15 Stunning Iceland Cities to Add to Your Itinerary

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Iceland is a small but spectacular country, that’s better known for its wild and otherworldly landscapes than it is for its cities and towns. Indeed, many of the Iceland cities that you will see are little more than small villages, with populations numbering in the very low hundreds.

Iceland cities, towns, and villages though, shouldn’t be ignored when you are exploring the country, because many of them offer a charming insight into unique local ways of life, and many more are found in dramatic surroundings, unlike anywhere else in the world.

You can spend the night in local homestays on remote Icelandic peninsulas, you can get to know the nightlife and culture of the capital Reykjavik, or you can visit the cold, arctic climes of Akuyreri, one of the largest cities in the north.

There are a lot of places to visit, but to inspire you to explore the best Iceland cities, here are our favorites in the country!

Don’t leave home without: Lonely Planet Iceland (Travel Guide)

15 Iceland Cities to Add to Your Itinerary

Reykjavik - Iceland Cities

1. Reykjavik

It’s impossible to visit Iceland and not to see Reykjavik, because the capital is the largest city by a long stretch in the country and is home to some of the best sights. Reykjavik has a population of over 100,000 people, which is one-third of the population of the entire country.

The city is a hub for travelers to Iceland, where most people will start and end their trips, and indeed, where many people now stopover for a few days on transatlantic flights from Europe to America.

Reykjavik has the best hotels in the country, a huge range of restaurants and a lively nightlife that you won’t find elsewhere. You can visit the iconic Hallgrimskirkja Church or the Harpa Concert Hall, while you can learn more about Icelandic history at the Settlement Museum or the Saga Museum.

Just outside the capital of the Iceland cities, you can even find the spectacular Golden Circle, where there are waterfalls, geysers and a stunning national park within easy reach of Reykjavik.

Our top recommended tours of Reykjavik:

David & Lina Stock at the Blue Lagoon in Iceland

2. Grindavik

Close to Reykjavik, you’ll find the small unassuming town of Grindavik, that has a population of just over 3000 people, most of whom work in the busy fishing industry.

For many travelers, Grindavik is just a quick refreshment stop as they begin the road trip along the south coast of Iceland from the capital, and few people stay for long.

Grindavik though is the closest settlement to the Blue Lagoon, which is just a few kilometers away from the town. If you’d like to get in early to this most famous of attractions and to enjoy the spa and the thermal waters of the Blue Lagoon without the crowds, then Grindavik is the best place to be based.

Kopavogur Iceland

3. Kopavogur

Directly south of Reykjavik is the second largest of the Iceland cities, Kopavogur. It’s almost become part of the dense capital itself, and in many ways is a suburb, but it still has its own distinct history and character.

In Kopavogur, you can find the tallest building in Iceland, as well as the architecturally iconic Kopavogskirkja, an unusually designed church which forms a centerpiece on the skyline. The city is found overlooking a bay, and you can enjoy the local beaches and bathe in hot springs too.  

Hafnarfjordur Iceland

4. Hafnarfjordur

Further south, you can visit the third largest of the Iceland cities, by calling into Hafnarfjordur. This is a port city, and it’s one of the oldest communities in the country, as for hundreds of years merchants, traders and fishermen have been working and doing business here.

This is a great cultural hub, and Hafnarfjordur is best known for its regular festivals, held throughout the year. The most popular is the Viking festival, which draws crowds in summer looking to embellish and revitalize Viking history and culture.

Our top recommended tours of Hafnarfjordur:

Snaefellsnes Peninsula Iceland

5. Borgarnes

Another of the most historic Iceland cities to visit in Borgarnes. The small city lies off the highway north of Reykjavik and is a great gateway to the beautiful Snaefellsnes Peninsula.  The city itself though is best known for being the site of the excellent Settlement Center.

The Settlement Center pays tribute to the history of Borgarnes and to wider Icelandic history too, as it tells visitors the intriguing tale of Nordic settlement in the country.

As well as learning about the history, you can also delve into myths and legends, as the center also showcases the saga of Egil, one of Iceland’s most famous, medieval, literary characters.

Our top recommended tours of Borgarnes:

Vestmannaeyjar Islands Iceland

6. Vestmannaeyjar

The Vestmannaeyjar Islands are located off the southern coast of Iceland, and it’s one of the most scenic destinations in the country. Vestmannaeyjar is also the name of the small settlement found here, which has a resident population of around 4000 people and is on the largest island in the archipelago.

