity to Reykjavik and the Snaefellsnes Peninsula makes it an ideal place for a pitstop in West Iceland. It is 47 miles (76 kilometers) from the capital.

Borganes has everything you need for a short or long stay, including restaurants, cafes, gas stations, shops, and accommodations like Hotel Borgarnes and Bjarg Borgarnes. One of the popular food places here is the Geirabakari bakery, featured in the comedy movie The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.

Other attractions to see in Borgarnes are the Settlement Center Museum, Borgarnes swimming pool, and the Troll waterfall.

15. Hveragerdi

Reykjadalur valley near the “hot spring town” of Hveragerdi is brimming with geothermal pools.

Photo by Regina Hronn Ragnarsdottir.

Iceland is known for its awe-inspiring geothermal areas, and you can find one in the town of Hveragerdi, 29 miles (46.5 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

Hveragerdi is regarded as the "Hot Spring Town" of Iceland due to the geothermal and geological activities in the area. You can experience the famous Icelandic geothermal bath in town or the nearby Reykjadalur valley.

Because heat is readily available in Hveragerdi, greenhouses are thriving here. You can buy vegetables and fruits like tomatoes, lettuce, cucumbers, and bananas from these green farms throughout the year.

Travelers to Iceland can stop by the geothermal town on their way to the top attractions of the South Coast.

14. Selfoss

Visit Selfoss town to get a taste of the best Icelandic traditional meals.

Photo from Welcoming 3-Hour Icelandic Dinner with a Local in Selfoss.

One of the best places to get a taste of Icelandic cuisine is Selfoss, a town of nearly 9,000 people in South Iceland. The settlement is 36.5 miles (58.5 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

Selfoss is home to the Mjolkurbuid, also known as the Old Dairy of Selfoss. The food hall near the banks of the Olfusa river features eight restaurants, bars, and a skyr exhibition. You can order Icelandic, Mexican, Italian, and Asian cuisine meals from these establishments that can accommodate up to 300 people.

The Skyrland exhibition in Selfoss highlights the history and process of making skyr. This superfood is similar to yogurt but has a creamier texture.

13. Keflavik

The Blue Lagoon near Keflavik is the most visited attraction in Iceland.Most foreign adventurers to Iceland have visited Keflavik because the biggest airport in the country, the Keflavik International Airport, is located in this town. However, only some have stayed longer to explore its natural and cultural attractions.

Keflavik is a town in Southwest Iceland that is part of the Reykjanesbaer municipality. It is one of the closest towns to Iceland's most visited tourist spot, the Blue Lagoon. This natural pool is the best place to experience a geothermal bath in Iceland because of its mineral-rich and milky blue waters.

In addition to its plethora of natural sceneries, music lovers will particularly enjoy this coastal town because it hosts the Icelandic Museum of Rock' n' Roll. Enjoy learning about the history of rock and pop music in Iceland at this family-friendly museum. 

With an entrance ticket to the Icelandic Museum of Rock' n' Roll, you can view exhibits dedicated to famous Icelandic artists like Bjork, Sigur Ros, Paul Oscar, and the rock band Of Monsters and Men.

Keflavik and Reykjavik are 30.5 miles (49 kilometers) apart.

12. Hofn

Feel the thrill of Iceland’s icy wilderness by visiting Vatnajokull glacier by Hofn town.Hofn is a fishing town of 2,000 residents that serves as a haven for weary travelers on the Ring Road. Its convenient location between the South Coast and Eastfjords regions makes it an ideal place to relax and recharge.

As a fishing town, Hofn is nicknamed the "lobster capital of Iceland" because Icelandic lobster catches are processed here. So while staying in accommodations like Hotel Hofn or Hofn Inn Guesthouse, don't miss the chance to try some lobster and seafood dishes.

In addition, Hofn is a common starting point for tours in the Vatnajokull National Park. The largest glacier in Europe towers over Hofn and offers adventures such as this three-hour glacier snowmobiling tour on Vatnajokull from Hofn and this ice-caving tour from Jokulsarlon.

Hofn is 284.5 miles (458 kilometers) from Reykjavik and 157 miles (253 kilometers) from the largest town in the East, Egilsstadir.

