A photo of two lakes in the icelandic highlands.

8 Reasons Why You Should Visit the Icelandic Highlands This Year

Ever since the first photo of the Icelandic Highlands appeared on my Instagram feed, I fell in love. It was some of the most unique and picturesque views I’ve ever seen. I’d honestly never seen cinder cones, braided rivers, or the crazy colors that call Iceland home before. It was honestly the most beautiful views ever.

Since then, it spurred two trips—though the first one didn’t allow me to visit the Icelandic Highlands. On my second trip in 2023, we had a great 12 hours in the Icelandic Highlands. (Still, it was too short for my liking.)

Overall, this area is so worth it and will give you the adventure of a lifetime!

Incredible Views

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

The Icelandic Highlands are known for their rugged, untouched landscapes that feature everything from vast lava fields and black sand deserts to colorful rhyolite mountains and crystal-clear glacial rivers. The scenic beauty here is unlike anywhere else on the planet.

Fewer Crowds

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Iceland isn’t crowded compared to most popular travel destinations. There are plenty of places to visit on the Ring Road that will make you wonder if there’s another person on the island. But the Icelandic Highlands are an entirely different beast.

While, yes, you will encounter people in the classic Landmannalauger, it’s far less crowded than places like the Golden Circle, Skogafoss, or Blue Lagoon.

You Feel Like You’re On Another Planet

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Just look at that photo! It’s wildly crazy and makes you feel like you’ve been instantly transported to a new planet. The area that I went to was pretty desolate, but there are other spots nearby that have more color and life.

Volcanic Life

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

I was blown away by this area’s volcanoes, craters, cinder cones, and lakes. If you enjoy photography or unique views, you need to visit the Icelandic Highlands.

Hot Springs and Geothermal Features

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

Looking for a soak with hardly anyone around? This is the place. The Icelandic Highlands have a few places to get your soak on, including the Landmannalaugar hot spring and the Hveravellir geothermal pool. For the former, we visited at 3am under the midnight sun and were the only ones. There were a few other couples for the latter, but nothing like the Blue Lagoon or Secret Lagoon.

Great Hiking Opportunities

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

For outdoor enthusiasts, the Highlands offer some of Iceland’s best hiking and trekking routes, including famous trails like Laugavegur and Fimmvörðuháls. These treks provide challenging routes, spectacular views, and the opportunity to explore geothermal hot spots and volcanic craters.

Visit the Icelandic Highlands for Incredible Photos

A photo of two lakes in the icelandic highlands.
Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

The dramatic landscapes of the Icelandic Highlands are a paradise for photographers. The play of light, the wide-open vistas, and the contrast between ice, rock, and vegetation offer endless opportunities for capturing breathtaking images.

Connect With the Icelandic Culture

Photo Credit: Alec Sills-Trausch

The Highlands hold a special place in Icelandic culture and history, often featured in local folklore and sagas. Visiting can give you a deeper understanding of Iceland’s heritage and the relationship between its people and the natural environment.

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Author: Alec Sills-Trausch

Title: Founder of Explore with Alec

Expertise: Hiking, Backpacking, Photography, and Road Trips

Alec Sills-Trausch is a hiker, backpacker, landscape photographer, and syndicated travel writer. He enjoys showing off the beauty of the world through his photos, videos, and written work on ExploreWithAlec.com. Alec is also a 2x cancer survivor and bone marrow transplant recipient, showing the world that there is a future from this terrible disease.

He lives in Washington, where he gets to enjoy the stunning PNW mountains in addition to all the other places he attempts to visit each year! You can see more work on IG at @AlecOutside