Vestmannaeyjar is best known for its dramatic, and rugged scenery, that’s beaten mercilessly by the wind and the sea and is subject to the ravages of volcanic activity. The islands are also home to a large array of wildlife, including a local population of colorful puffins.

Our top recommended tour of Venmannaeyjar: Private Westman islands day tour

Vik- Iceland Cities

7. Vik

Also found along the south coast, Vik is one of the smallest settlements in the country, but one of the most famous Iceland cities. Vik has become increasingly popular as a stop on the classic Ring Road itinerary that sees travelers traversing the circumference of Iceland.

While making a convenient place to break a journey, Vik is also home to spectacular black sand beaches formed from volcanic eruptions, while it boasts one of the most inspiring coastlines in the country.

Our top recommended tours of Vik:

Ring Road in Iceland

8. Hof

Carry on east along the Ring Road from Vik and you’ll come to the settlement of Hof. This is hardly one of the largest Iceland cities and is, in reality, more of a hamlet, but it’s one of the most charming places on the southern coastline.

Home to just a few farmsteads, Hof is a quiet and peaceful place, that’s known for its traditional turf church, which has a wonderful grass roof. Hof is also a great gateway to Vatnajokull National Park, which is just a few kilometers inland.  

Vatnajokull National Park Iceland

9. Hofn

Not to be confused with Hof, the town of Hofn is the bigger neighbor further along the southeastern portion of the Ring Road. Home to 2000 inhabitants, Hofn is a travel hub in the southeast, and also a popular base for exploring Vatnajokull National Park.

From the town, you can see Vatnajokull, the largest ice cap in the country, in the distance, and you can join adventurous ice walking and caving tours that venture out onto the enormous ice field.

Akureyri Iceland Marina

10. Akureyri

If you’re in the north, then the largest of the Iceland cities to visit is Akureyri, which is known to locals and travelers as the northern capital. Home to over 20,000 people, for much of the year Akureyri is covered in snow, ice, and darkness, but for a few fleeting summer months, it blooms with life and color.

You can visit the local history and art museums to learn more about Akureyri, but the real attractions lie in the outdoors. There are wonderful waterfalls nearby, excellent ski fields in winter and fantastic hiking in summer.

Our top recommended tours of Akureyri:

whale watching in Iceland

11. Húsavík

Close to Akureyri, can be found the best Iceland cities for whale watching, and the main base for excursions out onto the water is Húsavík. Húsavík has a long history of whaling, but these days the main industry is whale watching.

The colorful, ramshackle town is a bustling port and you can visit the local Whale Museum to learn more, before joining a trip out into the bay, which is home to resident and migratory populations of these marvelous marine mammals.

Our top recommended tours of Húsavík:

Lake Myvatn Iceland

12. Reykjahlid

Reykjahlid is also found in the north and is the main town to stay in if you are looking to visit the beautiful shores of Lake Myvatn. This volcanic lake is one of the best wildlife preserves in Iceland, and it’s home to a huge array of different bird and animal species.

It’s also a very volcanic area, and you can see tall volcanic peaks rising high around the lake, walk across lava fields and relax in thermal baths.

Stykkisholmur Iceland

13. Stykkisholmur

Stykkisholmur is located on the Snaefellsnes Peninsula and is a great base from which to explore the natural beauty found here. The town is built around a sheltered bay on the coast, and from here you can take boat rides out to explore the nearby islands that are teeming with wildlife.

You can visit the nearby glacier, hike into the countryside in summer and much, much more.  

Isafjordur- Iceland Cities

14. Isafjordur

Isafjordur is one of the largest towns in the remote and under-visited Westfjords of Iceland. It’s a   historic part of the country, with settlement dating back hundreds of years, but it’s best known for the surrounding nature.

The Westfjords are beautiful and are home to dramatic waterways, inspiring coastal views, and tall volcanic peaks.

Our top recommended tour of Isafjordur: Amazing Westfjords-Nature tour in Isafjordur bay

Selfoss Iceland

15. Selfoss

Selfoss is a small Icelandic town on Route 1, that’s found close to Reykjavik. The town is earning a reputation for itself amongst travelers exploring the Golden Circle, as it’s a great base to explore the Olfusa River and to hike into the surrounding countryside.

Selfoss makes for a quiet alternative to Reykjavik if you are looking to travel around the famed Golden Circle and stay overnight.

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15 Stunning Iceland Cities to Add to Your Itinerary


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About David Stock

I have always been an outdoorsman so becoming an adventure traveler was just the next natural step. I love nature, I love to get off the beaten path and I like to explore. I enjoy scuba diving and cars. And yes, Lina and I have a naked dog.

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