11. Kopavogur

Experience a relaxing geothermal bath away from tourist crowds in the Sky Lagoon of Kopavogur.

Photo from Sky Lagoon Ticket.

Kopavogur is a large town in the Capital Region, just south of Reykjavik. The town's name translates to "seal pup bay" because of the presence of seals on its coasts. However, spotting seals in the area is rarer these days.

The Icelandic town is bustling with local and international shops, bars, restaurants, and other town services. The biggest mall in Iceland, Smaralind, is located in Kopavogur.

An up-and-coming attraction in Kopavogur is the Sky Lagoon, a geothermal spa that opened in 2021. Those who want to experience a geothermal bath away from crowds will enjoy the infinity pool of the Sky Lagoon, surrounded by lava rocks and overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. 

10. Siglufjordur

Siglufjordur is one of the most charming villages in the land of fire and ice.

Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons, by Kasa Fue. No edits made.

Siglufjordur takes the crown of the northernmost town in mainland Iceland as it lies at the tip of North Iceland. It is one of the most charming villages to witness in the land of fire and ice, where you can see mountains, fjords, museums, and try out activities like skiing or camping.

The town of Siglufjordur used to be the capital of herring fishing in the North Atlantic back when the forage fish was thriving in the seas of Iceland. As the fishing industry slowly weakened, tourism and the service sector started to pick up.

As a cultural hub, visiting the Herring Era Museum is essential in Siglufjordur. This award-winning museum features five exhibits housed in three buildings, delving into the rich history of the herring industry in Iceland through artifacts.

Other activities you can do on your self-drive tour to Siglufjordur are golfing on its nine-hole golf course and skiing in the beautiful Skardsdalur resort.

Siglufjordur may be 238 miles (385 kilometers) from Reykjavik but is only 48 miles (77.5 kilometers) from the "Capital of the North," Akureyri.

9. Husavik

Humpback whales are common sights in the fertile bay of Husavik.The fertile seas and oceans surrounding Iceland make it an ideal feeding ground for marine animals. But there is one specific place in the country known for its beautiful bay where diverse marine wildlife thrives, the town of Husavik.

Husavik is a peaceful town by the lovely Skjalfandi bay in North Iceland, 47 miles (75.5 kilometers) from Akureyri. Travelers often call the village the whale-watching capital of Europe because whales and other aquatic creatures are known to roam freely in the waters.

If you want a close encounter with humpback whales, minke whales, porpoises, white-beaked dolphins, and others, don't miss the chance to join this small group whale-watching tour from Husavik.

Meanwhile, those who want a relaxing time in Husavik should visit the GeoSea geothermal baths. This geothermal spa lies on the coastline and features naturally-headed seawater.

8. Seydisfjordur

The quiet town of Seydisfjordur in the Eastfjords enveloped by fog.A trip to East Iceland is only complete with stopping by the quaint Seydisfjordur town, 17 miles (27 kilometers) from Egilsstadir. Surrounded by towering mountains and a magnificent fjord, Seydisfjordur is one of the most beautiful human settlements you'll see in Iceland.

The most prominent landmarks in this town are the two mountains of Strandartindur and Bjolfur, peaking at over 3280 feet (1000 meters). If you're seeking an exhilarating adventure, these mountains and other landscapes in town provide easy to challenging trails for hiking.

On the other hand, those who prefer a more laid-back environment will enjoy exploring the town center. For example, the Rainbow Street of Seydisfjordur is easily one of the most photographed areas in town. If you want to visit this lovely town, make sure to book accommodations in Seydisfjordur to guarantee a room.

7. Vestmannaeyjar

The Westman Islands have the biggest population of puffins in the world.When people think of Iceland, one of the things that come to mind is puffins. Millions of these cute birds, with black and white feathers and a distinct beak, nest in the archipelago of Vestmannaeyjar during summer, hence the label, the puffin capital of the world.

Vestmannaeyjar, also known as the Westman Islands, is an archipelago of 15 small islands off the coast of South Iceland. The biggest island, Heimaey, is the only one inhabited by around 4,500 people.

Aside from its colonies of puffins, what makes the Westman Islands one of the best towns in Iceland is its beautiful natural scenery. Unique lava fields, stunning cliffs, and volcanoes surround the islands. The most recognizable attraction in the area is the Eldfell volcano at 660 feet (200 meters).

