Less than an hour east of Reykjavik is Kerid Crater. This volcanic crater is filled with a bold, bright blue water, and it looks truly out of this world. You can walk around the entire rim of the crater in under 20 minutes, making this is a quick but unforgettable stop. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can also walk down from the rim right into the crater and get up to the edge of the lake. In the winter, you may spot locals walking on the frozen waters of the crater lake, but this is not recommended.
North of Vik, and just under two hours away from Reykjavik, is Skógafoss. Skógafoss is one of the most famous, and most beautiful, of the waterfalls found in Iceland. Skógafoss is located in the village of Skóga, and it is a staggering 55 meters (180 feet) tall. If you’re up for a hike, you can set off along paths through the Skóga River Valley until you reach Skógafoss, and along the way you’ll see another dozen smaller waterfalls. There is also the option of taking a short trail to the top of the falls, which offers incredible perspective on the size of Skógafoss.
A two-hour drive south along the coast will take you from the capital to the small town of Vik. Vik is well known for its enormous glacier known as Mýrdalsjökull, but an even bigger reason to visit is the chance to explore Reynisfjara Beach. Also known as the Black Beach, Reynisfjara boasts a shoreline covered in black pebbles and sand. It is also where you’ll find black basalt rock columns that stand out in a truly dramatic fashion. Many people come to Reynisfjara Beach just to take photos and admire the scenery, but it is worth noting that the area is also fantastic for watching birds like puffins and guillemots.
Waterfalls are one of the major draws to Iceland and to the region surrounding Reykjavik, and Seljalandsfoss is one of the most popular of these waterfalls. Located 40 km (25 miles) south of Reykjavik in the town of Seljaland, the waterfall is more than 64 meters (210 feet) tall. It is possible to walk behind the waterfall so bring a raincoat as you will get wet from the drizzle. While you’re there, take the time to walk a little further away and spot Gljúfrabúi. This is a smaller waterfall, but you can get very close to the water and take some phenomenal photos.
If you venture northeast from Reykjavik, in about 90 minutes you’ll start seeing signs for Gullfoss. The name translates into English as Golden Falls, and it is one of the major attractions in South Iceland. While Gullfoss isn’t as tall as some of the other magnificent waterfalls in the area, it is a double waterfall, making it spectacular to behold. In addition, Gullfoss is fed in part by glacial runoff, which means that is is the highest volume waterfall in Europe. You can walk right up to a plateau that overlooks the waterfalls for amazing views over the water below.