When looking at Iceland on a map, it’s easy to wonder where you can find the most popular sites. After all, you're not able to see all of those spectacular waterfalls, hot springs, and volcanoes from a distance. At most, you'll be able to see the massive Vatnajökull glacier. If looking at Google Maps or Google Earth, you might be able to make out other ice caps, some of which may cover volcanoes. Let's take an in-depth look at a map of Iceland to discover the country's regions and what we will find there.
Iceland on a Map
Iceland is divided into eight different regions with unique sights in each one. We'll go counter-clockwise to explore the Land of Fire and Ice.
Reykjavik and the Capital District
When you look at an Iceland map, on the Southwest coast you'll see Faxa Bay, which is surrounded by both Snaefellsnes peninsula and Reykjanes peninsula. The capital city of Reykjavik is right in the middle and is home to approximately 60% of the population of Iceland. In addition to Reykjavik, there are also several municipalities close by such as Kópavogur and Hafnarfjörður.
Of course, Reykjavik is famous for multiple sites. Hallgrímskirkja church, Laugavegur shopping street, several Viking and cultural museums, the Whale Museum, Tjörnin Lake, and Perlan Observatory are here.
Reykjanes Southern Peninsula
This is another densely populated area. Its proximity to Reykjavik makes Suðurnes (the region’s name) a popular place to live. You'll also find Keflavik International Airport, and the world famous Blue Lagoon close to Grindavik lava field here. Thanks to the high concentration of thermal springs here, this region is also home to the Svartsengi geothermal plant, one of Iceland's main ones.
The Southern Region of Iceland (Suðurland)
This is one of the best-known and most visited areas of Iceland for travelers who come here on holiday. It's chock-full of typical Icelandic attractions like Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss waterfall. There's also the iconic Golden Circle route that visits Thingvellir National Park, Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall.
There are also the beautiful black sand beaches of Vik. With their unusual volcanic rock formations, sea stacks, and hexagonal basalt columns, this is a wonder that you certainly do not want to miss. You'll also find black volcanic beaches at the Solheimasandur plane wreck site, also along Iceland's South Coast.
Last but not least are the Icelandic Highlands and Vatnajökull National Park. The Highlands are Iceland's wild, untamed interior that open up during the summer months. You'll need a special 4x4 camper van to traverse the gravel F-roads (mountain roads) of this territory.
And Vatnajökull National Park is home to wonders like Skaftafell Glacier where you can go glacier hiking. In addition to glacier hikes there’s also ice cave trekking and glacier caves. The gorgeous black Iceland waterfall Svartifoss, with its hexagonal basalt column cliff face, also warrants a visit.
East Iceland (Austurland)
East Iceland is one of the less explored, more isolated areas on the island. While you will find Vatnajökull glacier straddling the border between the south and the east, most of what you’ll find here are fjords and fishing villages. These stunning natural landscapes jut out dramatically into the sea make you feel like you've stepped back in time. The roads are winding throughout the mountainous terrain and stops like Seydisfjordur powder blue church will leave an unforgettable impression.
For outdoor enthusiasts, hiking, golfing, and fishing are fantastic activities to do in this area. The Vök geothermal baths on Lake Urriðavatn also provide a chance for relaxation.
Northeastern Iceland (Norðurland Eystra)
This is one of my favorite parts of Iceland. Not only is it home to the treasures of the Diamond Circle route, but it has one of the country's most varied landscapes. Stops like Husavik, Iceland's whale watching capital, Lake Myvatn and its nature baths, and Viti Crater Lake are just a few highlights. And we can’t forget the mighty Dettifoss Waterfall and dazzling Godafoss Waterfall.
Gryólayjá cave, Hverfjall volcanic crater and Dimmuborgir rock formations are all special sights to behold.
And of course Iceland’s second city, Akureyri is located in this region of Iceland. Nestled at the foot of Eyjafjörður fjord, the city has around 18,000 residents and is close to Dalvik, the ski capital of Iceland.
This is the second-most visited region of the country and with destinations like Askja caldera and the Diamond Circle route, it’s no surprise.
Northwestern Iceland (Norðurland Vestra)
This is another zone that is not as visited as other areas. While it has some interesting places to visit like Hofsós pool and smaller fjords, it’s not very well known. This is, however, a place with strong ties to Iceland’s maritime past. It has a history long connected to trad and the fishing industry. The area was also mentioned in the Icelandic Sagas as it was home to Vikings in the 9th century.
Drang volcanic island is nearby if you’d like to visit a 700,00-year-old volcano.
The Westfjords (Vestfirðir)
Now we reach the Westfjords, one of the more truly remote and isolated parts of the island. This mountainous region sits near the coast of Greenland and is sparsely populated. If you’re looking to get back to nature and away from the built up cities of civilization, this is the place to go. Life here is much simpler and you’ll find that driving your Iceland campervan rental on the region’s winding roads is a wonderful type of meditation.
Although it’s not one of Iceland’s star attractions, there’s still plenty to see and do. From puffin watching on the Latrabjarg cliffs to the scenic Dynjandi waterfall and peaceful Hornstrandir Nature Reserve, wildlife and nature are everywhere. You can even take a visit to Drangajökull glacier. And be sure to stop off in the capital of Ísafjörður to enjoy more views of breathtaking fjords.
The Western Region (Vesturland)
Last but certainly not least is Western Iceland. This is home to Snaefellsnes Peninsula, which is often referred to as Iceland in Miniature. It’s got an amazing collection of typically Icelandic features like glacier-capped volcanoes, careening waterfalls, lengthy lava tubes, and quaint fishing villages. Doing a two-day circuit around the peninsula is one filled with activities like horseback riding, viewing the Budir black church, and visiting volcanic black pebble beaches. There’s also Eldborg volcanic crater and the Landbrotalaug hidden hot pot among others. You’ll have to come spend time here to see all of its wonders.
A Map of Iceland
Now that you know all of the regions of Iceland, it’s time to start planning that road trip! Visiting our island is the trip of a lifetime, and Iceland holds many treasures. So pack your suitcase, hop into your camper, and hit the road.