You can see the puffins, Eldfell volcano, the Elephant Rock formation, and more places of interest in Vestmannaeyjar by jumping aboard this private tour to the Westman Islands from Reykjavik or this clifftop hiking on Vestmannaeyjar.

The ferry to Heimaey is 85 miles (137 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

6. Vik I Myrdal

Walking on the black sands of Reynisfjara beach outside Vik village is an experience you’ll never forget.Vik might be one of the smallest villages on this list, but it's also one of the most appealing. It nestles on the southernmost tip of mainland Iceland with a panoramic view of the coastline and the Atlantic Ocean, 116 miles (187 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

Vik village usually is part of itineraries for tours on the South Coast of Iceland. It's the only town within a 40-mile (64-kilometer) radius in the region where you can enjoy services like grocery stores, souvenir shops, cafes, and gas stations. There are also accommodation options, Vik Cottages and Hotel Vik I Myrdal, if you plan on stopping longer.

What attracts Icelanders and foreign adventurers to Vik is its unrivaled access to the top attractions of the South Coast

The Reynisfjara black sand beach and Dyrholaey peninsula are just outside the town center. These coastal attractions are geological wonders of volcanic sands, basalt columns, and rock formations constantly pounded by the raging waves of the Atlantic.

In addition, Skogafoss waterfall, Seljalandsfos waterfall, and Myrdalsjokull glacier are less than an hour's drive from Vik.

5. Stykkisholmur

Don’t miss the chance to marvel at the beautiful and natural harbor of Stykkisholmur in the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.Films buffs or anyone who keeps up with pop culture will recognize the fifth-best town worth visiting in Iceland, Stykkisholmur. After all, it was a central filming location in the 2013 comedy film The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, starring Ben Stiller.

Beyond its popularity as a filming location, Stykkisholmur serves as the capital of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula.

The town is an essential commercial, cultural, and tourism hub connecting many villages in its vicinity, from the Westfjords to Flatey island.

As a cultural hub, there are many things to explore in the area, including landmarks, restaurants, and museums. The Eldfjallasafnid Volcano Museum, Stykkisholmskirkja church, and the Norwegian house are historical locations worth seeing in the area. While doing so, you also have viewing access to the natural harbor of Stykkisholmur.

While staying in Stykkisholmur, the most beautiful attractions of the Snaefellsnes Peninsula are within your reach. On a self-drive tour of Snaefellsnes or a guided tour of the Westfjords, you can take photographs of Kirkjufell mountain, Snaefellsjokull glacier, Budir black church, and more.

Stykkisholmur is 107 miles (172 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

4. Egilsstadir

A winter trip to Egilsstadir is a chance to see the wild reindeer of Iceland.Nature lovers who want to escape the busyness of crowded attractions while still enjoying town amenities will find Egilsstadir the perfect spot to visit. 

Egilsstadir is one of the few towns on this list that lies inland from the coast. The nearest coastal area to it is Seydisfjordur town, 17 miles (27 kilometers) away. However, like any booming settlement in history, Egilsstadir lies on a rich river bank, particularly by the Lagarfljot river.

The beautiful town of 2,500 locals is considered the capital of the Eastfjords. Despite its remote location and distance from the Icelandic capital, its sprawling farmlands and valleys by the river banks helped the town flourish. You can find an airport, grocery stores, shops, gas stations, the famous Vok Baths spa, and hotels in Egilsstadir.

Visiting Egilsstadir will also give you the best opportunity to see the majestic wild reindeer of Iceland. During winter, you can spot these wild animals in the town's surrounding mountains and valleys.

In addition, if you want to see the lush Hallormsstadaskogur forest, the most extensive national forest in Iceland, a trip to Egilsstadir sounds more convincing. The forest covers 1828 acres (740 hectares) of land with 85 tree species.

Egilsstadir is one of the furthest towns from Reykjavik, 394.5 miles (635 kilometers) away. However, you can fly to Egilsstadir Airport from Reykjavik's Domestic Airport.

3. Isafjordur

Isafjordur town is surrounded by a beautiful fjord of the same name.Is Isafjordur worth visiting? With its fantastic location by the scenic Isafjardardjup fjord, rich culture and history, and access to the best attractions of the Westfjords, the only answer is yes.

Isafjordur is the largest settlement in the least visited region of Iceland, the Westfjords. Although it is considered the region's center of economy and tourism, it is still in an off-the-beaten-path location. This is the reason why there are fewer travelers to bump into when visiting Isafjordur.

The Icelandic town has deep roots in the founding of Iceland. According to historians, one of the Nordic country's first settlers lived in Isafjordur in the ninth century. 

As a fishing town, the food tourism in Isafjordur is something everyone must try. Restaurants like Tjoruhusid and Edinborg Bistro serve tasty seafood menus, particularly seafood soup, different fish recipes, and lamb.

Above all, Isajordur is for travelers who want an unforgettable adventure surrounded by nature. The town remains the top choice to start a tour in the Westfjords. For example, this three-day guided kayaking tour in the Westfjords and this 10-hour Arctic fox watching in Hornstrandir Nature Reserve depart from Isafjordur.

You can fly to Isafjordur Airport from Reykjavik or drive the 281 miles (454 kilometers) between them.

2. Akureyri

Venture into the outskirts of Akureyri to see the magical northern lights.Scour the internet for blogs discussing the best towns in Iceland and it's almost assured that Akureyri is on the list and near the top.

Akureyri earns the title Capital of the North, the gateway of locals and travelers to North Iceland. The city with 19,000 people enjoys a coastal location in one of the longest fjords in Iceland, Eyjafjordur.

As the gateway to North Iceland, Akureyri boasts proximity to some diverse regional attractions. So if you plan to tour the Diamond Circle and explore the Myvatn area, the city makes an excellent base to start your journey.

Lake Myvatn is a top attraction in North Iceland, near the town of Akureyri.But before jumping into the exceptional natural spots outside the city, take advantage of the exciting attractions in Akureyri. For example, the Akureyrarkirkja church, Akureyri Botanical Garden, and the Laufas turf houses are just some things to see in the area.

As one of the towns in Iceland nearest to the Arctic Circle, the outskirts of Akureyri is one of the best places to see the northern lights of Iceland. Get the chance to see the elusive yet magical aurora borealis on adventures like this 2.5-hour northern lights hunting tour from Akureyri or this small-group northern lights hunt on a minibus.

Akureyri is 240.5 miles (387 kilometers) from Reykjavik.

1. Reykjavik

A scenic street in Reykjavik that leads to the iconic Hallgrimskirkja church.Iceland is brimming with delightful cities and towns, but there's not quite as awe-inspiring as its capital city, Reykjavik. With over a million travelers visiting the city annually, Reykjavik takes the top spot on our list.

There's so much to see and do in Reykjavik that just a day of exploring cannot accommodate. The Icelandic capital boasts a vibrant community where you can taste Icelandic culture best. 

Impressive streets, colorful houses, unique museums, green parks, and iconic landmarks dot the vast downtown scene. If you wish to visit Reykjavik Art Museum, the National Museum of Iceland, Reykjavik Family Park, and more cultural places, don't forget to purchase a Reykjavik city card for better city access.

With its friendly pedestrian streets, any visitor will enjoy taking a walking tour of Reykjavik. In particular, exploring the scenic streets of Laugavegur, Skolavordustigur, and Austurstraeti will lead you to the best restaurants, cafes, and hotels in Reykjavik. While in the area, make sure to take photos of the iconic Hallgrimskirkja church and Harpa Concert Hall.

In addition, staying in Reykjavik is also your best chance to experience the nightlife of Iceland. You can even do bar-hopping with a local through this three-hour guided bar tour in Reykjavik.

Meanwhile, two of the most thrilling activities in Reykjavik are whale watching in summer and northern lights hunting in winter. The clear waters of Faxafloi bay surrounding the city provide an excellent avenue for these sea adventures.

Do You Know Other Scenic Towns in Iceland?

We hope this list helps you identify the towns and cities to visit on your next vacation to Iceland with Guide to Iceland. Don't hesitate to reach out to us if you think we should add more exciting Icelandic locations that you have previously enjoyed exploring.

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